Indian fast bowlers are finding it hard to come to terms with the ban on the use of saliva to shine the ball following the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Cricket Council (ICC) is set to impose a ban as it feels that the use of saliva on the cricket ball will increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
According to Indian fast bowler Mohammad Shami, it will be difficult getting used to the new rules.
"There will be difficulties. We have been accustomed to using saliva since childhood. It's been deeply ingrained... If you are a fast bowler, instinctively you apply saliva to shine the ball," he said in an Instagram chat.
The Indian pacer, who is known for his reverse swing, added, “If you can maintain the shine of the dry ball, it will definitely reverse."
According to Shami, the option of using sweat on the ball instead of saliva won’t help the fast bowlers.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Shami’s teammate and fellow pacer Jasprit Bumrah. According to Bumrah, the new rule makes life tougher for the bowlers and there has to be an alternative to make the game an even contest between the batsman and bowler.
“If the ball is not well-maintained, it’s difficult for the bowlers… The boundaries are getting shorter and shorter, the wickets are becoming flatter and flatter… So we need something, some alternative for the bowlers to maintain the ball so that it can do something — maybe reverse in the end or conventional swing,” he said.
Speaking on separate chat shows, both bowlers admitted it will take them time to find their rhythm after the long gap from the field due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
"We are not machines, can't just switch on and off. As a sportsman, your body needs to get into rhythm. No one has touched bat and ball in this period. So a 10-15 day camp or a couple of series before the World Cup will be helpful to get back the momentum," Shami said.
Bumrah said he’s been trying to keep up with his training so that when the grounds open he’s in good shape.
"I've been training almost six days a week but I've not bowled for a long period of time so I don't know how the body will react when I bowl the first ball,” he said.
"I'm looking at it as a way to renew your own body. We'll never get such a break again, so even if you have a small niggle here and there, you can be a refreshed person when you come back. You can prolong your career," Bumrah added.