Cricket saliva ban an ‘interim measure’ for pandemic: Kumble

A recommended ban on the use of saliva to shine cricket balls will be a temporary measure during the coronavirus pandemic, a senior official at the sport’s governing body insisted Sunday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) said last week it will vote in June on whether to prohibit the use of saliva to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Bowlers traditionally get the ball to move in the air by applying shine to one side via sweat or saliva.

Anil Kumble, chairman of the ICC cricket committee that recommended the measure, said saliva could not be permanently banned.

“This is only an interim measure and as long as we have, hopefully, control over COVID in a few months or a year’s time then I think things will go back to as normal as it can be,” Kumble told the Star Sports television channel.

The former Indian Test spinner suggested saliva could not be permanently ruled out as cricket regulators did not want to open the door to alternative substances.

Australian cricket ball manufacturer Kookaburra is developing a wax applicator that allows players to shine the ball without using saliva or sweat, minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Current laws forbid the use of artificial substances to alter the ball, but there is a long history of tampering that goes well beyond bowlers spitting on the ball and rubbing it on their clothing.

“We have been very critical and we have been very focused on eliminating any external substances coming into the game,” Kumble said.

The ICC panel said sweat should still be allowed to shine a ball as it has not been shown to transmit the virus.

The ICC chief executives’ meeting will also vote on whether to suspend a rule guaranteeing neutral umpires in Test cricket in a bid to minimise travel amid quarantine demands. 

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