Ban on usage of saliva an interim measure: Anil Kumble

Mumbai: ICC Cricket Committee chairman Anil Kumble said the recommendation to ban saliva for shining the ball is only an interim measure and added things will go back to normal once the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.

The Kumble-led panel recommended a ban on saliva to minimise the risk of infection. On Friday, ICC, in its guidelines for resumption of the game, also suggested a ban on the practice. ‘This is only an interim measure as long as we can hopefully control the coronavirus in a few months or a year’s time. After that, things will go back to as normal as it can be,’ Kumble told Star Sports’ show ‘Cricket Connected’.

The ban on saliva has elicited mixed response from the bowlers, who have said it would definitely come in the way of generating swing. But most have also acknowledged the health risk that it might pose. There have also been discussions on whether ICC would allow usage of external substances like wax to shine the ball.

Kumble said there were discussions on the usage of external substances. ‘If you look back at the history of the game, we have been very critical and we have been very focused on eliminating any external substances coming into the game,’ Kumble said of the speculation.

Obviously, it has had a great impact over the last two years. (We must see) whether (ICC) is literally looking to legalise it, he added. He cited the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, which led to bans on Australia cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

ICC took a decision but then Cricket Australia took a tougher stance on what happened (in Cape Town). So, we did consider that, he said.
Meanwhile,  England Test team captain Joe Root said the ban on using saliva to shine the ball might improve the skills of the bowlers, who will have to work harder to get something out of the pitch.

However, Root said it could work in our favour and up skill levels. Not having the assistance that you might normally have means your accuracy has to improve, he was quoted as saying by

‘Guys will have to find another way to get something out of the surface, whether that is a bit more effort, changing angles on the crease or using the wobble seam they might not have in their locker. It could develop our bowlers in a four or five-week period.’