Sunday | October 25,2020

Sweat not so sweet for bowlers


The Anil Kumble-led ICC cricket committee’s recommendation to ban the application of saliva on the ball, owing to the coronavirus-induced circumstances, and allow only sweat has not gone down too well with players and coaches.

According to India women’s team pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami, applying only sweat will thwart reverse swing.

“Particularly in Test cricket, after 40 overs, the ball doesn’t swing or move that much. In that case, we try to maintain the polish of the ball on one side so that it helps reverse swing. The ones who could master that were able to pick up lots of wickets, while batters faced a stiff challenge.

“But if this recommendation becomes a law, the reverse swing then may no longer continue to be a lethal weapon. It will be affected. The saliva would help most as it makes the ball heavier.

But such a law will only reduce the challenge for batters,” Jhulan told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

“Nonetheless, we need to accept this because the pandemic has forced us to make certain adjustments. I still hope there will be further discussions on this subject.

“As long as we’re not playing a match, we cannot be 100 per cent sure of how the ball would behave with application of only sweat,” she added.

Bengal coach and former India batsman Arun Lal too iterated Jhulan’s opinion. He further pointed out that players may not be able to apply sweat in colder climates.

“What if there’s no sweating? In December or in colder climates, sweat will be minimal,” Lal said.

“I think it (the recommendation) is against fast bowling. Yeah, in a place like England, the swing stays for a longer period. But in India, the wickets are much rougher, so that creates more problems for the quicks. When you use the older ball, you need to have the saliva.”

Former England all-rounder Phillip DeFreitas, though, welcomed the recommendation as he feels resumption of cricket matters most at this stage.

“We are living through extraordinary times at the moment and whatever we can do to resume cricket would be fantastic. I remember one of my first tours to India and Pakistan during which we were told not to use saliva, not to lick our fingers and the reason was to make sure we didn’t fall ill. We understood that and took precautions, and successfully got on with it.

“It’s definitely a slight disadvantage to the bowlers, especially in the UK where you do sometimes need a bit of saliva just to get it swinging a bit more. I’m not sure, though, if the saliva makes the ball heavier than sweat can.

“But if that’s what it takes and we are back with cricket, I’m all for it,” DeFreitas said from Leicester.

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