Anil Kumble-led ICC committee recommends saliva ban on cricket ball

Written by Rohit Pawar

The Cricket Committee formed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) recommended a number of changes to the game as preventive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus whenever the sport resumes.

Among the recommendations made by the Cricket Committee, led by former India captain Anil Kumble, is that players be banned from using their saliva to shine the cricket ball. The members though, saw no health hazard in continuing with the use of sweat as it is not a virus transmitter.

The committee has also recommended the use of local umpires and match referees for international fixtures. The thought process behind this suggestion is that the Decision Review System anyways ensures more accurate decision making. This was also recommended to curb travel.

“We are living through extraordinary times and the recommendations the Committee have made today are interim measures to enable us to safely resume cricket in a way that preserves the essence of our game whilst protecting everyone involved,” ICC Cricket Committee chairman Anil Kumble said in a statement.

In line with its proposal, the committee has recommended an increase in the use of DRS review per innings, from two to three.

“The ICC Cricket Committee heard from the Chair of the ICC Medical Advisory Committee Dr Peter Harcourt regarding the elevated risk of the transmission of the virus through saliva, and unanimously agreed to recommend that the use of saliva to polish the ball be prohibited,” the ICC said in the release.

The Committee also noted the medical advice that it is highly unlikely that the virus can be transmitted through sweat.

“… (It) saw no need to prohibit the use of sweat to polish the ball while recommending that enhanced hygiene measures are implemented on and around the playing field.”

The use of saliva to shine the cricket ball, especially in the red-ball format, is primarily meant for swing bowling but the practice is now being seen as a health risk in a world battling the pandemic.

As the ICC last month contemplated banning the use of saliva as a safety measure in what is expected to be a very different world going ahead, it has thrown the floor open for a fierce debate in the cricket community.

Another notable point discussed in the meeting was re-introduction of two non-neutral umpires in bilateral series at least till the time travelling becomes safer.

“Given the challenges of international travel with borders being closed, limited commercial flights and mandatory quarantine periods, the Committee recommended that local match officials be appointed in the short-term,” the governing body stated in its release.

The concept of having two neutral umpires officiating in matches came in 2002. From 1994 to 2001, it involved one local and one neutral umpire.

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Rohit Pawar

An Independent I.T. Security Expert, Geek, Blogger & Passionate Programmer.