In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all cricket was either suspended or indefinitely postponed in mid-March. However, with West Indies touring England in July, international cricket returned to the fore.
Ahead of cricket’s resumption, the International Cricket Council (ICC) had put in new restrictions in place to check the spread of the virus on the field. The biggest such change in place was the temporary ban on saliva application on the ball.
England cricket, which is now hosting Pakistan, will play three T20Is and any as many ODIs against Australia, starting from September 4. Cricket Australia, in addition to the saliva ban, have also put a restriction on the usage of sweat by condition on the ball.
However, Australia’s Mitchell Starc remains unperturbed by the restrictions as he believes that these new rules won’t be as relevant in white-ball formats, as opposed to Test cricket. Moreover, Starc is confident of Cricket Australia’s own ball-maintenance approach, which won’t affect the players too much. Australian players are already well-versed with the new rules as the same have been used back at home in training, warm-up matches and domestic level cricket wherein both the usage of saliva and sweat are banned.
“It’s probably not something that’s too relevant in white-ball cricket. Once that new ball starts to go, you’re trying to keep it dry anyway. It’s more of a question for red-ball cricket,” the pacer told cricket.com.au on Thursday, ahead of training.
“No doubt we’ll find out what it’s like in these practice games and if we need to revisit some planning around it, I’m sure we’ll have a chat before the series gets underway. We haven’t been able to use sweat or saliva back in Australia so that was pretty simple. Slightly more lenient here with the bowler allowed to use sweat from certain places. It’s not a huge issue in white-ball cricket, I don’t think.
“I think we saw a bit during that England (Test) series, Jofra (Archer) using some sweat off his back and that sort of thing. If the world stays as it is for a little while, those restrictions will still be there. That saliva one will probably be around for a lot longer anyway. It’s one for the red-ball team to talk about when we get to that point, but at the moment we’re pretty good,” he added.
Even though this would be the first time for Australia playing international cricket in five months, they have an experience of playing in front of empty stands. Australia played their last international game, with no crowd, in March and beat New Zealand in the first home ODI.