The Covid-19 era has changed the world where being positive is the most dangerous while being negative is hailed. And so, it has changed the world of sports. Football is being played without fans. Fans have been invited to share their pics for cut-outs to be placed on the empty seats in the stadiums. Footballers can no longer celebrate the way before Covid-19. They have to maintain social distancing even after scoring a goal.
Although cricket is yet to start in Covid-19 era, already plans have been made or restrictions are set to be placed to make sure the gentleman’s game runs smoothly without any positive case of coronavirus.
One of the measures recommended by ICC is the ban of saliva that pace bowlers apply on one side of the ball to generate swing. Few players are against the move as they believe it would rob the pacers of their main weapon of swinging the ball. Saliva is considered the main source of transmission of the virus that cause Covid-19, but sweat has been ruled out. But saliva comes naturally to players who have for ages used it to shine the ball.
Will the players adjust quickly to this new change? Will they be able to remove the use of saliva altogether from their daily practice?
There is an ongoing debate at the moment and the cricket world is divided on it. Australian cricket board has already banned the use of saliva. Major other cricket boards may follow suit.
What’s the right way out now?
Even if the players are tested negative for the virus before the match or practice, it cannot be certain that the risk of transmission is 100 percent diminished. Such is the nature of this virus is that it can transmit through contaminated objects and surfaces. If the ball comes in contact with a contaminated surface, using saliva to shine the ball would increase the risk of infection, and spread the virus quick and swiftly.
Besides, a player may test negative, but could turn out to be positive later, and he may not be even aware of it. And hence, the use of saliva would increase the risk of infection.
At the moment, banning saliva to shine the ball looks the best way out as nobody would like to risk their life or of others to get a wicket or two through swing.
The rule would be unfair to the fast bowlers, but that’s way it has to be. Besides, players need to learn to adopt to the evolving game of cricket. There had been many rules before that were opposed but players did found a way to play with it, and achieve success.
For example, the bodyline bowling used by England in the Ashes series. Sir Don Bradman and other Aussies batsmen found a way to deal with it.
Remember the 2001-02 England tour of India where Ashley Giles bowled a negative line of bowling, but Sachin still managed to score runs off him.
Hence, this new rule just gives another challenge to players to find a way to deal with it, and achieve success.