‘England-Windies series will be crucial’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 07, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 07, 2020

‘England-Windies series will be crucial’

In the post-Covid-19 era, you are not going to see a fast bowler at his run-up mark waiting to be handed the ball by a teammate who was moments prior busy shining one part of the cherry with his saliva.

As it has on the rest of the world, the pandemic will leave its mark on cricket and perhaps the deadly virus is going to take a lot from the game, especially when considering the safety and hygiene of players as well as the nature of the game.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier this week issued the 'ICC Back to Cricket Guidelines' which provide a framework with practical suggestions on how members can resume cricket.

On-field behaviour such as team celebrations with body contact and shared use of drinking bottles, towels and equipment is strongly discouraged. Bans also extend to using saliva to shine the ball, although sweat may still be used while other artificial substances are being trialled and awaiting ICC approval.

According to the ICC, the ball is a potential transmission medium and there have to be rules governing the safe management of the ball.

Whether it is reverse swings with the old ball in the latter part of the game for seamers or if it is a case of getting more drift from the shinier part of the ball for spinners, the fielding team has always made use of saliva and sweat to keep one half of the ball spick and span.

ICC cricket committee chairman Anil Kumble, a legendary former spinner, believes the ban on using saliva to shine the ball will help spinners and Bangladesh ODI captain Tamim Iqbal agreed that the ban would certainly have a huge impact on bowlers in Test cricket. However, the left-hander added that it would not make as much of a difference in the limited-overs formats.

"I think the ban on saliva will surely have an impact in Test cricket as it has long been a part of a bowler's preparation. As a batsman, I have my own preparation just before batting such as trigger movements. And shining the ball with saliva or sweat is akin to preparation for bowlers before a delivery. I can't say how much it is going to affect seamers or spinners but, being a batsman, I can say that it won't make a huge difference in limited-overs format. In limited-overs cricket, the ball's shine goes away even after five-six overs nowadays. But in Test cricket, keeping the ball shiny for a longer period is very important for the bowling side," Tamim told The Daily Star.

The communicability and contagiousness of the virus has forced cricket's governing body to adopt strict hygiene protocols which will see social distancing become the new normal.

However, Tamim believes things are not going to remain that way forever and anticipated a return to normalcy in due time. According to the Tigers' most successful batsman, the upcoming series between England and West Indies in July will be crucial for cricket.

"We are all aware of the threat and we have to follow hygiene properly for our safety. We need to remain clean and strictly follow everything in the dressing room. I really think the upcoming England-West Indies series will be crucial and we will get a better idea when cricket finally returns to the field. I think it will take some time to get things back to normal," said Tamim.

There are reports that the England and Wales Cricket Board and the ICC are discussing allowing coronavirus substitutions during upcoming Test series against the West Indies and Pakistan.

Things are surely not going to remain the same in the post-pandemic cricket world. Until the rules are adjusted and regulations adopted to ensure the return of cricket to the field with proper safety measures, there will be hardly anyone to oppose that.

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