Keeping one side of the ball shining by saliva has been one of the oldest-standing traditions in world cricket. It helps fielding teams give a little help to the bowlers as the ball keeps getting old. This, too, can become a thing of the past.


The International Cricket Council (ICC) has recommended a change to the laws in the wake of the novel Coronavirus. The committee, chaired by former Indian captain Anil Kumble, unanimously agreed to recommend this ban. However, players will still be allowed to use their sweat to keep the shine on one side. This will allow them to achieve the fabled reverse swing, something that has been very effective in cricket over the years in later stages of the game.


The International Cricket Council (ICC) says changes to regulations have been brought in to “to mitigate the risks posed by the Covid-19 virus and protect the safety of players and match officials”.


Cricketers have used saliva for the longest time to shine one side of the ball to alter the aerodynamics of the ball. It helps pace bowlers to generate movement in the air, as the other side gets increasingly dry and hard over the course of the innings. 

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 Committee also noted the medical advice that it is highly unlikely that the virus can be transmitted through sweat and saw no need to prohibit the use of sweat to polish the ball whilst recommending that enhanced hygiene measures are implemented on and around the playing field.  


There’s also been a change in the rules that apply to the appointment of match officials to Test, ODI and T20I matches are summarised below. Since 2002, officials appointed by the ICC must not be from the same country as the participating teams. 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 appointments will continue to be made via the ICC from local Elite and International Panel referees and umpires. Where there are no Elite Panel match officials in the country, the best local International Panel match officials will be appointed. The Committee also recommended that the use of technology is increased to support the appointments of a wider pool of umpires from around the world and has proposed an additional DRS review per team per innings is introduced in each format as an interim measure.


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