Cricket set for return to action in Darwin
The Northern Territory capital's grade competition leading the way with a return to play under strict health guidelines next month
Cricket Network with AAP
17 May 2020, 09:25 AM AEST
Competitive cricket is set to resume in Australia next month with the Darwin & District Cricket Competition season scheduled to begin on June 6.
The competition's Premier grade will begin with a T20 tournament over the Queen's Birthday long weekend, before a one-day season starting the following weekend, with a grand final scheduled for September 19.
It will be the first competitive cricket played in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. There has been no decision on this year's NT Strike League, the T20 tournament that saw David Warner play in 2018.
Clubs will be required to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan assessment and submit it to the Northern Territory Government before they can play, and some details are still being worked out with Cricket Australia.
South Australia rookie-listed batsman Jacob Dickman has expressed a desire to play in the competition but expects to return to Adelaide as soon as border restrictions allow for the state's pre-season activity.
Darwin-born fast bowler Aaron Summers, a former Hobart Hurricanes speedster capable of reaching up to 150kph, is keen to return to the NT to play but is currently in Western Australia awaiting state borders to reopen.
The use of spit and saliva to shine a white Kookaburra ball in limited-overs competition is not seen as overly problematic by Australia's international players but the Darwin Cricket Management (DCM) group are working through options, including having umpires involved in ball-shining using a wax applicator.
Shining the ball using sweat or saliva will be banned in the competition when the game returns, in line with guidelines from Cricket Australia.
But other options are being considered with DCM chair Lachlan Baird keeping abreast the options.
In line with ICC discussions, one includes an umpire being involved in the shining of the ball with wax applied to it, removing the need for saliva to be added.
"The ICC is working really closely with all the cricket bodies around the world in terms of finding new ways," Baird told ABC Grandstand.
"Some consideration is now being given to whether things like that wax applicator will become part of cricket's new normal.
"And whether it will move way from the ball being shined – a dark mysterious art that happens in the outfield – to a more formalised process that happens with the umpires being involved.
"They're all the things cricket is working through at the moment.
"I think it is a logical step (to remove the use of saliva). If you were creating cricket today, I'm not sure ball shining would be part of the game.
"We're confident we will haver clear guidelines from CA with what is and isn't going to be allowed."
Australia stars Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have been among a chorus of fast bowlers saying the need to shine the red-ball in first-class cricket was imperative to keeping a balance between bat and ball, but admitted it was less of an issue in limited-overs matches.
The use of wax would contravene current regulations unless a change is approved by the ICC, but would be a far safer and hygienic process during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ball manufacturer Kookaburra last month floated the method, using a pocket-sized sponge applicator. It could either be applied by umpires or simply overseen by them.