If we can't shine, we shouldn't be playing: Cummins
Australia's pace ace Pat Cummins says sweat and saliva shouldn't be banned from ball shining if it's not enough of a risk to halt the game entirely
10 May 2020, 02:46 PM AEST
Australia's Pat Cummins, the world's top ranked bowler, has launched the strongest defence yet to maintain the practice of shining the ball as the sport edges towards a return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cummins said a complete ban on shining the red ball in first-class formats, including Test cricket, would be unacceptable.
The Australian Institute of Sport's framework for the return of sport explicitly calls out "no shining cricket balls with sweat/saliva during training".
Using any artificial substance to shine the ball would fall foul of cricket's Laws on ball tampering, although it has been reported the ICC is considering a change in playing conditions in response to the health hazards of COVID-19.
Cummins, ranked No.1 in Test match bowling and No.4 in ODI cricket, said if there was risk of transmission of the coronavirus through shining the ball, the sport shouldn't be played anyway.
"I'm thinking that if we're in a position where we're really worried about passing on the coronavirus, if we're going to be that careful that we can't shine the ball, we can't get close (to teammates), we can't play the game as we normally would be, I don't think we'd be playing in the first place," Cummins said on a videoblog for his IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders.
"Things are going to change in all sports and in the way we live around the world (but) I don't want them to totally ban shining the ball.
"I want them to come up with another option because I think it's a big part of cricket.
"Whether it's saliva or something else, as long as we're still allowed to shine up the ball to make sure it keeps swinging.
"As a fast bowler, you've got to be able to shine the ball. Why everyone loves Test cricket is because there is so much art to it.
"If you can't shine the ball, that takes away swing bowling, that takes away reverse swing bowling."
Cummins comments follow that of Australia batsman David Warner, who said a ban on using sweat and saliva would be unnecessary, arguing that being in close confines to fellow players would be just as much of a risk factor.
"You're sharing changerooms and you're sharing everything else, I don't see why you have to change that," Warner told cricket.com.au.
"It's been going around for hundreds of years now, I can't recall anyone that's got sick by doing that.
"If you're going to contract a bug, I don't think it'd necessarily be just from that.
With individual states moving towards easing lockdown restrictions that will allow training to resume, the AIS guidelines dictate that even at 'Level C' of activity, when most sports are allowed full training and competition, that shining a cricket ball with sweat or saliva will be outlawed.
CA's head of sports science Alex Kountouris, the former physiotherapist for the Australian men's team, said while the governing body would restrict the practice at training, the decision on ball shining in competition would come down to the ICC.
"From a training perspective to start with, we're going to say, 'Don't do that', but when it comes to playing games, that will be an ICC decision," Kountouris said.
"At the moment we want to get training up, that's our priority.
"There's a sub-committee within the ICC. Everyone is sharing information and collaborating, we're all working together. We usually get together every three months but we've just been meeting more regularly to discuss what is common and learn from each other ... discuss how we can best share information and not be duplicating."
The topic has divided players, with a host of former internationals speaking out for an against, while leading ball manufacturers have also gotten involved.
Kookaburra announced they were developing a special wax applicator to replace spit and saliva, while Dukes said their product could be sufficiently shined just by rubbing on the trousers.