Spit-and-shine practice under the microscope
How cricketers polish the ball once the game resumes following the hiatus for the COVID-19 pandemic is an issue yet to be tackled by administrators
19 April 2020, 01:17 PM AEST
Ball maintenance could on the agenda of administrators and captains whenever cricket resumes, with pace great Jason Gillespie suggesting the use of saliva will have to be examined amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cape Town ball-tampering scandal of March 2018, in which Australia attempted to scuff the ball with sandpaper, prompted an International Cricket Council crackdown on ball-tampering.
The ICC instituted harsher penalties, wanting to clean up an element of the game that had prompted an ugly arms race between teams wanting to push the envelope and generate reverse-swing.
Shining the ball with sweat and saliva remains commonplace and entirely legal, provided mints aren't used to gain an illicit advantage.
The coronavirus, thought to be spread via respiratory droplets, could complicate matters.
As cricket boards edge closer to staging games, the issue shapes as a likely conundrum.
"I don't think it's a quirky question. It's an actual genuine thing to be considered," Gillespie, who snared 259 Test wickets, told ABC Grandstand.
"I don't think anything is off the table. It could be a point where at the end of each over, the umpires allow the players to shine the ball in front of them but you can only do it then.
"I don't know. Is it just sweat? Can you only use sweat?
"I don't have an answer to that but it certainly will be a conversation that will be had.
"If you think about it, it is pretty gross."
Australia spearhead Pat Cummins revealed the topic was discussed prior to last month's trans-Tasman ODI at the SCG.
That game, Australia's final hit-out before the health crisis brought a halt to all international cricket, was played behind closed doors.
"It's a tough one," Cummins said earlier this month.
"If it's at that stage where we're that worried about spread ... I'm not sure we'd be playing sport and bringing ourselves out of isolation.
"The one-dayer, we made it clear we're obviously really keen to play, but ... the way we shined the ball didn't change.
"Obviously different with red ball. As a bowler I think it would be pretty tough going if we couldn't shine the ball in a Test."