No saliva, no sweat, says India’s Shami

India fast bowler Mohammed Shami says he will be able to reverse-swing the ball even if saliva is banned during the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is expected to next week order a temporary ban on using saliva, as part of measures to get the sport started again while reducing the risk of spreading the virus.

Bowlers traditionally get the ball to move in the air, deceiving the batsman, by shining one side using sweat or saliva.

“There will be difficulties. We have been accustomed to using saliva since childhood,” Shami said in an online discussion.

“If you are a fast bowler, instinctively you apply saliva to shine the ball. But yes, if you can maintain the shine of the dry ball, it will definitely reverse.”

The 29-year-old, renowned for his reverse swing, offered no alternative but insisted that sweat is not a viable replacement.

“Sweat and saliva work differently. I don’t think it will help. I never tried bowling without saliva,” he said. “Now because of COVID-19 pandemic, it’s very important to stop using saliva.”

Australian ball manufacturer Kookaburra is developing a wax applicator to shine the ball, but the world body is reluctant to allow artificial aids.

Cricket, like nearly all sport, was halted in March when India and many other nations ordered lockdowns.

With the ICC due to make a call next week on whether the Twenty20 World Cup will go ahead in Australia in October-November, Shami said players would need at least two weeks to prepare.

“We are not machines, can’t just switch on and off. As a sportsman, your body needs to get into rhythm,” he said.

“No one has touched bat and ball in this period. So a 10-15 days camp or a couple of series before the World Cup will be helpful to get back the momentum.” — AFP

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