May 4, 2020
Australian manufacturers Kookaburra are developing a wax applicator that could be used to shine cricket balls without using sweat or saliva.
ESPNcricinfo revealed last month that, in the wake of Covid-19, the ICC’s medical committee had discussed the dangers of using saliva to polish the ball. The ICC’s cricket committee and the MCC’s world cricket committee are due to follow suit. Decision-makers are open to the option of allowing for the use of an agreed artificial substance to shine the ball under the supervision of the umpires, and the new applicator is a potential solution to the problem.
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The wax formula, applied using a pocket-sized sponge, would be rubbed or polished in a traditional manner to enhance the ball’s shine, acting as a substitute for saliva or sweat.
Brett Elliott, Kookaburra’s group managing director of the brand, told the PA news agency: “The most effective mitigating action to avoid risk would be to introduce a temporary ban on the traditional shining method. This could be immediately introduced, enabling cricket to resume as soon as it is safe.
“This could be available within a month. However, it has yet to be tested in a match conditions as the ability to complete real trial matches at the moment is inhibited.
“It may not be something we need to make forever, it’s designed to get cricket back and give administrators time to make decisions. Nobody was calling out for this 12 months ago so maybe it is more of an interim measure.”
Current and former international fast bowlers have raised concerns about the prospect of being unable to shine the ball in recent weeks, with Ashish Nehra telling ESPNcricinfo that banning the use of saliva or sweat on the ball would equate to “murdering bowlers”.
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Shane Warne, meanwhile, has suggested that the ball be “weighted on one side so it always swings”, as an alternative.
“It would be like a taped tennis ball or like with the lawn bowls,” the former Australia legspinner told the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast. “It could swing and give the seamer something on flat wickets when it’s hot and the pitch is at its flattest on day two, day three.” Warne added that would help provide a “good competition between bat and ball”.
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