The cricket action has come to a standstill due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus. The players are taking it to social media to interact with fans and fellow cricketers and many are also conducting live sessions on their Instagram profiles to engage with the audience. Many cricketers have also talked about the changes in the way cricket is played once it resumes after the outbreak.
Among them, some have talked about the problems they might face with the handling of the ball. Due to the spread of COVID-19, using saliva on the ball to maintain its shine is no more an option -- which will be problematic, especially for pacers.
Australia's Josh Hazelwood, in a conversation with ESPNCricinfo, talked about the issue in detail. "I think the white ball would be fine, but Test cricket would be very hard. Bowlers rely on any sort of sideways movement in the air. If you didn't maintain the ball at all for 80 overs it would be quite easy to bat after that initial shine has gone," Hazelwood had said.
India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar, as well as former Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar remain skeptical about using saliva on the ball. Ahead of the ODI series against South Africa last month, Bhuvneshwar posed doubts on the use of saliva.
"We are taking every precaution we can. We have a team of doctors with us, who are advising us on dos and don'ts. We have a meeting with our doctors. If they advise us to not use saliva on the ball, then we will follow it. So, it all depends upon the instructions given by the doctor," he had said.
Tendulkar, meanwhile, had said, ""I think players will be wary for some time when it comes to using saliva (to shine the ball). It will play on their minds. Social distancing measures will be followed till the deadly virus is around."
Now, according to a report from ESPNCricinfo, it may be possible that the use of an artificial substance is allowed to "help polish the red ball under the supervision of umpires." The concern has reportedly been raised by the ICC Medical Committee.
This effectively means that cricket's premier governing body may be inclined to loosen the holds on laws regarding ball-tampering. The current ruling states that the bowler, or fielder, may "polish the ball on his/her clothing provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time."
However, with the players not being able to use the saliva any more, the ICC may be forced to permit the use of an artifical substance to allow for the shining of the ball, according to the report.
Among the many offences in the sport, ball-tampering remains one of the most controversial -- especially after the infamous scandal during the South Africa-Australia Test in 2018. After Cameron Bancroft was caught on television rubbing sandpaper to enable swing in the ball, Cricket Australia imposed sanctions on him, captain Steve Smith as well as vice-captain David Warner.
In addition, Smith and Warner also faced a year-long international ban from cricket activities.