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What's The Rationale Behind the ICC Banning the Use of Saliva In a Cricket Match

The ICC cricket committee which is chaired by Anil Kumble has decided to ban the use of saliva to shine the cricket ball. The move has been taken in order to mitigate the risks posed by the coronavirus and protect the safety of players.

Ritik Goel
Last updated: 21.05.2020
ICC Bans use of Saliva | Sports Social Blog

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The ICC cricket committee which is chaired by Anil Kumble, the former Indian great, has decided to ban the use of saliva to shine the cricket ball. The move has been taken in order "to mitigate the risks posed by the Covid-19 virus and protect the safety of players and match officials," as stated by the ICC. However, the use of sweat will be allowed.

Shining the ball using saliva is key for bowlers to practice reverse swing which is the life and blood of test match bowling. The move has not been taken in good stead by the former or current players.


There is no scientific evidence that the virus can spread through sweat but it can spread through spit. So that's the basis for this decision by the ICC. Hence, there is a good rationale behind this decision.

However, there have been arguments that if the virus has to spread, it can spread through other means. The players are in close quarters all the time and it can easily spread through a sneeze, a cough or anything if anyone has it. You cannot imagine players to maintain a distance of 1 feet or 2 feet in a cricket match and play with masks and gloves. Not that it's impossible but if it happens, it will be very uncharacteristic of the game of cricket. So precautions like these have to be taken. Otherwise, banning the use of saliva solves no purpose, it will only make things difficult for the bowlers.

This situation can be handled in other ways too. This may be a little costly but a cricket match can happen smoothly if these things are followed. Players can be screened for even mild symptoms before they take the flights and if they show any symptoms, they should not be allowed to join the team. To reduce the risk even more, they can be asked to do a 14-day quarantine before they join their team.

Another thing that can be done is to simply test the players for COVID-19 and as soon as the result comes out negative, they will board the flights and join their team and the teams will remain in isolation in a hotel close to the stadium or in the stadium preferably. So if they know they don't have the virus, nothing has to be banned. The players who turn out to be positive will be treated and can't join the team. However, it may involve testing costs and arrangements for testing. However, it may be the best way to resume cricket in this pandemic because it does not seem to end and the world cannot stop for any longer. Perhaps, it's the time to start living with the virus and the cricketing world has to do so as well. 

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