Nature has hit a reset button, life has paused and new alternatives have opened up. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way the world was functioning and a new normal is being played out in front of us every day.
Now, in what could possibly be the biggest bursting of a ‘taboo’, ball tampering in cricket can well be legalized.
As per reports, authorities are considering the possibility of allowing the use of artificial substances to shine the red ball and this will be done under the watch of the umpires in the longest format.
Why Legalize Ball Tampering
This is being spoken about as it will end the dependency of players to use saliva to shine the ball. In the post coronavirus world, any usage of saliva, sweat or spit will be a strict and no and hence, in order to make the field a level-playing surface, other provisions had to be discussed.
Cricket, which can be bracketed as a stubborn sport, has often been few steps behind to evolve and incorporate changes. However, decision-makers understand the fact that ball needs to be maintained and that there has to be shine and scuffing equally to ensure a fair balance between bat and ball.
Effectively, we are all talking about ball tampering, a subject which has been debated, scowled at, frowned upon and banished a lot of times in the history of the sport.
How Will This Change The Cricketing World?
“Whether you use saliva or sweat, maybe one person can do it. I’m not sure. It’s something that will have to be talked about when we get back out there and hopefully come up with a solution,” Australian fast-bowler Josh Hazlewood had already expressed his views about the same.
Before we go ahead, we need to understand why shining the ball is so important, especially in Test matches. For starters, a new red ball has lacquer on the surface and hence, the ball has the tendency to swirl around in the air which is also called swing. The bowlers aim to keep the shine on for as long as possible in order to extract swing in the air.
Then there is the seam, a bolt upright seam hits the pitch and often deviates either way depending on how the bowler delivered it. The fielding side always strives to keep the seam dirt-free and pronounced so that the ball can keep seaming off the surface and bowlers are able to get some assistance.
Concept Of Reverse Swing
When there will ban on using saliva and sweat, the bowlers will struggle to keep one half of the ball shiny and this will pull the plug on extracting reverse swing altogether.
We might have noticed that bowlers keep rubbing one half of the ball, and they keep applying saliva and sweat on that particular part. The other half of the is ignored and it is allowed to scuff up and roughen.
So, with moisture on one half, the weight increases while the other ignored half loses weight. Now, when the bowler delivers the ball, it leans towards the heavier (moisture-laden) half of the ball. This is the entire concept of reverse swing.
Hence, now when the ball will be allowed to ‘tamper’, bowlers can use external agents to not only keep the shine of the ball for a longer time but also try to maintain the ball to get reverse swing when it starts to get old.
In cricket, there are essentially three balls used – Kookaburra, Dukes and SG balls. All have different characteristics such as different leather, different wax etc and thus, the rule-makers need to come with different agents to cater to all the three variations.
“The situation is rapidly evolving and full of significant risk as there is still a lot to learn about COVID-19 which can make decision making difficult. The ICC Medical Committee is working with Member medical representatives to build a comprehensive picture of the issues cricket is facing,” head of the ICC’s medical committee Dr Peter Harcourt was as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
Nothing will remain the same and as has been said before, a new normal will take place right in front of our eyes. If, and this is a long shot, the game does resume, there will be a new set of challenges, there will be a new set of rules and there will be a new sense of normal!