05 May

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is to discuss the use of external substances to shine the ball after an Australian company said they are developing a wax that could replace saliva.

Cricketers are likely to be advised on medical grounds against using sweat and saliva to shine the ball when the sport resumes after the coronavirus crisis. Kookaburra, the cricket equipment manufacturers, said yesterday that they were confident the wax, which would be applied with a sponge, would have a similar effect on the ball to human moisture, allowing fast bowlers to derive the usual benefits from keeping one side shinier than the other.

The laws of cricket say that no artificial substances can be applied to the ball. Australia captain Steve Smith and of his two team-mates were given lengthy bans from the sport for rubbing sandpaper on the ball to try to encourage reverse-swing during a Test against South Africa in 2018.

However, the coronavirus outbreak has persuaded the ICC to consider changing the rules, at least for as long as it is considered unhygienic to use bodily fluids. Kookaburra’s wax applicator would be sponged on to the ball and then rubbed in the same way as saliva.

“This [wax applicator] could be available within a month,” Brett Elliott, Kookaburra’s group managing director, said. “However, it has yet to be tested in match conditions. A ban on the traditional shining method could be introduced, enabling cricket to resume as soon as it is safe.”

John Stephenson


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