The proposed ban on the age-old practice of using saliva to shine the ball may make cricket dull and boring, says Sri Lanka cricket Test and ODI skipper Dimuth Karunaratne. He urged cricket administrators to find an alternative other than sweat to find a balance between the bat and the ball.
The ICC cricket committee, led by former India captain Anil Kumble, recently pushed for a ban on the use of saliva to combat the coronavirus threat. The cricket committee’s recommendation will be presented for ICC board’s approval in early June.
The committee which also includes Sri Lanka’s current head coach Mickey Arthur has debated allowing the use of artificial substances like vaseline or mint to shine the ball. However since the use of any artificial substance on the ball amounts to ball-tampering under the existing laws of the game, the committee had felt bending the rule right now would lead to complications.
“If saliva cannot be used, they need to come out with an alternative which can give the same effect that saliva had on shining the ball,” said Karunaratne following a physical training session at a Colombo hotel.
Karunaratne, 32, is among 12 others who began a 12-day residential training camp in Colombo on Monday in what would be the first step to return to action after the coronavirus shutdown.
“Test cricket can be pretty boring if the bowlers cannot reverse the ball with the old ball. In Test cricket there comes a tough period and this is when the bowlers used their skills to reverse the ball with a shined old ball. I don’t think sweat is as effective as saliva. This will take the excitement off the game,” Karunaratne added.
He said the game’s global decision makers should come up with a better alternative than sweat.
“If the bowlers cannot reverse the ball, batsmen will find it easy to score runs and we will lose the excitement that has been there for decades. The bat will dominate the ball,” he said adding that his charges are getting used to the “new normal”.
“It is tough,” he said when asked how they were coping with the new challenges facing the game.
“It’s tough to get used to this lifestyle but we have no other option. We are in complete isolation and that put us through additional pressure. But I think as time goes by we will get used to it.”
Karunaratne, an astute leader loved and respected by his peers, is going through physical training under strict health guidelines which includes no interaction with anyone other than the group.
“It’s basically training and back to your room. We cannot go out, cannot meet outsiders, cannot go home or go out for dinner. This isn’t easy. So we play video games and may be bit of table tennis to ease the pressure. I hope things will improve soon and cricket can be played as we used to play,” he said.
Asked how it would be to play cricket on empty stands, Karunaratne said that cricketers will have to make lots of adjustments in the future given the current global health crisis.
“It won’t be easy to play on empty stands. We are so used to having spectators around cheering us all the time. Cricket will be boring without spectators but if that’s what the situation demands, we have to get used to it,” he explained.
Despite all these challenges, Karunaratne also sees some silver lining.
“We are getting used for some kind of disciplined work ethics and personal hygiene which I think are a blessing in disguise,” Karunaratne explained.