The activities of the World of Cricket, just like the most businesses which essentially require close contact among the people, had to suspend the game schedules, ever since the contagious spread of COVID-19 started expanding its infectious reach worldwide.

However, as ICC's board is set to meet on 28th May to address next plan of action to resume the cricketing activities, the options are being weighed in for suitable protection of players and staff on and off the field during the matches played under the jurisdiction of ICC or respective National Cricket bodies of the countries.

The testing times have brought forth the option of banning the use of saliva to shine the ball. However, reports suggest that the use of sweat will be permitted.

So, isn't sweat a COVID carrier too?

The virus chiefly spreads through mainly through respiratory droplets and direct contacts. The virus, also, however, does not spread through the sweat - but items touched by many people (say ball/stumps/protective helmets) could pose a significant risk.

What protective measures are being taken elsewhere?

From the mid-May onwards, Germany is hosting the most-watched club Footbal tournament -- Bundesliga. FIFA has put in place elaborated guidelines for social distancing, protective equipment, regular screening, testing under the protocols for the host while holding the event. All of the guidelines are reported to be implemented in totality to ensure till now.

What are the cricketers saying about prospective saliva ban?

Former West Indies fast-bowler Michael Holding spoke about the need to promote the use of a shiny liquid which umpires may keep with them, in case saliva cannot be used to shine the ball.
I'm hearing talks about producing some sort of polish that the umpires will take, will keep and you shine the ball in front of the umpire. I am not too sure on how that's going to work, to be honest," Holding was quoted as saying.

Australian balling legend Ian Chappel echoes Holding's view and says this is the right time to make such changes since ball tampering has always been the hot topic.
"Using saliva and perspiration are now seen as a health hazard, so bowlers require something to replace the traditional methods of shining the ball," Chappel said.

Back home in India, long-lengthened Ishant Sharma doesn't want to look to far ahead, although he remains sceptical about not being able to use saliva to shine the ball before throwing impressive swings.
"The ball may not shine as per your liking if you are not allowed to use saliva," said Ishant.

How important is social distancing on the field?

As has been emphasised by the authorities in India and beyond, social distancing is the only way ahead to prevent COVID spread in the absense of any reliable drug or vaccine procurement by the countries. Maintaining social distancing at training facilities, in hotels, the mode of transport is the key to ensure that the prevention of COVID spread among the players and athletes.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta