Dubai: India’s pace ace Jasprit Bumrah toed the line of some of the Australian cricketers, including tearaway Pat Cummins, that cricket should seek an “alternative” for shining the ball if the game’s governing body ban the use of saliva during the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is likely to implement a ban for the game’s return when they meet next week after receiving medical advice that spit poses a COVID-19 transmission risk - while permitting the use of sweat to keep the shine on the ball.
Speaking in an ICC video chat with the former West Indies pace bowler Ian Bishop and Shaun Pollock, Bumrah said he was not unduly concerned with handshakes, celebratory high-fives and hugs - which are also likely to be off-limits when international cricket resumes with safety protocols in place.
“I was not much of a hugger anyway, and not a high-five person as well, so that doesn’t trouble me a lot,” said Bumrah, arguably India’s best match-winner in recent years.
“The only thing that interests me is the saliva bit. I don’t know what guidelines that we have to follow when we come back, but I feel there should be an alternative.
“If the ball is not well maintained, it’s difficult for the bowlers. The grounds are getting shorter and shorter, the wickets are becoming flatter and flatter. So we need something,” Bumrah said without mincing words.
Anil Kumble, chairman of the ICC cricket committee that recommended banning saliva, insisted the move was only an “interim measure”.
Speaking about the unusually short run-up from where Bumrah generates a consistent pace of around 140 kmph, the cerebral bowler said his short run-up is a product of his youth when playing backyard cricket gave him little space to build up a head of steam.
“The run-up is because of playing in the backyard,” the 26-year-old said. “We didn’t have a lot of space when I used to play as a child. This was the longest run-up you could have, so maybe that could be a reason.
“I’ve tried a longer run-up and nothing changes - the speed is still the same. So why run so much?” It comes especially handy in Test matches, he said.
“... when I’m bowling my fourth spell, fifth spell, I’m relatively more fresh than the bowlers who play with me and have a longer run-up. This was my theory.
“This is not the best thing I should say but I am bowling quicker than them in my fourth spell as well. So I think I should stick to it.
“If I have some physical difficulty and if it’s giving me some trouble, then I’ll find solutions. But if it’s not broken, why fix it?”