Pat Cummins
Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins in action. It's all but natural for a fast bowler, according to Michael Holding, to apply saliva or sweat to keep shine on one side of the ball. Image Credit: AFP file

Dubai: Michael Holding, the man they called the ‘Whispering Death’ for his fluid action, feels that using the saliva or sweat on the ball to retain the shine is like a reflex action for any bowler - and it will take some doing for them to get rid of the habit.

“It is going to be difficult (for bowlers). The natural inclination for any bowler, once he gets that ball in his hands is to apply saliva or apply sweat and then put it on the ball, that’s natural,” the legendary West Indies fast bowler said in reference to the growing concerns that use of saliva to shine the ball would be stopped to cut down the risk of the highly contentious infection when international cricket resumes.

Speaking at ‘Sony Ten Pit Stop,’ Holding, now a respected TV pundit, said: “Obviously over a period of time, you will learn and you will adjust. 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,” he said.

“What sort of polish is that going to be, will it be something that stick on your fingers, will it be slippery, because if that is something that is slippery, you don’t want to be having slippery fingers, to grip the ball it is going to be more difficult, I am waiting to hear all the details.

If you are not confident about the two-week period proving enough that you are free of COVID-19, you should not be playing

- Michael Holding

Australian ball-maker Kookaburra has recently started developing a wax applicator as an alternate to saliva or sweat to shine the ball, but Holding said it could be a logistical nightmare.

A purist at heart, Holding who has 249 wickets from 60 Tests in his career, said he doesn’t understand why there is so much fuss about using saliva when the idea is to resume cricket in a biosecure environment.

“At the moment when you are talking about playing in a biosecure environment . no spectators, everyone has to be in two-week lockdown before they get into the venue. So that means everyone inside that venue should be free of COVID-19.

“Then I am not sure why you have to worry about saliva or perspiration, if you are not confident about the two-week period proving enough that you are free of COVID-19, you should not be playing,” he added.