Dubai: The use of saliva, a legitimate tool for fast bowlers in cricket, officially became a no-no while introduction of COVID-19 replacements in Test matches became a reality as these two were among the interim regulation changes confirmed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday.
The ICC will also allow home umpires in international series because of restrictions to international travel, and approved an additional unsuccessful DRS review for each team in each innings of a match in all formats because ‘‘there may be less-experienced umpires on duty at times.’’
The ICC said it was ratifying recommendations previously made by its chief executives’ committee with the aim of ‘‘mitigating the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus and protect the safety of players and match officials when cricket resumes.’’ Former Indian leg spinner and captain Anil Kumble, chairman of the ICC Cricket Committee, had been at the forefront of introducing these contentious changes to resume the sport at the earliest.
What if a bowler applies saliva to the ball as a reflex action? The umpires will initially be lenient toward teams ‘‘during an initial period of adjustment,’’ the ICC said.
Subsequent instances will lead to a team receiving a warning while repeated use of saliva on the ball will result in a five-run penalty to the batting side.
Whenever saliva is applied to the ball, the umpires will be instructed to clean the ball before play recommences. Sweat can still be used to polish the ball, however.
The COVID-19 replacements will be allowed in Tests for players displaying symptoms. They must be like-for-like changes, as with a concussion ( e.g. a batsman for a batsman).
The changes are not applicable in One-day Internationals or Twenty20 internationals, which is played with white balls. The 50-over ODIs, which are played with two balls, provides the bowler a more level-playing field as both balls retain their shine and hardness for a longer period of time and can provide movement.