Saturday 31 October, 2020

Starc: Saliva ban could lead to boring cricket if it passes in June

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc.

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc.

Mitchell Starc thinks the International Cricket Council's (ICC) recommendation to ban polishing the ball with saliva due to health concerns amid the novel coronavirus pandemic could lead to boring cricket.

The ICC chief executives' committee will vote on the proposal, which has been put forward to "mitigate the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus", in June.

It has been reported the ICC will not permit the use of an artificial substance to generate movement when the ball is in the air, though players can use sweat.

Australia paceman Starc understands the concerns but thinks bowlers should be offered an alternative to ensure batsmen to not get an advantage.

"I understand that completely and hear what they're saying in terms of a foreign substance, but whether that can be controlled by the umpires in terms of they have a portion of the wax and you can only use a small amount, I don't know, but there needs to be a maintaining of the even contest," Starc said in a video conference.

"I understand what they're saying with foreign substances and that it's black and white in terms of that, but it's an unusual time for the world and if they're going to remove saliva shining for a portion of time they need to think of something else for that portion of time as well.

"Whether it be the wickets being not as flat or at least considering this shining wax to a degree, there needs to be some thought on that, I think.

"I guess you use both those things [saliva and sweat] to shine the ball. I've probably been a bit more on the sweat side, just trying to not get my hands in my mouth too much.

"But I agree completely with what Pat [Cummins] commented on last week: that contest with bat and ball, we don't want to lose that or get further away from that even contest, so there needs to be something in place to either keep that ball swinging.

"They've mentioned that it's only going to be there for a period of time and then once the world gets back to a relatively normal situation then saliva can come back into shining the ball.

"But if it's going to be a window of time there, maybe then instruct people to leave more grass on the wickets to have that contest or if they're going to take away a portion of maintaining the ball, there needs to be that even contest between bat and ball, otherwise people are going to stop watching, and kids aren't going to want to be bowlers.

"I think as we saw in Australia the last couple of years, there's some pretty flat wickets, and if that ball's going straight, it's a pretty boring contest.

"I think [ball manufacturers] Kookaburra have been developing a shining wax or something of the sort, so whether there's consideration of that, there needs to be some maintaining [of] that even contest.

"Generally, the spinners reckon that the wickets that seam a bit also spin, so maybe if you bring the bowlers back into the game, you'll tick all the boxes."

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