How will ban of saliva affect Indian fast bowlers? Nehra, Pathan weigh in
Watching the struggles of England’s fast bowlers during the first Test against West Indies, Nehra and Pathan realised the challenges for a quick to bowl without saliva as a source to shine the ball.Updated: Jul 13, 2020, 20:03 IST
Former fast bowlers Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan believe India’s quicks will have a challenge, especially in Australian conditions, to operate without the use of saliva. The ICC, in May, banned the use of saliva – a crucial factor that helps generate reverse swing – in the post Covid-19 era of cricket.
Watching the struggles of England’s fast bowlers during the first Test against West Indies, Nehra and Pathan pointed out just how tough it is going to be for pacers around the world to bowl without saliva as a source to shine the ball.
“Jimmy Anderson was bowling short of length at times and he never bowls such short of length. Because the Dukes ball wasn’t swinging. The reason being lack of shine with no saliva being allowed and whenever he tried pitching up, the Windies batsmen were driving easily,” Nehra told PTI on Monday.
“Not being able to use saliva when there isn’t much perspiration will be a problem. Anderson’s strength is to pitch it up and get it to swing which leads to caught behind and slip catches. He looked half the bowler when it stopped swinging.”
India are scheduled to tour Australia in November for a T20I tri-series, followed by the four-Test Border-Gavaskar trophy. With three months left, and given the fact that the BCCI is yet decide on a training camp to help their cricketers get back in the groove, the fast bowlers will be up for a grave challenge, feels Pathan. He however has a solution – the use of an external factor – that may help tilt the balance back in the favour of fast bowlers.
“Allow use of external substance or else for some time forget that reverse swing exists. Make pitches that will be conducive to seam bowling. Since saliva is thicker, it affects reverse swing more than conventional swing which requires sweat for shining the ball. Till the pandemic is there and the rule stays, the bowlers will have it a bit tougher than usual,” Pathan suggested PTI.
“If you ask me keep a bit of moisture to make it 60/40 in favour of bowlers. If there’s moisture, the ball would grip the surface and then both sweat and saliva are out of equation. Hit the seam and ball will move around, or else there will be dead rubbers.”
Deep Dasgupta, the former India wicketkeeper feels that given the Kookaburra balls’ nature to go ineffective on flat tracks, the fast bowlers will have a mountain to climb. He however disagreed with Pathan’s idea of adding extra moisture on the surface believing it may end up harming the pitch as days progress in a Test match.
“The Australian tracks are flat and the kookaburra seam will flatten after 20 overs. With no saliva, it will be a more onerous task as there won’t be reverse swing available. Indian pacers will have a bigger challenge to deal with double pressure,” Dasgupta told PTI.
“Too much of moisture can create indents on the pitch and batting in the fourth innings may just become a challenge. Better to have two new balls from both ends. That allows spinners to get more purchase and bounce off the pitch.”