If bowlers are banned from using saliva and sweat on the field of play, legendary South African paceman Dale Steyn believes it will just be another blow to bowlers in their attempts to maintain the balance of the game, as bats just get bigger and better in unrelenting fashion.
With cricket preparing for a return to action, the International Cricket Council is devising medical regulations to ensure it is safe to play in this age of Covid-19.
The global body’s cricket committee recently recommended that saliva be banned from being used on the ball, while the safety of using sweat to shine the ball was not certain.
“It’s just a habit using saliva and I use it more than sweat because as a child that’s what I saw on TV. It’s like deciding what guard to take, I guess I just saw bowlers licking their lips and fingers and then putting it on the ball,” Steyn said.
“But if we’re only allowed to use sweat then it’s just another stupid rule taking away from the bowlers. It would be good to be playing back in the mid-2000s with the juicy mints they had back then!
“The thing with sweat is that you don’t really want it to touch the ball if you’re trying to get reverse swing. The key is to keep the ball dry.
“But I guess in the greater scheme of things it’s not a big deal whether you use sweat or saliva, except in terms of trying to break habits. If neither are allowed then they really should give the umpire a can of polish that the bowlers can use. Why not?”
Apart from safety measures on the field and the players being isolated inside a biobubble, there would also be no spectators allowed when cricket resumed.
Steyn, however, felt crowd support was not really one of the major ingredients for his own tremendous success.
“I’d probably bowl better with no crowd because I grew up in Phalaborwa and there were no crowds watching me play cricket there,” he said.
“Also, when someone like AB de Villiers has just smoked you for 24 runs in an over, you can go down to fine leg and not have the spectators abusing you. You can just drink your water and regather your thoughts.
“Cricket is made for people and entertainment, so it would be sad not to have crowds, but we just have to roll with it.
“In the IPL (Indian Premier League), whether you’re playing in front of 70 000 or nobody, you’re still going to have 200 people in the hotel reception. I guess I’ll just wave and give a peace sign from a hundred metres away.
“It just boils down to personal responsibility, not shaking hands and not getting in others’ personal space.”