Veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh feels two balls can be used from both ends to keep the contest between bat and ball even in Test cricket, after the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Cricket Committee recommended banning the usage of saliva in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You can use two new balls from both ends. One ball you can use for reverse swing, and the other ball you can use for swing.
During a meeting over a video conference on Monday, the Anil Kumble-led ICC Cricket Committee recommended banning the use of saliva to shine the ball.
"I would say not to use those two balls for 90 overs, change them after 50 overs. As both balls will get old by 50 overs. Then there will be no shine and it won't come with sweat. The skipper should have an option to choose whether to use new ball from one end, or both ends. But one ball should not be used more than 50 overs," Harbhajan told YouTube channel Sports Tak.
The use of saliva to shine the cricket ball, especially in the red-ball format, is primarily meant for swing bowling but the practice is now being seen as a health risk.
Explaining how saliva helps the ball shine and without its use, a bowler can lose out on a lot, Harbhajan said: "When ball will get old, it will not shine with sweat, it will only make it heavier. Now saliva is thick and when we use it on the ball repeatedly, it helps the skin of the ball to shine. Sweat can wet the ball and make it heavy but it cannot shine the ball especially when it is old," said the 39-year old.
As the ICC last month contemplated banning the use of saliva as a safety measure in what is expected to be a very different world, it has thrown the floor open for fierce debate in the cricket community.
"This is not a permanent solution I think. If you don't use saliva the bowler will go further away from the game. Especially in sub-continent conditions, you need to make the ball and you need saliva for that.
"We need to see what are the other options besides saliva which you can use on the ball to keep the contest between bat and ball even," Harbhajan added.
Talking about spinners, Harbhajan said without the use of saliva, the ball won't remain in the air that much longer and will also not spin as much.
"If there is no shine on the ball, and if it is only heavy with sweat, the ball won't hang in the air or it won't dip and it won't spin also a lot. There will be problems in gripping also.
"Bowlers will be in more problem. Sweat can only make the ball shine when it is new. But not once it is old," said Harbhajan.
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