Coronavirus may take shine off Indian cricket's saliva swing tactics

By: AFP      Published: 05:07 PM, 11 Mar, 2020
Coronavirus may take shine off Indian cricket's saliva swing tactics
Indian cricketers attend a practice session ahead of tomorrow's first ODI of three match series between India and South Africa at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala. AFP

Using saliva to shine the cricket ball could be banned for Indian players in the one-day series clash against South Africa over coronavirus concerns, paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar said Wednesday.

India has insisted the three matches against South Africa will go ahead despite growing fears over the virus. The number of cases in India has doubled to 60 in four days. The disease can be spread when small droplets containing it land on objects that are then touched by a person, who then touches their eyes, nose or mouth, according to the World Health Organization.

Kumar said the Indian cricket team consulted doctors on Wednesday about whether to use saliva, which bowlers rub on one side of the leather ball to help it swing.

A decision will be taken at a team meeting ahead of the first game in Dharamsala on Thursday, he said. "I can't say right now we will not use saliva because if we don't use saliva then how will we shine the ball?" Kumar told reporters. "Then we will get hit and you people will say you are not bowling well."

Kumar said bowlers would follow the doctors' orders: "Whatever instruction we get or whatever is the best option we will do." They have already been told to stay away from fans. South Africa coach Mark Boucher has said his players should avoid handshakes at matches because of the virus, which has killed more than 4,000 people worldwide.

Cricket South Africa approved the India tour after medical and security experts gave it the green light. Team captain Quinton De Kock said both teams had been tested and were healthy, adding South Africa would continue to use saliva.

"We will still shine the ball. Our team doctors and management have made sure we are all fit and don't have coronavirus. We will still attend to that and keep the ball shining," he told reporters.

Kumar insisted all players will take every precaution to tackle the coronavirus, but refused to speculate on whether the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament should start on March 29. "You cannot say anything right now because it (the virus) is taking a dangerous situation in India," said Kumar.

The second international is in Lucknow on Sunday and the third in Kolkata on March 18.