Anil Kumble Spit and saliva

Spit and saliva can carry COVID-19 and thus need to be banned. No doubt COVID-19 threat and the new normal for life – will change the game of cricket as well. While the administrators are pondering over the future of the game and fixtures already announced but not yet actioned due to lockdowns all over the world, one thing that unites them all over the world is – the need to make the game, venues and practices employed in playing cricket to be “COVID-safe”.

The Anil Kumble-headed ICC Cricket Committee has made a recommendation that the spit and saliva used to polish the cricket ball must be stopped. As a major health precaution in the game, bowlers and players must be barred from using spit and saliva to shine the ball. However the experts’ panel which joined through a conference call expressed the view that it was okay for the players to use their sweat to help shine the ball.

Medical advice

The recommendation came after the cricket committee heard from Dr. Peter Harcourt, chair of ICC’s medical advisory committee. Dr Harcourt was of the view that there was a high risk of the virus being transmitted through spit and saliva.  The expert panel then unanimously agreed to recommend a ban on using spit and saliva to polish the ball.

The experts were looking at the changes required in the technical aspects of the game – making the game to be COVID-Safe.

It has been a long tradition to have neutral match officials – officials from non-playing nations which may be difficult due to travel bans. The experts recommended non-neutral match officials could be posted for international matches as an interim step to deal with global travel restrictions. 

However the world attention has been on how the match ball should be shined which us usually done using sweat, spit and saliva. The recommendation to ban the use of spit and saliva will go before the chief executives’ committee in early June for approval.

“We’re living through extraordinary times and the recommendations the committee have made today are interim measures to enable us to safely resume cricket in a way that preserves the essence of our game whilst protecting everyone involved,” Anil Kumble, head of the panel said in an ICC statement.

Without any research or evidence that sweat could carry and transmit the virus, the experts agreed that there was no need to prohibit its use on the ball.

Given the new normal living with COVID-19, some fixtures and tours will be remodelled – trimming down travel by holding multiple games at the same venue once the administration was satisfied with the stricter hygiene, health and safety on and around the playing field and touring teams’ boarding arrangements.


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