Bengaluru: The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Cricket Committee, led by Anil Kumble, recently recommended the ban on the use of saliva to shine the cricket ball due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the bowlers have not supported it, here is a legendary Indian cricketer who has backed the move and called for a total ban on the “most unhygienic practice”.

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“We are 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,” Kumble had said on May 18 after a meeting of the ICC committee to address issues related to the coronavirus.

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“The ICC Cricket Committee heard from the chair of the ICC Medical Advisory Committee Dr Peter Harcourt regarding the elevated risk of the transmission of the virus through saliva, and unanimously agreed to recommend that the use of saliva to polish the ball be prohibited.

“The Committee also noted the medical advice that it is highly unlikely that the virus can be transmitted through sweat and saw no need to prohibit the use of sweat to polish the ball whilst recommending that enhanced hygiene measures are implemented on and around the playing field,” ICC said in a statement.

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When Asianet Newsable asked Kirmani for his views on the ban of saliva to shine the ball, India’s 1983 World Cup winner and wicketkeeping great supported it.

“I don’t know who started it (using saliva to shine the cricket ball) and where it started from,” Kirmani wondered while speaking to Asianet Newsable. “Using your tongue and saliva is the most unhygienic habit. The bowlers have inculcated into themselves like blind followers.”

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Stating that sweat should be used by the bowlers, the 70-year-old said, “You have the sweat; use that to shine the ball. As it is, the dirtiest part of the human body, outwardly, is the mouth. The guys who don’t know this, can check with their doctors. Dirt is formulated in the mouth throughout the day, until you go to sleep. You don’t know what sort of ailments you are taking inside by taking the saliva out or the mint, gum you are chewing.”

Kirmani called for a total ban on the use of saliva. “I disagree with anybody using saliva to shine the cricket ball. I don’t think it gives an added advantage to the bowlers by using saliva. The use of saliva should be totally banned. According to me, taking the saliva out and putting it on the ball is the most unhygienic practice by the bowlers.”

Australia’s Mitchell Starc, veteran Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh and several other bowlers have opined that the ‘no saliva’ rule is not good for the bowlers. Starc said cricket could become 'pretty boring' due to 'no saliva' rule.