Irfan Pathan: Players will take time to get used to ball shining rules

Irfan Pathan believes that it will take some time for the players to get used to the new rules towards shining the cricket ball without using saliva.

Irfan Pathan says it would have been difficult for bowlers if applying sweat on the ball too was prohibited.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

The International Cricket Council (ICC)’s cricket committee recommended banning the use of saliva to shine the ball, in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Anil Kumble-led committee, however, saw no need to prohibit the use of sweat.

Former India pace ace Irfan Pathan believes that it will take some time for the players to get used to the new rules. “It is the need of the hour for sure. It would have been difficult had they even not allowed the use of sweat. Shining the ball is most important for any bowler, especially if you want to swing the ball. If you want maximum swing, you need to shine the ball,” Pathan told Sportstar during an Instagram Live session on Tuesday.

READ: Coronavirus: Kumble-led ICC committee recommends ban on saliva to shine ball  

“Using the spit makes the ball heavy and that sometimes actually help the bowlers to get reverse swing. But now, the players need to do that with sweat,” Pathan said.

However, he is apprehensive that going forward, players may use the spit by mistake. "This is something they have been doing throughout their career. Even I have done that since childhood. Suddenly, when the new rule comes in, it will take some time for the bowlers to get used to it. But I am sure, the umpires will keep reminding the players about the new rules,” Pathan, who quit international cricket in January, said.

Having featured in 29 Tests, 120 ODIs and 24 T20Is for India, Pathan understands that the new guidelines will be a challenge for the bowlers, at least in the longer format of the game.

“The batsmen will find it easier if the ball does not swing. The T20Is or the ODIs might not get that much affected, because these days, the teams hit the ball on the ground and make it softer. They don’t rely on swing in the last few overs.

A new challenge

But in Tests, you need to use the spit because there are different sessions and swing is important,” Pathan said.

“In the morning session, the ball is hard and it swings. In the afternoon session, the batsmen relishes the most, so if there is no swing, it will be challenging for the bowlers. Not using the spit will definitely have an impact and teams will take time to get used to it,” the 35-year-old said.

Over the last few weeks, there have been debates on whether cricket will lose its charm if the spectators are not allowed to watch the action.

READ: Will have to get used to new normal: Ishant on possible ban on use of saliva  

“There is no issue. It is important to play live cricket, and like many, even I have been missing that. I can’t imagine that there hasn’t been live cricket for two months. So, people will like live cricket, even if there is no crowd,” he said. “The charm will be missing for sure. When you play in front of a crowd, the experience is different. But I have seen both -- playing domestic cricket in front of no crowd and also playing international cricket in packed stands. Even Australian cricketers play four-day cricket in front of no crowd. Their money comes from sponsorship.”

Having played county cricket for Middlsex in 2005, Pathan agrees that things are different in England. “England is different. During my stint with Middlesex, I saw people coming out in large numbers to watch county cricket. So, yes, the charm will be less, but people will be entertained when live cricket returns.”

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