Saliva ban may make cricket 'boring', says Mitchell Starc

Mitchell Starc, the Australian pace ace, said if bowlers were disadvantaged by a saliva ban, they should be given more leeway elsewhere.

Australia's Mitchell Starc said ground staff could be ordered not to produce batsman-friendly flat wickets.   -  Getty Images

Cricket runs the risk of becoming “pretty boring” if balance is not struck between bat and ball in the wake of the coronavirus-linked ban on using saliva to shine the ball, Australia’s premier pacer Mitchell Starc warned on Tuesday.

This will also discourage youngsters to take up fast bowling in future, he reckoned.

“We don’t want to lose that or make it less even, so there needs to be something in place to keep that ball swinging,” Starc told reporters during an online press conference.

“Otherwise people aren’t going to be watching it and kids aren’t going to want to be bowlers. In Australia in the last couple of years we’ve had some pretty flat wickets, and if that ball’s going straight it’s a pretty boring contest,” he added.

READ: Saliva ban is an interim measure: Kumble

The ICC cricket committee, led by former India captain Anil Kumble, recently pushed for a ban on the use of saliva to combat the coronavirus threat.

Starc feels bowlers should be allowed to shine the ball in other ways for the time being.

“It’s an unusual time for the world and if they’re going to remove saliva shining for a portion of time they need to think of something else for that portion of time as well,” he said.

One of the leading wicket takers with the pink ball, Starc said he is looking forward to playing a day-night Test in the home series against India.

In its previous tour in 2018-19, India secured their first-ever Test series win Down Under. Although the visitors had declined to play a day-night game then, in February BCCI president Sourav Ganguly announced that India has agreed to one later this year.

“I think absolutely a pink-ball Test in the series against India is a great thing. The fans love it, I think it creates a different aspect to the contest, bat and ball are closer together in that contest,” Starc said.

READ: Ball shining post-COVID, Balaji says go by trial and error method

While Australia featured in the first ever day-night Test against New Zealand back in 2015 and has played seven games since then, India played its only pink ball match last November against Bangladesh.

“India played a pink-ball game in India so they’re not completely foreign to it. In terms of an advantage, if you like, we do have a good record at home with the pink ball,” Starc said.

But the 30-year-old played down the “advantage”, saying, “That might come into a home-ground advantage and it’s no different to us going to India and they’ve got the advantage there.

“It’d be great to have a pink-ball contest in that series and from the little bits I’ve seen and heard, India are very much open to that as well so that’s fantastic,” he added.

Starc also said he wouldn’t mind if Cricket Australia allows some of its biggest players to miss the early part of the country’s domestic season to play in a rescheduled Indian Premier League.

“Do I have an issue with it? I don’t think so. They’re pre-existing contracts. There’s a lot of things that would have to go into that I assume ... Cricket Australia would have to clear those guys so if they’re clear to go, I don’t see a problem with it,” he said.

“They’re pre-existing contracts and they would have been playing anyway. There’s obviously a different hurdle of domestic cricket there. It’d be an interesting decision, not one I’d have to make, so I’ll let them make their decisions,” he added.

The left-arm pacer added that if a change of schedule allows, he could reconsider playing in the IPL. Starc had earlier opted out of the 13th IPL.

“I’d consider it, I’d think about it. Obviously it’d be right at the start of our domestic season as well so it’d be a fair bit to consider. But I don’t currently have a contract, so I currently don’t have to worry.”

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