Ngidi on saliva ban: Damp towel could be an alternative

ICC has banned players from using saliva to shine the balls as an interim health safety measure in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lungi Ngidi has been named Cricket South Africa’s T20 cricketer of the year.   -  Getty Images

South Africa pacer Lungi Ngidi feels that bowlers will have to find news ways to overcome the ban on the usage of saliva to shine a cricket ball and one of them could be using a wet towel.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has banned the use of saliva on ball as an interim health safety measure in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — a move that has raised concerns about the game becoming even more batsmen friendly.

READ | Phil Simmons on saliva ban: We have found other ways to shine the ball

“Once they said there’s no saliva, a few of the batsmen posted on the group that now they are going to be driving on the up, so already we can see what type of mentality the batsmen are coming with,” Ngidi was quoted as saying by espncricinfo.com.

“So now we have to find a game plan to get the ball to swing. Probably a damp towel is the best thing but you’ve got to find something somehow, to shine it,”

To ensure safety in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, a high-performance South African squad of 45 players are currently practising in groups of not more than five players at their domestic franchise grounds.

Talking about it, the 24-year-old fast bowler said, “We have to book sessions now so there are certain groups of guys that come in at a certain time and when they are done, another group comes in.

“As the bowlers, we each have our net. We each have our balls. There is no touching and hardly any communication as well. Before going to gym, you have to let them know so they can sanitise the area before you come in and sanitise once you leave for the next group.”

He said it’s very “frustrating” and “feels weird” but also necessary at this point in COVID-19 times.

“There’s temperature checks at the gate, there’s hand sanitisers, we fill out forms, it’s a whole process before you can actually bowl a cricket ball. It feels like some bio-hazard kind of event has happened,” Ngidi said.

“There’s no touching, you barely ever take your masks off other than when you are within a certain distance of people. We no longer go into the change rooms. You get changed in your car and you go straight to the field or straight to the indoor nets. We don’t gather in groups anymore.”

READ | Saliva is important for spinners too, says Yuzvendra Chahal

Ngidi, who was named Cricket South Africa’s T20 cricketer of the year on last Saturday, also feels that the South Africa national team should seriously consider taking a stand in Black Lives Matter protests which has engulfed the world, given South Africa’s history of segregation during the apartheid era.

“As a nation, we have a past that is very difficult, with racial discrimination, so it’s definitely something we will be addressing as a team and if we are not, it’s something I will bring up,” Ngidi said.

“It’s something that we need to take very seriously and like the rest of the world is doing, make the stand.” 

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