In a first, Dominic Sibley forced the on-field umpires to bring out their disinfectants and clean the ball during the first session of Day 4 of the second Test against West Indies at Old Trafford, Manchester on Sunday.
After England declared for 469/9 on day 2, West Indies had finished the day on 32/1 with Kraigg Brathwaite and nightwatchman Alzarri Joseph in the middle. Saturday was a washout. But the incident which occurred on the fourth day happened when England centurion Sibley accidentally used saliva on the ball at the end of a Chris Woakes over.
After the 41st over of the innings, umpire Michael Gough unsealed a sanitised tissue and rubbed the ball on both sides. This is the first instance of a player applying saliva on the ball since the new rules came in.
Under the COVID-19 protocols, deliberate or inadvertent attempts of using saliva on the ball will get the team a warning. Upon two warnings, the team will be imposed with a five-run penalty.
Before the second Test, Dom Bess had remarked that playing with the new restrictions wasn’t easy. “It’s certainly different,” said the England off-spinner.
“The first Test was a great challenge in terms of how we can get the ball swinging and how we can sort of look after the ball with just sweat. As a fielder who sweats a lot, I took responsibility to try to shine the ball. I guess the real challenge with it was making it not dull and not putting too much sweat on the ball.”
After the incident, Twitter was abuzz with the incident and one of the fans had a rather interesting point of view. “I want to know where hand sanitizer ranks as a ball-shining agent,” wrote @sharma972.
West Indies are still 152 runs adrift of avoiding the follow-on, and if England have to force a result from the match they would have to wrap up the Caribbean side soon.