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No vaseline, no sandpaper: Ashish Nehra says saliva ‘must’ for swing

Cricket is contemplating legalising ball tampering after play resumes by using artificial substances to shine the ball to prevent virus spread. However, Ashish Nehra explains why there cannot be any substitute for saliva or sweat.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: April 25, 2020 6:47:37 pm
Ashish Nehra said artificial objects cannot get the desired effect for bowlers and that saliva or sweat is essential for conventional swing. (File Photo/BCCI)

Responding to speculations that cricket is considering legalising ‘ball tampering’, so as to do away with bowlers shining the ball with their sweat or saliva, former India cricketer Ashish Nehra said artificial things like vaseline cannot give bowlers the desired effect and spitting on the ball is necessary for conventional swing.

“Get one thing clear at the onset. The ball will not swing if you don’t apply sweat or saliva on the ball. That’s basic necessity of swing bowling. The moment ball gets scuffed up from one side, sweat and saliva must be applied on the other side,” Nehra, who completely shot down the idea of using external substances, told PTI.

According to reports, the ICC is contemplating legalising ball tampering after play resumes after the coronavirus-induced stoppage by using artificial substances to prevent virus spread.

Nehra said why vaseline or other artificial substances like bottle caps or sandpapers alone can’t help a pacer.

“Now let’s understand why do you need saliva? Sweat is heavier than saliva but both are heavy enough to make one side of the ball heavier for reverse swing. Vaseline comes into the picture only after sweat and saliva, not before that.

READ | Umpire Ian Gould puts pen to sandpaper

“It is lighter and doesn’t even ensure conventional swing. It can keep the shine but doesn’t make the ball heavy,” the World Cup-winning former pacer said.

Whether it was advisable for bowlers to use their saliva to shine the ball had become a talking point in the Indian dressing room last month when they were to take on South Africa in a three-match ODI series. Bhuvneshwar Kumar had hinted at limiting the use of saliva but the bowlers were not really tested on that front as the series was called off due to the rising threat from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sachin Tendulkar had earlier said that not using saliva or sweat to shine the ball may be one of the many basic changes cricket could see after resumption. “Shining the ball will change I think,” Tendulkar, who will turn 47 on Friday, told Reuters. “Everyone will be conscious of maintaining social distancing, giving high-fives to each other and hugging after celebrating the fall of a wicket.

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