Cricket is a batsman’s game as of today. There are no two ways about it. Over the years, the game has evolved in a number of ways and most of them have been advantageous for batsmen. Pitches have become flatter, grounds have become smaller and bats have become thicker. The game seems to be stacked against bowlers, and recent developments suggest that it’s only going to get tougher for them. Especially for pacers. Read betway cricket article, how experts feel about it.
For fast bowlers, there is a limited scope to attack in white-ball cricket. In 50-over games, there are two new balls used and reverse swing is out of the equation. So as a pacer, you try to move the new ball around in the first powerplay before playing a defensive role in the rest of the innings. And as far as the shortest format is concerned, wicket-takers are still crucial to teams but it is more about variations like the slower deliveries and yorkers. More and more, bowlers rely on innovation and their own skills than receiving any assistance from the balls while modern-day bats make the batsmen ever more dangerous.
Recently, the ICC announced that players will have to get rid of an age-old tradition – using saliva to shine the ball. With hygiene, a priority due to the coronavirus threat, the ICC’s Cricket Committee, led by Anil Kumble, has taken this interim measure to minimize the risk to players’ health. While this decision is justified, it also brings with it yet another advantage for batsmen. Saliva plays a key role in the success of fast bowlers. A new ball, especially, bank greatly on it to be maintained. Saliva is the best option for fixing the small scrape on a new ball. Sweat proves to be counterproductive early on as it soaks the ball and makes it heavier.
This change suggested by the ICC will lead to bowlers struggling to generate swing and the balance tilting further in favor of batsmen. To avoid this from happening, there are several workarounds being suggested by those interested in the game. Former India captain Kumble said he would like to see more spinner-friendly pitches, Australian legend Shane Warne feels one side of the ball should be made heavier so that there’s always some swing on offer, and former England cricketer Mark Nicholas reckons the umpires should carry a small jar of wax or gel to polish the ball from time to time.
Return Of The Dark Arts?
It’s unlikely that any of these solutions being offered will see the light of day, but what seems certain is that fast bowlers are in for a real challenge without saliva. They will need to relearn an art they mastered after many, many years of hard work. As a bowler, you’re used to having a certain kind of arm rotation and wrist position to deliver each of your variations, and if the lack of saliva reduces the amount of swing, you will have to bring about compelling changes to your methods.
Earlier, with cameras not being as focused and umpires not being neutral, players got away with a lot more than they can these days. Coins, lip balm, bottle tops, and even sandpaper may not be viable options in today’s day and age, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of players trying subtle ways of tampering the ball going forward.