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No spit rule: Cricket introduces ban on using SALIVA to shine the ball

No spit rule: Cricket introduces ban on using SALIVA to shine the ball
Cricket players will be banned from using their own saliva to shine the ball during games, with a five-run penalty set to be introduced if umpired spot any spit-related indiscretions during play.

The International Cricket Council (ICC), which establishes and oversees the rules of the sport, issued the rule addition as part of a series of measures to ensure the safety of players and officials amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The practice of using spit to shine a cricket ball is an age-old technique, with bowlers and fielders routinely using their saliva to shine one half of the ball, while leaving the other half to get roughed up through the wear and tear of the day's play.

As the ball gets rougher on one side, while smooth on the other, it allows skilled bowlers to make the ball "swing" in the air, moving laterally through its flight, and making it much harder for batsmen to hit.

However, the use of saliva to help shine the ball has now been outlawed, with the ICC clarifying the rule this week, with teams warned in the first instance, then handed five-run penalties for subsequent indiscretions.

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"If a player does apply saliva to the ball, the umpires will manage the situation with some leniency during an initial period of adjustment for the players, but subsequent instances will result in the team receiving a warning," the ICC said.

Former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee suggested the cricket community could come up with an alternative substance that could be allowed to help shine the ball.

"Maybe try a new substance that they can potentially use that everyone agrees with, that the batsmen are happy with, that the bowlers are happy with," he said.

If saliva is applied to the ball, the umpires will be instructed to clean it before play recommences, though no details were given on how that cleaning would be undertaken.

The players will be watched by the umpires on the field, as well as a match referee in the stands, who is in constant contact with the on-field umpire.

If a penalty is imposed, the batting team will have five runs added to their total.

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