Former Pakistan captain and one of the greatest exponents of swing bowling, Wasim Akram, has expressed his views on the International Cricket Council's (ICC) ban on the use of saliva to shine the cricket ball, as a precaution in the times of Covid-19.
Akram, who was part of Pakistan's 1992 World Cup winning team, said that bowlers will get almost no swing in such a scenario and will have to wait for the ball to get old.
"It will make bowlers robots, coming and bowling without swing," Akram told news agency AFP.
"It's a quizzical situation for me as I grew up using saliva to shine the ball and to swing it," he added.
"I am all for precautions in these tough times, so bowlers have to wait for the ball to get old and rough for them to get swing.
Fast bowlers have traditionally used saliva and sweat to shine one side of the ball to get swing. But sweat alone is not enough to generate a lot of swing.
"Sweat is just something of an add-on, a top-up. Too much use of sweat will leave the cricket ball too wet," he said.
Akram picked up 414 wickets in Test cricket and 502 wickets in one-day internationals during his long international career, that also saw him captain Pakistan to the final of the 1999 ICC World Cup. The former left armpacer suggested that the ICC needs to look at permitting the use of artificial substance to shine the ball in future.
"I believe that they will need to find a reasonable solution. Artificial substances like vaseline could be used to swing the ball but how much of it?
"Let's see, we have this England versus the West Indies series to judge how it goes, because I have never experienced this thing."
International cricket will resume with West Indies taking on England later this month.
The ICC had on Tuesday confirmed a set of interim rule changes, in line with the recommendations made by its cricket committee led by former India captain Anil Kumble.
Here are some of the major interim changes as per ICC's press release:
COVID-19 Replacements: Teams will be allowed to replace players displaying symptoms of COVID-19 during a Test match. In line with concussion replacements, the Match Referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement.
However, the regulation for COVID-19 replacements will not be applicable in ODIs and T20Is.
Ban on applying saliva to the ball: Players will not be permitted to use saliva to shine the ball. 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.
A team can be issued up to two warnings per innings but repeated use of saliva on the ball will result in a 5-run penalty to the batting side. Whenever saliva is applied to the ball, the umpires will be instructed to clean the ball before play recommences.
Non-neutral umpires: The requirement to appoint neutral match officials will be temporarily removed from the playing conditions for all international formats owing to the current logistical challenges with international travel. The ICC will be able to appoint locally based match officials from the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the Emirates ICC International Panel of Match Officials.
Additional DRS reviews: The CEC has also confirmed an additional unsuccessful DRS review for each team in each innings of a match, keeping in mind that there may be less experienced umpires on duty at times. This will increase the number of unsuccessful appeals per innings for each team to three for Tests and two for the white-ball formats.
Apparel rules change: The ICC relaxed the rules regarding the placement of brand logos on a Test match jersey. "A logo, not exceeding 32 square inches in size, may be placed on the chest of the Test match shirt and sweater in addition to the three other logos allowed as per regulations. As of now, logos on chests are only allowed in ODIs and T20Is."
The ICC Cricket Operations team will support Match Referees when processing Code of Conduct breaches, and a neutral Elite Panel match referee will conduct any hearing remotely via video link."