Cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Brett Lee caught up in a virtual conversation to discuss the changing paradigm of international cricket post Covid-19. During their freewheeling but insightful chat, the duo gave their inputs on the challenges and potential solutions to revive the game in current conditions. Both were in agreement that the fast bowlers will be severely affected by the saliva ban and explored ideas to restore the balance.
Fast bowler’s dilemma
Based on the findings of their medical committee, the ICC (International Cricket Council) has now prohibited the use of saliva to maintain the ball’s shine during play. Tendulkar asked Lee to give his opinion as a fast bowler in this regard.
“It’s a tough call…from the age of nine, we are taught to use saliva to polish the ball…it will be very hard to stop. It is like asking a batsman to not use a straight drive. It’s a natural habit. Bowlers may not do it on purpose but it is instinctive,” the Australian pacer replied.
The ICC has allowed the use of sweat, but both Tendulkar and Lee wondered how the bowlers will be able to shine the ball in places with colder temperatures. Tendulkar recalled his playing days when he was one of the fielders entrusted with the duty of maintaining the ball and shared how saliva was more effective than sweat. Lee agreed and added that it would rule out one of the ways of generating reverse swing with the old ball.
Exploring feasible solutions
Tendulkar and Lee discussed various ideas to balance the game for fast bowlers. When Lee opined that the wickets need to be sportier and livelier for the fast bowlers, both legends agreed that it should be followed but will remain a subjective matter since there is no way to quantify it.
Another possible idea that the duo with the combined tally of 17,372 runs and 356 wickets in Test cricket came up with was about the option of a new ball. Tendulkar put forward the notion of allowing the fielding team to opt for a new ball after bowling the first 50 overs. Currently, this provision is set at the 80-over mark. Lee found the idea interesting. His alternate option to this was using a pre-scuffed ball after 40 overs.
Tendulkar also explored the concept of permitting usage of an artificial substance like wax for shining the ball. Lee joked that style-conscious players may use it for their own ‘maintenance’ but on a serious note, the fast bowler was in favour of it.
The tour down under
The Indian team is slated to visit Australia later this year for a long tour. There’s a high possibility that all the matches shall be played without any spectators in attendance. Tendulkar reminisced his memories of how the crowd used to cheer him up.
“You draw so much energy from them…If you have picked a wicket or hit a six, crowd becomes part of that celebration. You want them to amplify that so that the next ball is even better,” said the Master Blaster.
Lee concurred and also floated the idea of playing “Sachinnn…Sachinnn..” on the speakers to make Tendulkar comfortable while doing commentary. The duo ended their conversation on a positive note by hoping that the beloved game will be back as we left it.