Saliva is a must to shine ball, feel Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh

Updated: Apr 26, 2020, 12:25 IST | PTI | New Delhi

Sweat is heavier than saliva but both are heavy enough to make one side of the ball heavier for reverse swing

Ashish Nehra
Ashish Nehra

Saliva and sweat are components that cannot be entirely done away with, insist a few distinguished India cricketers, as the ICC contemplates legalising ball tampering post COVID-19 by using artificial substances to prevent virus spread. Former India pacer Ashish Nehra and spinner Harbhajan Singh feel that saliva's use in shining the ball is a "must". While discussions are at nascent stage, questions are already being asked about what external substances could be used if ball tampering becomes legal?

Is it going to be bottle cap in pocket to scuff up one side of the ball, vaseline to shine (made famous by English cricketer John Lever) or chain zipper? "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," said Nehra, who completely shot down the idea of using external substances. "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.

"It is lighter and doesn't even ensure conventional swing. It can keep the shine, but doesn't make the ball heavy," he added. Harbhajan also agreed that saliva if one has already chewed mint, which has sugar in it, makes it heavier. But when it comes to using external substance, he wants to know what can be the options. "It's not that murray mint can be used without putting it in your mouth.

The coat of sugar on the saliva makes it heavier after one side gets scuffed. A scuffed up ball is also good for spinners as it ensures a better grip than a shiny new ball. But my question is, if you allow, what's the limit?" Harbhajan questioned.

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