Saliva in cricket

Why Saliva is the key to swing bowling

International Cricket Council (ICC) has banned saliva to be used for shining the ball and there are hundreds of talks been discussed and shared by the former cricketers and game experts. Before talking further, let’s talk about first why players shine the ball.
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Why to shine the ball?

As the cricket ball gets old in the match after 20-25 overs, especially in test cricket, it gets easy for batsman to hit the ball and play through the line as old ball doesn’t deviate from its original path. Meanwhile new ball swings a bit and it gives bowlers pleasure to bowl and take wickets. With the progress of match, ball lost its shine.

Saliva in cricket
This infographic was taken from researchers at Betway

So to maintain ball’s shine, fielders and bowlers use saliva to get some sort of swing to dismiss the batsman. One side of the ball is polished and cricketers try to maintain its shine so that bowlers can get reverse swing.

Saliva and sweat are the key components for players to use on the ground to shine the ball. But after the Coronavirus pandemic, ICC banned saliva as there are reports that virus can be spread with such kind of acts on the field.

Former South Africa bowler Charl Langeveldt said in an interview to betway that saliva is very important for maintaining ball’s shine, especially in English conditions. Weather conditions help bowlers in England and ball swings a lot. As ball gets old and become rough, saliva is used to maintain the shine at one side. Now things are going to be changed when saliva can’t be used.

“The maintenance of the ball is key, particularly in England. It’s a big plus for one of our bowlers if he can use saliva – it’s a skill looking after the ball. We really focus on polishing it. Somebody gets assigned to looking after the ball and making sure that one side is shiny,” Langeveldt said.

“I don’t know how they’re going to do it. I’m going to be interested to watch how swing bowlers like Jimmy Anderson manage.” So saliva is the key to maintain ball’s shine and it helps bowler to get swing in the air.

Langeveldt took 116 wickets for South Africa in international cricket and played for 4 county clubs in the English summer. So he knows that England conditions allow ball to swing most of the time. Duke ball is also helpful in getting swing through the air and by nature.

“The Dukes always gives you a little bit of something, so hopefully that can continue. We will find ways to shine the ball, whether that’s being a little bit more aggressive on the shining side of things. It’s going to be interesting over the next few weeks, trying to figure out the best way to get the ball moving,” he quoted as saying.

After saliva ban, England to play home series against West Indies and Pakistan. So ex Proteas bowler said that it would be interesting to see how thing work for bowlers and fielding side when ball gets old and you can’t use saliva to maintain shine.


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