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Saliva ban major handicap for pacers, ICC must ensure bowling-friendly pitches in Tests: Irfan Pathan

Irfan Pathan reckons that the ban on using saliva for shining the ball is a significant blow to bowlers and authorities should make bowling-friendly wickets

PTI | New Delhi |

Former India pacer Irfan Pathan reckons that the ban on using saliva for shining the ball is a significant blow to bowlers and authorities should ensure preparation of bowling-friendly Test wickets to prevent complete domination of the game by the batsmen.

The ICC cricket committee, led by former India captain Anil Kumble, has recommended a ban on use of saliva as an interim measure to combat the coronavirus threat.

Pathan feels the ban could even stretch up to two years and will give undue advantage to batsmen.

“You will to have make sure that pithes are more suitable to the bowlers than batsmen to negate the advantage (of not being able use saliva). If you are not able to shine the ball properly, you will not be able to cut the air because of scientific reasons.

“And if you are not able to swing it, the batsman will have it easy because nobody fears just pace, it is the combination of pace and swing that troubles them,” Pathan, one of the best exponents of swing bowling in Indian cricket, told PTI on Sunday.

“It (ban) will affect bowlers a lot in Test matches. It won’t be an issue in white-ball cricket as the bowlers anyway don’t shine the ball after the first few overs, they want to make it soft (to make strokeplay tougher for the batsman).

“But in red-ball cricket, whether you are a fast bowler or spinner, you need to shine the ball. Spinner relies on shine to drift the ball. That will be a big advantage for batsman. The game will become even more batsmen friendly,” said the first Indian pacer to take a Test hat-trick.

More than grass on the pitch, Pathan would prefer moisture beneath it.

“If you look at England and Australia, there is not much grass but there is moisture and it helps bowlers.

“You need to make sure that something happens for the bowler. If not through the ball, then through the conditions. If the conditions are helpful for bowlers they don’t look for reverse swing, they go for conventional swing,” said the 35-year-old.

Pathan said reverse swing only works with extreme pace, which according to him is rare in modern-day cricket.

“For reverse swing, if you can’t hide the ball, then the batsman knows which way the ball would come unless you are bowling 150 kmph plus and there are very few bowlers currently who generate that kind of pace.

“You can still apply some sweat and swing the ball normally but the ban would more or less take reverse swing out of the the game,” Pathan added.