Cricket chief Anil Kumble hopes a ban on using saliva to shine the ball after the coronavirus shutdown could see a resurgence of spin bowling in Test cricket. The International Cricket Council is expected to order a temporary ban next week on using spit as a shining agent, as part of measures to get the sport restarted. Fast bowlers could struggle to swing the ball under the new rules with Australian quick bowler Mitchell Starc saying the game could be come "boring" if batters dominate.
But Kumble, the former Indian Test captain and now chairman of the ICC cricket committee that recommended the ban, is hoping spinners could play a bigger part as a result. "You can probably leave grass on the surface or even rough it up and have two spinners," he told an online forum on Wednesday.
"Let's get spinners back in the game in a Test match. Because if it's a one-day or T20 game, you're not worried about the ball or shining of the ball."
The former leg-spinner said he would love to see "two spinners playing in Australia, two spinners playing in England, which never happens."
And he said that ground staff could create pitch conditions to favour spinners. "In cricket you have the surface you can play around with and bring about a balance between bat and ball," he said.
"All of us are yearning to start the game and not really worried about saliva or sweat or condition of the ball -- we just want to play cricket."
Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah said earlier this week there should be an alternative to saliva when cricket resumes while fellow paceman Mohammed Shami said sweat is not a viable replacement. Australian ball manufacturer Kookaburra is developing a wax applicator to shine the ball, but the world body is reluctant to allow artificial aids.
Kumble believes that allowing an artificial substance on the ball would kill the creativity of the sport. "We've been very strict about substances that have been used on the ball," he said. Cricket, like nearly all sport, was halted in March when India and many other nations ordered lockdowns.