Irfan Pathan, former Indian fast bowler, has urged the cricket administrators to focus on preparing more bowler-friendly pitches now that the practice of banning the usage of saliva on a cricket ball has been banned in the wake of COVID-19.
Last week, the International Cricket Council made quite a few changes to the playing conditions in the post-COVID world, and the ban on the usage of saliva was one of them. Pathan, who claimed 301 wickets for India between 2003-2012, in an exclusive interview to PTI, reckoned that preparing bowler-friendly pitches is the only way to keep the fast bowlers relevant in the game.
“You will to have make sure that pitches 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,” Irfan Pathan told PTI.
He added: “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.”
Leave a considerable amount of moisture on the pitches: Irfan Pathan to ICC
The former left-arm fast bowler reckoned that the ban on saliva will affect bowlers in Test cricket to a considerable extent since they shine one side of the ball with the help of sweat in order to generate reverse-swing while spinners too will struggle since they rely on the drift.
“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),” Irfan Pathan explained.
He added: “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.”
As far as the pitches are concerned, Pathan reckoned that leaving grass on the surface will not be enough. The former fast bowler batted for the tracks that comprise a considerable amount of moisture, such as those in England and Australia.
“If you look at England and Australia, there is not much grass but there is moisture and it helps bowlers,” he expressed. “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,” he added.