The International Cricket Council are proposing a ban on using spit on the ball when the sport returns, which could see players punished if caught.
The ICC are set to publish their ‘return to cricket’ guidance later this month, which are designed to help all levels of cricket return in a safe and healthy way following the coronavirus hiatus.
And, according to The Times, one of the measures includes a five-run penalty to a team if a player is caught using their saliva to shine up the ball.
However, sweat would be permitted.
The ICC’s cricket committee, chaired by former India spin bowler Anil Kumble, has proposed these new measures, and the ICC board will meet on May 28 to consider the recommendations.
Umpires are also expected to be told not to hold players’ caps and jumpers when they are bowling.
It is understood that most officials favour a soft approach to implementing the proposed regulation, with a number of reminders before any sanction is imposed.
It is agreed that there would need to be some punishment for repeated offences, but officials would prefer not to go down the route of fining or banning players.
Under present playing regulations, using an artificial substance to alter the condition of the ball is counted as a level one breach of the guidelines and usually comes with a one-match ban.
If saliva is banned, it could be categorised as an ‘artificial or external substance’ and so carry the same sanction.
However, it is likely that the ICC will want to avoid disciplinary hearings, fines and bans for something that is second nature to most bowlers, with high potential for inadvertent infringement.
More likely is that there will be some sort of penalty imposed during play — either a no-ball with two additional runs or five runs given to the batting side.
Even if it was not done intentionally, the new measures could lead to numerous ball changes during a match.
Another option would be for the umpires to clean or disinfect the ball before it is used again — but that also raises questions about altering the state of the ball using an artificial substance, in this case the disinfectant.
As part of the strict protocols to minimise the risk from COVID-19, players will have to leave their caps and jumpers at the boundary edge rather than handing them either to the umpire or another player.
The virus is understood to linger on clothes for several hours.
Revised playing conditions and the corresponding sanctions and protocols will be issued in advance of any return to cricket and will cover all international cricket that takes place during the pandemic.