The International Cricket Council (ICC) has introduced interim measures that ensure players who display novel coronavirus symptoms during a Test match can be replaced immediately. The global cricket governing body has also temporarily banned the practice of applying saliva to shine the ball during the games because of fears of spreading the deadly virus.
In case any player is found to have breached the new rules, his team would be penalised five runs. It is understood that the new regulations would be implemented during England’s home Test series against West Indies, which begins on July 8.
Meanwhile, the West Indies cricket team became the first international sports side to arrive in the UK since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.
Traditionally, substitute fielders for ill or injured players were always available in cricket. But those substitutes couldn’t bat or bowl. The only time a replacement could bat or bowl is when any player in the original playing eleven suffered a concussion.
With the introduction of the new substitution rules, not only could sick players be replaced with healthy ones, but the replacement could now also be used for batting and bowling. Reports suggest that the coronavirus replacements would only be permitted in international Test matches, not in Twenty20 or one-day internationals.
The BBC claims that umpires would initially show leniency towards cricketers who mistakenly apply saliva to the ball, considering it as a “period of adjustment” to the regulations.
Subsequently, teams will be warned twice during an innings. Once the two warnings are completed, further indiscretions will lead to penalty runs being added to the opponent’s total score.
In cricket, especially in Tests, the role that a shining ball plays is indispensable. It helps the fast bowlers swing the ball. In modern-day cricket, batsmen have been getting more advantages than bowlers. In such a situation, not being able to shine the ball would eventually hurt the bowlers’ performance and their statistics.
The ICC’s cricket committee has taken such a serious factor into consideration and permitted the players to shine the ball using sweat. Last month, the committee heard medical advice that suggested it is unlikely that coronavirus could be transmitted through sweat.
The ICC has also made some temporary changes by lifting the requirement to appoint neutral match officials due to “logistical challenges” of international travel. This means that British umpires could stand during the series against West Indies.