Former India pacer and current Chennai Super Kings bowling coach L Balaji said bowlers are trained to applying saliva on balls, saying it would take some effort to adapt to the new saliva ban by ICC.
“From a young age, bowlers are trained to use sweat and saliva on the ball to keep one side polished, shiny and lighter while the other side gradually becomes heavier,” Balaji told The Hindu.
“In fact, the entire team ‘works’ on the ball to ‘maintain’ it. And the use of sweat and saliva is mandatory and legal.”
Maintaining the ball, Balaji explained, was a vital part of swing and even drift for the spinners.
“For the pacemen to achieve conventional and reverse swing, or seam movement, and even for the spinners to get the ball to drift, the weight of the ball and how one side is maintained is vital,” he said.
“Once the ball is looked after, factors such as crosswind, headwind, bowling with the breeze and the cloud cover play a part.
Balaji also recalled an interaction with Pakistan legend Wasim Akram about maintaining the ball.
“Akram told me once the ball started doing something, the Pakistani pacemen would not even allow the fielders to touch a part of the ball with their palm,” he said.
“Akram revealed the palm would be very sweaty and would make one side very heavy, disturbing the delicate balance needed for reverse swing.”
The pacer, however, was against legalising ball tampering to maintain balance between bat and ball.
“When you start tampering, where would you draw the line? How can you say so much tampering is legal and after that it is illegal,” he said. “We have to go by trial and error method. Perhaps a substance such as a sanitiser with which you clean tables and other surfaces can be tried on the ball. But I am not sure.”