The coronavirus pandemic could lead to a major rule change in cricket, according to a report by ESPNCricinfo. Once international cricket resumes, players could be legally allowed to use artificial substances to shine the ball in day games but under the supervision of the umpires. This, as per the current International Cricket Council rules, amounts to ball-tampering.

The report has stated that administrators are “open to the option of allowing for the use of an agreed artificial substance to polish the ball under the supervision of the umpires”.

The matter of saliva being unsafe was raised by the ICC’s medical committee and it would be addressed before cricket resumes. All sports activities have come to a halt after the Covid-19 outbreak.

Following the chief executives meeting on Thursday, ICC medical committee, headed by Peter Harcourt, had issued an update.

“Our next step is to create a roadmap for the resumption of international cricket which will include a criteria for decision making and a checklist for what needs to happen. This will consider everything from player preparation to government restrictions and advisories and bio-bubbles. The scale and complexity of getting cricket started again cannot be underestimated particularly with respect to a global event,” Harcourt said.

Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood recently said that Test cricket will become harder if the bowlers did not have enough means to move the ball. “I think the white ball would be fine, but Test cricket would be very hard. Bowlers rely on any sort of sideways movement in the air,” he said. “If you didn’t maintain the ball at all for 80 overs it would be quite easy to bat after that initial shine has gone. Whether you use saliva or sweat, maybe one person can do it.”

Former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad said he is in favour of the idea to not use saliva on the ball. “When the action resumes, they should use only sweat for some time as safety of the players is paramount,” Prasad, who played 33 Tests and 161 ODIs for India, told PTI.

However, he reckons it will be tough for the bowlers to stop doing that all of a sudden. “When you are in the thick of things, you tend to forget it. You have to get the upper hand over the batsmen as you can’t use anything else besides sweat and saliva. The question is what do you do when the batsman is pulping you? You need to swing the ball and what helps swing the ball is the aerodynamics,” said Prasad.

(With inputs from PTI)