Bowling in times of COVID-19: Forget reverse swing for now, says Pathan


Team Udayavani, Jul 13, 2020, 7:12 PM IST

New Delhi: If the bio-secure first Test between England and the West Indies is any indicator then fast bowlers across the globe should forget about reverse swing for the time being, feels former India pacer Irfan Pathan.

For another India veteran Ashish Nehra, Jimmy Anderson consistently bowling short of length was an indicator that even conventional swing was bit of a problem due to lack of saliva during the first international cricket match amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ICC banned the use of saliva to shine the ball due to the threat of COVID-19 infection.

“Jimmy Anderson was bowling short of length at times and he never bowls such short of length. Because the Dukes ball wasn’t swinging. The reason being lack of shine with no saliva being allowed and whenever he tried pitching up, the Windies batsmen were driving easily,” Nehra told PTI on Monday.

“Not being able to use saliva when there isn’t much perspiration will be a problem. Anderson’s strength is to pitch it up and get it to swing which leads to caught behind and slip catches. He looked half the bowler when it stopped swinging ” said Nehra.

Pathan, after watching Mark Wood and Jofra Archer bowl on the fifth day under bright sunshine, feels that for sometime, bowlers should “forget about getting reverse with the old ball”.

“Since saliva is thicker, it affects reverse swing more than conventional swing which requires sweat for shining the ball. Till the pandemic is there and the rule stays, the bowlers will have it a bit tougher than usual,” Pathan, one of India’s premier swing bowlers said during an interaction.

So what’s the solution according to Irfan? “Simple. Allow use of external substance or else for sometime forget that reverse swing exists. Make pitches that will be conducive to seam bowling. If you ask me, keep a bit of moisture to make it 60/40 in favour of bowlers. If there’s moisture, the ball would grip the surface and then both sweat and saliva are out of equation, Pathan explained.

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