‘Helpful pitches’ can bring balance between bat and ball: Anil Kumble

Even as most bowlers around the world have been left sweating over his panel’s decision to ban the use of saliva due to medical reasons in cricket post Covid-19, Anil Kumble has dropped in a couple of key words that may offer them succour: ‘helpful pitches.’ He feels it’s not just pacers, but even spinners who could find themselves back in the game if they get “roughed up” surfaces.

The ICC cricket committee, which is chaired by the leg spin great, has been in focus for not allowing use of any artificial substances on the ball in the absence of saliva. But speaking on Wednesday at a FICCI Sports Committee webinar on ‘Sporting Events: Embracing the new Normal,’ Kumble defended the move vigorously.

“Looking after the bowlers is not just about using an artificial substance on the ball. For the last so many years, we’ve been very stringent on what you use on the ball,” said India’s highest Test wicket-taker, before reminding the audience that it wasn’t too long ago that cricket witnessed ‘Sandpapergate.’

“In the recent past, the ICC came hard at a few players (for doctoring the ball) and Cricket Australia (CA) came much harder. All these years, we’ve been very stringent on what to use and what not to use on the ball. To do that now, because of Covid, is something that we unanimously agreed that we should not do,” he said. Kumble believes that instead of providing artificial substances to help the bowlers shine the ball, the authorities can keep the bowlers in the game by providing pitches which aid their art.

“Cricket is a very different sport. The advantage that cricket has over other sports is that there is an adjustable element in the pitch. We in the cricket committee believe that if you want a better balance between bat and the ball, you can still probably leave grass on the surface, or even rough it up and have two spinners. Let’s get spinners back in the game in a Test,” he said.

“If it’s an ODI or a T20, you’re not really worried about the shining of the ball. Sweat can certainly take care of that. In a Test, why not get two spinners? We’d love to have two spinners playing in Australia or perhaps England, which doesn’t happen often outside the subcontinent. So, in cricket, you can play around with the surface and bring about the balance between bat and the ball.

“All of us are yearning to start the game and not really worry about saliva or sweat or what’s the condition of the ball. So, our idea was just to kick-start cricket. Play the sport and I’m sure that things will fall into place,” he stressed.

Source: TOI

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