Friday December 03, 2021

Pakistan bowlers getting used to Covid-19 restrictions

July 02, 2020

KARACHI: Old habits die hard. Pakistan’s fast bowlers are finding it a bit of a challenge to stop themselves from applying saliva to shine the cricket ball during training in Worcester ahead of next month’s three-Test series against England.

The pacers were part of Pakistan’s 20-man squad which carried out two full training sessions on a cold and breezy day on Wednesday at the New Road Stadium in Worcester. They are staying at the stadium as part of a 14-day quarantine period but have been allowed to train after returning another round of negative tests for Covid-19 following their arrival in England last Sunday.

Fast bowlers including the highly-rated Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Abbas and teenage sensation Naseem Shah bowled at full throttle during the training sessions under the supervision of pace legend Waqar Younis, the team’s bowling coach.

According to a team official, it was an enjoyable session for Pakistan’s cricket-starved players but time and again Waqar and other team officials had to remind the bowlers to refrain from using saliva to shine the ball.

That’s because according to the Covid-19 restrictions, the use of saliva to shine the ball has been banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The decision was taken because saliva is considered to be a transmitter of Covid-19 infection unlike sweat which will still be allowed to shine the ball.

Pakistan’s players will have to get fully used to this restriction ahead of their first Test against England which is expected to begin at Old Trafford on August 5. The Pakistanis will play two more Tests and then feature in a three-match Twenty20 International series before returning home early September.

According to the ICC, repeated violation of the saliva ban would at first invite a warning before a five-run penalty is imposed on the team.

“Players will not be permitted to use saliva to shine the ball. If a player does apply saliva to the ball, the umpires will manage the situation with some leniency during an initial period of adjustment for the players, but subsequent instances will result in the team receiving a warning,” the ICC said in a statement last month.

A team official said that Pakistan’s players will soon get used to abiding by this restriction as they have plenty of time ahead of the Test series.

Meanwhile, the team’s management has announced training plans for the national squad during its stay in Worcester.

The players will have daily training sessions and will play two intra-squad matches at the New Road Stadium during their stay in Worcester. The first practice match will be played on July 5-6 followed by the second one on July 11-12. The team will leave Worcester on July 13, moving to Derby where it will hold its final leg of preparations ahead of the Test series.