Sir Richard Hadlee's big idea to fix cricket's post-coronavirus problem

Publish Date
Saturday, 2 May 2020, 9:34AM


New Zealand cricket great Sir Richard Hadlee has a suggestion to fix cricket's post Covid-19 big problem, that may have fellow fast bowlers rubbing their hands with glee.

One potential threat to cricket's return following the Covid-19 pandemic is the fabled tradition of "shining" the ball. Seam bowlers use saliva and sweat to make one side of the ball shinier than the other, causing it to swing through the air.

Considering a cricket ball goes through the hands of at least 24 people during the course of a match, one of the game's indispensable customs becomes a genuine health hazard amid the pandemic.

On Friday, ESPNcricinfo assistant editor Daniel Brettig reported the ICC is considering the possibility of allowing the use of artificial substances to help polish a cricket ball, eradicating the need to apply saliva and sweat.

The Laws of Cricket clearly state "no artificial substance" can be used to polish a match ball – doing so is commonly referred to as ball-tampering – but under the supervision of umpires in long-form matches, players may be permitted to do so until the coronavirus is contained.

But Hadlee, New Zealand's great bowler having taken 431 test wickets and 158 ODI scalps, has another idea. Make the seam bigger.

Speaking to the Today's Tale website, Hadlee suggested '

"Using saliva on the ball is part of the game and bowlers use it to help shine and buff up the ball. Yes, I used it (saliva). Everyone did," Hadlee said.

"If it is deemed to be a health hazard and medically unsafe, it may need to be banned. Whilst that may not sit comfortably with bowlers or fielders they may have find other legal ways of shining the ball," Sir Richard added.

"Perhaps ball manufactures may need to find a way for the leather on the ball to last longer and keep its shine. A big challenge for them. May be the cricket ball could have an enlarged seam to give the bowlers more assistance".

"The MCC who govern law changes may have to make some decisions."

The practice of shining the ball is an essential component of test cricket. Without a swinging ball, batting against pace bowlers becomes a considerably easier task.

"If we're going to have to have things in play that really change the way we play the game then … we don't want to break the integrity of how we've played in the past," world No 1 bowler Pat Cummins said on Monday.

Australian paceman Josh Hazlewood agreed: "Bowlers rely on any sort of sideways movement in the air.

"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. I'm not sure. It's something that will have to be talked about when we get back out there and hopefully come up with a solution."

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission