The latest edict from the ICC banning the use of saliva on the cricket ball in order to shine it and subsequently aid swing ,is welcome. Even during my lengthy career in the lower reaches of club cricket I can recall at least two bowlers who would appear to lick the ball after it had carried across some of the cow pastures we played on. Most however applied it with their finger before vigorous shining on the flannels as well as picking the seam until it had edges like a razor blade.
Abuse of the ball is almost as historic as the game itself , and was certainly not an invention of the Australian side with a piece of innocent sandpaper stuffed down the front zip of Bancroft’s trousers.
As usual with the Antipodies , subtlety was not their strength , and the mysterious players from the sub-continent had long practiced arts which may to this day have escaped detection. Not that England should get too sanctimonious in this area as even the saintly captain Mike Atherton was found with dust in the pocket of his flannels.
Will this limit his recognition as a knight of the realm ? Although after Theresa May ennobled Sir Geoffrey Boycott and then jumped the queue for MCC membership ,who knows. Whilst musing this I see that Sir Ian Botham has suggested this week that our leader Rod Bransgrove is more deserving of a knighthood than Sir Geoffrey.
All this whilst Mr Bransgrove announces that he is negotiating selling off a percentage of his empire to overseas investors , and taking a more laid back role in the organisation. Although twenty years ago I voted against giving my club to a benevolent dictator the ensuing years have seen the building of an impressive and well run organisation , the envy of many.
All this has been at considerable personal cost to him and we fogeys who gather to watch and enjoy the county championship matches owe him a vote of thanks.
As he quoted in a recent interview outlining setting up his company Shire Pharmaceutical ‘’that was my pre-cricket days. That’s when I was quite sensible with my money’’.
In the same interview he sounded a note of caution about the speed with which a vaccine for the present Covid-19 could be tested and placed on the market , a cautionary note from a man in the industry.
In place of saliva the powers that be have suggested sweat as an alternative , and at last I can see a return to the good old days of more corpulent players who sweat more.
How nice to see the likes of Colin Milburn, Colin Cowdrey , Mike Gatting and ‘beefy ‘Botham who between them could generate a fair size lake of perspiration for polishing the ball. I notice the ICC instructions come from the warmer climates of the World . It would be a miracle if anyone could work up a sweat in The Parks in early April.