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Australia consider disinfecting ball to lower health risks

Player health is a major concern as the game seeks to return from the coronavirus shutdown and the International Cricket Council’s cricket committee has recommended a ban on shining the ball with saliva.

Australia's batsman Steve Smith avoids a bouncer from New Zealand bowler Neil Wagner on the first day of the second cricket Test match at the MCG in Melbourne on 26 December 2019. Picture: AFP

MELBOURNE - Cricket Australia (CA) is exploring the possibility of disinfecting the ball during matches to minimise the health risk to players during the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of its medical team said on Wednesday.

Player health is a major concern as the game seeks to return from the coronavirus shutdown and the International Cricket Council’s cricket committee has recommended a ban on shining the ball with saliva.

“Disinfecting the ball is a consideration,” CA Sports Science and Sports Medicine Manager Alex Kountouris said in a video-conference.

“We don’t know the impact on the ball because we haven’t tested it. We’d obviously have to test it, we’d have to speak to the ICC and get permission...”

“The ball being leather, it’s harder to disinfect because it’s got little nooks and crevices.

“So we don’t know how effective it’s going to be, we don’t know how infected the ball is going to get and we don’t know if it’s going to be allowed.

“But it’s absolutely a consideration. Everything is on the table at the moment, everything is being considered.”

Kountouris said the proposed ban on shining the ball with saliva would be difficult for players to get used to.

“Some people are used to licking their fingers before they grab the ball. People are used to shining the ball with their fingers ... there are going to be mistakes at some point,” he added.

“I imagine we are going to take a commonsense approach and understand that people make mistakes and things are not going to be perfect.”

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