Former India international Ajit Agarkar feels that should players test negative for the coronavirus, the authorities can then at least consider allowing them to apply saliva to shine the ball. Last week, the International Cricket Council (ICC) banned saliva from being applied to ball as part of its several measures taken in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“My only contention is that players who will play, will eventually be tested before the game starts. If they are found to be COVID-19 negative then I can at least consider that it will be then safe to put saliva on the ball,” Agarkar told PTI.

“This is my opinion and probably someone from the medical field can give us a broader view on the subject,” he added.

Agarka, who played 191 ODIs and 26 Tests, though said he understands why ICC’s Cricket and Medical committees took the decision to go with the ban. England are set to host West Indies for a three-match Test series from July 8 and thus it will become the first international series where the new rules will be implemented.

“It is very important to shine the ball and there are no two ways about it but it’s a difficult one for the committees as well to straightway after resumption say, ‘ok you can use (saliva) it’,” he said. “Obviously, they have taken a safe approach and in current situation it is understandable. But we will have to wait and see once England series is underway. It’s not going to be easy for the bowlers. But we will have to wait.”

Agarkar, who took 349 wickets during his international career, said the ban on saliva will load the game in favour of batsmen even more.

“If you ask any bowler, everyone will be a bit apprehensive. In recent times, though the pitches have been quite helpful for bowlers which lends a little bit more balance but overall if you see, batsmen do dominate world cricket at the moment,” the 42-year-old said.

He said saliva is basically as important for a bowler as a bat is to a batsman.

“If you are taking away the saliva bit, which basically is as important as the bat as is to a batsman, it will certainly become tough for bowlers. But we will have to wait and see how it pans out in match situation. We will get an idea during the upcoming England series, as everyone is faced with a situation that no one has every experienced with this pandemic,” he said.