The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have cast a massive doubt over the future of the spit and shine technique bowlers use to maintain shine on the ball. Following the Sandpaper-gate incident scandal which broke out in March of 2018, the ICC has implemented a crackdown on ball tampering, and while using saliva to shine the ball remains pretty much within the protocol of the game, the fact that the COVID-19 has the tendency to spread through respiratory droplets could lead to the practice being banned in some capacity.

“I don’t think it’s a quirky question. It’s an actual genuine thing to be considered,” former Australia pacer Jason Gillespie, who snared 259 Test wickets, told ABC Grandstand.

“I don’t think anything is off the table. It could be a point where at the end of each over, the umpires allow the players to shine the ball in front of them but you can only do it then. I don’t know. Is it just sweat? Can you only use sweat? I don’t have an answer to that but it certainly will be a conversation that will be had. If you think about it, it is pretty gross.”

Before cricket was suspended all around the globe due to the pandemic, India fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar had said his team will prevent using saliva on the ball prior to the first ODI against South Africa in late February. On top of that, if the ICC is to find the use of saliva being a strong factor in impacting the swing of the ball, the practice could well be shelved for good.

Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood rightfully feels fast bowlers will have a tough time if the ball is no longer kept shiny on one side.

“I think the white ball would be fine, [but] Test cricket would be very hard. Bowlers rely on any sort of sideways movement in the air,” he said. “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.”

However, contrary to India’s practices, in the last over cricket match played before the pandemic brought the entire sporting world to a standstill the 1st ODI between Australia and New Zealand in an empty stadium, the approach of spit and shine was pretty much being used.

“If it’s at that stage where we’re that worried about spread of risk, I’m not sure we’d be playing sport and bringing ourselves out of isolation if we were that worried about it still,” another Aussie pacer Pat Cummins said earlier this month. “It’s a tough one; it’s actually something we spoke about before the SCG game against New Zealand, the one-dayer, we made it clear we’re obviously really keen to play, but 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.”

It’s a dilemma only time can solve.