In a landmark decision, the International Cricket Council (ICC) will allow substitutes in Test cricket if a player shows any kind of symptoms of coronavirus infection during a game. The governing body of the sport has also decided to give warnings per innings followed by a five-run penalty for the use of saliva on the ball.
The new rules, based on the recommendations made by the ICC Cricket Committee, were approved by the Chief Executive Committee (CEC) on June 9. The CEC also gave a nod to the use of non-neutral umpires for all international formats ‘owing to the current logistical challenges with international travel’. All these interim rules, which are in essence adjustments, are being implemented taking into account the new normals brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Headed by former India captain Anil Kumble, the Cricket Committee put in the recommendation of using just sweat to shine the ball after receiving approval regarding its safety from the ICC’s chief medical expert Dr. Peter Harcourt. As usual, no other artificial substance will be allowed to be applied to the ball.
The ICC further added that match officials will penalise teams only after they exhaust their period of ‘leniency’ as players will have to get used to playing in new playing conditions, behind closed doors that will not compromise the bio-secure environment.
In case saliva is applied to the ball, the ICC said umpires will first clean the ball and then resume play. "If a player does apply saliva to the ball, the umpires will manage the situation with some leniency during an initial period of adjustment for the players, but subsequent instances will result in the team receiving a warning. A team can be issued up to two warnings per innings but repeated use of saliva on the ball will result in a 5-run penalty to the batting side."
Regarding the substitution the ICC’s line of thinking has been to follow that of concussion subs wherein the “Match Referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement."
Initially the Kumble led committee were not in favour of the substitution rule, owing to the fact that test results for players with symptoms would come back in an hour (something Harcourt confirmed). Members of the committee felt that if the test was done quickly (and returned positive) both teams and coaching staff would have to go into isolation for two weeks as per medical recommendations. The substitution in that case becomes redundant.
The implementation of non neutral umpires for Tests will be harking back to eight years ago, when it was a norm. The local umpires will be picked by ICC's Elite Panel and International panel of match officials.
In order to remove the perception of bias, the committee had recommended an additional review be granted to each team in every format, which the CEC ratified. This will increase the number of unsuccessful appeals per innings for each team to three for Tests and two for the white-ball formats.
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