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Wax to shine cricket balls the latest twist in extraordinary sporting times | Sport


If confirmation is required that we are living in extraordinary times it comes from the Australian cricket ball manufacturer, Kookaburra, which has developed a wax applicator to shine cricket balls on the field of play. The invention is intended to speed up the return of cricket to our screens by removing one health hazard.

Covid-19 has made the long-established method of shining a cricket ball, which involves applying sweat and saliva to its surface (with or without the assistance of Murray mints), a dangerous process for the designated ball-polisher in the field.

Brett Elliot, the group managing director of Kookaburra and presumably a swing bowler, explained the plan. “Kookaburra’s research and development centre has been working on a product to replace the traditional methods of polishing a ball that could be controlled and managed by the match umpire.

“We have developed a unique wax formula for polishing a cricket ball. The pocket-size sponge applicator will enable umpires or players to apply a thin layer of wax which could then be rubbed and polished in the traditional manner to enhance the shine on the ball.” The new wonder wax should be ready within a month.

The laws of cricket explicitly state the fielding side must not use “artificial substances” to alter the condition of the ball, so the MCC, the guardians of the laws, will have to give its blessing to what will hopefully be a short-term change if the applicator is to be used this summer.

Tests would have to be undertaken not only on Kookaburra balls but also on Duke balls used in England, given there is still the possibility of Tests behind closed doors this summer against West Indies and Pakistan.

This innovation can be only admired even though it poses an interesting dilemma for the lawmakers, especially since ball-tampering has been such a controversial problem in recent times, especially in Australia.

One moment the authorities are applying handcuffs, the next they are handing over the key. If the experiments in Australia are successful there could be some interesting repercussions. If the balls keep swinging there will inevitably be a race among the scientists of the various cricket boards to unlock the magic formula discovered by Kookaburra. And Jimmy Anderson may undertake to keep playing for another five years.

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