WATCH: Joe Root uses Jack Leach’s head to shine ball in Rawalpindi Test

AFPSports Desk
December 03, 2022

The ICC permanently banned the players from shining the ball from saliva to prevent the risks of contracting the COVID-19 virus

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England playersJoe Root andJack Leach at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on December 3, 2022. — Screengrab/Twitter

RAWALPINDI: Since the International Cricket Council (ICC) has permanently blackballed the use of saliva for shining the red ball to restrict the on-field spread of COVID-19, ambitious bowlers have found innovative ways to polish the ball so what if it involves another player's sweaty bald head.

This ban had literally taken the 'shine' off the Test ball, but then English batter Joe Root had an epiphany and he found a unique and hilarious way to shine the ball with the help of sweat on his teammate's shaven head to maximise the effect.

During the third day of the Test match against Pakistan, Root took the ball and polished it onspinner Jack Leach’s head and the video of that moment went viral on social media.

Before being made permanent in October 2022, this prohibition had been in place for over two years in international cricket as a temporary anti-COVID measure.

COVID-19 had enforced the rule to avoid transmission of the virus on the field. The rule came into play when cricket resumed after a break in July 2020. During the saliva ban, the players resorted to the use of sweat to shine the ball, which has proven to be effective.

Commentator David Gower also clarified the use of sweat after the incident on the field.

“It is ingenious, absolutely ingenious because you are no longer allowed to use saliva. Tests have apparently proven that sweat is much more effective in shining the ball as compared to saliva,” said Gower.

Pakistan openers Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq both completed centuries against England Saturday as a flat Rawalpindi Stadium pitch continued to yield runs on the third day of the first Test.

Pakistan started day three on 181 without loss in reply to England's mammoth 657, needing 458 to avoid the follow-on.

Shafique, 89 overnight, was the first to three figures with a six and a sharp single off Joe Root, while Haq, who started the session on 90, followed with a boundary off the same bowler.

They both now have three Test centuries and successive hundreds at the venue, having also reached three figures against Australia in March this year.

Haq scored a ton in both innings against Australia, while Shafique scored a century in the second.

The Rawalpindi pitch has been heavily criticised, with Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ramiz Raja calling it a relic of "the dark ages".

— With additional input from AFP

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