Saliva ban to make batting easier for middle-order batsmen, says Azhar Mahmood

Faizan Lakhani
Photo: Reporter

KARACHI: Former bowling coach and cricketer Azhar Mahmood feels that saliva ban will make batting easier for middle-order batsmen and new ball bowlers will have to play an important role for their respective teams.

Speaking to a group of journalists online, Azhar said the ICC should introduce something to keep the balance between bat and ball in Test Cricket since bowlers will not be able to apply saliva to shine the ball.

“The ICC should allow the option of taking a new ball every 50 over instead of 80 overs in Test matches or allow players to use some external substance in the supervision of umpires,” the 45-year-old said.

“Batting condition will be easier for middle-order batsmen; it will still be tougher for top-order batsmen who face the new ball. To keep the balance between bat and ball, ICC will have to introduce something, such as giving the option for a second new ball earlier or provide some substance to be applied under umpires’ supervision,” he said.

Azhar added that the ball’s behaviour will be crucial in Pakistan’s upcoming series against England as bowlers won’t be able to use saliva. The former bowling coach added that Pakistan will have the idea of how the ball is behaving by closely observing these things during England’s series against West Indies, which will be played before Pakistan vs England series.

“We will have to see how much swing the new ball provides as due to ban on applying saliva bowlers won’t be able to do much with the ball in the middle order when it gets old,” he said. “Bowlers who will be bowling with a new ball will have an important role. The weather in August would also probably not providing much swing, so spinners are likely to have a greater role as well.”

The former all-rounder added that everyone in cricketing world is happy to see cricket resuming albeit without crowd but people are positive that they will be able to see some action on TV, at least.

Talking about Pakistani all-rounders, Azhar said that he sees Faheem Ashraf as a very good all-rounder but expressed his disappointment that he hasn’t done enough with the bat despite being capable of doing wonders.

“Pakistan does have all-rounders in the squad, one needs to differentiate between batting all-rounder and batting all-rounder. Not everyone can be like Kallis or Ben Stokes and to be someone like them, one needs consistent chances to get developed. You need to tell all-rounder that at least be well with at least one job. Either do something with bat or do extraordinary with the ball,” Azhar said.

“In my personal opinion, Faheem Ashraf has the potential; I am disappointed that he couldn’t do justice to his batting. He did well in Tests as well and he shows a glimpse of a good all-rounder. I do see him as a good prospect. If a bowler is bowling at speed of 80, he needs to have strong batting abilities and I feel Faheem has this ability to become a better all-rounder,” he said.

The former bowling coach also praised Pakistan’s current bowling line up saying country’s bowling line is improving and the young bowlers have potential and skills to get any batting line out.

“These young fast bowlers have the potential to help Pakistan win Test matches. They will get experience by playing and I am sure that they have the potential and ability to take Pakistan on top. Bowlers have more opportunity to learn, the more you play, the more you learn. Sohail Khan, Abbas, Imran Khan, they will have played Test cricket and have vast experience of first-class cricket.”

“Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Faheem, Naseem Shah, they have the potential to give the best to Pakistan cricket. The only thing these players need is exposure,” Azhar said.

Saliva ban to make batting easier for middle-order batsmen, says Azhar Mahmo