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Why do cricketers shine the ball

Cricketers have been shining the ball for generations, but have you ever wondered why? In this blog post, we will try to find the reasons for shining the ball in cricket, its outcome and process of shining the right way.

The ball’s surface is what determines how much swing and spin it will have in the air. By shining the ball, the fielding team can control these factors. The process of shining the ball involves rubbing it against clothing, typically the fielder’s trousers, which creates a thin layer of saliva and sweat on the ball’s surface.

Reasons for shining the ball

To reduce friction between the ball and the surface

Cricketers shine the ball to reduce the friction between the ball and the surface. The shine on the ball is created by polishing one side of the ball repeatedly against a piece of clothing or leather until it becomes smooth and shiny.

It is common for bowlers and fielders to shine the ball during a match to gain an advantage over the opposition, especially in conditions where there is little natural assistance from the pitch, weather, or ball. To make the ball less receptive to the wind

Shine is often created by applying saliva or sweat to one side of the ball, and rubbing it vigorously on the fielder’s clothing or a special cloth. This practice is primarily used for two reasons: the first being to make the ball swing when bowled, and the second, to make the ball less receptive to the wind. Making the ball less receptive to the wind is crucial because it helps when defending a target or trying to restrict the opposition’s scoring rate, especially in conditions where there is a strong wind blowing across the pitch.

To keep the ball dry to avoid deterioration in the quality

Cricketers use various tactics to maintain the quality of the cricket ball during a match. One of the most common methods for preserving the ball’s condition is the practice of shining it using saliva or sweat. However, excessive moisture on the ball can lead to a reduction in its quality over time. To prevent this, cricketers must keep the ball as dry as possible while maintaining its shine. Therefore, to ensure the ball’s longevity during a match, it is necessary to take measures to keep it dry and avoid deterioration in quality.

To maintain the ball’s shine and texture

One of the most crucial aspects of cricket is maintaining the shine and texture of the cricket ball. Cricketers use a variety of methods to maintain the ball’s shine and texture, including rubbing saliva on the ball or using manufactured polishes. Maintaining the ball’s shine and texture essentially helps the bowler achieve their success by imparting movement, swing, and spin into the ball.

To help bowlers gain better grip and control over the ball

Bowling in cricket involves holding and releasing a ball with precision and accuracy, and the bowler’s grip and control over the ball play a significant role in achieving this. To help bowlers gain better grip and control over the ball, they often shine the ball with a variety of substances, including saliva, sweat, and the waxes present in leather balls.

The goal of this practice is firstly, to generate a uniform polish on the ball’s surface, which helps the ball properly grip the air, and secondly, to achieve a smoother and shinier surface that can help alter the ball’s trajectory via the release of swing or spin. The nuances of ball shining are often scrutinized by cricket officials, as there are strict rules in place to prevent the use of illegal substances or altering the ball’s condition to gain an unfair advantage.

How to shine a cricket ball?

It is essential for players to know how to shine a cricket ball correctly. Here are the steps to shine a cricket ball:

● Begin by cleaning the ball: Before shining the ball, it’s crucial to clean it. Take a soft cloth and gently rub off any dirt or mud from the ball’s surface. Do not use water or any harsh chemicals to clean the ball, as it can damage the leather.

● Apply sweat or saliva: Once the ball is clean, apply sweat or saliva to the ball’s surface. This will help to soften the leather and make it easier to shine. Rub the ball on your forehead, arms, or chest to transfer sweat onto the ball, or spit on the ball and rub it in.

● Use a polishing cloth: Take a polishing cloth and rub it vigorously on the ball’s surface. Ensure that you are applying pressure while rubbing the ball to create friction.

● Repeat the process: Keep repeating the above steps until you achieve the desired shine

FAQ on shining the ball in cricket

Is it legal to use substances other than sweat and saliva to shine the ball?

No, it is not legal to use any artificial substance on the ball to shine it. Players can be penalized for doing so, and it is considered a form of ball-tampering.

Can a bowler shine the ball on both sides?

Fielding team usually shines on one side of the ball. The opposite side remains untouched to maintain the ball’s integrity. The difference of the condition of both the sides gives pressure difference when the ball is in the air and hence, creates swing.

Is it legal to use saliva to shine the ball?

Yes, using saliva to shine the ball is legal in cricket. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, certain restrictions have been put in place by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Players are advised to refrain from using saliva on the ball and instead use sweat or a designated ball-shiner to maintain the shine.

How often can a player shine the ball?

There is no limit on how often a player can shine the ball during a cricket match. However, if the umpire suspects that a player is altering the condition of the ball excessively or illegally, they can penalize the player and award runs to the opposition.

Who is responsible for shining the ball?

The responsibility of shining the ball lies with the fielding team. The captain can nominate a player to be the designated ball-shiner, but any player can shine the ball as long as they use only natural substances. The umpires monitor the ball-shining process and can intervene if they suspect anything illegal.

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Shining the ball in cricket is more than just a way to make it look better. By using sweat or saliva on one side, the player can create unevenness on the surface of the ball, causing it to swing in the opposite direction from where it is pitched. This is why cricket players consistently shine the ball during the game while following strict rules to ensure fair play. The practice of shining the ball may seem small, but it’s one of the many strategic aspects of the sport that make it so fascinating.


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