Bowling with masks: How safe is it? – Times of India


MUMBAI: Spit has suddenly become the buzz word in cricket after the ICC’s new guidelines called for a ban
on the use of saliva to polish the ball to protect players from getting infected with coronavirus.
On Monday, former Pakistan captain and current coach Misbah-ul-Haq caused a stir by suggesting that if fast bowlers wear a mask, it will stop them from applying saliva on the ball instinctively. However, not everybody is on the same page as Misbah.

Ajit Agarkar, the former India pacer, feels the job of shining the ball is performed not just by the bowlers.

“What happens to fielders around who are habituated to spitting into their hands or using their fingers to apply saliva on the ball. It’s such a common habit. You’ve to make all fielders wear a mask. I mean, it’s the slip fielders or players at mid-on and mid-off who shine the ball mostly. So, it’s going to take an effort from everyone to get used to this new rule,” feels Agarkar.

He also puts into question the very concept of wearing a mask while indulging in sport.

“You have to check with a doctor whether it would be safe to run in and bowl with the mask. I’m sure that medically, this theory would be out of water. A mask wouldn’t be good for your lungs in that case.”

Dr Aashish Contractor, director of rehabilitation and sports medicine at Sir HN Reliance foundation hospital, addressed Agarkar’s doubts by saying running in and bowling a delivery may classify as a strenuous activity but a bowler can keep his mask on despite it not being comfortable.

He also argues that all the theory we get from social media of people damaging their lungs while running with a mask may not be true.

“We cannot definitely say that the one or two deaths that have occurred during exercise were due to wearing of the mask alone. There are forwarded messages which state that wearing masks while running outdoors will cause damage to a human lung, but there is no conclusive evidence of this. There may be other factors involved which needs investigating,” says Contractor.

But Misbah’s suggestions made sense for Contractor from an infection point of view. “A bowler may be habituated to applying saliva on the ball and a mask will prevent that instinctive activity.”

He also agreed with Agarkar on the comfort factor. “A fast bowler’s run up may be very uncomfortable with a mask on,” he added.

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