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England v West Indies

Sky Sports Cricket footage exonerates Anderson over saliva usage claims

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Sky Sports Cricket footage has exonerated James Anderson after fans and journalists had accused him of using saliva to shine the ball on the fifth day of England’s first Test against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl.

Doing so was banned by the ICC to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, with teams copping a five-run penalty for multiple breaches. Fans pointed to footage in the sixth over of West Indies’ chase of 200 as evidence of Anderson transgression, though it did not clearly show the fast bowler using saliva. His mouth is out of shot as he reaches up, seems to obtain fluid with his fingers and then rubs the ball. Using sweat to shine the ball is not banned by the ICC.

Commentator Nasser Hussain explained the situation. “I just want to try and clear something up, we’ve had quite a few tweets in saying ‘Have they seen or are Anderson and Archer putting saliva on the ball?’ Obviously you’re not allowed to do that,” he said. “Just be careful of the close-up angle. From this angle it looks like Anderson’s gone to his mouth to put saliva on the ball, he then goes to shine it, but I’ve done some more work as a director and got our cameramen just to pan out a bit and show that actually he’s going to his sweat on the brow to shine the ball. Same with Archer, he’s using his shirt, from the close angle it looks like he goes to his mouth to shine the ball. I’ve asked our cameramen just to pan back and you can see sweat from his head onto his ball, onto his shirt and that’s what he’s using to shine the ball.

“If I can carry on just with the regulations, they are given a bit of leeway with saliva. But I reckon by day five now they are past that leeway. They are then allowed two warnings if they do use saliva. After that it will be a five-run penalty to whichever side or bowler does it, and then if they do use it the ball has to be cleaned by the umpire. So far both sets of teams and bowlers have been very good and very strict with no saliva on the ball.”

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