Why Do Cricketers Shine the Ball? And How to Do it Correctly?

One of the most typical sights on a cricket field is a player shining the ball by rubbing it on his jeans. But have you ever wondered why cricket players polish the ball by rubbing it against their clothing?

Cricket players polish a cricket ball because it makes the ball easier to swing. One side of the ball is polished, while the other side is left rough to accommodate normal wear and tear. The cricket ball swings as a result of this variation in the ball surface.

One of the oldest activities in cricket is swing bowling. But among many other variables, a lot depends on the state of the ball. A well-kept ball, good weather, and a bowler with the ability to produce swing from it can all help to secure crucial wickets in a game.

What’s more essential is how to do it legally. Let’s get into more information about these queries.

Before jumping into the article, get to know the manufacturing process of a cricket ball.

Read Here: How is a Cricket Ball Made? Step-by-Step Process

How to Shine a Ball Correctly?

One of the least talked about but most crucial aspects of cricket play, particularly for the fielding side, is ball maintenance. Throughout the game, a well-kept ball goes through a number of phases. If done correctly, ball maintenance can be quite profitable.

1. Determine Which Side of the Ball Will Shine

Cricket players keep a cricket ball in good condition by intentionally shining one side of the ball while allowing the other side to get roughed up. The ball should be roughed up exactly as much as it should be polished. Roughing up must occur organically; shining must be done on purpose, and any purposeful attempt is forbidden in cricket.

Finding the side of the ball that needs to be massaged to get the shine is also crucial. The seam of a cricket ball separates it into two halves, one of which typically contains a logo and the other of which is entirely plain. Shining the cricket ball’s plain side is strongly advised.

This is due to the fact that, even on a brand-new cricket ball, having the logo on one side causes a minor imbalance between the ball’s two surfaces. As a result, the logo’s side is already imperfect.

2. Properly Holding the Ball

After determining which side of the ball needs to be shined, it is crucial to grip the ball securely in order to shine the entire ball.

When you complete the three simple steps listed below, you will know you are handling the ball properly.

  • Hold the ball by its seam, which separates it into two halves.
  • Hold it firmly to prevent it from slipping from your hands.
  • Make sure the ball’s glossy side is facing away from your hand and outward. This will guarantee that you shine the ball’s proper side.

3. Shine One Side of the Ball with Body Fluids

Applying bodily fluids to the surface of a cricket ball, such as sweat, and then rubbing it against players’ clothing to dry it off is an excellent technique to shine it.

In most cases, a team decides which side will shine and frequently has players that specialize in the shining process. A little amount of sweat is applied on one side of the ball by the player, who then rubs it against the front or back of their jeans until the fluids seep into the porous surface and the ball becomes shiny and dry.

4. Choose the Players who Will be in Charge of Passing the Ball

It’s vital to remember, though, that trying to shine the ball ineffectively serves no purpose. Consistency is one of the most critical aspects of shining a ball. Hence, it’s crucial to assign this responsibility to a few players.

During the pre-game meeting, the team must decide and nominate individuals for the task of shining the ball. While getting ready for their run-up, bowlers can rub the ball on their clothing. Additionally, the responsibility of assisting in shining the ball might be delegated to two or three close-in fielders.

Tips for Correctly Shining the Ball

Here are a few minor ninja tips that will ensure that the cricket ball maintains its shine longer, in addition to learning the fundamentals of shining a cricket ball (as discussed above).

  • The most important thing to remember is not to utilize your sweat excessively. The ball may become slick as a result, making it difficult for the bowler to properly grasp it.
  • Keep the ball dry: Maintaining a ball’s dryness is more crucial than polishing it. Wetness causes the ball to become softer and more likely to slide from the bowler’s hands. This is another reason why bowlers avoid bowling when the outfield is wet.
  • Rub the ball against your pants sufficiently: After applying the bodily fluids in a sufficient amount, the ball should be gently rubbed against the pants until it is shiny and completely dry, indicating that the grease has properly spread out to the surface and penetrated the porous surface of the dyed leather ball to provide the shine.

Shining the Ball: How Does It Help?

The art of swing bowling needs the help of a cricket ball that has been polished. The seam creates turbulence when the ball is brand-new and shiny, which makes it easier to swing.

The side of the ball that is being maintained remains smooth while the game goes on, while the other side experiences wear and tear.

When the smoothness of the two surfaces is sufficiently different, the air begins to behave differently along the surfaces. The ball often swings in the direction of the rough side because there is less drag on the glossy surface than on the rough one.

Also Read: How to Swing a Cricket Ball? – Types & Variations of Swing Bowling Explained

Who Benefits from Shining the Ball?

Particularly for the fast and medium-quick pacers, maintaining the ball well enough to keep one side gleaming is beneficial.  A bowler who can release the ball with a straight seam is best suited for swing bowling. The best bowlers for swing bowling tend to have straight-arm actions and strong wrist positioning.

Consider James Anderson, who has the ability to stroke the ball both in and out. It benefits bowlers who frequently throw longer balls, such as Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Mitchell Starc, as it allows the ball enough time to make contact with the air.

It also assists the fast bowlers who are using an older ball at death, such as Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, and Mohammad Shami, if it is maintained well enough to produce a reverse swing.

How have the Covid-19 Criteria Affected the Cricket Ball’s Shine?

After the Covid-19 outbreak, the International Cricket Council (ICC) issued certain recommendations for players to follow. The most crucial and contentious rule is the prohibition of using saliva to shine the ball in order to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The ball can only be shined with sweat.

Final Thoughts

The technique of keeping and shining the ball, although essential, is not sufficient. Some people are able to swing it, while others are not.

Shining, when done correctly, can even benefit those who are less adept at the art of swinging a cricket ball. I hope this post has provided you with some insight into the challenges of legally shining a cricket ball as well as some tips on how to go about it. 

Read Next: Difference Between Red, White & Pink Cricket Balls – Explained


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