Spit, sweat and shaking on it: Three sports habits that could change after coronavirus


PARIS, April 6, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – As the coronavirus brings the
international sports calendar to a grinding halt, AFP Sport looks at three
long-standing habits which could change forever once competition resumes.

Saliva to take shine off swing bowling

— It’s been a tried and trusted friend to fast bowlers throughout the
history of cricket.

But the days of applying saliva to one side of the ball to encourage swing
could be over in the aftermath of COVID-19.

“As a bowler I think it would be pretty tough going if we couldn’t shine
the ball in a Test match,” said Australia quick Pat Cummins.

“If it’s at that stage and we’re that worried about the spread, I’m not
sure we’d be playing sport.”

Towels in tennis – no touching

— Tennis players throwing towels, dripping with sweat and blood and
probably a tear or two, at ball boys and girls, has often left fans
sympathising for the youngsters.

Moves by officials to tackle the issue took on greater urgency in March
when the coronavirus was taking a global grip.

Behind closed doors in Miki, ball boys and girls on duty at the Davis Cup
tie between Japan and Ecuador wore gloves.

Baskets, meanwhile, were made available for players to deposit their

Back in 2018, the ATP introduced towel racks at some events on a trial
basis, but not everyone was overjoyed.

“I think having the towel whenever you need it, it’s very helpful. It’s one
thing less that you have to think about,” said Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas
when he was playing at the NextGen Finals in Milan.

“I think it’s the job of the ball kids to provide towels and balls for the

Let’s not shake on it

— Pre-match handshakes were abandoned in top football leagues just before
the sports shutdown.

Premier League leaders Liverpool also banned the used of mascots while
Southampton warned against players signing autographs and stopped them posing
for selfies.

Away from football, the NBA urged players to opt for the fist bump rather
than the long-standing high-five.

“I ain’t high-fiving nobody for the rest of my life after this,” NBA
superstar LeBron James told the “Road Trippin’ Podcast”.

“No more high-fiving. After this corona shit? Wait ’til you see me and my
teammates’ handshakes after this shit.”

Basketball stars were also told not to take items such as balls or teams
shirts to autograph.

US women’s football star Megan Rapinoe says edicts to ban handshakes or
even high-fives may be counter-productive anyway.

“We’re going to be sweating all over each other all game, so it sort of
defeats the purpose of not doing a handshake,” she told the New York Times in