Cricket: Kiwi stars adjusting to new COVID-enforced rules ahead of the domestic season

Players will have a whole new set of rules to deal with, when Plunket Shield domestic cricket gets underway on Monday.

Under new COVID-19 regulations, players will be penalised five runs for using saliva to shine the ball, while umpires have been barred from holding bowler's hats and jerseys.

The new rules are taking some getting used to for New Zealand's premier cricketers, but they're finding alternative methods to help the ball swing. 

"It is a conscious effort by the group to find ways not to get penalised runs by licking the ball, but finding ways to make the ball swing," says Canterbury all-rounder Daryl Mitchell. 

While the country is at Alert Level 1 restrictions and there is just one active community case, the rules could seem over the top, but in case of another outbreak, the sport needs coronavirus safe practices in place in case of a shift in alert levels. 

Another new rule for the domestic season will allow for the replacement of players displaying symptoms of COVID-19 during a match, with the player able to return to the game should they return a negative test. 

Coronavirus, spread via respiratory droplets and saliva, has impacted the way cricketers can shine the ball and has posed a challenge. Shining one side of the cricket ball helps bowlers move the ball as it travels through the air - a phenomenon commonly referred to as 'swing'.

Canterbury players and coaches watch on during training.
Canterbury players and coaches watch on during training. Photo credit: Photosport

As a result, players have started using back sweat to generate swing.

"I haven't got much hair on top, so using the sweat on the bald spot seems to shine it up nicely," says Mitchell. 

Canterbury face Wellington at the Basin Reserve in their opening domestic match, while Northern Districts host Central Stags in Hamilton, both games starting Monday.

Auckland will host Otago, starting Tuesday.