Australia news October 24, 2012

Australia seek edge in ball wars

43

Australian cricket's new-found dedication to performance has uncovered another area to seek a competitive edge, with England's Dukes ball to be used down under to better prepare players for its subtleties on next year's Ashes tour.

Known for offering decidedly different characteristics to the Australian Kookaburra ball, the Dukes will be be trialled in the under-age championships and a handful of second-XI games during the summer.

If they stand up to the rigours of firm Australian pitches, they are then likely to be used in some late season Sheffield Shield games.

There are also plans afoot for stocks of India's SG ball to be brought to Australia for similar exploratory use, in order to aid the knowledge of Australian players when they deliver it on the subcontinent.

Understanding and taking advantage of the differences inherent in each ball is traditionally something players must develop upon arrival at an overseas destination, but Cricket Australia's plans may help to build greater familiarity and ultimately skill.

"The medium to long-term view is we want our Australian players using different balls in our competitions to help them prepare for international tours where the Kookaburra ball is not used,'' CA's senior cricket operations manager Sean Cary told The Age. "The idea is not going to be just to focus on the Dukes ball in England. Ideally, we'd like to introduce the different makes of balls from countries if they differ from Kookaburra.

"'The first step is to find out whether the ball can handle our conditions, and we can do that in under-age championships, then if they do, work out a strategy to introduce them into senior competitions to help players prepare for upcoming international duty. [When] our Test team travels to India, if we know a number of our Test players are in Shield cricket, why couldn't we introduce the SG ball to help them prepare in competition?''

The use of English and Indian cricket balls may be considered a way of enhancing the preparation of the national team in an era when warm-up tour matches have become an increasingly rare proposition. Australian bowlers have struggled to replicate the kind of movement generated by their English and Indian counterparts on recent Test tours, having not won a series in England since 2001 and India since 2004.

Cary admitted there was also a cost-saving measure to the use of overseas balls, which are cheaper than the Australian-made Kookaburra. The local manufacturers are concerned that their long-standing relationship with Australian cricket will be terminally undercut if the use of overseas balls becomes standard practice.

"If we are not supported by cricket in Australia then Kookaburra won't exist basically," Kookaburra director Rob Elliott said. "If Cricket Australia and if cricket's not supporting Kookaburra and wants to go down the imported path, then the manufacturing of cricket balls will go to the subcontinent and it will be the end of Kookaburra as we know it."

"I thought it would be appropriate for us to be using the only Australian made ball as opposed to a ball that's made in the sub-continent in Pakistan or India. That's the thing that concerns me is that all of a sudden this sort of thing erodes Australian manufacturing and Australian jobs."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • voice_of_reason on October 25, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    Get over to England earlier and play three or four proper warm up matches before the series starts. If batsmen can play the ball in early season conditions, you can play it at any time of year. Bowlers just need to bowl a metre or two fuller. It's not rocket science. Just watch the videos of how the England seamers take their wickets. Or ask Pattinson to have a word with his brother. The Dukes are all hand made, not machined, that's probably why there is a more prominent seam. The lacquer may be different but in England it's not only the climate and the sometimes softer wickets (remember they do have covers at English grounds) but the lush outfields that stop the ball from deteriorating as quickly.

  • Rolfardeo on October 25, 2012, 5:24 GMT

    I think that Australia should stick exclusively with Kookaburra balls and everyone should just accept that the use of slightly different balls in different countries is exactly the same as encountering different pitch or weather conditions when teams tour. After all, it is still an even contest - both teams have to use the same type of ball during a series. Do the English and Indian teams complain about having to use a Kookaburra when they tour here? If they do, it is not nearly as much as we seem to complain about the Duke. Everyone just needs to get on with playing cricket.

  • heathrf1974 on October 25, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    @Craig. I think you hit the nail on the head. We need more players playing county.

  • Number_5 on October 25, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    hmm i pretty sure the duke ball was being used from 89 thru to 01. we didnt have any problem winning over there then. We also spent at least a month playing and getting familiar with the conditions (and ball) before the tests and odi's started, maybe thats the problem? oh money thats right... different pitches, conditions and even balls are part of the challenge of cricket from club level to international level. using a ball designed for softer pitches over here on our hard pitches makes about as much sense as putting in a drop in pitch and ripping up the most beautiful cricket ground in the world (adelaide oval) to build a footy stadium. oh hang on, that happened as well...money...not long till the first test at the gabba. cant wait.

  • Hammond on October 25, 2012, 1:04 GMT

    @pomshaveshortmemories- actually, I am an Aussie, and most of my mates have no memory of what happened in the summer of 2010/11, or the year before when South Africa beat us. Maybe amnesia isn't just an English thing?

  • on October 24, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    If the problem is the way it swings in English conditions then using that ball in Australia isn't going to solve the issue. It means that more Aussies need to start playing county cricket during our winter.

  • Ozcricketwriter on October 24, 2012, 21:13 GMT

    Fearmongering by the Kookaburra company. They can always produce a Kookaburra ball that is Dukes-like, or SG-like. At the end of the day, since 2009 England have had an unfair advantage at home because they get to use the Dukes ball - which, since 2009 has been a very different ball to the Kookaburra. This is designed to level the playing field. I don't think that the SG ball needs to be used but I fully support using the Dukes ball.

  • poms_have_short_memories on October 24, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    England have won ONE series against Australia convincingly since 1986/87.That was in 2010/11, a period of 24 yrs,how many times did Australia embarrass England in that period,i cant remember,lost count i did.a bit of amnesia going on in the UK.

  • demon_bowler on October 24, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    It's not the ball, it's the way it swings in English conditions that the current crop of Aussie batsmen have difficulties with.

  • Selassie-I on October 24, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    "Australia have not won a series in England since 2001" that really rolls off the toung doesn't it. Good idea though to use all of the balls, before the last ashes I know the England team were training with them for quite some time before going to Aus and we all know what the result was then.

  • voice_of_reason on October 25, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    Get over to England earlier and play three or four proper warm up matches before the series starts. If batsmen can play the ball in early season conditions, you can play it at any time of year. Bowlers just need to bowl a metre or two fuller. It's not rocket science. Just watch the videos of how the England seamers take their wickets. Or ask Pattinson to have a word with his brother. The Dukes are all hand made, not machined, that's probably why there is a more prominent seam. The lacquer may be different but in England it's not only the climate and the sometimes softer wickets (remember they do have covers at English grounds) but the lush outfields that stop the ball from deteriorating as quickly.

  • Rolfardeo on October 25, 2012, 5:24 GMT

    I think that Australia should stick exclusively with Kookaburra balls and everyone should just accept that the use of slightly different balls in different countries is exactly the same as encountering different pitch or weather conditions when teams tour. After all, it is still an even contest - both teams have to use the same type of ball during a series. Do the English and Indian teams complain about having to use a Kookaburra when they tour here? If they do, it is not nearly as much as we seem to complain about the Duke. Everyone just needs to get on with playing cricket.

  • heathrf1974 on October 25, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    @Craig. I think you hit the nail on the head. We need more players playing county.

  • Number_5 on October 25, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    hmm i pretty sure the duke ball was being used from 89 thru to 01. we didnt have any problem winning over there then. We also spent at least a month playing and getting familiar with the conditions (and ball) before the tests and odi's started, maybe thats the problem? oh money thats right... different pitches, conditions and even balls are part of the challenge of cricket from club level to international level. using a ball designed for softer pitches over here on our hard pitches makes about as much sense as putting in a drop in pitch and ripping up the most beautiful cricket ground in the world (adelaide oval) to build a footy stadium. oh hang on, that happened as well...money...not long till the first test at the gabba. cant wait.

  • Hammond on October 25, 2012, 1:04 GMT

    @pomshaveshortmemories- actually, I am an Aussie, and most of my mates have no memory of what happened in the summer of 2010/11, or the year before when South Africa beat us. Maybe amnesia isn't just an English thing?

  • on October 24, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    If the problem is the way it swings in English conditions then using that ball in Australia isn't going to solve the issue. It means that more Aussies need to start playing county cricket during our winter.

  • Ozcricketwriter on October 24, 2012, 21:13 GMT

    Fearmongering by the Kookaburra company. They can always produce a Kookaburra ball that is Dukes-like, or SG-like. At the end of the day, since 2009 England have had an unfair advantage at home because they get to use the Dukes ball - which, since 2009 has been a very different ball to the Kookaburra. This is designed to level the playing field. I don't think that the SG ball needs to be used but I fully support using the Dukes ball.

  • poms_have_short_memories on October 24, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    England have won ONE series against Australia convincingly since 1986/87.That was in 2010/11, a period of 24 yrs,how many times did Australia embarrass England in that period,i cant remember,lost count i did.a bit of amnesia going on in the UK.

  • demon_bowler on October 24, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    It's not the ball, it's the way it swings in English conditions that the current crop of Aussie batsmen have difficulties with.

  • Selassie-I on October 24, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    "Australia have not won a series in England since 2001" that really rolls off the toung doesn't it. Good idea though to use all of the balls, before the last ashes I know the England team were training with them for quite some time before going to Aus and we all know what the result was then.

  • Jaffa79 on October 24, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    I think Jimmy Anderson could bowl with an orange and he'd still could have Cowan out within a few overs.

  • jonesy.2 on October 24, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    it hurts me to say after all the remarks i make. but the poms are so much better than us we need all the help we can. but we can but try.

  • whatawicket on October 24, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    if i remember right england were using the bowl used in australia prior to them winning the ashes in oz 2 years ago. others follow the leader i guess. but these are things opposition teams should be doing, with australia having better pace bowling stock these days given them a better chance, to regain the ashes.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on October 24, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree... Merry, merry king of the bush is he; Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh... How useless at cricket you really must be..."

  • on October 24, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    @Hammond - kooks are rubbish low seamed crap shine balls, Dukes produced far better balls and they should survive easily in Aus.

    @ygkd - the aussies shut themselves out, much as the windies have. Counties are always looking for high quality cricketers. btw - Steyn/Morkel haven't played much if any county cricket. They just bowled well in England.

    Clever move from CA. Get some cheaper ball manufacturers in and drive down the price of the kooks balls. I'm sure this experiment will last until the next kooks contract is signed lol

  • on October 24, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    A couple of years ago QLD Cricket allowed the use of Duke and SG balls in the Brisbane Grade Competition! True the Duke balls swing a lot more... initially.... they seem to be more of an oval shape than a true cylindrical shape! But they don't last on hard Australian wickets! In ten overs they are toast.... No shine, no swing and the seem is shredded! BAD IDEA CRICKET AUSTRALIA! Our players won't get anything out of this!

  • Essex_Man on October 24, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    The Aussie bowling attack actually fared reasonably well in 2009 in England. It was in Australia in 2010-11 where they looked like a bunch of lavatory seat bowlers (straight up 'n' down).

  • Hammond on October 24, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    I recently purchased a Dukes Special County A cricket ball on-line to see what all the fuss was about. It is very, very different to the Kooka regulation, and my mates thought the seam on it was incredibly pronounced. It swung like a banana in the nets though, and shined up real well, maybe they use different Lacquer maybe? We had a Kooka 4 piece with it to compare, and the Dukes swung on much later than the Kooka did, and more seam movement too. If they can make it more robust for Aussie conditions I would love to see them use it here.

  • Delb on October 24, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    "Australian cricket's new-found dedication to performance" - pretty sure this dedication has existed since World Series Cricket.

  • zenboomerang on October 24, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    A bit amazed that CA hasn't had a cupboard full of Dukes & SG's for decades but instead are just getting them now... Surely every bowler preparing for an overseas tour needs to be using them in net practice... What a folly not to... As for the manufacturer whinging, its not like all cricket matches will be using the imports - just those requiring bowlers to get needed time with these different balls... Though Starc already seems to have got a hang on using the Duke already... :P ...

  • peeeeet on October 24, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    All this over analysing is ruining cricket. Just get out there and play! A good line and length will get wickets anywhere (just ask Glenn McGrath). And a batsman playing themselves in and showing patience, along with a solid technique, will get runs anywhere. To me, it's demeaning to Shield cricket to be tweaking the schedule and changing the balls around. Just let them play!

  • on October 24, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    In South Africa, the Kookaburra is used, Sitanshu.

  • ygkd on October 24, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    Yes, of course getting used to Dukes is important, but that's Dukes in England. In Australia they will not be the same. Australia's loss was being largely shut out of the County circuit. South Africa weren't and it has helped them no end recently. PS> Good one @PanGlupek.

  • on October 24, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    Is it just me or has Cricket Australia been trying a tad too hard on ensure their team wins... It's just not this, how they changed the Sheffield Shield schedule to allow their Test players to get a bit of practice, the way they have been trying to get scientists to advise their fast bowlers on fitness, the way their bowling coach was sent to South Africa to ensure their fast bowlers bowl with the red ball and then they even recalled Watson. It would be hilarious if they end up losing despite all this! :P

  • _Australian_ on October 24, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    @disco_bob is right! Pointless acclimatising yourself to a ball in utterly different conditions. This really has only been an issue lately because we have simply not been good enough over there and the ball difference is a weak excuse.

  • on October 24, 2012, 8:18 GMT

    From a pure business perspective, the Kookaburra manufacturer should not be too worried, as quite a few foreign countries are now importing Kookaburra and SG balls to acclimatise their players to the various different balls. Afaik, India intends to use Kookaburra ball in the Duleeep Trophy.

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know what make of balls are used in domestic cricket in Sri Lanka, SA, Pakistan, WI. I am guessing NZ use Kookaburra.

  • freo75 on October 24, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    If you cant beat them join them I suppose...

  • PanGlupek on October 24, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    Nice idea, but it would work better if they can force the players to live in thier fridges, play with sprinklers above them during games, serve warm, flat, brown beer after games & get net bowlers to talk with Northern accents. Think the duke ball also works better against batsmen wearing 3 or 4 sweaters....

  • on October 24, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    Seems to me that it'd make more sense to build an (indoor) elite training facility that could be programmed to simulate the heat/humidity of e.g. India, then maybe bring in a pitch made of Indian turf/dirt or a close substitute, then bring in the Indian balls, as part of preparing teams for an Indian tour. Sure it'd cost money, but it's really just air conditioning+pitch and there's a lot of money around elite cricket these days.

    Just trying the Indian ball at e.g. Perth wouldn't give much of a simulation of playing in Indian conditions

  • srriaj317 on October 24, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    Why not just move our Shield games to England or India before every tour? Extending this logic, the players would also be getting used to the conditions right? Oh wait, what was it about warm-up games?

  • liam22 on October 24, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    about time, kookaburra balls are absolute rubbish compared to the dukes.

  • 200ondebut on October 24, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    Sounds like a desperate move from a sub-standard side. Need to do more than this otherwise it will be three more innings victories for England.

  • Hammond on October 24, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    The Dukes is actually a better ball all round, but won't it rough up quicker on our pitches? The Kooka (and the Platypus) are designed for Aussie conditions. Sounds like another "reason why we lost the ashes again" excuse is coming on?

  • on October 24, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    India Pakistan and Bangladesh are near to equator. The humidity and hotness is comparably high to other Cricket Playing nations. For years Indian board has been willing to prepare some fast tracks, so that its players can adapt in foreign bouncy pitches, therefore, Curators leaves good grass on the pitch, but the warm and hot does not allow that grass to be green. Within two hours the pitch become the same old Indian Track. Mohali is the prime example. The soil is such that once the grass starts loosing its tinge, it come out of the pitch an from the third day of the pitch the pitches become rank turner, the ball stops on the pitch. Ahmadabad is closest to Equator, the ball stops and takes the dust out of the pitch. This cant happen in England, Australia, New Jealand and South Africa. You may tinker with the ball but you can't be an Indian player playing in India. I believe there are too many superficial ideas occupying the space in the game today. Let it be simple and enjoy.

  • Ozcricketwriter on October 24, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Duke is an unfair advantage to England. Hence it should be outlawed. Simple as that. If it can't be outlawed, then it needs to be available all around the world.

  • PYC1959 on October 24, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Considering weather conditions here in Australia are completely different to the UK this "experiment" won't work. There is a reason the Duke is cheaper, it's because it is an inferior ball and if used here will probably fall to pieces due to the abrasiveness of the grounds here. I would have also thought that CA would have experimented a long time ago with the Duke over here.

  • disco_bob on October 24, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    At first glance there appears to be some sense in the proposition but upon further reflection it is in fact utterly daft. What is the point of acclimatising to an overseas ball on an Australian pitch. Overseas they get different pitches, weather, balls, atmosphere and nerves. Better to practise one's skills with the kookaburra ball over here and tune the action to the overseas ball in overseas conditions. I mean if there is some perceived difference with a Dukes ball in Aussie conditions then how could one be certain that it was in fact the ball and not the player. A better plan for the Ashes would be to improve our batting. Sounds like a throw off for simple cost cutting, if so, that is a disgrace.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on October 24, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    I don't thing the size, colour or make of the ball is going to make a difference to the result of the Ashes ...the England team are just not good enough in any case with the basic lack of ability or skill to make use of these.In any case a pretty ordinary England just don't stand any chance in the Ashes as it is. What's the harm in a bit of experimenting anyways.....

  • unregisteredalien on October 24, 2012, 6:03 GMT

    Good move, I've thought this should happen for some time. Kookaburra probably don't need to worry. I imagine it won't be long before they're exporting in equal numbers to England, India etc.

  • on October 24, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    While I wouldnt mind seeing them used for the test squad to aclimatise in net sessions I am loath to see them being introduced into sheild cricket as the Kookaburra is the long standing ball of choice their. Its like getting Kevin Mitchel to prepare a dusty slow gabba pitch to help get the team ready for india

  • mick82 on October 24, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    cost saving can not seriously be an issue here for CA? what a joke

  • MinusZero on October 24, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    I suppose using it may be of some benefit, but unless they also have the same pitches, humidty and conditions, is it worth it?

  • Meety on October 24, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    Darn! When this article was just about the cricket, the idea was good one! When it involves economics & domestic businesses maybe losing out, it becomes a tougher sell! In theory - great idea cric Oz, in practise, I would hope that we only do that late in the season as stated in this article to protect our balls! Ah, wonder if that will make it past moderation?

  • Meety on October 24, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    Darn! When this article was just about the cricket, the idea was good one! When it involves economics & domestic businesses maybe losing out, it becomes a tougher sell! In theory - great idea cric Oz, in practise, I would hope that we only do that late in the season as stated in this article to protect our balls! Ah, wonder if that will make it past moderation?

  • MinusZero on October 24, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    I suppose using it may be of some benefit, but unless they also have the same pitches, humidty and conditions, is it worth it?

  • mick82 on October 24, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    cost saving can not seriously be an issue here for CA? what a joke

  • on October 24, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    While I wouldnt mind seeing them used for the test squad to aclimatise in net sessions I am loath to see them being introduced into sheild cricket as the Kookaburra is the long standing ball of choice their. Its like getting Kevin Mitchel to prepare a dusty slow gabba pitch to help get the team ready for india

  • unregisteredalien on October 24, 2012, 6:03 GMT

    Good move, I've thought this should happen for some time. Kookaburra probably don't need to worry. I imagine it won't be long before they're exporting in equal numbers to England, India etc.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on October 24, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    I don't thing the size, colour or make of the ball is going to make a difference to the result of the Ashes ...the England team are just not good enough in any case with the basic lack of ability or skill to make use of these.In any case a pretty ordinary England just don't stand any chance in the Ashes as it is. What's the harm in a bit of experimenting anyways.....

  • disco_bob on October 24, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    At first glance there appears to be some sense in the proposition but upon further reflection it is in fact utterly daft. What is the point of acclimatising to an overseas ball on an Australian pitch. Overseas they get different pitches, weather, balls, atmosphere and nerves. Better to practise one's skills with the kookaburra ball over here and tune the action to the overseas ball in overseas conditions. I mean if there is some perceived difference with a Dukes ball in Aussie conditions then how could one be certain that it was in fact the ball and not the player. A better plan for the Ashes would be to improve our batting. Sounds like a throw off for simple cost cutting, if so, that is a disgrace.

  • PYC1959 on October 24, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Considering weather conditions here in Australia are completely different to the UK this "experiment" won't work. There is a reason the Duke is cheaper, it's because it is an inferior ball and if used here will probably fall to pieces due to the abrasiveness of the grounds here. I would have also thought that CA would have experimented a long time ago with the Duke over here.

  • Ozcricketwriter on October 24, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Duke is an unfair advantage to England. Hence it should be outlawed. Simple as that. If it can't be outlawed, then it needs to be available all around the world.

  • on October 24, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    India Pakistan and Bangladesh are near to equator. The humidity and hotness is comparably high to other Cricket Playing nations. For years Indian board has been willing to prepare some fast tracks, so that its players can adapt in foreign bouncy pitches, therefore, Curators leaves good grass on the pitch, but the warm and hot does not allow that grass to be green. Within two hours the pitch become the same old Indian Track. Mohali is the prime example. The soil is such that once the grass starts loosing its tinge, it come out of the pitch an from the third day of the pitch the pitches become rank turner, the ball stops on the pitch. Ahmadabad is closest to Equator, the ball stops and takes the dust out of the pitch. This cant happen in England, Australia, New Jealand and South Africa. You may tinker with the ball but you can't be an Indian player playing in India. I believe there are too many superficial ideas occupying the space in the game today. Let it be simple and enjoy.