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August 6, 2006
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has allowed the use of the Kookaburra brand of cricket balls for the first time in India's domestic season. However, this will be tried out only in the Duleep Trophy, on an experimental basis, while the remaining competitions will continue to use the traditional Sanspareils Greenlands (SG) balls.
Confirming this to Cricinfo, Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, said that Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, had recommended the change. "Rahul Dravid had earlier suggested that we experiment with the red Kookaburra ball in one of the domestic competitions. Therefore, the committee decided that we try it out in the 2006-07 Duleep Trophy."
Legendary spinners Erapalli Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar have welcomed BCCI's move and have urged India's current crop of slow bowlers to get rid of the mental block that kookaburra balls, with their less pronounced seam, would hinder their wicket-taking ability.
"If India's aim is to win the 2007 World Cup, our spinners will have to master the art with the Kookuburra," Prasanna, the offspinner who took 189 wickets in 49 Tests in the 1960-70s, told PTI. "It is a matter of getting used to the conditions. If kookuburra balls are used throughout the world, should we also not follow suit? It will definitely be for the good of the Indian spinners, though it may not help them most compared to the pace bowlers.
"No doubt it [Kookaburra] is a great advantage to the batsmen and the pace bowlers. But a spinner has to bring coordination of his mind and bowling arm while releasing the ball," Prasanna said. "Has not Anil Kumble been able to adjust to different balls and remain match winner for his county Surrey in England?"
Chandrasekhar, who picked 242 wickets in 58 Tests with his whippy action, concurred with his contemporary. "It is a question of whether you are playing against a weak batting side or weak bowling side," he said. The art of spin bowling is that one should be able to bowl with any kind of ball, whether SG or the imported kookuburra balls. If I am playing today, I will accept the Board's decision. I will not bother about what kind of ball is given to me to bowl.".
He believed that the bowlers would benefit from the use of Kookaburra in the "long run". "If I take only a couple of wickets in the first four or five matches, I am sure I will be able to claim six wickets in the sixth match. It will definitely help the Indian spinners in the long run."
Among all the ten Test playing nations, India and England are the only two countries which don't use the Kookaburra brand. England use the Duke ball, which has a raised seam, similar to the SG variety, while Kookubarra has a flatter seam. SG balls help finger spinners better, which could explain why spinners don't get the same purchase when bowling outside the subcontinent.
While the SG is handmade, the Kookaburra balls are assembly line-products, manufactured using modern technology. The BCCI had said that they were looking for alternatives, and would consider Kookaburra if they can bring their prices down. The Kookaburra white ball is currently used in one-day internationals played in India.
"There was some criticism before England's tour of India (earlier this year)," Shah added. "However, we did not receive any complaints during the series, so we're happy with the SG balls. We have no plans yet of changing to Kookaburra completely."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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