The PCB has decided to use Kookaburra balls in domestic cricket from the ongoing season to keep with international standards. The imported balls were used in domestic competitions from 2000 until 2007, when the Ijaz Butt-led administration encouraged the use of locally-manufactured balls.
The decision came after the PCB's Executive Coordination Committee (ECC) met with the national coaching staff, captain, and chief selector to discuss various areas of improvement for the Pakistan team.
"It was agreed that domestic cricket requires improvements in fielding, fitness, application of technique and other areas," the PCB said. "The ECC has unanimously decided to use Kookaburra balls in both first-class and domestic limited-overs cricket. It has also been decided that during the national camps, the same brand of cricket balls used for practice will be used in that particular tour."
The Kookaburra ball will be used from the fifth round of the President's Trophy, starting November 2. The players will continue to use the Grays ball for the fourth round, which starts on Sunday. However, the PCB director Javed Miandad was against the idea of using imported balls, but was out voted when the ECC invited Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez, coach Dav Whatmore, fast-bowling coach Mohammad Akram and chief selector Iqbal Qasim for the meeting.
Some PCB members were reportedly unhappy with the quality of the locally manufactured balls, following complaints from players over the last two seasons. The balls were said to have hard leather, causing player injuries while fielding, and on occasions tore within 20 overs in first-class games. However, the chief executive of Grays, Khawar Anwar Khawaja, brushed aside the reports. Grays have been supplying balls to the PCB since 1973.
"We are extremely unhappy as ultimately the PCB is denting Pakistan's own industry by giving preference to the imported balls," Khawaja told ESPNcricinfo. "We are always flexible towards complaints, ready to talk and produce the best ball according to their demands. I agree there were complaints about the hardness of the ball two years back because we were asked to make machine-made balls and it obviously takes time for it to mature."
The white Kookaburra balls are used in one-day internationals, while the red one is used in Tests in most nations apart from India (SG) and England (Duke).
Miandad had objected to the use of imported balls while announcing the revamped domestic season last month.
"It is just an unwanted debate to have a Kookaburra ball assuming that it will enhance the quality of cricket," Miandad said. "Quality actually lies with the bowler and batsman. We have produced legendary bowlers who used locally made cricket balls. To me it's just an excuse to have a Kookaburra or Duke ball. It will only increase the costs and nothing else."
Pakistan have no home series until October 2013. However, they are scheduled to tour India, Zimbabwe, West Indies and England (Champions Trophy), where they are likely to use the Kookaburra ball.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent