This is what Australian batsmen and bowlers could be practising with in the near future
In hopes to get an upper hand against arch-rivals England during next year’s back-to-back Ashes tour, Australia have stopped using the Kookaburra ball that all players down under are so used to, and instead have replaced it with England’s Dukes ball.
Known to be able to do different things than the Kookaburra ball, the Dukes ball will start off being used in some youth championship matches and a small handful of second-XI games.
If the Dukes happens to get good carry through off the rock-hard Australian pitches, then it could be seen in some of the Sheffield Shield matches later.
There have also been plans to use India’s SG balls, which would give the Australian batsmen an idea of what the pitches may do when they they tour the country next year.
Usually, teams get accustomed to the balls they will be using in matches when they arrive in the country that they are touring, but Cricket Australia want their batsmen to get used to both the Dukes and SG balls before they set off for their series against England and India.
Speaking exclusively to The Age, Cricket Australia’s senior cricket operations manager Sean Cary said: “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, 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?”
Australian bowlers have also failed to get the same kind of swing and movement off the pitch that their Indian and English counterparts do during series, and Cricket Australia want this to change since the national team have not beaten England at home since 2001 and India since 2004.
Cary noted that using the Dukes and SG balls was also cheaper solution than having the Kookaburra balls produced by local manufacturers.
However, this has caused some concern for the local manufacturers of Kookaburra balls since they believe they might lose business if international balls are used all the time.
Kookaburra director Rob Elliott said: “If we are not supported by cricket in Australia then Kookaburra won’t exist basically, 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.”