SG balls may be replaced by Kookaburra or Duke

The BCCI's technical committee is considering phasing out the SG Test ball, currently in use in domestic and international cricket in India, in favour of either the Australian Kookaburra or the English Duke ball. The reason, a committee member said, was that the SG ball's declining quality was leading to numerous delays during matches.

"We felt the quality of SG Test balls is not up to specified standards. Therefore, we decided to talk to the skippers of state teams and members of the Indian team on switching to either Duke or Kookaburra in both domestic and international games," former Test batsman Chetan Chauhan, a member of the technical committee, told The Indian Express on Tuesday. "The players' inputs are important. A report will be tabled in a couple of months."

Though the committee is almost unanimous on the switch, some factors have to be taken into account before a final decision is taken.

The SG ball is considered helpful for spinners because its prominent seam allows grip off the wicket, and the recent discovery that it allows early reverse swing had played a key role in the home side's victories over Australia and England last year.

Due to this, the committee will specifically speak to Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh on the subject.

'Easy to blame the ball'

But SG owner Paras Anand said the issue of the balls being frequently changed was being blown out of proportion. "We showed the balls returned to us by the board to a former Test cricketer, and he found nothing wrong with them. If the fielding side doesn't get wickets, it blames the ball and tries to change it for better swing or grip. We are trying to supply directly to the associations to negate chances of counterfeit balls," he said.

"I'm sure bowlers such as Zaheer and Harbhajan will never want the SG ball to go out, at least in international matches."

English or Australian?

There are three brands used in Test cricket worldwide SG (in India), Duke (in England), and Kokkaburra (in all other countries, and in India in the Duleep Trophy). The Duke ball is closer to the SG ball in terms of seam and reverse swing, but it moves prodigiously when it is new and doesn't offer as much spin because its seam tends to flatten as it gets older.

Between the Duke and the Kookaburra balls, Chauhan is in favour of the Australian brand because of its widespread use, but some players argue that Kookaburra is not suited for Indian wickets because its seam goes dead as it gets older, making it difficult for bowlers to get any purchase on flat and placid tracks. This, they say, is proved by the number of centuries that our domestic middle-order players score in the Duleep Trophy.

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