Kookaburra or SG – the debate rages on

The bowlers prefer SG balls in Indian conditions as it is easier to work on, writes Makarand Waingankar

It is difficult to reverse swing the Kookaburra ball

An international bowler is expected to adapt to different types of balls

The debate is on — kookaburra or SG ball. One is not too sure whether the technical committee of the BCCI is aware of the problems that Kookaburra balls pose in Indian conditions.

The international Indian cricketers who rarely play domestic cricket would want the BCCI to use Kookaburra balls in the Duleep Trophy but there are disadvantages if these balls are not used across all tournaments.

First and foremost being the structure of the Kookaburra ball which affords very little help to fast bowlers in terms of swing. Moreover it is difficult to have reverse swing because the leather doesn’t peel off — a known fact to fast bowlers, unless the technique is mastered the way England bowlers did in the Ashes in 2005.

Hard outfields

The main problem is that unlike grounds in foreign countries, Indian outfields are hard. This tends to have an effect on the seam which is not pronounced and hence flattens. The bowlers then can’t use the ball to optimise their skills.

In a game when batsmen have more advantages, Kookaburra balls put them in an increased comfort zone.

Another issue is of cost. The SG ball costs around Rs. 800 whereas the Kookaburra balls cost Rs. 4500. Would any association or bowlers be able to afford to use Kookaburra balls for practice?

There are quite a few associations in India who use different balls for practice as even SG balls are costly for them.

And when the Kookaburra balls can’t be used for practice or Ranji Trophy, it is pointless to use them simply for a few Duleep Trophy matches. Just one tournament wouldn’t afford the players enough practice to get acquainted with the Kookaburra.

Glance through the scores of last year’s Duleep Trophy and it is observed that the bowlers went in for lots of runs. Instead of spending crores of rupees on building huge stadiums, the BCCI could spend money in having a deal with Kookaburra company to have its manufacturing unit in India so that the cost of a ball could be reduced and it could be used in all the BCCI tournaments.

The bowlers prefer SG balls in Indian conditions as it is easier for them to work on the ball. The spinners can grip the ball better because of the seam.

However an international bowler is expected to adapt to different types of balls and not bother about the manufacturing advantages of the ball.

There are more than 550 matches in the BCCI tournaments and if the price is affordable or the BCCI subsidies the cost, it certainly will benefit the cricketers in enhancing their skills.

But would the BCCI squander the home advantage by using Kookaburra balls on turning tracks when the spinners might not be comfortable with it.

It is the question that the team management will have to address. No Indian team would ever want to fiddle with the home advantage that the SG ball gives them. The irony is that the bowlers who would be touring New Zealand would be playing with white balls in Sri Lanka.

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