CHENNAI: The quality of the SG ball which is used for Test cricket in India continues to be under the spotlight. There seems to be a belief that it gets too soft as compared to Kookaburra and Dukes balls. SG’s Test LE balls, which are being used for Ranji Trophy matches, have seen several captains and coaches complain about their quality. In the last couple of seasons, there have been instances where even a new ball had to be changed within the first hour of play.
While the one being used for Tests in India are of better quality, spinners have off late found that the ball becomes softer than usual. After the first Test against West Indies, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, while speaking to former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar on the official broadcaster’s stream, touched upon the subject, revealing that Kookaburra’s red ball is the best in the business.
“Right now, I say that the Kookaburra red ball is the best. Dukes is quite good. But I’m disappointed with the SG ball. It used to be top-notch when I started playing. The seam would be prominent even after 70 overs. It’s not the same any more,” he said.The off-spinner wasn’t the only one who struggled to cope with the SG ball. Kuldeep Yadav, who picked up five wickets in the second innings, too said that bowling with it meant more problems.
When asked to compare it to the Dukes ball, with which he had practised in England and also played a Test, this is what Kuldeep had said. “No. You cannot compare. If you practise with the Dukes ball for a month, it will become the ‘better’ ball for you. SG is also like that. Since we have played with that ball from childhood, we are familiar with it. Domestic cricket is also played with SG ball. If Dukes is used in India, then you will get familiar with it. For me, it doesn’t matter which ball I am bowling with. But if you are transitioning from white ball to red ball, then you will need one week or a couple of games.
“Otherwise, the SG ball does get softer, which creates some problems. The Dukes ball is hard. It’s better if you are a spinner and used to it. Back here in India, the SG ball gets much tougher to bowl with. But after practising for a couple of days, I got used to it.”
The story isn’t different in domestic circles. During the captains and coaches conclave with BCCI officials, several of them had echoed similar thoughts about the SG balls that were used for shorter formats. Based on these inputs, BCCI had shifted to Kookaburra balls for them.
Though there were calls to introduce Kookaburra balls in Ranji Trophy, BCCI had shot down the idea, as they were not sure if the manufacturer would be in a position to supply a huge quantity of red balls, as the event had expanded to 37 teams this season. “We had reached out to SG after the conclave with regards to the problems raised by the coaches. We use SG balls for Tests in India, so switching to Kookaburra will not benefit the players. Plus, it is costlier than the SG ones,” a BCCI official told Express.