Former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin slammed the call for Duke balls by Team India, especially the bowlers. He stressed that the SG (Sanspareils Greenlands) balls have helped India dominate in home conditions.
The made-in-India SG balls were first introduced in 1993, when Azharuddin was the captain of the Indian cricket team. The pronounced seam of the balls help Indian spinners to grip them well on rank subcontinent turners and that has led to the team’s brilliant home record.
“I remember the years - since 1984-85 - when the Dukes balls were used and how the seam used to go rough. It was clear that in Indian conditions they wouldn’t work. It was in 1993 when the SG was first introduced and India went on to dominate all cricket they played at home. Look at the overall country-wise average of bowlers bowling with different balls in different conditions. That will give you the answer. So, what’s the fuss about?” Azharuddin said in an interview with TOI.
Recently, the likes of Umesh Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav had objected to the use of SG balls in India.
Indian captain Virat Kohli and spinner Ravichandran Ashwin too have joined the bandwagon and spoke about the need to introduce Duke balls (manufactured and used in UK) in India.
Azharuddin though differs from the present crop.
“I really can’t understand what their (Team India) grouse is. Statistics say everything."
“When our spinners go to Australia, they find it tough to even grip the Kookaburra. In England, look at how Ashwin delivered and how Moeen Ali did (with the Dukes)."
“If you’ve taken six wickets (Kuldeep’s haul in the Rajkot Test against West Indies), then how can you complain about the ball? Even in pace bowling, Yadav picked a 10 wicket haul, no? So, where’s the complaint?” said Azharuddin, the fourth most successful Indian captain, in the interview.
In the last 25 years of the usage of SG balls, the team has only lost three Test series against visiting sides, with spinners contributing heavily in most of the victories.
“You’ve got to use what suits your conditions best. That’s also the challenge in Test cricket. I can’t go to England and say we’ll play with SG. They’ll have the Dukes ball. Similarly, if England are coming here, there is a different set of challenge they are going to face,” Azhar adds.