Kookaburra trialing new ball for use in Sheffield Shield


If agreed upon, it would mean there will be three different balls used for the Shield this season with Dukes being kept for the post-Christmas/New Year period despite the next Ashes series in England not being until 2023.

Feedback privately among players has been mixed with some not noticing any change while others have commented on the ball swinging for longer.

A coach from one state believed the ball was a sturdier version to Kookaburra’s established product, which can open up at the quarter seam and lose shape.

Kookaburra is trialing a new ball for use in the Sheffield Shield.Credit:Penny Stephens

There is a sense among some that Kookaburra is looking to produce a ball more like a Dukes.

Kookaburra is facing increasing competition from the British brand, which is eager to gain a larger slice of the local market that has, until recently, been dominated by the Australian company.

The rivalry between the two racheted up this year when the MCC’s World Cricket Committee called for Test cricket to be played with one brand of ball. There are three brands used in Tests: Dukes in England and the West Indies, the SG ball in India, and Kookaburra elsewhere, including Australia.

CA introduced Dukes to the Shield in 2016 after another Ashes failure with the aim of helping Australian players become more familiar with the ball used for Tests in England.

Australia’s batsmen again struggled this year but retained the urn on foreign soil for the first time since 2001 due largely to the heroics of Steve Smith.

The extra coat of lacquer should keep the shine on the ball for longer, in theory aiding conventional swing.

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It is commonly accepted the Dukes swings more than the Kookaburra in unfriendly conditions. The Kookaburra, with its faster rate of deterioration, offers more reverse swing. The main difference between the two brands is that Dukes has a prouder seam, which offers greater movement off the pitch.

Opinion is divided among players as to which brand is better.

Former Test batsman Ed Cowan labelled Dukes “far superior”, while Shield stalwart George Bailey is also a supporter.

“It makes for much better games of cricket and a more even contest between the bat and the ball,” Cowan said in February last year.

“You have to bowl well and with high skill to take wickets, you certainly have to bat well to make runs. It keeps the bowlers in the game for longer and generally makes a more entertaining game to play in. I’ve been saying since last summer we should be using them in Test cricket in ­Australia and we would see an uptick. “

Test veteran Peter Siddle said last week both balls had strengths but earlier this year said he saw little need for the Dukes to be used other than for seasons leading into an Ashes tour.

“Any cricket you play outside of there is always with the Kookaburra or a ball that doesn’t shift much anyway,” Siddle said. “It would be better playing with the Kookaburra and learning to master your craft with that.”

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