While India skipper Virat Kohli and off-spinner R. Ashwin have backed the use of English-made Dukes ball in Tests, the BCCI, following a clear mandate from players and teams, has carried out a change in the brand of ball for white-ball cricket this season.
After experimenting with SG Limited Edition (SG LE) for white-ball tournaments last year, the BCCI reverted to Australian brand Kookaburra white for this year’s limited-over tournaments, including the 160 matches played in the Vijay Hazare trophy.
The switch from the home-made to the Australian brand has initially cost the BCCI ₹2,38,82,920.
According to the BCCI website, the huge sum was paid to Kookaburra Sports India Pvt. Ltd. as 50% advance for purchase of a specific number of Kookaburra balls for the season 2018-19.
“We experimented with the SG LE last year and received mixed responses from the players and teams,” said a BCCI official.
Last year, the BCCI bought SG LE white balls in bulk at a price of ₹1500 per ball. The retail price was ₹2500.
The secretary of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) Prof. Dr. Unmesh Khnvilkar believes that the BCCI buys Kookaburra white at a price of ₹8000 per ball. The retail rate is said to be around ₹12,000.
“Well, we give the top quality ball (Kookaburra) to Mumbai teams even for net practice. They have to be given the match-quality ball,” said Khanvilkar.
A coach of a team from West Zone said: “The SG LE was not bad, there was not much difference in the scores. But the players told the BCCI that the Kookaburra is of superior quality. They feel the difference when the bat meets the ball.”
It would be interesting to see if the BCCI makes a shift from SG Test to Dukes ball for Test cricket in the future.
After the 2004 tour of Pakistan, the Indian batsmen told the BCCI to use Dukes ball for the home Test series in India. But the bowlers, especially the spinners, rejected the batsmen’s proposal, saying they get a better grip on the SG Test brand.
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