The difference between Dukes & others, and why so much fuss?

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 12, 2018 13:08 hrs
Ashwin bowling with SG ball

There's a lot of debate as to which ball should be used in international Test matches especially after India skipper Virat Kohli criticising the quality of SG balls in his latest press conference. The most important inference from this is that along with Kohli everyone is putting the Dukes as the benchmark for other ball manufacturers.

The red Duke ball is used in England for Test matches while in other countries it's either the Kookaburra or the SG ball. Test matches in West Indies are also played with the Duke ball but it’s a little different to the one which is used in England as it is given an extra polish in order to survive on the abrasive pitches of the Caribbean islands.

How is the Duke ball different from the SGs or the Kookaburras? The Duke ball's seam is more pronounced and a greater quantity of thread is present while the Kookaburra/SG ball loses the seam very early therefore it doesn't swing as much as the Dukes.

The size of Dukes is relatively smaller than the Kookaburra and thus helps the bowlers to get a better grip. The weight of Duke is also less than the Kookaburra or SG which helps it to move more along with the direction of the wind.

One important reason of why Duke ball swings more is that the seam is hand-stitched thus helping it to stay in shape even after 80 overs unlike Kookaburra or SG which are machine-stitched.

The issue is because the Duke is hand-made, it will be extremely difficult for them to supply the balls in huge quantity and still maintain that quality which SG or Kookaburra lacks. The problem with SG in the recent Rajkot Test was that the ball became soft after 12-15 overs and it discouraged the bowlers to put in hard yards while bowling.

This shouldn't be the case with cricket balls used in Tests. These issues are prevalent in limited overs cricket too, where the batsmen are regularly thrashing the Kookaburra balls all over the park as the bowlers are not able to get enough assistance. Also, with two new balls used in ODIs, the concept of reverse-swing has completely vanished.

Harsha Bhogle in one his Cricbuzz vlogs said, “Everything in cricket has changed except the ball. If indeed it has changed then the seam has got more and more depressed. I am told that the Dukes ball does a lot more than the Kookaburra ball but recently, I saw a piece which Mike (Atherton) sent me where batsmen keep complaining that the white Duke ball is doing too much. If the white Duke ball is doing too much, then go get it, embrace it, let’s start using it, let the ball do too much. Because if the ball doesn’t do anything at all then we don’t have a game.”

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