England’s main Ashes job, getting use to the Kookaburra

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BRISBANE - Could a cricket ball be the difference between England retaining or losing the Ashes?

The answer to that question comes in the form of England coach Andy Flower, who has instructed his fast bowlers to become accustomed to the Kookaburra, the ball of choice in Australia, for the past five months.

England, according to the BBC, has been use to the Duke cricket ball, and bowling coach David Saker wants his bowlers to focus on old-fashioned principles.

James Anderson’s unrivalled ability to manipulate the ball, to make it swing in or out to a right-handed batsman with a subtle change of grip and wrist position, earned him 23 wickets against Pakistan in the summer at a measly average of just 13.74, one wicket every 36 deliveries.

England fans will be salivating at the prospect of a repeat in the Ashes but commentators have been more cautious.

England use a hand-stitched ball manufactured by Kent-based company Dukes while Australia, and most of the Test-playing world, utilise the Kookaburra “Turf” ball made in Victoria.

Side by side and these two balls are almost identical - bits of cork wrapped in string encased in red leather stitched together by thread. But there are differences - and significant ones too.

“The Dukes ball tends to be slightly darker in colour,” former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie told BBC Sport.

“A brand new Kookaburra swings immediately whereas the Dukes probably swings more from about six to 10 overs old.”

The seam, the stitching around the middle of the ball, is key. it acts as a ‘rudder’ for the fast bowler, enabling them to move the ball in the air depending on their grip.

The overhead conditions play an enormous factor in the condition of the ball. The lusher, greener outfields of England, kept verdant by the inevitable summer rain showers, help to preserve the Dukes ball after the initial sheen has worn off.

In complete contrast, the sun-baked Australian pitches are hard and abrasive, which quickly scuffs up the Kookaburra and its brand-new sheen, which means any opportunity for swing must be seized within the first 10 to 15 overs. (ANI)

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