Comparing the Cricket Balls: SG, Kookaburra and Dukes

The excitement for the awaited World Test Championship Final is constantly increasing as the top two sides in Test Cricket will go against each other from 18th June in Southampton. Both teams have their own strengths and weaknesses but it’s indubitable that we will see some brilliant swing bowling that’ll be on display. Both the teams have some of the best fast bowlers on their sides and it’ll be very interesting to watch out for the battles. But, along with the skills of the bowlers, there’s one more thing which will assist the bowlers. It’s the well-known Dukes ball. What is Dukes ball? How is it different from others? Let’s discuss the difference between the various balls used in Test Cricket.

Some avid Cricket fans might know this but there are primarily three manufactures of a Test Cricket ball:

Sanspareil Greenlands (SG):

The SG balls are being manufactured by a company based in Meerut since 1950. The SG ball is used by India in Test matches since 1994 as it suits the conditions. There are majorly two factors that distinguish the balls.

1. Stitching:

The SG red ball used in Test matches is completely hand-stitched and that’s why the seam remains more pronounced and spinners love bowling with it. The threads are stitched a bit closer in SG balls compared to others.

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The major advantage of the SG ball and the reason behind it being used in India is because it is hand-stitched. But, many players including Indian skipper Virat Kohli and veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have criticised the seam of the ball for not being intact for a longer period of time.

I have never seen an SG ball tear (get) through the seam like that. So it could well be a combination of how hard the pitch was on the first two days, even in the second innings after the 35th-40th over, the seam was getting sort of peeled off, It was bizarre, I mean, I haven’t seen an SG ball like that in the last so many years.

Ravichandran Ashwin

2. Seam:

As mentioned earlier, the SG ball has a prominent seam as it is hand-stitched. Moreover, it is done by a thicker thread that is closer together than the other balls.

Kookaburra Sport:

The red Kookaburra ball is manufactured by an Australian sports equipment company. It’s named after the tree Kingfisher birds native to Australia. Kookaburra cricket balls are manufactured in Australia and are used in Test matches almost everywhere except England, West Indies and India.

1. Stitching:

Kookaburra is predominantly a machine-stitched ball. The two inside rows are hand-stitched, while the two outer rows on each side are machine stitched. Hence, Kookaburra doesn’t have a pronounced seam as it is machine stitched and the seam is embedded in the surface.

Inside The Kookaburra Cricket Ball Factory : News Photo

Kookaburra Cricket ball (Image Credits: Getty Images)

Therefore, it doesn’t swing for a long time and hence the ball is just helpful for the ones who can hit the deck hard and extract some bounce off the surface.

2. Seam:

The two halves of the Kookaburra ball are held together by the middle rows which are hand-stitched. The outer rows which are machine-stitched are to provide grip to the bowlers. It doesn’t have a pronounced seam as the machine stitching requires the ball to be more flatter and hence the seam is not prominent.

Dukes – British Cricket Balls Limited:

The Dukes Cricket ball is manufactured by the Duke family, the company specialises in manufacturing cricket equipment. The Dukes ball is used in England, West Indies and even in Ireland.

1. Stitching:

Similar to SG, even Dukes ball is wholly hand-stitched. Hence, the seam is much prominent and stays the same for a long period of time.

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2. Seam

All six rows of stitching on the Dukes ball go backwards and forwards across the joint of the two cups forming the ball, so it holds the ball together much better and thereby the ball retains the shape and hardness longer. There’s a particular reason behind bowlers loving to bowl with the Dukes ball. It swings for a quite long time because grease is applied to the ball to protect it from water. That’s the reason you’d notice the Dukes ball is darker compared to others.

The theory is the darker the ball the more grease it has absorbed, and if there is more grease in the leather, then you can shine it better, and therefore it will swing better.

Dilip Jajodia (current owner of British Cricket Balls)

A lot of credit behind swinging Dukes ball has to go to Dilip Jajodia who currently owns the Dukes brand. He manages the manufacturing so well that not even a single ball will turn out to be dissatisfactory.

Dilip Jajodia

Playing conditions do play some role in maintaining the state of the ball. In India, the surfaces are harder and get cracked up as the game progresses. Hence, the hand-stitched SG ball has its role to play in India. While in England, they generally have green tops and the condition of the ball is not hampered much, therefore, the Dukes ball holds its state for a longer period of time. Whereas Kookaburra ball loses its seam quite quickly and there isn’t much for the swing bowlers and they need to rely more on the bounce off the surface after the seam is lost.

The Dukes ball is predominantly loved by the bowlers worldwide just because it moves in the air and off the surface as well. It gives the bowlers a lot to play with.

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I love bowling with Dukes. It seams, it swings, so basically you have a little bit of help, otherwise, it is difficult to be a fast bower with grounds getting shorter and wickets getting flatter.

Jasprit Bumrah

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