Irrespective of the sport, every sportsperson's performance is majorly derived on the back of their skillset. But, apart from their own capabilities, their equipment, too, play an important role in deriving favourable results.
When it comes to cricket, we've seen batsmen paying close attention to the kind of willows they intend to use. The wicket-keepers fret over their choice of gloves to do the chores behind the stumps. But, for bowlers, there is not much of an option.
The lack of specific guidelines from the International Cricket Council (ICC) has allowed different cricket-playing nations to use different balls. Well, the idea behind using different balls by different nations is pretty simple - to assist the home side.
The likes of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka use the Kookaburra cricket ball - manufactured Down Under - for their home games. The Dukes ball is used in the matches played in the United Kingdom and West Indies. For the games played in India, the Sanspareils Greenlands (SG) ball has, for long, been put to use.
But, recently, the SG ball has come under scanner, especially after some Indian cricketers raised questions over its quality. Last week, Virat Kohli voiced his opinion over the use of different cricket balls in international cricket. Expressing his displeasure at the poor quality of the SG balls, the Indian captain suggested that Test cricket across the globe should be played with the England-made Dukes balls.
Kohli's comments came after the likes of Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav stood united in their criticism of the India-made SG balls.
So, what's the real difference between all these cricket balls - Kookaburra, SG and Dukes? And, how do they behave in different conditions, you'd ask? Here are all the answers:Dukes Ball
Manufactured in England, the origins of the Dukes cricket ball can be traced back to the year 1760. It is used in-Test matches, first-class cricket and most premier-level leagues in the UK. Unlike its competitors, the Dukes balls are handmade and are darker in colour, owing to the coating of lacquer.
Known for its impeccable quality, the seam of a Dukes ball holds good up to 50-55 overs (if maintained well) and swings the most. It is also considered as the most bowler-friendly ball, generally assisting seam bowlers. It does not swing right from the start, but as the lacquer on the ball wears off, it swings conventionally. When it comes to natural bounce, the Dukes ball leaves its competitors behind, irrespective of the pitch or conditions.Sanspareils Greenlands (SG) Ball
Sanspareils Greenlands, a cricket equipment manufacturer in India, came into existence when two brothers Kedarnath and Dwarakanath Anand established Sanspareils Co in Sialkot in 1931. But, today, they are famous for their bats and cricket balls. Hand-crafted to perfection, the SG cricket balls have a more prominent seam which is closer together than its competitors, resulting from the thicker thread used for stitching.
Introduced in 1994, the SG balls have been used in Test matches and domestic cricket in India. But, despite boasting of the most upright and prominent seam position, the SG balls generally swing for first 10 overs and lose their shine pretty quickly in Indian conditions. However, it is considered the best ball for spin bowling, as it provides appreciable drift in the air and grip off the pitch to spinners when the ball lands on the seam. The fact that its seam remains intact for nearly 80-90 overs, makes it susceptible for reverse swing after 40-50 overs in the game.Kookaburra Ball
While the Dukes and SG balls enjoy a great demand, Kookaburra continues to lead the race as world's no. 1 cricket ball manufacturer. The Kookaburra balls are used in both internationally and first-class cricket in the majority of cricket-playing nations. It features a four-piece construction with a five-layer quilted centre.
Crafted through machines and manufactured in Australia, the Kookaburra balls swings from the word go, and for the first 20-25 overs, it's quite difficult to play against, especially on a helpful surface.
Its low seam position wears off, but a Kookaburra ball's shine stays a bit longer. It starts to soften after 35-40 overs, and, as a result, batting becomes a lot easier afterwards. Its reverse swing is not as great as the Dukes ball.Players' Speak
"The Dukes ball, I think, is the most suited ball for Test cricket. If there's a situation I would vouch for that to be used all over the world because of the consistency of the ball and how the bowlers are in the game at any stage… even the spinners, because the seam is so hard and upright," Virat Kohli said on the eve of the second Test against the West Indies.
"Right now, I would say Kookaburra red ball is a lot better ball, Dukes is also right up there. Pretty disappointed with the current SG ball. It used to be top-notch, the seam used to stand up strong even after 70-80 overs. It's not the same anymore," Ravichandran Ashwin had said.
"I remember the years - since 1984-85 - when the Dukes balls were used and how the seam used to go rough. It was clear that in Indian conditions they wouldn't work. It was in 1993 when the SG was first introduced and India went on to dominate all cricket they played at home. Look at the overall country-wise average of bowlers bowling with different balls in different conditions. That will give you the answer. So, what's the fuss about?" Mohammad Azharuddin told TOI while questioning Indian cricketers over their criticism for the SG ball.