As per the cricketing rules, three balls have been approved that can be used in playing in a test match – Duke Ball, SG Ball, and Kookaburra Ball. Dukes are used in England and West Indies while India uses SG cricket balls. Kookaburra balls are the most commonly used in teh other cricketing venues like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe.
What is the difference between the three balls?
Stitching: Duke and SG cricket balls are hand-stitched while Kookaburra is half hand-stitched and the remaining half gets stitched with the machine. The hand-stitch gives a prominent seam and threads are closer to each other and because of that the seam lasts longer than Kookaburra, which has two outer rows of machine-stitching and two inner rows of hand-stitching.
Seam: The duke’s ball is held by six rows which go backward and forward across the joint and it helps a bowler significantly while holding the ball and it also keeps the shape of the ball intact. The SG Ball uses a thicker thread to stitch the seam and it is much closer than the other balls. On the other hand, Kookaburra has two hand-stitched threads holding the two halves of the ball together. The outer row is stitched to have a good grip for the bowlers to hold.
Playing Conditions: The nature of the pitch and conditions also play a major role in the usage of the three cricket balls. England generally has overcast conditions and green pitches which play a crucial role in teh retention of the seam and shape of the ball. India, on the other hand, has rough and dry pitches which tend to crack open. So, an SG ball is well suited since the thick thread keeps the ball intact for a longer period.
Even though the ball loses its shape faster, Kookaburra has been well suited for the bouncy conditions in Australia and South Africa.
Many cricketers have often come forward and said that the Dukes’ balls should be preferred in Test Cricket since it tends to assist the bowlers more which maintains the balance between the bat and ball. Even though SG cricket balls have a thicker thread but ther have been frequent complaints been received by the manufacturer from the Indian team.
In the recently concluded test series between India and England, Virat Kohli and R Ashwin weren’t happy with the quality of the ball being used since it is losing its shape quicker than expected. In the World Test Championship(WTC) Final, ICC has decided to use BSI Grade 1 Duke Balls. These balls are being used in Test cricket and county cricket in England since 2012.