Cricket Australia drop the English made Dukes ball from the Sheffield Shield

Cricket Australia has ditched the English Dukes balls and will stick with the Australian made Kookaburra for the upcoming Sheffield Shield season.

The darker Dukes ball, more prone to swinging, had been used in the domestic competition since 2016 in a bid to prepare Aussie batsmen for going to England.

It was used in the second half of each Shield season, producing mixed results.

But after the Aussies successfully retained the Ashes in England last year, CA has decided to end the experiment with feedback from players, which included criticism, that it took to long to deteriorate and favoured bowlers too much, contributed to the decision.

Former Test batsman and Queensland captain Usman Khawaja said the move was “good news for spinners”.

Peter Roach, CA head of cricket operations, said reverting to the traditional Kookaburra ball was the right move for Australian cricket at this time.
“The introduction of the Dukes ball has been a worthwhile exercise, particularly in the lead up to overseas Ashes series where the Dukes is used so well by our English opponents,” Roach said. “We have been happy with how the ball has performed when used in Australian conditions over the past four seasons.

“We do, however, feel that reverting to one ball for 2020-21 will provide the consistent examination of our players over a full season that CA and the States are presently seeking. The Kookaburra is the ball used for international cricket in Australia and many parts of the world and we see benefits this season of maximising our use of it.

“We have noted that spin bowlers in the Marsh Sheffield Shield have been playing less of a role in recent seasons, most notably in games when the Dukes ball is in use. We need spinners bowling in first-class cricket and we need our batters facing spin. We hope that the change to one ball with have a positive benefit here.

“We see a definite opportunity to reintroduce the Dukes ball at some stage in the future.”

Kookaburra balls have come in for much criticism in recent years for their lack of swing at international level, especially in the Test arena.

But the manufacturer said it would continue to “finetune our processes” to produce the best possible cricket ball for all formats.

Dilip Jajodia, the owner of Dukes ball manufacturer British Cricket Balls, had lobbied Australian officials hard to use his ball on a more permanent basis but said he understood the decision.

“Having the opportunity to show the quality of our ball in Australia’s premier domestic cricket competition has been a privilege,” Jajodia said. “We understand CA’s decision and are buoyed by the potential for the Dukes to return in future seasons.”

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