When the current season comes to an end, New Zealand Cricket will be able to change the type of ball that’s been officially approved for use in the game’s upper levels. This presents a great opportunity to effect improvements in the country’s game overall.
The Kookaburra Just Isn’t Good Enough
The balls that have been approved for current use are the Kookaburra brand, from Australia. These stand out for a troublesome reason: they simply do not have as good a seam as other brands do. More precisely, the external stitching on these balls is made from thinner thread than any of the others. What adds to this disadvantage is that the seam rapidly flattens on hard pitches, and this may not have had the time to totally develop during the very short Twenty20 game format.
The Vital Part that Stitching Plays
In the same way that horse racing enthusiasts will try and cover a number of bases when they are looking for the best horse racing tips NZ has to offer, bowlers that are trying to beat the bat try to influence not only the flight path, but the direction of the bounce off of the pitch, as well. In order to be able to apply their skills, they gain confidence from the feel of a good grip in the hand, and this is aided by the four rows of stitching on the outside. Stitches do a lot more than just improve feel, however. They also play a vital role in determining how much the ball can grip on the pitch surface in response to any spin that has been applied.
Spin Hasn’t Prospered Here
Spin has not prospered, generally speaking, in New Zealand. It should then come as no surprise that our batting, developing in a spin-poor environment, has struggled to manage spin. Spin isn’t a natural part of the New Zealand cricket game, and that is a tragedy -while there are many local cricket players trying to spin, success stories are few and far between.
New Zealand is not only penalising cricketers at all levels, but the public, as well, as we disallow them to enjoy all the facets of an intriguing game. Recently spin has come to be regarded as vital for success in the game’s shorter form, too. And, in light of the increasing temperatures worldwide making life a lot less pleasant for robust player-activity in the summer, it is likely that prolonged periods of fast bowling will become a lot less attractive. This is even more encouragement for spinners to take their rightful place!
Replacements for the Kookaburra
What is on hand to push Kookaburra off of its perch? There are a few possibilities: Readers and Dukes from the United Kingdom, and SG, from India.
A great idea would be for New Zealand Cricket, rather than getting locked into a contract with one brand, to remain open-minded. This would entail auditioning candidates extensively, and ignoring all prior claims about the influence of lacquer and swing, comparing the products instead for price and performance. If no real differences come up, the question would then be why we would limit ourselves to just one brand at all.