Is the Kookaburra ball contributing to the slow death of limited overs cricket?
A few days back, the great Sachin Tendulkar voiced his concern over ICC's decision to introduced two new balls from either end in the 50 over format of the game, which denies the bowlers the luxury to reverse swing the ball. The talk of maintaining a balance between bat and ball doesn't seem to die down because of the rapid changes we are witnessing of late in the scores achieved by the batting sides in 50 over cricket. Short boundaries, good bats, and today's contemporary batsmen being much stronger physically are the obvious reasons for the shift.
Over the past decade, ICC has made considerable changes to revive the 50 over format, and weirdly they seem to be convinced that people will only come to watch the 50 over format if they provide them with high scoring matches. That could be the only reason why they still haven't thought of replacing the Kookaburra white ball with the Dukes white ball.
The Dukes ball has historically given bowlers much more assistance as compared to the Kookaburra. Dukes is very similar to the SG test ball which is used in India as both are handmade, whereas the Kookaburra is machine-made.
The reason why most bowlers enjoy bowling with a Dukes or an SG test ball is that they have a more pronounced seam which helps the fast bowlers to swing and seam the ball. Moreover, the spinners find it easier to grip, and the Dukes ball wears down quickly in dry subcontinent conditions which brings back reverse swing into play.
The Dukes white ball could potentially be the answer to this never-ending discussion of maintaining the balance between bat and ball.
The use of the Kookaburra ball has unfortunately made the 50 over format of the game very predictable. The day is no longer far away when replacing the bowlers with a bowling machine will make absolutely no difference.
It's high time the ICC looks at other options. If they introduce Dukes in one day cricket the most that could happen is that batsmen might struggle early on and we might see too many scores in the range of 200. But at least we'll have the answers one way or the other, which is always better than what-ifs.
Historically, a close 230-game has always made for a better viewing spectacle than a one-sided 400-run game. It's the ICC's call now.