The Indian cricket board has asked Sanspareils Greenlands (SG), manufacturers of the cricket ball being used in the ongoing Test series, to look into its quality following complaints from India captain Virat Kohli and his teammates, including its seam not lasting long enough.
“The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) had asked us to look into the matter. We told them we will assess. Since some players have complained about the pitch [Ishant Sharma had termed it a ‘road’, R Ashwin also hinted at pitch being the cause of seam tearing], we will have to assess the ball’s reaction on such wickets also,” Paras Anand, SG Marketing Director, told IANS on Wednesday.
“We told them we will do R&D (Research & Development) and take into account strength, durability, all those factors. We will definitely find something which can endure. We will look for a material [for stitching the seam] which can endure a hard and abrasive surface also as well as the impact,” he said.
As of now, the second Test, beginning on Saturday, will take place with the same batch of balls as was the first Test since there is very little time between the two Tests — just three days. MA Chidambaram Stadium is hosting both matches.
Kohli had, on Tuesday, questioned the quality of balls, saying that it has been a continuing problem.
“The quality of balls, honestly, wasn’t something we were pleased to see, because that has been the issue in the past as well. Just for the ball to get destroyed in 60 overs is not something that you experience as a Test side and it is not something any Test side could be prepared for,” said Kohli in the post-match media interaction. Ashwin complained that the ball’s seam was not lasting.
“It was very bizarre for us. I have never seen an SG ball tear through the seam like that. It could well be a combination of how hard the pitch was on the first two days. Even in the second innings after the 35th or the 40th over, the seam started to peel off,” he had said after the fourth day of the first Test. Interesingly, Ashwin took six wickets on the same day. Kohli had complained about the ball over two years ago as well.
Anand said that the two issues Kohli complained about are different from the current complaint.
“The last time they said it would soft and get scuffed up early. The issues that were there two-three years ago have been addressed. They managed to bowl 104 overs with that ball [in England’s first innings]. Now reverse swing is also happening; the ball has retained its shape, too. Now, seam bursting is the third issue, and a different one. We will find a solution to that. We have to work on the thread,” said Anand.
“We saw that though the thread has burst, the ball didn’t get destroyed. Umpires also didn’t change the ball. In fact, we have already started to work on it. We are not blaming anybody. This is something new that has happened,” he pointed out.
Kohli had lashed out at the SG ball in October, 2018 during West Indies’s tour of India.
“To have a ball scuffed up in five overs is not something that we have seen before. The quality of the ball used to be quite high before and I don’t understand the reason why it has gone down. A Dukes ball is still good quality, Kookaburra is still good quality — whatever limitations a Kookaburra might have, the quality is never compromised,” he had said.
Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi on Wednesday lashed out at the Indian team.
“I missed out on Indn (sic) debacle yesterday..which was always on cards..but to ‘blame’ the SG ball or the wicket or the toss would be barking up the wrong tree-regrouping is as much the need as appreciating English determination to grind & win-also never underestimate any opposition!,” Bedi tweeted.
If it is the ball or the pitch damaging the ball, only remaining matches of the series will tell. England lead the four-Test series 1-0. The second Test begins at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.