After much reluctance, India will finally play its first-ever day-night Test at the Eden Gardens against Bangladesh later this month. But more than the cricketers, all eyes will be on the SG pink ball that will be used for the very first time. The basic construction is the same but just painting the ball pink won’t do it. It’s the leather which is treated differently. We dye through, put pigment on top which is a bright colour and preserve it through the polish. Other than that, the seam colour is different. It’s black but it is the same thread. So there is no difference. A bowler should feel very comfortable.
The game of cricket is played all over and the so called season ball play a significant role in match at the highest level. Having played the game from the grass root level to the highest level, I have seen the bounce of different balls and on diverse types of wickets. New ball play a pivotal role in all the three forms of the game and decide the prospects of a side scoring runs batting first or second and the fate of the openers and the top order is decided with the dicey ball with shine.
Cricket ball cause serious head injuries and wearing helmet has become mandatory for all the batsmen playing at the top level cricket. In India SG balls are used as these balls have prominent seam, which is closer together because of the usage of thicker thread. However, these balls lose shine very rapidly and help our spin oriented attack an early look and the spinners prefer these balls because of the pronounced seam. It also helps reverse swing as the wickets in India are slower in nature and never encourages seam bowling and the lateral movement plays a key role after 15 to 20 overs. In olden days when Tiger Pataudi was leading the Indian side, the new ball used to be rolled on the pitch for an early introduction of spin in the attack.
Playing club level cricket and International cricket is entirely different and the ball quality changes. In Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka Kookaburra make balls get the pride of place. In English county cricket, the ball swings and their players and the overseas recruits are good enough to spot the natural movement in the best way possible. Zaheer Abbas of Pakistan was showing phenomenal success with the bat on these conditions. Graeme Hick carried on for a long time in the English County cricket with his batting technique.
The Kookaburra red ball is a lot better but Dukes is also right up there. I am pretty disappointed with the current SG ball. It used to be top notch, the seam used to stand up even after 70-80 overs. It is not the same anymore. But in one day cricket, white balls are used as most of the matches are played day and night with colour dress. White ball has more visibility at night than red ball and it appears prominent on screen as vast followers have access to cricket through different online sites and television, balls visibility is compulsory for the viewers. White ball is said to be swing more and is smoother than the red ball. White ball is harder than the red cricket ball.
Cricket Ball plays an important role in cricket game. Traditionally red cricket balls had been used, but as time progressed, white ball was introduced in the game. Recently, in few test matches, the pink ball is also used. The reason for pink ball in test matches is that at night, red cricket ball has poor visibility, because under yellow floodlight red ball takes on a brownish colour which is quite similar to the colour of the pitch. In One Day & T20 cricket match, the white cricket ball is used.
In present day cricket two white balls are used as discolouring is possible and sighting the ball will be difficult in ODIs. The logic given was the discolouring of the white ball during the end of the innings and batsmen not being able to sight it properly especially in the dusty sub-continental conditions under lights. The current rule means that the white kookaburra is bowled for only 25 overs from one end. Now, it has become a different ball game in cricket altogether.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)