The Kookaburra cricket ball – what’s the big deal?

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They’re going to use the Kookaburra cricket ball for the next couple of rounds of the County Championship. Why exactly?

Have you ever seen that godawful film where Nicolas Cage is a pilot and a bunch of people suddenly cease to exist?

Nic Cage films range from actually good to hilariously bad to very deliberately unhinged (the plastic teeth scene from Vampire’s Kiss will never fail to make us laugh). Left Behind, however, is an out-and-out bad film that is not even redeemed by comic overacting.

There’s a bit in it where Cage’s character is piloting a plane that is flying directly towards another plane. The second plane has no pilots because they’ve both ceased to exist. Cage realises he’s on a collision course a pretty reasonable time in advance and tries to take evasive action. Somehow he fails to completely miss the other plane and there’s a glancing blow.

Are we mad or do commercial aircraft not actually manoeuvre like ocean liners? Cage must have steered about four feet in the space of a mile.

That is how much swing you get with a Kookaburra cricket ball.

Is that a good thing?

If you’re a batter, yes. If you’re a fast-medium bowler, no.

But the decision to use Kookaburra balls is not really about being nice to batters. It’s about making life more difficult for the kinds of bowlers who traditionally thrive in county cricket. Why? To see who can rise to the challenge.

There’s a general assumption that a less responsive ball works out better for faster bowlers and certain types of spinner because those styles of bowling become the only realistic ways to get people out.

But it doesn’t exactly work out like that. Glenn McGrath always did quite well out of being tall and landing it on a postage stamp. Vernon Philander had a lot of success without even bothering with the ‘being tall’ bit.

Really only one thing’s for sure: if you’re going to bowl with a Kookaburra ball, you’d better be good at something.

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    1. For something that changes and experiments so much, county cricket is weirdly predictable.

      Not sure we’d agree with the early season suggestion any more though. Early season often features the flattest pitches because grounds staff actually have time to prepare them.

  1. Michael Clarke has been doing talking.

    ‘Ollie Robinson needs to be shoosh. If England were fully fit, you wouldn’t even get a game, Ollie. If Archer was playing, or if Wood had been fully fit, old mate you’d be back playing for clubbies.’

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