The Australian pace attack was pretty ordinary in the first ODI. Yes, they could have bowled much better, but there is another factor that can no longer be ignored – the increasingly poor quality of Kookaburra balls.
The Kookaburra hardly swing at all anymore.
This was noted by Steve Smith post-match when asked why Mitch Starc wasn’t swinging it.
Across the ditch, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson also noted the poor nature of the recent balls his side have been using in post-match interviews when asked about the lack of swing. So too did Trent Boult – though you wouldn’t think he would be complaining given his stunning form of late.
Boult finally has his pace back, after a nasty injury over a year ago, bowling into the 140s. The results are telling – two ODI five-wicket halls this summer. But, despite his success, both Boult and his swing bowling partner Tim Southee have not been impressed with the six-stitchers they’ve been given.
Boult says he and Southee have done a lot of work with their bowling coach on length and pace variations, as well as using the crease because of the lack of swing.
New Zealand is seriously considering using the Dukes ball for internationals, with it being trialled in their domestic cricket.
Maybe Mitch Starc and Co. need to do the same with their bowling coach. Starc and Pat Cummins were too short, two full or sometimes too wide on Sunday, allowing the English top order to prosper.
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We are now producing more flat wickets – what I call net-wickets – produced for networks to get at least four days’ Test cricket and long, high-scoring ODI games to cater for sponsors and advertising. Doesn’t always work, but that is the hoped outcome.
It would not surprise if moves have been made to design a ball as well that doesn’t swing like it used to for the same purpose.
How else do we explain players saying the balls are not the same, pretty much don’t swing much at all, and – reading between the lines – are basically not good enough?
It is no secret the Australian ball goes out of shape more than the English ball, yet nothing is done about it. Some serious questions need to be addressed to the manufacturer and indeed Cricket Australia.
Thank heaven we have two new balls at each end with ODIs or we might be changing balls more often.
What’s more, Starc’s dangerous in-swinging Yorker these days is anticipated by most top-order batsmen. Couple that with a ball that doesn’t swing like it used to and you have a strike bowler who may need a wee rethink.