Strong stitching, darker red, harder core: the ball for the India-England test series

The pronounced seam helps both the quick pitcher and the pitcher in two ways. Firstly, the higher seam gives the melon better grip with its fingers. And especially for the spinner, the better grip gives it the ability to give more spin to the ball. For the quickie and the spinner, when the ball with the pronounced seam hits the ground, it will deflect more because the higher the seam, the more friction created by the ball on the surface. If you think the ball hits the ground without creating friction, there will be no gap. Like glass bowling where you don’t get any friction and the ball just skids straight.“- Michael Holding

A uthi hui Stitching (pronounced), a darker shade of red and a harder core to keep the ball from getting soft early in the innings on Indian outer fields. The official match ball used for the test series against England will be of a slightly different nature.

It will provide “ extra bounce ” and maintain its hardness up to the 60th, according to official bullet suppliers Sanspareil Greenlands (SG).

The ball has been criticized in the past in test matches in India, even by captain Virat Kolhi and Ravichandran Ashwin. Getting scuffed early and losing toughness in the first 10 overs were some of the issues raised by the players.

“One big change is sewing. It’s more pronounced now. In particular, the spinners wanted a seam that they could grip and thus achieve more revolutions on the bale, ”said Paras Anand, SG Marketing Director.

Following feedback from Indian players, including bowlers, manufacturers have improved the consistency of the handcrafted ball to make it as close to the finish of a machine-made product.

Give me some red (darker)

Cricketers from India also had a color preference, a darker red.

SG changed the dye and “reverted” to the color players were used to when most of them first played national cricket.

“They (Indian cricketers) were more happy with the darker shade of red. Over a period of time, you don’t realize and you don’t see the change. So what they felt was that the color was once a darker shade of red. We came back to that dark shade. This request came from the Indian team. I think it’s more psychological. But they believed that if you use a darker color you get a good result. Not just one bowler, a group of bowlers said that and they felt the darker the leather the more useful it is for bowlers. Someone is giving feedback and you are listening. No one was in favor of a lighter color, ”says Anand.

Former Indian coach RP Singh said there was no science for bowlers to go for a darker shade although there was a pattern. “There’s a general feeling among fast bowlers that darkens the ball the more it swings. There is no science to it, ”he said. A prominent seam helps better grip the ball. “With a less prominent seam, it’s harder to swing the ball and you have to hit it harder, which means you have to force a lot more.”

SG has been the Official First Class Cricket Supplier in India since 1993 and feedback from cricketers has made them take a closer look at their manufacturing process.

Ravichandran Ashwin in action during India’s test series against Australia last month. (AP)

Ashwin has spoken about the change in nature of the SG ball in the past.

“When I started playing test cricket, the SG ball was top notch, and you could play with it even after the 70th or 80th. The seam was strong and straight. But it’s not the same thing, ”Ashwin told the official broadcaster during the home series against the West Indies in 2018.

In addition to making the seam more pronounced, the Meerut-based manufacturers have also attempted to address player concerns about the ball softening at the start of an inning. The extra hardness of the core, which is cork, and tight quality controls of the leather used in each batch made the latest version durable, the company says.

“The hardness will stay on longer, say 50 to 60 times. There will be something for the bowlers. The extra bounce will also help bowlers, ”said Anand.

During the home series against the West Indies, Kohli had called for the Dukes ball to be used for trial cricket around the world, including India. “Having the ball scuffed in five overs is not something we’ve seen before. Before, the quality of the ball was pretty high and I don’t understand why it fell, ”Kohli said during this series.

He had expressed concern that the “softball” reduced the impact of bowlers by 20 percent in harsh Indian conditions.

“Kaizen,” the Japanese business philosophy of constant improvement, is at the heart of the ball development process, Anand said.

After chatting with gamers in 2019, SG has been fine-tuning the manufacturing process for 18 months and the latest release will be close to 100 percent consistent in all aspects and is a “gamers will like,” adds Anand.

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Post-2018 evolution

Former Indian coach Irfan Pathan noticed the evolution of the SG ball when India faced South Africa at home in 2019.

“I felt the stitching was a bit more prominent and the ball was a lot harder when I was commenting for the India vs South Africa series. I remember in the Pune game the way the fast bowlers bowled it seemed like they weren’t playing with an SG ball, but with a Kookaburra ball. The ball has become of better quality and lasts longer. I think because the seam is so much straighter you will see the fast bowlers get a lot of help too, ”said Pathan.

Anand talks about the strict quality control during the ball making process.

“Before each batch is approved for production, the hardness of the core and the strength of the thread used for the sewing are matched to specifications. We have tried to make sure the variation is as minimal as possible. It is about training the people who sew it (sewing). They are very competent, but they just had to give that little extra. We have ensured rigorous quality controls for a batch (500 to 1000 balls each), whether it is the leather, the dye, the core. Everything is checked, in batches. There is so much consistency, it seems like it’s machine done.

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