Cricket is a game of gentlemen and there are three things necessary to play the game; a bat, a ball and a wicket. These items can be fashioned out of anything and, in Pakistan, people say that if Pakistanis are given three hockey sticks, a baseball bat and a football, they will make a wicket from the three hockey sticks, use the baseball bat as a cricket bat and bowl with the football.
The cricket ball is quite significant for the game; it can win or lose a match for a team. There has been a long debate about the kind of ball that is to be used in the domestic cricket of Pakistan. Pakistan tend to use locally manufactured balls, usually the Gray’s ball in the domestic seasons, and it has been criticised a lot by pundits of the Pakistani game.
The reason of the criticism is not that a locally manufactured ball is being used; the reason is that the ball the PCB uses for domestic matches is not used at international level. The local sports goods that are produced in Sialkot are of the international standard, for example the footballs used at the Olympics and football World cups have been manufactured here in the past. The problem with the Gray’s ball is that it is very much bowler friendly. It has the heavy seam that is prone to tear and wear more than the balls used at international level. That is why bowlers used to take loads of wickets domestically and failed in the international arena. Pakistan no longer has Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis or Shoaib Akhtar in the dressing room, for whom the type of ball did not matter.
In the previous domestic season, the PCB decided to go with the Kookaburra ball that is widely used in the international arena and the result of using that ball was quite interesting, as the Kookaburra ball is batsman friendly. More than half a dozen players scored above 500 runs during the season. On the other hand, where several bowlers used to collect more than 50 wickets, only one bowler did so.
One of the many reasons for not opting for the Kookaburra ball is that it is quite expensive. A Kookaburra cricket ball costs about US$35, whereas the local manufactured balls are much cheaper. But, this is the issue where the PCB should not compromise. Using the Kookaburra ball can produce some world class bowlers that will perform both in the domestic and international arenas.
By Arslan Sheikh