Dukes unhappy with Sheffield Shield snub

Cricket Australia has confirmed the coming Sheffield Shield season will not feature Dukes balls, much to the disappointment of the British manufacturer.

ALEX CAREY of Australia catches the ball
ALEX CAREY of Australia catches the ball Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

Dukes has questioned Cricket Australia's "unfortunate" decision to stop using the British ball in the Sheffield Shield.

CA announced on Thursday that its Dukes experiment was on ice, with the Kookaburra to be used throughout the coming Shield season as the governing body seeks to help spinners develop.

CA had used a Dukes ball in the second half of Shield seasons since 2016-17, wanting players to prepare for the same ball they would encounter if selected on an Ashes tour.

The ploy was one of many pieces of the puzzle that helped Australia retain the urn 2019, a feat that no Australian team had accomplished in England since 2001.

It is likely the Dukes will be used again in Australia's first-class competition whenever attention shifts to the team's next Ashes tour; which is currently scheduled for 2023.

CA's head of cricket operations Peter Roach noted there was a "definite opportunity to reintroduce the Dukes ball at some stage in the future".

Dukes managing director Dilip Jajodia was nonetheless unimpressed.

"Dukes is disappointed with the decision, having worked hard to develop a product that has worked very well in Australian conditions over the last four seasons," Jajodia said in a statement.

"Particularly, in a year that is being hit by the restrictions related to the COVID-19 virus and the bowlers expressing concern about not being allowed to apply saliva to polish the ball,

"Surely the Dukes ball, which is widely acknowledged to provide superior swing and movement would have been a welcome relief to bowlers in the second half of the season?

"It is unfortunate that the opportunity is being missed to make a direct comparison."

Roach termed the Dukes experiment a worthwhile exercise.

"We have been happy with how the ball has performed when used in Australian conditions over the past four seasons," Roach said.

"We do, however, feel that reverting to one ball for 2020-21 will provide the consistent examination of our players over a full season that CA and the states are presently seeking."

Roach added that Shield spinners "have been playing less of a role in recent seasons, most notably in games when the Dukes ball is in use".

"We need spinners bowling in first-class cricket and we need our batters facing spin," he said.

"We hope that the change to one ball with have a positive benefit here."


AAP