Cricket Australia nukes Dukes for Sheffield Shield

Cricket Australia has put its Dukes ball experiment on ice, deciding to use Kookaburra throughout the coming Sheffield Shield season as it 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 pill they would encounter if selected on an Ashes tour.

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

It is likely the British ball will be used again in Australia’s first-class competition whenever attention shifts to the Ashes tour that is currently scheduled for 2023.

Australia retained the Ashes after the 2-2 draw in England.(AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)

CA’s head of cricket operations Peter Roach noted “we see a definite opportunity to reintroduce the Dukes ball at some stage in the future”, but for now CA will stick with Kookaburra.

“The introduction of the Dukes ball has been 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.

“The Kookaburra is the ball used for international cricket in Australia and many parts of the world.”

Marnus Labuschagne leans back and plays a cut shot with a horizontal bat as Jonny Bairstow crouches behind him with gloves ready

Marnus Labuschagne leans back and plays a cut shot with a horizontal bat as Jonny Bairstow crouches behind him with gloves ready

Marnus Labuschagne had no trouble with the Dukes ball in England in 2019.(AP: Rui Vieira)

Of the 12 Test-playing nations, just England, Ireland and the West Indies use a Dukes ball in Test matches, with India alone in using the SG-brand ball.

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

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

AAP/ABC