The iconic Australian brand willing to help the old enemy

Australian manufacturer Kookaburra has offered to cross the battle lines of the game’s oldest Test rivalry to assist beleaguered England by having their red cricket balls used in the northern hemisphere.

Australia’s own troubles on Ashes tours since their last series victory in England in 2001 have led Cricket Australia to broker a deal with Dukes to use the English balls in the latter half of the Sheffield Shield competition.

Now, with England 3-0 down and having lost the Ashes, former captain Michael Vaughan is pushing for the old enemy to do the same and begin to use Kookaburra balls in the county championship.

England’s seam bowlers were comprehensively out-played in the Ashes series, unable to get the lateral movement with the Kookaburra they would get in their home conditions. The Australian pace-bowling trio – Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins – have been key players in the hosts’ triumph, using the extra pace at their disposal to maximum effect.

Kookaburra already have an arrangement in place with the England and Wales Cricket Board for white-ball cricket and would welcome an England decision to expand on their deal.

“Kookaburra supply balls to the ECB for various purposes, mainly white balls at the moment, but if there was a want to use red Kookaburra balls for any competitions we’d be interested and happy to accommodate,” a Kookaburra spokesman said.

“When red Kookaburras have previously been used in England there hasn’t been any issues as far as balls holding up in the conditions.”

With an eye towards the second Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval, Vaughan argued in August that England should be using the pink Kookaburra, rather than a pink Dukes ball, in their first day-night Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston.

In his column for the London Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday he again said England had to take a leaf out of Australia’s book.

“I wrote at the weekend that I hope England do not go for the short-term fix of playing on juicy pitches at home. Win well on good surfaces. One idea from social media has been to play with the Kookaburra ball in county cricket. Why not?” Vaughan wrote.

“Australia are planning for the 2019 Ashes by using the Duke ball here. We have to start planning in the same way for our next tour to Australia.”

“If you look at Australia, they have a team which will be just the right age to win the Ashes in England in 2019, something they have not done since 2001. They have three quicks who will be around for another three or four years.”

CA introduced the Dukes ball into the Sheffield Shield last season, a practice it will continue when the first-class competition resumes after the Big Bash.

There is much hand-wringing in English cricket as to why they cannot produce fast bowlers capable of bowling regularly above 140 km/h like Australia have with their premier quicks.

England coach Trevor Bayliss is at a loss to explain the lack of penetration by his bowlers in Australian conditions. Their pitches are not as hard as Australia’s and have traditionally favoured swing and seam, reducing the need for raw speed.

“The most difficult thing is the conditions don’t suit,” said Bayliss, an Australian who played in the shield for NSW in the 1980s and 90s.

“How can we encourage them to keep bowling fast and keep getting better without the wickets being conducive to fast bowling I’m not exactly sure.

“Do they play too much? Can we keep them fresher? They’re all questions we have to ask. Can the wickets be produced that are a little harder or do we keep going down the track to play in conditions that suit what we do. I haven’t got the answer.

“If the wickets are responsive to fast bowling, it gives encouragement to young fast bowlers to bowl fast.

“If they don’t, well, it’s probably the opposite and discourages bowlers to try and run in and bowl fast.”

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