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Dukes pitch balls to NZ Cricket

The owner of Dukes cricket balls is coming off the long run to attack Kookaburra's hold on the elite-level ball market in New Zealand. Photo / AP
The owner of Dukes cricket balls is coming off the long run to attack Kookaburra's hold on the elite-level ball market in New Zealand. Photo / AP

The owner of Dukes cricket balls is coming off the long run to attack Kookaburra's hold on the elite-level ball market in New Zealand.

British Cricket Balls Ltd boss Dilip Jajodia meets with New Zealand Cricket officials this week to pitch for territory in the local market.

"One of the problems [with the situation] is contractual obligations," Jajodia said.

"I have no contract in England [where his business dominates the market]. It's on the line every year. If they don't like our products, they can try something else."

NZ Cricket's contract with Kookaburra runs until next season. Both parties met last year after the New Zealand-Australia test in Perth in which unscheduled ball changes reached double figures. Kookaburra have supplied Australian, New Zealand and South African test balls since 1946.

Managing director Brett Elliot said they are confident of improvement.

"Our products are made entirely of natural materials, so you can get bad batches. We've worked locally with New Zealand Cricket and everyone was comfortable with the reasons why [the balls failed]."

Kookaburra balls undergo the same preparation process, regardless of the conditions in which they're used.

Dukes says they adapt their balls to the environment.

"Pitches and weather conditions are different, so we have become bespoke manufacturers," Jajodia said. "But that's what we have to do to get credibility and break into new markets."

Both businessmen agreed balls are coming under more stress, especially given balls are intended to deteriorate gradually over a day.

"The batting, for argument's sake of David Warner and Brendon McCullum, brings into question the fundamental construction of balls," Jajodia said.

"The product is put under more stress than ever with the size of bats and the style of batting," Elliot added. "But we believe our research and development department is the best in the world."

New Zealand captain McCullum stayed in his diplomatic crease on the issue.

"In our conditions if the wickets get flatter a Duke has benefits, but if Kookaburra make changes so the ball stays in better shape, it has been pretty good over a period of time."

Elliot said more development had taken place on the pink ball since the Adelaide test ahead of the Plunket Shield trial this month.

"Based on the feedback of players and administrators we have changed [from a green] to a black seam. It's coming out a lot bolder and more distinct in colour contrast. That will address some of the concerns once it got scuffed and picked up dirt."

- Herald on Sunday

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