Test cricket or First class cricket is a discipline of the sport wherein a match lasts for four or five days. On each day, 90 overs are played. It is the most rigorous format of cricket which is a test of stamina and agility of the athletes.
Such a highly demanding game requires quality equipment. The test cricket ball, also known as the red ball, has to be manufactured such that it’s bounce can remain constant for 80 overs (480 legal deliveries).
There are three types of test cricket balls which are named after the manufacturers – SG, Dukes’ and Kookabura.
Sansparelis Greenlands (SG) Ball
The SG Ball is manufactured in India. It is primarily used for matches that are played in India. The ball is manufactured in Meerut and has been used in test cricket since 1991. Conditions in India are dry. This causes the ball to lose its shine quickly (approximately 40 overs). However, towards the end of the day, the rough ball can reverse swing, proving it beneficial for the bowlers.
SG Balls are hand-stitiched and the threads of the seam are thick. The thick threads make the seam wider which can withstand the abrasive conditions of the dry pitch.
The Dukes’ balls were the first cricket balls to go under production in 1760. Manufactured in the United Kingdom, these balls are the oldest test cricket balls and also the most durable ones. The ball is manufactured in accordance with the green pitch and overcast conditions of England.
The Dukes’ ball has six tightly stitched threads. These threads are better embossed for the bowlers to have a commanding grip. The ball takes a longer period of time to get old and favors the seamers. Apart from England, West Indies is the only other country to use Dukes’ Ball.
The Kookabura Balls are internationally the most acclaimed balls for cricket. Kookabura has been manufacturing cricket goods for over 130 years. It began the production of test cricket balls in 1946.
Manufactured in Melbourne, these balls rely on machines and are not hand-stitched. This makes the seam less prominent compared to Dukes’ and SG balls. They are favorable on bouncy pitches. Hence, these balls are used in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Each of these manufacturers are also responsible for manufacturing pink colored cricket balls that are used in day-night test cricket matches. The pink color is preserved with a polyurethane coat and the threads are black instead of white. Test cricket balls thus follow specific standards in order to be eligible for play in given conditions.