At a time when ‘Make in India’ is the buzzword, there seems to be some buzz in at least one industry --- ball manufacturing. With the advent of pink balls, local companies are coming up with their versions of that ball.
A few days back, Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly was trying to figure out the brand of pink balls to be used at the CAB Super League final that begins in a couple of days. Ganguly was choosing between Australian Kookaburra and English Dukes for what is going to be the first big trial with the pink ball in India that begins at the Eden Gardens from July 18.
On Friday, however, the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) concluded their experiment with a Made in India pink ball in a four-day game, at the inter-district Colvin Shield final, with the officials and players walking away smiling.
They pointed out two factors that made the ball viable for them. Firstly, it was durable and secondly, it was much more cheaper than the Kookaburra.
Somendra Tiwari, secretary of the Rajasthan cricket body, says the ball was affordable. “A Kookaburra pink ball would cost us between R15000-18000. But this one cost us only R5000. Although it is far more expensive than the normal red ball, it is still cheaper than the other foreign options for pink ball.”
Mahipal Lomror, the India Under-19 World Cup player, who made a half-century to guide Nagaur XI to victory over Bikaner XI, says the ball behaved very much like the white ball. “This one came at a quicker pace than the normal red ball and it also bounced a bit more. It behaved more like a white ball.”
Nikhil Doru, a seasoned Rajasthan Ranji campaigner who also played this game, said, “Interestingly, the ball lasted till 70-80 overs and we didn’t face any problems as the leather itself was pink.”
While the testing and debating is still on, the manufacturers of the ball that was used at the Jaipur final say they are using pink leather instead of painting the ball to make sure it lasts long. “Most of the manufacturers are applying 3-4 coats of pink on the white ball which is why it gives a glazed effect. But we make the leather pink by dipping it in that colour and using chemicals. The process is much like it is done for red ball, but it takes a bit longer. While the red leather is made in a week’s time, the pink one takes 15-20 days,” says Anil Rathi, whose company SR Supreme supplied the balls to the match.
Lomror says the ball didn’t turn much while Doru adds that the ball didn’t swing at all on the first day but then started to move in the evening and continued to do that during the rest of the match. “I don’t know why it didn’t do on the first day. Maybe the surface was wet. But it lasted,” he says.
Even though two of the four innings were wrapped up below 200, the team batting fourth chased down 238 losing just four wickets in just about 67 overs.
But a sweeping approval is not possible just yet as the match was played on the RCA academy ground which is more lush and slightly smaller than the usual Sawai Man Singh Stadium and the wicket was green and fresh, leading to less abrasion.