If an experienced bowler like Ishant Sharma, playing in his 66th Test, complains about the ball in the fifth over of the match, it only means there are serious quality issues about the lot chosen for the series.
In Bengaluru on Saturday, the ball went out of shape and had to be replaced in the seventh over of the South Africa innings. This comes after the stitch on the SG Test ball came off in the Mohali match, and it had to be changed in the 50th over of India’s first innings.
The manufacturers and suppliers to BCCI, Sanspareils Greenlands Private Limited, admitted there were issues with ‘some’ balls and that the Board had made complaints, although they were not sure whether the ball from the old lot supplied last year were being used for the series, or the new set of balls. It is also working to get to the root of the problem.
“There have been issues which have come out in our notice. We are already working on it. There are some new processes we are experimenting with. The results have been very positive. Soon, we will share it with the BCCI and top bowlers. Once we get clearance from them, we will implement it,” Paras Anand, Director, SG, told HT. The company also supplies balls for domestic competitions. Recently, the Board returned hundreds of poor quality balls to SG, which supplies around 600 boxes (7,200 balls) per year.
“Yes, the BCCI returned the balls. This season, some balls used were from last year’s supplies. There was concern about them, but we had sent a fresh stock. We don’t know whether the BCCI is using balls from the fresh stock for the Test. That could also be the case.” Anand said. After the second ball of his third over on Saturday, Sharma complained to umpire Ian Gould, who took a look and asked him to continue bowling with the same ball. However, the umpires gave their nod for a change of ball in Ishant’s next over.
“Even in the last Ranji season, the quality of the ball was an issue. In some matches, it had to be changed even before the 20th over. This season too, the problem is there. New ball bowlers in particular have complained,” said a domestic umpire.
Last month, the Delhi-Vidarbha match at the Ferozeshah Kotla saw the SG ball changed a number of times. A total of 178 overs were bowled, and instead of changing the ball twice, it was replaced as many as five times.