The SG balls that are used in Indian cricket for decades now have recently come under heavy criticism from the Indian team.

Captain Virat Kohli had complained about the poor quality, saying that Test cricket across the globe should be played with the England-made Duke balls while seamer Umesh Yadav, who took 10 wickets in the second Test against West Indies, said that bowlers are unable to run through lower-order when it gets old. Before that, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had also spoken about how he felt better bowling with the Kookaburra.

However, former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin has slammed the criticism of the SG balls, saying that this is the first time he’s heard player from the sub-continent have a problem with the ball.

He said that bowlers complaining about the ball after picking five and 10-wicket hauls “is like a batsman complaining about the pitch after scoring a hundred”. “If there is a problem with the ball, go to the manufacturer and tell them what’s required to be done. I heard that there were some complaints about how the seam is not up enough and all. Whatever the case, just call them and let them know,” he told The Times of India.

Azhar also spoke about his experience with the Duke ball in India and why it didn’t work back in the 80s.

“I remember the years – since 1984-85 – when the Dukes balls were used and how the seam used to go rough. It was clear that in Indian conditions they wouldn’t work. It was in 1993 when the SG was first introduced and India went on to dominate all cricket they played at home. Look at the overall country-wise average of bowlers bowling with different balls in different conditions. That will give you the answer. So, what’s the fuss about?” he added.

While India have been using ‘SG Test’ from early ‘90s (Sonnex was the ball before that) manufactured by Meerut-based Sanspareils Greenlands, England and West Indies use the UK’s Dukes with the most pronounced seam. Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka use the Kookaburra.

The Hyderabad cricketer said he didn’t think there should be ‘global uniformity’ for cricket balls, with each country using their conditions to get home advantage. Currently, there are no guidelines by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and different countries use different balls.

“You’ve got to use what suits your conditions best. That’s also the challenge in Test cricket. I can’t go to England and say we’ll play with SG. They’ll have the Dukes ball. Similarly, if England are coming here, there is a different set of challenge they are going to face,” he explained.

Kookaburra balls are machine-made and have low seam, while the SG balls, in India, are handmade and have a wide seam. Duke balls, also handmade, are manufactured in England. They are darker compared to SG and Kookaburras due to the coating of lacquer.