The SG red-ball that was used in the first Test between India and England in Chennai has come under criticism with captain Virat Kohli joining ace spinner R Ashwin in commenting about the nature of it.
Insisting that the ball or pitch was not an excuse for India’s massive defeat in the series opener, Kohli added that the team was not pleased about how the seam got damaged.
“Honestly, the quality of the ball was not something that we were pleased about because that has been an issue in the past as well,” said Kohli on Tuesday after India’s defeat in the opening Test.
“Just for the ball’s seam to completely be destroyed after 60 overs is not something that you experience as a Test side and something that any Test side could be prepared for,” he added.
There was a report before the Test Sanspareils Greenlands had manufactured a fresh set of balls for the series with pronounced and enhanced (heightened) seam, darker colour and harder cork but it seemed that problems that players had with the quality of the balls remain.
At the end of day four, Ashwin said he had found it bizarre that the ball’s stitches came off the seam and it went soft within 40 overs during the ongoing game against England.
It happened in both innings and Ashwin, who got nine wickets in the match, said that he has never seen an SG Test’s seam starting to peel off like it happened in this match.
“This game the ball is pretty, I mean, it was very bizarre for us,” Ashwin had said.
“Because I have never seen an SG ball tear (get torn) through the seam like that. So it could well be combination of how hard the pitch was on the first two days, even in the second innings after the 35th-40th over, the seam starting getting sort of peeled off,” he said.
“It was bizarre, I mean, I haven’t seen an SG ball like that in last so many years, but yeah, maybe it could be due to the pitch and the hardness of it through the centre which is making the ball gets scuffed up.”
Earlier, Bumrah had also said that the saliva ban was making it harder to maintain the ball that got scuffed up easily.
“In India, the ball gets scuffed up easily. So to make the ball heavy, you have to shine one side sometimes, with sweat and it doesn’t really serve the purpose. You can’t make one side heavy with sweat and it doesn’t really work that way.
“But these are the rules and we have to make do with what we have at the moment,” said Bumrah at the end of day one of the first Test.
Back in 2018 as well, when West Indies was touring in India, Ashwin and Kohli had called for the SG ball to be looked at.
“And [for] the spinners as well, if the ball is hard you can get that extra pace, but if the ball goes so soft in 10-12 overs, then your effort comes down by 20%. So I think the quality of the ball has to be maintained, there’s no doubt about that. Otherwise, you have too many dead sessions in a Test match, which you don’t want to see. You want to see exciting cricket and guys working hard for runs, being in the battle all day. I totally agree with Ash [Ashwin],” Kohli had said in Hyderabad in October 2018.
UPDATE: According to a ESPNCricinfo report, the SG ball being used for the Test series against England are the same as the set used in the South Africa series in India’s last home season.
SG Marketing Director Paras Anand, insisting that the ball held its shape and the wear on it was because of the nature of the Chepauk pitch, also told the website: “The feedback from the Indian team was that they basically wanted more consistency and that has been delivered. They also wanted the seam prominent. This is the same set of balls which we have been using for the last two years. The feedback from first-class cricketers has been very positive: they are saying the shape retention and seam are a lot better now.”
(With PTI inputs)