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'We won't exist': Kookaburra bemoans cricket ball change proposal

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Chris Barret and Jared Lynch

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Inside the last all-Australian cricket ball factory

Ever wondered what goes into making a Test cricket ball? Come through Kookaburra Sports' factory in Moorabbin, Melbourne.

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IT is a battle of Ashes proportions - and all over a cricket ball.

The iconic Australian manufacturer Kookaburra is aghast at Cricket Australia's intention to introduce the English-made Dukes ball to the domestic game, a plan that threatens to cut into what is virtually a monopoly for the 122-year-old Melbourne-based company.

Used for Test matches in England and dating back to the 18th century, the Dukes ball was seen as a key instrument of Australia's demise on the 2005 and 2009 Ashes tours, with its propensity to swing more in the right conditions.

England's Andrew Flintoff celebrates another wicket taken with a Dukes ball, in 2009.

England's Andrew Flintoff celebrates another wicket taken with a Dukes ball, in 2009. Photo: AFP

Now, British Cricket Balls Ltd managing director Dilip Jajodia has his eye on inflicting more pain on the Australian market leader, and CA's plan to trial the hand-stitched, darker-red Dukes ball in under-age championships and some second-XI games this season is the green light he has been chasing.

Schools and club associations are next on the English radar but in many instances they must wait until Kookaburra's myriad ball contracts, which run between three and five years, expire.

''Dilip Jajodia has been trying to break into the market for quite some time. It's perhaps the first time he's actually got support from Cricket Australia, so it's an opening for us,'' said Phil O'Meara, of Eagle Sports, the local Dukes distributor.

Kookaburra turf cricket ball.

Kookaburra turf cricket ball. Photo: John French

''In the marketplace here, Kookaburra are so strong they've perhaps tied up I'd say 90 per cent of the four-piece market, with contracts with all the associations. You've got to wait for a contract to come up before you can even bid for it.''

Kookaburra, used for Tests in all countries except England and India, produces more than 500,000 balls a year in 50 styles but is more expensive than competitors such as the Dukes, a motivating factor for CA.

According to Kookaburra director Rob Elliot: ''If we are not supported by cricket in Australia then Kookaburra won't exist, basically.

The Kookaburra factory in Moorabbin. Click for more photos

Kookaburra cricket ball factory

The production of cricket balls over more than a century in Australia may vanish under a plan to introduce imported balls for domestic matches. Kookaburra director Rob Elliot warned of dire consequences if the company’s support, from the Sheffield Shield to grassroots, collapsed. Age photographer Penny Stephens toured the factory in Moorabbin and saw the production process of the iconic balls from start to finish. Photo: Penny Stephens

''If Cricket Australia and if cricket's not supporting Kookaburra and wants to go down the imported path, then the manufacturing of cricket balls will go to the subcontinent and it will be the end of Kookaburra as we know it.

''That's the thing that concerns me … that all of a sudden this sort of thing erodes Australian manufacturing and Australian jobs.''

165 comments

  • Bloody unAustralian.

    Commenter
    Dale
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    October 24, 2012, 11:49AM
    • it's just not cricket

      Commenter
      SilverTail
      Location
      UpperNorthShore
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 12:51PM
    • They must change with the times! Given the traditional Australian culture is shifting more towards an Asian culture (more Asians than ever in Australia and growing daily), they should start looking into ping pong ball manufacturing.

      Commenter
      Realist
      Location
      Au
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 1:00PM
    • A right balls up by CA.

      Commenter
      Gideon
      Location
      Toorak
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 1:20PM
    • I think Cricket Australia is on to something here!
      If it is cheaper to get balls from India / Pakistan, then surely the next cost saving step would be to import a team as well. Just think of how many players we would have to choose from for our Ashes campaign.
      Round 3 could be telecasting all homes games from a cost advantaged area such as Sri Lanka.
      Surely this is the future for all of Australia, because no one cares about what it is to be Australian and use Australian made products.
      If CA do this then for every dollar they save they will lose a fan, and the game will become irrelevant.

      Commenter
      The Bigger Picture
      Location
      MCG
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 1:31PM
    • ^ Bloody UnAustralian

      Commenter
      rps
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 1:52PM
    • CA is talking utter garbage. You can't tell me that Dukes balls, even if used here, will behave the same in Australia as in England. Our climate is both drier, and more humid, at times than it ever will be in England. Thus, the Dukes ball used in Australian conditions still will not replicate the Dukes ball used in English conditions.
      Why doesn't CA demand that the English use KOOKABURRAS for Ashes Series??!??! No doubt, when the Ashes is played in Australia the english are forced to use Kookaburra balls, no?

      Commenter
      He's Got Him, Yes
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 2:06PM
    • Ab-so-bloody-lutely right....un-bloody-Australian!!!

      Commenter
      Cherry
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 2:10PM
    • Totally Agree, OUTRAGEOUS. The win at all costs mentally could mean major losses for an Australian business and a cultural icon.

      Commenter
      Dino
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 2:15PM
    • I think directors of cricket organisations may be cheaper too!

      Commenter
      PK
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 2:28PM

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