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.PT3M29S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-285d7 620 349 October 24, 2012
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. 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. 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.
''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.''