Going back for the future - England reveal choice of balls for Ashes

BBC Cricket 08 May 2019 12:32
James Anderson celebrates a wicket in 2018

One cricket ball is the same as the next one, right?

Yes, they can come in different colours - red, white, pink - but two of the same shade will surely be the same?

Not quite. And it is for that reason that the England and Wales Cricket Board has asked manufacturer Dukes to revert to an old model for this summer's Ashes series.

The idea is that the older ball - the one used in 2017 and 2018 - will continue to produce entertaining Tests.

Confused? Let's try to explain.

What's the difference?

The subtle difference between the 2017-18 ball and its 2019 counterpart is the newer version has a less prominent seam.

The seam is the stitching that holds the ball together and, in theory, a more prominent seam allows bowlers to extract more movement.

The 2019 ball was made in such a way at the direction of the ECB with the balance between bat and ball in domestic cricket in mind.

The idea, in conjunction with an effort to improve pitches and the reintroduction of heavy rollers, has worked. At a time when England have been struggling to find top-order batsmen, a great number of runs have been scored in the early weeks of the County Championship.

Therefore, the ECB have opted for the older-style ball, hoping to replicate past summers when England have been involved in entertaining series against South Africa and India.

"The concern was the new ball would make conditions too batsman-friendly on good Test wickets."

England's primary weapon in home conditions is the movement generated by the likes of pace bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

But Giles asserted there was no ulterior motive to the decision, one taken after discussions with Cricket Australia.

"It's not like we're coming up against an attack that isn't very good. The Aussies are quite handy themselves.

The first of five Ashes Tests begins at Edgbaston on 1 August. Prior to that, England play a one-off, four-day Test against Ireland at Lord's on 24 July.

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EnglandJames AndersonECBWales Cricket BoardECB
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