Kookaburra’s long and proud tradition as the world leader in cricket balls has continued with the development of a ball specific to the high impact requirements of Twenty20 cricket. The new ‘Turf20’ ball had its first in-match trials in the NT Strike league, with players complimenting its performance over the first matches of the tournament at Marrara Oval, perhaps signalling further evolution in the Twenty20 game.
The trials are the latest steps in development of the new ball, with an aim of it being an option for major international league play in late 2020.
In consultation with players and administrators, the ‘Turf20’ is designed specifically for T20 cricket, retaining hardness and promoting balance between bat and ball over the Twenty overs, rather than the gradual deterioration of the traditional ball over 80 overs that Test cricket demands.
The development process harnesses significant investment in new technology and extensive research and development testing at Kookaburra using an air cannon and wind tunnel. It uses elements of Kookaburra’s traditional Turf ball combined with the new manufacturing and testing technology.
“As Twenty20 cricket evolved and grew, Kookaburra thought there should be a way to create a ball specific to its needs rather than follow the traditional method of ball making that is used in Test cricket,” said Shannon Gill, Head of Communications at Kookaburra.
“A Test ball is designed to gradually deteriorate over 80 overs, this is an integral element to Test cricket. Twenty20 cricket has evolved quite differently; the ball is only needed for 20 overs and the action is more intense and explosive than Test cricket. This means gradual deterioration is not as big a factor, instead a ball that meets the demands of the power hitting game has been created.”
“Given the rapid expansion of the T20 format and extra demand for more balls, the new technology allows Kookaburra to produce more balls and maintain production quality and consistency. This results in a more cost-effective ball for cricket boards and associations as the amount of Twenty20 cricket increases.”
“In a blind test the Turf20 was tested over the first weekend of the NT Strike League carrying the traditional ‘Turf’ branding. In follow-up feedback the players responded that they did not notice any difference to the way the ball played as far as bounce and speed, but there were comments on the improved hardness of the ball through the twenty overs.”
“We’ve set ourselves an 18-month timeframe to gather more feedback from players and get more evidence from trials under a range of conditions. We expect there to be positive and negative feedback that we can use to refine the process and then have the Turf20 as an option for boards to use for leagues in late 2020.”
“The Turf20 is part of Kookaburra’s ongoing strategy of innovation starting with its adoption as a test ball in the 1940s, inventing the white ball for World Series Cricket in the 1970’s, and the more recent developments of the pink ball. Our innovation aims to meet the new demands of an evolving game and offer different solutions for the cricket world.”
South Australian Redback, Brisbane Heat and, this month, Desert Blaze player Alex Ross was positive about the Turf20.
“It makes sense to look at different ball options as the needs of Twenty20 cricket are different to Tests. The difference in overs played is obvious but the way the game is played is also very different,” Ross said.
“As long as it doesn’t bounce differently or change the nature of the game that way it can only be a positive. I noticed later in my innings last week the ball was definitely harder and carried further – which is what you want in T20 cricket.”
Northern Territory Cricket was supportive and excited to be the first in the world to play with the ball that could be the future of Twenty20 cricket.
“We have a long-standing partnership with Kookaburra so we were delighted to be involved in this world first trial with them,” said NT Cricket CEO Joel Morrison.
“Our innovative Strike League tournament provides a winter competition for professional cricketers to play year-round in Australia meaning they don’t have to venture overseas. This has a number of advantages for Australian cricket which this trial clearly demonstrates.”
“Thanks to the opportunities available in the north, Kookaburra are now ready to roll out their innovative Twenty20 balls for the next phase of trials ahead of summer rather than having to wait until the traditional southern cricket season commences to begin their trials.”