Canberra: Concerned with the questions raised over the quality of Kookaburra balls, the company's Rob Elliot has decided to provide only a dozen of match balls for the first Test match between India and Australia starting December 26 at the MCG.
However, the manufacturers are yet to cut a fine line, for an extended match of five days could involve fours innings and thus four new balls straightaway.
Another four could come in if the teams take the second new ball after 80 overs. And if complaints happen and the ball in question fails to pass the metal cups in possession of umpires, one could have this strange situation of match being stopped for lack of availability of balls.
As of now, Elliot has hand-picked a dozen of balls for the first Test match.
Neither is Cricket Australia on an austerity drive nor Elliot is trying to ensure that he chooses balls which don't seam or swing - a particular bane for current crop of Australian batsmen.
He is frustrated at visiting teams questioning the quality of his Kookaburra balls this summer. During the recent Australia-New Zealand Test series, New Zealand requisitioned third ball within the first 11 overs of Australia's second innings during the second Test in Hobart.
In Brisbane too there had been three changes of the ball. Elliot couldn't quite put his finger on the reason why his balls didn't find favour with the cricketers in recent times.
He suspects there could be other reasons but wouldn't go as far as to suggest the balls were being tampered with.
"I don't honestly know what the problem is. It's perplexing. I am looking for a problem, but I suspect there may be other reasons. I don't mean they (teams) are tampering with the ball," Elliot said.
"Quite often, and it's gone on over the years, they use it to break a batsman's concentration, try to get another ball which will swing," he added.
It certainly was the case during the Hobart Test where wickets fell in heap after the third ball was claimed by the Black Caps in Australia's second innings.
Elliot did take the trouble of inspecting one of the discarded balls and found its seam wasn't particularly in order.
"The quarter seam had opened up a little bit but it wasn't anything we were duly concerned about and certainly something I as a player wouldn't have been worried about as the other side of the ball was perfect," he said.
"I wasn't happy with that. But if you ask me the reason why, I can't answer that."
Elliot and his staff got their heads together last week to discuss the problem. Cricket Australia too has been kept in loop on the issue.
"We can't readily identify anything. If I am brutally honest, it might be one of those things that occasionally occurs. I am hanging my hat on that," he said.
Elliot is optimistic there are no problems with the ball during the four-Test series against India, beginning at the MCG next week.
"We think we have picked out the best 12 balls for this next Test match. We went through those meticulously," he said.
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