Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin has expressed his astonishment over the criticism of Sanspareils Greenlands (SG) ball from the current crop of Indian cricketers, with speedster Umesh Yadav being the most recent to utter his dissatisfaction.
Speaking to TOI, Azharuddin wondered why this hue and cry suddenly emerged and why the complaints were not addressed with the manufacturers directly.
“I remember the years – since 1984-85 – when the Dukes balls were used and how the seam used to go rough. It was clear that in Indian conditions they wouldn’t work. It was in 1993 when the SG was first introduced and India went on to dominate all cricket they played at home. Look at the overall country-wise average of bowlers bowling with different balls in different conditions. That will give you the answer. So, what’s the fuss about?” he said. “I really can’t understand what their (India’s) grouse is. Statistics say everything.”
Interestingly, Umesh’s remarks regarding the SG ball came after his Man of the Match performance in the second Test against the Windies. Umesh claimed his maiden 10-wicket haul in red-ball cricket during the Hyderabad Test and became the third Indian pacer to achieve this feat at home.
After picking up six wickets in the Test opener at Rajkot, wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav has gone on to criticize the SG ball that's been used in the country for nearly 25 years. Before Umesh and Kuldeep, skipper Virat Kohli and premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have spoken about the need to introduce the Dukes ball in India.
“When our spinners go to Australia, they find it tough to even grip the Kookaburra. In England, look at how Ashwin delivered and how Moeen Ali did (with the Dukes). If you’ve taken six wickets, then how can you complain about the ball? Even in pace bowling, Yadav picked a 10 wicket haul, no? So, where’s the complaint?” Azharuddin asserted.
“You’ve got to use what suits your conditions best. That’s also the challenge in Test cricket. I can’t go to England and say we’ll play with SG. They’ll have the Dukes ball. Similarly, if England are coming here, there is a different set of challenge they are going to face,” he continued.
Azharuddin also suggested Indian cricketers to speak to the manufacturers rather than expressing their displeasure in public.
“If there is a problem with the ball, go to the manufacturer and tell them what’s required to be done. I heard that there were some complaints about how the seam is not up enough and all. Whatever the case, just call them and let them know,” he said.
“If I had a problem with my bat during the playing days, I would go to the maker and tell him what problem I was facing and ask the makers to work on it, do something about it,” Azharuddin concluded.