Cricket Australia's official supplier is developing a world-first ball to be used specifically for Twenty20s with the aim of having it introduced in major international leagues in two years.
Kookaburra conducted the first in-match trial of its new "Turf20" ball in a "blind test" in the Northern Territory Strike competition where Cameron Bancroft is making his comeback to competitive cricket after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Under lights: A new specialist Twenty20 ball is being trialled.
Tested using an air cannon and wind tunnel, the Turf20 has been designed to better suit the explosive hitting seen in the shortest format instead of the traditional Test version, which gradually deteriorates across 80 overs. It should stay harder for longer with the aim of "promoting balance between bat and ball", Kookaburra said.
With more pace on the ball, batsmen should get more value for their shots, the company said, while bowlers will get more assistance from the prouder seam.
There is currently no differentiation between the white balls used in the 50-over format and Twenty20.
"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," Kookaburra's Shannon Gill said.
"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."
The new model has been used in the NT with the branding of the traditional white ball, and received positive feedback from players who did not notice any changes to the bounce and speed of the ball but commented on its improved hardness.
Evolution: The Kookaburra Factory in Moorabbin, Melbourne. The company is now trialling T20-only balls.
"As long as it doesn't bounce differently or change the nature of the game, that way it can only be a positive," South Australia and Brisbane Heat batsman Alex Ross said.
"I noticed later in my innings last week the ball was definitely harder and carried further – which is what you want in T20 cricket."
Kookaburra will continue trialling the ball in and out of competition for 18 months before presenting the ball to international boards for use in various Twenty20 leagues in 2020.
The company says the new ball can be produced at a lower cost than the current version, which makes it more appealing for boards and grassroots competitions.
Kookaburra is facing more competition after a controversial few years where the quality of its red ball for Tests has come under scrutiny.
While it is still used for internationals played in this country, CA introduced the English Dukes balls for use in the second half of the Sheffield Shield season in 2016/17. The move was made to better prepare Australia for Ashes series in England, where they have not won since 2001.
Kookaburra has, however, continued to refine the pink ball used in day/night Tests, with improvements made in its durability and visibility.
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