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July 14th, 2018 by admin

A balls-up? Sheffield Shield emerges as a cricket battleground

As the pay-war battleground takes shape, just how the Sheffield Shield is used has become an agenda item.
Nanjing Night Net

While the four-day format remains the breeding ground for future international stars, it has also emerged as a testing ground in terms of the type of balls used, something the Australian Cricketers’ Association has raised concerns about.

This season, three type of balls will be in play: the Kookaburra pink, to prepare players for day-night Tests; the traditional red, and the English Dukes ball which will be used after Christmas in a bid to help players prepare better for Ashes tours – even though the next trip is not until 2019.

Players have expressed concerns about the sanctity of first-class cricket being eroded, and feel they are even being used as guinea pigs, particularly regarding the pink ball some say they still cannot see properly in twilight and night conditions.

It’s understood Cricket Australia does not concur with concerns about the types of balls used, arguing its interest is in having batsmen and bowlers ready to adapt to whatever conditions are offered away from home shores. Australia have not won an Ashes series abroad since 2001, and the swinging and seaming Dukes were a weapon England again maximised last year.

Combating a Duke ball – which has a subtle difference in the treatment of the leather and the height and quality of the seam – in Australian conditions can only help players so much though, as English conditions and pitches, not to mention negating the skill of England spearhead Jimmy Anderson, are other key factors which have contributed to Australia’s demise.

The split fixturing of the Sheffield Shield – with half of the season held before the money-spinning Big Bash League and the remaining matches resuming in February – makes it more difficult for Shield-only players to build momentum, but that’s unlikely to change in what already is a congested schedule.

The ACA and CA must also determine whether the memorandum of understanding includes women. They are paid outside of this at the moment.

CA had wanted the women to be included with the men when the current deal was brokered during fractious talks in 2012 but the ACA resisted, arguing it wanted the women to have their own MOU. The ACA has since changed its stance.

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor, now a CA board director, said he hoped discussions, pencilled in to begin on October 21, progress well.

“I hope it goes smoothly. I think both sides have been really happy in recent times about where they are at. The game is going well, the players are well looked after, they are well paid. I am really hoping the MOU will go reasonably smoothly,” he said.

Taylor helped generate the inaugural MOU in 1997 when, as captain, he said his team was prepared to boycott several one-day internationals if the then Australian Cricket Board did not budge.

“I answered honestly and said: ‘Yes, they were’. I think, fortunately, we didn’t get anywhere that close to it. I think not long after I made that comment – it might have been the straw which broke the camel’s back to a certain extent – the ACA struck a deal with CA to at least look at a MOU and just doing things differently. That’s what broke any chance of a strike at the end but it certainly was mooted.”

CA announced on Wednesday that sports retailer Rebel had re-signed as the naming rights sponsor of the Women’s Big Bash League for the next two seasons.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.