Not much of a difference between red and white Kookaburra balls, says Harmanpreet Kaur
The pitch, the conditions and the cricket ball are some of the things that dominate talks ahead of a Test match. The one-off Test in Bristol between India and England that kickstarts the women in blue’s tour to the United Kingdom has mostly been about the tourists’ return to the format – they last played a Test match in 2014 and a lot has changed in the world since then. But what would be a constant – a small solace – is that the Kookaburra ball will be used for the red-ball game. Generally in men’s Tests in this part of the world, the Dukes ball, which is known to assist the seam bowlers, is used.
The Kookaburra was used in the Wormsley Test, that India famously won, and India’s Test and ODI vice-captain, Harmanpreet Kaur, who was also a part of the team then, said that there’s little difference apart from the colours.
“(There is) not much of a difference because the weight of the ball is same (as white ball),” Kaur, addressing the virtual media on Monday (June 14), said.
“The last time we had observed that the red ball was heavier that the white ball for which you have to have better timing. (But now) there isn’t much difference between the red and white Kookaburra apart from the colour.”
“It felt good to play with a red ball when you are in whites.”
India haven’t played a Test match since their clash against South Africa at home in 2014. The last domestic First Class game that the women played was way back at the start of 2018. However, Kaur was confident of the batters coming good.
“(Batting) is all about reacting to the ball,” said the 32-year-old. “I know I have played ODIs and T20Is more but I know Tests are all about patience and spending as much time as we can in the middle. Our approach will be to react to the ball.”
“We have tried to create match scenarios as much as possible and prepare us to be in the best frame of time. We didn’t get any practice games but as a player it is important to adapt to the situation.”
“The (pitch) will be different to those in India and the ball will swing more, which we have practised in the nets.”
The Wormsley Test saw India fielding eight debutantes and quite a few are expected to make their first appearances this time, too. At the forefront is the 17-year-old Shafali Verma, who received her maiden call-up to the Test and ODI teams for the England tour. Kaur, without giving a hint if Verma will make her debut, said that it is important to keep the youngster’s mind uncluttered, echoing the thoughts of former India Head Coach, WV Raman.
“Shafali is someone we always want to play and I hope she will get a chance because she can dominate the opposition anytime,” said Kaur.
“We have never tried to control Shafali’s natural instincts. If you talk a lot to her about techniques and game-plan, she can get disturbed because she is just 17.”
“We all try to create a better situation for her so that she doesn’t feel the pressure and enjoys her game. She was looking good in the nets and I hope if she gets a chance in the game, she will do better.”
The tour will also mark the beginning of Ramesh Powar’s second stint as the Head Coach of the Indian side. His first term ended after India’s semi-final exit in the Women’s T20 World Cup, 2018. Kaur said that the interactions with Powar began almost from where they were left off.
“He is someone who is always involved in the game and wants every player to be involved. You feel like playing a match whenever you talk to him because he always creates a scenario and talks about reacting and planning. I always gets lots of information when talking with him. The experiences are similar to 2018.”
Kaur also acknowledged the contribution of former cricketers and their struggles which left the Indian cricket in a better place. She also revealed that the players talked to Ajinkya Rahane, the vice-captain of India men’s Test side, about tackling conditions in England.
While Kaur has played two Tests, India’s most experienced players in the current lot are Mithali Raj, the captain, and Jhulan Goswami, who was nervously excited about returning to Tests.
“(Jhulan) is someone who always takes the lead whenever we are on the field. She is special because she’ll always get the breakthroughs. She will be fantastic in this match also,” concluded Kaur.