Jan. 10 - The England cricket team may have lost in the recent Ashes series to Australia but they could be winning in the business of making cricket balls. Australia's cricket governing body is currently trialling cricket balls from London-based firm, Dukes, and if successful could start using them in Australian test matches instead of the iconic Kookaburras. Hayley Platt reports.
This local cricket team in Essex has more in common than you think with the English national team. They both use cricket balls by Dukes, England's oldest sports manufacturer. Established in 1760, the small English heritage company based in east London, could be about to make cricket history. Its balls are currently being trialled by Australia's cricket governing body with a view to being used in Australian Test cricket for the first time. Dukes owner Dilip Jajodia says the secret's in the stitching. SOUNDBITE: Dilip Jajodia, owner Dukes, saying (English): "This is very important because it's holding the ball. All six rows are holding this ball together and the tension is very very good." Cricket Australia have already tested 50 dozen Dukes balls. And they've asked for a second batch. The news that Australia is even considering using English balls in Australian Test match cricket sent sales soaring. SOUNDBITE: Dilip Jajodia, owner Dukes, saying (English): "We quadrupled our sales into Australia and I'm expecting to at least double that. A lot of the specialist retailers in Australia started to want to stock the product, and then further good news: Cricket Australia came back and said they would like to repeat the test process." Australia and much of the Test-match playing world have been using Kookaburras for more than six decades - except England of course. Side by side the two balls are almost identical. But the manufacturing process is very different. Dukes are entirely hand-stitched in Pakistan and finished in the UK. Kookaburra's are part hand-stitched and partly machine-stitched and made in Australia. Either way the quality, says Loughton coach Seb Bukhari, is crucial. SOUNDBITE: Seb Bukhari, cricket coach, Loughton Cricket Club in Essex, England, saying (English): "It has a major impact on the game and the outcome of the game and the quality of the ball really matters a lot. The better the ball is, the better the results will be. From the bowling aspect and from a batting aspect as well." A handmade ball by Dukes takes around 3.5 hours to make. It costs anything from £5 to around a £100. And should last for 80 overs. SOUNDBITE: Dilip Jajodia, owner Dukes, saying (English): "I'm hoping the results will be as good as they were last year and that perhaps cricket Australia will perhaps make a positive decision on using our product in one of their competitions, that would be fantastic. The challenge then will be managing what emerges." Jajodia shouldn't have long to wait. He's off to Australia soon to find out if Cricket Australia will start using Dukes balls in Test matches. That could signal a whole new innings for Dukes and its workers.