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England will continue to use Dukes balls for the Ashes
The Ashes 2019

England will continue to use Dukes balls for the Ashes

England will continue to use Dukes balls when they face Australia in a home Ashes series later this year.

Australia last won an Ashes in England in 2001. Their batsmen have repeatedly struggled against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad using Dukes balls.

A new Dukes ball with a less pronounced seam that deviates less off the pitch has been in use in English county cricket this season but England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Ashley Giles said they had asked Dukes to make a batch of some 500-600 balls to the same specification as those used for Test cricket in England during the past two seasons.

Giles said the aim was to ensure a "fair contest" between bat and ball.

"People will say that [England is exploiting the home advantage], but that's why we want to be on the front foot," Giles told reporters at the Oval.

"We didn't want to appear as though we were doing this underhandedly.

"I've spoken to Cricket Australia, they were fine, and I've spoken to Cricket Ireland (who play at Lord's in July).

"It's not as though we're talking about playing against a bowling attack that isn't very good.

"The Aussies are quite handy themselves," he added.

"There are elements of risk in choosing to go with this other ball. But clearly Jimmy Anderson is one of our best weapons, one of the best bowlers who has ever played the game, and we want to bring him into the game.

"We just want to be upfront and honest."

The balls used in this season's Championship are wound tighter at the seam and scores in English cricket's domestic first-class competition are considerably higher than at a comparable stage in 2018.

Australia, in a bid to try to get used to English conditions, used the 2017/18 specification Dukes ball in the second half of their recently concluded 2018/19 first-class Sheffield Shield tournament.

But with weather and pitch conditions also affecting the movement of the ball in England tend to offer more movement to pacers.