Matthew Fisher could be a bit of an outlier when it comes to English seamers and the Kookaburra ball, which will be in use for Sunday’s LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Gloucestershire at Headingley (11am).
“A lot of lads look at them and are like, ‘What’s this?’,” laughed the Yorkshire star.
“But I’ve bowled a lot with them in the last two or three years, and I quite like bowling with them.”
The next two rounds of Championship fixtures – Worcestershire away, starting July 10 is the other – will be played with the Kookaburra ball in use instead of the Dukes.
It stems from Sir Andrew Strauss’s recent ECB High Performance review.
It has been done to prepare prospective England players for tours to countries to where the ball is used for Test Matches and also to encourage counties to vary their attacks to utilise a ball which doesn’t do as much as the Dukes – more spinners or faster bowlers, for example.
“For me, the difference to the Dukes is that the Kookaburra swing straight away,” said Fisher.
“Dukes take a few overs to get the shine off and get the swing going. But they don’t swing as long as the Dukes.
“Dukes, with the right conditions – overheads, etc – could swing all day. You won’t be seeing that with the Kooka. It will maybe be 10-15 overs max. Then it’s about hitting the wicket as hard as you can and trying to get a bit of seam movement.
“That means you have to start well and make them play early on, bowl full, get it swinging and a bit of nip.
“They sometime bounce a bit more. Once that goes, it’s not defensive but you need to bowl differently with them. I think you need to bowl hard length and bouncers.
“With the weather we’ve had and some of the pitches we’ve had, if you don’t take wickets with the new ball it could get tough.”
Fisher continued: “It’s just that consistent swing from ball one that I like (with the Kookaburra).
“Sometimes with Dukes, depending on what ball you pick out of the box and what the conditions are like, the swing’s not consistent early on. If you don’t get a good shine on it, it might not swing at all.
“Kookaburras will give you consistent swing. Once it leaves your hand, it will do what you expect it to.”
A man with even more experience than Fisher in bowling with the Kookaburra ball is new Australian overseas signing Mark Steketee, who is set to debut in his first of four Championship appearances.
That is the ball of choice in Sheffield Shield and Test Cricket in Australia, and the Queenslander has had significant recent success.
He has been one of the leading wicket-takers in the last two seasons of Shield Cricket, claiming 70 wickets combined.
“We played a Lions and A team game against Australia in Brisbane (December 2021), and he played in that,” recalled Fisher. “They had a good attack – Steketee, Boland, Neser, Marsh and Swepson. It was a pretty flat pitch, but he looked good.
“There aren’t many Aussie seamers who bowl slow. He’ll probably be mid-eighties (mph) and could get a bit higher on a good day. He hits the wicket quite hard.
“I haven’t seen much of him, only that once live, but I looked at his record and was like, ‘Wow, he must be a good bowler’. It’s going to be great to have him.
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the team yet, but he adds to the depth that we’ve got.”
Steketee, 29, is unlikely to be the only debutant for Yorkshire, with Surrey loanee left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty also set for his first of four Championship appearances.
Moriarty arrives at Headingley having played a bit part in champions Surrey’s recent success, featuring in two Championship matches in the last season-and-a-half.
Yorkshire head into this fixture on the back of a victory against Derbyshire at Chesterfield last week, by three wickets. It was their first of the season.
Fisher claimed an impressive 8-100 in the match, including five in the first innings.
“I found my rhythm at Chesterfield. The first three games, I couldn’t find that. I don’t know why,” he said. “But I was patient and knew it would come, and it did at Derby.
“Thankfully I capitalised and felt like I bowled lovely. I’m really looking forward to Sunday now.”
Promotion remains the aim for Yorkshire despite them placed closer to the bottom than the top after six games. However, they are only 31 points behind second-placed Sussex with a game in hand and eight still to play.
“We’ve been talking about trying to take the wins out of our thinking because we’ve probably been chasing it too much,” added Fisher. “I felt like we did that last year and at the start of this because you obviously want to go up.
“The last month or six weeks, we’ve thought more about the performance, and we’re trying to build momentum that way.
“It’s the middle of the season, it’s been a tough schedule, but we’ve got to come into the game with an intensity. If we’re bowling with the new ball at 11am on Sunday, we need to be on it.
“The more you’re on it, the less time you’ll be out in the field.”
Gloucestershire are second-bottom in the table, one below sixth-placed Yorkshire. They are without a win in seven games so far and lost last time out at home to Leicestershire.
This is the reverse fixture, though the first was abandoned without a ball bowled at Bristol in mid-April following wet weather.