Kookaburra Sport <em>Pink Turf cricket ball</em> designed 2006–22; cork, foil, glue, lacquer, leather, linen, plastic, rubber, worsted yarn. Courtesy of Kookaburra Sport<br/>
© Kookaburra Sport

Kookaburra Sport

Kookaburra Sport
(est. 1890, Melbourne)

Kookaburra Sport has remained a 100 percent Australian, family-owned sports equipment manufacturer for over 130 years. Renowned for its cricket and hockey balls, Kookaburra also specialises in sporting equipment, clothing and footwear. New generations of founder A. G. Thompson’s family continue to bring creative and engineering acumen to the company’s product design and manufacturing techniques.

The Pink turf cricket ball, first designed in 2006 and undergoing design iterations to 2022, is a Kookaburra innovation for day/night cricket Test matches. To attract greater crowds, various cricket leagues in Australia began holding cricket matches in the evening under lights; however, the classic red-and-white balls weren’t visible in all conditions to players and television audiences. Earlier trials showed that, on TV, yellow balls left a comet-like trail, and orange balls were not perceptible at all. Kookaburra’s first pink ball, created in 2006 for a Cancer Council fundraiser, soon attracted global interest. Over the following years, the company trialled sixteen shades to determine which shade of pink (and which stitching combination) would be most distinctive in all conditions and maintain its colour throughout overs. Debuting at the first day/night Test match in 2015, the pink ball retains Kookaburra’s signature turf design: a cork and rubber nucleus, covered in five layers of worsted yarn and cork, which is then cased in leather, hand-sewn closed, lacquered and branded.

Another Kookaburra product, the Elite dimple hockey ball, first designed in 1982, is currently the International Hockey Federation’s only globally approved ball. Hockey was traditionally played with a white leather ball, constructed in the same way as a cricket ball. These balls would soak up water in wet conditions so, in 1982, Kookaburra released its first waterproof ball, compression moulded and with a core similar to that of a cricket ball but incorporating a dimple pattern (inspired by golf balls) to break up air flow and ensure the ball flew straight through the air. The design has since been updated using injection moulding, employing different materials to improve bounce and durability. The Elite dimple hockey ball was introduced to international hockey during the 1984 World Cup and Los Angeles Olympic Games and has been used exclusively ever since.

Kookaburra Sports’ designed and manufactured products are sold in more than fifty countries. Fourth and fifth generations of the Thompson family continue to work in the company’s Melbourne head office, with over 300 employees across additional offices in India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and an agency in South Africa.