Overview of cricket balls
Available in a range of different colours and sizes, cricket balls form the centrepiece of the sport.
Different sizes and weights of balls
When playing cricket, there are strict rules and regulations in place regarding the weights and dimensions of cricket balls used. Umpires and cricket players take these rules very seriously.
These can be found below:
- Women’s cricket
The cricket ball used in women’s cricket can weigh from 140g to 151g and the circumference of the ball can be between 21cm to 22.5cm
- Junior cricket
The cricket ball used in junior cricket can weigh from 133g to 144g and the circumference of the ball can be between 20.5cm to 22cm
- Men’s cricket
The cricket ball used in men’s cricket can weigh from 133g to 144g and the circumference of the ball can be between 20.5cm to 22cm·
The makeup of a cricket ball is quite complex featuring a number of different materials which individually all add something to the ball and the game.
Traditionally, the core of a cricket ball is made up of a number of layers, usually three or five, of wrapped cork strips, tightly wound together with string. Using both the cork and string together ensures that the ball bounces as well as holds its shape. Many modern cricket balls now use compound cork and rubber centres which help to ensure consistency in shape retention, bounce and centre of gravity.
Quality leather pieces are dyed for the type of cricket ball being made (i.e. red, pink, white) and then precisely cut into several pieces ready to be wrapped around the ball and reassembled.
Test match balls are usually made with four pieces of the dyed leather stitched into each individual quarters of the ball. The quarters are then made into two halves which are attached together to create the recognised cricket ball shape. When all four pieces are put together and stitched, great care and precision is taken to ensure that the ball maintains a consistent shape and will wear correctly as the ball is used. Finally, a high-pressure vice is used to ensure that the leather is shaped correctly.
A real indicator of the quality of the ball is found in the seam and the stitching around it. The seam is how the two halves of the leather ball are secured together. Bowlers like to use and manipulate the seam to aid their ball deliveries.
The seam can either be hand stitched or machine stitched. In a traditional hand stitched ball, the two halves of the cricket ball are held in place with all six lines of stitching meaning hand stitched balls have greater integrity built in. In a machine stitched ball, only the centre two rows of stitching hold the ball together, while the outer 4 rows are purely decorative meaning that they are more suited to limited overs cricket and lower level use. The prominence of the seam will depend on the thickness and quality of the thread used and the skill of the craftsman, which in turn can determine how much movement the bowler will be able to gain from the ball off the pitch and in the air.
The number of individual stitches on balls will vary based on the needs of the ball; a test match ball for instance will usually have between 78 – 82 stitches around the centre, whereas training balls and balls used in lower levels of the game will have around 55.
The finish on cricket balls will depend on whether you purchase a quality ball or a cheaper ball.
High quality balls are often made from greased Alum tanned English/Scottish leather covered in very thin layers of polish which give the balls the distinctive shine and gloss. Cheaper balls tend to look glossy as they are covered in a thicker lacquer to protect the lower quality leather, but this cheaper method does have the tendency to negatively impact the playing characteristics of the ball.
Method of Production
Much of the cricket ball production process is done by hand but with specially developed machines used for certain parts of the process to aid consistency and productivity. Moulding of centres, cutting and shaping of leather are generally done with the aid of machines. The very best cricket balls are fully hand stitched but some manufacturers opt for machine stitching to aid productivity at the expense of the quality of finish.
It is of common opinion that the highest quality cricket balls are made with English, Scottish or Australian sourced leather. However, some excellent quality cricket balls are produced using Chrome tanned leather from the sub-continent which can be used for top level league cricket.
Generally, when training, a different ball is used so as not to impact or wear the match ball prematurely. Old used balls are preferred.
Soft plastic balls are ideal for training matches, friendlies or for junior matches to minimise any potential injuries.
Some of these training balls include:
- Air cricket balls; these balls are made from a soft synthetic material which bounce like a cricket ball but are a lighter weight, making them more child friendly. These air balls are perfect for using when building confidence with a cricket ball and are less likely to cause an injury to a child.
- Multi material; these balls look like they are half cricket and half tennis balls and are designed to help bowlers with their swing bowling techniques
- Multi coloured; these balls are made up of four different colours which help both bowlers and batting players to understand and develop their skills further, as the different colours make it easier to identify what the ball is doing whilst in the air.
To keep your cricket ball in the best condition possible, follow these easy steps:
- Clean off any excess dirt and grit using a clean cloth after each use
- If there are stubborn dirty stains such as dried mud that need to be removed, use a clean cloth and a little warm water mixed with a mild soap. Ensure the cloth isn’t dripping and has been wrung out and then wipe the surface of the ball but do not rub.
- If the surface of the ball is becoming rough, you can polish with a water-resistant leather conditioner, however this is only recommended for personal use.
- After any sort of cleaning, ensure you dry your cricket ball with a dry clean towel
- Store your cricket balls in a non-humid room or area between uses