A hard solid ball made of leather, string, and cork are used in modern cricket. This is because cricket is a game played over a large field. The balls have to be solid, and quite on the heavy side while remaining small. This has not always been the case. Many years ago, the balls used in cricket used to be made of wood, rags, and wool among other materials. It was not standardized.
- The hard cricket ball has also had an influence on what cricket players wear and their unique look on the cricket field.
- In the distant past, players rarely wore protective equipment.
- As recently as 2014, players were dying from injuries after being struck by the cricket ball during matches.
Do you remember on 27th November 2014? On that day in Sydney, Philip Hudges lost his life after being struck by a cricket ball on the neck! 2013 also saw one notable fatality of Darryn Randall who lost his life in Alice, Eastern Cape after suffering a hit to the head by a cricket ball. Cricket lovers recall with pain that in 2006, Wasim Raja was a fatality, and Raman Lamba too back in February of 1998 cannot be forgotten among others.
- Today, arm guards, abdominal guards, thigh guards and a whole host of other guards including helmets are a must have for most cricket players.
- Protective cricket sportswear has contributed to increased safety of cricket players and the continued enjoyment of the game by fans.
How is a Cricket Ball Made?
The cricket ball you see today is made using cork, leather, and string. Balls for professional and competitive use must be made to standard as specified in the BS 5993 British Standard.
- Cork forms the inner core of the ball.
- The manufacturer then makes tight windings of string to form a layer around the cork.
- Last is a leather case for the outer surface of the ball.
The leather must have its sewn seam slightly raised. More than one layer of leather may be used on balls to make them more long-lasting. High-quality cricket balls have four leather pieces sewn together to form a quarter seam and a prominent seam. Low-quality cricket balls only used for practice and very low-level competition have two-piece leather covering to cut on cost.
Would a Soft Ball work the same as the Hard Leather Cricket Ball?
The question of hardness and weight of the leather cricket ball has been brought to question numerous times. It is however very difficult to imagine cricket without the hard leather ball.
- A softer ball of lighter weight would not fly through the air as the leather ball currently found in cricket.
- It would move shorter distances, handle differently in the hands of players and bounce differently from the leather and cork cricket ball.
So, for the sake of keeping the game as it is, let there be no more musings or talk of bringing a softer ball into the game.
- Did you know that the weight and circumference of a cricket ball vary by the age and gender of players in the specific cricket game?
What is it about Red, White and Pink Cricket Balls?
Well, you may see differently colored balls in cricket matches. The main colors are white, red and pink. They have a fascinating story behind them. In the past, cricket balls were mostly red. It was like a standard. Red balls are used in First-class and Test cricket up to date.
- One day matches saw the introduction of white balls when cricket has to be played under floodlights. White is easier to see than red in floodlight light!
- Today, all professional one-day cricket matches are played using white balls even when it is not under floodlights.
A problem with white balls is rapid deterioration that sees them lose their swing and flight qualities a little faster than red balls. They also get dirty and dull faster than red balls! These put players and cricket management bodies in quite a fix. In addition to all these challenges, there was increased interest in playing first class and test matches at night. The red ball is not great for night visibility!
To overcome these challenges and satisfy the needs of fans and players, middle ground was found in the pink cricket ball. It can be used in first class and test matches, is great for use at night, and does not deteriorate as fast as a white ball. It even handles dirt way better than a white ball!
So, there you have it. Next time you are watching cricket, you will understand to exaction the ball that will be in use and why it is chosen for the game.