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November 29 2018

A Brief History of the Cricket Ball

- by Sahil Rathod

Since the inception of cricket, the bat and ball are mandatory requirements for a match to be played. But while the bat has undergone many modifications and changes, the ball has remained pretty much the same except for some changes in the colour depending on the type of match being played.

The red coloured ball is the earliest type of ball used in competitive cricket. Until 1977, the red ball was used in all forms of cricket until the introduction of the white ball. The white ball made its debut in the 1977 World Series Cricket which was started by Kerry Packer in Australia. Along with white balls, coloured jerseys made an introduction and that is when limited overs cricket became a big hit globally.

Now red balls are only used in Test cricket at the international level. What makes them unique is that they swing and seam early in the innings when the ball is still new. But later on in the innings, once the ball grows older and repeated polishing on one side of the ball causes the weight to alter, the ball also starts to reverse swing.

With the introduction of day-night Test matches, pink balls started being used. Red balls have low visibility in the night time so during the first day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand in 2015, the pink ball made its debut at the international level.

The core of the ball is made up of a cork which is what provides the weight and bounce of the ball. Around the cork, there is a layer of tightly wound strings which is covered by a leather case and stitched together with a slightly raised seam to help bowlers have a firm grip on the ball.

The construction details, the dimensions, the quality and the performance of the cricket balls are determined by British Standard BS 5993. The first written rule in 1744 specified that the ball must weigh between 5 and 6 oz. In the 1770s, the rule was rewritten and the weight was changed to 5.5-5.75 oz which equates to about 156-163 grams. The circumference of the ball is required to be 8.8125 to 9 inches which is about 224 to 229 millimeters. The above specifications are followed internationally even today.

Globally, there are three main manufacturers of the cricket ball that is used in international cricket: Kookaburra, Dukes and SG. While England and West Indies used Dukes, India uses SG for all home matches. The rest of the world uses the Kookaburra.

So the next time you’re watching a game of cricket, depending on the format and where the match is being played, you will know which type of ball is being used.

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