The story of cricket balls.

The rule is to return the ball back to the players on the playing field when a cricket match is going on, but during a baseball game, you can take the ball home once it gets to you in the spectators stands... cool, isn't it..!!

I feel this trend should be started in cricket matches as well because it hurts lot more when a cricket ball hits you than a baseball ball... But then, its very important for a cricket match that the ball should stay in its “gradually deteriorating” condition as the match goes on whereas in baseball - they never pitch the ball on the ground, so there is no case of changes in ball'scricket ball.jpg condition.

Please don't confuse, this article of mine is not targeted at pointing out the differences among base-balls and cricket balls. We all love when Dhoni hits “it” with mighty power into the stands and adore “it” when Pathan “banana” swings it to get the first wicket for India. I am here to elaborate some interesting aspects of that “it”, i.e, the cricket ball.

First and foremost, how many times you have been asked about what is the weight for a cricket ball. Well, the answer is 155.9 grams to 163grams. The cricket balls actually contains cork inside them, which is an elastic material and helps the cricket balls to bounce as much as they do. The closest example of what a cork is the cap of a wine bottle or the back of a badminton shuttle.

This cork is not actually put in a bulky manner inside a cricket ball, but they are cut into small pieces and tightly wounded by strings to keep them together. And then a four piece leather support is applied from the top, which is also sealed with strings but this time, some fixing glues are also applied to keep them intact, which ultimately results in giving a razor sharp edges to the cricket balls. And thus, let me caution you that if a brand new cricket ball is approaching you with some velocity, PLEASE DON'T COME IN ITS WAY. It's dangerous if you don't know how to stop it properly.

That leather used to be RED for a long time in cricket matches, but one fine day, someone revolutionized cricket by inventing Day/Night cricket matches. And that is why, they had to come up with a different color of cricket ball as red is not a clearly visible colour in milky white colour of Flood Lights at cricket stadiums. And “White cricket balls” were used. Now you may ask when was the first ever Day/Night cricket match played?? Well, as far as I am concerned, it was the first one day international of that World Series Cup in Australia, way back on 7th November 1979 at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Some other colored cricket balls were also tried, like Yellow and Orange but White was the best that they could think of. This white ball tends to swing lot more than conventional red cricket balls for some undiscovered reasons but one thing is for sure, cricket balls received the make up quite well and from the first ever Day-Night one day international to this day, cricket balls takes the center most position whenever a cricket match is played.

Reminder – how many times you have seen cricket umpires change a cricket balls because it looses its shape??

I am sure quite a few tiSeamOfCricketBall.jpgmes, but don't make a mistake by thinking that the ball wasn't completely round in shape and that is why umpires changed it with a ABSOLUTELY SPHERE one. Cricket balls are never a true sphere. They have a circumference of 224mm from one side and 229mm from the other. Amazing isn't it..!!

And talking about the changes in cricket ball, I have to tell you that all International cricket matches are not played with exactly same kind of balls. What I’m saying is all cricketing countries are not unanimous on which cricket ball be used for International matches on their soil.

Yes, all ODI matches are played with Kookaburra balls but Test Matches in India are played with SG cricket balls. And when England hosts a International test match, they use “Duke cricket balls” whereas when Australia, South Africa and West Indies host a Test Match, Kookaburra balls comes in.

And this is a factor in cricket that makes loads of difference. SG or Duke cricket balls have lot more pronounced seam (as compared to Kookaburra balls) which helps fast bowlers to extract more swing in the air and seam off the pitch. Not only that, when the ball is going older, all fielders carefully shine one side of their ball and lets the other side of the seam get as rough as it can… This helps in reverse swinging the same ball after around 30 odd overs.

And when it comes to spinning the ball, seam again plays a major role. It helps the spinner to grip the ball better, specially Indian spinners as they grow up playing with balls of more pronounced seam. And that is why, when a bowler like Harbhajan Singh goes on the tour of Australia, where they use Kookaburra balls, he struggles.

Some interesting facts related to cricket balls.

  1. There are two umpires on a cricket field and there was a time (during 1996 World Cup) when they both had a ball of their each when an one day International was played. Umpires switch between main umpire to leg umpire after every over and they used to give their ball to the fielding team, just to bowl six legal balls and used to take it back when the over finished. Same did the other umpire…. And that is how ODI cricket was played at that time, purely because white balls gets dirty fairly quickly.DiamondCricketBall.jpg

  2. I tried my best to tell you all about the three different types of ball used for International cricket matches but I feel I must include the final information related to it - The cost of these cricket balls. A Kookaburra ball costs around Rs.2000 while a SG ball costs just Rs.600. If I convert these costs into US Dollars, it will be $ 43.47 and $ 13 for Kookaburra and SG Balls respectively.

  3. And that is why, when I heard the news that BCCI is now introducing Kookaburra balls into Indian domestic cricket, my reaction was a mixed one. BCCI explains that our bowlers struggle on overseas tours because the are habituated with different kind of balls and we want them to  master their cricketing skills with Kookaburra balls which is used for almost 85% of test matches all over the World..... This year, Duleep Trophy will be played with Kookaburra balls and Ranji Trophy will taste them from 2007 onwards.

  4. Now here's a real interesting information - A Diamond cricket ball was made in Sri Lanka in November 2004. It weighs 53.83 carats and has pure gold seam of 125 grams. The material used to keep the diamonds on the ball is similar to the one used on the wings of NASA space shuttles..... See the picture.

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