Cricket Ball Basics

Close-Up Of Ball On Grass
Andrew Aspinall / EyeEm / Getty Images

It's possible to play cricket without a regulation field or pitch (in Southeast Asia, for example, some people play it in the street). However, there are two things you must have in some form or another: a bat and a ball.

Of course, cricket can be played with any type of small, round ball. Tennis ball cricket is very popular in many countries. For the real thing, though, you need a regulation cricket ball, which is made of certain materials and has specific dimensions.

Materials

Cricket balls are generally made of three distinct materials: cork, string, and leather.

The core of the ball is made of cork. That core is then wrapped tightly many times with string to reinforce it.

The cork and string are then encased in leather, which is usually dyed either red (first-class and Test matches) or white (one-day and Twenty20 matches). Depending on the level of cricket being played, the leather case may be in two or four pieces. Regardless of whether it is a two-piece or four-piece ball, two leather "hemispheres" will be joined at the ball's "equator" by a series of stitched string seams, the center seam of which is slightly raised.

The cricket ball is a hard, shiny piece of equipment. As the game involves bowling it at high speed toward another person's body, protective equipment such as pads, arm guards, and helmets are important for batsmen.

Dimensions

Cricket ball dimensions differ depending on the level of cricket being played:

  • Men's cricket: The ball weighs between 155.9 and 163 grams; it has a circumference between 22.4 and 22.9 centimeters.
  • Women's cricket: The ball weighs between 140 and 151 grams; it has a circumference between 21 and 22.5 centimeters.
  • Junior cricket (under-13): The ball weighs between 133 and 144 grams; it has a circumference between 20.5 and 22 centimeters.

Rules

The rules of cricket stipulate that the ball be handled a certain way. If it is damaged, it must be replaced before the game can continue.

Replacement: A new ball should be used at the start of every inning, regardless of whether or not the batting team is following on.

In matches of more than one day's duration, the cricket ball should also be replaced after a set number of overs. The exact number differs from country to country but must exceed 75 overs. In Test and most first-class cricket, the fielding team can choose to take a new ball after 80 overs.

If the ball is lost or damaged beyond usability—after a player hits it out of the ground, for instance—it should be replaced with a cricket ball in similar condition.

Color: Red is the default color for cricket balls. However, since the advent of limited-overs matches being played under floodlights, white has become the norm for one-day and Twenty20 matches regardless of whether they are played during the day or at night.

Other colors have been experimented with, including pink and orange, but red and white remain standard.

Brands

The major worldwide manufacturer of cricket balls is the Australian company Kookaburra. Kookaburra balls are used in all one-day international and Twenty20 international matches, as well as in most Test matches.

Dukes cricket balls are used in Test matches played in England and the West Indies, while SG cricket balls are used in Test matches played in India.