Cricket Ball Basics

Close-Up Of Ball On Grass
Cricket ball basics. Andrew Aspinall / EyeEm / Getty Images

It's possible to play cricket without a regulation field or pitch, such as street cricket in South-East Asia. However, there are two things you really need to 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 - and it's quite different from the ball in other sports.

Materials

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

The core of the ball is made of cork. This is a small round piece of cork in the center of the ball.

That core is then wrapped tightly many times with string to reinforce it.

The cork and string interior 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 pieces or in 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 towards another person's body, protective equipment such as pads, arm guards, and helmets are important for batsmen.

If you want to get a better idea of what's inside a cricket ball, take a peek at this collection of eight chopped up balls.

Dimensions

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

Men's cricket: weight between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces (155.9g to 163g), circumference between 8.8125 and 9 inches (22.4cm to 22.9cm).

Women's cricket: weight between 140g and 151 g, circumference between 21cm and 22.5cm.

Junior cricket (under-13): weight between 133g and 144g, circumference between 20.5cm and 22cm.

Rules

Replacement: A new ball should be used at the start of every innings, 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 at some point after a set number of overs. This differs from country to country but must not be before 75 overs have been bowled. 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, such as by a player hitting it out of the ground, it should be replaced with a cricket ball bearing similar wear and tear.

Colour: Red is the default color for the cricket ball. 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, such as 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.