There are hundreds of different cricket balls in production, with each offering specific benefits to the user and addressing requirements for several areas of cricket. Cricket balls are commonly misconceived to offer the same user experience, which is why we have written this guide to help our customers decide which balls are best suited to their needs.
When you're buying cricket balls, the first factor that needs to be considered is what they're going to be used for; league matches, recreational cricket or training. If you're playing competitive cricket within leagues, you will be given details of the ball that you should be using by the league's governing body. The cricket committee will have made a decision on the ball being used based upon their own sponsorship deal. Normally they select one of several national suppliers who have pitched for the opportunity to supply their league's ball. The ball that has been chosen is often not always the most effective for the given standard of cricket. The quality of the ball used isn't always reflected in the cost to the club and comments often include poor shape retention. The pitfall of these agreements between the league and the supplier is that the revenue is usually shared, meaning that the chosen ball can often be more advantageous in terms of income as opposed to quality and practicality.
There are a number of cricket ball brands currently on the market, including:
Gray-Nicholls cricket balls
Willo Stix Cricket Balls
Incrediball Cricket Balls - Now called the AeroBall after Easton withdrew from the cricket market.
Here in the UK, Kookaburra and Dukes cricket balls are the most commonly used brands in International cricket matches. The Dukes Special county 'A' cricket ball was chosen to be used in the 2009 Ashes Series against Australia and the Kookaburra Turf ball is used in one-day cricket matches. Kookaburra are the world's largest and most used cricket brand and they produce balls for all forms of cricket at any level. Most brands now manufacture a wide range of quality balls for their own markets
Cricket can also be played indoors, although a different, specialist ball is required. Not all of the big manufacturers produce indoor balls, as this form of cricket has a significantly smaller following than the outdoors alternative. The most popular balls in indoor cricket are the Kookaburra and Readers models, which like all indoor balls, are lighter than normal cricket balls, weighing around 114g.
Readers have the best selling range of balls and are used thoughout the UK in clubs and school cricket. Lusum cricket balls are offered without the marketing costs associated with other leading branded balls. Dukes and Kookaburra produce premium quality match cricket balls suitable for use in club and school matches.
You can buy cricket balls with various different designs, although the main colours are red, white and pink for almost all disciplines of cricket. White cricket balls are used in day/night matches which are usually lit by floodlights. Pink balls were introduced as a result of enhanced visibility, making things better for both players and spectators. Australia recently began using pink cricket balls for their own day/night games, although the concept has not proved popular with other cricketing nations. Dukes and Kookaburra are in a battle to be the world's number 1 brand for match balls and both are working hard to find the best materials for pink ball cricket.
The price of cricket balls is determined by their quality, build and usage, with training balls available for around £5.00, and International match balls ranging up to around £100.
Features and benefits of cricket balls aren't obvious, with the quality and durability of the outer cover and the quantity and quality of the stitching providing an indication of the ball's price and performance. The highest priced cricket balls feature a 'Selected Grade Tanned Steer Hide' and cheaper balls have a 'hide cover'. The stitching and cover of a ball often vary in quality too, balls within the same batch can often offer different performance levels. Higher quality balls use a finer stitch, approximately 80 around the whole circumference. On lower-priced balls the stitching is thicker and they can have as few as 55 per circumference.
Cricket balls are manufactured with either a 2 piece or 4 piece construction. Balls with a four piece construction are generally of better quality and are suitable for matches as well as training. 2 piece balls should be reserved for training purposes only, in my opinion. 2 piece construction refers to the outer cover, where only two sections of hide are used and then stitched together. A 4 piece ball has the hide cut into 4 quarters, with two pairs sewn together. The join in the quarter is rotated 90 degrees to the opposite side of the ball. A 2 piece construction means the leather has to be stretched further to get the shape required. This can create imperfections within the ball and make them less reliable
The centre of a cricket ball will differ depending on the manufacturer, with numerous different types available. The Kookaburra Turf ball has 'five layers of core and worsted yarn over a cork and rubber nucleus' whereas a cheaper Super Crown cricket ball uses a '3 layer quilted centre'. Some smaller manufacturers use third party companies to construct their balls, meaning they're unable to guarantee the quality of the core. I heard one story about a leading brand of balls, who subcontracted the manufacture out to local workers. One particular worker sold some components and replaced them with cheaper alternatives (he sold the expensive core and replaced with bottle tops). This only became apparent when players complained, their bats were breaking during play. This led to tighter controls and most brands manage the manufacture and quality within their own factories now.
Lusum cricket balls are quality balls but without the marketing spend. This means you are getting a higher specification ball for less money. Many of the leading brands spend upto 25% of the cost of a ball on marketing, including player and competition sponsorship.
The biggest known brand for soft balls is the Incrediball. This ball is probably the most popular soft ball on the market, with many manufacturers now having their own version available. The most popular ball is the Aero Club ball (formerly known as Incrediball) which looks like a cricket ball but is constructed from soft plastic with a lightwieght core, ideal for training or soft ball matches. The Incrediball range also has matchweight versions in youth and senior sizes. We are proud to have supplied these to the England Disability squad for a number of years. Easton, who owned the Incredball name withdrew from the cricket ball scene in 2011. Aero took over the brand and renamed the Incrediball as the AeroBall. The quality is the same, as the ball is manufactured to the same standards, only the name has changed. The name change did lead to a small amount of confusion initially. The Lusum Safety ball is a good alternative and is priced to appeal to clubs and schools. The ball is manufactured to a similar specification although the seam is slightly raised to give the younger bowlers more control.
The official regulations for cricket ball sizes are:
4 3/4oz or 135g for junior players up to and including under 13. A tolerance is allowed though and the weight of a junior ball must be in the range of 133g to 144g
5oz or 142g for women players from 14+. Again a tolerance is allowed and the balls for women's cricket must be between 140g to 151g.
5 1/2oz or 156g for male players from 14+ through into men's cricket. The tolerance for a full sized ball means it must weigh between 154g and 165g
These figures are only accurate for new cricket balls.
Cricket players are often loyal to the ball they currently use and don't tend to change the brand or quality of ball frequently.
To see how a cricket ball is made, take a look at our video.