Which Cricket Ball is Best?
By Stuart Garlick
The cricket ball has changed very little in shape, size or texture over the two centuries people have played the game, so why are there so many differences between different balls, and what should you look for when buying or playing with one? Join us, as we examine the time-honoured manufacturing process behind cricket balls, and investigate which cricket ball is best.
As the videos show, a lot of thought and care goes into making a high-quality cricket ball. If you want to get one of the First Class cricket balls made by Dukes in the UK (the brand used by England at home matches), or Kookaburra (the brand used by Australia), you need to spend a lot of money - up to $120 US in some cases.
It seems odd that something that is made in such a uniform way - cork, lined with wool, then coated in a leather shell - could differ so much between models and manufacturers. But there it is - a bit like tennis rackets, or cricket bats (which we looked at previously), cricket balls are made by hand or machine, with different kinds of machines, and many different levels of quality checks.
As with cricket bats, if you're a beginner to the game of cricket, or you're a village or fun cricketer, you probably won't notice much difference between different kinds of ball. You only begin to notice which cricket ball is best when you start to develop your bowling or batting. Good fast bowlers, or "seamers", are so-called because they bowl the ball along the seam - that central thread - and that creates swing when it hits the ground, with the aim of getting a batsman out. The more a ball deteriorates, the more swing can be found.
Spin bowlers also look to get a change in direction when the ball bounces, but as with seamers, they get to know a certain ball's characteristics on a certain kind of pitch, and that can make the difference between winning and losing a cricket match.
The truth is, you don't need to spend a lot of money to play cricket - but if you invest for the long term in a good-quality ball, your skills, and those of your team-mates at your cricket club, will develop as a consequence.