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What's Inside a Cricket Ball and How Are They Made?

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 14:  Match cricket balls a pictured during day one of the Futures League match between Western Australia and New South Wales at Richardson Park on October 14, 2013 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Paul Kane/Getty Images
Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2014

Red ball, white ball, pink ball, no ball, Kookaburra ball, Duke ball, seaming ball, reverse-swinging ball, spinning ball, old ball, new ball, hard ball, soft ball...

With so much tacit language in cricket, in this case just referring to the main object of play, it's no surprise that newcomers to the sport struggle to understand what is going on.

But there's two questions which I'm sure you have always wanted to know the answers to: What's inside a cricket ball, and how are they made? Well, wonder no more, dear reader.

Will pink balls be a success when the first day/night Test match is contested?
Will pink balls be a success when the first day/night Test match is contested?Francois Nel/Getty Images

Similar to a planet, a cricket ball is made up of different layers (no need for an angry phalanx of geologists to storm Bleacher Report HQ in protest at this massive oversimplification).

 

 

The interior

"The sound of leather on willow" is a well-known cricketing cliche, and it is true that the hard exterior of the sphere is indeed covered by hardened leather. But beneath this are two other main components.

Firstly, a chunk of cork comprises the hard core of the ball, and this is turned into a spherical shape by being covered with tightly wound string.

Next, after all of the components have been weighed to ensure they are within the universal guidelines for a cricket ball (155.9-163.0 grams for a men's ball), the four pieces of leather are pieced together and the "equator" is stitched with string to form a raised seam.

The leather is then dyed, stamped with the maker's name and covered with multiple coats of polish, ready to be delivered into the hands of eager seam bowlers around the world.

 

How are they made?

While machines have no doubt made certain aspects of the job easier over the years, most cricket ball manufacturers still handcraft large elements of their merchandise, as per the Kookaburra video above.

So the next time you find an old ball in a hedge or in the bottom of a drawer, or you see the fielders on television moaning about it going out of shape, spare a thought for the long process that goes on behind the scenes to create these special sporting spheres.

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