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The History of the Cricket Ball

By Geoffrey Darling

The first cricket balls could have been made of rolled wool. Some modern batsmen probably wish they still were.

Beginnings

One origin has English shepherds in the Middle Ages bowling or rolling balls of rags or wool at a target, often the sheep paddock's wicket gate. Other shepherds defended it with their crooked staffs. But it is unlikely one single game evolved into modern cricket.

First

Edward II (1300s) and Oliver Cromwell (1600s) are attributed with wielding a bat, and the first recorded game was in Kent, England, in 1646.

Dimensions

The first written Laws of Cricket in 1744 said the ball must weigh 5 oz. to 6 oz. In the 1770s, the weight became 5 1/2 oz. to 5 3/4 oz., and the circumference was 8 13/16 inches to 9 inches.

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Composition

Cricket balls have a cork core that is covered with tightly wound string, and two- or four-piece leather case. The slightly raised sewn seam is the most important part of the ball, producing its unpredictable movement off the pitch.

Handmade

Hand-making cricket balls, even up to first class and test quality, is still a cottage industry in the Indian subcontinent.

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