Different types of balls used in cricket matches

You might ask, what is the use of knowing which kind of leather ball is used? Different types of cricket balls are manufactured by different manufacturers across the world. A ball manufactured by a company will have a different behaviour from a ball manufactured by another company . Let’s understand this with some examples.

Comparison of different types of leather balls manufactured:

Let’s consider a few main manufacturers of a cricket ball, like Kookaburra, Duke and SG. 

SG manufactured cricket balls are used when test matches are played in India. Whereas, duke manufactured cricket balls are used when test matches are played in England, Ireland or West Indies. Kookaburra manufactured cricket balls are used in other countries like Australia etc…

The characteristics of the cricket balls change with each manufacturer. 

For instance, bowlers find more swing with a dukes manufactured cricket ball when compared with other manufacturers. It’s all about providing home advantage for the local players and making it difficult for the visiting team.

For Test matches and for longer format matches red cricket balls are used. Recently pink ball was introduced into the longer format, but let’s cover this topic later in the blog.

We have spoken about different types of cricket balls used in test matches, but what about the limited over format? 

White Kookaburra cricket balls are used for the limited overs, irrespective of where the match is being played. Why only Kookaburra manufactured? Any guesses? Before you pick this guess, let’s understand why white cricket balls were introduced for One day matches.

Initially when One-Day-Internationals was proposed to be played under floodlights the red ball became unsuitable to use due to its visibility. Hence white leather cricket balls were introduced to provide more visibility for the players during the evening/ night games.

Since white cricket balls were used for limited over matches, the board had to choose the manufacturer of the ball. There were 2 manufacturers who produced different types of cricket balls w.r.t characteristics. The Duke manufactured balls behaved more eccentric than the kookaburra manufactured cricket balls. Thus, kookaburra manufactured balls were used for all limited over cricket matches.

Difference b/w white and red cricket balls:

Apart from the dyeing process of the leather, white and the red balls are manufactured using the same method and also the same materials are used while manufacturing. So why do white cricket balls behave differently from red balls? 

It’s because of the coating used on the white leather balls. After manufacturing, the paint coating used on the leather of a white ball is smoother than a red ball. Smoothness of the surface causes the white ball to swing more, only for a few overs. 

Understand how smoothness of the ball’s surface helps in swinging the ball. The concept is the same as attaining “Conventional Swing”.

But, why is that white (new) balls only swing for a few overs? 

White cricket balls deteriorate quickly compared to red balls, which means the smoothness of them is lost faster. Thus, the swing does not last for more than a few overs. This is also the reason why white cricket balls are not used in longer formats.

Introduction of Pink Balls:

Pink balls were introduced to cricket at the time when the Test match format was losing its fan base. The pink balls were introduced with an idea to start day-night test matches. Although, at the moment, day-night test matches are played occasionally, this might be the future of test cricket.

We know, white balls can’t be used for longer formats due to durability issues. Also, the red ball is out of the picture for day/ night matches due to its visibility issues. To address both issues the cricket board arrived at a decision of using the pink ball after testing other colours for the ball.

Pink balls are still considered to be difficult to sight when compared to the white ball. But, as an alternative it’s the best fit for day/ night test matches. Leathers of pink balls are dyed heavily when compared to a red ball. The dye helps preserve the balls colour and visibility as the ball wears. The dye also provides a different characteristic to the ball.