How are Cricket Balls Made, Who Invented them and their Evolution?

Cricket is a sport defined by intricacies, and every little thing counts. Even the slightest dew on the ground, or some extra blades of grass on the pitch can dictate which team wins the match. Bowling, too, is one part where your team can use the leather or tennis balls to their complete advantage. Skilled bowlers can use the shine on a new cricket ball, the seam position, and the half rough side to trouble the batsmen, get their wickets, and win matches for the team! Batsmen really need to refine their batting techniques to perfection to stand tall against talented bowlers. 

A ZAP Red Leather Cricket Balls hits the pitch and bounces off smashing dust all over

In this chapter of ZAP Explains, let’s delve into knowing about the history of cricket balls, how they have evolved over time, and the comparison between each type.

How are cricket balls made?

All leather spheres, whether they be red, white, or pink, have the same, fundamental makeup. Cork makes up the core, giving it weight and bounce. It is encased in a leather case with a raised, stitched seam and is wrapped in tightly wound strings/twines.

The covering of a high-quality season cricket ball, appropriate for the highest levels of competition, is made of four pieces of leather that are roughly orange peel-shaped. Six rows of string stitches are used to create the seam, which is visible on the surface. Internal stitches are used to bind the final two leather pieces together. They are then covered by a layer of wax and are polished, which give it the shine that bowlers use to bowl swing deliveries at the start of the game. As the match goes on, this shiny layer wears off and the old leather becomes easier for the batters to bat against.

See what's inside a ZAP Leather cricket ball

But there are two ways this can be done. A 4 piece and a 2 piece ball:

Four distinct pieces of leather are stitched together to create a 4-piece leather cricket ball. These four parts are in a pattern and are stitched together using a special kind of thread. The ball's resilience and ability to retain its shape are improved by this 4 piece construction. 

On the other hand, two pieces of leather are stitched together to create a 2-piece leather cricket ball. Two hemispherical parts are sewn together to create a seam with six rows of thread. A two-piece ball's stitching design often creates a straight line along the seam.

Who invented the Cricket Balls?:

The sport first appeared in south-east England, where it later spread internationally in the 19th and 20th centuries. The handful round objects are equally as important as bats, and though we have seen multiple changes in the design of cricket bats, these leather spheres have not gone through many evolutions. The earliest manufactured ones are thought to have been produced between 1760 and 1841 by the Duke family in England. Later, an Australian and an Indian brand started their own cricket ball manufacturing, and these three are now used in all matches throughout the world. Meerut in India is where the most and the best leather balls in the world are manufactured. ZAP is one of the top manufacturers of all types of leather balls, be it for test matches, ODIs or T20s

A ZAP Cricket ball pitched near the batsman's leg, and the batsman wearing his ZAP cricket kit takes a stride to reach the ball

The evolution of cricket balls:

Nothing more than the simple round sphere determines the outcome of a match, especially the longer version. Balls have played a crucial role in the development of the sport over time. While the fundamentals have kept the same, changing laws, grounds, and formats have always necessitated modifications. They have been both a witness to and a driving force behind the evolution of the game as a whole.

Until 1977, red leather cricket balls were used prominently in all formats of the sport. But, as the sport grew and became more popular, the game modernized and transformed from using just white clothing to coloured jerseys. The World Series Cricket Tournament in Australia saw the use of white coloured ones for the first time in the game’s history. Though it wasn’t much later that it was realized that they did not have the durability to last a test match (the most played format in those times). So, red ones continued to be used dominantly for most formats. But the white ones had gained enough popularity that they are still used in day ODI matches. The visibility is still a question during the day and that’s why a black screen is used behind the umpire. 

A Black sight screen for a white leather ball at the Lord's Cricket ground for better visibility to the batsman

Credit: SCX Special Projects

The pink leather balls were introduced for the day and night test matches. Day night matches are played under the twilight and pink ones are perfect for visibility in such conditions. These leather spheres were suggested for experimentation by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2009, and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) have since tried them as well. In 2015, the first Day night test match was played between Australia and New Zealand with the pink leather. 

International Cricket Ball Regulations: Weight, Size and Shape

The ICC and the MCC have set some guidelines that regulate the weight, shape and colour of these leather canons. 

International Cricket Ball Weight:

The MCC dictates the weight and according to them, when new, it should weigh between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces. The weight of a ball in grams is between 155.9 and 163 g and in kgs is around 0.1559 kgs and 0.163kgs. The leather ball’s weight can determine how it swings, and bounces off. Heavier ones tend to bounce more and swing less, while the lighter ones tend to swing more and bounce a tiny bit less. 

The Shape and Size:

According to MCC, a new ball shall have a circumference of not less than 8.81 in (22.4 cm) and not more than 9 in (22.9 cm). This is to maintain the fairness and balance between the batting and bowling side. The size for women’s ball is also usually the same as the men’s one. and these measurements are standardized by the ICC. 

The Pink, White and Red ZAP Leather Cricket Balls Placed beside one another

Red vs White vs Pink:


Red Cricket Ball

White Cricket Ball

Pink Cricket Ball


Wax on leather gives it the characteristic cherry colour

More polished, shinier than red ones

PU-based coat to appear brighter

Seam Material

Purely synthetic

Fully synthetic

Mixture of linen and synthetic

Seam Firmness

Distinct and Crisp Seam

Crisper and fully synthetic

Mixture of synthetic and linen


Less swing compared to white and pink

Swings more due to extra polish and smooth surface

Swings even more than red and white


Good visibility during daylight matches

Offers improved visibility for all formats

Enhanced visibility during for day night matches


Standard weight

Slightly heavier than red and pink

Lighter than the white one


Cricket balls and their different colours and the use in different formats add to the excitement in the game. Pink swings more than red and is difficult to face in the twilight conditions and are advantageous for bowlers. White ones are used for T20s and offer a good amount of reverse swing in the death overs of t20s and ODIs. Red ones, used for test matches, offer swing, spin and reverse swing and make it super exciting for viewers. 

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