A cricket ball is a hard, solid ball used to play cricket. A cricket ball consists of cork covered by leather, and manufacture is heavily regulated by cricket law at first class level. The manipulation of a cricket ball, through employment of its various physical properties, is the staple component of bowling and dismissing batsmen – movement in the air, and off the ground, is influenced by the condition of the ball and the efforts of the bowler, while working on the cricket ball to obtain an optimum condition is a key role of the fielding side. The cricket ball is the principal manner through which the batsman scores runs, by manipulating the ball into a position where it would be safe to take a run, or by directing the ball through the boundary.
In Test cricket, professional domestic games that spread over a multitude of days, and almost the entirety of amateur cricket, the traditional red cricket ball is used. In many one day cricket matches, a white ball is used instead in order to remain visible under floodlights. Training balls of white, red and pink are also common, and windballs and tennis balls in a cricket motif can be used for training or informal cricket matches. During cricket matches, the quality of the ball changes to a point where it is no longer usable, and during this decline its properties alter and thus influence the match. Altering the state of the cricket ball outside the permitted manners designated in the rules of cricket is prohibited during a match, and 'ball tampering' has resulted in numerous controversies.
Cricket balls, weighing between 155.9 and 163.0 grams, are known for their hardness and for the risk of injury involved when using them. The danger of cricket balls was a key motivator for the introduction of protective equipment. Injuries are often recorded in cricket matches due to the ball, and a small number of fatalities have been recorded or attributed to cricket balls.
The nature of the cricket ball slightly varies with its manufacturer. The white Kookaburra balls are used in One Day Internationals and T20Is, while the red one is used in Tests in most nations apart from West Indies and England (Duke) and India (SG).
A cricket ball is made from a core of cork, which is layered with tightly wound string, and covered by a leather case with a slightly raised sewn seam. In a top-quality ball suitable for the highest levels of competition, the covering is constructed of four pieces of leather shaped similar to the peel of a quartered orange, but one hemisphere is rotated by 90 degrees with respect to the other. The "equator" of the ball is stitched with string to form the ball's prominent seam, with a total of six rows of stitches. The remaining two joins between the leather pieces are stitched internally. Lower-quality balls with a 2-piece covering are also popular for practice and lower-level competition due to their lower purchase cost.
For men's cricket, the ball must weigh between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces (155.9 and 163.0 g) and measure between 8 13/16 and 9 in (224 and 229 mm) in circumference. Balls used in women's and youth matches are slightly smaller.
Cricket balls are traditionally dyed red, and red balls are used in Test cricket and First-class cricket. White balls were introduced when one-day matches began being played at night under floodlights, as they are more visible at night. Professional one-day matches are now played with white balls, even when they are not played at night. Other colours have occasionally been experimented with, such as yellow and orange for improved night visibility, but the colouring process has so far rendered such balls unsuitable for professional play because they wear differently from standard balls. A pink ball was used for the first time in an international match in July 2009 when the England Woman's team defeated Australia at Wormsley. The white ball has been found to swing a lot more during the first half of the innings than the red ball and also deteriorates more quickly, although manufacturers claim that white and red balls are manufactured using the same methods and materials.
Cricket balls are expensive. As of 2007, the ball used in first class cricket in England has a recommended retail price of 70 pounds sterling. In test match cricket this ball is used for a minimum of 80 overs (theoretically five hours and twenty minutes of play). In professional one day cricket, at least two new balls are used for each match. Amateur cricketers often have to use old balls, or cheap substitutes, in which case the changes in the condition of the ball may not be experienced in the same manner as that which occurs during an innings of professional cricket.
The manufacturer of the cricket ball used in international matches can depend upon location. The white Kookaburra balls are used in one-day internationals & T20Is, while the red one is used in Tests in most nations apart from West Indies & England (Duke) and India (SG). All One Day International matches, regardless of location, are played with Kookaburra balls. From 2 November 2012 onwards, Pakistan adopted Kookaburra balls also for their First Class Cricket. Prior to that Grays had been supplying locally manufactured balls in the Patron's Trophy.
An ongoing challenge associated with the white cricket balls used in One Day Internationals is that they become dirty fairly quickly, which makes it more difficult for batsmen to sight the ball later in the innings. Since October 2011, this has been managed by the use of two new white balls in each innings, with a different ball used from each bowling end; the same strategy was used in the 1992 and 1996 Cricket World Cups. Prior to this most recent change, one new ball was used from the start of the innings, then swapped in the 34th over with a "reconditioned ball", which was neither new nor too dirty to see.
Condition of a cricket ball 
- If the ball becomes damaged or lost.
- If the condition of the ball is illegally modified by a player.
- In Test cricket, after 80 overs, the captain of the bowling side has the option to take a new ball.
- In One Day Internationals, there was a mandatory change of the ball at the start of the 35th over of each innings. The replacement was a clean used ball, not a new ball. This rule was introduced in June 2007 and scrapped in 2012
The ball is not replaced if it is hit into the crowd - the crowd must return it. If the ball is damaged, lost, or illegally modified, it will be replaced by a used ball in similar condition to the replaced ball. A new ball can only be used after the specified minimum number of overs have been bowled with the old one.
Because a single ball is used for an extended period of play, its surface wears down and becomes rough. The bowlers will polish it whenever they can - usually by rubbing it on their trousers, producing the characteristic red stain that can often be seen there. However, they will usually only polish one side of the ball, in order to create 'swing' as it travels through the air. They may apply natural substances (i.e. saliva or sweat) to the ball as they polish it.
The seam of a cricket ball can also be used to produce different trajectories through the air, with the technique known as swing bowling, or to produce sideways movement as it bounces off the pitch, with the technique known as seam bowling.
Since the condition of the cricket ball is crucial to the amount of movement through the air a bowler can produce, the laws governing what players may and may not do to the ball are specific and rigorously enforced. The umpires will inspect the ball frequently during a match. It is illegal for a player to:
- rub any substance apart from saliva or sweat onto the ball
- rub the ball on the ground
- scuff the ball with any rough object, including the fingernails
- pick at or lift the seam of the ball.
Despite these rules, it can be tempting for players to gain an advantage by breaking them. There have been a handful of incidents of so-called ball tampering at the highest levels of cricket, involving players such as Pakistani fast bowler Waqar Younis and former England captain Mike Atherton.
A new cricket ball is harder than a worn one, and is preferred by fast bowlers because of the speed and bounce of the ball as it bounces off the pitch. Older balls tend to spin more as the roughness grips the pitch more when the ball bounces, so spin bowlers prefer to use a worn ball. Uneven wear on older balls may also make reverse swing possible. A captain may delay the request for a new ball if he prefers to have his spin bowlers operating, but usually asks for the new ball soon after it becomes available.
Dangers of cricket balls 
Cricket balls are very hard and potentially lethal, hence most of today's batsmen and close fielders often wear protective headgear.
In 1998, Indian cricketer Raman Lamba died when a cricket ball hit his head in a club match in Dhaka. Lamba was fielding at forward short-leg without wearing a helmet when a ball struck by batsman Mehrab Hossain hit him hard on the head and rebounded to wicket-keeper Khaled Mashud.
Other cricketers known to have died as a result of on-field injuries in a first-class fixture after being hit while batting: George Summers of Nottinghamshire on the head at Lord's in 1870, Abdul Aziz, the Karachi wicket-keeper, over the heart in the 1958-59 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final, and Ian Folley of Lancashire (playing for Whitehaven), in the face in 1993.
Frederick, Prince of Wales is often said to have died of complications after being hit by a cricket ball, although in reality this is not true; he was hit in the head by one, but the real cause of his death was a burst abscess in his lung. Glamorgan player Roger Davis was almost killed by a ball in 1971 when he was hit on the head while fielding. The Indian batsman Nariman Contractor had to retire from the game after being hit by a ball on the head in the West Indies.
A cricket umpire died in 2009 in South Wales after being hit on the head by a ball thrown by a fielder.
Numerous injuries are reported to health institutions, worldwide, in relation to cricket ball injuries including ocular (with some players having lost eyes), cranial (head), dental (teeth), digital (fingers and toes) and testicular.
Alternatives to cricket balls 
Sometimes alternatives to a real cricket ball may be preferred for reasons of safety, practice, availability and cost. Examples include a tennis ball (most favoured) or a plastic version of the cricket ball.
Many casual players use a tennis ball wrapped in layers of some type of adhesive tape (often electrical tape), which makes the relatively soft tennis ball harder and smoother. This is commonly referred to as a tape ball. A common variant is to tape only half the tennis ball, to provide two different sides and make it easy to bowl with prodigious amounts of swing.
See also 
- Baseball (ball): Traditionally made quite similarly, with a cork center (today usually rubber) wrapped tightly with string and encased in leather.
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- "Kookaburra balls for Pakistan domestic cricket.". rajaghalib. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
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Further reading 
- Gollapudi, Nagraj. 'It's illegal, isn't it?'. 25 August 2008.
|Look up cricket ball in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Media related to Cricket balls at Wikimedia Commons
- Cricket law 5 - the ball
- How cricket balls are made