Author Topic: When did cricket balls become red?  (Read 2854 times)

Cudzoziemiec

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When did cricket balls become red?
« on: 15 June, 2023, 10:21:39 am »
This one, from an 1863 England XI tour of Australia, is white:


https://www.bristol247.com/sport/cricket/new-cricket-exhibition-opens-ss-great-britain/

So when did red become the standard colour? I found an article saying they were all red till 1937, which clearly isn't true, as well as talking about some other differences between red and white balls, which might be right or wrong: https://www.sportsuncle.com/blog/article/different-cricket-balls
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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #1 on: 15 June, 2023, 10:28:46 am »
When they became embarrassed by WG Grace's gamesmanship?

Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #2 on: 15 June, 2023, 10:42:53 am »
From chatgpt:

Cricket balls have been used in various colors throughout history, but the transition to red balls as the standard in Test cricket took place in the late 19th century. The first recorded instance of red balls being used in Test cricket was during a match between England and Australia in 1889. Prior to that, other colors like white, yellow, and even black were used.

The change to red balls was primarily due to visibility concerns. The red color was found to be more visible under natural light conditions, making it easier for players and spectators to track the ball during a match. The use of red balls gradually became widespread and eventually became the norm in Test cricket.

The first recorded instance of red balls being used in a Test match was in a game between England and Australia at Lord's Cricket Ground in London from July 22-24, 1889. This match marked the introduction of red balls in Test cricket. However, it's important to note that the shift to red balls as the standard was not an abrupt change but rather a progression that took place over several years.

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #3 on: 15 June, 2023, 10:44:32 am »
Could be a special presentation model, and they actually played with red ones as is Right and Proper?

Edit: ninja'd by Di Sisti
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #4 on: 15 June, 2023, 11:18:38 am »
Yes, it's described as a commemorative ball that was presented, presumably at the end of the tour. But it seems from what De Sisti's found that it would have been representative of the actual balls used. Thanks, ChatSisti!
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Salvatore

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #5 on: 15 June, 2023, 12:16:39 pm »
A letter to the Dublin Daily Express -published on Wednesday 1 March 1865 discussing the balls used in various sports suggests there was no choice except red


But by 1895 there was disgust in Tuonbridge Wells that someone had never heard of white cricket balls. (Tonbridge Free Press - Saturday 2nd November 1895)
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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #6 on: 15 June, 2023, 01:11:27 pm »
When they became embarrassed by WG Grace's gamesmanship?

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Salvatore

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #7 on: 15 June, 2023, 07:24:09 pm »
The 1863-64 tour:

The outward voyage took 60 days. The first match was on new year's day 1864. All matches were against teams of 22. England were undefeated, winning 10 matches and drawing 6. There were also single-wicket matches if the match ended early - Grace single-handedly took on 6 men of Maryborough and beat them, scoring 106.. There was also a mini-tour of New Zealand. Grace was hampered for much of the tour with an injured hand.

The players got back in mid June, except for two - Caffyn, who got a 3-year contract (at £300 p.a.) as coach to the Melbourne club, and Grace, who was said to be "matrimonially inclined" and would be staying another month. 

Carpenter topped the averages with 22.

Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review - Saturday 06 August 1864:
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Some of the above averages may seem small when compared with those of the same players in the country ; but then it must be borne in mind that the turfless grounds in Australia do not admit' of run-getting as in our own cricket-fields, and in many of the later matches the rain had so soddened the earth as to place good play almost out of the question

As for the ball, the Bristol Daily Post - Monday 17 October 1864, after printing his scores for the previous 4 years (including 13 scored for No Bufoonery v Marlborough College), added "Out in Australia, Mr. E. M. Grace, though not playing with his usual success, had five bats, two of them with silver plates, and two balls, with gold letters, presented to him."

The ball in the picture looks metallic to me - the whiteness coming from the reflection of the protective paper, and it appears the background (including someone's face) is reflected in it.

Edit: Here's another view of it from here. The text says "Half of the leather cricket ball is covered in engraved silver-plate. It reads “Presented to E.M. Grace. Esq. For His Excellent Wicket Keeping Melbourne & Ballarat 1864”



As to white v. red, I have a vague memory of hearing/reading that a cricket ball would be white (like a baseball) but for the coats of lacquer  applied to it (which also makes it harder than a baseball).
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Salvatore

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #8 on: 15 June, 2023, 07:54:16 pm »
In all the match reports, it's "E. M. Grace Esq." or "Mr. Grace", while all the others are simply referred to by their surnames, indicating Grace was the only "gentleman" (amateur) and the rest were all "players" (professionals).
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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #9 on: 15 June, 2023, 08:10:18 pm »
As to white v. red, I have a vague memory of hearing/reading that a cricket ball would be white (like a baseball) but for the coats of lacquer  applied to it (which also makes it harder than a baseball).

The first process in making a traditional cricket ball is dying the hides red.
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #10 on: 15 June, 2023, 08:34:10 pm »
As to white v. red, I have a vague memory of hearing/reading that a cricket ball would be white (like a baseball) but for the coats of lacquer  applied to it (which also makes it harder than a baseball).

The first process in making a traditional cricket ball is dying the hides red.
Nowadays! The white ball in the photo does appear to have patches where the white has been rubbed off, so perhaps it had white lacquer rather than white dyed leather?
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #11 on: 15 June, 2023, 08:35:19 pm »
Speculating further: what other colours have been tried? Red, white, pink, even black apparently – what about yellow, blue, orange, green? I imagine green would be too hard to see against the grass.
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benborp

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #12 on: 15 June, 2023, 09:10:56 pm »
Yellow is usually used for indoor cricket balls. Orange is a popular alternative to pink.

There's a host of methods used to manufacture cricket balls and any number of ways of attaining the final polished finish - not all of which are compatible with all colours. Top class white ball cricket uses two balls in alternation as the finish isn't durable enough, even with two balls the balance moves in favour of the batter much quicker than the red ball. Some of the modern lacquers and finishes are abysmal for bowlers to work with and they can turn up on any colour of ball.

And again: that presentation ball in the photo is silver.
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #13 on: 15 June, 2023, 09:39:29 pm »
And again: that presentation ball in the photo is silver.
Now that Salvatore's added the second photo, it definitely is silver. But it did look white to me before (still does, in fact, in the original article – although it's clearly not, in reality).
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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #14 on: 16 June, 2023, 11:40:46 pm »
Was red balls why the box was invented?

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Re: When did cricket balls become red?
« Reply #15 on: 16 June, 2023, 11:45:17 pm »
Was red balls why the box was invented?
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