I don’t think there is enough emphasis put on how important it is to look after the cricket ball when you're in the field.
Who likes fielding in the sun all day?
So why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to give yourself and your team the best chance of knocking the batting team over?
Yet it amazes me how many teams put little to no effort into keeping the ball in good condition.
It should be spoken about, there should be a plan around it and coaches should be educating players on how to care for a ball ethically and within the rules.
Think of it from a batsman’s point of view - how hard is it when the ball is nipping and swinging around all day compared to when the ball is knackered after 5 overs.
Here’s 5 tips for keeping the ball in good condition so it swings for longer...
1. Don’t Overload it With Moisture
A common myth we hear all the time is to ‘load it up Sheryl!’ (sweat, saliva, sunscreen...you name it).
You want to keep the ball as dry as possible for as long as possible to keep is swinging conventionally.
Yes you need to put some moisture on the ball to buff out scuffs but use as little as possible and get it off quickly.
PRO TIP - If you have players that sweat a lot in your team, ban them from touching it. If they’re bowling, give it to them as late as possible.
2. Appoint a ‘Ball Shining Skipper’
Everyone on the team should be aware of what’s required to keep the ball in good nick and be on board with doing so.
You need to have a ‘Ball Shining Skipper’
Here’s a few requirements of a good skipper…
- They don’t bowl, or don’t bowl much
- They’re not the actual skipper
- They don’t sweat too much
- They field somewhere near the bowler
- They know what they’re doing when it comes to shining the ball
Their job is simple…
- Pour their heart and soul into keeping the ball shiny (they should be almost as tired as the bowlers at the end of the day).
- Rouse on teammate who are not shining the ball or doing anything to ruin the ball. Become an absolute ball Nazi
Get the ball to the ‘Ball Shining Skipper’ as quickly as you can in the field to give them as much time as possible with it.
3. Get Heat into the Shiny Side
This one is probably debatable, I don’t know if there’s any science behind it.
But I have found that getting the shiny side really hot just before you bowl makes it swing more.
This means the ball skipper needs to rub it as hard and fast as they can on their thing before getting it to the bowler.
Give it a go and let me know if you reckon it swings more when the shiny side is hot.
4. Keep it Off The Ground
This seems pretty obvious but it had to be said.
I see so many players bounce it into the keeper or the ball hit the ground on the way back to the bowler.
The more it hits the ground the quicker it’s going to deteriorate.
Once you appoint a ball skip they’ll be all over this though, so it shouldn’t be an issue.
5. Look After The Seam
This one tends to take care of itself if you do all of the above well.
You can’t pick the seam but you can look after it - fix it up with your finger if it starts to peel apart.
Keep moisture off it so it doesn’t soften.
Keep the ball off the ground so it stays hard.
The seam acts as a rudder for swing so keep it in good condition and standing tall.
Hopefully that gives you a little blueprint to take back to your team and keep the ball moving around all day!
Let me know if you have any other tips I haven’t mentioned - firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - Co-Founder & Coach at Australian Cricket Institute