Every cricket match starts with a new ball. I mean, it’s a no-brainer!

The cricket ball is one of the crucial aspects of the game. And there are some rules about the number of balls that can be used in a cricket match. In this article, let’s take a closer look at the new ball rules in cricket.

Before we delve deeper, know the difference between red, white, and pink cricket balls.

Read Here: Difference Between Red, White & Pink Cricket Balls – Explained

New Ball Rules in Cricket

Now, keep in mind that there are different rules for different formats. And conditions also play a part in deciding the availability of additional new cricket balls.

But why is there a need for new cricket balls?

Need for New Cricket Balls

You see, cricket balls go through a lot of wear and tear as batters smash them across the ground. The ball’s leather will scuff and soften, and it may lose its shape. So this makes it impossible to use the balls for a longer duration.

This is when the need for a new cricket ball comes into the picture. It’s important to note that any player can’t take a new ball as per their wish. There are some rules that one needs to follow. Let’s take a look at them.

New Ball Rules in Test Cricket

First, let’s talk about the longest form of the game. As you know, players play a Test match over five days.

Generally, 90 overs are bowled in a day of a Test match. This means a maximum of 450 overs will be bowled over five days.

As usual, a Test match or a First-Class game starts with a new ball. And it is mandatory to use the same cricket ball for 80 overs. As the condition of the ball deteriorates, the bowling side gets the option to pick a new ball after 80 overs of an innings.

Now, it’s up to the fielding captain to decide whether to take the new ball immediately or after some overs. And if the batting team continues to bat for more than 160 overs, another new ball will be made available.

New Ball Rules in ODI Cricket

Moving on to ODI cricket, an inning starts with 2 new cricket balls. The bowlers use both balls alternately from either end of the wicket.

Until a rule change in 2011, teams used only one ball for the full 50 overs. The decision to introduce 2 new balls was taken to reduce the wear and tear of the white cricket ball. Moreover, the ball gets dirty and dull over the course of the game.

According to the new rule, an ODI match consisting of 2 innings uses a total of 4 balls. This means that each ball is used for 25 overs across two innings.

New ball Rules in T20 Cricket

Finally, let’s have a look at the shortest and most exciting form of the game — T20 cricket.

Because it is the shortest format, where an inning lasts for 20 overs, each team uses only one ball per inning. And a T20 match uses 2 balls. As the game lasts for a shorter duration, the wear and tear is less in comparison with other formats.

Further, there’s no provision for an extra new ball unless an exceptional situation arises.

New Balls for Exceptional Conditions

The umpires have the final say in allocating a new cricket ball in certain scenarios.

If the bowling team feels the ball has lost its shape, they can request on-field umpires to change the ball. The umpires will assess the ball and check if it passes through a metal hoop. If it doesn’t, then the umpires will pick another used ball (not a brand new ball) that is similar to the first ball.

Another scenario for changing the ball is when it gets lost.

Now this can happen more often in limited-overs cricket, especially T20 cricket. The batter may hit the ball out of the stadium, which will prompt the umpires to get another ball. The umpires then replace the ball with another one that is similar in condition.


Even if the manufacturers make world-class cricket balls, they won’t last forever. Besides, the balls will deteriorate and become unfit to play. So it becomes important to use new balls whenever the need arises. This ensures that the game is fair for both bowlers and batters.

Read Next: Understanding the Free Hit in Cricket: Rules, Usage, and Impact


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