I was listening to an interview on our audio archive this morning. Ken Medlock talks about all kinds of cricket related topics, ( http://mcc.adlibhosting.com/Details/archive/110000610), I was really interested by what he had to say about cricket balls and how they are made, during this section the interviewer David Rayvern Allen suddenly drops in a comment about blue cricket balls being used for the women’s game so ladies wouldn’t be frightened by the red balls! A myth surely? Like piano legs being covered up for decency’s sake in Victorian times. I had to find out – and found evidence that they did exist almost straight away.
According to an exhibition catalogue from a 1963 exhibition of women’s cricketana
“The BLUE BALL made specially by Alfred Reader at the request of Gamages Ltd. in 1897 to ensure that lady cricketers would not swoon at the sight of a red one did not prove practical as it could not be seen again the background of grass and sky. Of interest is the fact that the weight of this ball, of which a limited supply was produced, is 5 ozs., the same as has been used by women cricketers since 1926. The ball on exhibit is the only preserved memento of this curious experiment.”
Where is this ball? We don’t have it, it doesn’t say who owned it in the catalogue – I want to see it! If anyone has seen a blue ball can you let me know? I would also like to hear from any ladies (or indeed gents) who have ever found themselves in a state of terror at the sight of a red ball. This is all intriguing stuff!
(Bibliography – 1745-1963: Exhibition of Women’s Cricketana by Molly Hide and Netta Rheinberg.)
Photography by Alan Rees.