Cricket balls! Variety of material is used to make Cricket balls catering to the needs of children, school-goers, collegians, university players, professional players and then the domestic market, which likes to play Cricket just for sheer fun. Right from plastic, rubber, and cork, Cricket balls are made of leather and synthetic materials. I remember, during our childhood, we used to make a roll-ball of polythene bags and then make it hard by wrapping it with lots of rubber-bands, which were cut from the waste tire-tube of a bicycle.
Now, when talking about entrepreneurs and manufacturing of leather Cricket balls, there seems a new opportunity that can be tapped. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had licensed SG balls to be used for all international matches in India. However, lately, the rules have been changed: All the matches will be played with Kookaburra balls. This means that the design of Cricket balls will change and players who are looking to make professional careers in the game of Cricket would like the manufacturers to prepare Cricket balls as close as to these Kookaburra balls.
The local manufacturer makes a variety of these Cricket balls. The usual price range varies from 35 to 100 INR. However, higher quality Cricket balls can be manufactured depending upon the need. An un-confirmed source mentioned that Kookaburra balls shipped from Australia cost around 2,200 INR while the SG balls have an MRP of 900 INR. As an entrepreneur, does this difference ignite your mind to start your own business in manufacturing Cricket balls, if not for the international market but at least for the domestic market?
The process of manufacturing a 4-piece Cricket involves seven processes. And while the chain of processes is moving, a set of 7 people can make around twelve dozens of balls in one day.
First, the leather (usually of a buffalo) is cut into four-pieces of required size. It is dipped into some chemicals to increase its strength and impart the required color. Once done, pieces are joined with sewn and the inside stuffing of the ball is prepared. Earlier, cork, pieces of tennis balls, rubber, cotton thread were used to make a round shape around which the leather pieces were fitted. However, now-a-days, ready-made molds are available of various qualities.
Once this is done, the roundness of the ball is imparted through machines. After this, comes the main part of a ball: The sewn. The main sewn is the distinguishing point of a SG ball and a Kookaburra ball! This is where a bowler concentrate maximum to get the desired drift, swing, skid, or movement in the air and off the pitch. For convenience, we will call it the ‘profile sewn’.
I took this photograph to get the difference between a Kookaburra ball and a traditional ball made in India. The ‘profile sewn’ is wider in case of a Kookaburra ball as compared to the Indian manufactured ball. As told by one of the manufacturers, the ‘profile sewn’ is given by hands and a pig’s hair is used to get the thread through the holes, because the ball is closed from all sides and needles can’t be used. Once the sewn is there, the process of imparting roundness is applied once again. The last process should make the ball to go through one of the holes of a ring, and should not allow going through the second. Later, some chemicals and stamping is done. The lower quality balls have wider gap between the stitches of one seam, which speeds the process and saves the time. Moreover, in lower quality balls, the leather used is of poor quality and therefore too much holes for stitches of the seam would torn the leather.
The manufacturers did not allow me to see the actual process of manufacturing the Cricket balls; otherwise, I could have taken some more photographs. They said that some security purposes are violated because lots of chemicals are involved in the manufacturing of Cricket balls.
A lot of outsourcing is also done in this business. Bigger companies in Meerut even have people in Kashmir working on some outsourced processes.
Now, as an entrepreneur, do you feel this should be an area that you can tap, given the change in rules, trends and ever-increasing demand of the market!