Cricket ball making

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

The making of cricket balls with a cork core and leather covering.


Status Extinct /
Craft category Leather; Sporting equipment /
Historic area of significance /
Area currently practised Extinct /
Origin in the UK /
Minimum no. of craftspeople required /
Current no. of trainees 0 /
Current no. of skilled craftspeople 0 /
Current total no. of craftspeople 0 /



The game of cricket began in the Kent-Sussex borders, with hedgerow sticks for bats, the wicket gate of sheep pens for stumps, and droppings rolled with wool for balls. The sport grew popular in the south east of England in the seventeenth century (Countryfile).

A cricket ball has a cork core, layered with tightly wound string and covered with a leather case. The construction details, dimensions, quality and performance of cricket balls are specified by British Standard BS 5993. A test cricket ball is covered with four pieces of leather, while a lower quality balls are covered with two pieces of leather.

Today, no one manufactures cricket balls in the UK. In some cases, the raw materials are sent from the UK to the Indian sub-continent for fabrication, and the balls are then finished in the UK. In value terms, 75% of the value comes from the UK in terms of the raw materials and finishing off. The fabrication skills in India are excellent – but the raw materials and management are lacking.




Local forms




Issues affecting the viability of the craft


  • Shortage of workers: Dukes Cricket Balls was originally based in Kent and then moved to East London. They brought in workers from South India to make the balls, but when the government changed its immigration regulations to require a degree, this source of workers disappeared.
  • Market issues: It takes 3.5 hours to make a test match quality cricket ball, but consumers only want to pay £5 for a test match quality ball – killed the UK industry
  • Ageing workforce: As the old boys died out, there was no one to replace them as no one wanted to do it.


Support organisations


Craftspeople currently known

Former craftspeople:

  • Dukes Cricket Balls: stopped UK manufacture 4-5 years ago – now supply raw materials to India where the balls are fabricated, and then fisnih off in the UK
  • Readers: stopped UK manufacture within the last ten years


Other information




  • The Texture of Craft conference

    The Texture of Craft conference

    Saturday 6 May 2017, 10.00am to 4.30pm
    Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London W1G 0AE

    Kaffe Fassett, worldwide authority on textiles and colour will be speaking at the Heritage Crafts Association’s conference on Saturday 6 May, 10.45–4.30pm at the Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London W1G 0AE.

    Kaffe kicks off a spectacular day when craftspeople and those interested in our rich heritage of traditional skills can hear from makers, celebrate the best in the country, and find out more about our research on endangered crafts – The Radcliffe Red List.

    • 10am – 10.45am – Registration and tea/coffee
    • 10.45am – 10.55am – Welcome – Patricia Lovett MBE (Vice-Chair of the HCA)
    • 10.55am – 11.55am – ‘The Texture of Craft’ – Kaffe Fassett (Patron of the HCA)
    • 11.55am – 12.40pm – ‘Cræft: On how traditional crafts are about more than just making’ – Dr Alex Langlands (Patron of the HCA)
    • 12.40pm – 12.55pm – The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts – Greta Bertram (Secretary of the HCA)
    • 12.55pm – 1.05pm – The National Trust, local ranges in shops – Genevieve Sioka (Buyer, Artisan and Craft)
    • Lunch and viewing Instant Gallery
    • 1.15pm – 2.30pm – HCA AGM – all welcome (approximately 20 minutes)
    • 2.30pm – 3pm – Celebrating Excellence – The Heritage Crafts Awards and National Honours
    • 3pm – 3.25pm – Lisa Hammond MBE (Potter) – The ‘Adopt a Potter’ scheme at Middleport
    • 3.25pm – 3.50pm – Florian Gadsby (Potter) – Craft apprenticeships and beyond
    • 3.50pm – 4.15pm – Greg Rowland (Master Wheelwright) – Training in traditional crafts
    • 4.15pm – 4.30pm – Heritage Crafts Updates

    Booking form


Radcliffe Red List launch

Radcliffe Red List launch

Wednesday 3 May 2017, 3.30pm to 5pm
Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square, Westminster, London SW1A 0PW

The Heritage Crafts Association and the Radcliffe Trust are shining a spotlight on the UK’s most endangered crafts at the prestigious launch of their Red List project at the House of Lords. With a keynote address from a luminary in the crafts work (to be confirmed), meet and chat with craftspeople and cultural sector leaders at the celebration of this groundbreaking project, which we hope will trigger a significant turning point in the country’€™s support for heritage craft skills.

This is an invitation event. However, 20 places have been made available to public as part of London Craft Week at a cost of £20 + VAT per person. To book, visit

HCA welcomes new Chair

Ian KeysWe are delighted to announce that Ian Keys has agreed to take up the role of HCA Chair.

Passionate about our heritage, Ian is also Honorary Secretary of the Historic Houses Association (Wessex) and actively involved in local campaigns around his Somerset home.

Until recently he was a director of a contemporary arts and crafts gallery, chaired a number of boards in the charitable, public and commercial sectors, was a company director, and, prior to that, was a senior local government officer.


“Heritage crafts and our cultural heritage are a vital part of our being – the very oxygen that surrounds us – and we need to ensure they continue to enrich and inform both our lives and the lives of future generations.”

Are you a young person in West Somerset who wants to try a career in heritage craft?

Gareth Irwin, green woodworker (photo by Gavin Hogg)

Gareth Irwin, green woodworker (photo by Gavin Hogg)

Young people aged 16 to 21 – West Somerset

The Heritage Crafts Association SEPE pre-apprenticeship scheme, funded by the Ernest Cook Trust, allows young people to see what it would be like to work in heritage crafts.

  • Would you be interested in trying a new practical skill in a traditional craft and learn more about being self-employed?
  • You can gain an entry certificate to a BTEC Level 1 and valuable experience to add to your CV

We would like to meet you and talk about the opportunity we are offering to nine young people – starting Spring 2017.

Come and join us and our craft professionals for a work placement – you never know where it might lead….!

For more details, please contact Tracy Hill at