A tape ball
is a tennis ball
wrapped in colourful, sticky tape and fibres and used in playing cricket
. This modification of the tennis ball gives it greater weight, extra bounce and speed while still being easier to play with than the conventional cricket ball
. The increasing popularity of the tape ball in informal, local cricket has transformed the way games are played in cricket-loving nations such as India
. Such has been the impact of tape ball
that in recent years some companies have introduced tennis balls designed to act like cricket balls.. These balls are quite popular in South Asia where tape ball
is one of the most popular forms of the sport
Informal cricket games are played widely and constantly by children and young adults across the cricket-playing world, especially in South Asia
. Local grounds, parks and city streets are common locations to find locals playing the games in afternoons and evenings. The tape ball provided a solution to a vexing issue for these cricket enthusiasts. The conventional season ball, with which professional and amateur cricket is played, is made out of leather and cloth, and is heavier than a baseball
. Considerable effort is required on behalf of the bowlers to extract speed and bounce, as well as control of the length and direction. Playing with season balls requires a stronger cricket bat
, and poses a constant danger to players and passers-by who may be struck and severely injured by the ball.
In informal games, the rubber ball and tennis ball are often used as alternatives. While the latter is light but does not gain sufficient speed, the former is often considered too bouncy on cement and concrete road surfaces, and insufficiently so on grass and soil pitches. The tape ball was created by simply pasting sticky tape and fibrous materials on a tennis ball in order to extract more bounce and speed, by increasing its weight and ability to obtain traction from the ground.
The tape ball has gained popularity in England
, South Africa
and the West Indies
, but remains most popular and widely used in Pakistan and Bangladesh and to a lesser extent with its neighbours India
and Sri Lanka
. Generations of professional and amateur Pakistanis cricketers since the 1980s have been raised playing tape-ball cricket in their neighbourhood streets and grounds. Professional stars such as Saeed Anwar
, Rashid Latif
, Asif Mujtaba
, Moin Khan
and Basit Ali
enjoy the medium and play regularly. Extensive enthusiasm for the medium has led to the institutionalization of the tape ball in Pakistani cricket.
Tape balls are extensively decorated in different colors, and different kinds of tapes and fibres are used to maximize their advantages.
Importance in cricket
Tape-ball cricket is considered an integral part of Pakistani cricket and sports culture, with virtually every cricket-playing youth being exposed to it in one form or another. The tape ball's ability to generate bounce and speed has encouraged and influenced Pakistan's fast bowling traditions, including pacemen such as Shoaib Akhtar
. The ball also responds forcefully to powerful batting and stroke play, and has helped mold the pinch-hitting style of Shahid Afridi
Although not recognized by official cricket bodies, tape-ball cricket is receiving widespread popular, media and commercial support, especially in Pakistan. During festive seasons and the cricket-playing months of winter and spring, major tournaments are organized, often featuring as many as 200 teams representing corporations, clubs and neighborhoods. The influential role of the tape ball on Pakistani cricket has won the attention and respect of cricketing experts, authorities and students of the game.
In 2005, hoping to capitalize on the enthusiasm created by England's win in the 2005 Ashes series, the London Community Cricket Association began organizing tape ball cricket teams for children on estates in inner-city London, where a lack of playing fields has led to a decline in popularity for traditional cricket. The matches use a variant of the Twenty20 Cricket rules designed to make matches last a half-hour or less.