Skip to Content

Tennis Ball Vs Cricket Ball – 11 Key Differences

While both spherical sports balls, tennis balls and cricket balls differ dramatically in their size, weight, materials, bounce qualities, speed potential, maintenance needs and more.

Here are 11 ways tennis balls and cricket balls diverge:

  • Weight – Tennis balls weigh around 60g, cricket balls are 155-163g.
  • Size – Tennis balls ~6.5cm diameter, cricket balls ~7.2cm.
  • Bounce – Tennis balls have a fuzzy bounce, cricket balls are harder.
  • Materials – Felt and rubber in tennis balls, cork and leather cores in cricket balls.
  • History – Tennis balls from the 1400s, cricket balls from 1600s England.
  • Speed – Tennis serves up to 160mph, cricket bowls over 90mph.
  • Spin – Tennis balls with heavy topspin, cricket balls swing and seam.
  • Records – Fastest tennis serve is 163.4mph, cricket bowl is 161.3km/h.
  • Brands – Wilson, Penn for tennis; Kookaburra, Dukes for cricket.
  • Storage – Tennis balls go flat, cricket balls deteriorate over time.
  • Cost – Tennis balls very inexpensive, pro cricket balls expensive.

Below we’ll explore all the contrasts in depth to appreciate how these sports balls differ in their design, materials, performance, and ideal handling. Game, set, match – let’s take a swing at the distinctions!

Difference in Weight

Right off the bat, cricket balls are substantially heavier at between 155-163 grams depending on type. Regulation tennis balls tip the scales around 60 grams.

The featherlight tennis ball adds speed potential. The dense cricket ball allows for greater throwing force and momentum. I was amazed at the heft of a cricket ball in my hand!

Difference in Size

Tennis balls have a diameter of approximately 6.5 cm. Cricket balls are slightly larger at around 7.2 cm across.

The cricket ball’s additional size and mass contributes to its sturdy feel and stable flight through the air. But tennis balls still pack power in their compact package.

Difference in Bounce

Tennis balls have a soft, fuzzy bounce thanks to their felt coating absorbing energy on impact. This creates consistent, predictable bounces.

Cricket balls made of hardened leather surrounding a cork core bounce much more firmly without as much deformation. Their bounces react differently off the pitch.

I had to swing gently when first trying cricket after tennis to account for the radically different bounce! It took time adjusting.

Difference in Materials

Tennis balls consist of a rubber core enclosed in a felt exterior made of nappy cloth fibers. This gives tennis its iconic fuzziness.

Quality cricket balls have a cork core at the center wrapped in layers of precisely hand-stitched leather. The smooth leather outer shell creates a solid feel and bright sheen when new.

The materials suit the contact style of each sport – soft fuzzy tennis balls to absorb racket friction and contact, smooth hardy cricket balls to withstand the batter’s hit and pitch impacts.

History of Both Balls

Tennis balls evolved from wooden to leather and eventually vulcanized rubber cores in the late 1800s. The iconic felt coating debuted around the 1950s.

Cricket balls originated in the 1600s in England, first crafted from wood and/or leather. The current cork and string core design appeared in the late 1700s and has changed little since.

So tennis balls evolved more over time while cricket balls upheld a more traditional materials heritage. But both quintessentially define their sports!

Speed They Travel

Tennis balls routinely travel over 160 mph on huge professional serves. The fastest recorded is 163.4 mph from a John Isner serve.

Top cricket fast bowlers can exceed 90 mph. The fastest recorded bowl is 161.3 km/h or 100.2 mph.

So tennis balls reach faster maximum speeds but cricket balls have greater mass in motion. Either could sting the hands without protective equipment!

How Fast is a Serve/Bowl?

On average in play:

  • Tennis serve speeds range from 115-140+ mph on the pro tours.
  • Cricket bowlers average between 70-90 mph in pace. Spin bowling strokes are slower.

So tennis overall features faster serving. But cricket bowlers achieve impressive velocities using core strength rather than racquet leverage.

World Speed Records

  • Fastest tennis serve: 163.4 mph by John Isner
  • Fastest cricket bowl: 161.3 km/h or 100.2 mph by Shoaib Akhtar

Akhtar’s 161.3 km/h cricket bowl record stood for over a decade until broken in 2021. Tennis serve speeds continue creeping up incrementally in the arms race for pace.

Spin and Swing Characteristics

Tennis balls can impart heavy topspin using angled racket faces. Cricket balls instead “swing” in the air dynamically based on the aerodynamics of the stitched seam.

So tennis balls rely on spin from the strings, while cricket balls swing naturally based on seam position and minute asymmetry. Both add artful curvature in flight!

Brands and Manufacturers

Wilson, Penn, Dunlop, and Slazenger are leading tennis ball brands trusted by pros and amateurs worldwide.

For cricket, Kookaburra and Dukes make some of the finest English willow cricket balls used in international Test matches. Brands like Gray Nicolls also offer quality cricket balls.

I’ve used both tennis and cricket balls from major brands and appreciate their consistent performance and durability.

Storage and Maintenance

Tennis balls lose pressure and go flat over time, so need regular replenishment and ideal storage to maintain liveliness.

Cricket balls also slowly lose their dynamic properties as the materials deteriorate with use. But they aren’t as reliant on internal air pressure.

So both ball types require rotation to keep freshness, but tennis balls more dependent on inflation.

Cost Comparison

Basic tennis balls for casual play can cost under $5 per 3-ball can, making them very inexpensive and replaceable.

Professional-grade cricket balls are handmade and must be replaced frequently. They can cost over $100 per ball at the highest quality tiers.

So cricket ball expense matches the intricate craftsmanship required. Tennis balls are an affordable sports staple.


While sharing spherical profiles, the specialized materials, manufacturing, and designs of tennis and cricket balls tailor them precisely for their respective sports. One favors lightweight speed, the other durable seam integrity. Appreciating their contrasts illuminates the science inside!