If you are a vegetarian cricket lover who has always felt a little uncomfortable about the cricket ball being made from pieces of leather, well, things may be beginning to change. An English cricket club has now introduced a brand new type of cricket ball that is made without any animal hide.
Earley Cricket Club is located 40 miles west of London in the town of Reading. The founder of the club Gary Shacklady decided to become a vegan. This made him uncomfortable with the presence of meat everywhere. To begin with, the fact that the fare at tea consisted of ham sandwiches grabbed his attention. So, the first step was to replace them with vegan food.
Then came the question of the ball. This cricket ball that the club has started to use doesn't contain animal hide but is instead made using synthetic material. The covering of the ball is of rubber instead of leather. While the manufacturers of the ball are happy with the results, there are some minor differences in the behaviour of this product compared to the usual one that has made it more challenging for the players.
"It does behave like a leather cricket ball, but it bounces more and it's more difficult to grip. But we're enthused by it and we're hopeful of finding a better version," Shacklady told British newspaper Daily Mail.
The club founder also gave information about the food served during the tea break in place of the traditional ham sandwiches. Lasagne is available, along with Moroccan tagine and spaghetti Bolognese without meat. Shacklady says the reaction to the change in menu has been encouraging.
"The teas have been well received as our players understand and support the reasoning behind the decision. When other teams come to us, they pile their plates high. And when they eat the food, nobody complains. Although you usually get one middle-aged white man who is horrified - it's fine, he doesn't have to eat it. But the point is that everyone can."
The club was established 12 years ago, still the founder is just 33-years old today. He also holds the distinction of being the youngest chairman of a club in the country. His team participates in the Berkshire Cricket League.
Whether other clubs in England follow the lead of Earley can't be predicted. But in places like India where vegetarianism is popular, this formula may gain traction. The idea of cricket balls made without meat could become a rage in coming days if the quality of these 'vegan' balls is good enough.