Catches in cricket and baseball

When I was in New Zealand recently, I watched a lot of World Cup cricket with my sons-in-law who were unfamiliar with the game. What impressed them was that the fielders in cricket, unlike in baseball, did not wear any gloves (except for the wicket keeper) and yet managed to stop and catch the ball with their bare hands, even though a cricket ball is roughly the same size and hardness as a baseball.

In the clip below, watch especially the three catches starting at the 3:41 mark. In each case, the batter hit the ball cleanly and hard straight at the fielder who was really close and thus took the full brunt of the shot. And yet they managed to not only hold on to the ball but seemingly not injure their hands.

This website asks the question:

A standard cricket ball weighs between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces (155.9 and 163 grams), while a standard baseball weighs in at 5.25 ounces (142 and 149 grams).

A cricket ball is also smaller (22.4 -22.9 cm circumference) than a baseball (22.9 – 23.5 cm circumference), which means cricketers are catching a smaller and heavier ball, without the use of gloves—and they still make incredible diving catches.

If they can do it without the use of gloves, why can’t baseballers?

The answer is of course baseballers could do so if they had to but that these are different games with different histories and there is no reason why the practices of one should apply to the other.


  1. psweet says

    Has anyone ever looked at how fast the ball comes off the bat in cricket? I ask because baseballs routinely (several times/year in the majors) break small bones in the hand, arm, or foot, and have occasionally caused multiple broken bones in the face. This happens both from thrown balls and batted ones. I can’t imagine that baseball bones are that much more brittle than cricket bones.

  2. NL says

    I know that wicket keepers (catchers, in baseball) have pretty mangled fingers, mind you they can catch at a guess upwards of 500-600 balls in a day of test cricket.

    I recall seeing a Japanese pitcher in MLB get hit in the head, and that ball came off the bat blisteringly fast, you could see him realise it’s coming straight at him but had no chance at all of avoiding it.

  3. fentex says

    Cricket balls kill people, about three in the last year, which is why fielders in silly positions (that’s an actual term used to describe being close -- about half the wickets length away -- which is about half the distance a pitcher is from batters in baseball) and in front of the bat (silly mid-off -- close, in front off and on the batsman’s facing side is where I usually fielded) wear helmets.

    And routinely break fingers, crack wrists and bones. Batsmen wear substantial pads protected their lower legs and knees, thick pads for their facing thigh, boxes, pads on their forearms and very well padded gloves and helmets with face guards -- all for the same reason baseball backstops wear a great bloody padded vest and helmet. And even so a professional batter was killed by a ball that struck the base of his skull under his helmet last year. Wicket keepers fingers get hammered, most hurtfully by balls that hit the end of fingers head on (at possibly 90+ mph from a fast bowler)

    An umpire was killed earlier this year by a ball struck straight at him that stopped his heart.

    I’ve never held a baseball so I don’t know exactly what it’s like, I imagine from what I’ve seen on TV and the measurements that a cricket ball is slightly denser but I don’t imagine that’s much cause for any differences in damage done.

    The way cricket balls are bowled, typically bounced off the ground and up at the batter, would cause the majority of any differences in injuries to the batter I would think.

    I once wore a ball right between the eyes because it was struck straight at my eyes and I effectively couldn’t see it because there was no parallax for me to judge movement by.

    You can’t compare sports much, especially at professional levels, because they evolve on different lines.

  4. Erk1/2 says

    As I understand the history, baseball gloves used to be considered “unmanly” and didn’t come into common use until well after the Civil War era. The first use was apparently because an injured player needed some padding. The web between thumb and forefinger didn’t happen until 1920.
    Hockey goalies only started wearing masks after Jacques Plante got sick of having his face mangled in the 1959/60 season. He was well-respected and playing for the dynastic Montreal Canadiens (who won their 5th straight cup that year). If cricket doesn’t specifically ban gloves, maybe a well-respected player who’s tired of having mangled fingers/broken hand bones will begin wearing them as every-day equipment and make it common.

  5. Richard Simons says

    I remember an egg-throwing contest in which the two cricket players were throwing (and catching without breaking) an egg about three times as far as any of the baseball players. They had learned how to cushion the impact, something that is much less important if you are wearing a sturdy glove.

  6. says

    Baseball players can and have caught balls barehanded many times out of necessity, and I’ve never seen an injury from it. It’s usually outfielders (see the video) or infielders dealing with ground balls going away from their gloves. As two others have mentioned, line drives in baseball cause injuries because of the velocity coming off the bat (e.g. concussions, fractured skulls, broken bones). Fly balls slow down by the time they reach the outfield.

    I’ve seen photos (though no video) of cricket players using baseball gloves during practice to protect their hands. I also ran across this item which some might consider sacrilege:

    Would baseball-style gloves hurt cricket? I doubt it. It might reduce run totals by about 20 per game at the highest levels, but in a sport where teams score multiple hundreds per game, it wouldn’t have that great an effect. Use of gloves might be justifiable and limited to the infield players, those in greatest danger from line drives. Also, in videos of spectacular cricket catches, they’re almost always outfield players or infielders catching deflected hits, not line drives.

  7. Holms says

    The answer is of course baseballers could do so if they had to but that these are different games with different histories and there is no reason why the practices of one should apply to the other.

    But it does mean that when someone links to a baseball catch in amazement, cricket fans are generally unimpressed.

  8. fentex says

    If cricket doesn’t specifically ban gloves,

    It does, but if you’re fielding wearing a top hat you may catch a ball with it.

  9. psweet says

    Thanks, fentex. I guess then that the use of fielder’s gloves in baseball is due to a more sensible approach to injuries?

    Incidentally, baseball players have been killed by line drives, and at least once by a pitched ball. It’s a lot rarer, it sounds, than in cricket, perhaps because everyone stands farther away? I find it amazing how close all the players appear to be in cricket.

  10. says

    The catches in a cricket match are different from the catches in Baseball. The catches in cricket are generally not so forceful as like in baseball. The catches in baseball can kill the catcher.

  11. chuck Andelman says

    Baseballs are coming off the bat at often over 100 mph. The point is to hit it hard, not clever as often seems to be the case in Cricket. It doesn’t seem that a lot of the balls coming of cricket bats are not coming that fast, though it is impressive that many are caught that close to the batsmen without any gloves. If Cricket use the kind of gloves prevalent in baseball before 1920 without webs, it would not change the game that much but save some broken bones and possibly responsible for some more spectacular outfield play.

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