trial ball



  • noun a ball bowled by a fresh bowler before beginning his spell and not counting in the game. Trial balls were introduced in about 1817 by a rule allowing a new bowler two such deliveries, with the proviso that he was then committed to bowling an over immediately afterwards: ‘In the event of a change of Bowling no more than Two Balls to be allowed in practice. The Bowler who takes the Two Balls, to be obliged to bowl four Balls’. According to R. S. Rait Kerr (The Laws of Cricket 1950), trial balls were discontinued in 1838, but the 1920 edition of the Badminton book mentions ‘the abolition of trial balls in 1911’, and this later date seems to be supported by a match report from 1903.
    Citation ‘At 103 Saunders relieved Armstrong. In his trial ball he bowled the wicket down, and Hirst laughed at the thought of what might have happened’ (Melbourne Argus, 17 December 1903)