Is this the oldest cricket ball in the world?

The ball at Sussex Cricket Museum Credit: ITV News Meridian

The stitching is almost gone and the leather worn away, but this may well be the oldest cricket ball in the world.

It was found behind the plasterwork of a house in South Street, Lewes, during renovations and is now kept at Sussex Cricket Museum.

Curiously it was discovered with three single shoes. An old custom was to hide a shoe as a good-luck charm.

The shoes have been dated between 1760 and 1770 and so it's assumed the ball is from that time also.

Reporter Derek Johnson with cricket historian Nicholas Sharp Credit: ITV News Meridian

Cricket is thought to date back to at least the 16th Century and Sussex was the first county club to be formed - in 1839.

Cricket historian Nicholas Sharp said: ''No-one has come up with anything that's older. It would have been made by the local saddler or cobbler. Cricket balls were just starting in the 1750s and 60s to be made properly but they were very expensive. It was a gentleman's game at the time.

''A prosperous man had this ball made for his son and then when it started to fall apart a bit he obviously said 'Mum or Dad can you hide this with the shoe to keep the bad l spirits away?'’’

Painting of a Sussex match in the 18th Century Credit: ITV News Meridian