One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A previously unused ball, specifically one brought into use in cricket at the beginning of an innings or after a prescribed number of overs, or in tennis after a specified number of games.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in E. M. Forster (1879–1970), novelist and essayist. From new + ball.
new ball/ˌnjuː ˈbɔːl/
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