THE England and Wales Cricket Board has advised parents and clubs to stop using plastic balls distributed through its popular All Stars and Dynamos schemes, after discovering concerns over their chemical composition.

The youth engagement programmes, aimed at age groups 5-8 and 8-11 and running since 2017, have previously included free playing kit alongside coaching programmes.

But safety testing on the products has shown the level of phthalates – a widely used chemical group that increases durability of plastics – is beyond approved levels in the balls.

Trading Standards and the Office for Product Safety and Standards have both been informed and, although neither body has advised the items be recalled from circulation, the ECB has written to its partner clubs advising they be discarded.

A statement read: “The independent testing we conducted has found that the phthalates in these items were found to be at levels in excess of those permitted by relevant regulations.

“To better understand the issue, we then instructed an external expert company to conduct a risk assessment in relation to the cricket balls which has not identified any direct risk to participants in the programmes in relation to these balls.

“However, the safety of participants, volunteers and staff is our priority and, out of an abundance of caution, we would advise that the balls should no longer be used.

“We are very sorry that the affected products haven’t met the standards we’d expect, and for any concern this may cause.”

Further testing is being conducted on a practice batting tee and PVC banners used in the schemes, but the hard plastic bats and stumps have both been approved.

With an alternative supplier not yet agreed, clubs may rely on using tennis balls to complete their All Stars and Dynamos sessions.