The swing thing

“What the commentators, cricketers I much admire, have been saying about swing is plain wrong,” he told The Times yesterday. “They’ve been talking about the clouds, how the new ball won’t swing until the lacquer has come off, and it’s just rubbish.”

Thus, from NASA scientist Rabindra Mehta. So what is the secret of swing? Read.


9 thoughts on “The swing thing

  1. I wouldn’t dismiss the cricketing experts — or the practitioners– so easily. These are the people who were/are in the field day in and day out in all sorts of conditions honing their skills; getting wickets; and if they bowled badly, got clobbered and forced to give up their places. The scientific theory may predict something different in lab conditions, but I would wait to form an opinion on this. This is not to say that the scientist is wrong, but he may not have tested for all the conditions.

  2. Usually when the sky is overcast, there many be some mild drizzle – mild enough to not even get noticed – but still leaves the grass wet. As a result, the ball may get wet. Is there no effect of the ball gathering moisture on the swing? So if I shine one side of the ball, it gets dry while the other side is rough and also heavier with the moisture. The result could be in a more pronounced swing.

    At least this was my theory earlier on the reason for swing under overcast conditions. also, when the sky is overcast, the chances of a breezy wind is much higher leading to more swing.

    So let us now discount the “experts” – they may not use the exact scientific terms but they are talking from experience. They are actually attributing a cause and effect relationship between overcast conditions with swing – ignoring some of the other parameters.

  3. When I used to go for practice in the morning, the ball used to swing a lot and as the day progressed it got lesser. Hence my team always used to try bowling first thinking that early morning conditions help in the swing. We used to forget that in the nets we used to bowl using only two balls. As the day became brighter, the ball lost its shine through usage and with us being useless in ball shining, it lost all swing.

    Once I was bowling at 12o clock with not a cloud in sight with a new ball thinking that with my medium pace and no swing I was going to be carted. However the ball swung, my bowling got the respect it does not frankly deserve and I actually got wickets. From that day, I have always been sceptical of the weather condition helping swing theory. I wonder why our esteemed fast bowling experts keep on harping about the cconditions. They must have had an experience like I had once in thier career.

  4. Being a swing bowler myself, I think swing bowling is as much an art as it is a science. If it were simply a science everybody should be able to do it. Although I consistently swing the ball in, I find it very difficult to get it to swing away. It takes tremendous skill to be able to move the ball both ways especially without a change in the action.

    And how on earth has the author not included Wasim Akram under his list of ‘Sultans of Swing’…odd.

  5. But this article says that the ball needs to be rough one one side and shiny on the other side even for conventional swing. I thought the practice of keeping the shine on one side started only after reverse swing came into practice. Before that, players used to shine both side of the ball?

  6. This is old wine meeting new bottle. A very similar article (with lots more detail) was written up by CricInfo almost three years ago (without the fancy graphics, however, which simplifies things immensely).


    This also probably explains why many of our bowlers (Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Ajit Agarkar come to mind readily) seem to lose pace after a while. Maybe the bowling coaches have asked them to do so in order to obtain more swing. I wish some of the retired “expert” commentators who are bowlers (Akram, Younis, Holding, etc.) could elaborate more on this during the game rather than utter the same old tripe about “lack of intensity”, “niggling injury” and whatnot.

  7. It’s all in the wrist position..remember that from my playing days during which I steadfastly was a proponent of the straight seam. Discovering swing, all on my own, was a momentous occasion in my cricket “career”.

    Glad to know the more exact science behind it. Even more happier for the nostalgia it inadvertently evoked. My cricket career may have been insignificant, but the joy and fun I had bowling fast with a new ball wasn’t. Whooo!

    • Totally agree. Similarly, during a game at the Marina ground, discovered that when there is a good breeze blowing in off the sea, all I really had to do was keep the wrist straight and cocked, release the seam as straight as I could and try for the fuller length — the ball did all the work. 4 for very little that day, and I had to do nothing but the basics. Come to think of it, cocked wrist, straight seam and good length will work more often than not, no matter what the conditions.

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