Why does cricket ball swing more in England?



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The advent of T20 cricket has changed the way that the sport is being played in many ways. It has brought back life to Test Match Cricket with runs being scored at higher run rates and more percentage of results, surely making it more interesting to the viewers and more challenging for the players. In spite of the way T20 has brought cricket to prime time television by making it more exciting for the viewers and also opened a new avenue for young players to step up and make their name at the International level, it is still Test cricket that continues to be the arena where every player dreams of playing and doing well for the country.

One of the many reasons that make Test cricket so challenging and the preferred format of most.

I’ve always been intrigued by the way a cricket ball’s flight varies so much. What are the factors responsible for making it do crazy things in the air ?? Simply put, why does it swing??

Cricket being a very technical game, has a technical aspect to this. Appropriate skill to make the ball swing includes the way it is gripped by the bowler, the positioning of the seam, the back spin imparted on the ball at the time of delivery, the placement of the shiny and rough side of the ball and last but not the least the bowler’s action.

Apart from these, the swing of the cricket ball is further affected by the weather and pitch conditions. However, pitch conditions play a more vital role in making the ball move after pitching as against when it is airborne.

Every cricket fan has at some point or the other heard commentators talk about the weather conditions being favourable for swing bowling.

What sort of conditions are conducive for swing bowling??

Take the case of England and their recent thrashing of Pakistan in the first two games of a four match Test series at home. It is common knowledge in cricket world that amongst all Test playing nations the English conditions are most suitable for swing bowling. A look at the geographical positioning of United Kingdom (which comprises of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) explains the reason.

It is positioned on the western seaboard of Eurasia with North Sea in between. With the Atlantic Ocean on its western side and English Channel flowing through the south, these boundary conditions make its weather so unpredictable and unsettled that often on a single day it can be extremely sunny, windy, wet, humid and pleasant at different times.

The high latitude and close proximity to a large ocean to the west means that the United Kingdom experiences strong winds.

Rainfall in the United Kingdom comes from North Atlantic depressions which roll into the country throughout the year, making it susceptible to rainfall any day of the year.

Owing to all the reasons mentioned above, the weather is highly unpredictable. The sky is never clear, there is always a cloud or two above the head threatening to burst, making it little cloudy at least if not overcast. There are cool winds blowing throughout the day and even though the sun might be out it doesn’t get too hot (the hottest it probably gets is around 25 degree Celsius, and that happens only once or twice in the season). The winds coming from the ocean are very moist. Hence, because of the constant winds, cloudy sky and the moist air, the ball does a lot in the air.

The pitches here don’t make the job of a batsman much easier either. Even though the behaviour of a pitch totally depends on the amount of effort that’s been put into preparing the wicket it would be safe to say that all pitches in UK have a dense covering of grass on top, which is a result of vigorous growth at root level. The growth is such because of the rainfall it gets throughout the year.

At the start of the season I’ve played at pitches which look green and lively but are actually quite slow and low because the rains just before the season ensure a lot of water gets seeped into the pitches, which means that even though they look dry at the top they are moist within. As the season has gone by the pitches have become drier and harder and better for batting, but a wet spell like the one we’ve experienced this week takes the pitches back to where they were in May.

Well, I always knew it would be tough to play in English conditions and that is precisely the reason why I came here. There is no point in doing something which you have been doing for ages and not take up an opportunity to challenge yourself. Any opening batsman like me who’s ever dreamt of playing for India has to be excellent against swing bowling. I knew it would be a challenge to play in testing weather and pitch conditions and I hope to come back to India next month as a better player against swing bowling.


The author is an upcoming star who plays Ranji Trophy for Haryana. For more blogs from the author, log on to: cricketaakash.com