The Swing of a Cricket Ball
Since there have been many controversies over ball-tampering in
cricket, the subject of how a ball is made to swing has been of
interest. To give a clearer understanding of the swing-bowling
I have transcribed a section from "The Art of Cricket" by Sir
Donald Bradman, who was the most prolific batsman of all time.
1-2 contain thoughts by The Don on the subject, and Pages 3-4 give a
explanation by Professor R.A.Lyttleton, F.R.S.,
a good friend of The Don,
on the precise mechanics behind swing bowling. This was one of the
attempts at explaining why a cricket ball swings in such a way, and the
fundamentals are more or less correct. More recent experimental
studies that improved on Lyttleton's theoretical explanation have been
carried out, and some references are listed below.
Related Web Link... James Foster's page entitled
Science of Swing describes forward and reverse swing with the help
THE WORLD CUP
In modern one-day cricket, a white ball is commonly used for easier
viewing on the TV. The ball has a thin
lacquer that is applied to its surface to avoid discolouring the ball
it gets knocked aeound during the innings. This seemingly minor change
to the ball in fact provides a much greater swing than the good old
red ball. Why? The answers can be found in a couple of articles in The
Guardian and BBC.
Bradman/Lyttleton article: Forward to Page 1
Jump to Page
, Figure 1
Below is an list of references related to cricket ball swing; thanks to Paul
Glazier for passing on many of these references. Recommended
books are highlighted.
My strongest recommendation is
Dr Brian Wilkins' book
"Cricket: The Bowler's Art"
which is now out of print, but might be available from some online bookstores.
If anyone has additional
references, please mail me.
Barrett, R.S. and Wood, D.H. (1996). The theory and practice of reverse
swing. Sports Coach, 18, 28-30.
Bartlett, R.M., Stockill, N.P., Elliott, B.C. and Burnett, A.F. (1996).
biomechanics of fast bowling in men's cricket: A review. Journal of
Sports Sciences, 14, 403-424.
Barton, N.G. (1982). On the swing of a cricket ball in flight.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A, 379,
Binnie, A.M. (1976). The effect of humidity on the swing of cricket
balls. International Journal of Mechanical Science, 18,
Bowen, L.O. (1995). Torque and force measurements on a cricket ball and
the influence of atmospheric conditions. Transactions of Mechanical
Engineering, Vol. 20, No. 1. 15-20. Australia: Institution
Bown, W. and Mehta, R.D. (1993). The seamy side of swing bowling.
New Scientist, 139, 21-24.
Bradman, D. G. (1958). The Art of Cricket. London: Hodder & Stoughton. Now on
Imprint, Sydney 1998). The classic textbook
on cricket by the master
batsman himself, recently re-published in 1998. The Lyttleton article
these Web pages is lifted from this book, with permission.
Cooke, J.C. (1955). The boundary layer and seam bowling.
Mathematical Gazette, 39, 196-199.
Grant, C., Anderson, A. and Anderson, J.M. (1998). Cricket ball swing:
the Cooke-Lyttleton theory revisited. In The Engineering of Sport:
Design and Development (edited by S.J. Haake), pp. 371-378. Oxford,
UK: Blackwell Science.
Horlock, J.H. (1973). The swing of a cricket ball. In Mechanics and
Sport (edited by J.L. Bleustein), pp. 293-303. New York: The
American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Lewis, A.P. (1993). Reverse swing. The Cricketer, 74 (5),
Lyttleton, R.A. (1957). The swing of a cricket ball. Discovery,
Mehta, R.D. (1985). Aerodynamics of sports balls. Annual Review of
Fluid Mechanics, 17, 151-189.
Mehta, R.D. (2000). Cricket ball aerodynamics: myth versus science. In The
Engineering of Sport: Research, Development and Innovation (edited
by A.J. Subic and S.J. Haake), pp. 153-167. Oxford: Blackwell Science.
Mehta, R.D. and Wood, D.H. (1980). Aerodynamics of the cricket ball.
New Scientist, 87, 442-447.
Mehta, R.D., Bentley, K., Proudlove, M. and Varty, P. (1983). Factors
affecting cricket ball swing. Nature, 303, 787-788.
Penrose, J.M.T., Hose, D.R. and Trowbridge, E.A. (1996). Cricket ball
a preliminary analysis using computational fluid dynamics. In Engineering
of Sport (edited by S.J. Haake), pp. 11-19. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema.
Sayers, A.T. and Hill, A. (1999). Aerodynamics of a cricket ball.
Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, 79,
Sherwin, K. and Sproston, J.L. (1982). Aerodynamics of a cricket ball. International
Journal of Mechanical Education, 10, 71-79.
Wilkins, B. (1991). The Bowler's Art: Understanding Spin, Swing and
Swerve. London: A & C Black.
Wilkins, B. (1997). Cricket: The Bowler's Art. Australia: Kangaroo Press. A comprehensive book
that begins with a brief history of bowling in cricket, followed by the
art and science of swing bowling. Many common myths are shattered along
the way, with the help of Wilkins' wind tunnel experiments and
bowling machine. There is even a chapter on how tampering with the ball
affects normal and reverse swing. The rest of the book deals with
and the nuances of spin bowling, plus many other aspects such as the
action and the all-important grip. A superb read.
Wilkins, B. (2000). The new semantics. The Cricketer, 81 (8),
Wilkins, B. (2002). Rough with the smooth. The Cricketer, 83
If anybody has any further references and/or thoughts, feel free to