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IIT professor claims discovery of a reverse swing formula

Aditya Joshi
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 16:44 IST

Dale Steyn produced one of the finer spells of reverse swing at Port Elizabeth against Australia in 2014.

A professor and his two students from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur have done a study on the science of reverse swing and in the process might just have saved you from a trip to the hardware store and haggling over sandpaper prices. Professor Sanjay Mittal and his pair of understudies Ravi Shakya and Rahul Deshpande of the institute’s Aerospace department conducted a series of experiments to shed more light on what has been one of the most controversial and vague phenomena on a cricket pitch.

In the series of determining the factors that generate and affect reverse swing, they took data of the eminent fast bowlers around the world and had a look at their run-up, bowling action, technique and delivery as the elements to base their study on. On basis of the tabulation, they found that four conditions are required for any pacer to generate any kind of swing are the seam position of the ball, speed of delivery, the degree of the rough surface of the ball/pitch and weather conditions.

Among their conclusions, one was that medium-pacers find it easier to conjure the enviable movement and get the cricket ball to reverse, as compared to the faster bowlers. Mittal claimed that if a fast bowler releases the ball by turning the seam 20 degrees downward with a pace of 30 to 119 km/h, he extracts the maximum amount of swing, with of course the assumption of favourable weather conditions.

They also claim that if a cricket ball is bowled at a velocity in the range of 119-125 km/h, the bowler, with the implementation of the aforementioned formula can generate reverse swing in the first trajectory and conventional swing in the second, which is often called late swing in cricket. A fine exponent of such bowling was Shane Bond, with his "banana ball" that castled many a batsman in his heyday.

Having come up with this theory, the Aerospace department research team plans to apply this in a real-world model with fast bowlers before offering it to the BCCI and Indian coaches to help them develop a new string of fast bowlers to succeed not only overseas, but on home soil as well since the roughness of subcontinental surfaces make the conditions prime to get the ball to reverse, a skill first discovered by Pakistani bowlers.

Published 12 Jul 2018, 15:08 IST
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