Letter: Research doesn't just scratch the surface

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aerodynamics. I find it quite deplorable that this simple fact seems to be ignored in all the controversy surrounding the Pakistani cricket tour ('Whatever it is, it isn't cricket', 23 November).

Research, dating back to the early Eighties, at Imperial College and the University of Hertfordshire has clearly proved the point. All that is required is a first-class cricket ball with one side well worn and one side polished - and some skill. A ball in this condition can be made to swing either way at fast-medium pace without the bowler having to change his delivery action. To make matters worse for the batsman, the natural swing of the ball will change as it ages during an innings.

Professor Peter Bearman at Imperial College tried to interest the cricket authorities in the science of swing bowling, but without success it seems. However, there is no excuse for ignoring the matter, either for the authorities or the media. The bowlers who have learnt to master reverse swing probably do not understand why it happens.

If this is so, it may even be that scratching the surface of the ball is more of a ritual than anything else. It is certainly unnecessary.

Yours faithfully,


Associate Director

Environmental Flow Research Centre

University of Surrey

Guildford, Surrey

24 November