With the 2013 Ashes series underway, England’s spin bowlers might be interested in the findings of a pair of Australian physicists who have picked apart the physics behind spinning cricket balls.
Brothers Garry and Ian Robinson have come up with a set of equations to describe how a spinning ball is affected by the wind as it moves through the air.
Their equations, which also take into account the speed of the ball, gravity, air resistance, and a lifting force called the ‘Magnus effect’, show that the wind can have a large effect on the ball’s movement. A crosswind, for instance, can cause the ball to dip or ‘hold up’, depending on the direction of both the wind and the ball’s spin.
When the spinning ball interacts with a 14km/h crosswind, for example, the point at which it hits the ground can change by about 14cm – enough to bamboozle a batsman.
So if the English spin bowlers want to take some wickets, they may be hoping for some blustery conditions during the five-test series.
The mathematically minded among you can read the full paper here.