Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scientific fundamentalism & swing bowling in Cricket

Sydney University’s Dr James McCaughan counters certain claims involving climate and cricket:
Your article on the science of swing bowling continues the common prejudice typical of the scientist who has never been a swing bowler or fielded behind the stumps to such a bowler. This prejudice is that weather conditions do not matter (it is just “psychological"). This is because they can’t be recreated in the laboratory where the tests are carried out.

The most important point is the repeated observation in the field that the approach of a rain front is heralded by a darkening sky, heavy atmosphere and birds flying low to the ground after low-flying food.

The heavy atmosphere signals an increase in density of air near ground level from air flowing towards the low-pressure (falling barometer) region. This flow then spirals up and away from the low-pressure centre at higher levels, so maintaining the low pressure. The denser air means the turbulent wake of the ball when it flicks sideways at the appropriate speed of the ball sends a greater mass of air sideways, which reacts on the ball to send it in the opposite direction producing larger late swing than on fine days.

Belief in the scientific interpretation to the point of denying what nature is telling us is scientific fundamentalism that is all too common today.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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