How fast is a cricket pitch?

A cricket pitch is curated with a combination of dust, grass and soil. The bat-and-ball sport requires the bowler to deliver a ball across 22 yards to a batter who defends his or her wickets from being dislodged by the ball. A legal delivery requires the ball to be delivered from behind the popping crease. If not pitched, the ball should remain below the waist-height of the batter and if pitched too short, it must not rise above the shoulder level.

The pace with which a ball is bowled depends a lot on how the cricket pitch responds. A lot of factors come into picture which are discussed below:

Pitch type

A pitch can be covered with grass, dust, moisture which can directly effect the behaviour of the ball after its bounce. For a more detailed explanation, click here.

Bounce of the ball

When a cricket ball is manufactured, its bounce is tested on metal sheets. It is usually dropped at a height of 2 metres and should bounce one third of this height to be deemed fit for play. Since a cricket pitch is covered with dust and soil and moisture, this variation affects the pace of the ball significantly.

Force on a cricket ball

The velocity with which the bowler throws the ball on the pitch is directly proportional to  the amount of time it remains in contact with the pitch. Once again, the moisture and grass content on the pitch determines the pace with which the ball approaches the batter. On an average, the force applied on a ball is 8800 N.

Air resistance

A plethora of physics laws come into play when analysing the effects of air resistance when it is delivered by the bowler. Air resistance decreases the speed of the ball when it is released by the bowler. It further contributes to decreasing the speed of the ball after it pitches. More importantly, air resistance contributes to the swing of the ball both before and after it pitches.

Thus, aside from the surface characteristics of the pitch, a lot of external factors contribute in determining how the ball’s speed will vary following the pitch of the ball.

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