The scientific cricketer November 26, 2006

The science behind Ponting's decision

In one of this blog's irregular forays into foreign territory, allow me to apply a different Pak Spin to the interpretation of Ricky Ponting's decision not to enforce the follow-on in Brisbane.

Cricket Australia, unlike the Pakistan Cricket Board for example, has been monitoring injuries in domestic and international cricket for over a decade. All credit to the people working on this research programme. One of the conclusions of that research--see Cricket Australia's Injury Report 2005--is that enforcing the follow-on in international matches can increase the risk of injuries to bowlers.

The authors of the report suggest that one of the factors leading to a drop in injuries in 2004-5 was: "the decision to be more conservative with decisions such as not enforcing the follow-on in Test matches in 2004-5." More data are required to test this hypothesis further, and it is not entirely clear whether or not Cricket Australia had a deliberate policy of not enforcing the follow-on. But it does suggest one important reason why--particularly with the age and recent injury profile of Australia's bowlers--Ponting chose to bat again.

Ironic, then, that it was the Australian captain who picked up an injury.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here