August 6, 2013

# The physics of fast: Why McGrath was faster than you think

 Glenn McGrath demonstrating his high-arm action with his likeness © AFP Enlarge

I recently stumbled upon a forum where an Australian fan had asked rather wistfully if, in the beginning of Glenn McGrath's career, there was a time when he used to be fast. I think this is a false question. For all the talk of McGrath being the metronome, the impeccable line and length, and the consistency, one feature that I can't shake off is his ability to rush the batsman. Yet, for much of the last three quarters of his career, when speed guns truly became ubiquitous, McGrath seemed to be trundling in between low to mid 130s kph. What was at play here?

Turns out the answer to this question is very simple if we discuss the physics of pace in a little more depth. What I am about to describe is not cutting edge science, but the application of basic mechanics to fast bowling, especially in regards to bowling speed. I am actually surprised nobody has done this before, considering that the physics used here is elementary compared to what the University of Western Australia uses to analyse hyper flexible joints and reverse swing.

Have you ever noticed a thoroughbred fast bowler, say Brett Lee, run in and let loose a fierce bouncer that the batsman and his three immediate ancestors had no clue about, only to have the speed gun report a comparatively modest speed of 88 mph? How many times have you heard the commentator go, "Well, I'm sure it looked a lot quicker from the batsman's end?" One empirically, rather well-realised (though not statistically established) fact of fast bowling is that bouncers are slower than yorkers. The reason bouncers are slower is that the speed gun measures speed. Human perception, on the other hand, is looking at "velocity"; a slightly different thing. Speed is a scalar quantity; velocity is a vector. Speed can be fully expressed using one measurement. Velocity is meaningless without also mentioning direction.

When a fast bowler releases the ball, the ball travels in a three-dimensional space. Just as the distance covered by the ball is in three dimensions, the velocity of the ball, which is distance divided by time, is also in three dimensions. The distance covered by the ball can be said to have three components: the distance covered towards the batsman, the distance covered towards and away from the pitch surface, and the distance covered laterally due to any lateral movement, or the angle of the delivery.

Similarly, the velocity of the ball can be said to have the same three components at any given time. By defining these three "axes" we have defined a Cartesian frame of reference for analysing the movement of the ball through space. Since these three components of distance and velocity are at right angles to one another, we can find the total distance covered by the ball, as well as the total velocity, by summing the squares of each of the components, and then taking the square root of the sum.

The key thing to understand is that the velocity of the ball has three components. The speed gun only measures one of these components, which is the component of the velocity towards the batsman. The speed reported by the speed gun is only a measure of how long or short it took the ball to reach the batsman once it was released. This is not a good measure as the batsman and bowler are not in a straight line in respect to the speed gun, and doesn't account for lateral movement.

McGrath was fast because the vertical component of the velocity of his deliveries - the speed of the ball towards and away from the pitch - was very high. This vertical velocity manifests itself in "nip". Bowlers for whom this velocity is high are usually considered to have nip. Nip does not register on the speed gun. In fact, the higher the nip, the lower the other components of the velocity of the delivery will be, because there is only so much velocity a bowler can impart on a ball. This is why bouncers are usually slower on the speed gun compared to yorkers. The component of the velocity directed towards the batsman - and most accurately represented by the speed gun - can be called "skid". A skiddy bowler is someone who seems to rush on to the batsmen.

A convenient way to imagine the difference between skid and nip is to assess how much distance, in a certain axis, the ball travels. Velocity is equal to distance divided by time. The higher the distance covered, the higher the velocity. Imagine McGrath now, releasing the ball from a height of about 7.5ft. The vertical component, towards the pitch and away, of the distance covered would be 7.5ft, plus the height at which the ball passed the batsman, say 4ft. The total distance would therefore be more than 11 feet.

Compare that with Malinga releasing the ball at say 5.5ft, and making contact at 2ft, giving a total distance of 7ft. Since the (vertical) distance covered by McGrath's delivery was much higher, the vertical velocity or "nip" of McGrath's delivery would be higher. However, Malinga's delivery took a shorter amount of time to get to the batsman, partly because it didn't have to cover all that vertical distance, and went directly for the kill. The component of velocity towards the batsman (skid) would be higher as velocity is inversely proportional to time taken. This is why Malinga would be faster on the speed gun.

But just because the speed gun cannot measure nip does not mean humans don't perceive it. Plenty of batsmen would attest to the fact that they perceived McGrath's nip all right, even if it didn't register on the speed gun. So now we know that McGrath was indeed fast, just not in a way that could be measured by a speed gun. This also explains why bouncers are usually slower on the speed gun compared to other types of deliveries covering less ground vertically. This is why "slingers" like Malinga and Fidel Edwards tend to register higher speeds on the speed gun compared to bowlers releasing the ball from greater heights, such as Glenn McGrath or Stuart Clark.

Posted by B.C.G on (August 11, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

Oh & Mr.Fouad,would it be possible to provide a larger image of M v/s M.I can barely read anything.

Posted by   on (August 10, 2013, 10:17 GMT)

Leave the Physics jargons aside, in order to explain fast bowling with some new buzzwords you have completely forgot how cricket is played. Cricket is a game of chess where a batsman is trapped over a series of deliveries, what you are basically doing here is over analyzing a single delivery. McGath was brilliant because he would setup that batsman by bowling him some full deliveries and then suddenly when the batsman was committed on the front foot, he would send a short of length delivery which would hurry him up. Had the batsman been standing on his original position (another half a yard) then he wouldn't have been hurried. There is not a single delivery in cricket which can be deemed unplayable (we have seen Dhoni smashing Malinga inswinging yorkers for sixes while at other times losing his middle), it is the series of deliveries which make certain deliveries make it look unplayable. There is no measure for that but the speed gun does it purpose i.e. 'd' covered in 't'

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 10:31 GMT)

Asfahan Ali... I keep mentioning this fact over and over again. Read my comments. It doesn't nullify any of my claims, just check the diagram I posted showing the calculation about one meter from delivery point. Instead it nullifies the claims of people saying that bouncers are slower because they have less average speed.

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 10:13 GMT)

What you are not mentioning here is that speed is measured at around 1 meter distance from the Point of release almost nullifying all your velocity and speed claims.Check youtube .com and search for explanation where Jeff Thompson and other commentators explain the mechanics behind checking speed of bowler

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 8:42 GMT)

bingohaley... the speedguns in cricket don't use cameras to make speed calculations. Cameras are used in traffic radar guns. In those systems, the radar gun is used only to trigger the cameras, and then the speed calculations are done using landmarks visible in the pictures taken by the camera. The speeds calculated using this approach are generally considered to be much more accurate than the speeds calculated using radar guns. It is well understood that radar guns don't report accurate speeds, and are for the most part, only a proxy. None of this is news for anyone familiar with radar gun technology. Now, there've been a couple of comments here including yours that radar guns track the ball in 3D space. For the radar to be able to do that, it would need measurements from different interconnected points, that is basic physics/geometry. I have never heard of a single such triangulating radar system, though in theory they should be relatively easy to develop. If you have any info, share

Posted by bingohaley on (August 8, 2013, 8:08 GMT)

(See also my comment below) The direction or azimuth angle with respect to the probing light or radiowave in a Doppler approach is required as I have mentioned below. But you are right that the elevation angle is also required. I am sure that the present Doppler technology with cameras is sufficient to give you all the angles required to make an accurate estimation.

I brought up Doppler, while you started this discussion without even speaking of the technology used. That is the key to understanding everything. Please give me a link to what the technology is, what the measurement protocol is and how the estimation is performed.

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 3:42 GMT)

Blesson_Gregory the speedgun does not report average speed. It reports peak speed which is measured immediately after release (usually one foot from bowler's hand). So by the time the ball hits the pitch, the speed is already calculated and the loss of speed after contact with pitch has no impact on the speedgun reading.

Posted by   on (August 8, 2013, 3:37 GMT)

bingohaley... Doppler compression and expansion of waves is not dimensionless... the compression is highest in the direction of the movement and dissipates in other directions. If the speedgun is not EXACTLY in the line of movement, it only captures a component of the compression (and velocity). This is the reason why the speedgun doesn't capture the vertical velocity. I didn't want to mention this in the essay to avoid over-complication. As it is, there are plenty of people out there already who, when they don't understand something, just call it poppycock.

Posted by Code_Jamer on (August 8, 2013, 1:41 GMT)

The article makes complete sense.

Is simply points out that speed as measured by the speed gun is only determining the velocity across one direction and that is the x-axis, thus determining the 'reaction-time' only.

Whereas, distance being in 3 dimensional for the ball, the speed gun does not account for what the velocity of the ball would be in the y direction or 'nip' as is called in cricket, which also hurries the batsman as evident from the bowling of Glenn Mcgrath and Courtney Walsh.

So, maybe the speed gun is flawed in the sense of how a batsman would actually be perceiving the speed of the approaching ball.

Cricket and elementary physics make for an interesting mix.

Quite a debate going on in the comments. Apparently, all the nerds have shown up. :D

Posted by   on (August 7, 2013, 21:52 GMT)

I have to agree with Binghaley - unless cricket administrators the world over are using the form of radar technology that measures the time it take for a moving object to cross two beams - the form of radar most likely used - measures speed instantaneously and does require a moving object to have travelled any distance in order to get a reading on speed. The speedball radar is measuring point at which the ball was travelling the fastest from the time of leaving the bowlers hand until it reaches the batsman. If the writer of this article were correct the speedball would be detecting only an average speed. However as we have seen from TV coverage on Channel Nine in Aus and Sky in the UK and their on screen graphics the radar is detecting the actual speed of the ball at various points along the trajectory towards batsman. Given the ball will start to slow as soon as it leaves the bowlers hand the radar readout is showing from when it leaves bowler's hand.

Posted by sajid1760 on (August 7, 2013, 21:08 GMT)

(continued from before)

The total speed of Mcgrath's bouncer, delivered at 90 mph from a height of 2.1 m and pitching 4m away from the batsman will be sqrt(2.1^2 + 16^2)/16*90 = 90.8 mph. Thus, without adjusting for air resistance and for friction of the pitch, (both of which would seemingly favor Malinga), McGrath gains 0.4 mph over Malinga as a result of a speedgun error. The concept of "nip" and "skid" is interesting, but I would say that the unplayability of a good bouncer maybe entirely due to other factors rather than "beaten for pace because of a high component of total velocity of the ball."

Posted by sajid1760 on (August 7, 2013, 21:02 GMT)

If I correctly understand what Fouad is trying to say, he is saying that even though a bouncer and a yorker both travel at 90 mph toward the batsman, the bouncer is *moving* faster (due to its vertical velocity component) and hence more difficult to play. If so, I did not know that before and thanks for the insight!

Also, commenter SmarterThanMe is correct--you do have the quantities of speed and velocity mixed up. The speedgun (which perhaps should be called a velocitygun) measures the component of velocity in the direction of the batsman while the batsman perceives the total speed (all three velocity components) of the ball.

Lastly, you did not mention how pronounced the effect is. If Malinga delivers the ball from a height of about 1.9 m and it pitches up to the batsman, its total velocity will be sqrt(1.9^2 + 20^2)/20*90 = 90.40 mph if the speedgun measured him at 90 mph. If Mcgrath delivers from a height of 2.1 m and the ball pitches 4 m from the stumps,

Posted by Fahii on (August 7, 2013, 21:01 GMT)

This article doenst seems to make much sense.....if the distance covered is higher in case of Mcgrath due to high arm action then time is also higher having no impact at out put as V=S/t, in case of Malinga distance covered by ball is lesser then time is also smaller.

only thing is that ball loses its K.E if it has to cover longer distance in case of Mcgrath so it makes impact on output of speed but not too much you can say 130 kmph should have been 131 kmph or max 132 kmph. another factor having impact is swinging the ball as Waseem Akram was doing at great deal.

So Mcgrath is not faster then Akhtar/lee/Akram/waqar/I khan/M holding/Marshal etc. he remains as medium pace bolwer with accurate line & lenght

Posted by Mayank_R on (August 7, 2013, 20:11 GMT)

Interesting article which is supported by empirical evidence. I went back and checked manyl 98-100 mph delivery footage on youtube and almost all of them were yorker length or full toss (including that ominous beamer from Akhtar to Langar).

Posted by bingohaley on (August 7, 2013, 19:34 GMT)

The speed gun is a Doppler instrument. It works on the apparent change in the frequency of light or other electromagnetic wave energy that is scattered back to the instrument from the moving object. It gives you the real-time instantaneous velocity of the moving object. You do not have to have the object traverse a certain distance and do the calculation dividing distance and time.What you need is the angle of travel towards/away from the gun. Also my guess is that the time from delivery to the the batting crease is required to calculate a moving average. So you need to know when to start and when the stop the measurement.

I could be wrong, but at first glance this article appears to be a lot of contrived poppy-cock that seemingly smacks of erudition.

Posted by vaskar1971 on (August 7, 2013, 8:50 GMT)

in the industry, we have seen R&D and Product Development dept. can we retain few cricket interested physicist to impart new ideas in game from physics?

Posted by   on (August 7, 2013, 8:12 GMT)

Som Dutta... you are wrong. Radar gun does not locate the ball in three dimensional space instead only measures the distance between the ball and the gun. To locate the ball in 3D space, not one but three radar guns would be needed.

Posted by   on (August 7, 2013, 8:04 GMT)

Analysis was decent but trivial (any kid with knowledge of pre-school physics would have done it), and nobody bothered to do the analysis you did because the basic assumption you made about the method used to calculate ball speed during a match is wrong. The instrument used to calculate the speed of the ball is a "Radar Gun" which is placed behind the bowlers arm (around the sight screen). The technology doesn't use a trivial method of speed = distance / time, rather it continuously (at a particular frequency) detects the position of the ball in space (x, y and z coordinates) from the time of delivery of the ball till it reaches the batsman; and then gives the speed of the delivery. The "Radar Gun" technology has been around since the 1950s and has been successfully used in Tennis and Baseball and since 1999 has been adopted for cricket too.

Posted by   on (August 7, 2013, 7:50 GMT)

So Rahulbose, it is well known and acknowledged that McGrath was fast? The pundits can't stop talking about how consistent McGrath's line and length was and that is shortchanging him. What made McGrath great was that he could make the ball nip (or skip) off good length (or off any length for that matter) AT WILL. This is something that is not well understood at all even by the experts. Bounce is attributed either to the pitch, the height of the bowler or the pace, when in fact, bounce is dependent on the vertical velocity; something which is in the bowler's control. Yet I can't think of any bowlers besides McGrath who actively deployed this arsenal to good use regularly. McGrath's unprecedented and inimitable success is testament to this special skill. How McGrath did control the vertical velocity of his deliveries is something that I intend to talk about in another post.

Posted by   on (August 7, 2013, 6:08 GMT)

Dear Ksriniasu and Ahmad Uetian... we are interested in a little more than just how long it takes for the ball to reach the batsman. The batsman can't use ALL the time between the release and contact to make their decisions. The effective time for decision-making is the time since last change in trajectory (which is usually when the bowl bounces, though can be shorter as with late reverse swing). So actually the time the ball takes to reach the batsman since release is often not that important at all. What's more important is how fast the ball is traveling through air because the faster the ball travels through air, the less of a window the batsman has to make effective contact. The speedgun does not measure a very important component (vertical) of the ball's velocity through air

Posted by ksriniasu on (August 7, 2013, 5:13 GMT)

At the end of the day, the gun's measurement tell us the time it takes for the ball to reach the batsman, which is what we are interested in. Isn't it? In other words, batsmen had time more time to play Mcgrath vis-a-vis Lee. Otherwise, we will create a case for Warne being faster than Lee because his deliveries probably have a lot more revolutions. After all, angular velocity is also velocity :-) A bouncer needs to restrict the component of velocity towards the batsman because: 1) the ball pitches further from the batsman, and loses considerable momentum due to friction and then has to travel a larger distance at a lower kinetic energy, and 2) the focus of the bowler is in imparting a significant amount of speed in the vertical direction, thus compromising on the horizontal speed (i.e the speed component towards the batsman)

How would Mcgrath's yorker measure up against Malinga's. Probably Malinga, as the vertical distance required for the ball to travel is lesser than for Mcgrath

Posted by Rahulbose on (August 7, 2013, 5:00 GMT)

The unnecessary physics terms aside, this is something that is well known and acknowledged. The only one to find it a surprising new analysis is the author.

Posted by Vikum72 on (August 7, 2013, 1:45 GMT)

regardless of what the speed gun shows, that fact is that Malinga's delivery still arrives at the batsman earlier than McGrath's. Hence the reaction time available to the batsman is less in Malinga's case than McGrath's. So isn't it fare to say Malinga's is the more difficult delivery to face, purely in terms of the quickness? I agree it's a totally different scenario if you consider the total package, i.e. swing, seam bounce etc.

Posted by FarhanZ on (August 7, 2013, 1:36 GMT)

the total distance covered divided by time taken, it would remove any contradiction. Fouad is not wrong in pointing out that velocity comprises of the total displacement factor inherent in cricket bowling ie the height factor plus the swing/seam movement factor, something that pure speed measurement on the speed-gun does not. However, the nip and the skid, that result in imparting significantly higher speed on a cricket ball have nothing to do with the difference between speed and velocity. This impact of enhanced speed due to nip and skid factors would be perfectly captured in terms of speed, if the speed gun took the two points of reference, not within 1 meter of the release of the ball, but the two points at the extreme ends of the travel of the ball on a pitch between the batter and the bowler. My conclusion is that the criticism of this article is fairly justified as it needlessly confuses a simple issue of the method calculation of speed with the principles of speed and velocity.

Posted by FarhanZ on (August 7, 2013, 1:24 GMT)

BowlerA appears faster than BowlerB, eventhough both show 140 km/h on the speed-gun for a simple reason: Despite the fact that both bowlers' "instantaneous speed" at the point of release is 140 km/h, yet BowlerA's delivery reaches the batsman a fraction of a second earlier than BowlerB's. This phenomenon occurs on account of two reasons, (i) a bowler imparts nip on the ball, which is the generation of extra pace off the pitch after bouncing, and (ii) a bowler skids the ball off the pitch, which reduces the time of the impact of the ball with the surface of the pitch. Skid is a function of the height of release of the ball by the bowler, of course in conjunction with speed. Notice here that the contradiction between the gun speed and what is observable to naked eye is the fact that the speed-gun only measures "instantaneous speed" at point of release of the ball by the bowler. If the speed-gun was to measure the speed of a bowler by calculating...

Posted by agent99 on (August 6, 2013, 23:31 GMT)

Mr Fouad, I really appreciate the massive effort you have put in to write this article, but seriously, it all is a really difficult concept to understand. Maybe a few diagrams and a bit layman-ish lingo would do us all of us some good. There aren't many people with a Masters Degree in Physics who browse cricinfo. No offense meant whatsoever.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 22:07 GMT)

I think you've got it mixed up here. A bowler's speed is not measured by the time taken by the ball to cover the 22 yards. It is measured by a Light Gate as far as I know because it measures the speed at the time of release. I remember a graphic when Shoaib Akhtar hit Tendulkar with a bouncer on the helmet in Karachi( i guess). The speed at the time of release was 94 mph and had dropped to 73 mph when it hit Tendulkar. Now about McGrath,(I could be wrong because I play with a tape ball) I am a tall guy myself (6'3") and have a McGrath-like action( my friends say so). And according to my friends, the dip in speed is so sudden that they end up playing the shot too early.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 21:00 GMT)

Just to clarify, doesn't the speed gun only measure the ball at release? Even taking the height component into account, would be saying other tall bowlers like Harmison, Morkel and Irfan are much faster than McGrath for registering high speeds despite their 'height' limitation?

Posted by rockwill on (August 6, 2013, 13:59 GMT)

Nice article. It would be nice to have technology measure these parameters for better viewer experience.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 13:29 GMT)

Elite_Achilles... yes, the actual velocity of the ball is higher than the speed measured because speed is only being measured in one dimension. The speedgun reports only a component of the actual speed of the ball. The speedgun does not triangulate the location of the ball to find the displacement in three dimensions. The displacement is only being measured in one dimension, i.e. towards the speedgun. I would once again advice you to study a little more than eighth grade physics (and apparently grade 2 English) before launching into unspecific, personalized criticism.

Posted by Elite_Achilles on (August 6, 2013, 13:01 GMT)

Bouncers have a greater speed and a relatively less average velocity compared to yorkers/full tosses coz they travel a larger distance. But what the speed gun measures is the horizontal distance(approx 22 yards)/time taken. I hope this explains the proper physics behind the fact. Fouad, if you wish to learn proper physics, snatch a text book from a 13-14 year old and read it. If you still dont understand, as him/her to explain it to you with diagrams.

Posted by Elite_Achilles on (August 6, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

Dear Fouad Khan, As soon as I saw the heading of your artile, I was interested and in a moment, understood why Mallinga's yorkers are recorded as relatively faster balls as compared to Mcgrath's bouncers by the speed gun. But after reading ur artice, I got irritated coz of your LACK OF UNDERSTANDING and repeating the same lack of understanding again and again using different big, big words! I wished that I could be the first to comment but SmarterThanMe wrote some of the things I wanted to. Your reply to him was even more hillarious. Anyways, he missed out on a few things. First of all, are you implying that the magnitude of average velocity of any object over a period of time can be greater than its speed during that period??(people who know even basic vectors can understand how this is funny). Secondly, Velocity is not distance/time it is displacement/time.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

Arpra... you are right. The speedguns do not report average speed rather instantaneous speed at the time of release. But the speed they report is still the speed 'towards the speedgun', which we can assume to be a good 'proxy' of the speed 'towards the batsman', but certainly not a great proxy of the actual velocity of the ball. See, the problem is that the ball is moving neither towards the speedgun nor towards the batsman, but rather in a three dimensional space partly towards the pitch (or away after bounce), partly laterally (away from or towards the line connecting the two wickets) and partly towards the speedgun/batsman. The speedgun assumes that movement in the other two dimensions is negligible and only reports the speed of movement towards the speedgun/batsman. For bowlers like McGrath who release from good height and generate good bounce, the vertical movement is not negligible and the component of their velocity in that dimension is significant.

Posted by raghav355 on (August 6, 2013, 11:33 GMT)

Brilliant article! I think the broadcasters should now introduce a tool to measure how fast a delivery travelled to the batsman after pitching. I think that would be a more accurate measure of the extent to which a batsman was 'hurried' by the bowler. What say Fouad?

Posted by Arpra on (August 6, 2013, 11:15 GMT)

Interesting article. However, I am not sure if the speed gun really measures average velocity over the 22 yards. I swear i have seen graphics where the speed shown (say 135 kph) is the speed at the point of release and reduces progressively to the point where by the time it reaches the batsman it is is 90 or so kph.

I think the difference between Mcgrath and the round arm purveyors is that Mcgrath loses less of his speed over the 22 yards as compared to others as the ball does not really plonk into the surface, instead skids on. So the speed the batsman expects is a little less than what he actually gets, making him rush the shot... Are we saying the same thing here?

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

SmarterThanMe kindly elaborate on how I have got the concepts of "velocity" and "speed" completely mixed up. It is obvious from your comment that your understanding of these things doesn't extend beyond that of "any 13 or 14 year old who has studied newtonian mechanics" and the most complicated calculations you have performed in your life are taking averages of two quantities. Do you even know what vectors are? Do you know how vectors are split into components? If you don't understand something it is better to read carefully and ask questions instead of trash talking.

Posted by SmarterThanMe on (August 6, 2013, 9:19 GMT)

"The reason bouncers are slower is that the speed gun measures speed. Human perception, on the other hand, is looking at "velocity"; a slightly different thing."

Without meaning to trash-talk your in-depth scientific analysis on concepts such as 'holistic' pace (GOD really??!!), it would be obvious to any 13-14 yr old who has studied kinematics and Newtonian mechanics at school that you have got the concepts of "Velocity" and "Speed" completely mixed up here.

I think/'hope' what you meant was speed guns measure "Average Velocity" i.e. 22 yards/Time to taken to cover the distance - irrespective of trajectory. Because speed or rather "Average Speed" which you correctly point out as a scalar measure, would be average of two scalar "Speeds" 1) Distance b/w point of release to point where ball pitches/Time taken and 2) Distance b/w point where ball pitches to point of contact with batsman/Time taken. And that would be a good 'proxy' of how quick a bowler is perceived by the batsman.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 8:54 GMT)

Great article. It would benefit greatly from some diagrams however!

Posted by Saad.Anwar on (August 6, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

I think "Pigeon" was not quick in the air, but ball skids after pitching due to his natural ability of pitching the perfect seam position, almost upright every delivery....he was impeccable and immaculate with his line and length too....a wonderful bowler, a treat to watch

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 7:41 GMT)

Toyesh... Irfan Pathan is kinda slow on both fronts... not much nip or skid... Ishant of course has great nip and some skid too... ditto for Irfan. It is easier for taller pacers to generate nip without compromising too much on the skid... the benefits of height of course... What's remarkable of course is someone like Shoaib, who used to, in the beginning of his career, bowl deliveries at 93 or 94 mphs that would bounce so high, Moin Khan couldn't reach them despite being almost all the way back up to the boundary. Now that was genuine pace, in ALL dimensions at the same time. Lee had genuine skid of course, but never the sort of 'holistic' pace that Shoaib did. What made McGrath so special of course was not just the nip, but control on the nip. There are plenty of fast bowlers and spinners who have control over lateral movement but McGrath was unique in that he had control over vertical movement. That's what I think made him special. I will try to cover that more in a later essay.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2013, 6:56 GMT)

What would you say about Irfan Pathan then? And also about Ishant Sharma? Ishant Sharma with all his height still generates the pace and nip per-se. To add to the dilemma, how about 7 ft Mohammad Irfan? Pace and Nip!!

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