You are wrong to compare too closely with baseball as this is a different game. In Test cricket it's in the rules that the same ball is used for up to 80 overs (six bowls to an over). As in tennis, the balls are supposed to last for a particualr period of time and new ones perform differently. Partly the game of cricket exploits the changing nature of the ball as it ages in use, becomes softer and is less fast. It's OK that it deteriorates and slows and thus alters what bowlers can do with it. What they are not supposed to do is alter its natural all-round deterioration by, for example, picking at it to roughen the seam or one side of the ball. I think a bit of polishing has always gone on and it's a matter of drawing the line at flagrant ball tampering to permit reverse swing. The bowling side is not supposed to mess about with it to allow that, even though it may happen naturally. That's where the cheating can come in. King Boonen is of course right in what he said. But in cricket they can't keep changing the ball for a new one like you say potentially happens in baseball.Merckx index said:So let me see if I understand. A new ball shines equally on both sides. As the ball is used, it becomes rough on both sides, but the fielding team rubs one side consistently to keep the shine, so the difference in roughness between the two sides increases as the game goes on.King Boonen said:1) It's not asymmetric to start with but becomes so as it is used and the fielding team try to preserve the "shine" on one side of the ball in an attempt to influence its' properties. I believe that natural moisture from the field, spit and sweat are all acceptable to maintain a side of the ball but the deterioration has to be natural. They used to be allowed to rub the ball on a ground a long time ago but that was banned.
I find it strange, though, that this uncontrolled variability is allowed. In baseball, if there is the slightest scuff or imperfection on the ball, the umpire will replace it. Typically, several dozen balls are used for a game because of this. Pitchers do attempt to doctor the ball, and get away with it sometimes, but certainly not to the extent that the roughness seems to be allowed in cricket.
Yeah, that makes sense. In baseball, it's been established that hitters pick up cues from the pitcher before the ball leaves his hand, which allow them to guess the speed, location and movement (direction and degree of curve) of the ball. One of the secrets of pitching success is to develop a delivery that hides the ball until just before it's released. In fact, Jenny Finch, a former prominent woman softball pitcher, was able to make several elite major league hitters (we're talking future Hall of Famers) look like fools while striking them out. This was attributed to the very different release point and mechanics involved in throwing a softball (it's larger than a standard baseball or "hardball", and generally thrown underhand, not overhand), which didn't allow the hitters to guess anything about the pitch. Studies have also shown that major league hitters don't necessarily have particularly fast reaction times. What is essential is really sharp vision, again, to pick up those cues.2) This is slightly above my pay grade but I believe the benefit of reverse swing is it happens late and in the opposite direction to that you would think by looking at the ball. As batsmen generally have to pre-empt a fast delivery and move their feet before the ball has left the hand, they will look at how the bowler is holding himself and the ball to determine what kind of delivery they will receive. Reverse swing makes this much more difficult.
One of the biggest areas of study in baseball currently is spin, which determines how and where a ball will curve or break. Not only is every pitch in every major league game (totaling more than half a million in a single season) recorded with respect to speed, type (fastball, curve, cutter, slider, etc.), location and what the batter does or doesn't do with it, but spin rates and direction are also now being characterized. Today is opening day, the first day of the new Major League season, and in just this one day an enormous amount of data will be recorded, stored and analyzed. I don't think many people appreciate to what extent statisticians now determine the decisions made by baseball owners and management. I don't know if cricket is in the same situation?