Note: Below, I might present some statements based on what I feel rather than facts. Please correct me in the answer so I understand it better. But I'm writing it anyway to explain my doubts and ask question.

This question is bugging me for a long time.

Usually, what do I notice in test cricket? :

  • A lot of slips because a lot of catches go there
  • Batsmen afraid to even look for a single run. Sometimes they are even afraid of leaving a ball
  • Overall, often there are situations where it seems so difficult to score runs. Teams collapse often even if they are playing defensive
  • Lastly, I've personally observed the ball swinging a lot in test cricket rather than ODI cricket

Usually, what do I notice in limited overs cricket? :

  • Runs come so easily! Hitting 3 sixes in a row isn't a big deal these days especially in T20 cricket
  • Don't notice that much swing (except the first 3-4 overs)
  • Batsman don't look that much afraid (except the first 3-4 overs)
  • In England, in ODI cricket in past few years, their batsmen wreak havoc on bowlers. But in test cricket I feel like getting runs is so difficult

However, this answer totally contradicts what I have stated. According to it, ball (white ball) swings more in limited overs cricket.

So my question is:

How much is truth of this swing in what I have stated above? And if there's truth about this swing, why does it happen? Does the color of ball has to do with this?

  • Several of these observations have nothing to do with the amount of swing, but the resources available for scoring. Limited overs cricket is much more about making runs per ball (because ten wickets tends to take as long as the entire allocation of overs) while test cricket is about making runs per wicket (because there will be hundreds of overs faced per team).
    – Nij
    Jan 21, 2022 at 5:44
  • One aspect that you may have missed is that, while it could be argued the white ball may swing more on a one-to-one comparison, the red ball tends to swing for a much longer period of time. In England, it is not uncommon to see the red Dukes ball still swing after 30/40/50 overs, whereas with the white ball you'd be lucky to still get meaningful swing after the end of the 1st Powerplay (6 / 10 overs for T20 / 50-over cricket respectively)
    – ImClarky
    Jan 23, 2022 at 15:04
  • @ImClarky that makes sense. I think that is why I observe swing more in test cricket.
    – Vikas
    Jan 23, 2022 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


There are several reasons for this: (this more answers why runs are harder to come by)

  • The pitches tend to be prepared differently. Test wickets tend to be more bowler favoured vs limited overs cricket which favours batters more.
  • The fielding rules are different. In test matches you can (almost) put fielders anywhere, while in limited overs cricket the field positions are quite limited, so if a batsman are trying to dominate the bowling, then you move your fielders to the outer ring and they are more likely to be caught.
  • The bowling rules are different. Wides are called a lot more leniently, allowing bowlers to really put in everything and even if it goes wrong it's less likely to be called wide.
  • Because overs are not a limited resource (or almost unlimited) wickets' value goes up. This means more defensive batting in general.

As for swing, the red balls are just a bit different, and perhaps teams spend more time shining it, and it takes less of a beating. Some teams infamously also make the ball more irregular by cheating.

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