Climate phenomenon affects Ashes cricket series' results, says Indian-origin researcher

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Washington, June 26 (ANI): An Indian-origin researcher from the Walker Institute at The University of Reading has shown that the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon significantly affects the results of the Ashes cricket series.

Published in the journal Weather, Manoj Joshi suggests that the Australian Cricket team is more likely to succeed after El Nino years when the series is held in Australia, while the England cricket team has a historically better record following La Nina years, the opposite phase.

ENSO is the largest mode of inter-annual climate variability in terms of globally averaged surface temperature, and has important consequences for weather around the globe. It has two phases-the positive phase is known as El Nino, while the negative phase is called La Nina.

During the positive phase, the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean warms by about 1 degree centigrade for a few months. For large areas of Australia this means a period of lower-than-average rainfall and higher-than-usual land-surface temperature.

The La Nina phase is a reverse of these conditions, with wetter conditions and a lower land-surface temperature.

During the current study, the researchers analysed the results of the Ashes cricket matches held in Australia from 1882-2007, and found a strong correlation between the results and ENSO.

The study has shown that the Australian team has won 13 out of 17 series played (76%), but only five out of the 13 played in La Nina years (38%), during El Nino years.

It has further shown that England has only won one Ashes series in the last 100 years following an El Nino event - the "Bodyline" series in 1932/33.

According to the researchers, cricket pitch conditions can significantly affect the outcome of a match.

They say that the drier pitches, common for the duration of the El Nino period, are conducive to the faster style adopted by the Australian bowlers.

English bowlers, on the other hand, tend to bowl with less speed and more swing, as the wetter and cooler climate of English summers favours this technique.

"This study shows it may be possible to tell by next winter whether England has a better chance of success in the following Ashes series than previous tours," Joshi said.

"The study could even influence whether the England touring team should include more fast bowlers or more 'swing' bowlers. However, it must be emphasised that this climatic effect is small compared to the human element, so whoever loses in 2010/11 can't use El Nino as an excuse," Joshi added.

Commenting on the research, Royal Meteorological Society Vice President Philip Eden said: "It is rare to find a piece of meteorological research directly related to professional sport... there should be more work like this.

As a long-standing cricket supporter and England fan I believe that the England management should read this paper carefully and inwardly digest and it could help us win in Australia next time." (ANI)

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