Which sport is more DANGEROUS to play? Cricket or baseball?

September 4, 2009

Post UPdate

Mathspigs you are about to be hit on the head with some BALL PARK figures. There is so much maths involved in comparing cricket and baseball I hardly know where to begin. So I will just set you up with comparative statistics for starters. Here they are:

cricket and baseball stats mathspig

You now have sufficient information to calculate the following:

cricket 1_tnsQ1. If a cricket player  makes 4 runs (and runs between the wickets) and a baseball player hits a home run, who runs the furtherest?

ANS: 4 runs in cricket distance = 80.48 m

Home run in baseball distance = 109.6 m

Q2. What are the delivery ball speeds of an average pitcher and a mid paced bowler in m/sec?

ANS: Average Bowler Ball Speed = 110 – 125 km/h = 30.5 – 34.7 m/sec

Average pitcher Ball Speed = 80.47 km/h = 22.4 m/sec

Q3. How far would the delivery of an average pitcher and a  medium paced bowler travel in 10 seconds?

S = d/t

t = 10 secs:

d = S x t = S x 10

ANS: In 10 sec a ball bowled by an average bowler would travel 305 – 347 M

In 10 sec a ball thrown by an average pitcher would travel 224 m

baseball_01_tns Q4. If Shoaib Akhar fielded a ball in cricket 20 m from the wicket when the batsman was still 8m from the wicket (A typical running speed for humans is 32 km/h) would he be able to run him out?

Akhar ball speed S = 45.0 m/sec

d = 20 m

S = d/t

t = d/S

t  = 20/ 45.0

t = 0.44 secs

Batsman Speed = 32 km/h = 8.9 m/sec

How far can the batsman run in 0.44 secs?

d = S x t

d = 8.9 x 0.44 = 3.9 m

So batsman would be easily run out by Akhar as he is 8 m from the crease.

 Q5. How long would it take a ball thrown by Joel Zumaya to reach the batsman if the pitchers mound was exactly in the middle of the baseball square?

ANS: Speed of ball pitched by Zumaya = 168.65 km/h = 46.8 m/sec

Zumaya speed ball

shane warne cricketline



 Q6. Which sport is more dangerous?

We will base our calculations on the speed (or velocity) and the weight (or mass) of the ball. We must use the same units in all calculations. For each sport plot x-axis: velocity of ball (v) against y-axis mass x velocity (mv) of the ball. mv is the momentum. In ballistics the change in momentum is called the IMPULSE (impact for us). If you are hit on the head with a ball it is the change in momentum of the ball that does the damage. A small ball at a high speed can do as much damage as a larger ball at a slower speed. We are not including spin, curve balls or air resistance to keep calculations straight forward … literally!!! 

Cricket baseball ball IMPACT mathspig

cricket vs baseball impact mathspig

Now that you have your graph you can answer these questions:

tim_lincecum_101mphQ6a. Which sport for professional players is the most dangerous? 

You will have to look at the graph. A cricket ball is heavier than a baseball BUT the fastest pitchers can pitch a ball slightly faster than bowlers can bowl.  IMPACT (mv) depends on multiplying mass by velocity. You will see the stats for Akhar and Zumaya marked on the graph and you can use these stats to estimate impact.

BUT then there is the impact of batting, which increases the velocity of the ball. That will have to wait for another post.

Q6b. At what speed does a cricket ball do the same damage as a baseball? Give one example.  (Hint: Draw a straight line from the Y-axis)shoaib akhtar thaindian

Once again look at the  graph above!

You will find more maths on impact on Mathspig:  for a punch here and from hailstones here.


Pics: Tim Lincecum (Left) with 101 mph pitch, Shane Warne (Upper Right) and Shoaib Akhtar (Lower Left)



  1. Thank you very much for your article.

    • Happy to help. Cheers Mathspig

  2. At at least one key factor is missing, as it usually is in strategic games, when “pure” statistics are used since a key factor is left out.
    In this case the critical excluded variable is “intent” It is legal for a cricket bowler to hit the batter intentionally i.e. there is no “zone”. In baseball, while the brush back pitch etc. are used-the batter gets the credit (i.e. a walk) if he/she is hit. In cricket one has to continue batting and the intimidation benefit is to the bowler. If the batter is too injured to continue he/she is virtually “out” which benefits the pitching team)
    Given the physical dimensions (hardness, speed etc.) above coupled with intent and the lack of a “zone” away from the body of the batter, makes cricket a more dangerous game. Note in the players list-fast bowlers should be compared with pitchers since speed is the critical issue and not flight. Only one cricket fast bowler is used in the comparative list (albeit the fastest bowler) and note that bounce off the ground to chest and head height are not accounted for.

    • Hey Roger, This is amazing. The maths can only go so far. It’s a tool. But you are explaining the maths embedded in the game.This is bri;lianto. I make you an honorary mathspig. Cheers. Mathspig.

  3. I know this is old but what the hell man?
    How is the average baseball pitcher speed 80 km/h? That’s like 50mph! That’s average for a 10 year old! And the above average 112km/h is only 69 mph…
    I don’t have to give you any example for you to realize that’s way off

    • Hey p1m, You are soooo right. Using averages for pitcher speed is crazy. You can pick holes right through this logic. Do they record the speed of every pitcher every day? Noooo! Just some days when it suits them. But it is fun to compare these flawed averages. Cheerio Mathspig

  4. There is no contest, cricket by far is more dangerous than baseball.
    Baseball get hit = free walk to first. If your team thought it was intentional may lead to all in bit of biff. (which is fun to watch) 🙂

    Cricket get hit = get up princess and get ready for the next one, if, there is no if, there all intentional. Fast bowlers call it badging a guy, that’s where there aiming at the country logo on the helmet.

    The list they put up of the three bowlers/pitchers was miss leading.
    Shoab was out and out scary fast, the other 2 Murali and Warne where the best spin bowlers of all time there intent was never to bowl fast. YouTube “Warne gatting ball” then “Shaun Tait breaks A B De Villiers ribs” and you’ll see the difference.

    A wonderful Australian player Phil Hughes was killed a little over a year ago when he miss played a bouncer. So yeah I’m going to safely say our game is way more dangerous. Way safer now than it was the west Indies had the scariest bowling attack of all time at one stage.

    Picture the 2 fastest bowlers in the world one from each end bowling at you with let’s say scant respect for your safety, some how you see them off just to find their replacement are the next fastest bowlers in the world, the west Indies ruled world cricket for a long time with that attack.

    • Hello Fiona, fabulous comment. You are a sports guru. But as you note with the tragedy of Phil Hughes death. It only takes one power-packed ball – bowled or pitched – to do extreme damage. Cheers Mathspig

  5. Your baseball pitching averages are way off. The average major league fastball is over 91 mph (146 km/h). The fastest pitches occasionally exceed 100 mph (160 km/h), with a max of 105 mph (169 km/h).

    • Wow John,

      That’s pretty scary. I took all my speeds from Wikipedia, of course. I’ll have to follow up on your current stats. Thanks Mathspig

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