The Dew Factor: Understanding its Impact on Cricket

Cricket is a game that is influenced by various factors, and one such element that plays a significant role is dew. Dew refers to the moisture that forms naturally on the ground due to condensation. In day-night matches, the presence of moisture can have a profound effect on the game, particularly during the second innings. 

In this article, we will explore what dew is, when it occurs, its impact on the game, and how players and teams adapt to this challenging phenomenon.

What is Dew? 

Dew is formed when the temperature of the earth’s surface drops, causing the moisture in the air to condense and settle on objects like grass and leaves.

In the context of cricket, dew refers to the water droplets that accumulate on the playing surface during night matches. The intensity of moisture formation depends on factors such as humidity, temperature, and weather conditions. Regions with hot and humid climates, such as the subcontinent, often experience heavier dew.

When Does Dew Occur?

Dew is more likely to form during night matches when the temperature drops and the air becomes cooler. In day-night cricket, as the evening progresses, the cooling effect leads to condensation, resulting in the formation of droplets. 

The presence of dew is more common in certain regions and seasons, especially where high humidity is prevalent. It can significantly impact matches played in the late afternoon to evening period, creating challenges for both batting and fielding sides.

Impact on the Game 

Dew, the natural phenomenon of moisture formation on the ground due to condensation, has a significant impact on the game of cricket, particularly in day-night matches. The presence of moisture during the second innings can drastically alter the dynamics of the game, posing challenges for both bowling and fielding sides.

Let’s explore the various ways in which dew affects cricket.

1. Challenging Grip for Bowlers

The most noticeable impact of dew on cricket is the effect it has on the ball. As the moisture settles on the playing surface, the ball becomes wet and slippery. 

This makes it extremely challenging for bowlers, especially spinners and seamers, to maintain a good grip on the ball. The lack of grip reduces their control, accuracy, and ability to generate movement off the pitch. 

Spinners struggle to get the desired grip and spin on the ball, while seamers find it difficult to extract swing and seam movement.

2. Altered Batting Conditions

Dew significantly affects the outfield, making it faster and causing the ball to skid off the surface. This leads to a change in the batting conditions, favouring the team batting second. 

The wet ball travels quicker, making stroke play easier for the batters. It allows the ball to come onto the bat smoothly, enabling them to play shots with confidence. The reduced friction on the pitch and in the outfield can result in higher scores and faster run-scoring.

3. Fielding Challenges

Fielding in the presence of dew poses its own set of challenges. The wet ball becomes difficult to grip, leading to potential dropped catches or misfields. 

Fielders need to adapt by using towels, gloves, or other means to maintain a dry grip while fielding. The dew can also affect visibility, making it harder to judge the trajectory of the ball under floodlights. 

Fielding sides must be extra vigilant and ensure their fielders are well-prepared to handle the challenges posed by the wet conditions.

4. Tactical Considerations

The presence of dew becomes a crucial factor in the decision-making process for captains winning the toss in day-night matches. They need to carefully assess the dew factor and analyze its potential impact on the game. 

Choosing to bat first or second becomes a strategic decision. Often, captains prefer to chase targets in order to take advantage of the improved batting conditions in the second innings due to dew.

The team batting second may have a greater advantage as the wet ball and faster outfield can make run-scoring easier.

Adapting to Dew

Teams and players employ various strategies to counter the challenges posed by dew. Bowlers often resort to drying the ball using towels or rags, removing as much moisture as possible before each delivery. 

However, this process can be time-consuming and disrupt the rhythm of the game. Spinners may alter their bowling techniques by focusing on more arm balls or flatter trajectories to mitigate the impact of dew on the spin.

Fielding sides also adapt their tactics to deal with dew. Fielders may use towels or gloves to maintain a dry grip while attempting catches or fielding the ball. 

Captains winning the toss in day-night matches must carefully assess the dew factor and decide whether to bat first or bowl. Choosing to chase becomes more common as the presence of dew later in the match can favour the team batting second.

Notable Instances of Dew Affecting the Match

1. ICC World Twenty20 Final 2016: West Indies vs England

The 2016 ICC World Twenty20 final between the West Indies and England was held at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. England batted first and posted a competitive total of 155 runs. 

However, as the game progressed, dew started to set in, making it challenging for the English bowlers to grip the ball and execute their plans effectively. 

The West Indies batters, led by Carlos Brathwaite’s breathtaking innings, took advantage of the conditions and managed to chase down the target with two balls to spare, securing their second World T20 title.

4. Champions Trophy Final 2004: West Indies vs England

The 2004 Champions Trophy final between the West Indies and England took place at The Oval in London. England batted first and set a target of 218 runs. 

However, as the evening progressed, dew started to form on the ground, making it difficult for the bowlers to grip the ball and extract movement. 

The West Indies batters, led by Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s gritty 47 runs, made the most of the dewy conditions and comfortably chased down the target with two overs to spare, winning the match by two wickets. The impact of dew was evident as it hampered England’s bowling attack and favoured the West Indies batters.

Also Read: Why is Cricket in the West Indies on the Decline? – From Stalwarts to Minnows!


Dew is a natural phenomenon that significantly impacts day-night cricket matches. It poses challenges for bowlers, alters the dynamics of the game, and often favours the team batting second. 

Teams and players must adapt their strategies and tactics to overcome the difficulties presented by dew and strive for success in this unique cricketing condition. 

Awareness of the dew factor and effective utilization of techniques to combat its effects can make a crucial difference in determining the outcome of matches.

Read Next: Innings Break in Test Cricket – Explained

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