The Aussies were right to bowl the underarm after all - if you're only considering accurate approach to stopping New Zealand from winning the infamous 1981 encounter.

A slow underarm 'granny toss' is likely to be more accurate, whether playing cricket or aiming for the waste paper bin a study has shown.

Yale and Harvard universities calculated the chances of hitting a target using different 'bowling' techniques.

They found that fast throws are the least accurate because any slight deviation in target is magnified by the speed of release.


"Once you launch the ball, there's nothing you can do," said Dr Madhusudhan Venkadesannkadesan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science

"The ball's just going to carry out the consequences of what you did."

However the opposite is true for slow and curved flight paths, with small errors in the angle of release having little effect. It's a trade-off that favors slower throws, said Dr Venkadesan.

"What we find is that almost the slowest arc is often the most accurate," he added.

"We've compared these calculations to published data of people throwing into wastebaskets; we've compared it to a study on dart throwing.

"You don't just want to be fast or just accurate, you want to be fast and accurate, and this work tells us that this is particularly challenging. The faster you are, the less accurate you are, so how can we be both? That's a question we're pursuing."

The team found that in cricket fielding players fare better with a fast underhand toss.

And if your wastebasket is fewer than three arm lengths away and below shoulder height, an underhand toss is also the best strategy.

However researchers said that cultural reasons often meant that sports players did not choose the most accurate way of throwing.

In American basketball, Rick Barry was famed for his underarm throws, which were dubbed 'the granny throw.' But the move has largely died out.

"One suspects there are social and cultural reasons you don't see that practiced too often," added Dr Venkadesan.

The research was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.