Researchers from Queensland University of Technology examined the behaviour of batsmen reaching landmark scores in One Day International (ODI) matches.
They found that batsmen who were close to reaching personal milestones were likely to alter their strategy in a way which, at first sight, seems detrimental to the team.
However, batsmen striving to reach their personal milestones could benefit the team in the long run, researchers said.
The research, to be published in the American Economic Review, found players were likely to bat more conservatively as they approached a half-century or century to maximise their chances of reaching it.
“We found clear evidence that the behaviour of batsmen is affected by their personal rewards in the game,” said Professor Lionel Page, who collected data on more than 3,500 ODI matches between 1971 and 2014.
“We found players react to individual-specific incentives in ways which can be detrimental to the team as a whole. For example, if a batsman is close to making 50 or 100, he will play more conservatively and hence score at a slower rate.