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Frank Thorogood, a farmer and club cricketer from Writtle in Essex, has come up with a design for a flexible polypropylene throwing device which could revolutionise the way cricket coaches work with batsmen in the nets.
The ‘Sidearm’ allows coaches to manipulate the swing and speed of a ball with a simple flick of the wrist, allowing balls to be hurled at speeds of up to 80mph while greatly reducing the strain on the shoulder when sending down the thousands of throw-downs necessary to hone a batsman’s technique.
"I saw something similar when driving around that people would use to throw balls to their dogs," Thorogood told thisistotalessex.co.uk. "The problem there is that they throw the ball very far and high, which is obviously not right for cricket so I put my ideas across to a company that drew up the design and it seems to be working well.”
Though the product is still at the prototype stage it has had some high-profile endorsements and is already being used by Essex coach Paul Grayson, Essex and England batting coach Graham Gooch and by Grant Flower, who has suggested that he will take one of the devices to Zimbabwe to help in his role as batting coach.
"I'm going to take one to Zimbabwe if I can get one," said Flower. "It's actually a pretty realistic thing for the batsmen because it gives you a proper net, I'm all for it."
Such is the success of his invention, Thorogood has even been shortlisted for Barclays’ One Small Step Competition, which helps fledgling businesses with great ideas and innovations, and could win £50,000.