June 7, 2011

Cricket's not rocket science anymore

Nitin Sundar

Ever wondered how far back spectators should sit for safety if cricket were played on the moon? Or what makes the ball reverse swing? You will soon have the answers to these, and a number of other questions ranging from the pressing to the outlandish, in a new book, The Physics of Cricket by Mark Kidger, published by the Nottingham University Press.

The publisher’s preview promises that the 200 pages will “improve games, ignite debates, explode myths, settle arguments and clinch pub quizzes from West Sussex to the West Indies; from The Oval, London, to its namesakes in Adelaide and Bridgetown. It reveals how players already employ anatomy in ways they didn’t realise, and can harness optics, mechanics, fluid dynamics, materials science, statistics, infrared technology, and acoustics to their advantage – if only they knew how.”

While he is not following and sending feedback to ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball commentators, unfailingly before anyone else manages to, Kidger works as a rocket scientist with the European Space Agency. “For years, everyone from schoolboys to world-class cricketers have perfected their skills, often based on intuition – but, actually, physics,” Kidger says. “Now, for the first time, they can not only explore what’s going on as they enjoy playing and watching others, but improve their game through understanding the many factors they can influence.

“And perhaps have some fun along the way…”

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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