September 28, 2013

Bowling

Fast bowling and the theory of relativity

In his blog, The Old Batsman, Jon Hotten examines the changing paradigms of fast bowling. He shares an interesting example to describe the skills that international players develop as they prepare to face some of the fastest bowling in the world.

In the same way that time moves differently for the fly, so fast bowling feels different depending on who's facing it and when. In his majesterial The Art And Science Of Cricket, Bob Woolmer highlights some experiments conducted in the early 1980s by Tim Noakes, a South African researcher, in which an old-style static bowling machine was set at 130kph. Peter Kirsten faced up to it, and was unable to hit the ball without the complex series of visual clues a batsman picks up from the bowler's run-up and delivery stride (during his long career Kirsten faced all of the world's quickest bowlers out in the middle, playing deliveries at speeds of 150kph). Yet spat without notice from the cold eye of the machine, the ball came towards him too quickly for him to accurately plot its course.

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