March 16, 2014

What can speed guns tell us?

They may provide objective information about the pace of the bowling, but the complete picture is provided by also considering the way batsmen respond to pace
44

The difficulty of playing Shoaib Akhtar when he was in the mood went beyond measurements of distance and speed
The difficulty of playing Shoaib Akhtar when he was in the mood went beyond measurements of distance and speed © Getty Images

"To be objective," wrote the historians of science Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, "is to aspire to knowledge that bears no trace of the knower - knowledge unmarked by prejudice or skill, fantasy or judgement, wishing or striving. Objectivity is blind sight, seeing without inference, interpretation or intelligence."

We love objective information precisely because it appears to be indisputably true - true beyond the reach of argument. The speed of the ball is an "objective" measure provided by the ball-tracking package used to enhance the quality of the broadcast. The trajectory of the ball, where it was released from, where it pitched in relation to the stumps, where it was headed, where it was met by the bat, where it might have crossed the plane of the stumps, whether or not it bounced normally - all this information is available too. The data provided by all this technology is systematically verifiable. If you used the same apparatus in the same way, you will get the same readings for a particular delivery.

Speed guns are lethal ammunition for the casual cricket fan. How often have you heard the lament that a bowler is down to the mid-70s? The conclusion from this finding is often of the deadliest kind - the bowler isn't trying hard enough. But quite apart from such simplistic crudeness, speed guns can also be bewildering.

In all the cricket that I have watched, the speed in miles per hour has tended to reveal very little about what is going on between bat and ball. I have seen bowlers deliver bouncers clocked at 81mph that rush batsmen, and short deliveries clocked at 90mph that are hammered by the same batsmen, seemingly with moments to spare. On some wickets, the short, lifting delivery just outside off is pulled effortlessly through midwicket. On others, the same delivery, at the same speed, is fended at. The speed of the ball through the air tells us very little about the contest between bat and ball. What's more, the contest between bat and ball often obscures the true speed of the bowling, especially on TV.

I remember the first time I watched truly fast bowling at a ground. Curtly Ambrose was bowling to Andrew Hudson and Kepler Wessels at the Cricket Club of India in 1993. Wessels left Ambrose's first two balls outside off stump. It seemed to me that he could have done little else. The balls zipped by so fast into Jimmy Adams' gloves that I failed to see how anyone could possibly react to them in time. Adams was standing halfway to the boundary. A couple of balls later, Hudson slapped a shortish ball to the backward-point boundary, after having calmly blocked the previous ball from Ambrose down by his feet. The batsman's response changed my perception of Ambrose's speed. Suddenly, even I began to see the ball a bit better from the North Stand!

The lived experience of watching cricket is often at odds with "objective" measurements like distance and speed. Now, after having watched and played a lot more cricket - on TV, on maidans, in stadiums, on Youtube - and having listened to endless hours of commentary, I think that the speed gun provides an invaluable measure, but only because it provides a reason to look for things one might not otherwise notice - things that reveal much about the contest between bat and speeding ball.

The first over bowled by Shoaib Akhtar in Centurion on March 1, 2003 included six deliveries, each clocked at a minimum of 90mph. It cost him 18 runs, which included the shot of Sachin Tendulkar's lifetime in my opinion (no, not the six, the boundary to square leg the ball after that). It ought to be humanly impossible to play the strokes that Tendulkar did in that over, if you consider the limitations of human reaction. The ball that Tendulkar square-cut for six was clocked at 150.8kph, or 93.7mph. The next two balls that went to the boundary were also quicker than 150kph.

Tendulkar v Shoaib in Centurion, World Cup 2003
Tendulkar v Shoaib in Centurion, World Cup 2003

From the moment the ball leaves the bowler's hand to the moment it is met by the batsman, the ball travels about 19⅓ yards. This is the distance between the two batting creases. The batsman therefore has at most 0.44 seconds to read the line and length of the ball, decide a response, and perform it. In reality there is less time than this, because the batsman meets the ball at least a foot (or often, two feet) outside the batting crease when playing forward. The speed is measured at the batting end, so the ball is travelling faster than the measured speed for most of its flight. Finally, the batsman has to "read" the delivery, a process that begins with identifying where the ball has been released from.

Experiments studying eye movements of county-level batsmen against bowling at 25 metres per second (by a bowling machine), or 90kph, the speed of the average spinner's faster delivery, showed that batsmen do not trace the exact path of the ball all the way through. Instead, they identify the point of release, and then the eye moves to the expected point of pitching. After the ball pitches the eye tracks its path until the time comes to play the ball. When the batsman is playing forward, he does not actually watch the ball on to the bat (simply because he can't - the bat and the arms are in the way). I have not come across studies like this involving extreme pace.

One of the most interesting ways in which batsmen cope with extra pace is to play the ball partially before it is delivered. Take a look at the screenshots of Tendulkar facing up to Shoaib Akhtar and Abdul Razzaq in that innings in Centurion. Against Shoaib, Tendulkar has almost fully completed a short forward stride before the bowler has released the ball. He does not use this method against the slower Razzaq, maintaining his stance until the ball has been released. Incidentally, Tendulkar also did not premeditate against Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in that innings.

Note that in all these examples, Tendulkar is batting within the first 20 overs of the Indian innings. These are not the premeditated movements of the slog.

Tendulkar v Razzaq
Tendulkar v Razzaq

A few days before that game in Centurion, Tendulkar faced Andy Caddick and James Anderson (middle left below) in Durban. Especially against Caddick, Tendulkar used different methods. Occasionally he would take a small stride down the pitch, along a line of middle and leg; at other times he would step across his stumps well before the ball was released.

Tendulkar v Caddick and Anderson
Tendulkar v Caddick and Anderson

A few months later Tendulkar faced Pakistan in Rawalpindi. Here he used a different trigger movement against Shoaib and Mohammad Sami, the two genuinely quick bowlers in the line-up. As opposed to the forward stride he used in South Africa, here Tendulkar took a short step back.

The ball that dismissed Tendulkar in Centurion was banged into the pitch by Shoaib, but Tendulkar did not take a stride at all before the ball was pitched. Shoaib had returned for a new spell and Tendulkar, who was batting with a runner by then, was caught on the crease, fending off a rising delivery. In recent Tests we've seen a number of batsmen have this problem against Mitchell Johnson.

Against Caddick, the premeditated stride helped Tendulkar play balls from off stump or just outside through square leg, off both front and back foot. Commentating during this game, Ian Botham repeatedly observed that the deliveries Tendulkar put away through square leg were "on the pads". They were nothing of the kind. Most of the boundaries Tendulkar scored off Caddick were to well-pitched deliveries on off stump. In almost all cases, Tendulkar would have been out lbw if he had missed the ball. The only thing that would have saved him from being lbw in some of these cases is that the impact was likely to have been outside off stump.

These are all examples from limited-overs cricket where scoring runs quickly is important. In the two games against Shoaib that I have brought up, India were chasing five and a half and six and a half runs per over respectively. Against Caddick, India batted first, and were presumably trying to set England a difficult target. Scoring at such rates against high-quality extreme pace (or even medium-fast pace) requires these innovations from the batsman.

I have little doubt that Tendulkar played Shoaib differently in Multan in 2004. At Headingley in 2002, Tendulkar played Caddick and Flintoff differently. He used a pronounced back-and-across movement to counter Flintoff's line of attack from round the wicket early in his innings. Against Caddick, his first movement was typically forward, but only after the ball had been released.

Tendulkar is also not the only player to use these different methods. I keep looking for high-quality videos to see if Brian Lara or Steve Waugh used different approaches at different times. One unforgettable stroke by Lara against a screaming Waqar Younis inswinger on a length in Sharjah started as a cover drive but changed, in mid-stroke, to an astounding on-drive, all because the ball swung just enough that it would have found the inevitable gap between bat and pad that the full-blooded cover drive involves.

That was a quick inswinger from Waqar in 1993. But on that flat Sharjah pitch (Pakistan made 280-odd, and West Indies chased successfully, with Keith Arthurton and Phil Simmons scoring even quicker than Lara did!), where Lara managed to make not one but two strokes to it, it didn't seem that quick.

It is humanly impossible to respond to a 95mph delivery at a distance of 19 yards after it has been released. Most of the time, batsmen either minimise their response (see Yuvraj Singh's response to a 98mph thunderbolt from Shoaib Akhtar here, with the score 177 for 4), or offer a quasi-predetermined response. It is not entirely predetermined, because the anticipation, if you will, is limited to expecting a certain length and line, not necessarily to determining what stroke the batsman will play in response.

Sometimes batsmen premeditate to a great extent. An ugly example would be the premeditated slog across the line of a good-length ball. The success rate for full premeditation is not high. The success rate of partial premeditation, especially for a player like Tendulkar, is very high (judging by his consistency). Against high pace, at least some premeditation is essential, especially if the batsman wants to score quickly against this type of bowling.

It is one of the peculiarities of cricket that the speed of bowling becomes apparent only by the way batsmen respond to it. The reality of extreme speed has to be cheated in order to be addressed successfully. The speed gun provides an alternative verifiable fact about the speed of bowling - alternative, that is, to the speed that is apparent in the way the batsman faces the bowling. At its best, it is one more insight into the intricate contest between bat and ball.

In his 25 years as an international cricketer, Tendulkar has probably never been asked in an interview about the changes in his footwork against a particular bowler over a period of time. But when he practised in the nets, I bet that this sort of thing dominated his discussions about batting with his colleagues.

Perhaps, if that crucial half-second was teased out more systematically on the professional broadcast, we would get better questions, better interviews, and more discussion of the actual cricket. Tools like the speed gun provide the opportunity for this, but a lot of thought is required to go from the speed-gun reading to a conclusion. Blind sight is a myth. To really see, one has to think things through, especially when those things are "objective" facts.

The pictures used in this post have been extracted from extended highlights videos available on You Tube.

Kartikeya Date writes at A Cricketing View and tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SzlyAr on March 19, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    Brilliant article. I use to wonder on why players had differing movements. I am glad you gave a great example of Sachin as he was one of the guys who would change his movements perhaps depending on the batting surfaces. Yes, Alec Stewart, Alistar Cook, Brain Lara, Rickey Ponting, Rahul Dravid all had a constant movement going back and front. Not that it makes them lesser great to what they have achieved but these, and a few more, trust their strengths more with their firm batting position. I would not say dominating Sachin doesn't make the great he is. Rafa Nadal dominated Roger Federer yet Federer is still regarded as arguably the greatest tennis player ever graced the tennis courts. All in all, wonderful article Kartikeya. Its like an eye opener to what and how much insights goes into delivering a ball to playing it.

  • on March 19, 2014, 15:46 GMT

    A brilliant article on the art and science of batting against fast bowlers. One point that could have been included would have been the height of the fast bowlers anf the angles they create when bowling. An example would be Ambrose and Marshall in the same match. Even though they would be bowling at roughly the same speed the height from which the ball is delivered would be different and so would your reaction. Also the nature of the pitch would create different speeds off the wicket after pitching. Again all the examples are of one day matches. Test matches would be different especially on the fourth and fifth days. A good example of playing good quality fast bowling would be Steve Waugh's brilliant double hundred against West Indies in 1995.

  • Le_Jeu on March 19, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    The writer is mistaken when he says that the speed of the ball is measured at the batsman's end when it is actually the other way around. It is measured in the first 90 centimeters the ball travels after leaving the bowler's hand. Even a very quick delivery, say at 150 kph, slows down to the 120-130 kph range when it reaches the batsman depending on the pitch.

  • vamosromil on March 19, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    Can you post a video of that shot played by Lara off Waqar?

  • prashant1 on March 19, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    Kartikeya- There is considerable ambiguity between a trigger movement and premeditating. You seem to imply that in the examples given Tendulkar expected a certain line/length ball and so moved his feet accordingly. However, for eg. in the flick to square leg of Shoaib the front foot movement was pretty much the same as the prior ball which was square cut for six. As also the very next ball which was ondriven for four. One may say it's more a trigger movement depending on the pitch ,bowling, type of strokes one intends to play - premeditating may be a very minor component of it. As mentioned- why should Tendulkar use a forward press against spinners at times then ? He has all the time in the world to decide what to do when the ball is in flight. (Re. every cricket conversation ending up for/against SRT etc. Well - you writers may as well get used to it. SRT is the ultimate Legend in the game. That status will narutally bring strong reactions-for or against)

  • on March 18, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    As the author of this post, I suppose I ought to clarify a couple of points. This post has nothing to do either with SRT or with India v Pakistan. I used SRT only an example familiar to a large number of people. I am beginning to believe that Godwin's law for Cricket would be that "As cricket debates grow longer, the probability of these debates becoming about SRT v Lara, or India v Pakistan, approaches 1".

    These (in this post) are not trigger movements, since they are used every ball. A lot of top players (SRT is one of them) do not use a trigger movement. They stay absolutely still until the ball is bowled and then their first movement is typically forward. Other players use a back and across "trigger" movement. Cook and Amla are examples.

    SRT is premeditating, but doing it as little as he can to get into a position where he can hit the ball for runs, not simply play it. That's why its not simply a trigger movement in my view. Other top players do this too.

  • Cricket_Champion on March 18, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    Nice observation by the author but author hasn't mentioned that where was Tendulkar's feet movement and stride in most of the matches he played against Shoaib Akhtar,especially in Calcutta test match,Faisalabad And Rawalpindi Test match in 2004 Etc. Apart from above mentioned Centurion match,Shoaib Akhtar has dominated against Tendulkar easily in his entire career.

  • on March 18, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    @inefekt with modicum of physics knowledge it can be said that for a fast bowler if he throws fast it will reach batsman fast,with limitations as condition of pitch, where the ball is pitched,wind.Depending upon where the ball is pitched if it is a yorker all that matters is the speed at which the ball is thrown hence your logic is not valid in all cases. For spinners it is a different case and I dont think all the bowlers mentioned in the article gave a flight to the ball and provided angular momentum.The article as it started is very objective. Dont compare rose jasmine and lilies each has its own fragrance.

  • on March 18, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    Good article. Sachin is best institute to learn the art of batting(both against pace and spin). IT shows how class a batsman can be if he has good eyesight+great balance+strong wrist hands, in today's T20 era, just waking the ball with power which is not at all art of cricket. #GOD #SRTforever #ThankyouSachin

  • on March 18, 2014, 13:46 GMT

    It also explains the fact that the other known greats Inzamam, Dravid, Mark Waugh, Arvinda DeSilva used to look awesome on their days and a bit lack lusture few other times....

    The Trigger Movement sets this....Wonderful Insight. EX: Dravids masterclass in Adeliade, Pindi, or the bullying of AllanDonald in that final.... Inzi''s amazing onslaught against us Indians while chasing 350+ .... Desilva's mad max onslaught in the World CUp 1996. All are well known now and can be easily viewed again in hindsight keeping this article in mind

  • SzlyAr on March 19, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    Brilliant article. I use to wonder on why players had differing movements. I am glad you gave a great example of Sachin as he was one of the guys who would change his movements perhaps depending on the batting surfaces. Yes, Alec Stewart, Alistar Cook, Brain Lara, Rickey Ponting, Rahul Dravid all had a constant movement going back and front. Not that it makes them lesser great to what they have achieved but these, and a few more, trust their strengths more with their firm batting position. I would not say dominating Sachin doesn't make the great he is. Rafa Nadal dominated Roger Federer yet Federer is still regarded as arguably the greatest tennis player ever graced the tennis courts. All in all, wonderful article Kartikeya. Its like an eye opener to what and how much insights goes into delivering a ball to playing it.

  • on March 19, 2014, 15:46 GMT

    A brilliant article on the art and science of batting against fast bowlers. One point that could have been included would have been the height of the fast bowlers anf the angles they create when bowling. An example would be Ambrose and Marshall in the same match. Even though they would be bowling at roughly the same speed the height from which the ball is delivered would be different and so would your reaction. Also the nature of the pitch would create different speeds off the wicket after pitching. Again all the examples are of one day matches. Test matches would be different especially on the fourth and fifth days. A good example of playing good quality fast bowling would be Steve Waugh's brilliant double hundred against West Indies in 1995.

  • Le_Jeu on March 19, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    The writer is mistaken when he says that the speed of the ball is measured at the batsman's end when it is actually the other way around. It is measured in the first 90 centimeters the ball travels after leaving the bowler's hand. Even a very quick delivery, say at 150 kph, slows down to the 120-130 kph range when it reaches the batsman depending on the pitch.

  • vamosromil on March 19, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    Can you post a video of that shot played by Lara off Waqar?

  • prashant1 on March 19, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    Kartikeya- There is considerable ambiguity between a trigger movement and premeditating. You seem to imply that in the examples given Tendulkar expected a certain line/length ball and so moved his feet accordingly. However, for eg. in the flick to square leg of Shoaib the front foot movement was pretty much the same as the prior ball which was square cut for six. As also the very next ball which was ondriven for four. One may say it's more a trigger movement depending on the pitch ,bowling, type of strokes one intends to play - premeditating may be a very minor component of it. As mentioned- why should Tendulkar use a forward press against spinners at times then ? He has all the time in the world to decide what to do when the ball is in flight. (Re. every cricket conversation ending up for/against SRT etc. Well - you writers may as well get used to it. SRT is the ultimate Legend in the game. That status will narutally bring strong reactions-for or against)

  • on March 18, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    As the author of this post, I suppose I ought to clarify a couple of points. This post has nothing to do either with SRT or with India v Pakistan. I used SRT only an example familiar to a large number of people. I am beginning to believe that Godwin's law for Cricket would be that "As cricket debates grow longer, the probability of these debates becoming about SRT v Lara, or India v Pakistan, approaches 1".

    These (in this post) are not trigger movements, since they are used every ball. A lot of top players (SRT is one of them) do not use a trigger movement. They stay absolutely still until the ball is bowled and then their first movement is typically forward. Other players use a back and across "trigger" movement. Cook and Amla are examples.

    SRT is premeditating, but doing it as little as he can to get into a position where he can hit the ball for runs, not simply play it. That's why its not simply a trigger movement in my view. Other top players do this too.

  • Cricket_Champion on March 18, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    Nice observation by the author but author hasn't mentioned that where was Tendulkar's feet movement and stride in most of the matches he played against Shoaib Akhtar,especially in Calcutta test match,Faisalabad And Rawalpindi Test match in 2004 Etc. Apart from above mentioned Centurion match,Shoaib Akhtar has dominated against Tendulkar easily in his entire career.

  • on March 18, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    @inefekt with modicum of physics knowledge it can be said that for a fast bowler if he throws fast it will reach batsman fast,with limitations as condition of pitch, where the ball is pitched,wind.Depending upon where the ball is pitched if it is a yorker all that matters is the speed at which the ball is thrown hence your logic is not valid in all cases. For spinners it is a different case and I dont think all the bowlers mentioned in the article gave a flight to the ball and provided angular momentum.The article as it started is very objective. Dont compare rose jasmine and lilies each has its own fragrance.

  • on March 18, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    Good article. Sachin is best institute to learn the art of batting(both against pace and spin). IT shows how class a batsman can be if he has good eyesight+great balance+strong wrist hands, in today's T20 era, just waking the ball with power which is not at all art of cricket. #GOD #SRTforever #ThankyouSachin

  • on March 18, 2014, 13:46 GMT

    It also explains the fact that the other known greats Inzamam, Dravid, Mark Waugh, Arvinda DeSilva used to look awesome on their days and a bit lack lusture few other times....

    The Trigger Movement sets this....Wonderful Insight. EX: Dravids masterclass in Adeliade, Pindi, or the bullying of AllanDonald in that final.... Inzi''s amazing onslaught against us Indians while chasing 350+ .... Desilva's mad max onslaught in the World CUp 1996. All are well known now and can be easily viewed again in hindsight keeping this article in mind

  • on March 18, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    It's really the best thing that i have ever seen by batting maestro....sachin,thnks

  • on March 18, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    Awesome article. Lovely observation of small facts.

  • on March 18, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    Fantastic article... and a good look into Sachin' fantastic footwork... What a player... batting can not get better than that... well all the strokes that he played in that match against pakistan were majestic... unbelievable... every stroke had different kind of importance... the six over third man of Shoaib did set the tone for the entire Indian innings... that was the stroke that put pakistan on the back foot immediately at the start of the indian innings... that followed by the master class boundaries... all strokes played with such an authority and class that the bowler was bound to feel helpless... all super fast and good deliveries from Shoaib... and yes the punch of the backfoot of the bowling of Akram stands out... that has been Sachin's trademark shot for a long time... thanks for reminding me about that game... I still get the shivers down my spine when I see each of those shots remembering the occasion of that match.

  • inefekt on March 18, 2014, 10:27 GMT

    @Tim Hearsy - that may be your opinion but it is not a fact. Anyone with a modicum of cricket knowledge knows who the greatest batsman of all time is. In regards to the measurement of a bowler's speed, I heard on several occasions the commentators referencing the fact that the speed is measured as it leaves the hand, why then does the article state that it is measured as it reaches the batsman? Channel 9 in Oz showed a graphic which confirmed what they were saying, the speed out of the hand of one particular Johnson delivery was 140kph++ and by the time it reached the batsman it was under 120kph.

  • on March 18, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    Whenever I read something about Sachin Tendulkar, I feel as if I know nothing about the game and when i complete reading, I feel like i have learnt a lot now... Really Sachin is my MASTER... I followed him when I started playing and i wil follow him till the end... Thanks a lot Sachin and thanks for the article...

  • analyseabhishek on March 18, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    I think I read someplace that Brian Lara did have different techniques and of course the ability of executing all of them effectively. Also, the accuracy factor also comes into play. If the ball is closer to the line of sight (in other words, pinning you down), it is more difficult to judge its true speed. On the other hand, if it is away from the line of sight (towards off or towards leg), it becomes much easier, just the way it was for Yuvraj in the match here- the ball was 98mph alright but it was on his pads. I think this also explains Mitchell Johnson's recent success. He could always bowl 93 mph- nowadays he is dead accurate and much tighter as well.

  • on March 18, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    Fantastic analysis! One of the finest I've read in recent times! Curious to see how Lara, Ponting, Dravid and Kallis's tactics compare to that of Sachin's.

    N yup, the only bunch of people crying foul here are Pakistani fans.

  • on March 18, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    Excellent article. It read beautifully as I played out the strokes in my head. He truly was the best batsman of all time in my honest opinion.

  • on March 18, 2014, 8:23 GMT

    This match did see Tendulkar playing the shot of his lifetime, but not the one you mentioned, I think it was the standing backfoot cover drive off Akram. It gave Tony Greig (and me) sheer orgasm!

  • on March 18, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    Kartikeya Date is right to a large extent. Tendulkar is probably the only batsman who used to try out different kinds of trigger movements throughout his career. But then he was so God gifted that he could be succesful trying out different methods. You can also look at his videos from the Mumbai test match in 2001 against Australia, where he experiment with standing a bit upright in his stance with the bat hanging, ala Graham Gooch in the first innings and later on abandoned it for his style in the second. In the first innings I think he scored 75 and in the second around 65.

  • on March 18, 2014, 3:41 GMT

    Kartikeya- I wouldn't bother about Gerry and the typical tiny band of rabid anti-SRT folks. Their lives revolve around bashing SRT at every opportunity. The rest of us simply love it-Keep the articles coming in. And the more about SRT the better ! Thanks!

  • nareshgb1 on March 17, 2014, 21:12 GMT

    wow - quite a well researched piece. obviously an avid cricket watcher - well done. some people probably found Wasim Akram quicker than Akhtar - obviouslsy that brain mattered.

  • on March 17, 2014, 19:42 GMT

    I think good batting comes down to instinct. I don't think Tendulkar or any other batsman would be able to tell you much about what trigger movements they use against specific bowlers on specific pitches, because I doubt they do it consciously. That's kind of what "playing yourself in" is all about -- once you've faced a few deliveries, you get a subconscious idea of the pace and bounce in the pitch. At that point your muscle memory takes over and tells you how to move your feet. Good batsmen probably have better muscle memory. Yes, there is something to be said for thinking about a footwork strategy before your innings and then premeditating those movements once you're out in the middle, but the best batting always happens on instinct. This instinct is honed through hours and hours in the nets, playing on different pitches and against different bowlers.

  • prashant1 on March 17, 2014, 5:15 GMT

    In some ways I agree with Ahmad Uetian...Tendulkar and others use the "forward press" often as a trigger movement. Tendulkar seemed to change his method often. However, I have seen him use a forward press trigger movement against spinners as well.

  • prashant1 on March 17, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    Another fine and insightful article being attacked senselessly.

  • on March 17, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    This is a critical thing that coaches unfortunately don't teach u.

    I, in fact, take my stance exactly as the Tendulkar's front foot press vs Shoaib Akhtar, not the conventional side on bat down stance. It saves that extra split second to play the ball. This position is ideal to play all strokes in the book.

    With chest on front foot trigger movement Sachin was immensely successful in WC 2003 despite playing on tough SA surfaces BUT failed on even Pak's placid surfaces due to side on back foot trigger.

    This proves that key to success is chest on front foot trigger. Back foot trigger only results in failure as is the case with Amla getting frequently bold / lbw against genuine pace.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 17, 2014, 2:39 GMT

    @rizwan-I bet of all the batting superstars you mentioned Ricky-at his best-would have not only been a success but even dominated those WI quicks.Only have to see him hooking/pulling Shoaib-at times w/o helmet-and few others @150 clicks with ease.

  • on March 16, 2014, 23:52 GMT

    >The batsman therefore has at most 0.44 seconds to read the line and length of the ball, decide a response, and perform it.

    That is not correct, because it assumes that the ball maintains exactly the same speed over those 19⅓ yards. The speed gun measures the speed at the instant of release; a certain amount of speed is lost due to air resistance, and significantly more on pitching. A ball which is released at 95mph will probably reach the batsman at 65-70mph - possibly less on a slow pitch.

    Although the speed gun may be 'objective' in that it does not favour a particular bowler over another, whether or not is accurate (ie gives a reading which is a true reflection of the actual speed of the ball) is an entirely different question. One of the Sky team who operates the speed gun commented that he 'wouldn't be happy if he was pulled over by police on the evidence of one'. The margin of error may perhaps be 10%, which is enough to render differences of a few mph in readings meaningless.

  • on March 16, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    Seriously, I can write 2 articles per day like this one and each of them will beats this one hands down, pathetic writing with no logic at all

  • dunger.bob on March 16, 2014, 22:18 GMT

    @ Insightful2013 : I take your point but I think it's very poorly expressed by the author. The article is simply an excuse (and a damn lame one at that) to glorify Sachin a bit more. .. The overall premise of the article is good, the execution too wound up in hero worship to be even readable. imo.

  • on March 16, 2014, 22:00 GMT

    Is a speed gun measuring instantaneous speed or average speed? As in is the speed measure from a set point on the pitch, say 6 inches in front of the bowler or is the time from release subtracted from time taken to reach the batsman?

    This would have big implications for speed particularly when comparing a yorker to a bouncer. A bouncer could lose a lot of speed of the pitch, something that wouldn't happen with a yorker.

  • Bilal_Choudry on March 16, 2014, 21:09 GMT

    excellent artilce .... tendulkar and others successful at both shorter n longer version of the game have distinctly different footwork and approach to bowlers, game, movement etc ... I dont believe its just the pace the matters .. e.g. look at how Trott played Asif in 2010 when ball was going both ways

  • Insightful2013 on March 16, 2014, 16:22 GMT

    rizwan1981, they were frequently faced in the Shell Shield matches and in English county matches.dunger.bob, the article is about speed being relative and I think Date achieved that in a timely fashion. One's perception is again relative. You may be influenced by the bowler's size, his demeanor, the stage of the match, how many runs on the board, many variables. That's why Marshall was probably so feared. He had the speed and the skiddiness, but it was delivered from a marginal height, so it was more surprising. Maybe the mind prejudged as humans love to categorise, that he wasn't capable of what a much a bigger bowler might deliver and subsequently failed to adjust to the .44 sec requirement. Read an article about McGrath's speed being deceptive and how it was achieved. Good one too!

  • Nigah on March 16, 2014, 14:47 GMT

    This article shows that how India's missing a genuine fast bowler, this artical must be retitled as its more about ST Betting rather than fast bowling.

  • rizwan1981 on March 16, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    The reason Tendulkar was able to throw caution to the wind in the match and score 98 was because it was match of no consequence for India- India had already qualified for the super 6 whereas the pressure was on Pakistan who were facing elimination.

    Would any of the current greats like Lara , Ponting , Tendulkar . Kallis et al survive 4 Windies quicks of the 80s - This is why I rate Gavaskar and Greg Chapple over the rest

  • bouncer709 on March 16, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    is this article about fast bowlers and speed guns or about discussing Tendulkar batting style, typical Indian writer still remember that Pakistan made 280 on FLAT SHARJA TRACK and was chased down by WI facing waqar, but not mentioning what Basit Ali did with Ambrose and Cortny Walsh in the same match..... every batsmen in the world move according to the pace of the bowler, its natural, to move earlier against fast bowler than the slow one, so whats new about tendulkar moment?.....If you want to convey the message that Speed guns not telling the correct Idea what batsmen is facing, you should come with examples where fast bowlers are getting smashed but medium pacers are creating troubles for the batsmen on the same day on the same pitch. and somewhere, on flat tracks when there seems nothing for the bowler, and just tear apart the deffence of Sachin and Rahul dravid in consecutive balls with sheer pace and nothing else.

  • CricFan24 on March 16, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    I recall another screaming yorker by Waqar to Lara. Lara was bowled, but not just that. Lara was swept off his feet effectively landing on the crease on all fours. Quite unbecoming. Lara always struggled against genuine pace. Not a single 100 against any genuine pace bowler till 2003. He then managed 4 against Lee and Flintoff in the next couple of years on generally dead pitches. Perhaps it was the high backlift or inability to duck ? Lara for the most preferred some sort of "weave". Not quite certain why- but pure pace was always Lara's weak-point. Not so for Tendulkar.

  • Insightful2013 on March 16, 2014, 9:14 GMT

    This is why cricket is so difficult, especially batting. You start from a child and face thousands of deliveries, memorizing and adapting,for such occasions. It becomes instinctual and learnt together, culminating in a combined response. Almost an autonomic system response. Each cricket pitch is different, eliciting different ball trajectories, movement and speed. Also, each bowler is equally different, in height, speed, hand position, spin and line. Years is what it takes to program the brain, to calculate required responses. I played for Hendon briefly and on one occasion had to face both Cowans and Williams. Williams was very skiddy and even though slower than Cowans, had much more trouble with him. It comes down to perception. Cowans was pretty fast and I found, for me anyway, pre-deciding a defensive stroke before a bowl was bowled and then playing that shot and adjusting at the moment of impact, the bat's angle, helped whether I got runs, using his speed or not. Too fast for me.

  • CricFan24 on March 16, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    A similar study could be made about returning serve in Tennis. The best returners have a combination of anticipation, instinct, reflex , shot-making range and ability . Re. Tendulkar , I recall this one instant (in Perth I think) where he actually swayed away from an express Brett Lee bouncer and then ,seemingly , at the last instant decided to upper cut it. Almost went for a six- and all Brett Lee could do was offer a wry smile.

  • on March 16, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    I totally disagree with auther that pace doesn't matter. More pace by same bowler troubles batsman exponentially................THe latest evidence is: Johnson's pace in 2nd Aus vs SA test was 135-145 & we saw how he didn't have any impact. In 1st SA vs AUS test he was 145-152 & he destroyed the SA batting. PERIOD.

    Yes same pace from different bowlers have different impact.

    1). 145+ bowling 2). with high arm action 3). by tall fast bowler 4). with swing 5). who constantly varies length b/w yorker & bouncer (like what Johnson did) & 7). does body attack is the most lethal.

    Morkel & Johnson ball at nearly same pace but Johnson kills bcz of erratic length, while Morkel only contains bcz of consistent length.

    With consistent length batsmen sets himself beforehand & saves that split second but with significantly variable length like against bouncer yorker combination batsman cannot set himself & gets badly beaten for pace.

  • on March 16, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Dravid & Lara got bold / lbw on 7 times out of 8 in their last Aus tour against pace bowlers bcz of back foot trigger movements, side on strokeplay. & lara bcz of overcomplicated circular bat movements.

    Chest on, front foot, wrists high, linier body & bat movements is key to success vs genuine pace as tis saves a lot of precious mili seconds vs genuine pace.............Boeta Dippiner is a very elaborate example of a player who failed terribly against rising balls bcz of very low wrists in stans.

  • on March 16, 2014, 6:43 GMT

    This is a critical thing that coaches unfortunately don't teach u.

    I in fact take my stance exactly as the Tendulkar's front foot press vs Shoaib Akhtar, not the conventional side on bat down stance. It saves that extra split second to play the ball. This position is ideal to play all strokes in the book.

    With chest on front foot trigger movement Sachin was immensely successful in WC 2003 despite playing on tough SA surfaces & failed even on Pak's placid surfaces with side on back foot trigger proves that key to success is chest on front foot trigger. Back foot trigger only results in failure as is the case with Amla getting frequently bold against genuine pace.

  • dunger.bob on March 16, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    Where I come from these things are called trigger movements and every batsman has them. Good batsmen have several which are used depending on the bowling, pitch and the relative desire to score runs. It's nothing new. Your average grade cricketer knows about it and does it every time they bat. .. In the end I can't see a reason for this article. Sorry, there's no story here for me.

  • on March 16, 2014, 5:32 GMT

    Very interesting insights into how a batsman like Tendulkar adapt to bowlers. Maybe that is what seperates the average from the best. I will definitely be watching batsmen with new eyes after this.

  • on March 16, 2014, 5:32 GMT

    Very interesting insights into how a batsman like Tendulkar adapt to bowlers. Maybe that is what seperates the average from the best. I will definitely be watching batsmen with new eyes after this.

  • dunger.bob on March 16, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    Where I come from these things are called trigger movements and every batsman has them. Good batsmen have several which are used depending on the bowling, pitch and the relative desire to score runs. It's nothing new. Your average grade cricketer knows about it and does it every time they bat. .. In the end I can't see a reason for this article. Sorry, there's no story here for me.

  • on March 16, 2014, 6:43 GMT

    This is a critical thing that coaches unfortunately don't teach u.

    I in fact take my stance exactly as the Tendulkar's front foot press vs Shoaib Akhtar, not the conventional side on bat down stance. It saves that extra split second to play the ball. This position is ideal to play all strokes in the book.

    With chest on front foot trigger movement Sachin was immensely successful in WC 2003 despite playing on tough SA surfaces & failed even on Pak's placid surfaces with side on back foot trigger proves that key to success is chest on front foot trigger. Back foot trigger only results in failure as is the case with Amla getting frequently bold against genuine pace.

  • on March 16, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Dravid & Lara got bold / lbw on 7 times out of 8 in their last Aus tour against pace bowlers bcz of back foot trigger movements, side on strokeplay. & lara bcz of overcomplicated circular bat movements.

    Chest on, front foot, wrists high, linier body & bat movements is key to success vs genuine pace as tis saves a lot of precious mili seconds vs genuine pace.............Boeta Dippiner is a very elaborate example of a player who failed terribly against rising balls bcz of very low wrists in stans.

  • on March 16, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    I totally disagree with auther that pace doesn't matter. More pace by same bowler troubles batsman exponentially................THe latest evidence is: Johnson's pace in 2nd Aus vs SA test was 135-145 & we saw how he didn't have any impact. In 1st SA vs AUS test he was 145-152 & he destroyed the SA batting. PERIOD.

    Yes same pace from different bowlers have different impact.

    1). 145+ bowling 2). with high arm action 3). by tall fast bowler 4). with swing 5). who constantly varies length b/w yorker & bouncer (like what Johnson did) & 7). does body attack is the most lethal.

    Morkel & Johnson ball at nearly same pace but Johnson kills bcz of erratic length, while Morkel only contains bcz of consistent length.

    With consistent length batsmen sets himself beforehand & saves that split second but with significantly variable length like against bouncer yorker combination batsman cannot set himself & gets badly beaten for pace.

  • CricFan24 on March 16, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    A similar study could be made about returning serve in Tennis. The best returners have a combination of anticipation, instinct, reflex , shot-making range and ability . Re. Tendulkar , I recall this one instant (in Perth I think) where he actually swayed away from an express Brett Lee bouncer and then ,seemingly , at the last instant decided to upper cut it. Almost went for a six- and all Brett Lee could do was offer a wry smile.

  • Insightful2013 on March 16, 2014, 9:14 GMT

    This is why cricket is so difficult, especially batting. You start from a child and face thousands of deliveries, memorizing and adapting,for such occasions. It becomes instinctual and learnt together, culminating in a combined response. Almost an autonomic system response. Each cricket pitch is different, eliciting different ball trajectories, movement and speed. Also, each bowler is equally different, in height, speed, hand position, spin and line. Years is what it takes to program the brain, to calculate required responses. I played for Hendon briefly and on one occasion had to face both Cowans and Williams. Williams was very skiddy and even though slower than Cowans, had much more trouble with him. It comes down to perception. Cowans was pretty fast and I found, for me anyway, pre-deciding a defensive stroke before a bowl was bowled and then playing that shot and adjusting at the moment of impact, the bat's angle, helped whether I got runs, using his speed or not. Too fast for me.

  • CricFan24 on March 16, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    I recall another screaming yorker by Waqar to Lara. Lara was bowled, but not just that. Lara was swept off his feet effectively landing on the crease on all fours. Quite unbecoming. Lara always struggled against genuine pace. Not a single 100 against any genuine pace bowler till 2003. He then managed 4 against Lee and Flintoff in the next couple of years on generally dead pitches. Perhaps it was the high backlift or inability to duck ? Lara for the most preferred some sort of "weave". Not quite certain why- but pure pace was always Lara's weak-point. Not so for Tendulkar.

  • bouncer709 on March 16, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    is this article about fast bowlers and speed guns or about discussing Tendulkar batting style, typical Indian writer still remember that Pakistan made 280 on FLAT SHARJA TRACK and was chased down by WI facing waqar, but not mentioning what Basit Ali did with Ambrose and Cortny Walsh in the same match..... every batsmen in the world move according to the pace of the bowler, its natural, to move earlier against fast bowler than the slow one, so whats new about tendulkar moment?.....If you want to convey the message that Speed guns not telling the correct Idea what batsmen is facing, you should come with examples where fast bowlers are getting smashed but medium pacers are creating troubles for the batsmen on the same day on the same pitch. and somewhere, on flat tracks when there seems nothing for the bowler, and just tear apart the deffence of Sachin and Rahul dravid in consecutive balls with sheer pace and nothing else.

  • rizwan1981 on March 16, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    The reason Tendulkar was able to throw caution to the wind in the match and score 98 was because it was match of no consequence for India- India had already qualified for the super 6 whereas the pressure was on Pakistan who were facing elimination.

    Would any of the current greats like Lara , Ponting , Tendulkar . Kallis et al survive 4 Windies quicks of the 80s - This is why I rate Gavaskar and Greg Chapple over the rest