Cricket Gear and Technology
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By Venu Palaparthi
Previous scientific explanations for swing have sought to present
humidity as a major factor, and most practitioners of swing bowling are
absolutely convinced that their art is made possible by the swelling of
the seam of the cricket ball as well as the increased lift force
caused by humidity. However, wind tunnel studies have not been very
conclusive regarding the impact of humidity on ball geometry and in
Pic Right - Courtesy Erika Bird and Robin Searle - High altitude
cricket match in progress in Dzongri (13,000 feet above sea level).
One word of advice - don't get your runs in singles.
A paper published on May 26, 2012 in Procedia Engineering
sheds new light on the effect of atmospheric conditions on the swing of
a cricket ball. In the paper, the three researchers - David James and
John Hart from from Britain's Sheffield Hallam University and Danielle
MacDonald from Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand -
concluded that humidity, while it caused a small lateral deviation, did
not significantly affect the ability of the bowler to make the ball
swing. The same conclusion was drawn regarding temperature
Altitude, it was observed, had a larger effect. The researchers
also felt that cloud cover provided the ideal environment for swing
bowling because of reduced turbulence, typically caused by air currents
due to the heat of the harsh sun. Calmer air under clouds made it
easier for the ball to experience asymmetrical flight, the researchers
The physics of all of this is fairly simple. Generally, a
ball travels further in warm and humid air. That is because humid air
is less dense than dry air due to the lower molecular weight of water
vapor. Therefore, when temperature and pressure are held constant,
humid air is lighter and more favorable to a traveling ball. However,
while a batsman can smash the ball farther, greater humidity can also
make the ball juicier, harder and heavier shifting some of that
advantage to bowlers. According to swing bowlers, they also get a fair
amount of assistance if the air was colder and humid because of
greater lift force.
The impact of temperature and pressure on air's density is even more
straight-forward. Greater temperature and lower pressure both result
in lower air density, which in turn allows the ball to travel farther.
The lower humidity and thinness of air at higher altitude
also causes balls to shrink, renders them more elastic and a tad
lighter. Ball trajectories become more predictable and this is clearly
advantageous for the batsman.
Pic Right - The walk-in humidor at the Coors Field in Denver where balls for the season are stored.
In baseball, there is an abundance of evidence on effects of higher
altitude and lower humidity. At the Coors Field in the Mile-High city
of Denver where the air is thin, and relative humidity is low at
30%, the balls were known to fly away from the bat. "Coors Light" was a
common pun back in the day. A home run ball that would normally be
expected to fly 400 feet, flew 420 feet.
complained that the change in shape also made it harder to grip the
balls. 20% fewer curve balls and more predictable trajectories also
contributed to two runs greater per game at Coors than at other
In cricket, evidence is more anecdotal. Somewhat famously,
Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg is located at an altitude of 6000
feet above sea level and this is where South Africa successfully chased
down Australia's world record total of 434 for 4.
The Procedia Engineering paper is somewhat circumspect on the
impact of humidity on the geometry of the ball. The researchers
observed that while cricket balls lost 0.16 grams (0.005 oz) of mass
when the humidity was lowered to 25% and the ball was exposed for 2
hours to those conditions, the difference was not significant enough to
impact the ball's swing or trajectory. The researchers also observed
that the primary seam did not swell or shrink significantly. However,
it appears that the study focused more on short-term atmospheric impact
and less on the impact of prolonged exposure of balls to lower
It is quite possible that exposure to longer periods of low humidity
may cause cricket balls to shrink by a greater amount and become
lighter, producing outcomes that are more consistent with what was
observed at the Coors Field prior to 2002. Baseball, by regulation,
must weigh between 5 and 5.25 oz and measure 9 to 9.25 inches in
circumference. At the Coors Field in Denver, the ball circumference
was known to have averaged lower than the regulation permitted and the
lowest recorded circumference was 8.5 inches. The mass dropped to
below 5 oz going as low as 4.6 oz.
In 2002, a Coors engineer came up with the idea of using a humidor
for the balls used at the stadium, similar to what you might find at a
cigar store. That season, Coors Field acquired a humidor for the balls,
which now maintains the balls at 50% humidity and 70 F. This has
helped in maintaining the weight and circumference of the balls. The
results on the field were as expected. The number of home runs hit at
Coors Field has dropped from 268 in 2001 to 185 in 2007. Even Denver's
players were surprised. "I was hitting balls and they weren't going
out of the yard," Rockies first baseman Todd Helton told a reporter. "I
was wondering what the heck was going on."
Of course, ball tampering takes a whole new meaning when you start to
control the conditions in which the ball is kept and then hand the key
to the home team. No surprises then that the Giants suspected that
Denver was using juiced up humidified balls when pitching
against opponents and non-humidified dry balls when they were batting.
This led to more independent oversight by umpires, who take the whole
stock of balls now before the game starts.
Mike Selvey observed in a 2009 blog piece on cricket balls, "the
authorities seem to like the consistency while having little regard for
the overall performance." He called for more research, paid for by
ICC if necessary, to arrive at a ball with tighter winding and a
leather that will suit all conditions. Perhaps the ICC should also
consider investing in humidors, especially at the higher altitude
grounds of Dharamsala (4320 feet above sea level) or Wanderers (6000
feet above sea level).
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Source: CricTech Press Release; May 16, 2012
Los Angeles based cricket manufacturing company, CricTech, has developed a cricket bat analysis and design process that could revolutionize how cricketers choose their bats.
Former Yorkshire-based cricketer, Richard Blackledge CEO of cricket manufacturing company CricTech, has developed a cricket bat analysis and design process that could revolutionize how cricketers choose their bats.
Richard, who now lives in Los Angeles, is the USA Cricket Association’s South West Regional Youth Development Coordinator. The CricTech process uses patented impact marker sheets which enable the optimum sweet spot position to be measured for each individual batsman.
“Every batsman is different,” says Richard. “Where you need the sweet spot is dependent on which area of the bat you naturally strike. This is determined by the position you get in to play the shot. The speed of the wicket or the type of bowling you are facing has very little to do with it. If you push your head forward and play the ball close to the ground like Ian Bell then you would likely need a lower sweet spot than someone like Kevin Pietersen who stands up a little taller to play his shots. The CricTech process is unique in its ability to measure the exact impact point for each of the batsman’s main scoring shots and position the sweet spot where it will be of most benefit.”
Once a batsman’s shots have been recorded using the impact marker sheets, they are analysed and a 3D model created showing the ideal profile of cricket bat for that player’s technique.
CricTech’s research and testing has shown that only 3 out of every 10 batsmen are using a cricket bat with a profile that suits their technique. This means that if you are one of the 70% even your best executed drive will be missing the sweet spot by anything up to 5 inches.
For a limited time, CricTech in partnership with a major UK-based cricket bat manufacturer is offering made-to-measure cricket bats, designed using their unique analysis process at prices ranging from USD 250 to USD 400.
The process is demonstrated on CricTech.com.
Pictures courtesy of CricTech.com
Cricket fans will recall the India-Aus ODI in Kochi last year that was cancelled because of a soggy outfield from the previous day’s rain. A few days later, the Goa fixture of the same teams was cancelled. Reason: Rain until the previous day. But what frustrates players, fans, administrators, sponsors - pretty much the entire nation - is that on the match-day, there was NO rain and yet there was NO play.
Well, finally here is the solution to this problem. SubAir of USA has introduced a sub-surface vacuum powered drainage system that can rapidly suction out standing water from below the grass surface enabling quick resumption of play. This acts almost 5-6 times faster compared to the current gravity-based drainage systems.
Anil Kumar, MD of Great Sports Infra, who provide the SubAir solution in the SAARC region says, “With more than Rs.30 Crores going into each game by way of TV rights, sponsorships, in-stadia advertisement, gate collections and all other administrative costs, postponing or cancelling a game when it is not actually raining at that moment is unacceptable. Millions of fans are disappointed too. Especially in the shorter formats like ODIs and T-20s, there is no possibility of waiting for many hours for the outfield to dry”.
“With a packed cricket calendar, there will be more playing days and some of these spilling into the monsoons. And rain affecting a match will become more common. Everyone understands that when it rains, it is an act of God…but once it stops raining, it will be inexcusable to delay or cancel a game due to a wet outfield. This high-tech solution from SubAir will ensure rapid water evacuation and fastest possible re-start of the game”.
SubAir – a technology with over 10 patents - has been very successfully used across many stadiums and championship golf courses across the world. It also enables air-exchange in the root zone to promote deeper roots and healthier grass thereby improving playability. The result is world-class sports turf that would compare favorably with the best cricket outfields in Australia or England!
This solution will be technologically far superior and less expensive than even the famed drainage system at Lords. And it is a one-time investment.
As stadiums need to use the facility for non-sports events like music concerts which requires the grass to be covered, the air-injection system ensures that the grass underneath the covers continues to get the required oxygen and therefore prevent damage.
Currently in most fields, there is no scientific measurement of actionable data related to humidity, temperature, moisture content etc., and corrective action based on such data. The SubAir system acquires such data from all over the field through embedded wireless sensors, and then the system takes appropriate corrective action.
A network of pipes deep under the grass act as the conduit for collection of water as well as for air to be pumped upwards. The channeled water then passes through an air-water separator and can be recycled.
The aeration that the system provides, enables fresh oxygen to be circulated, stimulates microbial activity and removes harmful gases. The icing on the cake is that in the hot and humid conditions, this air exchange helps reduce the surface temperature by as much as 5°.
So, finally here’s the technology that the cricket world is desperately waiting for. So the next time you hear of a quick resumption of play even after heavy rains, you know the SubAir technology is at work to get the game going.
Source: SubAir press release
Thermographic cameras have become all the rage lately in the world of cricket. When properly used, these can reduce the room for error with LBW or out-caught/caught-behind decisions and can accurately determine whether the ball had made contact with the batsman's bat, pad, glove or any other part of the body.
First used in 2006-07 Ashes Test match at the Gabba in November of 2006, cricket constitutes the first sporting application currently for this technology. It is considered more accurate than the Snickometer, which relies on sound.
Picture shows no contact. Pic Grab: Courtesy BBG Sports.
Of course, the expense of setting up the two-camera solution at each match is very high (a thermographic camera goes for roughly $30,000). The technology has been made available to the third umpire as part of the referral system on several occasions but the use of this technology is by no means mandatory. Several current and former players are in favor of making it mandatory. Michael Vaughan recently was quoted on BBC Sport as saying: "the ICC should pay for the Snicko and Hotspot at every Test match venue."
TV audiences enjoy the application of this technology giving the broadcaster another avenue for advertising. In fact, spectators voted it the best piece of technology in cricket in a Cricket Australia poll in 2007. BBG's Hotspot thermographic technology got 54 per cent of the vote followed by extreme slow-motion (22 per cent), Hawk-Eye (14 per cent), Snickometer (6 per cent) and 3-tracker (5 per cent).
First invented by Nicholas Bion of France, the technology is now used for wide-ranging applications including security and defense. Nine Network of Australia adopted it for cricket and the technology is now offered by the Australian company BBG Sports.
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At the USA Cricket AGM in April 2010, USACA's CEO Don Lockerbie spoke about plans for new cricket facilities in Indianapolis and Nassau County, New York. He said that an international cricket tournament like the ICC Champions Trophy required just 2 full-fledged stadiums and 4 pitches, which was within USACA's grasp if it worked hard at it.
Pictures Courtesy: StrathAyr Turf Systems
A new stadium project could take several years once funding is secured, and that is when everything goes to plan. The challenge for cricket is really one of business case - it simply hasn't scaled in terms of revenue or audience numbers that would be compelling enough to convince tax payers.
Broward County Regional Park is proof that a multi-sport stadium which includes cricket is a smarter option until cricket attracts sufficient year-round crowds to justify a purpose-built stadium. No surprises then that Indianapolis too is considering a multi-sport facility.
A potential remedy to USA's infrastructural deficiencies is the acquisition of the know-how for a drop-in pitch. Such a pitch would be prepared off the ground and laid on the ground as needed. Kerry Packer employed this innovative method for his World Series matches when he was forced to use non-cricket venues in the 70's. As with other Packer era innovations, the drop-in pitch idea has endured, and drop-in pitches are used for international cricket.
Make no mistake, there is a learning curve involved with developing these pitches. In July 2004, after the Test match at Darwin finished inside of three days, Gilchrist complained that the drop-in pitch was not up to test standards. "All you ask for in a good cricket pitch is consistency in bounce. It is difficult with drop-in wickets to know what you have to do. But they've had drop-in wickets now for many years at the MCG and they've got it right."
The application of drop-in technology has been perfected over time. Karl Johnson of New Zealand High Performance Centre once claimed that if a player walked on to the cricket ground in Christchurch, he would not know which pitch was permanent and which was dropped in.
Over time, solutions for multi-sport venues have become extremely sophisticated At the dual purpose Eden Park in Auckland, the front row seats retract when cricket takes over from rugby, and trays with sod are brought out to provide turf cover in place of the seats.
On the surface, importing prefabricated natural turf cricket wickets does not seem complicated. Some of the older cricket grounds in USA including Haverford College and Sea Bright imported their turf from England in the 1800s. In the 20th century, the Hollywood actor Charles Aubrey Smith imported turf and equipment for a cricket ground that he had constructed at the bottom of the Hollywood hillside near his home - the cricket pitch was 'smooth as a billiards table.'
More recently, in 2007, there was speculation about use of drop-in pitches at Shea Stadium - a possible venue for a planned series featuring India and Australia. During the planning stages of the 2007 World Cup, Karl Johnson told CricInfo: "[Unofficial] level talks between the West Indies Cricket Board and the Melbourne Cricket Club are on to use the drop-in wicket at Florida, in the United States, one of the possible venues for the next World Cup in 2007." Needless to say, neither idea materialized.
But owing to bio-security concerns, countries have strict regulations on importing clay or sod. Readers might recall how Indian cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag were penalized in 2002 because they entered New Zealand with dirt on the shoes!
Turf management experts in Australia and New Zealand can be relied upon for their expertise but the challenge is to find local raw materials and clay to built a pitch that can sustain days of wear and tear.
On July 18, 2010, The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported that a cricket turf expert in Auckland had received an inquiry from USA regarding a temporary drop-in pitch. According to the newspaper, a Staten Island cricket organizer apparently sought help from Mark Perham, the Head groundsman of Eden Park, regarding the options surrounding drop-in pitches, the transportation mechanisms and the grass to be used.
Mr. Perham told the newspaper: "We've been doing drop-in pitches now for eight years. We have been pricing up what it'll cost to send our trays and technology to New York, for example."
"We can't send our soil and clay because of the restrictions but baseball diamonds work on similar principles to cricket pitches when it comes to their make-up."
The other thing to consider is viability. Drop-in pitches don't come cheap - especially when viewed in the context of the cash-strapped cricket scene in USA. Developing the trays with the drop-in cricket pitches is only half the cost. Since the facility must also be used for at least one other sport such as baseball or soccer when cricket is not played, a portable solution must also include replacement trays containing turf suitable for those sports.
There is also cost associated with the transporter to move these trays and lock them in place. Unlike football or rugby drop-in turf, where the trays are small enough to be moved by a fork-lift, cricket pitches come in a single slab that is 25m long and 3m wide. StrathAyr has a fairly advanced self-propelled vehicle, the kind one sees on the Tappan Zee bridge. This can only add to the cost.
And then there are costs of maintaining the pitch, including the wages of the groundsman. All told, this is a costly proposition, but is not as expensive as building a cricket-only stadium.
That brings us to the 64 million dollar question! Is there a multi-purpose stadium in one of the major cities that is big enough that is willing to share its facilities with cricket? When ProCricket hosted its cricket matches at baseball parks in 2004, it proved that ballparks are willing to accommodate cricket, even these grounds proved to be sub-optimal for cricket. Regular NFL or baseball venues are thought to be somewhat narrow and asymmetrical for cricket.
A quick Google search reveals that there are a handful of multi-purpose ball parks out there that are configured in a manner that make them slightly more conducive for cricket. A majority of them, such as The Astrodome in Houston have an astro-turf surface, which is unsuitable for cricket. But RFK Stadium in Washington DC, Sun Life stadium in Miami Gardens, the Qualcomm stadium in San Diego, the LA Coliseum in Los Angeles and The Coliseum in Oakland have grass surfaces and are more suitable than the astro fields.
Of these, the LA Coliseum has already hosted a cricket match - on May 19, 1990, the national cricket teams of Australia and Pakistan, played an exhibition ODI there. That may just be what the doctor ordered until Indianapolis and Nassau County come to the rescue.
miSport is a UK based company that has been working on the development of a new range of training systems for the Cricket market. The core product is PitchVision and is aimed at counties, coaches, schools, universities, clubs – and individual players. The equipment is designed to be used by the full spectrum of cricket users and has been priced at less than 2/3rd's the price of a bowling machine!
PitchVision has received great initial interest from first class counties such as Yorkshire CCC.
It is already being used in South Africa along with schools and provinces such as the Highveld Lions and in India with several associations already using the technology along with IPL franchises and leading cricket schools.
How does it work?
PitchVision captures and sends performance feedback instantly to a centralized laptop in ‘real-time’ as players train. It automatically creates a complete overview of all activity taking place; from the delivery of the ball, to the final destination from the bat. It enables every player to capture precise measurements of batting and bowling performance. Best of all it’s designed to be affordable to everyone and is very easy to use. Once set up, no special bat or ball is required; just turn up, plug in and play.
Each player’s data can be displayed instantanously to a laptop, mobile phone and most commonly on-line for later analysis and communication with the coach. Every training session is stored to build up a historical data base and compared against past performance, peers and professional players. Whether you are interested in detailed summaries of your (or your player’s) line and length, or just want to know how fast you bowl PitchVision simply and unobtrusively enhances every training session, generating better data.
When Bowling PitchVision allows you to:
O Measure and record bowler Pace, Line, Length, Deviation, Bounce, and foot position on bowling crease ball by ball
O More specifically, how fast (or slow) to bowl when you’re bowling really well
O Monitor your flight, use of the bowling crease, deviation & bounce and identify trends
O See how often you actually land your stock ball or your wicket ball
O See a map of your line and length, graphs and charts of every area of your game
O Compare your performance to previous sessions and measure you’re improvement or areas to work on
When batting PitchVision allows you to:
O See whether your shots would have pierced the field / Are you getting value for your shots
O Identify which specific deliveries get you in trouble
O Compare your performance against different bowlers
O Bat in real game scenarios against real field placements
O See a ‘Wagon Wheel’ of shots from the session
O Confirm whether you are constantly getting to the pitch of the ball
The system is completely portable and can be installed on any good cricket wicket, permanently (if indoors) or temporarily if outdoors or moving from place to place. Read about PitchVision on their website at www.pitchvision.com.
Nike's Air Zoom shoes have revolutionized the cricket footwear market recently. The Air Zoom Yorker for fast bowers and the Air Zoom Opener for batsmen are now available in India. We hope to have them in USA as well. They come in electric new colors - blues, oranges and reds.
Nike has converted months of research into a product that fits the needs of bowlers and batsmen with
some interesting features to reduce cleat pressure and increase
Here you will see Vinay Kumar, the son of a former autorickshaw driver from Davangere, in his Nike Air Zoom Yorkers.
The Mongoose cricket bat, which was designed specifically to meet the slogging demands of Twenty20, will be used dring the 2010 IPL 3.0 by Australian star batsmen Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds.
The bat was launched by Chennai Super Kings’ Matthew Hayden, according
to whom, “The Mongoose has
the potential to revolutionise cricket. Without changing your
technique, the bat allows you to hit the ball harder and further. Its
power is phenomenal and without a doubt, I am looking forward to
playing many successful games with it.”
Chennai Super Kings opener will switch
to the Mongoose - a bat with a shorter blade and longer handle for the IPL.
Click here on a previous post on Mongoose. And of course, if you live in USA, you can buy it online at DreamCricket Pavilion!
A snickometer or a snicko is a piece of useful technology that plays the video side-by-side with a graphical representation of sound as the ball passes the batsman. Invented by an Englishman Allan Plaskett in the 1990s, it was later developed for use in cricket matches by BBG Sports.
The Snickometer displays the audio from the stumps microphone in a visible wave format. If there is a sound of leather on willow, which is usually a short sharp sound as the ball passes the bat, then the ball has touched the bat. Other sounds such as the ball hitting the batsman's pads, or the bat hitting the pitch, have a fatter shape on the graph.
The snickometer is controversial because it has showed many umpiring decisions as incorrect. The umpire often has no access to this kind of technology and must use his own judgement. In the Border Gavaskar Trophy during the 2007-08 series in Sydney, at the SCG. Andrew Symonds was given not out, even though snickometer showed an obvious snick. Umpire Steve Bucknor came under fire with a series of other blunders which led Australia to a historic 16th straight test victory under Ricky Ponting, the captain of the Australian Test side.
No contact made here ..... and no problem for the umpire with this 'not out' decision.
The sharp peak on the graph gives the game away here, and it's curtains for the batsman as long as the 'nick' is safely caught by the waiting keeper and slips cordon.
Courtesy: Channel 4
The concept is simple, and one that is tried and tested in other sports such as tennis and golf. Wood is fragile and there are far smarter materials available - ones that are stiff or absorb shock better. In step with these scientific principles, manufacturers of tennis racquets and golf clubs have shifted to carbon fibre and titanium - lessening vibrations and in some instances, enabling an increased sweet spot.
In cricket, different materials were tried over the years and have met with stiff resistance by the guardians of cricket laws. It was in 1977 that early research revealed that the batted ball speed of an aluminum baseball bat was about 3.85 mph faster than a wood baseball bat. Before long, an aluminum cricket bat, the ComBat, was in production.
Posing with the ComBat
In 1979, in a test against West Indies, Dennis Lillee used the aluminum ComBat. That was not against the rules and this particular bat was already being bought by schools because of its durability. 12 days later, he used it again, this time against England on the fourth day of the first test at Perth. When he straight drove a ball by Botham for 3 runs, Greg Chappell thought it would have gone for a 4 with a conventional bat, so he brought out a wooden bat for his mate. Meanwhile, English captain Mike Brearley complained to the that the metallic bat was damaging the cricket ball. This led to a heated discussion following which Lillee, in apparent disgust, threw "the offending lump of metal fully 40 yards towards the pavilion." An act for which he was let off with a warning. [Click here for a video of the incident.]
Lillee was not oblivious to the sales potential, having gotten the bat signed by members of either team. Brearly, the party-pooper, was smart and he wrote signed the bat "Good luck with the sales". The bat that Lillee used is currently on display at the 'Bat and Ball' inn in Bangalore.
After the game, the ComBat sold like hot cakes few months, with the inventor Graeme Monaghan reportedly sharing the profits with Lillee. But that came to an end some months later in early 1980, when ICC ensured that the laws of the game were amended, specifying that bats had to be made from wood.
In 2004, Kookaburra launched the Big Kahuna Ricky Ponting - this one was made of wood but was "strengthened" by a thin carbon graphite strip at the back which was thought to give him extra power and, MCC feared, "may damage the ball." Of course, Ricky was allowed to use the bat for 53 ODI and test matches and enjoyed a remarkable run of form - getting the second highest annual run tally in history in 2005 (average of 67.13 for the year in tests). Not that it had anything to do with the bat - the real sweet spot was the inches between his ears!
The Graphite laced Kookaburra!
The excitement was shortlived. Readers might remember that in 2006 ICC proclaimed that these bats contravened MCC Law 6, which prompted Kookaburra to withdraw the graphite bats from international cricket - too bad because several more were embracing it including Justin Langer, Nathan Astle and Sanath Jayasuriya. (The bat is acceptable for domestic league cricket and is still sold in USA by DreamCricket.com).
In its haste, it forgot to specify whether it was OK to use composite handles! In fact, the Cricket's Law 6 does not say a word about handles!
John Newbery had successfully innovated in this area decades ago coming up with the (then) revolutionary treble spring handle, known to give the bat greater feel and 'whip' using improved versions of traditional material such as a stronger Irish linen thread (to tune the flex of the handle), an oval handle (again for greater feel) which was set slightly forward so that the line of the handle follows the line of the blade's natural bow.
So the scientific community continued their efforts to make a handle that was lighter in weight and capable of shock absorption - searching for newer materials from the laboratory.
Professor La Brooy, formerly of Boeing, had already imagined a bat with a handle that was lighter which would mean that the weight could be shifted to the blade. "How I made the connection, I'm not sure. But I realised if a bat handle were made of, say, fibreglass, more weight could be shifted to where the hitting was done. No longer would you just have a sweet spot but a sweet zone," the Melbourne professor said.
In 2004, a team led by Professor Sabu John, an expert in smart materials from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, commenced research on handles and inserts for cricket bats that could reduce vibrations and dampen shock. He was assisted by Tom Molineaux also of RMIT.
Generally, the stiffer the bat, the faster the ball will come off the bat. But the stiffer the bat, the greater the shock! Speaking about new technologies for a more advanced bat, John said in 2004: "We have to have a fine balance between comfort for the batsman and energy back to the ball." His team also wanted to expand the "sweet spot" of the cricket bat, the area on a bat that can hit a ball hard yet not cause unpleasant vibrations for the player.
The team developed a new handle made of a carbon fibre shell containing a polymer insert that absorbs vibrations. They also embarked on research in the use of sensors akin to an "active vibration control system" prevalent in other sports equipment.
Such systems use piezoelectric materials, and electromechanical devices, integrated with a chip that are built into the bat's handle. The sensor passes a pulse of voltage which triggers the active vibration system to (a) generate waves in the opposite direction cancelling out the original vibrations or (b) absorb the shock waves and covert them into heat or light energy (imagine a bat that lights up on impact!).
The system was not something that was entirely devised by the geek squad in the lab! The $600,000 project was supported by Australian Research Council, cricket bat manufacturer Kookaburra Sport and Davidson, a company that makes sensors, support the research.
By 2007, the bat - called Smart Cricket Bat bearing the Kookaburra label, was patented as the world's first bat with active vibration control that reduced vibration by 46%.
Not to be outdone, Gray Nicolls, Puma and Matrix created bats with lightweight carbon, graphite or kevlar handles with same principles - stiffer, lighter and shock absorbing, of course without the sensors to match the Smart Bat! The bats are the Gray Nicolls Fusion, Matrix and Powerbow, Matrix Concorde and the Puma Stealth.
In October 2008, MCC released the Appendix E to the Laws of Cricket which stated that: "As a proportion of the total volume of the handle, materials other than cane, wood or twine are restricted to one-tenth for Grades A and B and one-fifth for Grade C. Such materials must not project more than 3.25 in/8.26cm into the lower portion of the handle."
So in effect, innovation once again met with resistance from the makers of the Laws. These bats with smart handles were banned from international cricket.
Since 2008, manufacturers have focused on tinkering with shape of the bat itself taking off in areas untouched by GN and SG, who in the eighties made bats without shoulders.
In 2008, Gray Nicolls brought out a double-sided bat which is expected to be attractive for Twenty20.
In 2009, Mongoose (sold exclusively by DreamCricket.com in USA) launched its bat designed with 33% shorter blade and 43% longer handle, designed to provide 20% more power and 15% more bat speed (and hopefully 100% more runs!). Newbery followed with the Uzi which it calls an ideal Twenty20 bat - it has a shorter blade and a "Fish-Fin" handle.
The proposed use of video analysis and video scorecards for the forthcoming USA junior cricket tour of Gujarat got me thinking about the main technology players in cricket analysis.
Technology is being used in performance analysis and in analysis of skill and technique i.e. fundamental analysis. Coaches use video analysis as a backbone for skill analysis and biomechanics, which is the understanding of performance through modeling,
simulation and measurement.
Coaches and support staff use performance analysis software to assist with game preparation and strategy. This type of analysis includes opposition analysis, SWOT analysis, etc. This was mostly statistics-based in the past but has now evolved due to the availability of instant digital video recall (notational analysis).
Here are some some of the technology platforms that are currently in use:
Hawk-Eye Cricket System: Developed originally by Roke Manor Research Limited of Hampshire, UK, in 2001, it was spun off as a separate company, Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd as a joint venture with Sunset+Vine. Initially, the technology's major use was in adjudicating LBW decisions.
The Hawk-Eye Cricket System incorporates interactive video replay, high speed cameras for biomechanical
analysis and a whole host of other special features. Underlying the technology is the basic concept of triangulation using visual images and timing data.
During the last six years Hawk-Eye has developed strong relationships
with the coaching staff of all the major cricket nations, with the
likes of England, Australia, South Africa, and India all using Hawk-Eye
data. Through continual interaction with the finest minds in World
Cricket Hawk-Eye has been able to refine its technology, producing a
system that stands alone as being the most complete cricket coaching
system available on the market today.
The pure tracking system is combined with a data repository and archiving capabilities so that it is possible to extract and
analyze trends and statistics about individual players, games or ball
to ball comparisons etc.
MCC Indoor School uses Hawk-Eye Performance Analysis suite.
Sports Mechanics India: Sports Mechanics Twenty20 Pro offers ball by ball reporting with video playback (powered by Silicon Coach), Flash based 3D wagon wheel with performance indicators, opposition analysis which can be used by coaches for game planning. Sports Mentor fosters interactions between coach, players and the playing fraternity.
Having worked with over 5,000 cricketers at National Cricket Academy and MRF Pace Academy, Ramky (Subramanian Ramakrishnan) was invited by John Wright to assist him with planning and preparation. He also features in John Wright's book. Ramky was also widely credited by players on the Indian team for improved performances. Sehwag even went as far as attributing his Multan 300 to Ramky's analysis.
Besides the Twenty20 Pro, the company also offers Howzat for umpire evaluation.
Today, Sports Mechanics' client list includes ICC, ACC, BCCI, and cricket boards of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bermuda, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Canada, Kenya and Scotland. Prominent academies that use the software include MAC Spin Foundation, MRF Pace Academy and World Cricket Academy.
Offlode - SAS Enterprise Miner: Since 2004, Offlode, a Wellington-based consultancy, has helped New Zealand Cricket turn match data into powerful ammunition, using software from SAS. The big push came in after the arrival of Dr. Peter Mayell, who is Cricket Technology Manager at NZC’s High Performance Centre in Christchurch. As with any modelling, the bigger the history that goes in, the more
valuable is the reporting that comes out, and while NZC had collected
Over time, the database was enriched with other important data
such as pitch condition, venue, and players’ strengths and weaknesses for ODI cricket. The ultimate is detailed time-of-day and time-of-year data for
individual grounds, fine tuned with real-time details such as humidity
and light; which of the 50 overs is currently being bowled; and the
records of the players of both sides involved at that time.
Predictive analysis is SAS' biggest strength. Different models apply for when you are batting first and when you are
bowling. In each case, the system predicts an outcome based on the
point-in-time situation and all the variables, and the coaches use this
prediction to determine the best course of action. The software also is useful in assessing “player contribution," examining each player’s performance against expectation. By 2009, the software was adapted for Twenty20 situations.
22 Yardz and SKRUTiN- SportingMindz: SportingMindz has a strong product for technique analysis which is used by Karnataka, Andhra, Hyderabad, Delhi, Orissa and Singapore cricket associations/boards. 22 Yardz and SKRUTiN are the company's flagship products for performance analysis. SKRUTiN is the motion analysis suite with capabilities that include video annotation, split-screen and overlay functionality.
22 Yardz is the match analysis suite with statistics and video analysis integrated for player analysis. 22 Yardz is also used by the Royal Challengers Bangalore - one of the first to embrace performance analysis in Twenty20 cricket. The company also offers 3rdEye - an umpire evaluator making it a strong competitor to Hawk-Eye and Sports Mechanics.
Tata Consultancy Services: In April 2009, TCS was picked by Rajasthan Royals as its technology partner making TCS the first IT major to get into performance analysis. Speaking about TCS' involvement, Jayant Pendharkar, Global Marketing, said: "The new partnership will help enhance the teams' performance using
technological solutions that will provide players analysis and their
health and fitness conditions, and technology such as RFID will be used
to track and analyze bowlers' performance and condition."
"All the statistical data and analysis of the players and game will be
supported by graphics and visuals for better understanding and
improving the performance."
Further details of TCS' involvement are eagerly awaited in the cricket circles.
It is amazing how much technology goes into just the Decision Review System (DRS)! Here is what ICC requires for DRS/3rd umpires:
CAMERAS: The minimum number of cameras for the Decision Review System are 15. These are:
2x wicket to wicket cameras (manned)
2x ball follow cameras (manned)
2xsuper slo motion cameras at main camera gantry position on either side (manned)
1x mid wicket camera (manned)
2x run outs (un-manned)
2x slips (manned)
2 x lbw mat cameras (un-manned)
2x stump cameras
It is also desirable to have the following, but it isn’t mandatory:
2x reverse slips (manned)
1x high reverse mid wicket (manned)
1x UltraMotion – at ground level 45 degrees (manned)
In addition to the regular camera positions, there will be cameras for ball tracking and Hot Spot. These are provided by the Ball Tracking Technology Providers. There need to be 2 Hot Spot cameras located on the camera gantries at each end of the ground. The sound from the stump microphones needs to be clean and ‘real’ time for all replays.
The whole LBW sequence, including the video replay and ball tracking trajectory needs to be provided by the ball tracking supplier to ensure there is no conflict between 2 different LBW mats which would undermine the credibility of the technology and the DRS.
The video element of the replay needs to make the batsman transparent, and animate a virtual ball over the bounce and interception points as the real ball passes through them. There needs to be a clear graphic that sits alongside the pitching and impact points that displays whether these points are between wicket and wicket
as defined in the playing condition.
The predictive element of the ball-tracking technology must be graphically shown in accordance with the relevant playing conditions specification. The accuracy of the ball tracking technology and predictive path must be accurate to a level whereby no other means can prove it to be wrong, which equates to an expected
tracking accuracy of 5mm and a predictive accuracy of under 1cm for a typical LBW appeal.
The system is not easily available and DRS providers must be accredited.
A Kiwi company, Dunedin based Animation Research is the first to provide this DRS technology for New Zealand's three-test series against Pakistan starting next week.
Animation Research's Sky Virtual is a full 3D analysis tool developed in conjunction with
Sky Television in New Zealand. The system also tracks every shot played by any player in a
match in full 3D with matching animations of the players. Each play is
reconstructed in an exact replica of the ground the match is being
played at, with all fielders in their correct positions.
Sky Virtual by Animation Research Ltd of Dunedin, NZ
Now introducing, a special bat for Twenty20, without the defensive shoulders/splice areas of the bat. Its revolutionary design supposedly lets you hit faster, harder, straighter, further – giving you more fours, more sixes, more boundaries. Stuart Law took it with him to play in Derbyshire’s first 20/20 of the season and now endorses it.
“The MCC Laws sub-committee has confirmed that the Mongoose bats are legal and allowed to be used in all levels of cricket. They conform to the new version of Law 6 and Appendix E, which came into force on 1st October 2008″
The bat has 33% shorter blade and 43% longer handle - making room for bigger sweet spot and more weight through thicker edges transferring more impact to the ball. Long handle makes the bat behave like a golf club giving the bat a serious torque. It is not good for shorter balls.
New Zealand's Lou Vincent has used the bat to good effect smashing 133 not out featuring 10 Sixes and 11 Fours this past week and 140 a week ago.
There is support for the pink cricket ball because the white ones used for the shorter form of the game become discoloured and become harder to spot. So far, the reports have been mixed.
Essex batsmen Napier opined that pink ball was difficult to follow when it was hit along the ground." When it got above head height it was better."
Elite panel umpire Simon Taufel said: "It (pink ball) looks pretty good. There was a little bit of a comet trail to it but it certainly gave me a lot more information off the pitch and off the seam."
Former Kent and England bowler Min Patel, who took 1-37 for the MCC when the ball was tried at Lord's, said: "The ball didn't behave any differently, it didn't react any differently, and if anything it was a lot easier to pick up in the deep when you're fielding."
"With white clouds and white seats a white ball would have been very difficult to pick up but not in this case, the ball certainly stood out."
"The design of most cricket grounds now include white seats and if you don't get a full house then a pink ball would be far easier to see."
Plans to use an orange ball in 1989 were abandoned after they were tough to spot on TV during day-night matches. In the end, it is the TV audience and spectators who will determine the fate of the pink ball.
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