By Shannon Beattie
As the Cricket World Cup drew to its exciting conclusion, a Murdoch University graduate research student was discussing the finer points of batting with team representatives at an international cricket science conference in Sydney.
John Brenton, who lectures at Murdoch’s School of Sports Science and Exercise Physiology and also once coached the late Phillip Hughes, spent a year studying how elite cricketers use anticipatory skills in order to make contact with the ball when batting.
Mr Brenton investigated how advanced information from the bowler, known as perception, and the initial letting go of the ball, known as action, affect the way a batter prepares their body and bat.
“No one has really linked perception and action together before and I thought it would be interesting to see how elite batters use this early information to make better contact with the ball,” he said.
The study involved cricketers from the WACA watching a ball being bowled until just before it bounced, at which point their sight was blocked and they had to make contact without vision.
The impressive part of the study came when it was discovered these batters were still able to hit the ball with supreme accuracy despite not being able to see it.
“We found out that all of the batters have different patterns for using the early information but no matter what they were, all were able to make equal shots on the ball,” Mr Brenton said.
In a larger sense the study proved that there is no ‘best way’ for a batter to prepare to hit the ball, as long as it works for them.
Mr Brenton is hoping this information, which he presented to the 5th annual World Congress of Science and Medicine in Cricket, will change the way cricket is coached at all levels.
For those at a junior level he hopes his findings can be used to teach kids how to bat the way that is best for them rather than the technical way it is supposed to be done.
At an elite level he wants coaches to put convention aside and make things more scientific by taking the findings and using them to improve players based on their individual skillsets.
Mr Brenton is already in talks with Justin Langer, coach of the Western Warriors and the Perth Scorchers, about how the study could help his teams.
“Justin is very interested in the ideas and what he might be able to get out of it,” he said.
No matter how far the study progresses it is sure to raise the profile of research being done in the field of sports science at Murdoch University.