The term cricket may come from
"criquet", the Old French word for a stick. "Cricke" is mentioned in Geoffrey
Chaucer's 14th Century work The Canterbury Tales and apparently Edward II had a cricket bat. The
Marylebone Cricket Club standardised the rules in the late eighteenth century with the first test match
organised in 1877 and one-day cricket starting in 1963.
ARE VITAL IN CRICKET
Have you ever considered how vital your eyesight is when playing cricket? A batsman needs to judge the speed, line and length of the ball as well as the trajectory and spin. For cricket it is particularly important to have good anticipation when you are batting and rapid hand-eye response when fielding. The fastest bowler on record was Jeff Thomson of Australia who bowled a ball at 99.8 miles per hour in 1976 and more recently in 2001-02 Shoab Aktar of Pakistan hurtled one at 99.1 miles per hour against Sri Lanka. Batsmen need be able to react very quickly to deal with deliveries of this sort of speed.
Top sportsmen usually have far better vision abilities than the average person. It has been reported that Peter May had such good vision that he was able to read the manufacturer's name on the cricket ball before it left the bowler's hand! Sir Donald Bradman every day used to practise his hand-eye co-ordination by hitting a ball with a cricket stump against a corrugated iron fence.
In 2008, Geoff Lawson, a qualified optometrist, and Australian fast bowler, was appointed Pakistan cricket coach. He has lectured on the importance of peripheral vision for a batsman who needs to see the position of fielders. When a player he wore tinted contact lenses both to improve contrast (see the ball against the background) and to protect his eyes from glare.
ON THE BALL
Most coaches recommend keeping your eyes on the ball at all times (ball tracking) and this can be useful for slower bowlers but there may be instances when this advice is not followed by the top batsmen. According to an article in Nature Neuroscience Volume Three, scientists fitted a miniature camera into the goggles of three batsmen to record the eye movements. It was found that although the ball was watched (ball tracking) as it left the seam bowler's hand its entire flight was not followed throughout the batsmen preferring to watch the bowler, the ball in flight and then the ground where the ball was expected to bounce (jump vergences and saccades).
As well as seeing the ball well, top batsmen have rapid response times and can use a quick jump type of eye movement (anticipatory saccade) until the ball bounces and then following the ball (tracking eye movement) before striking the ball. A batsman's response time is related to the speed of the ball, which in first class cricket can be around 90mph, and the length of the pitch, which is 22 yards long. It therefore takes about half of one second for the ball to travel from one end of the pitch to the other. For a response time of 0.4 seconds there will be a zone of 52 feet in front of the batsman where he will not be able to respond to any unexpected change of direction of the ball.
Fielding on the leg side behind the wicket
may mean that the fielder may not be able to see when bat hits ball and particularly in dull conditions or
in day-night matches they are given less time to react and may well be in need of head and/or eye
ASPECTS OF DAY/NIGHT MATCHES
The one-day game or limited overs matches
arrived in England in 1963 with the introduction of the Gillette Cup and the first international one day
match was held between England and Australia in 1970. It was Kerry Packer who introduced the concept of
playing at night and with it came floodlit venues, coloured clothing, the white ball and black sight
screens. More recently Twenty20 cricket matches were introduced to bring much needed cash to the counties and is now played at International level also. Most matches commence play at 5.30pm but some may start at 7.30pm to allow play to continue under floodlights.
In normal daylight, a red ball shows up well against the green grass and bright sky but a white ball is used in these matches and can be difficult to see against the bright sky during the daylight part of the match. If the bails are the same colour as the stumps the third umpire can have difficulty making an accurate judgement.
There is a CIBSE Lighting Guide LG4:Sport
and a British Standards publication from 1999 which recommends levels of illuminance for a number of
sports including cricket. In English day/night games illuminances of about 1000 lux are expected at the
wicket reducing to about 650 lux at the boundary although in the southern hemisphere double these values
are the norm.
BATSMEN HAVE THE EDGE
According to a report in Biology Letters, a
Royal Society journal, left-handed batsmen have a "strategic advantage" over right-handed
batsmen. Alternatively, it may just be that bowlers are less used to bowling against left handers than
right-handed batsmen. Analysing results from the last cricket World Cup researchers found that the most
successful teams had more left-handed batsmen and Australia, the winners, had four left-handed batsmen out
of their top six places in the batting order. The highest individual score in a test match is held by
Brian Lara with 400 not out against England in April 2004. The previous best was Matthew Hayden in 2003
and Gary Sobers third some years before, all left handers. The Australian ashes losing side of 2009
contained only two left-handed batsmen Mitchell Johnson, who is primarily a bowler and Michael Hussey, who
scored the only Australian century in the final test at the Oval which gave England the Series and the Ashes regained. (It was Mitchell Johnson's left arm swing which caused havoc to England's batsmen in the Third Ashes Test at the WACA in Perth, Australia in December 2010 resulting in a heavy defeat).
ABILITIES REQUIRED FOR CRICKET
Accuracy of vision or how well you
can see the flight of the ball being bowled. A refractive vision assessment will determine if any
optical correction is required. Best vision is usually achieved using contact lenses but special
spectacles can be of value if a progressive lens (which corrects for far and near) is needed.
Contact lenses are better in rain but wrap around spectacles can protect against strong breezes.
Depth perception is also known as
stereoscopic vision and is the ability of the eyes to judge distances such as that between the bat
and the ball. Your assessment can be accurate only if both eyes are controlled precisely by the eye
muscles. This is a visual ability which may be able to be improved if it is found to be below
normal. An assessment can be carried out in the Practice to determine the stereoscopic acuity and
exercises advised for its improvement.
Some have cast doubt on the use of depth perception (stereopsis) for fast bowlers as there have been top players who have good vision in one eye only (amblyopia) and it may be that for fast bowlers prefering the left eye for a right-handed batsman and preferring the right eye for a left handed-batsman (eye dominance) is more important.
The ability to pick out the ball
against the background of the pavillion or against the crowd in dull or hazy conditions can usually be improved by
the use of specially selected coloured filters. Although certain principles apply, often reducing the blue end of the spectrum helps, the colour which
is best for you will need to be determined during an assessment.
Your eyes need to be able to focus
easily from ball to bat. The accuracy of this focusing ability may be affected by tiredness
especially if there is a problem being able to use the two eyes together. This ability can be
measured in the practice and you may be able to do exercises at home for improvement.
if you are a batsman looking at the
ball in the bowler's hand you also need to be aware of the position of the various fielders around
you. Increasing your peripheral awareness can also improve concentration and balance. This can be
often be achieveded by the use of quite simple exercises some of which can be done at home.
Although not purely visual, this
skill is essential if you are to be able to make a clean hit. The visual imput has to be translated
into spatial location by the brain which triggers the various muscles of the body to move in such a
way as to enable you to time the bat onto the ball perfectly.