A shorter cricket pitch improves decision-making by junior batters

2019-04-25T09:49:37Z (GMT) by Mike Harwood Fred Yeadon Mark King
This study sought to determine whether playing on a shorter cricket pitch would lead batters to make more appropriate decisions about whether to play front foot or back foot shots. Based on an analysis of the shots played by top order batters against seam bowling in county under-10 matches, an age-specific “good length” region between 5.0 yards and 6.5 yards (4.57 to 5.94 m) from the batters’ stumps was derived. This was where batters were uncertain whether to play on the front or back foot. It was then possible to define deliveries as “short” or “full” depending upon whether they bounced further from or nearer to the batter than the good length region. Club under-11 and county under-10 match data revealed that when playing on a 16 yard pitch batters played more back foot shots to short balls and county batters also played more front foot shots to full balls compared with matches on the currently recommended 20 or 19 yard pitches. For batters a shorter pitch should strengthen the coupling between perception of delivery length and appropriate shot selection, and the increased task demand should lead to improved anticipation, both key features of skilled batting.