Guide to cricket marries technique, lore and science

25 August 2008 | Story by Helen Théron

Dr Helen Moffett & Prof Tim Noakes
Good innings: Dr Helen Moffett and Prof Tim Noakes with the new guide, Bob Woolmer's Art and Science of Cricket (Struik), already among Amazon UK's top selling sports guides.

If his life depended on a batsman, Professor Tim Noakes would choose tennis maestro Rafael Nadal over Steve Waugh.

It illustrates his point about re-examining the way batting is coached.

Watch Nadal and you'll see how he rotates his body to strike the ball, precisely and powerfully at a distance from his body. In cricketing jargon, he's freeing his arms.

New studies at UCT/MRC Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine have shown that the world's great batsmen, Sir Donald Bradman, Graeme Pollock and Brian Lara, all did the same. They all lifted the bat in a continuous, rotary action and struck the ball like baseball or tennis players.

It's an interesting point on the eve of the launch of "the definitive" cricketing guide, Bob Woolmer's Art and Science of Cricket, which Noakes penned with the late former Proteas coach and UCT scholar Dr Helen Moffett.

The book captures Woolmer's prodigious knowledge for generations to come.

Woolmer, said Noakes, was always interested in what technology and science had to offer his understanding and teaching of the game. The guide is a happy marriage of the 'how' and 'why'.

"We must start intellectualising the game, as have the Australians, or we won't be successful," Noakes noted.

The 700-page guide is also touted as a thoroughly good read, covering history, mental skills and, tantalisingly, the future of the game.

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