Tuesday evening was a very enjoyable night spent at the NZ versus Zimbabwe Twenty20 cricket at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
I got to watch the New Zealand fast bowlers serve up boundary-fodder for the aptly-named Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor, who didn’t disappoint, wafting Mills and Bates and co over the square-leg boundary with monotonous regularity. The Black-Caps will certainly need to teach their bowlers what a good length is before Sunday’s match against South Africa, or the Hamilton fans won’t be going away happy.
Watching the batsmen was a reminder that against a fast bowler you don’t need to hit a cricket ball hard to get it to clear the boundary – you just need to hit it on the right place on the bat at the right moment. The ball comes at you with plenty of momentum – your job is to exploit it. If you get an almost elastic collision with the bat (and that depends on where on the bat the ball hits) then it will come away with the same velocity – maybe a bit more if you put in a little effort - and you can divert it over whichever boundary is most appropriate. Not hitting the ball hard but still sending it rocketing to the boundary is a skill that Sachin Tendulkar really is a master at.
The change in momentum of the ball is equal to the impulse the bat provides to it – that’s the force times the time of the collision. Since momentum and forces are vector quantities, to hit the ball back over the bowler’s head requires more force than pulling it over or behind square-leg – since you are diverting its direction a lot more with the former. If you bowl too short, on a leg stump line, particularly if you are bowling fast, then the latter is just too easy for a good batsmen, and the sixes will start mounting.
I’m looking forward to seeing the South African batsmen at work.