Cricket and Psychogeography

Above, a cricket match is played at Millom, where the Duddon finds the sea.

At Brian Carpenter’s very fine A Different Shade of Green there is a stunning photograph of a cricket match being played at the Oval overlooked by the famous gasholder.

He writes of Tom Shaw’s photograph that ‘the quality of the light, the fact that the gasholder is so perfectly framed and the precise moment that’s captured make it one of the best cricket pictures of all time.’

One of the joys of playing consistently at one ground, especially one that has a significant natural or manmade feature dominating the view is the way that the landscape is taken into the mind and becomes an unconscious orientation of all that takes place there.

Worcester and Taunton have their ecclesiastic landmarks, as of course does Muggleton below. 

The Old Cricket Ground West Malling belived to be the model for the ground where All- Muggleton took on Dingley Dell; steeple prominent.

Sedbergh has its sublime fells.  Arundel its castle peeking through the trees. And those who play their cricket in sight of Glastonbury have the Tor.

On the playing field these features are soon lost from view in the focus of concentration, but they are always there and exert their special subconscious, peripheral influence.

Cricket at Sedbergh - Orienteering by the Howgill Fells?

Good batsmen and good fielders have a developed sense of angles, of positions, of distance and depth of field.  They may even be better than most at parking cars, though this seldom extends to packing cricket bags which are always too small for the essential equipment favoured by the cricketer.

Running at pace, watching the ball like a hawk, the fielder swoops, finds the ball in their hands turns towards one of the two wickets, sets himself and hurls the ball to throw down the stump. 

Watching a ball leave the hand at 80 miles an hour or more the batsman does not need to look away to the gap in the field before aiming the shot with unerring precision.  His eye watches bowler’s body, his hand and then the predicted pitching point yet he can see with some internalized sense the spot through the field that he’s aiming for.

Even lanky uncoordinated bowlers who walk out to the middle like Bambi on ice are able to run in at pace for thirty yards and place their landing foot to within a centimetre of the spot it needs to find behind the bowling crease.  They don’t look at that spot. 

If they did the whole action would disintegrate.  They use countless visual clues and co-ordinates, again internalised.

The Tor has watched over every cricketer who has played at Millfield

Like a bee returning to the hive, cricketers have a special knowledge in their heads which is most pronounced when playing at home.  And knowledge is a product of learning.



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3 responses to “Cricket and Psychogeography

  1. Thanks for the mention, TM, and for some thoughtful musings.

    The bit about the good batsman’s ‘internalized sense’ chimes with the research (mainly written about, I think, by Bob Woolmer in ‘The Art and Science of Cricket’, although I haven’t read it) which shows that, according to what physiologists know about human reaction times, it shouldn’t be possible for anyone to actually play bowling that’s above 85-90 mph as there simply isn’t time for them to process the information their eyes are giving them and react to it. The answer being that once the bowling passes a certain speed the batsman has to rely on pure instinct and his stroke is based on visual cues observed before the bowler actually bowls.

    I must read Woolmer’s book sometime.

    • Thanks for the comment, Brian.

      Apologies to you and others for the delay in replying and for the infrequent posting of late.
      The Lancashire Under 17’s programme is in full swing, there was a double header for the local club this weekend and TM somehow managed to fit in some work, so there were points to be won against opponents and the rainfall in Southport, Ormskirk (again this season), Whalley (site of the first Match of the Roses), Earby (home of the Lancashire Chappels) and Grappenhall (home of the Fairbrothers) where another carved Cheshire cat has been found on the church tower.

      Lancashire and Clitheroe are top of their respective tables which is a mirror image of the situation this time last year.

      The Time Machine has been in action but the log sheets have yet to be written up.


  2. Pingback: Wire the Brain for Batting Gain ! « Down At Third Man

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