Cricketers are good at maths! (and physics)

As an avid cricket fan I am very excited about the current Ashes series between Australia and England. Things haven’t started too well for the Aussies but I have faith that the baggy green can bounce back for victory. As I have watched this series I have thought more about the mathematical implications of the game; specifically angles. I am still awed by the skill of the batters that enables them to play a shot at a ball traveling 140 km/hr+ on the perfect angle to avoid fielders. I think that watching a game of cricket is a great lesson on incidence and reflected angles. The ball travels in on a certain angle, and the batsmen aims the bat according to the angle of incidence to guide the ball into the gap. Then there’s the fielder’s. To take catches they need an understanding of projectile motion. How many cricketers (or baseballers) think about the maths when they are getting into position to take a catch? Are they thinking Vt + (1/2) at^2, or using intuition and experience to position themselves in the perfect way to catch a screamer, sometimes in a fraction of a second? The human brain can complete complex calculations in a fraction of a second on the cricket pitch, whilst in some of my classes students struggle to answer basic questions given several minutes. Maybe I should throw those kids a ball. How did you know that it was going to land there? What information did you need to know to determine that? Let the maths serve the conversation, not the other way round. Have students great their own questions and explanation of the path of the ball.

Dan Meyer has a cool basketball ‘strobe’ lesson here that you should check out.

So have a go at some batting or catching practice during your next maths lesson. The cricket coach will love you for it, as will the kids, and most of all they can apply some of that geometry stuff they thought was all theoretical. Who knows, we may even win back the Ashes!

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