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Tech puts cricketers on right lines

By Julie Clothier for CNN
Cricket coaches are using high-tech methods to improve players' games.
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Great Britain

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The game of cricket might be centuries old, but modern tactics are increasingly being used to improve players' performances.

At the England Cricket Board's (ECB) National Academy, based at Loughborough University, digital video recordings are a key part of training.

Trainees at the academy are issued with laptop computers, which they use to download footage of their training sessions and analyze bowling and batting statistics and techniques.

David Rose, information and resource manager at the academy, said video footage from eight cameras, placed in training lanes, had become a key part of coaching at the academy since it opened a year ago.

The cameras, which can record fast-moving balls, are able to store up to 48 hours of footage, which can be replayed almost immediately.

"This is just another tool players and coaches can use to help the naked eye. It's like having back-up evidence," Rose told CNN.

The cameras are placed behind the bowler in the six nets, and along with two others on the side, record the training sessions.

The footage is then analyzed in several ways, including being transferred on to DVD for players and coaches to watch on big screens, allowing them to zoom in on key areas of the body.

Rose said the footage could also contribute to injury prevention, with coaches being able to check whether a player's stance could damage their body.

"Technology is opening up so many more things for us that just weren't around previously. These pieces of software allow us to manipulate the information and analyze it a lot more," Rose said.

"Generating these sorts of statistics helps explain to a player how well they are performing. It's giving much more information to the players, which in turn helps improve their performance."

Cricket was one of the first sports to use high-tech judging techniques in television coverage of the sport.

The controversial Hawk-Eye ball-tracking system, which was developed in England and can accurately call LBWs (leg before wickets), catches and run-outs, is now used in other sports, including tennis.

Andrew Cushing's company, Tacklesport, based in Worcester, England, supplies interactive CD-ROMs of different sports throughout the world, from top-level teams to school teachers.

Cushing, who is managing director of the company, established Tacklesport in 1994, after a stint coaching rugby in Portugal.

The former physical education teacher and rugby player came up with the idea in the 1980s while studying for a Master's degree at Cambridge University, where he learnt to operate Mac computers.

"In Portugal there was sometimes a language barrier but even if you are coaching players who speak English, there is always the issue of how much they understand," he told CNN.

"It basically gives you something that makes you better equipped to go out and perform."

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