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Organismic, task, and environmental constraints are known to differ between skilled male and female cricket batters during power hitting tasks. Despite these influences, the techniques used in such tasks have only been investigated in male cricket batters. This study compared power hitting kinematics between 15 male and 15 female batters ranging from university to international standard. General linear models were used to assess the effect of gender on kinematic parameters describing technique, with height and body mass as covariates. Male batters generated greater maximum bat speeds, ball launch speeds, and ball carry distances than female batters on average. Male batters had greater pelvis-thorax separation in the transverse plane at the commencement of the downswing (β = 1.14; p = 0.030) and extended their lead elbows more during the downswing (β = 1.28; p = 0.008) compared to female batters. The hypothesised effect of gender on the magnitude of wrist uncocking during the downswing was not observed (β = −0.14; p = 0.819). The causes of these differences are likely to be multi-factorial, involving aspects relating to the individual players, their history of training experiences and coaching practices, and the task of power hitting in male or female cricket.
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Comparing power hitting kinematics between
skilled male and female cricket batters
Stuart A. McErlain-Naylor, Chris Peploe, James Grimley, Yash Deshpande,
Paul J. Felton & Mark A. King
To cite this article: Stuart A. McErlain-Naylor, Chris Peploe, James Grimley, Yash Deshpande,
Paul J. Felton & Mark A. King (2021): Comparing power hitting kinematics between skilled male
and female cricket batters, Journal of Sports Sciences, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2021.1934289
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2021.1934289
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa
UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis
Group.
Published online: 15 Jun 2021.
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SPORTS MEDICINE AND BIOMECHANICS
Comparing power hitting kinematics between skilled male and female cricket batters
Stuart A. McErlain-Naylor
a,b
, Chris Peploe
a
, James Grimley
b
, Yash Deshpande
a
, Paul J. Felton
a,c
and Mark A. King
a
a
School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK;
b
School of Health and Sports Sciences, University of
Suffolk, Ipswich, UK;
c
School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
ABSTRACT
Organismic, task, and environmental constraints are known to dier between skilled male and female
cricket batters during power hitting tasks. Despite these inuences, the techniques used in such tasks
have only been investigated in male cricket batters. This study compared power hitting kinematics
between 15 male and 15 female batters ranging from university to international standard. General linear
models were used to assess the eect of gender on kinematic parameters describing technique, with
height and body mass as covariates. Male batters generated greater maximum bat speeds, ball launch
speeds, and ball carry distances than female batters on average. Male batters had greater pelvis-thorax
separation in the transverse plane at the commencement of the downswing (β = 1.14; p = 0.030) and
extended their lead elbows more during the downswing (β = 1.28; p = 0.008) compared to female batters.
The hypothesised eect of gender on the magnitude of wrist uncocking during the downswing was not
observed (β = −0.14; p = 0.819). The causes of these dierences are likely to be multi-factorial, involving
aspects relating to the individual players, their history of training experiences and coaching practices, and
the task of power hitting in male or female cricket.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Accepted 20 May 2021
KEYWORDS
Batting; technique; cricket;
batsmen; elite
Introduction
The ability of cricket batters to clear the boundary is a major
contributor to success, particularly in the shorter formats of the
game (Douglas & Tam, 2010; Irvine & Kennedy, 2017; Petersen
et al., 2008). Previous research has investigated the relation-
ships between body kinematics and bat speed during power
hitting in male batters ranging from club to international stan-
dard (Peploe et al., 2019). Three kinematic parameters
explained 78% of the observed variation in maximum bat
speed: separation between the pelvis and thorax segments in
the transverse plane (often referred to as the X-factor; McLean,
1992) at the commencement of the downswing; lead elbow
extension during the downswing; and wrist uncocking during
the downswing. Male batters who exhibited greater magni-
tudes of these three parameters were found to generate faster
bat speeds, resembling previous research in golf (Chu et al.,
2010; Myers et al., 2008; Robinson, 1994; Sprigings & Neal,
2000), baseball (Escamilla et al., 2009), and tennis (Landlinger
et al., 2010), as well as subsequent research in badminton (King
et al., 2020).
If skilled female batters generate lesser carry distances than
their male counterparts (at a similar competition level) then it
may be expected that they also generate lesser bat speeds and
exhibit lesser magnitudes of the three kinematic parameters
described above. However, these assumptions may not be true.
For example, those parameters where dierences exist
between male and female elite cricket fast bowlers (Felton
et al., 2019) are not the same as those parameters previously
linked to performance outcomes in a cohort of male fast
bowlers (Worthington et al., 2013). From a dynamical systems
theory perspective, individual movement patterns are deter-
mined by the process of self-organisation (Kelso, 1995) and the
interaction of organismic, environmental, and task constraints
(Newell, 1986). Movement patterns may dier between male
and female cricket batters due to dierences in constraints
which exist in all cases or on average. These include anthro-
pometry (Stuelcken et al., 2007), force-velocity relationships
(Torrejón et al., 2019), eld of play boundary size (ICC, 2020a,
2020b), ball size and mass (ICC, 2020a, 2020b), bat inertial
properties, incoming ball speed (Felton et al., 2019), and the
characteristics of elders. Coaching practices and training
experience may also dier due to funding, professional status,
and perceived or real dierences in the above constraints
(Fowlie et al., 2020; Munro & Christie, 2018). A kinematic com-
parison of male and female cricket batters of a similar relative
competitive level can highlight the combined eects that these
various inuences have had on the emerging movement solu-
tions, while readily available anthropometric factors such as
body height and mass can be controlled for within any com-
parison (Nimphius, 2019). This may be particularly necessary
given a known eect of body mass on generated bat speeds
and related performance outcomes in baseball (Homan et al.,
2009; Szymanski et al., 2009, 2010).
The majority of reported kinematic dierences between
male and female golfers involve pelvis and thorax rotations
during the swing (Egret et al., 2006; Horan et al., 2011, 2010;
Zheng et al., 2008). However, no dierences have been
reported between male and female golfers for the separation
angle between pelvis and thorax (Horan et al., 2010). While
CONTACT Stuart A. McErlain-Naylor S.McErlain-Naylor@uos.ac.uk School of Health and Sports Sciences, University of Suffolk, Ipswich IP3 0FN, UK
JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES
https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2021.1934289
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/),
which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
experienced male golfers extend their lead elbow by 10° on
average during the downswing, experienced female golfers ex
their lead elbow by 24° on average (Egret et al., 2006). This
represents a clear dierence in movement strategy, although
the observed lead elbow exion was not replicated in higher
ability professional female golfers (Zheng et al., 2008). It
remains to be determined whether the constraints present for
skilled male and female cricket batters lead to the emergence
of similarly unique swing kinematics. Knowledge of the com-
bined eects of these constraints on swing kinematics could
facilitate the generation of future research questions regarding
specic causal relationships.
The aim of the present study was therefore to compare
power hitting kinematics between skilled male and female
cricket batters while controlling for dierences in body mass
and height. Based on factors previously associated with greater
bat speeds between male batters, it was hypothesised that
skilled female batters would exhibit lesser magnitudes of
separation between the pelvis and thorax segments in the
transverse plane at the commencement of the downswing,
less lead elbow extension during the downswing, and less
wrist uncocking during the downswing compared to skilled
male batters. To facilitate the generation of hypotheses for
future testing, additional whole-body kinematic dierences
between skilled male and female batters were also explored.
Methods
Participants
Fifteen male (age 21 ± 3 years; height 1.83 ± 0.05 m; mass
80.4 ± 9.3 kg) and fteen female (age 20 ± 3 years; height
1.71 ± 0.05 m; mass 68.6 ± 7.4 kg) cricket batters participated
in this study. Participants included university (male n = 5;
female n = 5), professional county (male n = 7), and
international (male n = 3; female n = 10) players. Data from
the ten male county and international players were included in
a previous investigation (Peploe et al., 2019). All participants
were free from any injuries that may aect their participation
and completed a health screen questionnaire before taking
part. The testing procedures were explained in accordance
with Loughborough University ethical guidelines, and each
participant completed an informed consent form. All proce-
dures were conducted according to the Declaration of
Helsinki for studies involving human participants.
Data collection
All testing was conducted at the England & Wales Cricket Board
National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough, UK, on
an indoor standard-sized articial cricket pitch. Kinematic data
were recorded using an 18 camera Vicon Motion Analysis
System (OMG Plc, Oxford, UK) operating at 250 Hz. All partici-
pants completed a self-selected warm-up and a series of famil-
iarisation trials of the power hitting task under equivalent
testing conditions immediately before data collection.
Forty-six retro-reective markers were attached to each par-
ticipant (Figure 1) over, or on padding adjacent to, bony land-
marks in the same locations as a previous power hitting
kinematics investigation (Peploe et al., 2019). Five additional
markers were positioned on the bat (Figure 1) and ve
15 × 15 mm patches of 3 M Scotch-Lite reective tape were
placed on the ball according to previous methods (Peploe,
McErlain-Naylor, Harland, Yeadon et al., 2018).
Each participant performed a series of shots (male 14 ± 3;
female 18 ± 4) against a bowling machine (BOLA Professional;
male release speed 32.4 m·s
−1
; female release speed 25.7 m·s
−1
),
aiming to hit the ball straight back over the bowling machine
for maximum carry distance in a match-representative manner.
Ball release speeds were selected by an international coach as
Figure 1. Retro-reflective marker positioning on player and bat.
2S. A. MCERLAIN-NAYLOR ET AL.
representative of typical training conditions for each group
(Felton et al., 2019). The bowling machine was directed towards
a full length suitable for the power hitting task. Resultant
incoming ball speed (after ball bounce) was 25.2 ± 1.2 m·s
−1
and 20.1 ± 2.1 m·s
−1
for male and female batters, respectively.
Use of each participant’s own bat avoided any eect of unfa-
miliar bat inertial properties on shot kinematics.
Data analysis
Initially, bat and ball marker data for all trials were labelled
within Vicon Nexus software (OMG Plc, Oxford, UK). The loga-
rithmic curve tting methodology of Peploe, McErlain-
Naylor, Harland, Yeadon et al. (2018) was used to determine
resultant instantaneous post-impact ball speed and vertical ball
launch angle (calculated from vertical and anterior-posterior
instantaneous post-impact ball velocities) for each trial. Ball
carry distance was calculated from resultant instantaneous
post-impact ball speed and vertical launch angle using
a validated iterative ball ight model accounting for air resis-
tance (Peploe, 2016). The best trial for each participant (i.e.
greatest ball carry distance) was identied and used in all
further investigation.
Whole-body marker data for the best trial per participant
were labelled within Vicon Nexus. Trajectories were ltered
using a recursive two-way Butterworth low-pass lter with
a cut-o frequency of 15 Hz, determined via residual analysis
(Winter, 2009). All whole-body kinematics were dened and
processed according to Peploe et al. (2019). Local coordinate
systems were dened in Visual 3D (C-Motion Inc., Germantown,
MD, USA). Joint centres were dened as the midpoint of a pair
of markers positioned across the joint (McErlain-Naylor et al.,
2014; Ranson et al., 2009) except for the hip (Bell et al., 1989)
and thorax (Worthington et al., 2013). Joint angles were calcu-
lated as Cardan angles using an x-y-z sequence, corresponding
to exion-extension, abduction-adduction, and longitudinal
rotation, respectively. Pelvis and thorax rotations were calcu-
lated relative to the global coordinate system using
a z-y-x Cardan sequence (Baker, 2001). Whole-body centre of
mass was computed from segment geometry and relative
masses (Hanavan, 1964).
As in previous research, events corresponding to the com-
mencement of the downswing, forward stride end, and bat-ball
impact were identied for each trial (Peploe et al., 2014, 2019).
Likewise, twenty-six kinematic parameters were calculated for
each trial (Table 1) following the methodology of Peploe et al.
(2019). Kinematic parameters described elements of technique
associated with an increased bat, racket, or clubhead speed in
other hitting sports, or that were thought to be important by
elite coaches. Maximum resultant speed of the bat distal end-
point during the downswing was determined from the mid-
point of the two distal bat blade markers.
Statistical analysis
All statistical analyses were performed within jamovi (Sydney,
Australia) software version 1.2.2. Data were presented as mean
± standard deviation. General linear models were used to
assess the eect of gender on each dependent variable, with
height and body mass as covariates. This was performed for
Table 1. Comparison of male and female cricket batters for each parameter (mean ± SD), including parameter estimates for the fixed effect of gender (height and body
mass as covariates).
Parameter (° unless stated) Male batters Female batters Estimate (95% CI) SE β Interpretation p
Ball launch speed (m·s
−1
) 33.5 ± 2.6 27.3 ± 2.8 5.35 (2.14, 8.58) 1.567 1.306 Large 0.002
Ball carry distance (m) 80.7 ± 10.0 57.7 ± 8.8 21.25 (10.03, 32.48) 5.459 1.429 Large < 0.001
Maximum bat speed (m·s
−1
) 28.4 ± 2.5 22.6 ± 2.3 5.82 (3.00, 8.64) 1.371 1.542 Large < 0.001
Bat angle DS −167.4 ± 16.5 −164.0 ± 23.9 −4.97 (−30.30, 20.37) 12.325 −0.245 Small 0.690
Bat angle IMP 21.0 ± 7.0 16.8 ± 8.2 10.24 (1.59, 18.89) 4.210 1.311 Large 0.022
Bat angular rotation DS-IMP 188.4 ± 20.0 180.7 ± 25.0 15.21 (−12.29, 42.71) 13.378 0.674 Moderate 0.266
Bat CoM height DS (m) 1.24 ± 0.10 1.21 ± 0.13 −0.04 (−0.18, 0.10) 0.069 −0.340 Small 0.568
Wrist cocking angle DS 119.3 ± 11.8 118.7 ± 12.2 0.29 (−14.55, 15.13) 7.220 0.025 Trivial 0.968
Wrist cocking angle IMP 162.1 ± 8.5 168.9 ± 10.4 −4.00 (−15.33, 7.32) 5.508 −0.404 Small 0.474
Wrist uncocking min-IMP 57.5 ± 14.7 61.9 ± 14.4 −2.00 (−19.85, 15.85) 8.683 −0.139 Trivial 0.819
Lead elbow angle DS 121.2 ± 10.8 133.7 ± 27.5 −22.04 (−47.33, 3.24) 12.301 −1.025 Moderate 0.085
Lead elbow angle IMP 150.9 ± 13.7 130.8 ± 27.1 9.61 (−16.20, 35.41) 12.552 0.409 Small 0.451
Rear elbow angle DS 56.1 ± 8.1 65.4 ± 16.2 −2.35 (−17.77, 13.07) 7.501 −0.174 Trivial 0.757
Rear elbow angle IMP 126.3 ± 12.5 112.5 ± 10.6 13.80 (0.38, 27.23) 6.530 1.032 Moderate 0.044
Lead elbow extension DS-IMP 29.7 ± 12.0 −3.0 ± 23.5 31.66 (9.16, 54.15) 10.944 1.280 Large 0.008
Rear elbow extension DS-IMP 70.2 ± 13.4 47.1 ± 17.8 16.15 (−2.42, 34.72) 9.035 0.831 Moderate 0.086
Pelvis transverse angle IMP −5.1 ± 8.6 −3.9 ± 10.1 5.51 (−4.86, 15.88) 5.045 0.596 Small 0.285
Thorax transverse angle IMP −6.7 ± 13.5 −4.0 ± 12.5 8.37 (−6.57, 23.32) 7.271 0.651 Moderate 0.260
X-factor DS 17.6 ± 8.3 12.4 ± 10.1 10.79 (1.16, 20.43) 4.688 1.141 Moderate 0.030
X’-factor DS 22.3 ± 7.0 14.3 ± 8.5 7.60 (−1.85, 17.04) 4.596 0.879 Moderate 0.110
Max X-factor DS-IMP 24.9 ± 6.8 19.3 ± 7.6 7.25 (−1.30, 15.80) 4.158 0.947 Moderate 0.093
Max X’-factor DS-IMP 24.2 ± 8.1 16.2 ± 9.1 8.81 (−1.82, 19.44) 5.170 0.939 Moderate 0.100
X-factor stretch DS-max 7.2 ± 4.4 7.0 ± 5.3 −3.54 (−8.38, 1.30) 2.353 −0.743 Moderate 0.144
X-factor reduction max-IMP 23.3 ± 7.2 19.6 ± 8.3 9.40 (0.28, 18.52) 4.435 1.197 Moderate 0.044
X’-factor reduction max-IMP 19.3 ± 6.8 17.4 ± 7.2 3.71 (−4.43, 11.86) 3.964 0.538 Small 0.357
CoM A-P displacement min-IMP (m) 0.37 ± 0.11 0.46 ± 0.23 −0.17 (−0.38, 0.04) 0.102 −0.928 Moderate 0.113
Lead knee angle IMP 141.6 ± 14.1 146.1 ± 14.6 −8.47 (−26.10, 9.17) 8.579 −0.592 Small 0.333
Lead knee extension SEnd-IMP −4.1 ± 12.0 −0.1 ± 9.7 −0.46 (−13.79, 12.87) 6.483 −0.042 Trivial 0.944
Base length IMP (m) 0.81 ± 0.10 0.82 ± 0.10 −0.06 (−0.18, 0.07) 0.059 −0.556 Small 0.360
Note: CI: confidence interval; SE: standard error; DS: commencement of downswing; IMP: impact; CoM: centre of mass; X-factor: transverse plane pelvis-thorax
separation angle; X’-factor: frontal plane pelvis-thorax separation angle; A-P: anterior-posterior; SEnd: stride end; base length: the resultant distance between feet
CoM; bold text: hypotheses identified a priori, all other tests were exploratory.
JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES 3
each of the three a priori hypotheses (separation between the
pelvis and thorax segments in the transverse plane at the
commencement of the downswing, lead elbow extension dur-
ing the downswing, and wrist uncocking from minimum angle
to impact), as well as for each of the other parameters explored
(Table 1). The “eect of gender” was used to represent the
combined organismic (other than height and body mass),
environmental, and task constraints which potentially dier
between genders. Eects were considered statistically signi-
cant at p < 0.05. Parameter estimates for the xed eect of
gender (with 95% condence intervals: Harrison et al., 2020)
were reported, as was the standard error (SE) and the standar-
dised eect size estimate (β). Eect sizes were interpreted as:
trivial < 0.2; 0.2 ≤ small < 0.6; 0.6 ≤ moderate < 1.2; 1.2 ≤ large <
2.0; very large 2.0 (Hopkins et al., 2009). Normality of the
residuals was checked for all models (0.196 Kolmogorov-
Smirnov p-value ≤ 0.993).
Results
Performance outcomes
The eect of gender was signicant (male batters > female
batters) for each of maximum bat speed (28.4 ± 2.5 vs
22.6 ± 2.3 m·s
−1
; β = 1.54, large; SE = 1.37; p < 0.001), ball
launch speed (33.5 ± 2.6 vs 27.3 ± 2.8 m·s
−1
; β = 1.31, large;
SE = 1.57; p = 0.002), and ball carry distance (80.7 ± 10.0 vs
57.7 ± 8.8 m; β = 1.43, large; SE = 5.46; p < 0.001) (Table 1,
Figure 2).
Hypothesised eects
The eect of gender was signicant (male batters > female
batters) for pelvis-thorax transverse plane separation at the
commencement of the downswing (17.6 ± 8.3 vs 12.4 ± 10.1°;
β = 1.14, moderate; SE = 4.69; p = 0.030) and lead elbow
extension during the downswing (29.7 ± 12.0 vs −3.0 ± 23.5°;
β = 1.28, large; SE = 10.94; p = 0.008), but not for wrist
uncocking from minimum angle to impact (57.5 ± 14.7 vs
61.9 ± 14.4°; β = −0.14, trivial; SE = 8.68; p = 0.819) (Table 1,
Figure 3).
Exploratory eects
The eect of gender was signicant (male batters > female
batters) for each of bat angle about the global medio-lateral
axis at impact (21.0 ± 7.0 vs 16.8 ± 8.2°; β = 1.31, large; SE = 4.21;
p = 0.022), rear elbow angle at impact (126.3 ± 12.5 vs
112.5 ± 10.6°; β = 1.03, moderate; SE = 6.53; p = 0.044), and
X-factor reduction from maximum separation to impact
(23.3 ± 7.2 vs 19.6 ± 8.3°; β = 1.197, moderate; SE = 4.44;
p = 0.044) (Table 1, Figure 4). For all other kinematic para-
meters, the eect of gender was not signicant (Table 1).
Discussion
Skilled male cricket batters generated greater maximum bat
speeds, ball launch speeds, and ball carry distances than their
female counterparts. After controlling for the eects of body
mass and height, male batters had greater pelvis-thorax separa-
tion in the transverse plane at the commencement of the
downswing and extended their lead elbows during the down-
swing more than female batters. These two a priori kinematic
hypotheses were therefore supported. However, there was no
eect of gender on the magnitude of wrist uncocking during
the downswing.
The conuence of organismic, environmental, and task con-
straints during the power hitting task resulted in kinematic
dierences between skilled male and female cricket batters.
The earliest and most proximal of these dierences involved
transverse plane pelvis-thorax separation at the commence-
ment of the downswing as hypothesised. Despite no dier-
ences in lower-body kinematics and no other dierences
before the downswing (Table 1), male batters exhibited mod-
erately greater pelvis-thorax separation compared to female
Figure 2. Performance outcomes: maximum bat speed (left), ball launch speed (middle), and ball carry distance (right) for university (triangle) and county to
international (circle) male and female cricket batters. Colour-scale indicates maximum bat speed for each participant. Box and whisker plot indicates the median and
interquartile range. Shaded density illustrates the distribution of data points.
4S. A. MCERLAIN-NAYLOR ET AL.
batters (Figure 3). Greater separation, or “X-factor”, may enable
batters to make more eective use of the stretch-shortening
cycle (Ettema, 2001; Komi, 1984, 2000), leading to faster uncoil-
ing during the downswing (Myers et al., 2008). Indeed, explora-
tory analyses revealed that male batters subsequently
exhibited a moderately greater reduction or “recoil” in pelvis-
thorax separation during the downswing compared to female
batters (Figure 4). Although the causes of these dierences are
unclear, it has been suggested that greater anticipation of
incoming ball trajectory characteristics may facilitate greater
torso axial rotations (McErlain-Naylor et al., 2020; Peploe et al.,
2019). It may therefore be posited that the reported eects of
gender reect dierences in anticipatory skill level. However,
there was no clear dierence in these torso rotational para-
meters between batters of dierent playing levels (university or
international batters: Figures 3 and 4). Future research investi-
gating individual-specic relationships between anticipation
and torso rotations under varying task and environmental
constraints may advance understanding in this area. This rela-
tionship will be further aected by the choice of (and experi-
ence with) ball speed and delivery method, with a bowling
machine (used in the present study to control incoming ball
trajectory) limiting the availability of pre-release visual cues and
therefore acting as an additional constraint to inuence emer-
gent movement solutions (McErlain-Naylor et al., 2020; Peploe
et al., 2014; Pinder et al., 2009, 2011).
Later in the proximal-to-distal kinetic chain, male batters
exhibited greater lead elbow extension during the downswing
(large eect size; Figure 3) and a moderately greater rear elbow
angle at impact (Figure 4). There appears to be a dierence on
average in the emergent movement solution of male and
female cricket batters at the elbow joint during this power
hitting task. Male batters extended their lead elbow by
30 ± 12° whereas female batters exed theirs on average by
3 ± 24°. This resembles the previous observation that experi-
enced male golfers extend their lead elbow during the
Figure 3. Hypothesised effects: X-factor at the start of the downswing (left), lead elbow extension during the downswing (middle), and wrist uncocking from minimum
to impact (right) for university (triangle) and county to international (circle) male and female cricket batters. Colour-scale indicates maximum bat speed for each
participant. Box and whisker plot indicates the median and interquartile range. Shaded density illustrates the distribution of data points.
Figure 4. Exploratory effects identified: bat angle at impact (left), rear elbow angle at impact (middle), and X-factor reduction from maximum to impact (right) for
university (triangle) and county to international (circle) male and female cricket batters. Colour-scale indicates maximum bat speed for each participant. Box and
whisker plot indicates the median and interquartile range. Shaded density illustrates the distribution of data points.
JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES 5
downswing by 10° on average, whilst experienced female gol-
fers ex theirs by 24° (Egret et al., 2006). Eight female batters in
the present study (range: −7 to −34°), but no male batters,
exed their lead elbow during the downswing (Figure 3). The
nine greatest lead elbow extension magnitudes were all
observed in male batters and the nine lowest (or most nega-
tive) extension magnitudes were all observed in female batters
(Figure 3). These dierences at the elbow joint perhaps reect
female batters using more of a traditional “checked drive”
movement solution on average rather than a specic power
hitting solution as used by male batters on average. A large
dierence in bat angle at impact was consequently reported
with male batters rotating their bat further forward beyond the
vertical. Theoretically, greater lead elbow extension would pro-
vide a greater range through which to accelerate the forearm
segment, and simultaneously increase the length of the bat-
arm system at impact (Peploe et al., 2019). Lead elbow exten-
sion of up to 30° (Figure 3) suggests that power hitting solu-
tions involving elbow extension are possible for female batters.
Likewise, the lead elbow exion observed by Egret et al. (2006)
in female golfers was not replicated in greater skilled profes-
sional female golfers (Zheng et al., 2008). Indeed, the control of
movement may dier more between male and female athletes
at lower rather than higher skill levels (Lawrence et al., 2017).
The eect of gender in the present study was present after
controlling for the eects of body mass and height (i.e., the
dierences were not caused by players adapting to dierences
in body height). Observed dierences are therefore likely
a result of the specic organismic, environmental, and task
constraints present for male and female batters, as well as
their specic training experience and coaching histories.
One important organismic constraint is the absolute mus-
cular strength of the batter. The greater body mass of the male
batters (controlled for in the present study) is presumably
associated with a greater absolute physiological cross-
sectional area of muscle (Abe et al., 2003) (only partially con-
trolled for via body mass), which would likely facilitate greater
force production and body segment acceleration compared
with female batters attempting to execute the same movement
(Lieber & Fridén, 2000). Absolute strength aordances may
therefore contribute to the selection by skilled female batters
of a movement solution involving less elbow extension com-
pared with the male batters, as may various other factors relat-
ing to equipment and the task itself. It is also possible that
some female batters have not been coached to utilise a specic
power hitting technique like that of the male batters. The
purpose of the present study is not to fully explain the causal
relationships underlying these dierences but to identify the
combined eects of organismic, environmental and task con-
straints for further exploration.
Environmental constraints include the interactions between
human system and external equipment. Any inuence of
strength constraints on the emergent movement patterns
would likely be relative to bat moment of inertia (Koenig
et al., 2004). Using a bat with a larger relative moment of inertia
not only slows the swing but leads to a reorganisation of the
movement pattern (Southard & Groomer, 2003). In baseball,
a lack of velocity transfer from the leading elbow to leading
wrist is the most noticeable eect of increased bat inertia
during warm-up on subsequent batting kinematics (Southard
& Groomer, 2003). Qualitatively, the lead arm appeared to
control and stabilise the swing rather than increasing bat velo-
city (e.g., through elbow extension). This is the same pattern
observed on average in the present study’s female batters,
suggesting that their bat moment of inertia may not be parti-
cularly well scaled to their absolute strength constraints. The
relationship between equipment scaling (e.g., bat mass and
length) and self-organisation of movement solutions within
cricket batting tasks is an important area for subsequent
research, with potential applications for the design of both
equipment and coaching practices.
Task constraints such as the playing area boundary size
dier between male and female cricket (ICC, 2020a, 2020b). If
a female batter is able to clear the smaller boundary whilst
exing the lead elbow and utilising relatively little pelvis-thorax
separation then there may be little stimulus or benet to
exploring alternative techniques. It remains possible that the
reduced boundary size allows some batters to prioritise accu-
racy of bat-ball impact location and subsequent shot direction
over bat speed (Peploe, McErlain-Naylor, Harland, King et al.,
2018). Factors such as the margin for error in swing timing (i.e.,
reduced risk) and the ability to adapt to various types of ball
delivery may also lead to the adoption of a particular technique
under these female-specic task constraints where the impetus
for even greater ball carry distances is removed.
This study has identied the greatest dierences in power
hitting kinematics between skilled male and female cricket
batters. The causes of these dierences are likely to be multi-
factorial, involving aspects relating to the individual players,
their equipment, the task of power hitting in male or female
cricket, and the history of training experience and coaching
practices. Future research is necessary to determine the rela-
tionships between strength characteristics, bat moment of
inertia, and cricket power hitting kinematics, particularly within
female batters. Likewise, the relationship between anticipatory
skills and axial torso rotations during cricket batting warrants
further exploration. Players, coaches, and strength and condi-
tioning practitioners should recognise the dierences in pre-
dominantly elbow kinematics currently used by skilled male
and female cricket batters to solve their relative power hitting
tasks. Stakeholders should acknowledge and continue to inves-
tigate the roles of various constraints on the development of
cricket batting technique within individuals and specic
cohorts. Longitudinal interventions focusing on technical
coaching and/or strength and conditioning are particularly
important. Although a single best trial per player was used to
represent individual-specic maximal performance in the pre-
sent study, the eects of various constraints on intra-individual
movement variability across multiple trials should also be
explored in the future.
Conclusion
Skilled male cricket batters generated greater maximum bat
speeds, ball launch speeds, and ball carry distances than skilled
female batters. After controlling for the eects of body mass
and height, male batters had greater pelvis-thorax separation
in the transverse plane at the commencement of the
6S. A. MCERLAIN-NAYLOR ET AL.
downswing and extended their lead elbows during the down-
swing more than female batters. Eight female batters, but no
male batters, exed their lead elbow during the downswing.
The hypothesised eect of gender on the magnitude of wrist
uncocking during the downswing was not observed. The
causes of these dierences are likely to be multi-factorial, invol-
ving aspects relating to the individual players, their equipment,
the task of power hitting in male or female cricket, and the
history of training experience and coaching practices.
Stakeholders should acknowledge and continue to investigate
the roles of various constraints on the development of cricket
batting technique within individuals and specic cohorts.
Disclosure
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author(s).
Funding
This work was supported by the International Cricket Council; England and
Wales Cricket Board.
ORCID
Stuart A. McErlain-Naylor http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9745-138X
Chris Peploe http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6815-6074
Paul J. Felton http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9211-0319
Mark A. King http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2587-9117
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