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England cricketers in test to match vision skills to elite sport


The England women's cricket team have been casting an expert eye over research at the University of Bradford to investigate whether elite sportspeople have superior vision.

The team, fresh from doing battle with their Australian counterparts in the summer 2015 Ashes series, have been at the University working with Professor of Visual Development, Brendan Barrett, by taking part in research that looks at the link between excellent vision and elite sporting performance.

The project, led by Professor Barrett of the School of Optometry and Vision Science, and Dr John Buckley from the University’s Faculty of Engineering, is investigating whether vision contributes to excellence in coincidence timing - the skill of identifying a trajectory, such as that of an oncoming ball, and coordinating your movement so as to be able to catch or intercept it.

Along with colleagues from St. Andrews University and Liverpool John Moores University, the team at Bradford have designed a series of tests to measure aspects of catching ability such as hand movement speed, size of grip aperture and speed of closing your hand as the ball travels towards you at different speeds. The tests also involve wearing special goggles that limit how much of the flight path of the ball is seen. The idea is to examine the resistance of catching performance to restriction of visual information, and whether the performance in those with the best vision is more resistant than in others.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is one of the organisations taking part in the research at the University’s city centre campus. The ECB is interested in whether the results of the research can point to how to improve performance in the field, and whether they could play a role in the early identification of talent and aptitude.

One of the England team involved was opener and off spinner Heather Knight. She said: “It’s been really interesting taking part and pretty hard in places! You can see how it might have a role in training for both catching and batting.”

Heather is pictured being put through her catching paces.

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