Engineers recreate 1900s cricket bowling machine - 3 minutes read

Engineers recreate 1900s cricket bowling machine

2 days ago

By Neve Gordon-Farleigh & PA Media, BBC News, Cambridgeshire

The engineers had no drawings to use from when the contraption was made, only a black and white photograph and a patent application

A wooden machine that bowled out an Australian international cricketer in 1909 has been recreated by a university's engineering department.

The recreation of the bowling machine, designed by Dr John Venn in the early 1900s, was set as a challenge by Hugh Hunt, professor of engineering dynamics and vibration at Cambridge University.

The contraption will be used at events and open days to inspire young people considering maths and engineering careers.

Prof Hunt said: "The idea behind the project was to recreate a bit of history, and to show how much fun you can have with maths."

It was created from only a black and white photograph of the 7ft (2m) machine, and a patent application from the time for reference.

When the Australians visited Cambridge in 1909, their star batsman Victor Trumper was bowled out by the machine.

Thomas Glenday, head of design and technical services at the university's engineering department, said they did not have any drawings to work with.

"It meant we had to sketch it out for ourselves, figure out how the machine was actually going to work, and how it replicates the skill and speed of a spin bowler," he said.

"The spin has been the key piece, and probably the most complicated part of the design."

'Historic relic'

They started with a one-fifth-scale model of the machine using coil springs, before upscaling this with bungee cords.

Tests showed the machine could bowl at about 33mph (53km/h), and Mr Glenday said he was "very pleased" with the final product.

"It would be nice for it to be throwing balls at 100mph (161km/h) but it's not designed to be a production machine.

"It's a historic relic which should be treated as such."

Radar tests showed the machine could bowl at about a rate of 33mph (53km/h)

Opening batswoman for the university's women's cricket team, Alice Bebb, 23, tested the machine.

She said: "It's like no bowler I've ever faced before.

"It was like a very tall bowler bowling very close to you and it was difficult to predict where it was going to go."

The machine will feature at Essex County Cricket Club on Monday in an event for the Essex Year of Numbers initiative to inspire a love of learning, with a focus on numeracy.

Source: BBC News

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