A project to measure the effects of ball tampering in cricket has won a University of Bath graduate first prize in an international sports engineering competition.
Heather Driscoll, who achieved a first class degree in Sports Engineering last year, designed and built her own low cost wind tunnel and measuring system to investigate factors that affect the swing of a cricket ball.
Testing balls at speeds of up to 66mph, the project was able to reproduce the results of large-scale commercial tests that show the condition of the ball plays a crucial role in the game.
Tests on tampering showed that enhancing the polished side of the ball by applying sunscreen increased the side force by over 50 per cent.
Ms Driscoll said: “Previous research of a similar nature has been undertaken in large commercial wind tunnels costing thousands of pounds. The advantage of the small system we designed is that it costs less than a few hundred pounds.
“It could be used to undertake post-match ball analysis, allowing coaches and critics alike to resolve disputes such as ball tampering. It could also shed some light on the myths surrounding the supposed enhanced swing of the 20:20 white cricket ball.
“I am very happy to win the award and am pleased that the hard work put in over the last two years has been rewarded. I’d like to thank Professor Almond and the technical staff in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for their help with the project.
“With the 2012 Olympic Games being hosted in London, it’s great to be part of the field of sports engineering - fast developing not just in the UK but worldwide.”
Professor Darryl Almond added: “It was an ambitious and challenging project that Heather embraced with enthusiasm and energy. Its success was a result of Heather's talent for experimental work and her determination to overcome the difficulties and set-backs inherent in all novel work.”
Ms Driscoll is now working on the design of a new football boot for Adidas, completing a PhD at Sheffield Hallam University.
The prize was awarded by the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA) in its student project competition.