Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The right-sized cricketer

I am not too impressed when the diminutive Parthiv Patel or Gautam Gambhir make acrobatic leaps into the air and drop to terra firma while holding a catch, but I am simply astounded when I see big-made cricketers such as Mathew Hayden or Andrew Symonds scrambling to the crease by hitting the ground and skidding across. It calls for stupendous effort, I think.

Normally, agility is traded off against muscle strength, but these Aussies have broken the rule, through sheer hard work and training.

I remember reading a brilliant piece by J.B.S.Haldane ( I found an online version here) in which he had talked about the optimal size for every type of animal and why it was so:

"Let us take the most obvious of possible cases, and consider a giant man sixty feet high—about the height of Giant Pope and Giant Pagan in the illustrated Pilgrim’s Progress of my childhood. These monsters were not only ten times as high as Christian, but ten times as wide and ten times as thick, so that their total weight was a thousand times his, or about eighty to ninety tons. Unfortunately the cross sections of their bones were only a hundred times those of Christian, so that every square inch of giant bone had to support ten times the weight borne by a square inch of human bone. As the human thigh-bone breaks under about ten times the human weight, Pope and Pagan would have broken their thighs every time they took a step.

Gravity, a mere nuisance to Christian, was a terror to Pope, Pagan, and Despair. To the mouse and any smaller animal it presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force. "

Ok, Hayden is not a thousand times as heavy as Parthiv is and is not dropping down from the third floor, but still you can't take away the fact that with his bulk, the resistance to his falling is much higher and he carries a considerably higher risk of injury. So, his commitment is that much more commendable.

1 comment:

Viky said...

This was interesting.