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22 June 2006 PR 06/76

‘Virtual Warney’ is batter by far

An advanced bowling machine (ABM) to help international cricketers brush up on their batting skills is being developed by Loughborough University.

Experts in the Sports Technology department have devised the revolutionary machine – nicknamed ‘Virtual Warney' - to simulate a real-life batting environment. Instead of balls being fired randomly from the machine – as with other ABMs – the Loughborough invention gives batsmen a warning of when the ball will be bowled, using a special visualisation device.

Mrs Laura Justham, who has been working on the project, said: “With other bowling machines, the ball comes whizzing out with no warning. Batsmen have no preparation time and cannot glean anything about the timing of the delivery.

“Our machine has a visualisation system on the front so that batsmen can tell exactly when the ball will be bowled – just as if they were facing a real bowler. We are trying to create a training environment that is as close to reality as possible.”

The Loughborough ABM – which was dubbed ‘Virtual Warney’ by an Australian journalist – uses proper cricket balls, rather than the plastic, rubber-moulded balls employed in other bowling machines. This means that the balls react more realistically with the bat and the pitch.

Batsmen spend a lot of time practising with bowling machines, because there are not enough bowlers to help them perfect their batting skills. The use of ABMs also minimises injury risks to bowlers.

ENDS

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Notes to editors

Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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