It was the moment that summed up England’s dismal summer with the bat. The team was broken and now, on the third and ultimately, final day of the fifth Ashes test, English opener Michael Carberry’s bat was too.
England were 2 for 48 in the 12th over, with Pietersen on 3 and Carberry, 17, when he leaned forward to block Ryan Harris, who had just disposed of Bell and was on his way to figures of 5/25 and Man of the match.
The ball struck about two-thirds up Carberry’s Kookaburra bat and it snapped in half, symbolising the hapless frustration the English faced all summer.
Only the bat’s sticker kept the two pieces of willow together and the look of disbelief on Carberry’s face was rivalled only by the Barmy Army’s expressions whenever the TV coverage cut to them during the series.
Associate Professor Rod Cross from University of Sydney’s Physics Department estimates that the force of the Harris delivery was roughly equal to 12.5 cricketers standing on the bat.
No wonder it gave way.
He calculates that the ball, weighing around 160g, hits the bat at around 100kmh, generating 10,000 Newtons of maximum force for a millisecond.
It would be more if the batsman was belting it for six. The calculation assumes the ball dribbles away at 20kmh.
A cricket player weighing 80kg is roughly 800 newtons of force, so the ball’s impact is the same as having the entire team, plus the 12th man, standing on the bat for a millisecond.
It also explains why Piers Morgan came away from his encounter with Brett Lee with broken ribs.
Assoc Prof Cross is a sports fan who’s explored how physics works in various games, most notably tennis, but if you’re keen to learn more, see his analysis of the physics of cricket here.
This was Carberry’s first Ashes tour and he’d shown more fight at the crease than most of his team-mates, scoring 281 runs for the series at an average of 28.1, with only Pietersen (29.4) and rising star Ben Stokes (279, in 8 innings, for 34.87) ahead of him.
As he did in his first innings in Brisbane, Carberry top-scored, this time with 43 from 63 balls, as his more fancied and experienced colleagues surrendered around him.
Business Insider attempted to contact Kookaburra, who made Carberry’s bat, but did not hear back. The Australian sports equipment company’s bats are also used by Ian Bell (Ashes average, 26.11 runs).
At the start of the season, Carberry promoted his new bat, which, without irony, is called the Recoil. Watch it here:
And here’s the moment he’ll remember when England tries to win back the Ashes on home soil in 2015.
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