A cricketer can probably practice bowling all by himself without a batsman or a bat, but a batsman cannot practice batting all by himself without a bowler, ball or a training aid capable of throwing balls.
All types of cricket players face a variety of challenges on a daily basis. We here at freebowler have taken a look at some of the difficulties faced at different levels, from the grassroots, amateur, youth, women, semi-professional cricket setup and strongly believe freebowler Superthrower Non-electric and Portable Cricket Ball Thrower can bring value to cricketers at various levels.
WANNABE CRICKETER: SOMEBODY LIKE ME
I’ll start with my example because I’m a semi-professional cricketer myself, and it’s relatively easy to connect and communicate. My needs are basically to practice for a couple of sessions a week and play a game on the weekend(if possible). That’s what my current schedule allows me to do, and I’m happy with that much amount of cricket I get to play. I’ll be delighted to stay in touch with the game at this stage instead of looking at my records, if I could fill in a spot for my club team and help them stabilize with my all-round offering with the bat and the ball, it’s a job well done. I don’t need much- I need a couple of hours of batting practice in a week (3 hours is luxury). All I need is consistent 120–130kmph ball speed, because nobody at the club cricket bowls more than 125kmph anyway. As long as it’s quick, consistent and I get to practice all the shots in the book with a fellow cricketer to run the machine for me for about 100–120 balls per session to bat. And nearly 40–50 balls to bowl in two spells(which I can do that on my own without relying on anybody, that’s to keep the arm loose and stiff to be able to bowl 6–8 overs in a game) I’m fully satisfied. I’ve got my cricket hunger fulfilled for the week. This is just me - someone else might need more.
SEMI-PROS AT CLUB AND CORPORATE CRICKET
Most semi-pros would only need 1. Net, which they can book it at the closest practice facility 2 . Kit with balls, which they always have 3. Minimum of 2 people, maximum of 5–6 people. Sometimes more, but on an average that’s all the resources they have.
Of those players, not all of them are fit to bowl consistently at 120kmph on a good-length area or maybe bowl bouncers and yorkers. They’d need at least 6–8 balls to warm up which are either wides or full tosses, the next 15–20 balls are decent, but not testing. The last 5–6 balls are again wides and full — tosses because they get tired.
The batsman gets to play 8–12 minutes of batting during a net session, but the first 2 and the last 2 minutes of batting practice is time killing, the in between 5–6 minutes with say 50 balls(4–5 bowlers) are decent because a lot of them are just rolling their arm over to loosen the stiffness and trying to get the line and length right. In this way, there's much less efficiency during a practice session at the semi-professional level — club and corporate cricket.
In order for people to make the practice session count, they need a device which is practical(non-electric and portable) meaning which can be used when they want to, reliable, affordable and convenient to use! freebowler Superthrower non-electric and compact cricket ball thrower can fill in this gap and help semi-professional cricketers get through their weekly practice efficiently. If a semi-professional team pitches in to get a Superthrower, they can have authentic and efficient batting sessions forever.
SEMI-PROS AT COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY LEVEL
Cricketers at the college and the university level run into similar issues as club or corporate cricket. Except for countries like Australia, the UK, and maybe even South Africa, the college/university cricket is still a semi-professional segment because higher education and professional cricket is a contradiction in most places. You can’t do both. People in this segment are half cricketers and half engineers, doctors and industrial professionals. This training aid in their setup will enable these cricketers to find an efficient aid to transition to professional cricket from semi-professional cricket.
PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN
This is one of the segments which is promising, exciting, and genuinely where a product like ours find its VALUE at scale. Most young cricket players practice sessions are either in the morning 6–9 AM or evening 4–7 PM. Especially for kids who are 10–12 years old, the parents of the kids must drop and pick them up from the practice facilities. In a country like India, which is population heavy and there’s always traffic, getting to point A to point B often gets difficult with minimum travel times between 30–60min. So, most parents find it challenging to get through the traffic to drop and pick up their kids also because they go to work as well. Situations like these forces parents to avoid the traffic hassle at the cost of the quality training available in the center of the city. Now either the parents must teach the kids themselves or engage them at a local cricket training center where there are 100s of kids with a danger of kids losing individual attention. So, having 10–12-year old’s graduate to 14–16s is a tricky phase because they are dependent on other external factors until they are on their own. The 14–16-year old’s find it difficult too with travel and traffic, but they are at least capable of making it to the practice independently.
Another critical thing to make a note of is the fact that the schools these days have their cricket training courses where the kids enroll before or after school in the mornings and evenings. It’s a great way to engage kids and avoid the traffic hassle while parents can now depend on the services provided by the school to drop their children, or even pick up their kids after dark around 6–7 pm when the traffic situation is relatively better. But not all schools have a perfect cricket training system, with all due respect to the schools providing excellent coaching services in association with well-reputed ex-cricketers or sports management programs. The bulk of the kids miss out quality cricket education because schools engage kids just for the sake of it, which again leaves parents to do additional work to train their children better.
Parents often complain as to how it becomes difficult for them to feed their kids with cricket balls as it’s quite a strenuous activity throwing a real cricket ball. The exercise will hurt their arms and sometimes end up throwing their arm and back out, leaving their weekend free time at stake and at the mercy of their wives to finish the household works. So overall, it creates circumstances where parents and kids are helpless but must go through the motions with what’s available compromising on quality and quantity. But now with freebowler superthrower, the father or even the mother can take their kid along with the ball thrower to a local park, backyard, front yard or a practice facility and help their kids with a quality practice session.
Another scenario we witness all the time is that when siblings help themselves out. A 12-year-old kid helps his 16-year-old brother prep for his state-level games on the rooftop of their house. The 16-year-old is in his class 10 can’t afford to lose out either on his academics nor his cricketing career. Both are important. Attending practice session at the training ground takes at least 4 hours out of his day. So, he convinces his father to buy a freebowler Superthrower and has a temporary arrangement on the rooftop with half a mat (Astroturf) and scratched up nets fixed just wherever possible not to let the balls fly out of the roof. With the help of his 12-year-old brother, he gets solid batting practice every day for 2 hours. It allows him to be in touch with the game for the upcoming state games, while also allowing him to prepare for the class X board examination without wasting too much time and energy.
Now we can have a four-way solution for parents, children, training centers, and schools. The parents can now buy the freebowler Superthrower, which comes at the price point of their children’s cricket kit plus the training fees. It’s not too big of an investment because it’s there with them forever and it saves them time, energy and money in the long run which they would otherwise invest in engaging their kids with other activities for the same or higher cost. Same is for the kids who grow from 10 to 12 to 14 to 16. By 12–13 years they become very well adept with the machine operations, and they don’t need any help anymore either with their parents or coaches, they can engage themselves. The kids can rotate among themselves as one bat after the other and runs it for the other person.
YOUTH CRICKET TRAINING CENTERS
For training centers, it is now a matter of pride and status, because these days, the reputation of the facility is valued by the infrastructure they provide to the kids. So, a good training ground with all the necessary tools and resources is a must. It’s a perfect business model to have 2–3 of these machines and engage kids among themselves rather than owning an electric based bowling machine with additional overhead charges in electricity, maintenance charges, a paid operator to run it. With the cost spent on power based bowling machine, a training center can now have 4 of these non-electric and portable ball throwers and multiply the output by far having eight kids play in the same time versus 2 for the same money. They have to overlook the activities now and keep an eye out for upcoming talents instead having to throw the balls at the kids one by one. This way, training centers can now actually turn this into their advantage by providing quality batting practice with the ball thrower.
SCHOOLS AND RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITIES
Same applies to the schools as well just like training centers. Better the sports infrastructure (especially for cricket) higher are their chances to enroll more kids into their education curriculum. The sports instructors can now actually do their job they are best at by managing, instructing, and monitoring the practice sessions. Residential communities, too, can adopt this training aid as a part of their infrastructure offering to their clients and have the ball throwers in their recreation and activity center for parents and kids to use it. We have seen counties, gated communities, and apartments providing the necessary amenities for sporting activities and as a part of promoting health and fitness within their community. So with more kids getting into cricket than ever before both for recreation and professional cricket, there’s the need to complete the package with basic training essentials.
EMERGING CRICKET PLAYING NATIONS
I’ll take my example here too because I’m a victim of all these situations myself in one or the other way. I’ve previously mentioned how difficult it was for me to get through a practice session to be prepared for the game on the weekend during my time in the US. The problems are real. In the US, the closest cricket practice facility was in Edison, New Jersey. From where I lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, it was 1.5 hours of drive and 2 hours of practice and 1.5 hours of a trip back. If you stopped for coffee, gas and a snack, then add an hour to it. So, it would be 6 hours and almost half a day affair on a weekend when you wanted to stay back home finish homework (also maybe hang out with your girlfriend) and get ready for the next week. At the time, it also cost me $60 — $80/session, including gas, coffee, snack, and session fees for the facility, which was proving to be expensive since I was still in school.
Most emerging cricket playing nations have similar problems concerning infrastructure and the proximity to practice facilities. The practice facilities are either makeshift ones or co-shared with other sports like soccer, hockey, or baseball. Since there are no dedicated cricket facilities, the costs associated with co-sharing space is higher. Price too is a critical factor to consider because none of the cricket activities unlike in test playing nations where the cricket associations bear the organizational costs, it’s all self — funded by the individuals.
Because of the population scarcity, people live far away from each other and distance makes it a challenge for people and makes them think more than once to commute to the training center. Another factor which affects their cricket is the weather, countries USA, Canada and a few more in Europe have extreme weather conditions like snow and wind, which forces them to go indoors. So, people do find it challenging to organize a practice session because of all the above these reasons and more, where only 5–6 people show up which deteriorates the quality of practice over time.
UNDERPRIVILEGED, BACKWARD, INNER AND RURAL REGIONS
The earlier description may come off as rich country’s problems in the sense that at least the individuals can fund the cricketing activities, but same challenges are worse in some of the African and Asian countries because the standard of living with earnings are inferior. It’s even more difficult for these folks to get any cricket possible at all. Mainly because there’s no organized cricket structure in terms of having qualified coaches, training centers, infrastructure to support the same with training aids, all these shortcomings are further affected by lack of funds either in the system or in the individuals themselves. Cricketers or interested individuals barely get anything out of their practice sessions except for some compromised satisfaction. Some of these backward countries, including tier-2, tier — 3 cities, inner cities, rural towns suffer lack necessities like water and electricity.
Such a basic training aid like an accessible, affordable and convenient ball thrower which is also non-electric and portable has the potential to solve the part of the problem if not all in emerging cricket playing nations and for the underprivileged too. Now ICC, other country and state cricket associations are taking the initiatives to make the cricketing conditions better for the people in these regions.
As much as the youth and amateur cricket segment, women cricket is equally essential for us to at freebowler because our product once again finds it’s real application and use, bringing a lot of value to the women cricketers in all regions including professional, semi-professional, youth, amateur, underprivileged, schools, universities, and more. Women face specific physical challenges in comparison to their male counterparts. From our understanding, there’s always supply to demand challenges in cricket in general, where more people are willing to bat than a bowl. Even higher supply to demand problem with quality batting and bowling. There is always a higher number of quality batsmen than quality bowlers, especially in women cricket because of particular physical challenges; not all female cricketers can bowl consistently quick.
There is only a handful number of bowlers who can clock 140kmph at the women cricket level. Most hover between mid-120–130s. Since the superthrower solves the challenges with accessibility in making the ball thrower practically available at all places, unlike other machines which are technology and electricity dependent, it is also affordable — which means somebody in the team or the entire unit can pitch in and own the device. It is convenient — easy to use, no technical expertise needed, and no need to throw the arm out with the handheld ball chuckers. All these things make it favorable for female cricketers to adopt this training aid into their current training module to help solve their challenges with batting practice and have the chance to work on their technique with speeds, line, and lengths comparable to match situations.
The same thing applies to disabled cricketers where the human physical conditions are even more challenging. There are various forms of disabled cricket in wheelchair, blind cricket and a few more. But the fact that this machine can help their batting practice with additional support and assistance from the coaching and management staff will assist these cricketers in thriving in their respective positions.
PROFESSIONALS AND ELITE CRICKETERS
Initially, targeting the professionals and elite cricketers was not our focus. Mainly because professionals usually have access to all the resources. The cricket bodies fund their cricketing journey; for the most part, the coaching and the management staff usually takes care of the players and provide them with all the necessities. This segment of cricket is very well organized and rightly so because when you are playing at the highest level, you should have access to best training facilities to compete with the rest of the world with access to technology, workforce, and all other resources.
So, we did not find a need to cater to this audience because we were going after the audience who were in need. But to surprise, we found out that our product truly brings value to the training methods of professionals too. It doesn’t substitute any of their current training aids but alternates with them all. More specifically, the ability of training aid to throw real cricket balls at them at decent speeds after they are done facing genuine bowler and the handheld ball chuckers is something they’d like to meet for a changeup. This training aid offers them a little bit of variety along with the other ball throwing options. It presents them real seam up deliveries just like a cricket bowler and jags in and out as if it was a seaming wicket bowled by a quality, fast bowler.
Batsman usually makes pit stops in their training sessions where they go up against the bowler, handheld ball chuckers, wet balls on cement wickets, throwdowns, sometimes electric bowling machines. So, since they already train with various types of other ball throwing aids, this addition of the non-electric and portable cricket ball thrower will not make much difference to their game in terms of affecting their technique but presents them an opportunity to be exposed to a slightly new challenge. More importantly, this training aid offers them with all the natural variations in terms of changing the line, length, speed and swing like a real bowler unlike with other ball throwing aids where the batsman already knows where the ball is pitching and premeditates a shot. Here it makes them play to the merit of the ball, helping them improve their reaction times with hand and eye coordination.
What it also does is that it also offers them with enough variety especially to practice T20 cricket shots with improvisation. In T20 cricket, the batsman is not always in the best of the positions, but they still must create scoring opportunities from wherever they are, so this training aid gets batsmen into those awkward positions from where they again must play shots and train run scoring.
In other ways, a training aid like this is helpful for batsman especially during the offseason or mostly when a player is recovering from an injury when they are still not ready to face a fast bowler but want something that gets closer to that. They are wanting even to find their groove and get the hang of it, just mainly focusing on feeling a lot of balls on the middle of the bat. It’s more like knocking practice but less than facing a real bowler. And when the batsmen are prepping for an overseas tour and wanting to try and experiment with a few shots and correct a technique where they don’t want too much pace but just enough to simulate swinging and seaming conditions that allow them working on their skill set.
These are the various use case scenarios, from from grassroots up to the highest level of representation, where we believe our product can aid the process for cricketers, coaches, managers, parents, administrators, and other stakeholders.