The Cyborg Batsman
So by now everyone knows that Gilchrist batted in Saturday's chaotic world cup final with a squash ball stuck in his left glove (a tip from the former West Australian batsman Bob Vermuelen) to ease the pressure exerted by the bottom hand on the bat's grip. Whats interesting is the complete lack of analysis surrounding this. For instance, what problem in Gilchrist's batting was this excess pressure causing? What kind of dismissals was it resulting in? Was it recommended as a corrective or as an enhancement? How long did Gilchrist try this in the nets? What did it feel like at first? And, why am I so curious? Well, it seems to me that what we have on our hands is a prosthetically enhanced batsman, and that its only the small size of the prosthesis that is preventing more chatter about it. Of course all batsman rely on things like pads, gloves, thigh-guards to go forth and do battle. But presumably there is a limit on how a batsman may protect himself (is there?) and on how he may choose to enhance other parts of this cricketing kit in order to bat better. Could a batsman rig himself up with a device that prevents him flashing at a delivery too far outside off-stump, or from shuffling too far across? Presumably, we would find this strange. What other kinds of enhancement are possible - veritable extensions of our physical self so that we may interact with the ball and bat better? Why would we find some of them acceptable and others not, when all of them would presumably be as artificial as my concocted examples and as natural as the elbow-guard. Note: most of the enhancements we are accustomed to, are there for the batsman's safety. Gilchrist's squash ball is the first one I know that supposedly helps him play better as a technique-correction device. I'm really curious: what lies ahead and what would seem 'natural'?