Bengaluru-based Freebowler has launched an accessible and affordable mechanical bowling machine to aid everyday cricket practice.
Things changed when Pratheek Palanethra, the mechanical engineer from RV College of Engineering, Bengaluru, went to the US in 2015 to pursue his master’s in Technical Entrepreneurship at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania. Pratheek himself started playing the game when he was very young – he was only two years old when he picked up a cricket bat. He has played for various teams and even went on to represent Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU)and Karnataka at the state zonals.
Pratheek missed playing cricket in the US. With no one to bowl, he wondered if there was an easy way to resolve this problem. Pratheek and his batchmate-cum-roommate Justin Jacobs took up a project at the university to make an affordable and portable bowling machine.
The non-electric and portable cricket ball thrower is capable of throwing real cricket balls with natural variations of line and length, simulating the cricketing experience. It’s basically an improvised version of the catapult with a throwing arm which has a ball-throwing cup at one end (where the ball is placed). The throwing arm is connected to a foot lever with a spring cable system.
The throwing arm is first pulled down and locked in place. Then the foot lever is pushed down and locked. This action actuates the spring. The ball is then placed into the ball-holding cup, and the throwing arm is released using a trigger handle, which then fires the ball in the front towards the batsman.
Unlike other electric bowling machines that use plastic-coated synthetic dimple balls, the Freebowler machine enables the batsman to play with proper cricket balls. An electric bowling machine has rotating wheels that squeeze the ball before it is thrown out, which can damage the threading of the ball. The Freebowler, on the other hand, simulates realistic bowling action with “a throwing arm”.
The ball in the cup can be set at different angles and orientation using a knob that enables the batsman to play variations of length and swings. The machine has wheels at the bottom to maneuver and is thus portable. It can be placed shorter than the normal 22-yard distance from the batsman. This way it enables batsman to play different length and bounce at higher speeds.