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Synaesthesia Can Hit Cricket Wickets

imageSynaesthesia in sport is not a subject that has ever been discussed much. I summarise a few reasons why this is the case based on my own observation:

1. Synaesthesia research has been very much focused on synaesthetes’ artistic and creative endeavors.
2. Not many sports stars, if any, have ever come forward to declare their synaesthesia in my knowledge.
3. The awareness of Synaesthesia is much less in the sporting field than musical or scientific fields.
4. There are a few aspects of synaesthesia indeed can hinder a person’s ability in certain sports, e.g., Thomas’ synaesthetic smells and sounds during running are main distractions to him.

However, as a Melburnian who resides in the Sport Capital of the World, writing about synaesthesia without discussing that in sport is almost impossible.

Each year, Melbourne welcomes millions of international and domestic sports fans by hosting many major sporting events throughout the year. Melburnians, or Australians in general, are sports lovers. Schools place a lot of emphasis on sport as part of their co-curriculum. Children can join different sports clubs at a very young age.

Although many different kinds of sports are played in Australia, Australia’s national sport, interestingly, is an internationally less known sport called Cricket. Cricket is mainly played in Commonwealth countries.

This summer has been Thomas’ 3rd year at Milo Cricket, the entry level cricket program for young children. His skills in batting and bowling have improved significantly last two months. As a result, Thomas developed his reverse colour synaesthesia in cricket fields.

In a cricket field, the cricket pitch is the central strip of the field usually covered by short grass. The pitch in the natural grass cover condition is called a Green Pitch. As a match progresses, the pitch becomes more and more worn out. By the end of a match, especially a 5-day test match, the pitch turns into yellowish white.

Thomas’ passion in cricket has manifested into his typical reverse colour synaesthesia. Now, when he plays cricket or watches a cricket match, he sees the pitch in black and the field in blue. Blue is the opposite colour of green perceived by both Thomas and Skye.

Other synaesthesia Thomas has developed in cricket include People to Colour, and Vision to Temperature.

Skye is also a good cricket player. His strengths are bowling and fielding. When he was nine, he got promoted to the district’s Under 11 team and started involving in competitions. During his first match against another Under 11 team from the neighbouring district, his cricket ticker tape synaesthesia started evolving. By the end of the match, he was seeing one word under each fielder, i.e., one word per fielding position on the ground.

Those words appeared to be very random, but they remained the same until today. Skye thinks his ticker tape synaesthesia helps him to work out how he and his teammates move from one position to another, and how they perform. It also helps him with his fielding skills.

From the left hand side of the bowler’s position, he sees the word “farm” in the first position, then “symbolic” and “triumph” in the second and third positions.

The word behind the wicket keeper is “heater” which makes him feel very warm due to his temperature synaesthesia.

The position situated on the closest left hand side of the wicket keeper is “sexy”. When he stands in that position, the sun seems to be always in his eyes. The sunshine naturally makes him see the formation of letter “S”. Then he thinks about “Sun” and “Shine”, and “Hot”. Hence, word “Sexy”! Further left to that position is the word “Slither” to indicate it is a position of Slip.

It reminds me of battle fields. I am wondering what it would be like if a military commander has synaesthesia like that :-)

Right before the Christmas, I unfortunately involved in an accident where I injured my right foot. Last three weeks, my children have been giving me amazing support, making me breakfast and Chinese tea, bringing me things I need. I enjoyed the attention I was getting.

This afternoon, children were in the front room playing games. I asked them to make me a cup of Chinese tea. Skye rushed to the kitchen and turned the gas stove on for the kettle, and dashed off again. When the water boiled, no one even bothered to go to switch off the gas stove. I could not stand the kettle whistling sound any more, and yelled out, “who’s going to turn off the kettle and make your mother Chinese tea?”

“We are in the middle of a London Olympic Sporting event on Mario Brothers!”, replied Skye and Thomas.

Ah, certainly their sport is still higher priority than their temporarily disabled mother and her Chinese tea!

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