Batting, habit and memory: The embodied mind and the nature of skill

John Sutton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Cricket is suffused in memory. Both playing and appreciating the game centrally involve various forms of remembering. This essay focuses on the distinction between explicit autobiographical remembering and the kind of habitual or 'procedural' memory involved in complex embodied skills like batting. Generally considered the province of psychology or cognitive science, the phenomenon of habit or skill memory has been largely neglected by philosophical anthropology and the philosophy of mind. However a number of intrinsically interesting questions concerning batting in particular arise when considered from this perspective. While drawing upon ideas from psychology and cognitive anthropology, the argument is supplemented with accounts from general testimony and cricket writing, phenomenology, and other investigations of the embodied mind. While starting from the prevalent view that thinking too much disrupts the practised, embodied skills involved in batting, the essay suggests that experts do in fact successfully learn mental techniques for how to influence themselves in action, and that the kinds of explicit thought and memory in question are themselves active, dynamic and context-sensitive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-786
Number of pages24
JournalSport in Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007


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