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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bhuvi's achievement .. Captain of the Year ~ mating call of Tree Crickets

Everyone wants to present themselves in the best light - especially when it comes to finding a partner. Some rely on supplying honest information about their attributes while others exaggerate for good effect.

Could still remember that debut ball with which Bhuvi started his ODI career at Chepauk on Dec 30, 2012 against Pakistan  ~ Bhuvneshwar Kumar – a big inswinger from outside off, Mohammed Hafeez thought he was just letting it go harmlessly, as it came back took the Offstump .. .. after his recent success in T20 in SA, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is now the first Indian to have a five-for in each format. The economy rate of a run a ball too matters more - this in turn brings wickets, sometimes for other bowlers but, like on Sunday evening, for Bhuvneshwar himself.

Steven Smith, Nathan Lyon, Heather Knight, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Amir are among the winners of the ESPNcricinfo Awards for the best performances in cricket in 2017.  Knight, the England Women captain, who led her side to the World Cup title, won the Captain of the Year award over Smith, Virat Kohli and Sarfraz Ahmed. It was the first time women were nominated in the category.  The T20I batting award went to Evin Lewis, who made 125 not out, the highest score in a T20I chase, in Kingston against India. Yuzvendra Chahal was voted the T20I bowling winner for his 6 for 25 against England in Bengaluru.  Kuldeep Yadav was adjudged Debutant of the year. Yadav, whose first international wicket was David Warner, in the Dharamsala Test, ended the year with 43 international wickets at 22.18, well ahead of his nearest spin rival on the shortlist, Pakistan legspinner Shadab Khan, who took 34 wickets at 25.35.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith believes Aiden Markram's appointment as interim captain for the ODIs against India was "not the right decision," and hopes that his confidence hasn't taken a dent after the home team was comprehensively beaten 5-1.  Smith, who was himself handed the captaincy as a 22-year old after South Africa's early exit from the 2003 World Cup, said 23-year old Markram, who had only played two ODIs before he was thrust into the role, should have been allowed to "grow, develop and become a strong player." Markram made 8, 32, 22, 32 and 24 in five innings as captain, and finished the series with 127 runs at an average of just over 21.

Cricket is not all about players, statistics, winning and more ~ there could be some more too.   Tree crickets are insects of order Orthoptera. These crickets are in the subfamily Oecanthinae of the family Gryllidae .. .. How do you find a mate when you are just two centimetres in size and there aren’t very many who match your profile?

An old trick is to draw attention to yourself by creating a lot of noise. But the tiny tree crickets have taken this a step further: they amplify their mating calls using loudspeakers that they themselves build using leaves.  The Hindu reports that  scientists have discovered that the loudspeakers they make are almost maximally optimised for the purpose at hand: transform any given leaf into the best ‘amplifier’ it could be.

When these ingenious insects rub their wings together to generate sound, they also engineer a biological contraption known as a ‘baffle,’ which increases its volume. They do this by cutting a neat hole near the centre of a leaf, adjusting themselves within the hole, and flapping their wings against the leaf surface, thereby using it as a megaphone. A group of scientists from the United Kingdom and India studied how these insects (male Oecanthus henryi) selected the leaves and cut the holes. The findings were published recently in the journal eLife.

The team observed that the insects always followed three design rules for making the baffle: use the largest available leaf; make a hole the size of the wings and place the wings at the centre; and make the hole as close to the centre of the leaf as possible. They invariably select the best leaf and modify it appropriately, all in a single attempt. “Brain size is often conflated with intelligence. We ought to look at insects a bit harder and even what we think is stereotyped may not be so. Making baffles is almost certainly an inherited behaviour....and not really studied that much. When given a choice of two leaves, they always pick the bigger. They exercise what we call material selectivity. When it’s hard to find large leaves, they don’t waste time on the small leaves that make poor baffles,” writes Natasha Mhatre, who was part of the team at the University of Bristol, that conducted the study and the first author of the paper.

In an email to The Hindu, Rittik Deb of the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, and co-author of the paper, says: “The discovery that tree crickets can optimise acoustic baffles means we are just about beginning to tap into under-appreciated intelligence of insects.”

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th Feb 2018.

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