Despite the long history and global appeal cricket has, relatively little is known about the physiological requirements cricket places on our bodies (Noakes and Durandt 2000). Theories suggest that physical demand is emphasised mostly during that of fast bowling, especially in warm conditions- a state that is most favourable for cricket!
But this isn’t the only factor to consider. International cricket is undergoing a rapid change whereby cricketers are exposed to greater physical and psychological demands. The need to perform under these new conditions means it’s probable that only the best prepared cricketers will perform better, enjoy the sport and prevent the risk of injury (Noakes and Durandt 2000).
The intermittent nature of the sport means that for some time research into the physical demands of cricket may have been underestimated (Noakes and Durandt 2000). Therefore, the physicality needed to withstand the demands of the game have been somewhat altered since observation, testing and analysis have improved over the years. But has training followed these progressions and what effect has the lockdowns, missed winter training and subsequent de-load had on our players?
Although cricket is deemed a ‘noncontact sport’ overuse and impact injuries are common since players engage in a wide range of physical activities such as; running, throwing, batting, bowling, catching, jumping and sometimes the dreaded diving (Pardiwala, Nandan and Ankit 2018)!
Some of the injuries that can occur in cricket are;
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL)
Rotator Cuff Injury
Lumbar Stress Fracture
The most common cricket injury reported is a hamstring strain and the most sever is lumbar stress fracture (commonly seen in young fast bowlers). These statistics were reported even before the lack of training and conditioning that was logged by players in 2020. There's yet to be published research on the injury rate in cricket post pandemic, but with evidence of detraining it doesn't look promising.
Hamstring strains are primarily sustained during bowling and fielding due to the excessive reoccurrence of forced knee extension (straightening the knee). How many cricketers out there at the moment with a hamstring niggle? I certainly can vouch I’ve seen a fair few in clinic recently!
As therapists we cannot stress enough the importance of tapered training to avoid spikes in load, adequate regressions when needed and task specific performance. If you’d like more information on this, please do get in touch. If you feel like you’re experiencing pain or maybe carrying an injury now that training and games are back, then don’t leave it to get worse! Completing a full rehabilitation programme for an injury is hugely advantageous for sufficient return to play and the prevention of reinjury.
Thanks again for reading,
BSc Hons Sports Therapy MSST
MSc Strength and Conditioning
Noakes, T. D and Durandt, J. J (2000), ‘Physiological requitements of cricket’, Journal of Sports Sciences,8(12), 919-929.
Pardiwala, D. N, Nandan, N. R and Ankit, V. V, (2018), ‘Injuries in cricket’, Sports Health, 10(3), 217-222.