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November 26, 2006

The scientific cricketer

The science behind Ponting's decision

Kamran Abbasi
Ricky Ponting drives on one knee, Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, November 23, 2006
 © AFP
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In one of this blog's irregular forays into foreign territory, allow me to apply a different Pak Spin to the interpretation of Ricky Ponting's decision not to enforce the follow-on in Brisbane.

Cricket Australia, unlike the Pakistan Cricket Board for example, has been monitoring injuries in domestic and international cricket for over a decade. All credit to the people working on this research programme. One of the conclusions of that research--see Cricket Australia's Injury Report 2005--is that enforcing the follow-on in international matches can increase the risk of injuries to bowlers.

The authors of the report suggest that one of the factors leading to a drop in injuries in 2004-5 was: "the decision to be more conservative with decisions such as not enforcing the follow-on in Test matches in 2004-5." More data are required to test this hypothesis further, and it is not entirely clear whether or not Cricket Australia had a deliberate policy of not enforcing the follow-on. But it does suggest one important reason why--particularly with the age and recent injury profile of Australia's bowlers--Ponting chose to bat again.

Ironic, then, that it was the Australian captain who picked up an injury.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by Kameryn on (January 26, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

It's always a releif when someone with obvious expertise answers. Thanks!

Posted by Laurence Benson on (February 1, 2007, 14:02 GMT)

TO JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA... i am Mark Bensons son and me and Dad have spoken about this a number of times... Ponting never made those comments... innfact he was very pleasant and said what a brave move Dad took... it was the commentators talking rubbish LIKE ALWAYS that made him out to be bad... he is a friendly and nice person... stop insulting the best batsmen in cricket today...!!!

Posted by Summat on (December 1, 2006, 3:03 GMT)

Arshad, this seems to be way above your league, a wicketkeeper does not have to bowl nor does a fielding side have to do a double shift if there is a reasonable way to avoid it and still win a match - some fools never understand or fail to understand modern medical science.

Posted by Odie on (December 1, 2006, 1:28 GMT)

Good point, Arshad.

And you're right, Cosmos, I think you'll find that anybody would agree with you entirely that all of this behaviour is rather poor. The point is that all teams and players engage in just this type of thing - e.g. Warne, Aktar, Asif (drugs), South Africa (match fixing), Younis and Atherton (ball tampering), England v Australia ("bodyline"), Muralitheran (remarkably suspect bowling action), that God-awful underarm delivery (versus NZ) - and the list goes on.

The problem that many have is that, whenever something goes against Pakistan et al, all of a sudden race is brought into it.

Remarkable what such an insidious weapon can do in assisting you with your cause...

As for the "Kangaroo" comment Cosmos, perhaps you should change it more accurately to "Kiwi". But either way, I find it useful not to engage in nor bother with racist accusations or slurs, these being the last resort of the ignorant advocate.

Posted by Arshad Kazmi on (November 30, 2006, 22:19 GMT)

NOAMAN PALEKAR; what would you say if Flintoff, in response to Ponting'g decision, also got scientific and decided to rest his bowlers to prevent injury and gave the ball to Geraint Jones and Ian Bell to throw some dollies at the Aussies?

Here's a moot point for you Sport Medicine people: Should the medicine dominate the sport or should it be the other way around?

Posted by Cosmos on (November 30, 2006, 17:51 GMT)

Sure Odie; or maybe he would have kicked a bataman (Lillee to Miandad), thrown an underarm delivery (Trevor Chappell), sworn indignantly at his opponents (McGrath to Sarwan), middle-fingered the crowd (McGrath again), et al.

Get a life kangaroo!

Posted by Simpleton on (November 30, 2006, 1:00 GMT)

Can anyone remember who the ICC Cricket of the year was ???

Posted by NOAMAN PALEKAR on (November 29, 2006, 12:21 GMT)

Injury prevention,excellent point.As a postgraduate student in Sport Medicine,I have come across alot of studies proving balling long spells and more overs per day causes stress fractures in lumber( lower back)vertebrae.Ponting's decision to rest his bowlers tells us that how much research and better knowledge influence the people who are really concerned and scientific in their approach.I wish we can have same scientific knowledge and approach in our country.(The reason I am doing my postgraduation in Sport Medicine after my M.B,B.S)

Posted by Odie on (November 29, 2006, 9:46 GMT)

Geoff is right. The series is not over...and no doubt Euceph's grapes have not yet soured sufficiently.

Oh, and as for Javed's comment; "had it been any Indian, Pakistanni or Sri Lankan player, he would have been banned for 10 matches", I would substitute a different conclusion...

Had it been any Indian, Pakistanni or Sri Lankan player, he would have complained loudly about racism in the game and how he and his mates don't get a fair deal. Who knows? In the ultimate demonstration of adolescent petulance he might well have refused to let his team come back out onto the ground...

Posted by Shahab Randhawa on (November 29, 2006, 8:19 GMT)

This is for Javed A. Khan and Euceph.How can you say that Ponting is the most selfish batsmen in the world? He has won more matches for his team than Lara,Inzi and Sachin have.He is on the verge of becoming the leading century maker in test cricket.Steve Waugh has rated him the best Australian batsmen after Bradman. Richie Beanud has declared him the captain of the Australian best Ashes team of the last twenty years.After the remarks from these cricketing legends, there remains no doubt about Ponting's greatness.And comments from you people cannot dim his greatness and stature.He averages more than 59 in test cricket which is more than any other present player.He has scored more than 1500 runs twice in a year.he has reached to no.5 in LG ICC ALL TIME BEST TEST BATSMEN RATINGS.Had he been selfish ,then he would have declared after his own century which was only 40 runs away which would have taken 10 or 12 overs which would not have affected the eventual match outcome.If he is selfish than what will you call Rahul Dravid when he declared in Multan 2004 whwn Sachin was just 6 runs away from double century.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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