Michael Jeh January 23, 2011

Massages, ice baths, and you still get injured after a first-ball duck?

A month away from the start of the World Cup, with no clear favourite emerging and all squads announced, I'm throwing out the form book and looking at the list of 'support staff'
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A month away from the start of the World Cup, with no clear favourite emerging and all squads announced, I'm throwing out the form book and looking at the list of 'support staff'. I'm starting to favour the Contrarian Theory that the squad with the least medical staff, specialised fitness regimes and massage therapists will end up victorious. They might be the only team left standing!

The recent spate of injuries in the Australia and England sides is utterly baffling for two teams whose cricketers are totally full-time professionals. They have no other jobs, their every movement is monitored by a coterie of medical experts, their diets are specified by nutritionists and a team of masseurs work on their tender muscles all day long. They wear the latest in compression clothing, they wallow in ice baths, sports drinks are consumed by the gallon and yet … they keep finding new ways to miss games and new injuries. Has there ever been a more precious generation of cricketers who do nothing else with their lives except look after their bodies and yet are arguably the least 'fit' players of all time?

I'm not referring to 'fitness' in terms of their ability to run marathons or break records in an exercise physiology sense. I'm sure their fitness levels, as measured by machines and PhD students, would put the rest of us to shame. Yet, even humble club cricketers like myself manage to get through many seasons of cricket without so much as a single massage or gym session, without missing a game with an injury to a muscle that we didn't even know we possessed.

We get through our allotted overs comfortably, even without constant sports drinks, showers at lunch-time and changes of clothing. We arrive at a game with barely enough time to warm-up, having already umpired at junior cricket, mowed the lawn at home and made our own soggy sandwiches. When the ball gets smacked past the boundary, something I have become quite an expert on when bowling, I have to chase it all the way to its resting place, quite often in a dense clump of reeds that doubles as home to a family of irritated brown snakes. No boundary hoardings or ball boys to ensure the ball gets returned immediately.

Cricketers like me are hardly very talented, nor are we deemed particularly fit, but year after year, week after week, why is it that we don't seem to suffer the same ratio of injuries that modern cricketers do as a matter of routine. And it's not even my job anymore!

I speak slightly tongue-in-cheek because I know that professional cricketers these days have a higher workload and, of course, that puts more pressure on their fragile bodies, but I still think that they are now like Formula One cars that are capable of ridiculous levels of performance but utterly useless on normal streets. It's almost as if their bodies are now so protected and highly tuned that the slightest bump in the road damages a muscle group that the rest of us don't even have.

For a group of professional 'workers' whose sole occupation is to look after their bodies (with an army of medical experts to assist them), they seem to have a remarkable propensity to be unable to turn up to work fit and healthy. If the rest of the working population, many of whom have to endure hard manual labour or do extra jobs after work (unlike the cricketers who rarely have to mow their own lawns, hang out their laundry, do the grocery shopping or mop the bathroom floor), are as fragile as the modern-day cricketer, our national productivity would be shot to pieces.

I'm not referring to the freak Nathan Hauritz type accident where he lands awkwardly on his shoulder. These things can happen to anyone; likewise Ricky Ponting's broken finger. But how does Kevin Pietersen pull a groin muscle on the way to getting a first ball duck? Why does Shaun Tait (who claimed to be as fit as at any point in his career) hobble off with a muscle strain in the middle of his third spell; spells of only two overs each mind you!!! He's a professional athlete whose body is his livelihood and he can't be used in spells longer than two overs without breaking down? How does the medical staff justify that sort of 'preparation' in their KPI's? Imagine if a mechanic prepared a motor vehicle that could not be driven for any more than two laps without a break?

Tim Bresnan can't get through a ten-over spell - a normal day at the 'office' - without pulling a calf muscle. Is anyone holding the athlete or the medical staff responsible for putting out players on the park who are not able to get through a standard day's work without breaking down with the most basic injuries? Were they not warmed up properly, were their muscles not capable of performing standard tasks, did they not have enough sports liquids in their system to prevent cramping/dehydration/muscle fatigue? With all these 'experts', is anyone held accountable?

Their fitness levels are so poor that they cannot bowl 50 overs in the allotted time, despite having refreshments rushed out to them at the fall of every wicket. On Sunday, we had the ridiculous sight of a wicket falling in the first over of the match in Sydney and drinks being taken to the players during that break in play. Bowlers who've been told that they are about to start a bowling spell are unable to get warmed up in time to start their spell without delay - instead, they wait till they get to the top of their mark and then do more stretches and bowl a few warm-up deliveries to the fielder while the captain needs more time to adjust his field, despite memorising the computer-generated field placing for that batsman. And, clearly, it still doesn't stop them from getting injured.

Yes, they will argue that they train a lot more and there are a lot more demands on their body, but isn't that just a part of their chosen careers? They fly business class, they stay in five-star hotels, they have the best equipment and medical treatment that money can buy, they arrive at the ground hours before the start of play to warm up, they have ice baths and massages after play to help them recover as best they can. And yet, despite all of this, they still seem to be breaking down at a much higher rate than professional cricketers of yesteryear. Or else, they have a lower pain threshold and cannot (or are not allowed to) play through minor niggles. Maybe carrying their cheque books put undue strain on their tender bodies!

For that reason alone, I fear for Australia's World Cup campaign. Their bowling attack is liable to fall apart at any time with just about every bowler having missed long periods of cricket in the last 12 months with injury or fitness issues. Playing in the subcontinent in February and March will sorely test their fitness levels, especially now that we know that no amount of ice baths, sports drinks or exercise physiologists have any real impact on their ability to not get injured.

Many of their batsmen are carrying recent injuries (Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Haddin, Marsh) and it's not going to get much easier in Chennai, Chittagong or Colombo. If the old rules of ODI cricket were reinstated, where teams who failed to bowl their 50 overs in the allotted time only received the number of overs that they had bowled at the prescribed finish time, Australia (and many other teams) would rarely get their full quota of batting overs, or they'd have to rush things so much that they'd get their field placings wrong, or the bowlers would be too fatigued to bowl effectively because of the rush to bowl 50 overs in the prescribed three-and-a-half hours. And these guys claim to be the best in the world?

Back to my original theory - I reckon the team with the smallest medical support squad and the most battle-hardened bodies might end up winning the war of attrition next month in the subcontinent. Clearly, the size of the medical team has very little to do with the fitness levels or injury prevention. So let's just dispense with the extra 'baggage' and see which team can handle the day-to-day rigours of playing tough cricket without falling apart in the dressing room, hotel room or department store. I mean seriously, how do you strain your groin after a first ball duck?

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hassan on September 8, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    11:19am, 18.Aug.02mmm mmm, i sho do love me some minnesota state fair! i haven't been able to go for the past few years. but no more! this year i'm going to be a beer bitch at gradtsnand with a couple of friends. i'm digging out my most cleavage revealing shirts right now in the hopes of pulling in the largest tips possible. and! i'll get to hear lyle lovett for free! in addition, have you ever read getting away from already being pretty much away from it all by david foster wallace? it's about his trip to the illinois state fair. it hits home.

  • SW on March 3, 2011, 18:13 GMT

    From my recollection England Lost Sidebottom (hamstring) and Onions (back) before the tour even started. Once underway they had injuries to Broad (stomach), Tremlett (side), Bresnan (calf), Shazad (hamstring), even Swann had issues with knee and back and was sent home, and Anderson reportedly did a side strain in Perth but was able to bowl through! No surprises the England bowlers didn’t break down? PAT;This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read eh?!!

  • Ted on February 26, 2011, 0:41 GMT

    Excellent article. The comments about the number of injuries suffered by modern cricketer is spot on. When comparing the number of tests played per year by McGrath and Johnson by Steve he did not mention any shield matches etc that cricketers used to play. Although obviously many people do not play test cricket, many of us played sport. In summer I played cricket on both days of the weekend, plus basketball 2 or 3 times a week. I also had to train, hold down a fulltime job and do chores at home. I also played sport in the winter. At cricket training the bowlers would bowl most of the training session. The modern society panders too much to younger children and they do not develop natural fitness.

  • PAT on February 25, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    Perhaps it is time to get the AIS and all their research boffins to back off. It is ridiuclous that during the preseason all Aussie bowlers are restricted to bowling 156 balls (yes 26 overs!) per week. PER WEEK not PER DAY. England bowlers can bowl 300 deliveries per week. No surprise their bowlers didn't break down eh?!! Proves our researchers and the AIS have it very very wrong!

  • flannelled fool on February 13, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Fred Trueman bowled a thousand overs a season for twenty seasons and never pulled a muscle, although he did once complain of a bruised heal. Fitness is specific. To bowl fast you should train by bowling fast. There has to be something wrong with the preparation they receive for all those injuries to have occured in the recent ODI series. Good article.

  • simonj on February 13, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    When I was at school in my last year durinmg the rugby season, I used to play two house matches, 2 school matches one of which was on Saturday morning and then a youth club team in the afternoon as a break away in rugby and then for light relief a soccer match on the sunday for the crusaders. Summer was similar with cricket and athletics (I was a 400 metre runner and occasional shot putter and long jumper. Oh and I still had time to swim and the odd game of cricket! My only serious injury was training for hurdling when I pulled my back muscles at the age of 13. However I used to work sometimes on the local farm so I could ski at easter time. I just do not understand modern sports people!

  • paulkill on February 13, 2011, 1:11 GMT

    I agree !! And further more, they used to bowl a helluva lot more overs in the old days - in Bradman's 2nd last test match, England bowled 114 overs on the last day, after batting for a small protion of the morning session before declaring. Aboout 12o overs in a days play! How was that possible and why is it not possible now? Anybody ? Richie? Somebody?

  • pat on February 12, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    rediculous.

    there were a lot more injuries back in the day than there are today.

  • Adam Ross on February 7, 2011, 1:22 GMT

    Gday Mike,

    I can see your point, and Bob Simpson alludes to it in one of his books. Growing up in prior to the last 10/15 years or so, kids would play quite a few sports and generally more "out-doorsey" and robust. Kids today are over trained, over analysed and over worked. A good young sportsman has to make a choice about what sport to pursue when they are 14 or 15 now, and I think then specific training can cause issues, especially a repetitive and high impact action like bowling.

  • Sion Morris on February 6, 2011, 21:19 GMT

    Excellent article!

  • Hassan on September 8, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    11:19am, 18.Aug.02mmm mmm, i sho do love me some minnesota state fair! i haven't been able to go for the past few years. but no more! this year i'm going to be a beer bitch at gradtsnand with a couple of friends. i'm digging out my most cleavage revealing shirts right now in the hopes of pulling in the largest tips possible. and! i'll get to hear lyle lovett for free! in addition, have you ever read getting away from already being pretty much away from it all by david foster wallace? it's about his trip to the illinois state fair. it hits home.

  • SW on March 3, 2011, 18:13 GMT

    From my recollection England Lost Sidebottom (hamstring) and Onions (back) before the tour even started. Once underway they had injuries to Broad (stomach), Tremlett (side), Bresnan (calf), Shazad (hamstring), even Swann had issues with knee and back and was sent home, and Anderson reportedly did a side strain in Perth but was able to bowl through! No surprises the England bowlers didn’t break down? PAT;This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read eh?!!

  • Ted on February 26, 2011, 0:41 GMT

    Excellent article. The comments about the number of injuries suffered by modern cricketer is spot on. When comparing the number of tests played per year by McGrath and Johnson by Steve he did not mention any shield matches etc that cricketers used to play. Although obviously many people do not play test cricket, many of us played sport. In summer I played cricket on both days of the weekend, plus basketball 2 or 3 times a week. I also had to train, hold down a fulltime job and do chores at home. I also played sport in the winter. At cricket training the bowlers would bowl most of the training session. The modern society panders too much to younger children and they do not develop natural fitness.

  • PAT on February 25, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    Perhaps it is time to get the AIS and all their research boffins to back off. It is ridiuclous that during the preseason all Aussie bowlers are restricted to bowling 156 balls (yes 26 overs!) per week. PER WEEK not PER DAY. England bowlers can bowl 300 deliveries per week. No surprise their bowlers didn't break down eh?!! Proves our researchers and the AIS have it very very wrong!

  • flannelled fool on February 13, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Fred Trueman bowled a thousand overs a season for twenty seasons and never pulled a muscle, although he did once complain of a bruised heal. Fitness is specific. To bowl fast you should train by bowling fast. There has to be something wrong with the preparation they receive for all those injuries to have occured in the recent ODI series. Good article.

  • simonj on February 13, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    When I was at school in my last year durinmg the rugby season, I used to play two house matches, 2 school matches one of which was on Saturday morning and then a youth club team in the afternoon as a break away in rugby and then for light relief a soccer match on the sunday for the crusaders. Summer was similar with cricket and athletics (I was a 400 metre runner and occasional shot putter and long jumper. Oh and I still had time to swim and the odd game of cricket! My only serious injury was training for hurdling when I pulled my back muscles at the age of 13. However I used to work sometimes on the local farm so I could ski at easter time. I just do not understand modern sports people!

  • paulkill on February 13, 2011, 1:11 GMT

    I agree !! And further more, they used to bowl a helluva lot more overs in the old days - in Bradman's 2nd last test match, England bowled 114 overs on the last day, after batting for a small protion of the morning session before declaring. Aboout 12o overs in a days play! How was that possible and why is it not possible now? Anybody ? Richie? Somebody?

  • pat on February 12, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    rediculous.

    there were a lot more injuries back in the day than there are today.

  • Adam Ross on February 7, 2011, 1:22 GMT

    Gday Mike,

    I can see your point, and Bob Simpson alludes to it in one of his books. Growing up in prior to the last 10/15 years or so, kids would play quite a few sports and generally more "out-doorsey" and robust. Kids today are over trained, over analysed and over worked. A good young sportsman has to make a choice about what sport to pursue when they are 14 or 15 now, and I think then specific training can cause issues, especially a repetitive and high impact action like bowling.

  • Sion Morris on February 6, 2011, 21:19 GMT

    Excellent article!

  • Tim on February 5, 2011, 10:20 GMT

    Completely agree with post by Steve. Many ill-informed comments by people comparing to the players of yester-year. Those days didn't involve the increasing number of 20/20 and ODI's seen now.

    As a physio and a recently retired cricketer, I have noted the increased rate of injuries and can closely correlate the number of injuries I have treated/or seen treated to the amount of 20/20 or one-day (either shorter formats) cricket played by the individual. These forms of the game, short turnaround time to recover, then add the inevitable flight/travel involved to the next game mean that modern players have very little time to recover then warm-up, perform and then cool-down.

    Travelling, and the vibrations during, stiffen the back (via a phenomenon called "disc creep"). If the cricketer does not have time to "free-up" their spine, soft-tissue and joint injuries are an inevitable result.

    Weights-not so good by themself, core-work and stretching definitely help as seen with S.Watson

  • Steve on February 5, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    Some really ill informed comments both in terms of the article and subsequent posts.

    How can past players continue to say that the modern day players are not bowling enough?

    A quick look at the ICC FTP clearly shows that since September of 2008 the Australian team has been in competition mode for 11 months of the year.

    Glenn McGrath is considered a bench mark for longevity and resilience.

    During his 14 year career he averaged 8.86 tests per year and 2089 deliveries per year during this period.

    Mitchell Johnson in 39 months of test cricket has averaged 13.23 tests per year and averaged 2981 deliveries.

    CA produces an independent injury report every two years covering all contracted players at state and national level.

    In the Australian system over the past 15 years injury rates per 10000 hrs of play for all players has decreased.

    Injury rates for fast bowlers per 1000 deliveries have also decreased.

    This is despite an increase 30% in matches over the same period.

  • ElTorqiro on February 2, 2011, 15:26 GMT

    Your analogy of cars and mechanics seems to be comparing highly tuned, highly performing athletes with daily-driver roadcars... where instead you should be comparing them to Formula 1 cars, which indeed *are* prepared to only do one race before needing to be rebuilt, and *cannot* do more than one race before they are overhauled completely - and even then about 20% of the field always has mechanical breakdowns during a race.

    Modern athletes have been pushing for the 1% boosts in performance for the past 30 years, you just don't seem to recognise that if anybody slacks off the pace, there is another team inching ahead with the 1% improvements that will then overtake them.

    Nobody pays to go see average joes playing Cricket - they go to see the absolute fittest, best players in the world. Why complain when they break down occasionally?

    Also, you can't compare modern athletes with cricket players of the past - the standard of fitness is just so far ahead it is not even comparable.

  • ramanujam sridhar on February 1, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    Agree totally. I think today's cricketers lack cricket fitness, like some Indian cricketeres getting injured playing rugby/soccer. We have only heard of these games, why risk our fitness playing these? What training did Doug Walters do, except throwing the occasional dart before going out to bat! It is perhaps my age that leads me to say the current generation is spoiled and largely unfit despite the hosts of support staff. Fiery Fred used to keep steaming in at the end of the day too and probably cooled down at the Yorkshire pub!He didnt do too badly did he! Every time Tait has the ball one wonders how many balls he will bowl !Of course Ponting is clutching at straws and hoping he will bowl out opponents in the two overs he normally delivers. Sad for the game and even sadder for the viewers like me who are unable to see the best teams in action for large portions of the season sridhar

  • asad on January 28, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    they're more pansy than fragile when it comes to such incidents.

    with respect to bowlers the likes of trueman, mahmood, the windies quartet etc got just as many niggles but were probably more "men" than the current lot and just got on with it.

    players nowadays are convinced from the outset to straight away stop if the slightest of strains is felt and they're more than happy to oblige.

    even in the current generation we do however have bowlers who are more than happy to play through the pain but they are as few as the runs pakistan scores when afridi opens the innings!

  • CharonTFM on January 28, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    Lovely Article Michael.

    The perfect point is Shane Watson as the good Doctor mentioned. Moving to just doing Pilates and Yoga he was able to play injury free for a good 3 years.

    Bowling faster doesn't mean getting wickets, what you want is excellent control and create variations. With that you need a supple and flexible body.

    Training with weights is the least natural way to play sports. Instead they should train with their own body weights, do Pilates and Yoga, as well as hit the nets all day every day.

    Start slow and bowl at 40% to warm up your body, then gradually work it up to 100%.

  • Dave on January 28, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    Brilliant article. I too have been flabbergasted at the number of injuries in both Australian and English teams this year. It's outrageous.

    I don't understand how today's players can break so easily. Even big ol' Merv Hughes could bowl all day in Test matches. I'm pretty sure there weren't any gym visits on his itinerary.

    Watson is a great example of the problem and the solution. He finally gave up the weights for yoga and he hasn't had an injury problem in almost 2 years. Seeing him play now, it's hard to believe that he had a 7-year run of repeated injuries that kept him out of the side! You know, that period he was doing all those weights.

    I am hesitant to jump from anecdote to evidence, but there are clear indications as to what is wrong. Too much time in the gym listening to "fitness experts" that are never held accountable for the poor outcomes they deliver. Not enough time in the nets.

    Straining his groin while getting a first-ball duck indeed. How does he dress himself?

  • cricket lover on January 27, 2011, 22:18 GMT

    i fully agree. again another well thought and put article michael. someone already mentioned it why cricketers get injured so frequently. because they don't spend time doing what they should! bowlers if bowl 10-15 overs in training then i bet they will not get injured as often.in the yesteryears, bowlers like holding, garner, wasim, thomo etc they all didn't get injured that often. i think thomo said his work out is to go to the farm and bowl in nets. when bowlers and batsmen spend 70% of time in gym ofcourse they'll get used to that and when in the middle a slight wrong movement will injur their perfectly aligned muscle! time for old fashion cricket to come back and the team who adopts the old method soon will have long lasting players!

  • Destro on January 27, 2011, 20:46 GMT

    Cricket was, is and will never be a game geared for fit sportsman. This is not a physically intense game such as soccer or hockey as most cricket fans think. The batsman don't run continuously and nor do the bowlers or fielders. There are far too many breaks in the game. I have played the cricket the whole day once and the only thing that go to me was thirst. Have you ever seen the body types of soccer players and cricket players. The former look like gladiators in front of those couch potato cricketers.

  • Ewan Allan on January 27, 2011, 16:31 GMT

    Why does Shaun Tait (who claimed to be as fit as at any point in his career) hobble off with a muscle strain in the middle of his third spell; spells of only two overs each mind you!!!" Perhaps because - unlike any of us - he puts his body under immense strain by bowling 95+ mph?? The reason neither you nor I are as frequently injured as professional cricketers is because neither you nor I play at a level high enough to injure ourselves! Courtney Walsh, Glenn McGrath, etc, didn't get injured very often because they had excellent bowling actions. Someone like Jeff Thompson - who had a technically poor action but was seriously quick will almost certainly have played through injuries but may have some pretty bad injury problems these days. I think at international level they would rather play it safe and sit a player out than potentially risk shortening their career

  • Dinesh on January 27, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    Beautifully said.. The only fast bowler at present (and i mean fast) who has a good match fitness is dale steyn... he seemed to have the best fitness and can bowl long spells in test matches... other bowlers can get advice from on his fitness regime... im sure he will spend more tim ein nets rather than gym ...

  • John Piers on January 27, 2011, 13:26 GMT

    Lovely article! Absolutely on the money! I have played Cricket and Rugby with broken fingers, cracked sternum, half dislocated shoulder, God knows what else during my time on the sports field. The modern variety are a bunch of poofters, for me one of the true iron men of cricket was Steve Waugh! Eddy Barlow,Houtie Nieuwoudt and Peter Swart were also legendary SOB's!

  • Kamran on January 27, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    Great article, Michael... and a very valid point...

  • Anson Horace Bennette on January 26, 2011, 18:16 GMT

    I totally agree with this. I recently saw an interview with Courtney Walsh where he lamented on the fragility and lack of stamina of today's fast bowlers. Bowlers today may bowl about 15 overs in a day, while this was just a spell in a test match for fast men of yesteryear. The modern cricketer has simply suffered the same fate as all humans of the recent generation: EASIER LIVING HAS MADE US ALL SOFTER. No amount of energy drinks and ice baths can combat that.

  • Oshada on January 26, 2011, 13:52 GMT

    Dr. Khan is right - during today's ODI the commentators mentioned how Watson has mostly given up weight/resistance training and taken up yoga/pilates ie. stretching and limbering work. And now he seems darn near indestructible!

  • Daniel on January 26, 2011, 13:24 GMT

    Why CA can't find doctors who can do what consistently works and is needed is quite ludicrous. Consider US major league players (especially in the MLB and NBA) who are training 6 days a week, playing 3 - 5 games a week, are playing with more significant team and fan expectations that come with more lucrative contracts (e.g Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez) and are also more exposed to very serious injuries due to the contact nature of NFL, basketball and ice hockey. In addition, they have shorter peak professional careers than most cricketers and therefore push harder all year round, especially the off-season when they aren't surrounded by medical staff. So, lets learn from them. Australian sportsman rarely return from ACL/MCL reconstructions, yet this has happened numerous times recently in the NBA with All-Stars who have returned even STRONGER (point in case, Amare Stoudemire: PHX Suns/NY Knicks) in a sport where such injuries are inevitable...unlike cricket. Simply, CA needs to do more.

  • Anonymous on January 25, 2011, 17:58 GMT

    As a med student, I would have to agree with the good doctor.

    Jeh has a point when he states that cricket players are like formula one race cars now. They are tuned for peak performance, but one little bump on the track can put those cars in the garage for further maintenance.

  • harshvardhan on January 25, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Fittest modern cricketers are punter and roy barring current finger injury i cant remember a major surgery done and roy never got injured can anyone remember him injured and still roy was a big bulky hunk still is from india MSD even having 3 roles bat,keep,captain and keeping in sub-continent is damn tough still is fit

  • Deepak on January 25, 2011, 14:45 GMT

    I think it is much to do with diet as we know that todays diet lacks natural nutrients and thats why people take supplimemtry nutrients these days, for example my dad is 55 yrs and im 25 but my dad is much fitter than me. see tendulkar played 50 overs scored 200 Runs and got cramps only in last 2-3 overs and look at yuvi, raina, viru, gambhir they tend to get cramps only after playing 20-25 overs. kapil played 18 yrs. never got dropped for fittness zak, ishant, shreeshant, nehra, munaf no one plays 5 matches without getting injured and they r just bowlers no one bats and fields like kapil did.

  • Lurch on January 25, 2011, 10:16 GMT

    What a fantastic article.

    My son has been involved in junior county cricket in the UK for four seasons. Before each session he has to carry out some of the most incredible warm up routines that have no relevance to bowling. Week after week, season after season I have seen players breaking down either warming up or warming down. The world of sports science has gone stark raving mad. We are being blinded by science.

    I played league cricket for twenty-eight years with an average of three games a week. I never had a warm up drill and I never went near a gym. Apart from the odd cracked finger or heavy bruising I did not break down on a cricket pitch until I was 35 years old. Hundreds and hundreds of games.

    In the off season to remain fit I ran and netted.

    Go back to basics. I am convinced that this new army of fitness 'experts' is doing more harm than good trying to justify their salaries.

  • Chris on January 25, 2011, 10:15 GMT

    I wonder if it may have anything to do with the modern nutrition and exercise? For example, they probably do a lot more weight training than in previous years, but with protein requirements fueled by products such as milk isolate protein, and energy fueled by products such as creatine monohydrate. Does that lead to larger, but more fragile muscle? I could be talking ass gravy here, but I've also noticed a lot of injuries as well and not come across a decent answer (although as pointed out it may be purely due to workload).

  • Amit on January 25, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    Can't agree with you more Micheal. Somebody in these comments said correctly that players are now working more in the Gym than on the field. Kapil dev is a right example, if a fast bowler bowls close to 30 overs today then you can be sure that he is out of next match. When I see a lean thin farmer in India, who, in my view is almost never well fed, digs acres of land in a single day. He never gets a ice bath or so called sports drink. But, still he turns up the next day and do the same all over again. He can not just say I am injured and can't dig anymore. He might have to skip a meal or two if he did. And look at these muscle clad guys who can't play for two 8 hr matches on the trot. I liked your last line... "A groin injury after a first ball duck!!"

  • Sharath on January 25, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    A very good, thought-provoking article as always, Michael.

    I think cricket, in terms of fitness requirements, is very unique among sports. It requires a lot of endurance and not so much intensity. So while a soccer or a tennis player needs to train his body to be capable of enduring high intensity stress for shorter periods of time, cricketers need to train their bodies to withstand stress-levels of much lower intensity, but for longer periods of time. Case in point being the amount of time a batsman has to stay in an awkward, bent position over the course of a century, or the number of hours a wicketkeeper (or a slip catcher) has to spend in a crouch during a typical test match day, or the number of hours a fielder has to spend standing.

    So unless the training regimens of these cricketers involve them walking, crouching, bending and standing around for days on end in the gym, it seems to be that the only way to become cricket-fit is by playing a lot of cricket.

  • DR. AHAD KHAN on January 25, 2011, 0:05 GMT

    I write as a Physician ( G.P.)- Yes, I have noticed the ever- increasing Muscle Tears / Ligament Strains in Cricketers. I strongly believe that it is due to WEIGHT TRAININGS. Non- weight bearing Exercises are perfectly OK, but Weight Trainings are subjecting the Muscles & Ligaments to undue stresses, making them vulnerable to Strains / Tears. Gary Sobers is the finest example of a FIT CRICKETER - he was Lithe & Flexible - he would not have done any Weights, I am sure. Cricket requires the Human body to be Flexible & not become Stiff as Metal. One does not require Muscle power to hit Sixes. Azharuddin has hit many a long Six & yet he was slim & flexible - hitting a six requires precision of timing of ball contact. Shane Watson already has discarded Weight Trainings ( he used to have frequent injuries whislst he was doing Weights. Dr. Ahad Khan

  • Chris on January 24, 2011, 22:49 GMT

    Injuries - it does seem that the more players train the higher the likelihood of injury. Solution: drop the level of training and increase the amount of cricket played (even if its training cricket).

    Over rates: The simple solution is for the captain to get heavily fined for the first transgression and then suspended after that.

    Drinks: Why do we need an official drinks break every hour? Support staff run on to the field at every opportunity with drinks. Umpires should get much tougher with this as it contributes to unecessary delays.

  • Sab on January 24, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    Your article is along a nice line of thought. The one standout difference between the crickets of current crop and previous generations (and club cricket maybe?!?!) is the fielding. Perhaps they should give diving around like Jonty and field more like Venkatesh Prasad in order to preserve themselves from downtime.

  • jezza on January 24, 2011, 19:45 GMT

    Hi Michael, I remember you playing at Staveley and you were pretty talented! As for the rest of your article I think you are absolutely right. Martin Offiah was frequently injured as his body was so well toned. Perhaps these guys need some "gristle". Alas I have plenty of gristle and not enough muscle but that is getting old! A interesting view as ever.

  • c.d.natarajan on January 24, 2011, 10:59 GMT

    Micheal Jeh's comments are absolutely valid and relevant.Current injury rates to Aus ,Eng & Ind players r baffling. How many matches did Kapil Dev & Gavaskar miss due to injury? Very few.Wat was d type of work outs tat Gavaskar did bfore a match ? Just a few laps of d ground ! Touring teams to england played from may to sept, often 6 days a week in d 50s and 60s . So, are todays physical training progs regimented ,not individualised , and counter productive ? Can some experts enlighten please ? And Tendulkar diving to save a single, risking a shoulder injury , is not wise !!

  • s on January 24, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    He might have been carrying the groin injury from the previous night.

  • Craig on January 24, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    Bala, the comparison isn't with other sports but with Cricket's own past. The days of bowlers bowling a thousand overs in an English summer are long, long gone. The number of games may have increased but the actual workload has dropped due to the amount of limited overs cricket. Of course players were less "fit" in physical terms (not many bowlers would run 50 yards and slide to stop a boundary) but injuries are far more common.

  • Sven Weichbrodt on January 24, 2011, 7:44 GMT

    A rather long article and a rather worrying obsession with Kevin's groin.

    I would have been more interested in possibly solutions to this raft of injuries that have plagued the Australian and English side.

    However, I do agree with the almost endless procession of 12th men carrying drinks. There are scheduled drinks breaks throughout a days play, that is enough. I would like to see the umpires making a stand against this.

  • Joji on January 24, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    Very well said Michael....I wonder why crickets from relatively "basic" countries like Bangladesh or Srilanka get injured far less often then the high tiered blokes from India, Eng or Aussies !!!

  • tito on January 24, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    personally i tend to agree with the written todays cricketers are weak mentally if not physically they get all the facilities and also hefty pay checks but they cant equal the past cricketer of the likes of viv richards, imran khan,micheal holding,botham,graham gooch,gavaskar just to mention a few

  • Kunal Talgeri on January 24, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    The ICC (read BCCI) is the culprit, for its scheduling of matches through the year. But I still blame the players [Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid from India] because they did not take a strong enough stand at the beginning of the 2000s. Everyone and their agents wanted to participate in the wealth that cricket generated. Even the Australian cricket board joined in with the BCCI for all types of one-day tourneys. As for the English, their injury woes are as old as the hills. (Remember Derek Pringle who sneezed and injured his ribs; even in that case, you can pinpoint it to the scheduling of the county season.)

  • Sanket on January 24, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    Very good article. If number of games played is the benchmark, cricketers of the previous generation, played as much, if not more cricket.Hence, excess cricket does not seem to be the reason.

  • Phil S. on January 24, 2011, 3:58 GMT

    I remember a schoolfriend who was a committed gym weight-lifter. He looked great. Give him a shovel, though, and he would be about the first to give it back having done the least with it. That might seem like an old cliche, but it was true. Personally, I think the problem with cricket goes right back to the point were youngters are marshalled towards the professional game. The players now grow up in this environment and I really doubt some could survive without it. Yet, the author, here, is right. It would be much better for them and the game if they could. And that means selecting teams the old-fashioned way and not merely by bodily-measurements and assorted strength and speed tests.

  • Inderpal Singh on January 24, 2011, 3:44 GMT

    I agree with Michael. I think it is a good article outlining something which has been disturbing me as well . How can professional athletes be so injury prone . I remember players like Kapil Dev bowling close to 29 overs at a stretch in the 1983 test match against the West Indies ( and taking 9 wickets)and playing without being injured or missing a match for long .

  • Chedchatri on January 24, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    As far as Bowlers are concerned I support the theory that fast bowlers today spend less time actually bowling and more time in the gym (ironically to get "fitter"). That probably means that the muscles that are actually used in bowling remain weak or underdeveloped. I remember listening to an interview (I think it was of Kapil Dev) where the guy said that all the fitness training that he ever did was to run and bowl a lot at the nets. Maybe there is a lesson in that for the modern cricketer!

  • wayde on January 24, 2011, 0:24 GMT

    i completely agree. The old chestnut of they play more now doesn't even work as in 70's and 80's all the international guys played county cricket on the off season without succombing after a half days play.

    The NZ team has a 6 game series on against Pakistan featuring Jesse Ryder and Oram at present, both selected for the world cup... Really? the chances of these 2 making it thru the 1st 2 games of this series are slim let alone getting thru the entire world cup!

    but! on the other side of the coin. Broad pulled out of the ashes with a side strain, and i guessed it was just another `hurty', but they showed him the next day as he lifted his shirt to show a massive bruise on his side! I have strained some muscles in my day but never did they come up in a major haematoma! so i'll give him that one for free!

  • K on January 24, 2011, 0:19 GMT

    Are you serious Michael? What is the point of this article? You rave for 1500 words about frail athletes while acknowledging their high work load with intensive training etc. You know that's why there are so many injuries, specialised training and techniques impinging on muscles "we don't even know we possessed". Comparing their efforts and training regimes to those of us who play club cricket is ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. As for Australia's claim to be being no.1 ODI side in the world; that is more to do with consistently beating the rest of the world over 12 years and less to do with maintaining over rates. However, I do agree with you about on-field treatment and the ridiculous amount of drinks being rushed out to players. We faced this in club cricket with batsmen asking for drinks while we had to wait in the field for 40 overs in the heat of the Australian summer for the designated drinks break (it caused more than a few confrontations).

  • Bala Kritikeshan on January 23, 2011, 21:53 GMT

    I don't think your analysis is very valid. If you count the average number of hours/days a cricketer does his job compares to other sportsmen, it is orders of magnitude above anything in any other sport. Admittedly, 4-8 hours standing on a cricket field may not be as "intense" as other sports, but it is still time spent out, and is a very big fatigue factor. Plus of course, there is no real off-season in cricket, as we all know.

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  • Bala Kritikeshan on January 23, 2011, 21:53 GMT

    I don't think your analysis is very valid. If you count the average number of hours/days a cricketer does his job compares to other sportsmen, it is orders of magnitude above anything in any other sport. Admittedly, 4-8 hours standing on a cricket field may not be as "intense" as other sports, but it is still time spent out, and is a very big fatigue factor. Plus of course, there is no real off-season in cricket, as we all know.

  • K on January 24, 2011, 0:19 GMT

    Are you serious Michael? What is the point of this article? You rave for 1500 words about frail athletes while acknowledging their high work load with intensive training etc. You know that's why there are so many injuries, specialised training and techniques impinging on muscles "we don't even know we possessed". Comparing their efforts and training regimes to those of us who play club cricket is ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. As for Australia's claim to be being no.1 ODI side in the world; that is more to do with consistently beating the rest of the world over 12 years and less to do with maintaining over rates. However, I do agree with you about on-field treatment and the ridiculous amount of drinks being rushed out to players. We faced this in club cricket with batsmen asking for drinks while we had to wait in the field for 40 overs in the heat of the Australian summer for the designated drinks break (it caused more than a few confrontations).

  • wayde on January 24, 2011, 0:24 GMT

    i completely agree. The old chestnut of they play more now doesn't even work as in 70's and 80's all the international guys played county cricket on the off season without succombing after a half days play.

    The NZ team has a 6 game series on against Pakistan featuring Jesse Ryder and Oram at present, both selected for the world cup... Really? the chances of these 2 making it thru the 1st 2 games of this series are slim let alone getting thru the entire world cup!

    but! on the other side of the coin. Broad pulled out of the ashes with a side strain, and i guessed it was just another `hurty', but they showed him the next day as he lifted his shirt to show a massive bruise on his side! I have strained some muscles in my day but never did they come up in a major haematoma! so i'll give him that one for free!

  • Chedchatri on January 24, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    As far as Bowlers are concerned I support the theory that fast bowlers today spend less time actually bowling and more time in the gym (ironically to get "fitter"). That probably means that the muscles that are actually used in bowling remain weak or underdeveloped. I remember listening to an interview (I think it was of Kapil Dev) where the guy said that all the fitness training that he ever did was to run and bowl a lot at the nets. Maybe there is a lesson in that for the modern cricketer!

  • Inderpal Singh on January 24, 2011, 3:44 GMT

    I agree with Michael. I think it is a good article outlining something which has been disturbing me as well . How can professional athletes be so injury prone . I remember players like Kapil Dev bowling close to 29 overs at a stretch in the 1983 test match against the West Indies ( and taking 9 wickets)and playing without being injured or missing a match for long .

  • Phil S. on January 24, 2011, 3:58 GMT

    I remember a schoolfriend who was a committed gym weight-lifter. He looked great. Give him a shovel, though, and he would be about the first to give it back having done the least with it. That might seem like an old cliche, but it was true. Personally, I think the problem with cricket goes right back to the point were youngters are marshalled towards the professional game. The players now grow up in this environment and I really doubt some could survive without it. Yet, the author, here, is right. It would be much better for them and the game if they could. And that means selecting teams the old-fashioned way and not merely by bodily-measurements and assorted strength and speed tests.

  • Sanket on January 24, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    Very good article. If number of games played is the benchmark, cricketers of the previous generation, played as much, if not more cricket.Hence, excess cricket does not seem to be the reason.

  • Kunal Talgeri on January 24, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    The ICC (read BCCI) is the culprit, for its scheduling of matches through the year. But I still blame the players [Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid from India] because they did not take a strong enough stand at the beginning of the 2000s. Everyone and their agents wanted to participate in the wealth that cricket generated. Even the Australian cricket board joined in with the BCCI for all types of one-day tourneys. As for the English, their injury woes are as old as the hills. (Remember Derek Pringle who sneezed and injured his ribs; even in that case, you can pinpoint it to the scheduling of the county season.)

  • tito on January 24, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    personally i tend to agree with the written todays cricketers are weak mentally if not physically they get all the facilities and also hefty pay checks but they cant equal the past cricketer of the likes of viv richards, imran khan,micheal holding,botham,graham gooch,gavaskar just to mention a few

  • Joji on January 24, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    Very well said Michael....I wonder why crickets from relatively "basic" countries like Bangladesh or Srilanka get injured far less often then the high tiered blokes from India, Eng or Aussies !!!