July 1, 2012

Why do so many bowlers get injured?

It's not just cricket that suffers this affliction of the uber-fit athlete who is engineered like a Ferrari to the point where they're next to useless when it comes to durability
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Eighteen months ago I wrote about the relative fragility of the modern cricketer, and in doing so, questioned the veritable army of medical and conditioning staff that have now become part of any first-class squad.

Hearing today's news that Pat Cummins is out of the England tour with a side strain and Jimmy Anderson is temporarily sidelined with a groin strain, neither injury seemingly an 'impact' injury or accidental, I wonder again how these little niggles keep happening in ultra-professional sporting environments. How do both Cummins and Anderson, supposedly 'prepared' for peak performance by highly qualified conditioners, break down after just 10 overs of work? Not just on game day, but even in the days and months leading up to an international series, these guys have been analysed, cosseted and massaged down to their last sinew. They fly business class, warm up for hours before they bowl, warm down under strict supervision and yet they seem to be breaking down at a rate that just makes a mockery of all the medical support staff.

I'm not necessarily blaming the conditioners; maybe the modern international cricketer is a lot softer than the average common or garden variety playing club cricket anywhere in the world, but it still begs the question of how these muscle strains keep happening at the highest levels. Do the rest of us mere mortals not have the muscles that the Cummins and Andersons of the world strain after bowling 10 overs? Yes, that may be the case but we also don't get the care and attention that these lads benefit from, so what gives? Did the player ignore medical advice or protocols when it came to stretching exercises, hydration, compression suits or whatever else he was instructed to do to ensure he could get through a ten-over spell without having to pull up too sore to play the next game? Most bowlers pull up a bit sore after a decent spell of bowling but 99% of them can bowl again later that afternoon, let alone the next game.

It's an issue that I'm genuinely keen to understand. I'm not doubting that the player is injured and I'm not doubting that he has been declared unfit to play the next game but what I'm trying to get my head around is how it can keep happening in international cricket these days? All the factors should be pulling the statistics in the opposite direction and yet, across almost every international team, these soft-tissue strains seem to be occurring at much higher rates than in the past. Think about it … better quality footwear, compression garments, therabands, ice baths, massages, yoga, sports drinks, you name it. Off the field, most teams have multiple support staff with high-quality diagnostic equipment, video analysis, superior injury prevention regimes that are part of a personalised year-round program. Players sleep in single rooms so their sleep patterns are unaffected by the disturbance caused by a room-mate and they are now more in tune with their own bodies than any previous generation of cricketer through an almost narcissistic pre-occupation with themselves.

It's not just cricket that suffers this affliction of the uber-fit athlete who is engineered like a Ferrari to the point where they're next to useless when it comes to durability. How many professional athletes (pick your sport) do nothing else with their lives other than train, recover, recuperate and perform on the big stage? Some of them don't even get through the pre-season training. The number of cricketers I come across who often can't take the field for the real contest because they couldn't survive the pre-season stuff. How do the conditioning staff explain that to the coach, the CEO or the Board? It happens too often, in all countries, in all professional sports, to be a figment of my imagination. Cricket is especially frustrating because it's not an impact sport in the sense that you're not being subject to the body contact injuries that you would expect from say rugby or football, let alone the obvious injury-prone sports like boxing, cycling and downhill skiing.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall when the medical staff breaks the news of the latest injury to the High Performance Director. "Umm, sorry boss, we prepared him like a pedigree racehorse, started his warm up before breakfast, post-game treatment supervised in the Arctic tundra by a team of ER specialists but pushed him too far - asked him to bowl a few overs in the game. It was all going swimmingly well until then. In fact, the good news is that when it comes to swimming, his lap times are good in the recovery pool".

Flippant I may be, but you'd have to wonder if someone along the chain of command is starting to question whether having a phalanx of medical support staff and attendant personalised programs, diets etc is actually making any difference to the bottom line. It's not like we're trading reliability for excellence, in the same way that you trade a Toyota for a Maserati perhaps. I mean, we're not seeing a whole generation of bowlers exceeding the 160 kph mark, even in short, spectacular careers that burn brilliantly today and burn out tomorrow. They're still not bowling any quicker or more accurately than the Holdings, Thomsons and Tysons of yesteryear. Yes, the standard of fielding is vastly superior and the batsmen seem to be more muscle-bound but their durability is no better than it ever was. In fact, it is arguably worse.

It's clearly not an area that any country will be prepared to cut back on so expect to see even more medical and conditioning staff employed to try to arrest this growing incidence of 'soft' injuries. Looking at it from the perspective of a mediocre cricketer who can bowl a thousand overs of tripe without breaking down every hour or so, I just can't understand where the source of the problem lies. Is it the cricketer who is too soft, is it the medical staff who are too precious with their diagnosis, or is it almost a case of a 'system' that has to justify itself by withdrawing cricketers from action when it might be best to just bowl themselves back into rude health?

I wonder if the central contract system has anything to answer for? If players were only paid for physically taking the field, might we see a lot more bowlers playing through minor niggles and being none the worse for it? More controversially, what if the medical staff were paid according to a system that was based on players being fit enough to play? I daresay there'd be a lot less cotton-wooling and a lot more of the "there's nothing wrong with you that a good ten over spell into the wind won't fix my boy".

On that note, as my typing finger requires the sort of ice treatment that a cold glass of something will no doubt fix, on strict medical advice, this writer has been instructed by She Who Must Be Obeyed to pull up stumps and do some cross-training in the washing-up and drying department. It's the sort of medical advice that will result in injury if ignored!

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

  • Widiyawati on September 7, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    in KK is CPS Bowl. a0CPS Bowl has been the number one chcoie for many bowlers in KK even after U-Bowl is opened at 1Borneo Hypermall. The 28 synthetic lanes bowling alley, equipped with fully automatic

  • Stewart on August 30, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    Zaki, have you ever watched Javelin? The last stride is very similar to bowling....

    Watch a clip of javelin throw and then a clip of brett lee bowling.

    Disregard the fact Javelin can use a bent arm for one moment. the last stride is similar, the hip drive is similar the trunk rotation is similar and the stretch relex in the shoulder is similar.

  • Zaki on August 19, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    I saw few experts here leaving their coments,every one is perfect if we follow.some questions come javelin throw & bowling two different tacniques,different methoods, fast bowling all about aggration,acclaration, bit jump,break,balance like shokobser(car & bike),generate speed 100mile. many things involbe's in one sports..no others sports has..so please help peoples to get good ideas from you...arguments are not the soluations...

  • Stewart on July 3, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    Not sure if the above Ian Pont is 'the' Ian pont or not, but if it is I have a question about bowling actions linked to Javelin technique.

    Maximal fast bowling and Javelin throwing is not dissimilar. Both are trying to achieve alignment to generate power and speed.

    Javelin throwers do not lift their leg high, they seem to try and skim across the ground so that speed is transfered into the delivery stride, Javelin then employs stretch reflex to generate further speed (i have missed out lots of things, ie feet, hips, shoulder aligned, chest drive etc) Javelin then pivots on the braced leg, whereas alot of bowlers brace the front leg and fold at the waist (i always think that this must place stress on backs and hamstrings)

    My question is why are bowlers not looking at the top Javelin throwers for clues about accessing power more ?

  • acricketsortofchap on July 3, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    I believe there is a great deal in the argument that years ago, bowlers bowled with their own, natural body actions which had adapted naturally to suit their own physique and therefore was more enduring. As Dr Khan says, cricket requires flexibility and not hardened muscle mass. Many of the "greats" espouse bowling as a means of getting for for bowling. If one goes back to the days when manual labour was the norm for more people than it is today, and when bowlers generally came out of manual occupations to become bowlers, it seems than their bodies stood up to the rigours of bowling better. I also think it must be true that those of the past played through the sort of niggles which sideline modern bowlers simply because medical science has advanced to such an extent that these natters are better understood than they were previously.

  • katandthat3 on July 3, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    Agree with quite a few of the guys here. Bowlers/cricketers are now that highly/finely tuned that they are as close to breaking point as they are to peak performance. All bowlers get injuries but are we seeing more different types than before. In Rugby league we are seeing injuries like torn bi-ceps and peck muscles which 15 years ago was unheard of. Agree with DR Ahad Khan that we don't need hours in the gym but more to do with getting strength and conditioning from running etc. Also the cotton wool thing isn't helped by ex players suing cricket associations or medical staff which creates a paranoia of resting players when in reality they could play on and continue to push through niggles and get more match hardened. It's all over cautious. Same with Meety, the itinery has changed too. Less time to aclimatise, staright in to intense international games and then back on a plane to somewhere else. T20's are far more intense than people give them credit for too. See how it goes.

  • Dr. Ahad Khan on July 3, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    Cricket is not Rugby - we do not need hardened & rigid Muscle Mass - do away with Weight Trainings & you will not see so many Muscle Tears / Ligament Strains / Micro-fractures, etc. Cricket requires flexibility of muscles. Gary Sobers I am sure, would not have used Weight Training. Cricketers require a Lithe & a flexible Body - Swimming / Jogging / Skipping Rope exercises are all that a Cricketer needs. No Weight Training is what is needed. Dr. Ahad Khan

  • retaish on July 2, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    kapil dev played all but one test in his career consecutively ,thats almost impossible for a bowler these days.kd was an athlete though

  • Devraj on July 2, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    I believe the cricketers of the present era are not physically "soft", but are forced to become mentally "soft" owing to the growing competition for a place in their respective national side. The cricketers are playing it way too safe to take to the field with a minor injury and end up aggravating it to the extent that may take them 6-8 months to recover out of it. Meanwhile, they are recovering their spot in the team would be taken up by some other player who given the opportunity would give his everything to secure spot for himself in the side. This would mean that the injured cricketer would have to warm the benches even after having recovered and that's the kind of risk the cricketer of the present era is not willing to take.

  • Cake on July 2, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Interesting article and wonderful views expressed by ALL. 2 theories i found interesting- (1)Modern bowlers bowl less when compared to bowlers of the previous generations(2)Bowling actions were lot more natural in the past while they are being altered in the name of technique and whatever not thus increasing stress on the muscles involved during bowling. A third theory that i have is that when compared to sports like Soccer,Tennis or athletics,bowlers should theoretically have much lesser strain. Imagine running continuously for close to 2 hours. And here is where i think Cricket is different. It seems to me that Cricket is a start-stop-start game. A Bowler bows 6 balls and then goes to fine leg with little or very less running. He again runs only when a ball is hit towards him still a start-stop-start until he fields another one. This whole phenomenon does not allow a bowler's body to adjust which may cause a lot of injuries.

  • Widiyawati on September 7, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    in KK is CPS Bowl. a0CPS Bowl has been the number one chcoie for many bowlers in KK even after U-Bowl is opened at 1Borneo Hypermall. The 28 synthetic lanes bowling alley, equipped with fully automatic

  • Stewart on August 30, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    Zaki, have you ever watched Javelin? The last stride is very similar to bowling....

    Watch a clip of javelin throw and then a clip of brett lee bowling.

    Disregard the fact Javelin can use a bent arm for one moment. the last stride is similar, the hip drive is similar the trunk rotation is similar and the stretch relex in the shoulder is similar.

  • Zaki on August 19, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    I saw few experts here leaving their coments,every one is perfect if we follow.some questions come javelin throw & bowling two different tacniques,different methoods, fast bowling all about aggration,acclaration, bit jump,break,balance like shokobser(car & bike),generate speed 100mile. many things involbe's in one sports..no others sports has..so please help peoples to get good ideas from you...arguments are not the soluations...

  • Stewart on July 3, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    Not sure if the above Ian Pont is 'the' Ian pont or not, but if it is I have a question about bowling actions linked to Javelin technique.

    Maximal fast bowling and Javelin throwing is not dissimilar. Both are trying to achieve alignment to generate power and speed.

    Javelin throwers do not lift their leg high, they seem to try and skim across the ground so that speed is transfered into the delivery stride, Javelin then employs stretch reflex to generate further speed (i have missed out lots of things, ie feet, hips, shoulder aligned, chest drive etc) Javelin then pivots on the braced leg, whereas alot of bowlers brace the front leg and fold at the waist (i always think that this must place stress on backs and hamstrings)

    My question is why are bowlers not looking at the top Javelin throwers for clues about accessing power more ?

  • acricketsortofchap on July 3, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    I believe there is a great deal in the argument that years ago, bowlers bowled with their own, natural body actions which had adapted naturally to suit their own physique and therefore was more enduring. As Dr Khan says, cricket requires flexibility and not hardened muscle mass. Many of the "greats" espouse bowling as a means of getting for for bowling. If one goes back to the days when manual labour was the norm for more people than it is today, and when bowlers generally came out of manual occupations to become bowlers, it seems than their bodies stood up to the rigours of bowling better. I also think it must be true that those of the past played through the sort of niggles which sideline modern bowlers simply because medical science has advanced to such an extent that these natters are better understood than they were previously.

  • katandthat3 on July 3, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    Agree with quite a few of the guys here. Bowlers/cricketers are now that highly/finely tuned that they are as close to breaking point as they are to peak performance. All bowlers get injuries but are we seeing more different types than before. In Rugby league we are seeing injuries like torn bi-ceps and peck muscles which 15 years ago was unheard of. Agree with DR Ahad Khan that we don't need hours in the gym but more to do with getting strength and conditioning from running etc. Also the cotton wool thing isn't helped by ex players suing cricket associations or medical staff which creates a paranoia of resting players when in reality they could play on and continue to push through niggles and get more match hardened. It's all over cautious. Same with Meety, the itinery has changed too. Less time to aclimatise, staright in to intense international games and then back on a plane to somewhere else. T20's are far more intense than people give them credit for too. See how it goes.

  • Dr. Ahad Khan on July 3, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    Cricket is not Rugby - we do not need hardened & rigid Muscle Mass - do away with Weight Trainings & you will not see so many Muscle Tears / Ligament Strains / Micro-fractures, etc. Cricket requires flexibility of muscles. Gary Sobers I am sure, would not have used Weight Training. Cricketers require a Lithe & a flexible Body - Swimming / Jogging / Skipping Rope exercises are all that a Cricketer needs. No Weight Training is what is needed. Dr. Ahad Khan

  • retaish on July 2, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    kapil dev played all but one test in his career consecutively ,thats almost impossible for a bowler these days.kd was an athlete though

  • Devraj on July 2, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    I believe the cricketers of the present era are not physically "soft", but are forced to become mentally "soft" owing to the growing competition for a place in their respective national side. The cricketers are playing it way too safe to take to the field with a minor injury and end up aggravating it to the extent that may take them 6-8 months to recover out of it. Meanwhile, they are recovering their spot in the team would be taken up by some other player who given the opportunity would give his everything to secure spot for himself in the side. This would mean that the injured cricketer would have to warm the benches even after having recovered and that's the kind of risk the cricketer of the present era is not willing to take.

  • Cake on July 2, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Interesting article and wonderful views expressed by ALL. 2 theories i found interesting- (1)Modern bowlers bowl less when compared to bowlers of the previous generations(2)Bowling actions were lot more natural in the past while they are being altered in the name of technique and whatever not thus increasing stress on the muscles involved during bowling. A third theory that i have is that when compared to sports like Soccer,Tennis or athletics,bowlers should theoretically have much lesser strain. Imagine running continuously for close to 2 hours. And here is where i think Cricket is different. It seems to me that Cricket is a start-stop-start game. A Bowler bows 6 balls and then goes to fine leg with little or very less running. He again runs only when a ball is hit towards him still a start-stop-start until he fields another one. This whole phenomenon does not allow a bowler's body to adjust which may cause a lot of injuries.

  • Jon Miller on July 2, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    Its fielding, plain and simple. These fast bowlers who are mostly big old units, are then forced to throw themselves around in the field to save a run or two here and there, and put their bodies under massive strain. As a result, they get injured.

  • Stew on July 2, 2012, 14:46 GMT

    I think that bowling actions are not as smooth, and rhythm overlooked a little nowadays.

    Look at Lindwalls action, no huge slamming of the foot down but a smooth action, no folding at the waist (a la Anderson)

    There seems to be more and more bowlers lifting the front leg high, slamming it into the ground, then folding at the waist as deep as possible.

    For a fantastically smooth action, think of Jon Snow 1970 series in Australia.

  • Chris on July 2, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    In Australia a number of years ago they brought in all sorts of restrictions for how many overs younger bowlers could bowl. So 16-17 year olds aren't allowed to bowl lots of overs.

    When I was that age I was bowling 10-12 over spells and 25+ overs in a day, and it didn't do me any harm.

    It was brought in to try to reduce the incidents of teenage fast bowlers getting injuries, but I expect all it's done is transferred those injuries to later, and you get people turning 19-20, playing first class cricket and suddenly having to bowl 40 overs in an innings, where they've previously always been restricted to 6 over spells and 15 overs in a day.

    No wonder they get injured.

    But then landl47 might be right and maybe there were really just as many injuries in the past, they just weren't as obvious because there wasn't as much high profile cricket played.

  • Ian Pont on July 2, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    Some bowlers have actions that are 'prone' to injury. People here suggesting it is to do with tinkering by coaches of bowling actions cannot be further from the truth. IMO it is the fact that flaws go undetected because coaches do not understand how to coach speed or accuracy.

    People like Dennis Lillee were riddled with injuries and he was said to have a 'classic' action - whatever that means.

    If your action is smooth, efficient, correctly aligned and your top and bottom half work in sync, then you will be LESS likely to be injured and MORE likely to be accurate and faster.

    It's not about training methods...it's about bowling actions. If you dig the garden in the wrong way you get a sore back. If you sit incorrectly in a chair for hours you get a sore back. If you bowl incorrectly day in day out..guess what?

    Unless you look at HOW someone bowls instead of where the ball goes, you won't find out the truth. People were not less injured in the past, we just monitor better now.

  • Vinod Gangaputhran on July 2, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    Fab article by the 'Fox'...I feel that the today's athelete spends more time and efforts in the gym, ie, toning up body, lifting weights etc...comparared to 20 years ago to people like Dennis Lille, courtney Walsh, Kapil Dev who just bowled, even in the off season. I have wondered this several times-with a whole phalanx of coaches, nutriotionists, dietaticians, masseurs, psychologists, sports doctors, bloomin witch docgtors... shaman's with their brands of sports medicines, energy drinks, energy bands, basically every known form of voodoo/black magic/other associated cockamamie contraqptions, the athelete/cricketer of today should be more durable, but alas they are not, i think it is the image thing, the cricketers gym more to get toned bodies which earn more $$ in advts...if this is coming at a coast of the real game...its a pity..i hope i am wrong but i can't see anyof the recent quickies emulate Dk lille, walsh, kapil, imran, even Glenn Mcgrath....

  • wibblewibble on July 2, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    In the 80s and 90s, England's fast bowlers used to regularly bowl themselves unfit. They would spend every day bowling for county teams, and then all day bowling for England. Very often, when it came to England they had nothing left to give, or were injured and another sub-par replacement came in.

    This era is much better managed.

  • Markdal on July 2, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    There are two sides to the argument, ironically given by bowlers who operated from each end. I've read where Dennis Lillee stated that he wished there was a junior bowling restriction in place when he was a young fella, because he wouldn't have bowled nearly so much as a kid, and might have saved 6 months in traction when he was 23. On the other hand, Jeff Thomson has said that he reckons the underage bowling restrictions these days were breeding 'cream puffs' and youngsters needed to bowl more to develop. Personally, I'm with Thommo. County bowlers were bowling 6-7 days a week, and there weren't as many injuries then. Shield players would play grade cricket when there was no Shield or Test cricket, and I reckon there were less injuries there as well.

  • Greigy on July 2, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    Great article Fox and lots of interesting responses. My theory is simply "do you bowl to get fit or get fit to bowl?" I believe the that you bowl to get fit as no gym work can replicate the stresses that the bowling action places on the body and by bowling and bowling and bowling your body slowly but surely builds up the necessary strength . Shane Watson a great example - big, strong and top of the gym class, but alas, no strength through bowling.

  • jackthelad on July 2, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    @Mahadevan - you're quite wrong, historically; people have generally queued up to watch batsmen scoring runs, and pitches, since the inception of first-class cricket, have invariably been prepared to abet this. WG Grace complained in the 1890s that 'pitches don't have the devil they used to'; "Bodyline" was developed to counter 'feather-bed pitches stuffed full of runs' (Robertson-Glasgow). Think of all the metaphors deriving from cricket and every one is from the batsman's standpoint ('chancing his arm', 'a sticky wicket' etc etc). This situation has been endemic throughout cricket's first-class history, and we really need to look a bit more closely into the contemporary factors underlying bowlers' extraordinary aptitude for minor niggles which are turned into major problems by a web of nanny-type support staff.

  • Mahadevan on July 2, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    Now that there are more bowler graveyards in the World and the bowlers use special techniques like reverse swing etc. to get wickets in bald tracks, do coaches check whether the techniques used by the bowlers are injury prone and how it affects them? Malinga has once told bowling yorker is a waste of time. Why?

  • Noel Bernard Carr on July 2, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    I would like to highlight some of the past players who played continuosly not only for their countries but for their counties in the early's 70's, 80's and 90's like Mike Holding, Andy Roberts, late Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Richard Hadlee, Alan Donald,Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Ian Botham ,Courtney Walsh,Curtly Ambrose,Glen Magrath, Shane Warne, M.Muralitharan,WAsim Akram, Waqar Younis, Anil Kumble and Dennis Lillee who had a life threating injury to name a few who bowled day in and day out respectively .Yet these cricketers did not break down regularly compared to the present day cricketers who with all the modern regime of fitness constantly break down frequently and regularly and are out of the game for a very long period and now all the coaches all over the world emphasise on a rotation policy of keeping the players free from serious injury and preserving them for a longer period . The more u play the more you are match fit and this will help all the players to survive longer.

  • Anonymous on July 2, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    @landl47 - I agree with your comment "...The harder you play, the more likely you are to get injured." I believe that the intensity of the short formats push players closer to their limits & given that an International player can play 20 ODIs & 5 or 6 T2o (Int) & 10 to 12 franchise T20s. So if you play more matches (despite less actual deliveries), your chances of injury do increase.

  • HatsforBats on July 2, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    I think it's a combination of diagnosis and isolation training. Athletes these days are forcibly focussed on training specific muscle groups and perfecting technique, rather than just running and bowling over after over.

  • pratap on July 2, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    They are paid too much. They can not carry the load.

  • Somatrope 15 IU on July 2, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    perfect design on blogs.espncricinfo.com thanks

  • Truemans Ghost on July 2, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    I think a large part of the reason for the perception that fast bowlers are injured more "nowadays" is short memories. Players have always got injured, especially quicks as they spend their time doing something physiologically unnatural. We remember the big break downs of the past, such as Lillee's back or Botham's back, but if you read old match reports you see regular references to fast bowlers being missing for a game or a series due to more minor niggles.

  • Mahadevan on July 2, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    There is a single reason these days fast bowlers are affected psychologically. They know they have to bowl in flat over-prepared tracks. Suppose Trueman, Lillee etc. had to bowl mostly in flat tracks how would they have behaved? Also with the three forms of cricket, the wicket conditions are getting more and more unfriendly to a bowler. How will a bowler react in this situation? Why can't we make more of bowler friendly conditions in international cricket? The rules also are becoming more and more batsman friendly. What can you expect bowlers to do in bowlers' graveyards where they are expected to perform with a tight schedule? Unless something drastic is done, what we will see is bowlers doing things like spot fixing. What else can we expect in a condition which makes bowlers to retire from one form of cricket around 30 while batsmen go on to play well till forty?

  • Paul on July 2, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    More than all of the above, the modrern players don't work nearly as hard as the players of yesteryear. I'm no stats expert, but, in the famous 4th test match of the 1948 series, England batted on for some time on the last morning of the match before declaring, leaving the Aussies the rest of the day to chase 404. In the Australian innings, the English bowlers managed to bowl 114.1 overs before the runs were scored some 15 minutes before stumps. Therefore, about 125 overs were possible in a normal days play - bowled by amateur players supposedly far less fit thyan their modern day counterparts. How is this so? Somebody? Anybody??

  • Michael Jeh on July 2, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    Some really interesting and useful comments with none of the silliness that blogs sometimes get caught up in across jingoistic lines. I've really enjoyed reading the educated and thoughtful comments from everyone. Thank you. It seems that some common themes are emerging from this discussion, mainly that bowlers need to bowl more, prepare less, bowl through some minor niggles and be analysed less. To Jayq, I think you'll find that just about every international team (maybe not Zim) fly business class on international flights. The days of cattle class are long gone my friend.

  • Jeff on July 2, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    ...continued. Cricket is very much a "side on" game....and particularly bowling where "hip rotation' is an omnipresent rigor. Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the muscular skeletal system is aware that the pelvis is the body's "structural engine room" and a great number of things that go wrong both above and below the pelvis come about because of "pelvic misalignment". Therefore it stands to reason that "if" the pelvis is out of alignment then there's always the possibility that the associated muscle slings will "misfire" again causing injury particularly in explosive type activities such as genuine pace bowling. Please go to www.finchtherapy.com.au Then click on Finch Therapy, a link at the top to understand the rationale behind what is a brilliant technique...one which I feel will go a "long way" to helping overcome what seems to be a never ending list of Aussie injury woes. A mind is like a parachute. It works best when it's open :-)

  • Jeff on July 2, 2012, 5:58 GMT

    A very perceptive article. I had the nasty feeling that Cummins and some of the others may break down again, so much so that I emailed Cricket Australia with my concerns and a key recommendation some months ago but I wasn't even given the courtesy of a reply. At least Cummins demise has happened well before the Ashes series so there's a chance that this latest injury malfunction and others can be addressed in terms of rectification before the Ashes arrive. We do need Cummins, Pattinson, Clarke and watson to be on deck for that (Ashes) My background...an ACB Level II cricket coach for a number of years at junior level. I also am a remedial massage therapist so I at least have a very reasonable knowledge of the workings of the muscular system system. Firstly any notion that "some" players...eg Shane Watson..are just injury prone is absolute baloney. (to be continued)

  • Michael Rolls on July 2, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    On the question of the amount of bowling – Anderson is in his 12th season of first class cricket and averages 571 overs a year in all forms of the game. By comparison Statham bowled 1,035, Trueman 920. The differing character of the game reflects in the number of deliveries per match – Anderson 53, Statham 193, Trueman 168. It is difficult to compare Lindwall in overs per year because of the time lost to WW2, but he bowled 197 deliveries per match and approximately 650-700 overs a year. Mike

  • MinusZero on July 2, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    I think there is too much money in the game. Players are forced back before they are ready to satisfy greedy management

  • Meety on July 2, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    This is a topic that has vexed me greatly. I have several theories, starting with the increased air travel, combined with shorter itineries mean that bowlers (in particular) do not have the same recuperation time as in days of old. I also believe that playing 3 formats increase the liklihood of injury. Bowlers definately do not bowl as many overs as they use to, as the short form mix of matches is far higher now than in yesteryear. If a bowler played say 2o FC matches & 10 tests in a year (theoretically that is approx 150 days of cricket & if they were in a good side bowling 2 innings they would send 1200+ overs (not counting short form). Today bowlers (International) play about 15 T20s, 25 50-over games, & 10 tests + about 10 matches - which barely equates to about 1100 overs, but the risk is far greater. Short spells, days off in between, higher impact, all these things add up. I believe bowlers are more likely to be advised NOT to play if they have SORENESS as opposed to injured!

  • Mal on July 2, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    Actually, Lillee bowled through many little niggles & injuries that todays bowlers just don't seem able to do. His philosophy was that you always had something not quite right, but if you missed a game because of it, someone else would get a chance. So he never game them the opportunity. That is a professional attitude.

  • aj on July 2, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    The modern cricketer is all or nothing.Anything less is not worth watching.

  • Geoffrey Paul on July 2, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    The mental game. Yes off course any problem thats focused on, backed up by irrefutable, "medical" diagnosis, high tech analysis etc is going to go deep into the both conscious and sub conscious mind. here the body will believe and follow suit, and the mind is trained in fear of further injury and can even become addicted the sense of feelingso pampered with caring attention. I work with a techniques called EFT and NLP which reframe the mind to remove belief in negative things and replace them with healthier attitudes. I dont know why are trainers are so behind the cutting edge of healing pracctices, still stuck in newtonian and classic medical knowledge. its simple - think "im sick, I can be injured, ..." and that ll happen. in the seventies and eighties that wasnt the way. people accected responsibility for there actions, now modern society is set to look for blame, look and you will find. back to basics - just do it.

  • Ian Salomon on July 1, 2012, 23:26 GMT

    There is no doubt in my mind that today's players do not play anywhere near enough cricket - they spend the majority of their time preparing, but there is absolutely no substitue for "time in the middle". Reading Fred Trueman's biography, there is a comment about how his heavy rear end and legs had never let England down. He and his colleagues and opponents were never finely honed athletes but they could bowl hundreds of overs in a year without breaking down every couple of weeks. Get these players back to PLAYING, not preparing........and see the changes that will occur!

  • Richard on July 1, 2012, 23:08 GMT

    These coaches tend to try to turn young payers into copies of a robotic action, telling them all to try to get the left arm higher etc. This system I hypothesise is made much worse when more skilled coaches enter the fray. Suddenly, they adjust actions to get the very most speed or swing out of a ball, but in doing so many young fast bowlers are pushed too far, and though a technique may increase the speed with which they bowl it may place untenable stress on certain muscle groups. In the older system in which players were largely self taught players who could not handle these stresses would never reach a high level, never attend endless high performance sessions, and never rise to a level where their injuries would be noticed. This may help to explain why not only do more fast bowlers tend to pick up more little niggles and strains (if it were likely to result in more serious injuries, they would not rise so high in the first place) but why there is generaly more depth to attacks now.

  • Richard on July 1, 2012, 23:02 GMT

    I can't help bu suspect that, while there is some truth in the theory that they need to be bowling more has a bit of truth in it as it develops unusual muscle areas, this should logically be countered by net training and bowler specific training. One such exercise was shown on Sky the other night during an England ladies game, where one of the bowlers was pulling a weight machine across her shoulder, mimicking the bowling action. My theory is that it is aproduct of over coaching, similar to what Darren is saying. Back in the day, very few young pokayers received much formalised coaching, so their own actions were allowed to develop from watching TV and such, and through constant practice and repetition. For every child who naturally bowls like Holding, many more will instinctively try to bowl more like Jeff Thompson, and this is what suits them better. However, nowadays most even small clubs have "trained" coaches running their youth sections. TBC

  • Yogesh on July 1, 2012, 22:41 GMT

    Michael, excellent piece! Hit the nail on the head about these injuries. I have wondered about the same thing many a time, every time I read about another of these super-trained, super-conditioned, super-cosseted bowlers who develops an injury that puts them out of commission for a season. Nifty ending to the article too: very humorous!

  • jackthelad on July 1, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    There are undoubtedly several factors - shorter (or no) 'close seasons' where players can chill out; too many different forms of cricket, requiring different kinds of fitness; a nanny-like attention to minor strains that less cossetted players would just play through... - but the main thing seems to me that cricketers are not being trained to play cricket: circuit training, sprint training, strength routines & so on are hardly relevant to the things that actually happen on a cricket pitch. The old wisdom is the best - the only way to train for cricket is to play cricket.

  • flea on July 1, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    Perhaps bowlers break down more nowadays because they do not bowl enough overs. Bowling involves several unnatural muscular activities and imposes great strain on the front foot and ankle, back, shoulders and rib-cage. It is unlikely whether all the conditioning in the world as currently supervised by non-orthopaedic specialists can adequately strengthen the muscles and ligaments under the most strain; in the groin, the ankles, back, shoulders and between the ribs (intercostal muscles). My suggestion is for bowlers to wear boots with adequate ankle support, like ice-skating, or ski-boots, but somewhat lighter. Also they should bowl 20 overs daily at full pace. Failing that, properly funded medical research is required into the stresses on each part of the body of different bowlers, so that, either their actions can be made less dangerous to them, or their appropriate musculature and ligaments be strengthened by scientifically targeted exercise.

  • Michael Rolls on July 1, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    I think that the reason is too little first class - i.e., 3, 4 or 5 day matches. Fred Trueman, Brian Statham, Ray Lindwall, et al bowled far more in a season than do modern day quicks. Trueman, in his dotage admittedly, swore that modern cricketers (this would be 20 yeas ago0 simply didn't bowl enough to be truly fir for bowling,at it has got worse since then. Mike

  • jayq on July 1, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    i dont think they fly business class,it is outrageous to think the boards will spend money for every player to get business class tickets.i think the bowlers today are juiced up by all these training methods,i cant get around the fact that a guy like pat is breakinh down this often,i think he is being rushed...for gods sake he is 19,his muscles need time to be stronger,although he is good and deserves to play cricket at the top level..he needs to be nurtured not juiced by this rigourus training methods

  • jackson khan on July 1, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    in the 70's and 80's i could have guaranteed myself that year after year i'll go to bourda and see holding,marshall,garner,roberts,croft in action. today before i switch on the t.v. someone is already broken down like an old car.

  • NaniIndCri on July 1, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    If one of these two was part of IPL then all the hell would have broken loose.

  • landl47 on July 1, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    Here are a couple of suggestions, one physical, one perception. First, I think players are playing nearer to their physical limits than they used to. Most international players play very little except international cricket now and they can't play within themselves in the way players used to in, say, county cricket. The harder you play, the more likely you are to get injured. Second, players used to get injured regularly, it just wasn't as obvious, because there wasn't the intense media scrutiny there is now. However, among world-class seam bowlers, both Lillee and Botham suffered stress fractures to the spine, for example, and many bowlers missed games with pulls or strains- England in the 1960s rarely seemed to have all their bowlers fit at once. A good example is Jeff Jones, Simon's Dad, who like Simon was beset with physical problems which ended his career prematurely. Yes, there do seem to be a lot of injuries, but I don't think it's through poor training or treatment.

  • Darren on July 1, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    just a theory but it seems that bowlers 10, 20, 30 years ago had a large variety of less than textbook bowling actions. i.e. they bowled in a way that worked for their body and had worked for their body since they started to bowl as children. These days bowlers have their actions broken down and rebuilt to get that classic high left arm, high left leg, side on action. It seems like these actions don't suit the make-up of these bodies and so they break down. Classic actions like Michael Holding's don't come along very often, and it used to be that there were a lot of Max Walkers or Jeff Thompsons or Jeff Lawson or Muralis or Malingas strange actions for every classic action. Maybe we should let actions alone during player development?

  • Timbo on July 1, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    I don't think you're imagining it. I think we're reaching a state of sporting hypochondria. As a medioce performer in lots of social/club sports, I have had many days where I thought that, for some reason, my body wasn't going to get through the game. But you play anyway, because you want to, even if you're not 100%. And sure enough, once the game starts, you find that you don't even notice that little niggle. But if you're an international sportsman, that little niggle results in a scan, and before you know it you're getting sent home on a plane the day after pulling up a bit stiff from a 10 over day. How many of these stress fractures and 'hot spots' would have been ignored in previous years, with the players just pushing on successfully anyway? I don't blame the players - I don't think many international cricketers are soft - I think they are just following instructions. I bet if Cummins was playing club cricket, he'd have been back on the park for the next match.

  • Stephen Southey on July 1, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    Very good article. all the facts are true. If you look at bowlers of the 80's and early 90's. They were much stronger and could bowl for longer spells. Injuries were to the minimun. Those players didn't just play cricket they actually have another job of some sort. I think the past players were a lot tougher than todays players.

  • dcrowle on July 1, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    Craig McDermott, who did pretty well getting Aus back into any sort of form, and Dennis Lillee reckon it's bowlers not bowling enough. In their day they bowled 40 overs a day, day after day, and besides proper injuries that required significant length of times on the sidelines, never had niggles or any of this business. I can't imagine either of them being sent home for a 'strain'.

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  • dcrowle on July 1, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    Craig McDermott, who did pretty well getting Aus back into any sort of form, and Dennis Lillee reckon it's bowlers not bowling enough. In their day they bowled 40 overs a day, day after day, and besides proper injuries that required significant length of times on the sidelines, never had niggles or any of this business. I can't imagine either of them being sent home for a 'strain'.

  • Stephen Southey on July 1, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    Very good article. all the facts are true. If you look at bowlers of the 80's and early 90's. They were much stronger and could bowl for longer spells. Injuries were to the minimun. Those players didn't just play cricket they actually have another job of some sort. I think the past players were a lot tougher than todays players.

  • Timbo on July 1, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    I don't think you're imagining it. I think we're reaching a state of sporting hypochondria. As a medioce performer in lots of social/club sports, I have had many days where I thought that, for some reason, my body wasn't going to get through the game. But you play anyway, because you want to, even if you're not 100%. And sure enough, once the game starts, you find that you don't even notice that little niggle. But if you're an international sportsman, that little niggle results in a scan, and before you know it you're getting sent home on a plane the day after pulling up a bit stiff from a 10 over day. How many of these stress fractures and 'hot spots' would have been ignored in previous years, with the players just pushing on successfully anyway? I don't blame the players - I don't think many international cricketers are soft - I think they are just following instructions. I bet if Cummins was playing club cricket, he'd have been back on the park for the next match.

  • Darren on July 1, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    just a theory but it seems that bowlers 10, 20, 30 years ago had a large variety of less than textbook bowling actions. i.e. they bowled in a way that worked for their body and had worked for their body since they started to bowl as children. These days bowlers have their actions broken down and rebuilt to get that classic high left arm, high left leg, side on action. It seems like these actions don't suit the make-up of these bodies and so they break down. Classic actions like Michael Holding's don't come along very often, and it used to be that there were a lot of Max Walkers or Jeff Thompsons or Jeff Lawson or Muralis or Malingas strange actions for every classic action. Maybe we should let actions alone during player development?

  • landl47 on July 1, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    Here are a couple of suggestions, one physical, one perception. First, I think players are playing nearer to their physical limits than they used to. Most international players play very little except international cricket now and they can't play within themselves in the way players used to in, say, county cricket. The harder you play, the more likely you are to get injured. Second, players used to get injured regularly, it just wasn't as obvious, because there wasn't the intense media scrutiny there is now. However, among world-class seam bowlers, both Lillee and Botham suffered stress fractures to the spine, for example, and many bowlers missed games with pulls or strains- England in the 1960s rarely seemed to have all their bowlers fit at once. A good example is Jeff Jones, Simon's Dad, who like Simon was beset with physical problems which ended his career prematurely. Yes, there do seem to be a lot of injuries, but I don't think it's through poor training or treatment.

  • NaniIndCri on July 1, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    If one of these two was part of IPL then all the hell would have broken loose.

  • jackson khan on July 1, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    in the 70's and 80's i could have guaranteed myself that year after year i'll go to bourda and see holding,marshall,garner,roberts,croft in action. today before i switch on the t.v. someone is already broken down like an old car.

  • jayq on July 1, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    i dont think they fly business class,it is outrageous to think the boards will spend money for every player to get business class tickets.i think the bowlers today are juiced up by all these training methods,i cant get around the fact that a guy like pat is breakinh down this often,i think he is being rushed...for gods sake he is 19,his muscles need time to be stronger,although he is good and deserves to play cricket at the top level..he needs to be nurtured not juiced by this rigourus training methods

  • Michael Rolls on July 1, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    I think that the reason is too little first class - i.e., 3, 4 or 5 day matches. Fred Trueman, Brian Statham, Ray Lindwall, et al bowled far more in a season than do modern day quicks. Trueman, in his dotage admittedly, swore that modern cricketers (this would be 20 yeas ago0 simply didn't bowl enough to be truly fir for bowling,at it has got worse since then. Mike

  • flea on July 1, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    Perhaps bowlers break down more nowadays because they do not bowl enough overs. Bowling involves several unnatural muscular activities and imposes great strain on the front foot and ankle, back, shoulders and rib-cage. It is unlikely whether all the conditioning in the world as currently supervised by non-orthopaedic specialists can adequately strengthen the muscles and ligaments under the most strain; in the groin, the ankles, back, shoulders and between the ribs (intercostal muscles). My suggestion is for bowlers to wear boots with adequate ankle support, like ice-skating, or ski-boots, but somewhat lighter. Also they should bowl 20 overs daily at full pace. Failing that, properly funded medical research is required into the stresses on each part of the body of different bowlers, so that, either their actions can be made less dangerous to them, or their appropriate musculature and ligaments be strengthened by scientifically targeted exercise.