November 6, 2012

Is the fitness support system failing the bowlers?

It is difficult and unfair to criticise what you do not fully understand
21

It is difficult and unfair to criticise what you do not fully understand. So I write this piece with due respect to the profession that I am about to ask questions of, partly to educate myself when the responses flood in and partly to ask some questions that many ordinary folk are also asking.

A few months ago I questioned the value of the support staff that are now an integral part of any first-class cricket structure. Those pieces attracted some comments from around the world, the general consensus seeming to lean towards the theory that modern cricketers just don't seem to be doing enough bowling to properly prepare their bodies to withstand soft-tissue injuries.

Four months later and it doesn't look there are any answers to this complex issue. Let's contrast the Pat Cummins and Shane Watson cases then: Watson was withdrawn from the Champions League Trophy in South Africa to supposedly help him to rest and recover so he would be fit for the Test series. In theory, that strategy made sense. You can only assume that the combined intellect and experience of the medical staff tailored a program of recovery, sleep, diet and stretching that would ensure Watson would be in tip-top shape for the Gabba. Yet, despite all of this expertise and cotton-wooling, he was unable to bowl more than six balls without incurring a soft-tissue injury. It simply defies belief. Either the preparation was inadequate or he wasn't warmed up properly but the bottom line was that despite all the cossetting, his body was unable to bowl six balls of medium without damaging a muscle. Which begs the question; what more needs to be done to ensure he can get to a point where he can bowl at least two overs?

Contrast Watson's situation with Cummins and you get the polar opposite. Cummins was not withdrawn from the Sydney Sixers campaign in South Africa and was allowed to keep playing, presumably also under the supervision and care of equally knowledgeable and dedicated medical staff. Despite this care, he is now sidelined for a whole season, although a stress fracture is more structural than soft-tissue and therefore perhaps more of a technique issue.

So it appears that neither strategy appears to be working. Mollycoddling a player and wrapping him in cotton-wool does not guarantee that he can get through a single over of bowling in a competitive context. Allowing a bowler to play competitive cricket (albeit still under strict supervision and some cotton-wooling) also results in a season-ending injury. What more can we do to get a professional cricketer, whose sole job these days is to play cricket and look after Body Beautiful, with an army of expert medicos and conditioners, fit enough to do his job? They don't have to work normal jobs like the cricketers of yesteryear, they travel in Business Class with flat-back seats, they sleep in single rooms so they are not disturbed by room-mates, their diet is strictly monitored, they stretch for hours each day, they have ice-baths and massages whenever the experts tell them to. Is there anything that we are missing?

It's the soft-tissue injuries that are inexplicable. You can understand broken fingers, sprained ankles and perhaps even rotator cuff injuries through over-bowling. You can understand cracked ribs when batting in the nets. I simply cannot get my head around how you can possibly get injured after bowling just six balls, presumably after an extensive warm-up routine supervised by experts.

I have bowled a million overs in my life and I have never torn a muscle. Ever. With minimum warm-up routines, no compression garments or therabands and no special diet or hydration. Sometimes I have run straight from the car park, having mowed my yard in the morning and washed the dog, to bowl 20 overs on the trot. My body is still being pushed as far as it can go so the argument that I'm not bowling at 150 kph doesn't really wash. My boots are not new, I do not have hydration drinks brought to me every few minutes and I didn't get much sleep the night before because my baby was crying. You would expect someone like me to frequent the local physio. Admittedly, I have a natural advantage over someone like Watson in the sense that you cannot strain what you do not have. As I have very few muscles anywhere in my body, it would be a medical miracle to find one that was prepared to rip.

I come back to my core question; what does the medical profession need to learn about itself to keep improving in this regard? Clearly the current system is not working. That much is self-evident. So we need to learn from this and come up with a system that produces more durable cricketers. Perhaps they need even more tender care. Or perhaps they just need to swallow a bit of cement and harden up. What's so wrong with going back to a system that just puts the onus back on the players to get fit or get out? Whatever you need to do to do your job properly, just figure it out and we'll just judge you on your performance on the park. If that means surrounding yourself with sleep/diet/medical/yoga experts, then choose your poison. Some may choose to just bowl themselves into fitness and rhythm in the nets, like cricketers of yesteryear who also hardened their bodies (through necessity) by having to work labouring jobs. Whatever method they choose, is it perhaps time to dispense with all the compulsory scientific and medical staff and put the onus back on the individual to do whatever it takes to get himself fit?

I realise that my rhetorical questions are unlikely to be seriously considered but I can still ask the question with an impish smile. The bottom line is that for all those who defend the current system, it is clear that it is not producing results. That much is fact. What is not clear yet is how we can better prepare cricketers for a normal day's work without them calling in sick? I daresay a system that had no central contracts but was based on a "you play, we pay" payment model might just work. Clearly there would need to be an allowance made for impact injuries or accidents sustained at training or in a game situation but for those players who do nothing but prepare for a game of cricket with highly paid experts and the very best care that money can buy and are still unable to take the field, something needs to change. Simply adding more medical staff, more tests, more sleep monitoring and more stretching is not producing better outcomes.

More bowling perhaps? Mow the lawn, wash the dog? God forbid, find a normal job in the off-season? Or is that too simplistic?

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

  • Jagger on January 7, 2013, 3:25 GMT

    Australia's best test line up: Warner, Finch, Hughes, D Hussey, Clarke, McDonald, Wade, Pattinson, Harris, Cummins, Bird.

  • Phil on December 7, 2012, 2:21 GMT

    Too much time in the gym these days which dont make you a much faster of fitter bowler. The other thing is that muscle adds to your body weight and hence puts more stress on the body especially bowling long spells. Cant understand why young guns like Cummins and Patterson are consistently injured at such a young age unless it is the above. Also most of the injured bowlers carry much more muscle than the likes of say Glenn McGrath who was bowling forever. The trainers should be really concentrating on bowling techniques, stamina and mental though/toughness instead of stenthening the whole body.

  • Phil on December 7, 2012, 2:21 GMT

    Too much time in the gym these days which dont make you a much faster of fitter bowler. The other thing is that muscle adds to your body weight and hence puts more stress on the body especially bowling long spells. Cant understand why young guns like Cummins and Patterson are consistently injured at such a young age unless it is the above. Also most of the injured bowlers carry much more muscle than the likes of say Glenn McGrath who was bowling forever. The trainers should be really concentrating on bowling techniques, stamina and mental though/toughness instead of stenthening the whole body.

  • toby on November 29, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    Injuries beget injuries. A torn muscle may heal but it is not as strong as it once was. It may also be less flexible. The muscle may be fine in everyday life but recurrent injuries to the same muscle occur once they begin playing again. I suspect this is one reason why some players are "injury-prone".

    Abhijeet - I was also suprised by the (lack of) speed of bowlers in the fast bowling competitions that channel 9 did back in the late 1970's and 80's. Measuring speed from the hand vrs average speed for 22 yards (or speed at the strikers end according to Thommo)is one explanation. Another factor is that they used high speed cameras and not doppler "speed guns". I have no idea what the best way to measure bowling speed is but the speed guns used in matches seem to be more about entertainment than accuracy

  • bennett k on November 20, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    The trouble with cricket injuries isn't that there is no answer; it's that there could be so many answers. We seem to be intent on blaming people who are trying to find the answers instead of encouraging them to continue to find answers.From birth the human body is developing. There are many factors that may come into play that could affect the athlete in the future. The diet of a family, the purity of products eaten, lack of physical activity in the school, are the chairs that students sit on in the class room throughout their years good for the lumbar, school bags getting heavier with more books, not as many children riding to school, genetics – is bone density lighter than in previous decades due to diet. Everything we rely on in the world today is related to innovation, creativity and science. (eg. Medical science has extended the human life expectancy by about 4 times what it was before 1700s). Without it maybe cricket would be far behind other sports compared to how we are andif you learn the truth by learning science, you won't fall for scams, cons, hoaxes, it worked for me in my day and quack medicine schemesI say keep looking and continue to ask the questions!

  • Peter M on November 11, 2012, 20:05 GMT

    one factor might be that in the past many less resilent players just had to give up the game and now they are kept in the game by modern training/recovery techniques but continue largely injury-plagued careers?

  • Anonymous on November 8, 2012, 15:31 GMT

    Before we had scans it was simply called pain.

    You bowled through it.

  • Meety on November 8, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    @Melon - some good points. I know in the WIndies they were teaching their bowlers to bowl front on (from about the late 80s) to avoid back injuries! Other sports have a mantra where you mostly train on the surface you'll play on, so I shudder at thinking about thudding in on concrete - although at club mosts nets have concrete pitches. I wonder whether in the good old days - players like Freddy Trueman even knew if they'd have a stress fracture or not when they played. Meaning I wonder how many pro's over the years had some serious injuries & just thought it was a niggle that will sort itself out in the offseason!

  • Melon on November 8, 2012, 0:19 GMT

    Coming from a state age group player whose back was in pieces by 18, I'd say there's a few issues involved. For me, it was over-bowling during the off season on concrete-based indoor surfaces. During the season, as a pro' you play when you can rather than strictly waiting for your body to heal completely, which never happens in some cases. Players also play much more than 30 years ago.

    In the two cases you've mentioned, I'd say Shane has had so many injuries that his posture and movements will have changed in a way that puts pressure on other areas of his body. And as a well-qualified coach, Pat Cummins's action isn't safe - it's mixed and will lead to a short career if he doesn't sort it out. A few other points: 1) ask yourself how many genuinely fast bowlers have had extended, injury-free runs. Akhtar, Lee, Bond... all held together with tape. 2) The most ergonomically friendly action is a front on one. How are bowlers taught to bowl? Almost always, they're taught to bowl side on.

  • Matt H on November 7, 2012, 23:05 GMT

    Mr Myx - interesting theory .. no way of knowing of course. Abhijeet - in that test the speed measurement was the average of the speed for the length of the pitch. Now the measurement is at the time the ball leaves the bowler's hand. So you cannot really compare. The change was to allow Shoaib Akhtar to break the world record. I think the lack of an offseason is one issue, but also that 20-20 does not allow a player to warm up into a spell, so a lot of immediate stress is placed on the body. But that hsould be just like basecall I imagine, so maybe we need to look there for answers. and that does not explain Watson, who I think may have been injury prone in any era.

  • Jagger on January 7, 2013, 3:25 GMT

    Australia's best test line up: Warner, Finch, Hughes, D Hussey, Clarke, McDonald, Wade, Pattinson, Harris, Cummins, Bird.

  • Phil on December 7, 2012, 2:21 GMT

    Too much time in the gym these days which dont make you a much faster of fitter bowler. The other thing is that muscle adds to your body weight and hence puts more stress on the body especially bowling long spells. Cant understand why young guns like Cummins and Patterson are consistently injured at such a young age unless it is the above. Also most of the injured bowlers carry much more muscle than the likes of say Glenn McGrath who was bowling forever. The trainers should be really concentrating on bowling techniques, stamina and mental though/toughness instead of stenthening the whole body.

  • Phil on December 7, 2012, 2:21 GMT

    Too much time in the gym these days which dont make you a much faster of fitter bowler. The other thing is that muscle adds to your body weight and hence puts more stress on the body especially bowling long spells. Cant understand why young guns like Cummins and Patterson are consistently injured at such a young age unless it is the above. Also most of the injured bowlers carry much more muscle than the likes of say Glenn McGrath who was bowling forever. The trainers should be really concentrating on bowling techniques, stamina and mental though/toughness instead of stenthening the whole body.

  • toby on November 29, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    Injuries beget injuries. A torn muscle may heal but it is not as strong as it once was. It may also be less flexible. The muscle may be fine in everyday life but recurrent injuries to the same muscle occur once they begin playing again. I suspect this is one reason why some players are "injury-prone".

    Abhijeet - I was also suprised by the (lack of) speed of bowlers in the fast bowling competitions that channel 9 did back in the late 1970's and 80's. Measuring speed from the hand vrs average speed for 22 yards (or speed at the strikers end according to Thommo)is one explanation. Another factor is that they used high speed cameras and not doppler "speed guns". I have no idea what the best way to measure bowling speed is but the speed guns used in matches seem to be more about entertainment than accuracy

  • bennett k on November 20, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    The trouble with cricket injuries isn't that there is no answer; it's that there could be so many answers. We seem to be intent on blaming people who are trying to find the answers instead of encouraging them to continue to find answers.From birth the human body is developing. There are many factors that may come into play that could affect the athlete in the future. The diet of a family, the purity of products eaten, lack of physical activity in the school, are the chairs that students sit on in the class room throughout their years good for the lumbar, school bags getting heavier with more books, not as many children riding to school, genetics – is bone density lighter than in previous decades due to diet. Everything we rely on in the world today is related to innovation, creativity and science. (eg. Medical science has extended the human life expectancy by about 4 times what it was before 1700s). Without it maybe cricket would be far behind other sports compared to how we are andif you learn the truth by learning science, you won't fall for scams, cons, hoaxes, it worked for me in my day and quack medicine schemesI say keep looking and continue to ask the questions!

  • Peter M on November 11, 2012, 20:05 GMT

    one factor might be that in the past many less resilent players just had to give up the game and now they are kept in the game by modern training/recovery techniques but continue largely injury-plagued careers?

  • Anonymous on November 8, 2012, 15:31 GMT

    Before we had scans it was simply called pain.

    You bowled through it.

  • Meety on November 8, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    @Melon - some good points. I know in the WIndies they were teaching their bowlers to bowl front on (from about the late 80s) to avoid back injuries! Other sports have a mantra where you mostly train on the surface you'll play on, so I shudder at thinking about thudding in on concrete - although at club mosts nets have concrete pitches. I wonder whether in the good old days - players like Freddy Trueman even knew if they'd have a stress fracture or not when they played. Meaning I wonder how many pro's over the years had some serious injuries & just thought it was a niggle that will sort itself out in the offseason!

  • Melon on November 8, 2012, 0:19 GMT

    Coming from a state age group player whose back was in pieces by 18, I'd say there's a few issues involved. For me, it was over-bowling during the off season on concrete-based indoor surfaces. During the season, as a pro' you play when you can rather than strictly waiting for your body to heal completely, which never happens in some cases. Players also play much more than 30 years ago.

    In the two cases you've mentioned, I'd say Shane has had so many injuries that his posture and movements will have changed in a way that puts pressure on other areas of his body. And as a well-qualified coach, Pat Cummins's action isn't safe - it's mixed and will lead to a short career if he doesn't sort it out. A few other points: 1) ask yourself how many genuinely fast bowlers have had extended, injury-free runs. Akhtar, Lee, Bond... all held together with tape. 2) The most ergonomically friendly action is a front on one. How are bowlers taught to bowl? Almost always, they're taught to bowl side on.

  • Matt H on November 7, 2012, 23:05 GMT

    Mr Myx - interesting theory .. no way of knowing of course. Abhijeet - in that test the speed measurement was the average of the speed for the length of the pitch. Now the measurement is at the time the ball leaves the bowler's hand. So you cannot really compare. The change was to allow Shoaib Akhtar to break the world record. I think the lack of an offseason is one issue, but also that 20-20 does not allow a player to warm up into a spell, so a lot of immediate stress is placed on the body. But that hsould be just like basecall I imagine, so maybe we need to look there for answers. and that does not explain Watson, who I think may have been injury prone in any era.

  • Mr Myx on November 7, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    I think people have it backwards. Science isn't stopping bowlers from breaking down but rebuilding ones who in the 70s and 80s would never have been selected. Suddenly Cummins and Watson are choices because careers that would otherwise have been stillborn can be resurrected.

  • Aaron on November 7, 2012, 8:36 GMT

    I think we need to question the wisdom of all these experts. Modern science's approach of looking at things in minute detail often leads to them missing the big picture and I imagine that's what's happening here. Another problem that happens with experts seems to be the idea that they have worked out a great theory or system which they then proceed to apply to everyone they come across without consideration for different body types. As an example Chris Cairns was able to bowl a swinging delivery as a youngster but when he got caught up in the obsession of bowling like Dennis Lillee that swept through NZ at one point, he had his action altered and never bowled a swinging ball again. Another example; my 10- year old came home from school last week and told us they had an expert trying to teach them how to run! Surely we all learn a stlye that suits our body but this guy was trying to teach all of them the same technique, and can you even change something learnt so early in life anyway?

  • Jgoengland on November 7, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    Is there perhaps a problem that modern players are over-muscled? Shane Watson put on a lot of muscle in 2006 and was plagued for years by hamstring problems and other soft tissue damage. Andrew Symmonds once hit a six so hard that he tore a shoulder ligament. Players in the past, and amateurs today, were and are less muscular but more robust. Are modern bowlers getting too strong for their frames? Ligaments and tendons take longer to grow than muscle tissue. I sometimes wonder if they exercise in the wrong way, perhaps encouraged by physiotherapists who never played cricket?

  • Meety on November 7, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    @ygkd at November 6, 2012 8:10 PM - ditto re: Thommo!

  • Mick on November 7, 2012, 1:27 GMT

    Michael, I think your article is best read in conjunction with Moonda's regarding Pat Cummins and Marchant De Lange. As a 16 year old bowling medium pace I was diagnosed with a back stress fracture and told that I had evidence of similar previous injuries that went undiagnosed. As quoted in Moonda's article, the initial sign of a back stress fracture can be discomfort rather than pain. I would suggest that the accessibility of modern medical equipment such as MRI machines has led to a higher proportion of stress related bone injuries being diagnosed. In the past, similar issues of discomfort would have occurred but due to the off-season, which would have been spent working rather than bowling, bone structures would have had "rest" time to repair. I would hazard a guess that if bowlers from previous eras were examined today, they would show evidence of similar stress based bone injuries. Lest we forget, Dennis Lillee suffered significant bone stress injuries early in his career.

  • Meety on November 6, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    No arguements here (no mention of the SCG see), I put a lot of blame on the style of T20 cricket. There has been some recent research to suggest that it is the ramp up from T20 to longer formats where injuries occur. Whilst I know plenty of examples of what @MJeh & @Max has said, I disagree with @Max's last sentence. "burn out" is not the problem with Cummins. There is talk that is going around at the moment - that bowlers under 25 (more like 23), are prone to injuries as they have not finished growing. Bowlers who have had long & relatively injury free (or minor), careers, often came into the International scene at a comparably late age (McGrath for eg). In the past - young bowlers who made it big like say Tyson & Trueman - had 1,000s of County overs behind them & almost no short form cricket. T20 cricket started off being seen as a young man's game - I think it is the opposite. I would also say that - genuine speedsters should not bowl 1 over spells.

  • ygkd on November 6, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    There is a paralell in AFL where one club recently suffered a spate of soft tissue injuries, coincidentally or not, after ramping up its fitness training to new heights. It was sitting pretty halfway through the season but failed to make the finals, resulting in questions being asked. I would say there can be too much gym fitness and not enough everyday fitness. Perhaps,one can have more muscles than one can reasonably look after, bodybuilders aside - and they don't actually do much outside the gym in any case. As for the comment by Abhijeet about 70s pace bowlers being slower than we think - I believe the speed challenge mentioned measured the ball differently to the way its done today therefore confusing direct measurement comparisons. I am old enough to have been around during that time and Thomson looked awfully quick to me.

  • Ash on November 6, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    Not sure how old you are Mr Jeh but, assume you are say 35 then I've calculated that your million overs equates to an average of 78 for every day of your life, which is either pretty good going or an exaggeration worthy of the great Fred Trueman!

    Seriously, you raise some good points but I'd suggest that you hit on part of the problem in your concluding remarks - for international cricketers, there is no longer an off season.

  • Abhijeet on November 6, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    I believe there are two factors to it.

    Firstly, Modern cricketers are being prepped to be like F-1 cars, super-agile, very fast and flexible. However there has a tradeoff. F-1 cars don't last too long. Cricket needs more of NASCAR like fitness.

    Secondly and this may make a few people upset, bowlers in 70s and 80s didn't bowl as fast as bowlers bowl today. Yes, I am saying Michael Holding, Dennis Lilley and Imran Khan were not as fast as we think they were. Check out the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPDW7hj1yfs. This was a speed challenge in 1979. From 11:35 onwards you can check average speeds of all bowlers where they just had to bowl flat out fast without worrying about line, length, variation or swing and with no batsman. No bowler other than Jeff Thomson reached an average speed of 140. We can safely conclude that most of the past greats were 130 kmph bowlers. Today fast bowlers may not bowl as much as earlier but they put a lot more effort in the delivery.

  • Ashok Sridharan on November 6, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    Excellent article Mr. Jeh. I daresay the problem is that cricketers therse days just aren't playing enough first class cricket. Perhaps the only way to get your body fit is to play as much as possible. Its evident that the time spent on other drills is simply not getting the muscles ready for the rigours of long form cricket. Look at the sheer number of balls that yesteryear legends like Bedser/ Statham bowled and contrast that with the workload of the moderns.

  • Max on November 6, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    I played twenty years of Sydney Grade cricket as a seam bowler. Sure, I wasn't a hyper-fit speedster - more a pie-chucker. But I often got through 35 overs in a day, and in all that time I missed one day with injury (I tore a calf muscle on the dance floor the night before a game). In the same era, several much faster bowlers than I was enjoyed lengthy careers with few, and usually manageable, injuries. It puzzles me that the small army of trainers, doctors, conditioners and physios can't get this right. I mean, Cummins wasn't exactly burnt out - he was limited to four overs a day in South Africa!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Max on November 6, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    I played twenty years of Sydney Grade cricket as a seam bowler. Sure, I wasn't a hyper-fit speedster - more a pie-chucker. But I often got through 35 overs in a day, and in all that time I missed one day with injury (I tore a calf muscle on the dance floor the night before a game). In the same era, several much faster bowlers than I was enjoyed lengthy careers with few, and usually manageable, injuries. It puzzles me that the small army of trainers, doctors, conditioners and physios can't get this right. I mean, Cummins wasn't exactly burnt out - he was limited to four overs a day in South Africa!

  • Ashok Sridharan on November 6, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    Excellent article Mr. Jeh. I daresay the problem is that cricketers therse days just aren't playing enough first class cricket. Perhaps the only way to get your body fit is to play as much as possible. Its evident that the time spent on other drills is simply not getting the muscles ready for the rigours of long form cricket. Look at the sheer number of balls that yesteryear legends like Bedser/ Statham bowled and contrast that with the workload of the moderns.

  • Abhijeet on November 6, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    I believe there are two factors to it.

    Firstly, Modern cricketers are being prepped to be like F-1 cars, super-agile, very fast and flexible. However there has a tradeoff. F-1 cars don't last too long. Cricket needs more of NASCAR like fitness.

    Secondly and this may make a few people upset, bowlers in 70s and 80s didn't bowl as fast as bowlers bowl today. Yes, I am saying Michael Holding, Dennis Lilley and Imran Khan were not as fast as we think they were. Check out the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPDW7hj1yfs. This was a speed challenge in 1979. From 11:35 onwards you can check average speeds of all bowlers where they just had to bowl flat out fast without worrying about line, length, variation or swing and with no batsman. No bowler other than Jeff Thomson reached an average speed of 140. We can safely conclude that most of the past greats were 130 kmph bowlers. Today fast bowlers may not bowl as much as earlier but they put a lot more effort in the delivery.

  • Ash on November 6, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    Not sure how old you are Mr Jeh but, assume you are say 35 then I've calculated that your million overs equates to an average of 78 for every day of your life, which is either pretty good going or an exaggeration worthy of the great Fred Trueman!

    Seriously, you raise some good points but I'd suggest that you hit on part of the problem in your concluding remarks - for international cricketers, there is no longer an off season.

  • ygkd on November 6, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    There is a paralell in AFL where one club recently suffered a spate of soft tissue injuries, coincidentally or not, after ramping up its fitness training to new heights. It was sitting pretty halfway through the season but failed to make the finals, resulting in questions being asked. I would say there can be too much gym fitness and not enough everyday fitness. Perhaps,one can have more muscles than one can reasonably look after, bodybuilders aside - and they don't actually do much outside the gym in any case. As for the comment by Abhijeet about 70s pace bowlers being slower than we think - I believe the speed challenge mentioned measured the ball differently to the way its done today therefore confusing direct measurement comparisons. I am old enough to have been around during that time and Thomson looked awfully quick to me.

  • Meety on November 6, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    No arguements here (no mention of the SCG see), I put a lot of blame on the style of T20 cricket. There has been some recent research to suggest that it is the ramp up from T20 to longer formats where injuries occur. Whilst I know plenty of examples of what @MJeh & @Max has said, I disagree with @Max's last sentence. "burn out" is not the problem with Cummins. There is talk that is going around at the moment - that bowlers under 25 (more like 23), are prone to injuries as they have not finished growing. Bowlers who have had long & relatively injury free (or minor), careers, often came into the International scene at a comparably late age (McGrath for eg). In the past - young bowlers who made it big like say Tyson & Trueman - had 1,000s of County overs behind them & almost no short form cricket. T20 cricket started off being seen as a young man's game - I think it is the opposite. I would also say that - genuine speedsters should not bowl 1 over spells.

  • Mick on November 7, 2012, 1:27 GMT

    Michael, I think your article is best read in conjunction with Moonda's regarding Pat Cummins and Marchant De Lange. As a 16 year old bowling medium pace I was diagnosed with a back stress fracture and told that I had evidence of similar previous injuries that went undiagnosed. As quoted in Moonda's article, the initial sign of a back stress fracture can be discomfort rather than pain. I would suggest that the accessibility of modern medical equipment such as MRI machines has led to a higher proportion of stress related bone injuries being diagnosed. In the past, similar issues of discomfort would have occurred but due to the off-season, which would have been spent working rather than bowling, bone structures would have had "rest" time to repair. I would hazard a guess that if bowlers from previous eras were examined today, they would show evidence of similar stress based bone injuries. Lest we forget, Dennis Lillee suffered significant bone stress injuries early in his career.

  • Meety on November 7, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    @ygkd at November 6, 2012 8:10 PM - ditto re: Thommo!

  • Jgoengland on November 7, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    Is there perhaps a problem that modern players are over-muscled? Shane Watson put on a lot of muscle in 2006 and was plagued for years by hamstring problems and other soft tissue damage. Andrew Symmonds once hit a six so hard that he tore a shoulder ligament. Players in the past, and amateurs today, were and are less muscular but more robust. Are modern bowlers getting too strong for their frames? Ligaments and tendons take longer to grow than muscle tissue. I sometimes wonder if they exercise in the wrong way, perhaps encouraged by physiotherapists who never played cricket?

  • Aaron on November 7, 2012, 8:36 GMT

    I think we need to question the wisdom of all these experts. Modern science's approach of looking at things in minute detail often leads to them missing the big picture and I imagine that's what's happening here. Another problem that happens with experts seems to be the idea that they have worked out a great theory or system which they then proceed to apply to everyone they come across without consideration for different body types. As an example Chris Cairns was able to bowl a swinging delivery as a youngster but when he got caught up in the obsession of bowling like Dennis Lillee that swept through NZ at one point, he had his action altered and never bowled a swinging ball again. Another example; my 10- year old came home from school last week and told us they had an expert trying to teach them how to run! Surely we all learn a stlye that suits our body but this guy was trying to teach all of them the same technique, and can you even change something learnt so early in life anyway?