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No strain, plenty of gain

The career of Bruce Reid, a cautionary tale in Australian cricket, has not been forgotten by those seeking to preserve the latest crop of young fast men

Daniel Brettig

February 5, 2013

Comments: 45 | Text size: A | A

Bruce Reid enters delivery stride, Australia v England, 2nd Test, Perth, November 28,1986
Bruce Reid only managed 12 Test appearances after he broke down at the age of 24 © Getty Images

Bruce Reid. The mere mention of his name conjures memories and regrets, of a rare Australian pace-bowling talent apparently cursed by a slender body and a haplessly fragile back. Billy Birmingham may have immortalised him as the fast bowler who "snapped in half", but Reid's Test digits were startling enough - 113 wickets at 24.63, strike rate 55.20 - without a comedian's touch. They gain gravity and tragedy when you add the fact that Reid played the last of 27 matches in 1992. He was 29.

Consider for a moment the words of Bob Simpson, the national coach for most of Reid's career: "My biggest 'if only' is Bruce Reid. If he had stayed fit, there is no doubt at all that Australia would have been recognised as world champions two or three years before we were able to claim that position, simply because he was a great bowler, one of the finest bowlers I have ever seen."

Like most at the time, Simpson considered Reid's demise to be unavoidable, reasoning that Reid and his doctors did all they could to reinforce his body and his back.

It was a popular view that Reid was simply too fragile for his craft. There was more to it than that, of course, as Reid himself has alluded at times. His early career has become, alongside those of Dennis Lillee, Craig McDermott and Jason Gillespie, a major influence on the path trodden by Australia's coaching and medical staff to develop the likes of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. Avoiding a repeat of the Reid case study is at the forefront of their minds.

Perhaps the greatest misconception about Reid is that he was injury-prone from the start. When asked about him recently, one former Australia fast bowler and sometime Test team-mate of Reid's exclaimed, "He never played two Tests in a row" as though it were incontrovertible fact. The truth is quite different. Before he started to become a frequent visitor to hospitals and orthopaedic surgeons in late 1987, Reid played his first seven Tests in succession and 15 of a possible 16 before he broke down against New Zealand with the first of innumerable back complaints. During that time, he also played 41 ODIs.

When he left the field on the first day of that Adelaide Test match, Reid was 24 years old. From there he would play only another 12 Test matches and 20 ODIs over five years. In between, recurring and debilitating problems forced the removal of two discs from his back and the insertion of a metal plate.

Those few matches included Reid's greatest days as a Test bowler: 13 Ashes wickets against England at the MCG in 1990 and 12 against India on the same ground a year later. But his appearances became increasingly sporadic, as other parts of his body broke down due to the changes made to his action to lessen the pressure on his rebuilt back. The damage, regrettably, had been done.

The early demands on Reid were heavy for any bowler, let alone a young paceman with a slender and still growing body. Partly due to his early aptitude for Test match bowling, partly due to the paucity of options left to the national selectors due to the rebel South Africa tours, Reid was cast as a stock bowler well before his frame was entirely ready for the task. It is highly likely those early exertions, un-tempered by a wider plan, contributed greatly to the injuries that would blight him later on. Reid has noted ruefully that he played in an era when there was not much science or precision to training methods either.

Most Test balls delivered by Australian fast bowlers under the age of 23 since 1970

  • Craig McDermott 3035 (505.5 overs)
  • Dennis Lillee 1471 (equivalent to 245.2 six-ball overs)
  • Bruce Reid 1407 (234.3 overs)
  • Mitchell Starc 1379 (229.5 overs)
  • Jason Gillespie 1370 (228.2 overs)
  • James Pattinson 1254 (209 overs)

"We were in that era where it was semi-professional. We weren't earning the big bucks they're earning now. Some of us were still working, then trying to go to cricket and play and try to fit in as much as you could," he said in a 2010 interview. "In the old days, if the boys ran 15 laps around the oval then everyone did it, and you were expected to run time trials at the same pace as the batters and all that sort of stuff. It's a lot different now, where things are done to suit every body shape, and there's no doubt that would've benefited not only me but probably a lot of guys in that era."

A comprehensive review of the formative years of fast bowlers is one of the less-trumpeted but more valuable pieces of work conducted by Cricket Australia's team performance regime. In their research, which covers the past 40 years, the bowling undertaken by pacemen up to the ages of 23-25 is placed in the sharpest focus. The data suggests, overwhelmingly, that bowlers are likely to face a range of injury problems until their bodies mature fully, around the time they turn 25. "We've got data showing us that fast bowlers are very resilient between the ages of 25 and 30 - that's when they're at their best," Alex Kountouris, who has been working as a physio with the national team since 2003, says. However, it is quite possible that by overloading a young bowler, his body can be scarred to a point that even after 25 is reached, injuries will worsen.

Kountouris spoke of how Reid and others provided priceless knowledge about what can befall a young bowler if pushed too hard, too soon. In the cases of Starc and Pattinson, careful management is particularly necessary, for they have already reached a volume of Test-match bowling at a young age that only four other Australia bowlers had reached since 1970.

"Mitch Starc and James Pattinson are both around 23 and they're in a group that have bowled the most deliveries in Test matches at that age in the past 40 years," Kountouris says. "Those others are Craig McDermott, who is way above anyone else after debuting at 19, Dennis Lillee, Jason Gillespie, and Bruce Reid. The interesting thing about that is, Gillespie, Lillee and Reid all had injury problems in the years subsequent to that, and Craig was done by 31.

"We've got history behind us saying this is what happens when these guys get to this age, so be careful. So we're trying to look after them. As far as how we do that, no one's got a magic bullet for it, it's something we're learning about. But our goal is not to go down the same path as what happened in the past. Craig retired at 31 - we'd like to think our guys are going to go for a bit longer than that, and that's what the expectation is these days."

This is the statistical and historical background to why Starc and Pattinson have their bowling workloads and progression from format to format monitored closely by Kountouris; the team performance manager, Pat Howard; and the pace bowling coach, Ali de Winter. It is also why Howard and the Sydney Sixers fell out last year over Pat Cummins' bowling at the Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa, when the 19-year-old complained of back soreness during the event but played on until its conclusion, whereupon a stress fracture was revealed.

"Before the age of 25 they're prone to having certain injuries, after 30 they're prone to certain injuries, and we see that players fade away," Kountouris says. "But that period, the sweet spot, is where players are at their best. There's a couple things that happen: one, their bodies have matured; two, they have a history of bowling, they've built up their workloads and they've got a good base because they've done it from the age of 20-25.

"But also they're more experienced and they know their bodies well. So any athlete in that age group knows when to go hard and when to back off. That's no different to Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson, who are all around that age group and all very reliable. It's not necessarily individualised to a particular player, it's just that Jason Gillespie at 28 is better than Pat Cummins at 19. Will Pat be as good as Jason Gillespie at 28? We'd like to think so."

Dennis Lillee has a word with James Pattinson, Perth, January 30, 2013
Lessons learned from Dennis Lillee's playing career may help James Pattinson prolong his © Getty Images

Johnson's slingy, streaky action will always ensure he holds an enigmatic place in Australian cricket. But in terms of longevity, he fits the profile of a young bowler battling injuries before developing into a reliable campaigner, at least physically, in adulthood. From an early point when he was considered too injury-prone to hold a state contract, Johnson matured into a constant presence in Australia's team from 2007 to 2011.

"He played 46 Tests straight, he played 110 ODIs, and that's as good as anyone in the history of the game for durability," Kountouris says. "We know when they get to a certain age, they've built this tolerance, and we don't know exactly what it is, but for whatever reason they become resilient at that age. It's our job to get the young guys to that stage as injury-free or as smoothly as possible.

"It's like having a 15-year-old, and saying, 'I know he's going to grow but I want him to be six foot four, can he hurry up and be that height?' He will get there eventually because he's tracking to be that height, but it's not going to happen before time. And that's what we're finding at the moment."

Such thinking arrived too late for Reid's generation, leaving his story as a cautionary tale for the current coterie of sports scientists, coaches and medical staff to learn from. But there is one area that Reid did not have to contend with - the leap from T20 to Test matches and back again, which Kountouris admits is the greatest challenge facing those seeking to adequately prepare cricketers in general and fast bowlers in particular.

"We've now got a Champions League before the start of our domestic season, and a Big Bash in the middle of our domestic season, and those tournaments alone don't do anything but it just creates a reshuffling of games," Kountouris says. "Bowlers' workloads go from really low to really high, so it is a significant challenge. And it is new, it is something that's only been around in this volume for the last couple of years. And we're learning from our experiences, we're getting better and we have to get better managing it, because it's part of life.

"I recently bumped into a former AFL footballer and coach, now commentator, and he said, 'What's amazing about your sport is it's like playing three different sports at the same time. It's unbelievable.' He's from outside the game and he saw it as T20, one-dayers and Tests are all virtually different sports, and we're trying to juggle them at the same time. Some guys are trying to play all of them, some are trying to play one, some two, and it is something unique to cricket."

Among the problems presented by the T20 age is the lack of history from which to form a method for better practice. In that way, Starc, Pattinson and Cummins are unwitting case studies for future generations, just as Reid once was. It is to be hoped none of them are snapped in half by the schedule.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by ansram on (February 7, 2013, 18:54 GMT)

When India toured Australia in 1991-92, it was Reid whom I most feared.

He frequently used to bowl an away swinigng angled delivery, with an awkward bounce at a high pace and when Indian batsmen faced these deliveries, it appeared that they were just sitting ducks, waiting to give catching practice behind the wicket.

Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (February 7, 2013, 17:05 GMT)

@fazald : wish it was like that. This injury hazard is hurting most countries these days. Remember India's last tour of England? We were struggling to find three fit seamers to put on the field. Haven't heard of Umesh Yadav or Varoon Aaron for a while either. It's not only Australia that suffers from this. Beats me why it is frequent these days.

Posted by RoshanF on (February 7, 2013, 16:25 GMT)

No doubts that Bruce Reid would have ended up as a great pacie if not for his physical frailties and the workload. Same can be said about Brett Schultz, that superb South African pacie of the late 90s who really troubled quality batsmen with his pace, bounce and accuracy. I recall a series in Sri Lanka when even the likes of Aravinda, Arjuna, Sanath and co. found him to be even more lethal than Donald or Pollock. No doubt about his quality. Sadly injuries were too frequent.

Then there's the case of Shane Bond - surely as good a pacie as any WHEN he was fit. I still recall him blowing the Aussie top and middle order to pieces during a 2003 world cup match when he took 7 wickets and should have had the 8th as well but for an umpiring howler with Australia on 70 odd for 7 and a famous New Zealand win beckoning. He had to end up as a "what might have been"

Posted by   on (February 7, 2013, 0:05 GMT)

I agree with Joseph Langford about the expectation young bowlers must bowl flat out to fulfil their potential. Along comes wonder boy, he can bowl 145 knh outswingers... surprise suprise, he breaks down. If there was more emphasis on rhythm, bowling within yourself and bowling the right length, maybe bowlers wouldn't break down so much. I'd rather have a team of Shaun Pollocks than a team of Shaun Taits.

Posted by jonesy.2 on (February 6, 2013, 22:44 GMT)

Front-Foot_Lunge i wish we were as good as your England side.you do not realize just how much better your team is than our present Australian side. i cannot understand how you can call your side when they made our 09/10 side look like babes and that side were a couple of notches above this bunch. don't be so hard on your side they are still 2nd in the icc test league. wait till we get back from india then it will show you just how poor we are.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (February 6, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

@lowercase_lunge: FYI: It's when you post on an aussie board that your ruse is lost entirely. Seeing that you're an aussie, shouldn't you be posting that tripe on an English board. After all, you do seem to fear them and the results of the upcoming back-to-back Ashes series so much...

Posted by Babu22 on (February 6, 2013, 4:01 GMT)

I think the point is that Bruce Reid, Brendon Julian, Craig McD and the newcomers Pat Cummins, to some extent James Pattinson have a bad bowling action. They are too side-on when they land on their front foot and have to swivel around to release the ball in the direction of the batsmen. Siddle was similar, but he has changed in the last two years. Young players are thrilled by speed and adopt mixed actions (because that give them more speed), but I am surprised that nobody tells them to change their actions, when they are young, to a little bit side-on, bend forward (not sideways) and drive through for delivering the ball. The people who did this Kapil, Holding, Garner, Botham, Walsh, etc. never had any problems of stress fractures or issues with back. Plus training at academies (concrete pitches) has an effect. I hope CA is analysing the bowling actions as part of their ongoing research. Also ban bowlers from going to a gym.

Posted by Cricket_tragic_Timbo on (February 6, 2013, 2:24 GMT)

1. Great article. 2. Any critics out there of informed player management need to understand the resting of bowlers is different to the resting of batsmen, but 3. The one thing common to both is they are rarely rested without them having a niggle. In the case of Starc being rested coz he was in the "red" workload zone it is because the aussie team management always opt for the cautious approach with a young bowler under the age of 25 who still has a developing body just as this article advocates. 4. It happens in other sports so get over it. Watch Manchest United play a champions league game one night with their full strength squad then a few days later play a Premier League game against a relegation-zone club and it is almost 11 different players out there. In AFL some players due to age, chronic conditions, or acquired acute injuries through the season are happy to be 'managed' through a season and selevtively miss games to ensure they can play "most" games.

Posted by ygkd on (February 6, 2013, 1:48 GMT)

There can be no doubt that Bruce Reid was, at key times, over-bowled. Some today may well be under-bowled. What we need is a middle ground. A good article.

Posted by crh8971 on (February 6, 2013, 1:00 GMT)

I agree with many of the comments here. Terrific and thoughtful article that has made me think about this issue. I think part of the problem in terms of public acceptance of the current approach has been the appalling communication by the selection panel. I really think that if NSPhad come out before the Perth test and stated that testing had shown that Siddle had a high chance of injuring his hamstring and before the MCG test to say that they were managing Starcs ankle spurs then the public would have been mostly accepting. That is presuming this isn't post rationalisation by the NSP. NZ have really missed out on a bowler who would have been one of the true greats with the injuries to Shane Bond. I remember watching him at the World Cup in SA and having a great spot just behind the bowlers arm. So quick, beautiful line and length and genuine out swing. Like Reid he could have been anything.

Posted by Beertjie on (February 5, 2013, 23:56 GMT)

Great article. Magical Bruce Reid! What a bowler at a very dark stage of our cricket, not comparable to the present, but with certain similarities. Cummins in particular needs to be given the benefit of such wisdom. I just hope his advisors can convince him to make wise decisions. Within a couple of years with the addition of a good leggie, and the emergence of the young batting talent like Burns, Oz will be number one again.

Posted by Chipperstein on (February 5, 2013, 23:22 GMT)

Lucky for Australia they have a long line of fast bowlers just waiting to get a game. As a Black Caps supporter we crossed our fingers all week hoping Shane Bond was fit for the test because he was the difference between winning and losing. Now we have Tim Southie trying to replicate Bond. We wont be resting our best bowlers anytime soon. It's win at all costs when you're this low in the rankings.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (February 5, 2013, 22:52 GMT)

"Bruce Reid, Pay Heed, U Need, A Good Feed, Of Bird Seed!" said a banner at one of the ODI matches in india's tour of oz in 85-86-remember laughing @it @the time. Any ways, BR was an awesome bowler-and what Simmo says is correct in the sense that had BR been less injury prone, he would have gone to be one of the all time gr8's- bit like Ian Bishop of the windies. With his height and different angle, he was tough to get away with, Ravi Shastri always said that BR was the toughest to face, this from a man who faced Imran, the windies pace attack, Hadlee, willis, Akram, botham et al. Still it is refreshing to see that CA at least are proactive& have a process in place to create a dbase archive of injuries and how to prevent the next young quickie not to have injuries like BR or DKL-something the BCCI (frank)einstien's could do well toemulate, but then words like player mgmt, succession planning, bench strenght,workloads- donot exist in the bcci's dictionary, howeverhope am proven wrong:)

Posted by whoster on (February 5, 2013, 22:10 GMT)

There's no doubt Bruce Reid would've gone on to become a great if his body held up. He was a nightmare for our batsmen in the 90/91 Ashes, and his stats are all the more impressive because his short career spanned a time where Australia were still rebuilding. The amount of overs a young bowler can bowl is a tricky question, but with so many Aussie bowling places up-for-grabs, they need to get a recognized first-choice bowling attack, and they simply aren't in the position to rotate players. If Australia think Starc and/or Pattinson are part of their first-choice attack, they have to play them as regularly as possible to get consistency in the bowling unit. Whether or not they get injured is a chance they'll have to take.

Posted by TrueFactors on (February 5, 2013, 17:55 GMT)

This explains why Munaf Patel is a lost star after being really express bowler. NZ and Indian bowlers are really fragile, body structure wise. This simple fact is not acceptable by most of Cric lovers. We always feel why and here is an answer.

Posted by mikey76 on (February 5, 2013, 17:51 GMT)

FF_L. You call yourself an England fan? Yet you obviously don't follow county cricket. Dernbach most certainly isn't an up and coming bowler in any form of the game. We have Roland-Jones who had superb FC stats coming through, Stuart Meaker will prob play test cricket sooner than later, and then you have a 6ft 7in left hander called Topley who seems to be the Bruce Reid for the modern age. As for Broad, I think you have written him off a little early. He's hardly the first bowler to lose form due to injury. Add to this our spin bowling stocks then our bowling resources are fine.

Posted by ozprof on (February 5, 2013, 16:01 GMT)

A real shame about Reid. A top bowler. Interesting though that someone like McKenzie debuted at 19 and went on to a fantastic career. I guess he was helped by the much fewer games played back in the 60's.

Posted by xxxxxxxxxxxxxyyyyyyyyyyyyyyzzzzzzzz on (February 5, 2013, 14:04 GMT)

At last!! Thanks Daniel for an intelligent article on this fast bowling injury problem that searches for real solutions and does not indulge some of mindless and simplistic prejudices that seem to exist regarding this.

The cricketing world has changed since Lillee and Thommo were playing only a small fraction of today's cricket and only one format and our management of our fast bowlers also needs to change.

I also remember the loss to cricket of Bruce Reid and hope that we will learn from this (and from the successes) and not flog our young talent into injury and premature retirement simply because the mob does not like "rotation" and does not get to see their favourite player in every single match.

Posted by NALINWIJ on (February 5, 2013, 13:44 GMT)

Only thing I can suggest is that Cummins quits t20 till he is over 21 and has at least one injury free year. There is a lot of research that can be done to workout workloads and exercise regimens. Malinga has quit test to prolong his limited over career and I feel that some limits need to be placed on players under 23 as to their workloads.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (February 5, 2013, 13:20 GMT)

One of the most Interesting reads in Cricinfo in recent times. What a wonderful bowler Bruce Reid was. Pity he didn't have the career his skills deserved. Hope the Aussie methods of shielding the young quicks from too much cricket yields the desired results in the long run.

Posted by Vindaliew on (February 5, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

Bruce Reid was a legend - I remember how in 1991 India only had a chance against Australia when he was injured, and while he played Australia always won against them. If he played Ravi Shastri wouldn't have been able to take that double century off, among others, Shane Warne's bowling (but then again he might not have become Warne's maiden Test wicket). What happened to Shaun Tait amidst all this high-tech physiotherapy? Didn't he break down despite the best efforts of Cricket Australia? Was he especially injury-prone compared to others like Brett Lee?

Posted by Boooowled on (February 5, 2013, 11:04 GMT)

@Barnsey4444. True. But McGrath was in the Test team before the year was out. Mind you, I agree. McGrath didn't get to greatness until the period that the article mentions. He just kept it going longer and better than most. Not unique. Courtney Walsh got better as he got older. Lillee too, truth be told.

It's interesting, because McGrath was a fairly thin man when he started playing Test cricket, but he really bulked up during his career. His action was so good it didn't really matter, but it was noticable.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2013, 10:45 GMT)

I'd like to point out that the 2 big injuries to McDermott were not playing related. Twisted bowel that kept him out of all bar one test of the 93 Ashes and a broken foot\leg sustained while jumping down from a wall while jogging on the 94 West Indies tour.

Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (February 5, 2013, 10:32 GMT)

Australian player management looks impressive especially when the eschew short term results for long term gains. The benefits of this approach though, will probably go over the heads of some of my fellow english fans. When Starc is destroying us during those 25-30 year age bracket that Kontouris refers to, I really wonder if those fans will have enough up-stairs to realise the benefits of monitoring his workload now when he is 23. Compare that to our sorry situation here. Tremlett is gone, Broads lost so much pace he's a typical county trundler now. Bairstow's elbow puts him out of the frame and the only bowler we have coming up is South African "10 and over" Dernbach. About time we got some more Australian coaches into our set-up to help run our game for us as things, on the fast bowling front, aren't working out too well for us at the moment.

Posted by soumyas on (February 5, 2013, 10:26 GMT)

where is Pattinson, pat cummins, Hazlewood ? what r they doing ? when they were bowling in tandem with Starc, For a moment I remembered westindies attack of 80's. But they never bowled later in same match. It's only Starc.

Posted by handyandy on (February 5, 2013, 9:38 GMT)

When you look at bowlers of the past the first thing you notice is that they lack the gym chiseled features of the modern fast bowler.

As a former gym junkie myself I can tell you that those rock hard physiques com at a cost. I used to suffer constant back pain and muscle soreness in my attempt to get that perfect six pack.

My conclusion is that fast bowlers should cut back on the gym time. They will get all the workout they need bowling in the nets and in matches.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (February 5, 2013, 8:53 GMT)

Is it any coincidene that one of our best fast bowlers ever, played the most tests, had the fewest injuries and took the most wickets didn't start playing first class cricket until about the age of 23? Mr Mcgrath.

Posted by Meety on (February 5, 2013, 8:34 GMT)

@Vivekaks on (February 5, 2013, 8:06 GMT) - as highly as I rated Reid, Bond was probably the greatest what if I have seen. Ian Bishop & Patrick patterson are probably two others that injury ruined.

Posted by Boooowled on (February 5, 2013, 8:20 GMT)

@fazald. Bit of a stretch there, old son. Lillee's back injury in 1973 almost ended his career, and it's considered a bit of a medical miracle - and his own fortitude - that it did not. Thompson injured his shoulder, and while he cameback and had pace, he never had the pace after the injury.

It's a rare fast bowler that hasn't had time out injured. And Ian Bishop springs to mind immediately when I think of WI bowlers for whom injuries ended their career. I'm sure there are others, and I'm sure even the long time players took time out for injury - Walsh accepted.

As for the subcontinent, there are very few genuine fast bowlers there to begin with - this is not meant to disparage, but there is a big difference between 130 and the odd quicker one and 140k ball after ball . Malinga at 29 can't play Test cricket at all, Akram had a relatively long career, but Waqar lasted 87 Tests and was finished at 32. McGrath played almost 40 more Tests than Waqar and played nearly five more years.

Posted by Vivekaks on (February 5, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

A Brilliant article...

if not for the physical fragility....i believe Shane Bond could have been what Steyn is now. He had the most beautiful fast bowler action....but then injury prone...

another player is Shane Watson...it makes absolute sense to take care of a fast bowler, for among all the discplines in cricket, this is the most physically demanding art. I wish Indian bowlers are managed well.

Posted by Boooowled on (February 5, 2013, 8:00 GMT)

A good article. If one of the problems going from four day cricket to four hour cricket, the reshedule the season. Start the season with 20/20 (if you must, I don't follow this form, I'm a serious cricket officianado), get that out of the way. Then the 50 over form. Once each team has played a decent number of one dayers, say three or four each, then start the Shield Season. The bowlers will then have eased into the season and gradually increased their workload by the time long spells are required.

It should be the same for international cricket. The one dayer's we're watching now should have started the season and reversed - five one dayers against WI, then five against SL then the three Tests against SL and finish the season with the three Tests against SA. By that match, the team would have been battle hardened and the result might have been different.

Look how well Starc is bowling now compared with the beginning of the season.

Posted by mikey76 on (February 5, 2013, 7:35 GMT)

It was a similar story for Angus Fraser at about the same time if memory serves. I think it was on the 90/91 ashes tour where he made his name with a six for and then promptly went lame with a hip injury. He must have been 23-24 at the time. He came back and took 170 odd wickets but to most people was never the same bowler again. He could have been a world beater, a modern day Alec Bedser but injuries are cruel. Richard Johnson is another "what might have been". I definitely agree with the old timers who say just bowl, no weights, no 10 mile runs, just get out on the park and bowl. Let's hope Reece Topley, who is very similar to Bruce Reid makes it through without any career threatening injuries. Chris Tremlett is another afflicted by injuries. England could really have used him last summer.

Posted by Simoc on (February 5, 2013, 7:33 GMT)

Bruce Reid was hopelessly managed while playing and his fellow bowlers like McDermott were incompetent in their so called help. Starc has a similar look and has developed remarkably over the past 18 months. The public and commentators want to flog him until injury and the selectors want to maintain him. That's the choice.

Posted by Meety on (February 5, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

@CricketPervert on (February 5, 2013, 6:08 GMT) - to answer your first question; I would imagine the NSP would have to draw up a wishlist of who's atributes are suited to which format. Sitting in the comfort of my chair & not knowing the exact quantum of the pie the players get, I would say that Cric Oz could feasibly pay players enuff to forgo the IPL. IF, you assume that Test cricket is where you your legacy is formed, then the lure of the Baggy Green = a lot of coin (IMO). So say Maxwell was deemed to be worthy of a central contract as a Test cricketer, they felt he just needed to iron out the "odd" kink in his game & want him to learn to build an innings by playing County & Shield cricket ONLY for a year, I would GUESS that if an IPL franchise offered him $1m, a central contract with all its match top ups & promotional allowances of $400k would be enuff. That said I am unfotunately NOT the one that would have to choose between $00k & a Baggygreen or $1m! Starc did!

Posted by CricketPervert on (February 5, 2013, 6:08 GMT)

Meety on (February 5, 2013, 2:46 GMT) Agree with your first comment mate, but who choses whether somebody is only a test bowler? It's very difficult to ask players to deprive themselves of IPL contracts, even though their heart is to play Tests for Australia. Do you really think CA could afford to pay Starc, Pattinson, Cummins enough money to forgo T20 cricket??? No doubt they are paying Siddle more to concentrate on tests.

Posted by Meety on (February 5, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

@Jo Langford - do you realise that there is no conclusive proof that ice/cold baths work any better than a room temprature shower? There is little science behind it (no conclusive research) & the main benefits are anecdotal placebo effects. There is no study into long term affects & I seriously doubt that it would have the slightest affect on STRESS FRACTURES, or other BONE related ailments! There is no set parameters either for HOW LONG you should be immersed in the water, so I hardly think that getting kids to stuff around at "..6pm, 8pm, 10pm.." is advisable at all!

Posted by fazald on (February 5, 2013, 5:32 GMT)

How come that the current crop of aussie pacemen are prone to injury very often than fast bowlers in other countries especially in the Indian subcontinent? They seem to get injured the moment they step onto the field and are on the sidelines nursing injuries than in the middle representing their country. They also take longer to recover from an injury than the rest. Though they look physically strong on the outside they don't seemt fit enough to bowl for longer periods of the game. Never heard of great fast bowlers like Lillee, Thompson, Akram,Hall, Griffith, Holding, Roberts etc breaking down so often as our fast bowlers like Pattinson, Cummins, Hilfenhaus, Harris, Watson etc. as a result we have not been able to pick our best fast bowling attack in years. I don't think age is a factor. Then it should be the same in all other sports as well including baseball untill the age of 23 which is considered the right time to unleash according to the scientists working for CA.

Posted by Meety on (February 5, 2013, 5:08 GMT)

@bobagorof on (February 5, 2013, 4:18 GMT) - a few years back, I think it was when Katich was dropped from the Contract List, the consensus was to decrease the Contract List. I am the other way. I think the contract List should be expanded. It should IMO be 30 players. Given the players are shipped around across 3 formats almost non-stop, then compare to a Football Roster, (they can use over 40 in a season in the NRL) - 30 isn't too bad. I would have 3 Rookie contracts, & 3 ODI & 2 20/20 specialist contracts. That would leave 22 players on the open list. There would have to be some finetuning of salaries for costings etc, but operationally I think it would mean that Cric Oz can dictate to the players they Need to, what competitions they can play in. 20/20 specialists can travel the globe chasing the Franchises - no worries, but the 22 open contracts + 3 rookies, would be kept away from 20/20.

Posted by bobagorof on (February 5, 2013, 4:18 GMT)

Meety: I agree. Whilst I can understand players' desire to get a lot of money playing Twenty20 (particularly the IPL, where an obscene amount of money is thrown around), if it is combined with a regular First-Class season or Test matches then it becomes quite a workload. I doubt there will be much support for the idea of the Big Bash League being a 23-and-over game (at least for bowlers), as the public want to see the exciting youngsters as much as the big-name veterans. Also, Cricket Australia trying to prevent anyone from playing in the IPL is fraught with danger - a national player can't play, but a regular domestic player can? Perhaps the national selectors could be encouraged not to select a bowler for higher duties until they're 23+, as a compromise... That way they (hopefully) won't get overbowled too young, plus they also have a chance to develop their game.

Posted by Jan on (February 5, 2013, 3:53 GMT)

Good article. Its good that there are examples and hope every cricket board takes a clue from Reid. Australia are really trying to rotate their younger bowlers but Cummins's was a sad story inbetween. Well, may be live examples are better. Doesn't the same hold better for under-23 batsmen as well? or in general any under-23 player? Nowadays we see players just thrown themselves on the field and test their own durability. Also, I like the thinking of that former footballer on cricket. Its nice to think of the formats as different sports, may be a triathlon of criket.

Posted by Meety on (February 5, 2013, 2:46 GMT)

I really do think that our brightest Test prospects in pace bowling (Starc, Cummins, Patto & Hazlewood) should not be playing T20s at any level. I applaud Starc for opting out of the IPL, but he will probably be rewarded with a massive upgrade in his contract. Whilst I applaud Cric Oz for doing the research & implementing rotation, I really think they need to look at the "fleet" of pacers we have & assign them specific roles. By that I mean, we have Clint McKay who is a short form specialist which is great, we have Siddle who is a Test specialist which is also great, I think we need to develop some players specifically for 20/20. It was great that Brett lee shared the workload until he retired last year, it would be good if Laughlin develops into a decent 20/20 bowler. IMO - that would help clear the decks for our Test bowlers to concentrate on tests & ODIs.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.

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