Injury profiling in professional cricket
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One of the most popular sports in the world, cricket requires a combination of physical fitness, skill and strategy. Despite its reputation as a non-contact, low intensity sport, injury rate and incidence in cricket are ever-present. Due to the wide array of physical demands including running, throwing, batting, bowling, catching and diving, overuse and impact injuries are very common for semi-professional and professional players. Not only is cricket one of the world’s oldest sports, it was also the first sport to ever be played internationally. As such it should come with little surprise that cricket was also one of the world’s first sports to publish a recommended method for injury surveillance in 2005 from England, South Africa, Australia, the West Indies and India.
Research conducted by Cricket Australia analysed ten seasons of men’s cricket and found, on average, that 12% of professional cricketers are injured at any given time. For fast bowlers, injury rate increases, with 1 in 6 bowlers likely to be injured at any time. Of all positional types, fast bowlers have the highest rates of injury in cricket, with their lower back being more susceptible – read here for more details on injuries in fast bowlers.
Further research showed that different formats of cricket resulted in a higher rate of injury for professional cricketers, as seen in the table below.
|Domestic Cricket (50 Overs)||12%|
|Domestic First Class||12%|
|ODI (50 overs)||15%|
Half of all injuries for professional cricketers are due to lower limb injuries, predominantly affecting hamstrings (18%), quadricep muscles (10%), the patella and knee (19%) and ankle (11%). Aside from lower limb injuries, neck (4%), back (23%) and upper limb injuries (23%) are the most probable types experienced by professional cricketers. As shown above, and as in many sports, hamstring injuries are the most common type of injury in cricket and with the introduction of the T20 (20 over matches) format in 2006, the rate in hamstring injury incidence has increased.
The largest T20 cricket competition is the Indian Premier League (IPL), held over two months of every year (from April to May). Not only is the IPL the most attended and most watched cricket competition in the world, the franchise itself is valued at US$5.3 billion and is said to contribute over US$180million to the GDP of India every year.
Annual player-auctions are held in January, where some of the biggest names in cricket are bought and contracted for the competition period. An individual player has the potential to earn over US$1.8million from the January auction. Yet the seasonality for world cricketers is long as tours and tournaments often overlap, resulting in little to no rest or appropriate preparation time for the the upcoming IPL competition. For example, a number of high profile players such as Australia’s Mitchell Starc have withdrawn from this year’s competition due to injury, amounting to a personal loss of millions before the season even commenced.
As a means to counter the cost of injury, increasing match intensity and sudden transition in formats, the regular monitoring of athletes can help to guide decision making around load management and improve training interventions to reduce the likelihood of injury.
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Orchard J, James T, Alcott E, 2002. Injuries in Australian cricket at first class level 1995/96 to 2000/2001. Br J Sports Med;36:270–5.
Pardiwala, Rao, Varshney 2017 Injuries in Cricket. Sports Health Sep 1:1941738117732318
Prakash, 2017. Medical Attention Injuries in Cricket: A Systematic Review of Case Reports. Indian J Orthop: 51(5): 614–619.