Research into the fitness requirements of cricketers has lagged behind similar research into most other sports. The football codes discovered much earlier that you could not become fit for team sport by just playing that sport. Perhaps part of the cricket world’s unwillingness to adapt was due to the fact that up until the 1970’s it was seen as a slow, low intensity sport. The birth of one-day cricket saw the requirements of fitness for the game change, players were forced to learn to turn 1s into 2s and chase much harder in the field. Then with the evolution of T20 cricket across the globe a new level of fitness has evolved. This format of the game moves rapidly and there are increased demands in intensity and explosive power with bat, ball and in the field.
It was in the 1990s that research really started to be undertaken and training programs where implemented based on scientific evidence. Fitness, we now know is a very important aspect of cricket performance with physically prepared cricketers proven to perform better, more consistently and with fewer injuries. The physical attributes of strength, speed and endurance enables a cricketer to bat with power over long periods of time, bowl faster and with greater accuracy, and to field more athletically. The shorter formats forced players to be fitter, stronger and faster. It is for these reasons that the Andre Burger academy has included strength, power and fitness components. In the modern game, it is not enough to just play and rely on your skill. Anyone who intends taking their game seriously must be committed to becoming and remaining as fit and healthy as possible.
Two interesting articles have recently appeared in the literature. A group of researchers in Manchester England measured the strength, power and speed performances of the local County team following their preseason strength and conditioning program. They then continued to monitor the players’ results throughout the season once the players had ceased this strength program and continued into the cricket season. They found that the players performance decreased in all the measures once the season got underway which showed that the physical demands of the English County Cricket season alone are not enough to maintain preseason strength, jump and sprint performance. Their recommendation was that coaches should implement a time effective resistance training strategy in season. From their research they suggested that one strength training session per week should be undertaken throughout the season to maintain the benefits of the preseason training load. I would recommend that even young cricketers should maintain strength training throughout the year.
Cricket today is a different game to what your grandfathers played and our knowledge of strength training and injury prevention has evolved significantly. Therefore, year round efforts should be made to maintaining strength training.
Written by Lindsay Trigar
Lindsay Trigar Physiotherapy