Summer in Australia means cricket! The pace of cricket, hazards of the play and expectations of the players have all increased over time. Although strictly a non-contact sport, injuries in cricket can, and do, occur.
Lifestyle and Sports Physiotherapy has worked closely with cricketers for many years. One of our Business Directors, Murray Ryan, is the current head Sports Physiotherapist for CricketNSW and Shiblee Dowla, is currently working with the CricketNSW Under 17 and Under 19 teams. Lifestyle and Sports Physiotherapy has a close association with local and representative cricket teams including the Campbelltown Ghosts and Camden Cricket Club.
A direct blow from a cricket ball during delivery or fielding may result in bruising or fractures, while a fielder may fall or collide with a boundary fence. Cricketers can also suffer from a range of overuse injuries associated with all aspects of the game including running, throwing, batting and bowling, the latter being the most common.
Training, technique, footwear, surface, rehabilitation, warm-up and conditioning are all factors contributing to overuse injuries. However with the right preparation, such overuse injuries can be prevents. Preparation can include pre-season conditioning, protective equipment including helmets and visors, warm-up programs, attention to environmental conditions, adequate footwear, modified rules, education and coaching, first aid and rehabilitation.
How many injuries?
· In Australia, cricket represents 7.3% of adult and 3.7% of child sporting related injuries presenting to hospital emergency departments.
When and Where?
· Almost half of all injuries to adult cricketers occur during a game.
· One third of cricket injuries to children occur during school hours reflecting the popularity of cricket as a school sport.
Type of Injury
· Overall, the most common cricket injuries are sprains, fractures and bruising.
· A direct blow from the ball during delivery or fielding is the most common cause of injury and results in fractures and bruising.
· Overuse injuries are also common and most often associated with back injuries to fast bowlers.
Injury Prevention and Safety Tips
· Undertake physical training before the beginning of the season. The type of training will depend on the age and level of cricket an athlete is striving for.
· Warm up adequately before playing/training. Bowlers should also consider warm up strategies during the game after a long break if bowling multiple spells.
· Cool down and recover well after playing/training.
· Consider a pre-participation screening by a Physiotherapist to identify musculoskletal issues that can contribute to injury.
· Wear protective equipment when batting including gloves, leg pads, ‘protector’ box and forearm guards.
· When batting, wicket keeping or fielding in close wear a cricket helmet with a faceguard that meets the Australian Standard.
· Wear protective gear during informal play as well as competition.
· Seek expert advice on appropriate cricket shoes.
· If you have a history of injury, your Physiotherapist can provide advice about appropriate bracing or protective gear.
Keep the playing environment safe
· Remove hazards, such as stones and water, from the outfield playing surface.
· Make sure the pitch is smooth and clean.
Know yourself and the sport
· Know and use the right techniques for bowling, batting and throwing and fielding through regular training and working with qualified cricket coaches.
· Consider the amount of balls bowled both in training and in games. The actual number should take into account the predominantly the bowlers physical maturity, but also the safety of their bowling technique.
· The following table outlines the current Cricket Australia guidelines for juvenile fast bowlers.
Source: Cricket Australia 2004; Dennis et al 2003
· ALL bowlers, whether adult or juvenile, need to gradually increase their bowling leading into the cricket season, then balance the amount of bowling completed during games and training to ensure that they are neither bowling too much, or not enough.
· In general, bowlers should be bowling at least twice per week. Juvenile bowlers in particular should avoid bowling everyday – developing bones and tissue need days off to recover and rebuild. These days can still be used to practice fielding and batting.
Other Safety Tips
· Drink adequate water during the days play.
· Wear a broad spectrum suncreen, hat and sunglasses when appropriate.
· Make sure everyone, including coaches, players and parents are aware of the symptoms of heat-related illness.
· Check that qualified first aid personnel, first aid kits, icepacks are available at all times.
If you have any questions about how you can prevent injuries this Cricket season, or to arrange a Pre-season Screening with one of our Physiotherapists, please contact us on (02) 4647 3373.