Sports Medicine Scope in Cricket | Daily News


Sports Medicine Scope in Cricket

Muscle cramps are quite common in cricket.
Muscle cramps are quite common in cricket.

Today cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. Yet it needs to be developed in many parallel areas in relevant fields, such as Sports Science, Sports Medicine, Biomechanics in both performance analysis and development as well as in injury prevention.

Sports Medicine in cricket will play a huge role to address the basic health needs of the players to their critical and advance medical and performance needs; pre-participation medical evaluation and assessment for fitness for the sport, injury management and prevention, performance enhancing support by nutrition supplementation, aid in biomechanical analysis of the cricketing action and rehabilitation, sports physiotherapy, psychological and motivational intervention, talent identification and screening of the players for specific areas of sports are some of the highlights in this regard.

Cricket being a predominantly technically based sport, needs specific training to achieve and maintain a high standard in performance.

Performance Enhancement, Management and Prevention of Injuries

Skill training and development of a cricketer has to be done with a scientific background, based on Sports Science and Medicine. The eye-hand co-ordination, reaction time and the technical accuracy play a major role in a batsman for optimal performance. There are various scientific tests and exercises that have been introduced to measure and improve these components in sports.

The technical accuracy and precision are well supported by biomechanical analysis of the batting action and the body positioning. This was a key point in many recent studies done on batsmen in cricket and interesting findings were used for the development and correction of technical aspect of batting.

The application of this knowledge is used in selection of appropriate cricket bat, determination of most suitable grip size, the body and the relative bat positioning for strokes for specific balls. Long term outcome of these measures are important in enhancing the performance and prevention of injuries.

The reaction time can be improved with cognitive reaction time exercises, audible reaction time exercises and visual reaction time exercises. All these three components are help in overall reaction time in sports. There are devices available with new technology, computer programmed instruments specially to improve the visual reaction time.

Bowling is one of the areas where the medical and scientific evaluations are done extensively in cricket. Back pain in fast bowlers is a very common presentation to the Sports Medicine attention. Fast bowlers’ different bowling actions and their effect on the back muscles and the lower lumbar vertebral column could give rise to various lesions, due to lack of proper core muscle training with appropriate muscle balance and smooth force transmission among the body structures involved in bowling action as a kinetic chain, starting from the toe of the foot -the ground reaction force to the tip of fingers of the hand – the ball releasing point.

The muscle coordination and in-co-operation of the legs, thigh, buttocks, back, shoulder, upper arm and hand should be done with specific strength and conditioning protocols defined in cricket. The front arm, side arm and mix arm pattern of bowling actions have been identified and the mixed action is more vulnerable in developing the injuries in fast bowlers.

Spin bowling in cricket is also studied extensively by the scientist, and broadly categorized into wrist spinners and finger spinners. The shoulder and scapular muscle stabilizing and dynamic resistant exercises simulating the bowling action, are key components in injury prevention in spinners.

Cricketers’ cardiovascular endurance training and their capacity need to be developed and maintained to the required level. The regular endurance training helps with sustainable performance for a longer period of the players. The muscular endurance is one of the key areas in cricketers in any position, but keeper’s body position during a long play time needs extra endurance capacity of their core and lower limb muscles.

The foot wear in cricket has developed over the years with advancement of podiatry and its current recommendation is to analyze the different foot types with their dynamic and static assessment of pressure distribution, anomalies to correct them using custom made insoles or manufacturing of custom made shoes for the players.

This in turn is very important to improve the performance and minimize the foot and lower limb related overuse injuries. The attention and awareness of proper shoe wear in cricket will address problems related to prolonged play time with shoes during matches and while training.

The suitable and updated protective gears; head gears with face and neck protection panel, ball guards, gloves, thigh and shin pads and other devices used in cricket have a major contribution in terms of prevention of injuries.

The research done in Australia on the daily load revealed Test cricket has the highest daily load on players, ODI stands second and the practice matches placed third. The lowest daily load for players in cricket is with T20 matches.

With regard to incidence of injuries in cricket, the highest occurrence is reported during Test matches and the second highest in T20 matches. The third highest injury rate is reported in practice matches and the fourth during ODI matches.

The basic management of acute injuries which occur during training or matches should be managed according to the basic Injury care protocol introduced in Sports Medicine. Almost all soft tissue injuries should be managed with ‘POLICE’ protocol: Prevention, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Previous practice of ‘RICE’ and’ PRICE’ protocol was replaced by the new concept of ‘POLICE’ management protocol.

The ‘PEACE & LOVE’ protocol is recommended for the first day with ’PEACE’ ( P – Protect, E – elevate, A - avoid anti-inflammatory modalities, C- compression, E- education of the injured athlete), and then after the first day of the injury subsequent management should be started with ‘LOVE’ (L - Load, O-Optimism , V-Vascularization, E-Exercise).

Once the on-field management is done, it is advisable to seek the specialized management and rehabilitation for those injuries, because the demands of the players for recovery and return to play are higher than the ordinary individual’s injury and return to normal routines. Life threatening injuries could also happen on the cricketing ground at any moment, the basic life support and advanced life support measures will be applied according to the need of the situation. Therefore it is mandatory that the skillful medical support with those measures are ready at all times with effective communication and transportation of the injured players for definitive care to a hospital where all the facilities and expertise are available.

Hydration and Nutrition in Cricket

Cricket is an outdoor game that requires sunny, dry, atmospheric weather condition to play the game for many hours on the ground. In tropical regions like Sri Lanka and the Indian subcontinent, exposure to sun during daytime and even in dry hot weather during day and night matches leads to a significant loss of water and dehydration while engaging in cricket.

Thus the complications of dehydration was seen in many cricketers due to the limited knowledge and lack of practice in appropriate hydration protocols. Muscle cramp, delayed onset muscle soreness, electrolyte imbalance, poor recovery phase after training, sleep disturbances were commonly reported problems in such a set up.

This may lead to severe heat associated problems like heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, unless we do not rehydrate well. The small percentage of loss of body fluid (2%) can have negative impact on the accuracy of bowling, sprint speed and the concentration.

On average, a cricketer can lose about 1-2 litres of water from the body (as sweat) every hour during cricket play. However, this can vary depending on the intensity of play and environment conditions. In some instances, sweat loss can be as high as 4-5 litres per hour, especially in hot and humid conditions similar to that observed in Sri Lanka.

Therefore it is advisable for proper hydration with adequate sleep prior to the day of long exposure to the game. Hydration during play and on training day also should include pre game fluid intake to expose to the play sessions. Other than the official water breaks, the player should drink water or a sports drink at regular intervals within the possible time during the match. Take breaks for drinks and rest every 30-60 minutes.

Continue to take fluids after play (recovery period) in order to replace the water that you have lost (as sweat) while you were on the field. The pre-exercise and post-exercise body weight difference is a useful guide to determine the amount of fluid that needs to be replaced.

Thirstiness is not considered as a scientific marker to measure the level of dehydration, but urine colour charts and heat index can be used as guides and practiced beforehand to obtain a better idea about players hydration status.

Sports nutrition intervention into cricket makes the player more energetic, well hydrated, recovered with replenishment of used energy, maintaining appropriate body weight for optimum performance.

The recommended dietary plan for cricketers can be categorized as training diet, pre-game diet, during game and post game or recovery diet.

Training diet should be planned to meet the fuel and recovery for each session. The position of the team, intensity of the session, the ultimate goal of the session and the time period of session, which may vary with the body size and the maintenance of the body composition is recommended for each individual.

Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and lean meat protein or eggs are recommended. The main meal should be at least 2- 4 hours before the training sessions, then they can have a small snack of carbohydrates with less fat one hour before the session. Hydration during this period is advisable.

The batsman, while awaiting for batting should take small snacks which can be easily digested without discomfort every 1-3 hours. Carbohydrates rich with low glycemic index, less fatty food should be preferable. Sandwiches, fresh fruits, yoghurt, nuts are some of the options. Grainy crackers, dairy based smoothies or milk also help in both rehydration and supplementation of energy.

Home-made fruit juice, coconut water are equally good as sports drinks that needs for players who continue to play for longer innings to replace the energy stores in the body while playing. This is a prime requirement to overcome the fatigue in cricket, that limits the performance capacity of the player.

Post game recovery meal should be consumed ideally within the 20 minutes after the game or preferably within one hour period. These include high proteins, carbohydrates and water of fluid replacement. Replenish glycogen for next bout of exercise with high glycemic in the first 2 hours, medium glycemic in the next 2 hours, medium to high for the rest of the day. High synthesis of protein in post-training-phase needs adequate substance of amino acid, which supply via high quality proteins in diet.

Doping in Cricket

Doping in cricket became regular news over the last few years including Sri Lanka. The awareness of the banned substances and method defined by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) among the players and the training staff have to be done to prevent such occurrences in cricket. This information is easily accessible at the WADA official website, the updated list of prohibited substance and methods for every upcoming year is published towards the end of previous year (

Players are officially bound to produce urine or blood sample at the doping tests, both in –competition or out-of-competition. The important message for all the athletes; the player is responsible for the positive result of the urine or blood sample and should be ready to face the consequences. Therefore all the players should be well aware of their food and dietary supplements and the medications. If they are supposed to take any medication indicated in the banned substance list, the Therapeutic Use of Exemption (TUE) has to be taken into consideration prior to the competition.

Sports Psychology and mental toughness in cricket

Like many other sports, cricket also needs to cope with many psychological challenges and demands that players must deal with to be successful. These may involve a broad spectrum of challenges related to thinking, behaviour and performance capacities.

Self-efficacy or confidence is one of the key components that enhances performance. This enables players to persist in the task longer and achieve a higher level performance in sports. Self-efficacy of a player can be trained and the levels can be regulated by different psychological strategies such as modelling, feedback, imagery, self-talk and hypnosis.

Cricketers are involved in longer periods of play time with significant amount of ‘stop and play’ situations throughout the game. Thus distractions from both external and internal environment are many. The players should possess high level of proficiency in regulating their concentration to focus on their performance and goals to be successful in their career.

Mental toughness is a broad term in cricket, where players need to be developed mentally which would subsequently allow optimal performance. There are many aspects of sports psychological components being implemented to achieve the mental toughness of a cricketer. There are four categories identified; tough thinking, tough attitudes, tough character and environmental influences. Each of these component are developed based on self-belief, attentional control, resilience, success mind-set, optimistic thinking, emotional awareness and regulation, affective intelligence, ability to handle challenge and contextual intelligence.

Emotional control in an individual player and in a team directly influences performance. Therefore sports psychologists do various measures to control and address the problems related to emotional balance in athletes. The rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) is one of the methods used in sports in this scenario. The moods of the players show direct relationship with emotional control and the overall performance of cricket. Therefore the coaches and the administration may consider to encourage development of effective leadership in a cordial environment where players share their success stories and values that can be used to foster positive emotional responses and enhance resilience.


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