Cricket World Cup: Will The Bowler’s Body Survive?

With ICC- Cricket World cup in full swing and with the final knockout coming up this weekend, you should spare a thought for the bowlers.

Why should we care more for the pace bowlers than the batsmen who are faced with having to hit a ball coming towards them potentially at 100 mph? Oddly enough, it’s more likely the bowlers, specifically ‘pace’ (fast) bowlers who are more subject to injury.

Cricket’s Commonest Injuries are from Bowling

In Cricket Australia injury report, which took injury reports from seasons 1995/6–2002/3, it details the types of injuries to its players categorized into Batting, Bowling, and Fielding. The ‘Bowling’ category had a total of 166 injuries, which is twice as many as the other two combined. The most common injury reported to the bowler are of the Side Abdomen, after which the Lumbar and Hamstring injuries come joint second to the third commonest injury, Shoulder.

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The Explosive Power of the Bowler

Bowling by function is asymmetrical in the body and can cause an uneven fitness in the body if training doesn’t allow to balance the power. Cricket bowlers, like pitchers in baseball can throw a ball at record-breaking speeds; allowed by the immense explosive power of the muscles. Pakistan’s, Shoaib Akhtar, reputed to be the fastest Cricket bowler in the world bowled an impressive 161.3 km/h (100.2 mph), and the pitch of baseball’s Stephen Strasburg is anything between 95 and a whopping 100 mph!

You need muscle for this type of bowling and the explosion of this muscle needs propulsion from the whole body. Akhtar runs towards the wicket before propelling the cricket ball, unlike Strasburg who magically launches it practically from standing on an elevated muddy pitch. Both bowlers need to use their entire bodies, in an asymmetrical way, to throw the ball from one hand from one side of the body. 

Risk Factors and Quick Recovery for Bowlers

Bowling appears to be a risk for hamstring strains, side strains and shoulder injuries. A bowler’s body must be very good at recovering from these powerful and quick full-body movements and our anti-inflammatory responses are important in keeping our bodies in good repair.

Interleukin-6 is a protein needed in muscle recovery and growth, and part of our body’s response to damage. There are recognized genes for this protein and particular genetic variants (genotypes) have been found in higher frequencies among power athletes.

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