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Reducing the Occurance of Injuries - Australian Cricket Team Injuries on Tour

0333 320 8404
Cricket Injuries on Tour with the Australian Cricket Team

Reducing Injuries

As a world expert in sports injury epidemiology (how injuries occur) were you able to make a few suggestions to reduce the number of injuries that were sustained during the tour of India?

"One of my pet topics has been the introduction of the boundary rope into cricket. In the late 1990s when I had just started doing annual injury reports for Cricket Australia, we made the recommendation that the boundary rope (which was used to shorten the boundary at some of the biggest fields in Australia) be introduced for all matches for the safety of fieldsmen. We weren’t expecting much action, because David Janda in the USA had been advocating slide-away bases in baseball to reduce injuries for many years and Major League Baseball hadn’t taken heed (he is unsure whether it is sponsorship from the fixed-base companies or pig-headed tradition that is the stumbling block). Whether cricket is more open to new ideas than baseball (hard to believe, really!) or, more likely, that a marketing guru was also able to calculate that smaller fields would lead to more boundaries and hence a more interesting game, Cricket Australia and shortly afterwards the ICC brought in the compulsory boundary rope. However, we did have once instance in India where a wooden fence was very close to the boundary rope and one of our players was injured (not badly) sliding into this secondary fence. I managed to get into an argument with the match referee going into bat on this issue, but we had the rope moved in a bit for the following game where it was also a bit precarious.

"One of my other pet issues that we considered at about the same time (the late 1990s) was that cricketers get into trouble playing any form of football as a warm-up or cross-training activity. This one has been harder to achieve change, as the players understandably get bored on tour and love a game of soccer or touch football as a breath of fresh air. Historically though, the vast majority of ACL reconstructions that Aussie cricketers have needed have been sustained playing football games at official training, so we have to work out a way to reduce this risk.

"Something else that was surprising at some venues in particular in India (where training is chaotic) was that there are multiple nets at different sections of the ground. You could have a scenario where at opposite ends of the ground Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden might be doing batting practice and if you are in the centre of the ground it can seem like it is raining hard cricket balls from all directions. Eventually in a scenario like this someone is going to get a fractured skull being hit on the head from behind. Perhaps it has already happened but no one gets too concerned about one fractured skull in a country of one billion people. Again, it is difficult to offer a short-term solution because the guys need to practice and the facilities at some places are not top class. In the longer-term the BCCI needs to channel some of the millions from the IPL into upgrading facilities at their venues (although there are an unbelievable number of stadiums in India to consider).

"I could go on forever about epidemiology. Now that we have data on match workloads in Test cricket being a problem, I think that they trialled the 12th man substitute rule in the wrong form of the game (ODIs instead of Test cricket). Eventually I think they will allow the 12th man to bowl when replacing an injured player in cricket. From the perspective of other team sports, it seems amazing that cricket doesn’t allow for injury substitution in the 21st Century, but internally in cricket they value some of the traditions of Test cricket (like this one) very highly. Just like in other sports, prevention is in its infancy which makes it an exciting time to be a researcher."

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