Study shows physical demands of one-day cricket

Published: 20 May 2014 at 10:28

Medium-fast bowlers have 6% higher heart rate – even when they aren’t bowling

New research – the first to be carried out during first-class competitive cricket – reveals the additional physical demands of one-day cricket compared to longer forms of the game.

Anglia Ruskin University sport and exercise scientist Dr James Johnstone worked with Essex County Cricket Club, an English first-class county side, for three seasons, recording data from medium-fast pace bowlers to assess the physiological responses of cricketers in a competitive match situation.

Previous research has identified that, compared to other cricketers, medium-fast bowlers cover the most distance in matches at the highest intensity, but also suffer the highest injury rate and have the shortest career spans.

With less time to bowl overs and less time between overs, this new study showed that the additional activity in one-day cricket puts a higher cardiovascular load on medium-fast bowlers.  When bowling they operate, on average, at between 71-75% of their maximum heart rate, which is 5% higher than when bowling in multi-day cricket.

‘Between overs’ is traditionally a period when the bowler is positioned in an area of less activity to allow for recovery and to prepare for their next over of bowling.  Again, during this period the bowlers have a higher physical workload during one-day games.  While fielding between overs, the bowlers are involved in 7% more activity, which leads to a 6% higher maximum heart rate response compared to multi-day cricket.  Between overs fielding produced a higher activity and heart rate response compared to ‘standard’ fielding activity. 

Previous research on medium-fast bowlers has been conducted in simulated, non-competitive environments.  However, advances in physiological monitoring has now made it possible to capture data during matches.  The researchers used an unobtrusive mobile  measuring device called the BioHarness, produced by Zephyr Technology, which provides second-by-second updates on heart rate, breathing frequency, activity, posture and skin temperature.   

Dr Johnstone, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Science at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“Rather than laboratory studies, coaches are demanding real-life data to give them a more accurate picture of what is happening to the cricketers out in the field. 
“This data has never been captured before and coaches are surprised at the differences in intensity and work rate between one-day and multi-day cricket, particularly the extra intensity of the ‘between overs’ period.
“Cricketers traditionally have little time to train and recover during the season, with the schedule of matches taking its toll.  Research from Australia suggested that players lose 9% of their endurance fitness over the season.  Therefore strength and conditioning coaches need the correct information on how much physical work is completed in matches in order to use the limited time available to train effectively.
“We have shown that collecting physiological data in-match is possible and this data could improve the planning of post-match recovery and training sessions for players.  In future we hope to extend our research to other positions in the team and also examine how physical workload affects bowling performance.”

Chris Clarke-Irons, Head of Athlete Development at Essex County Cricket Club, said:

“This research has given an innovative insight into the physical demands of modern day cricket. 
“Gathering live data using mobile technology can benefit the sport science and coaching team by allowing us to individually identify the players’ needs for recovery and future training sessions.  These small pieces of performance-related information can help us build a more effective training programme for our players.”