Movement Demands of an Elite Cricket Team During the Big Bash League in Australia.

Author:Sholto-Douglas, Robert
 
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Introduction

Whilst cricket is one of the oldest organised sports, there has been little research done on the physical demands of the game (Christie, 2008; Woolmer and Noakes, 2008; MacDonald et al., 2013; Noakes and Durandt, 2000). Of the studies that have been done, most have used simulation protocols (Christie, 2008; Perera and Swartz, 2012; Pote, 2016) which have been criticised by some, questioning their applicability to 'real world' cricket (Petersen, 2010). Notwithstanding these debates, it is now understood that there are increased physical demands placed on cricketers which provides a further need for cricketers to be in peak physical condition at all times (Christie, 2008). The best physically prepared players will perform better, more consistently, have less injuries, and will have a longer and more successful career (Woolmer and Noakes, 2008).

Twenty20 (T20) cricket is the latest version of the game, (Perera and Swartz, 2012), and only one publication has quantified the positional movements in a study, which was delimited to state level players, and was done over 10 years ago. One of the more modern T20 competitions is The Big Bash League (BBL), which was established in 2011 by Cricket Australia, and which is the focus of this research.

The rules in T20 are effective in speeding up the game and with less time comes a greater chance of error, and with the margin for error being so small, there is a large amount of scrutiny placed on the execution of appropriate skills (Irvine and Kennedy, 2017). Winning T20 sides take more wickets in the first and last six overs of an innings (Petersen et al., 2009), and so one or two overs can have a significant impact on the outcome of the match (Irvine and Kennedy, 2017).

The T20 format is arguably the most physically demanding of all the formats and requires players to execute precision skill, under high levels of fatigue (Petersen et al., 2009). Physical fitness impacts on the ability to execute the required skills to carry out a particular game strategy, particularly when fatigued (Petersen et al., 2009). T20 has changed certain physical requirements for players (Robert et al., 2014) and requires 50-100% more maximal sprints per hour for all players when compared to multi-day matches (Petersen, 2010).

Sprints in cricket are often revolved around crucial match situations, such as running between wickets, a bowler's run-up, or sprinting to field the ball (Robert et al., 2014). A minimum of five players have to bowl in a T20, although more players can bowl if need be, making up just under half the team. All eleven players are tasked with batting, if required, however, the specialist batsmen are tasked with scoring the majority of the runs. All players must field and complete maximal sprints when fielding (Robert et al., 2014). In addition to superior physical fitness being a requirement of the game, strategies and tactics in all formats of the game, have not been looked at in scientific literature (Petersen, 2010).

With the increased knowledge of the positional game requirements of T20 cricketers, an understanding of this will allow conditioning coaches to design more effective, and individualised training programs (Petersen et al., 2009). Petersen et al (2009) found that, fast bowlers undergo the greatest workload at the highest intensities, and have 13 seconds less recovery time between high intensity efforts, as opposed to fielders. To account for this, it would be optimal for fast bowlers to seek fielding placements where they can enhance recovery between high intensity efforts, and limit the potential of fielding tasks, which impact on their bowling performance (Petersen et al., 2009). Petersen et al (2009) found that fast bowlers spent most of their time walking and their least amount of time running in the T20 format (Table 1).

The same has also been found with fast bowlers in the One Day International (ODI) format (Webster and Travill, 2018), and across all three formats, including T20, ODI and Multi-day (Petersen at al., 2010). In contrast, spin bowlers are able to commence their bowling with twice the recovery time from high intensity efforts (Petersen et al., 2009). Fielders spend most of their time walking and the least amount of their time running (Table 1) during a T20 game (Petersen et al., 2009). The ODI format has shown similar for fielders in terms of walking, but their least amount of time is spent striding and sprinting (Webster and Travill, 2018). Further, for fielders, they spend their least amount sprinting in all three formats (Petersen et al., 2010). Wicket-keepers spend most of their time walking, and their least time sprinting (Table 1) in T20, which is the same for those playing in ODIs (Webster and Travill, 2018; Petersen et al., 2010) and multi day formats (Petersen et al., 2010).

Batting in T20, requires more high intensity efforts than other formats of the game (Petersen et al., 2009). This results in higher levels of biomechanical and/or neuromuscular fatigue (Houghton et al., 2011). Batting, in this format, requires more frequent changes of direction when running between the wickets, as batters tend to run more frequently between the wickets, at a very fast pace, in order to gain extra runs where possible and to optimize the batting team's score (Houghton et al., 2011). It is therefore interesting that even in the T20 format, batsmen spend most of their time walking and less of their time running (Table 1) which is the same across all formats (Webster and Travill, 2018; Petersen et al., 2010). Since Petersen and colleagues (2009) work over 10 years ago, there have been no further published studies looking at these demands in T20 cricket.

It is clear that there has been a lack of research of movement patterns (inter-player total distance covered, number of sprints, and the mean sprint distance) of different positions in T20 cricket (Petersen et al., 2009), which is something that needs to be investigated further. However, coaching techniques have changed with different aspects coming into focus. For example, less time could be devoted to fitness and sprinting and more focus placed on power hitting, in order to maximise runs.

Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers can be considered a reliable tool for measuring distance travelled by athletes, in field-based team sports, where numerous changes in direction at high speed may reduce both reliability and validity (Gray et al., 2010). 10 Hz GPS units are acceptable for distinguishing the smallest change in velocity (Nell, 2016). With this being said, it would be recommended to have...

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