Fifty one matches will be played during the 2007 International Cricket Council World Cup. How much of that match time will players spend standing, running, sprinting and jogging? Dr Rob Duffield, lecturer in the School of Human Movement at Charles Sturt University (CSU), knows the answer.
Along with Dr Marc Portus, Cricket Australia’s (CA) Sports Science Manager, Dr Duffield studied the physiology of international cricket. Using a time-motion computer program, they analysed all the test centuries last cricket season to understand the actual physical demands of scoring a test century.
What Dr Duffield and Dr Portus discovered was that during the “normal” test century, which takes on average three and a half hours, the player will spend two hours standing, will walk for an hour, jog for ten minutes, and spend five minutes “hard running and about a minute and half of all-out sprinting.
“And you tend to find that the average duration of an all out sprint is about one and a half seconds, and that there is an average change in the type of exercise every seven to eight seconds,” said Dr Duffield.
“The demands of cricket are not like the demands of say, a football code. There are similarities, but the durations are a lot longer, the types of activities are a lot more sedentary, and the aerobic fitness and the peak powers for speed are not as great.”
Dr Duffield says cricketer’s need to maintain their skill base through net practice. He says physical conditioning, while important, is not as direct an indicator of performance as it is in other sports.
“Physical conditioning and muscle training is not going to necessarily improve your performance in cricket. Having a high oxygen consumption or a faster twenty metre sprint time doesn’t mean you are going to be able to bowl better, or get more wickets, or score a century.
“However, those physical parameters come into play to reduce injury and to reduce the cumulative effect of fatigue.”
Using this information, CA can now set up training programs to best prevent or reduce fatigue in cricket-specific settings. “I am looking at helping coaches best replicate in the nets the physical demands of a cricket match. And now we know the kinds of physiological responses and changes that occur during a game.”
Dr Portus said the information was important for Cricket Australia. “It’s a very helpful to us. We need to understand the requirements of elite international cricket a whole lot better, particularly with our fitness training program. Rob helped us out and we hope to do more with him in the future.”