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Cricket Injuries


Cricket is strictly a non-contact sport, injuries in cricket are common, and have been documented as far back as 1751, when Frederick, Prince of Wales (son of George II), expired suddenly from an abscess in his head as a consequence of a blow he’d received from a cricket ball. For one of the widely popular team sports, there have been relatively few publications in the medical literature on cricket injuries. This article reviews the injuries occurring commonly in cricket and describes measures to prevent or minimize them.

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Types and causes of injuries:


There are three broad categories:


  • Direct impact
  • Indirect
  • Overuse


1. Direct Injuries:


Direct blow injuries occur when a player is struck by the ball, collides with another player, or crashes into the boundary fence. For example, bowlers and fielders can be exposed to balls of very high speed and are at risk from a misjudgment of the ball or unanticipated bounce. A cricket ball is a leather-covered solid cork sphere weighing 160g and measuring 22.4cm to 22.9cm in circumference. As the ball is propelled down the pitch at speeds of up to 150km/h, the batsman must make a series of very quick decisions, including determining the line and length of the ball, whether to move forwards or backwards, whether to play a stroke and which stroke to play. Any misjudgment creates a visual inadequacy which could cause the ball to ricochet off the bat’s edge or the batsman to miss the ball completely, either of which might end up with the cricket ball colliding with a body . The batsman’s feet are vulnerable to being struck by a ball and lightweight batting shoes offer little protection against such impact.

Wicket-keepers can experience great trauma, especially on the receiving end of a fast delivery. Fielders are susceptible both to direct blows from the ball and running and sliding into the boundary fence.

Despite batsmen and close-in fielders wearing protective equipment, reports of head and eye injuries are common. Other frequently reported impact injuries are fractures of the arm, hands and toes, and soft-tissue injuries to the upper arm and thigh, thorax, abdomen and testicles. Splenic rupture has been reported both because of a blow from a cricket ball and collision with the boundary fence, and at the extreme, there was a report of fatal cardiac arrest after a player was hit in the chest by a cricket ball.


2. Indirect Injuries:


Indirect injuries are muscle, ligament and tendon damage sustained while attempting to perform a specific activity. These injuries are most prevalent at the start of a season and in players who pay less attention to warming up and their general level of fitness.


3. Overuse Injuries:


Overuse can produce a range of injuries secondary to running (e.g. lower limb), throwing (e.g. shoulder and elbow) and bowling (e.g. lower back). But the most common overuse injury is associated with fast bowling. Bowling involves repetitive twisting, extension and rotation of the trunk in a short period, while body tissues and footwear must absorb large ground reaction forces of 4.1 to 9 times the bowler’s body weight. It is the speed of the delivery, and thus the force of the action, that makes the fast bowler more injury prone, particularly to bony abnormalities (eg spondylolysis incidences, spondylolisthesis, spondylolysis, and pars defect), disc degeneration, stress fracture at various sites, primarily in the metatarsal bones, fibula and tibia, muscle and other tissue tears, and pain . The other overuse injury is splitting or wearing of the finger skin as spin bowlers repeatedly drag their skin across the seam of the ball to impart spin. The laws of the game prohibit the use of protective strapping, and the skin may only partially heal between matches. The end or middle finger joints are often traumatized repeatedly by the bowling action, and sometimes the consequent osteoarthritic changes can be severe enough to end a bowler’s playing career.

A wicket-keeper may also experience osteoarthritic changes in the knees (because of the action of repeated squatting), and in the joints of the hand, from repeatedly catching the ball.

Other overuse injuries are related to throwing, catching or running. Repetitious throwing can result in instability, impingement syndrome, degenerative changes in the rotator cuff, and tendinitis in the biceps or a tear of the supraspinatus tendon. Running long distances during matches predisposes the player to stress fractures, shin pain, patellar tendinitis and muscle tears.


Hamstring Injury:


Hamstring tears are a widespread sporting hazard, reported in sports as diverse as athletics, football, Australian rules football, cricket, rugby, water skiing and judo. They are often serious, causing long rehabilitation times and a increased susceptibility to re-injury. Persistent symptoms and slow healing make hamstring tears a frustrating injury.