Among cricketers, bowlers are more prone to injuries, specifically of the lower limb and back. Apart from over workload, poor condition of grounds and lack of knowledge over physiotherapy front are the major reasons behind the increasing injuries in the sport.
In a study conducted by citybased orthopaedicians from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, it was revealed that around 38% cricketers (who took part in the study) got injured in a year’s time.
The study ‘Epidemiology of orthopedic injuries in Indian cricket: a prospective one year observational study’, headed by Dr Mandeep S Dhillon, PGIMER’s orthopaedics head, has been published in the current edition of the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine Education and Research (JPMER).
“Bowlers, enthusiastic but less knowledgeable, deals with more complicated issues as they overstrain themselves, and most of them practice even on off day,” said Dr Dhillon.
He added, “Poor condition of grounds is one of the factors. Further, there is little awareness among coaches and players at school or local level, which generally leads to injuries.”
The study was conducted from November 2008 to October 2009, and total 95 players registered with the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), including the Punjab Ranji Trophy team and the Punjab district teams, participated in it.
Of the 95 players, 24 were bowlers — 19 fast and five slow bowlers — 19 batsmen, eight wicket-keepers, and other 44 all rounders. The players ageing 19-34 years had been playing professionally or semi-professionally for an average of 6.8 years.
Findings of the study
The study mentioned that “during one year, 38% cricketers got injured; and the bowlers were the most predisposed to injuries. Of the total injured, 53% were bowlers, followed by 26% fielders, 14% batsmen and 7% wicket keepers.” Total 95 players sustained 60 injuries, of which 48 injuries were ‘significant’ and 12 ‘insignificant’. Because of an injury, a player had to miss practice for around two months.
“The average number of days a player missed practice/matches and was out of active cricket due to injury was 63.81, which meant more than two months away from the game,” reads the study.
The study revealed lower limb was most vulnerable to injuries —and bowling was the major cause — thereby accounting to around 45% of the total injuries received by the players. “There were total 19 injuries of lower limb, 16 of upper limb, and 13 of back and trunk,” mentioned the report.
It further reads, “Out of 19 lower limb injuries, 10 occurred during bowling, four during fielding, four while batting, and one while wicket keeping.” Lower limb injuries were ankle injury (8), knee injury (four), shin pain (five) and phalangeal (bones in hands and feet) fractures of the toes (two). Of the total 16 upper limb injuries — two shoulder, three elbow and 11 hand injuries — 10 were sustained while fielding, four while bowling, and two during batting. Further, there were 13 documented back and trunk injuries. Of these, 11 occurred during bowling. Also, low back injury and pain were more common among fast bowlers than slow bowlers.
Further, there was no ‘off day’ for players from the game, leading to limited rest. “The players practiced for around 6.5 hours on six working days. On Sunday, they practiced at a local street or club cricket,” mentioned the study. The study concluded, “The incidence of cricket injuries in Indians is significant, causing them to miss matches or practice for a significant number of days. Further, severity of injury sustained during bowling was more than during fielding, batting, or wicket keeping.”
Fielders have an increased risk of sustaining upper limb injury, while bowlers have an increased risk of sustaining lower limb injury. Dr Dhillon stressed on the importance of having a regular, systematic injury surveillance programme at local level for cricket players, so that preventive strategies can be designed.