Background Cricket is one of the world’s major team sports & injuries are common, especially for pace bowlers. Previous research has demonstrates an inverse relationship between injury burden and success in other sports. However there is limited research looking at the impact that injury burden might have on national team players preparation towards tournaments, and subsequent success in major world cricket championships.
Objective To investigate the impact that players training or game unavailability due to injuries or illness over 12 months leading towards world tournaments has on national teams results.
Design Prospective epidemiological study utilising various media & team reports to record the days players unavailable for full training and international matches due to injuries, over a 1-year period. Relationship between training days availability, international match selection availability and the results at a major international tournament was investigated. A Pearson’s correlation coefficient analysis was performed.
Setting International cricket
Participants All national team selected players within the top 8 world ranked ‘one day international’ mens’ cricket teams.
Main Outcome Measurements Injury prevalence and tournament results.
Results Over the 12 months 225 players were selected for national teams, 196 of these played 377 international matches. 113 players suffered a total of 218 time-lose (TL) injures. Total TL injury prevalence was 9.2% of players unavailable for training. On average a player had 35.4 days of injury time-lose over the year, and teams had 1.70 players unavailable for selection per an international match due to injury. Lower injury burden, based on teams having lower number of training days missed due to injury (r=0.44, p=0.045) and higher player international match availability (r=0.68, p<0.05), over the 12 months leading up to a major international tournament was moderately & strongly positively correlated with higher tournament final standings respectively. Having lower total number of days of players out injured, was highly positively correlated with a difference between team’s current world rankings to the team’s final position at the tournament (r=0.70, p<0.01). A change in match unavailability average of 0.4 players resulted in one position change in final standings. Similar strong correlations was found when analysis was done on the injury burden of the team’s top 5 ICC ranked batsmen & bowlers combined, and when including the entire player selection group even if they didn’t play any international games over the year.
Conclusions National team players injury and illness burdens, and their influence on training and game availability, during 12-month preparation period is highly correlated with national teams results at major ICC world cricket tournaments. Teams with lower injury & illness burdens may be better prepared for tournaments and perform better relative to their world ranking. However due to these results being based on a small number of teams & only one tournaments these associations are not conclusive, further studies would be required.
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