Do Fast Bowlers Fatigue in Cricket? A Paradox Between Player Anecdotes and Quantitative Evidence

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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The manifestations of fatigue during fast bowling in cricket were systematically evaluated using subjective reports by cricket experts and quantitative data published from scientific studies. Narratives by international players and team physiotherapists were sourced from the Internet using criteria for opinion-based evidence. Research articles were evaluated for high-level fast bowlers who delivered 5- to 12-over spells with at least 1 quantitative fatigue measure. Anecdotes indicate that a long-term loss of bowling speed, tiredness, mental fatigue, and soreness occur. Scientific research shows that ball-release speed, bowling accuracy, bowling action (technique), run-up speed, and leg-muscle power are generally well maintained during bowling simulations. However, bowlers displaying excessive shoulder counterrotation toward the end of a spell also show a fall in accuracy. A single notable study involving bowling on 2 successive days in the heat showed reduced ball-release speed (–4.4 km/h), run-up speed (–1.3 km/h), and accuracy. Moderate to high ratings of perceived exertion transpire with simulations and match play (6.5–7.5 Borg CR-10 scale). Changes of blood lactate, pH, glucose, and core temperature appear insufficient to impair muscle function, although several potential physiological fatigue factors have not been investigated. The limited empirical evidence for bowling-induced fatigue appears to oppose player viewpoints and indicates a paradox. However, this may not be the case since bowling simulations resemble the shorter formats of the game but not multiday (test match) cricket or the influence of an arduous season, and comments of tiredness, mental fatigue, and soreness signify phenomena different from what scientists measure as fatigue.

Maunder is with the Dept of Health, University of Bath, UK. Kilding and Cairns are with the School of Sport and Recreation, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

Cairns (scairns@aut.ac.nz) is corresponding author.