Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Sports Biomechanics and Motor Control Research Group

Cricket - Fast Bowling

Biomechanics research into cricket at Loughborough has focused on improving our understanding of the relationships between fast bowling technique and improvements in performance and the likelihood of injury. An experimental approach has been used to investigate both of these relationships for elite male fast bowlers based upon data collected annually at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough (pictured below) This research was carried out by Dr Peter Worthington in collaboration with a range of staff from the ECB including Dr Craig Ranson, former lead physiotherapist, ECB and Kevin Shine, Lead fast bowling coach, ECB:

    academyIn terms of injury potential (lumbar stress injuries) the research has moved away from the traditional back foot contact bowling action classification system and focused on the front foot contact phase of the delivery stride where the spinal postures are extreme and loading on the lower back is greatest. It is proposed that concurrent lower trunk extension, rotation, and extreme side-flexion during the early part of the front foot contact phase of the bowling action, at a time when ground reaction forces are also high, is the most important mechanical factor in lumbar stress injuries.

From a performance point of view the research has focused on the relationship between technique, ground reaction forces and ball speed. In particular, increased ball speed has been linked to a faster run-up, a longer delivery stride and delaying the swing of the bowling arm for a range of fast bowlers. In terms of ground reaction forces, increased ball speed has been strongly correlated with horizontal impulse and inversely related to peak vertical ground reaction force, vertical loading rates and horizontal loading rates. These results contradict some of the current beliefs in cricket but tie in very closely with javelin research and suggest that the fastest bowlers maximise their horizontal breaking impulse during front foot contact as opposed to peak ground reaction forces and loading rates.

More recently Dr Paul Felton has investigated optimum performance in fast bowling using a subject-specific computer simulation model.

Current projects on fast bowling

Any enquires into biomechanics cricket research should be directed towards Dr Mark King