The Congress program will be of interest to a wide range of professionals in the field of sport and health. It will represent the full range of current issues in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the game, thus raising the standards of support provided to cricketers around the world. The program will comprise, but not be limited to presentations on the following scientific themes pertaining to cricket:
- Biomechanics of Technique and Performance
Cricket is one of the world's most highly skilled sports, not only in terms of the difficulty and execution of techniques, but in the sheer diversity of skills required. To truly understand the techniques of cricket and unravel its mechanisms, biomechanics is . By applying the scientific principles that govern efficient and powerful human movement to the various techniques of batting, bowling and fielding in cricket, coaches will be better placed to fulfil their objective, to improve performance and reduce the injury risk to cricketers. Both kinematics and kinetics research papers are welcomed, including inter-disciplinary studies, such as those that integrate the laws of mechanics with physiological principles. Researchers can choose from a wide range of methodologies, such as mathematical modelling, computer simulation, motion analysis, and even simple measurement, with no restriction placed on the research topic as long as it relates to a skill or performance outcome of cricket.
- Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Surveillance
Cricket is a high performance sport, repetitively subjecting players to impact forces that are several times their body weight, leading to a relatively high incidence of injuries, particularly for fast bowlers. The lumbar region is the site of the most serious and debilitating injury. However, torn muscles, sprained ligaments, collision injuries and the like afflict all types of players. Since injury can severely disrupt or even curtail a player's career, as well as significantly diminish the performance of teams by causing key players to miss games, researchers from various allied health fields, such as physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches, exercise physiologists, epidemiologists, etc., are invited to present and discuss their findings on cricket-related injuries: observing firsthand the incidence and prevalence of injury-types from the latest injury surveillance studies, examining the various possible anatomical and physiological causal mechanisms of injury, and investigating the most effective methods to rehabilitate the different types of injuries that cricketers present to clinical therapists.
- Motor Skill Acquisition and Sports Psychology
Cricket is a highly skilful sport, requiring the intricate coordination of body segments, and demanding the full attention of the cricketer, especially under competitive conditions. Elite cricketers are generally more skilful than amateur players, and, in a similar vein, the more successful coaches are better teachers, able to more effectively train cricketers to develop new and more challenging skill sets. The science governing this area of learning deals with the processing characteristics of the brain and central nervous system, while acknowledging the relationship between the mind and body. This complex and multi-disciplinary field is evolving fast, attempting to find new and interesting ways to increase the skill sets of players. Hence, experts in neurophysiology, motor control and learning, sports psychology and other allied fields are called upon to present the most recent research in this area, providing a forum of great interest to researchers, coaches and players alike.
- Statistical Approaches in Cricket
Cricket, like other competitive sports, depends on numbers for its very existence. They not only determine which teams win and lose; but, when expressed as statistics, the various aspects of the game are seen in more depth and clarity, increasing the benefit to coaches, players and spectators. For instance, the performance of batsmen and bowlers can be quantified as averages, strike rates and player rankings - an analysis that can go much further, to aid both the coach and player, by expressing the individual unit of performance. Bowlers can be analysed in terms of their distributions of delivery length, delivery type and dismissal type. Similarly, batsmen can be analysed in terms of their patterns of strokes and dismissals. The administration of the game has also been impacted by recent statistical developments, most notably with the institution of the Duckworth Lewis system for rain-affect matches. The keeping of accurate statistics is an essential component of the game. All aspects of statistics research related to the performance and administration of cricket are within the scope of this conference.
- Exercise Physiology and Nutrition
Cricket is a professional sport, demanding that players perform to their maximum physical capacity. The modern day cricketer must therefore optimize his or her athletic ability, a task that requires much more than just building muscle mass. Put simply, physiological performance depends on the ability of the respiratory system to transport oxygen, and the conversion rate of chemical energy to available energy - processes that are constrained by the oxidation potential of muscles and the predominant muscle fibre types. Furthermore, these physiological processes depend on the type and quantity of nutritional constituents consumed, so that exercise physiologists and nutritionists are both involved in the preparation of cricketers in order that they perform at optimum physical levels. However, the field of study is wide. Many external processes can affect performance at the physiological level - the effect of pressure garments and ice-baths on muscle recovery cited as notable examples. In addition, the issue of blood and drug doping may potentially develop into a serious issue for cricket. Hence, all aspects of exercise physiology and nutrition that are applicable to cricketers will be welcomed in this conference.
- Strength and Conditioning
Cricket demands both power and endurance from its players if they are to succeed at the highest levels in this professional era, in which there are three different forms of the game, each requiring a different set of physical attributes. It is a well-established physiological principle that tissues alter their morphology and function in response to mechanical stress. Hence, cricket training regimens always include a component of weight training to strengthen players' muscles and tendons, as well as endurance training, which enhances circulation, increases blood volume, increases oxygen transport and metabolises stored lipids more efficiently. Sometimes players sustain injury. The recovery process is generally enhanced through carefully designed weight and endurance training exercises. Strength and conditioning protocols are therefore not only used to improve performance, but to rehabilitate injured players in the most effective and timely manner. All international cricket teams have recourse to specialized strength and conditioning experts. In this conference, strength and conditioning practitioners from around the world will be brought together to discuss the most pertinent issues in cricket.
- New Developments in Cricket Technology
Cricket in previous eras did not call on technology to aid players or administrators. The situation is now considerably different. Players benefit from improved designs in equipment, both for protection and performance: lighter pads, more protective batting gloves, titanium grills on helmets, more comfortable footwear, and bats with larger effective sweet spots being just some of the new developments. Umpires now have numerous technologies at their disposal to assist in their decision-making, such as Hawke-eye, slow-motion video replay, hot-spot thermal imaging and "snick-o-metre". In addition, the legality of bowling actions, previously assessed with the naked eye on the field, now depends on three-dimensional kinematics assessment of the elbow flexion-extension angle in a biomechanics laboratory. Technology and engineering is now proving to be a vital ingredient in enhanced cricket performance. Leading experts from industry, academia and commercial research institutes are called upon to present and discuss the technological innovations that will shape the way cricket is played and administered in the future.
- Umpiring Skills and Cricket Rules
Umpiring in cricket at the highest levels is a professional activity. Administrators, coaches, players and spectators set high demands on umpires, expecting a perfect performance from them, even though their job is made ever more difficult with the advent of technologies that evaluate each decision in the view of the public. Under this type of scrutiny, umpires face enormous pressures when taking the field, particularly in high-stake international matches. The ball travelling at high speeds, the bat and pad moving in close proximity to each other, the bowler and fielders screaming out their appeals, not to mention the noise and reaction of the crowd; the umpire has to decide whether, for instance, a ball has been 'snicked' or has been struck in line with the pads and extrapolated to hit the wickets from the mental rehearsal of an event that probably lasted less than half a second. Clearly, umpiring is a high skilled activity, taxing the umpire both physically and mentally. The administration of the game depends on high quality umpires. Scientific research can play an important role in facilitating the development of umpires. Sports psychology can assist umpires to develop concentration and psychological skill sets to cope with pressure and anxiety. Sports technology can assist umpires to make the most accurate decisions in an acceptable period of time. Physiological research can determine how age, reflexes, fitness and hydration levels affect an umpire's performance, working towards establishing a benchmark performance profile of umpires. An integral part in the game, umpiring as a discipline deserves the benefit of scientific research just as the other components of cricket. Research in this area will be greatly encouraged.
- Science of Pitch Preparation
Good cricket can only be played on a good pitch, yet it is rarely appreciated how much science is involved in pitch preparation. It takes many years of training and experience to become an accomplished pitch curator: knowing exactly how the nature of the bulli affects the bounce and pace off the pitch, controlling the water content of the bulli, preparing the pitch according to the type of turf used, designing for an appropriate amount of pitch deterioration – these are just some of the myriad factors that a pitch horticulturist must learn. All research to do with the construction, maintenance and preparation of cricket pitches is within the scope of topics for this conference.
- Novel Case Reports
In science, it is important not to exclude the extreme variants of a population, since they may present with hitherto unknown characteristics that, if studied in terms of fundamental principles, could lead to new insights with far reaching effects. A case in point is that of Muttiah Muralidharan. Once his action was understood in terms of increased long axis radius of rotation, other bowlers with similar elbow deformities could be permitted to bowl – indeed, such bowlers may actually possess an inherent mechanical advantage. Hence, in this conference, novel case reports will be seriously considered by the review committee – the more unusual, the more likely the acceptance.