Match Scheduling: A Bowler’s Russian Roulette

3rd March 2014

By Jock Campbell

Firstly, can I just say, outstanding summer for the Aussies and a very well done to Michael Clarke’s Australian Team and great work to Boofa Lehman and his support staff. Beating the Poms at home 5 nil, then taking on South Africa in their own home, the number one team in the world, who changed the normal conditions of the pitches after the first test to try and combat Mitch Johnson, and still winning. Hats off to you boys, fascinating cricket and a relentless performance from our guys. Well done.

The disappointing side of things has come from cricket administrators who agreed to 3 back-to-back-to-back test matches after a very difficult summer. Let me explain why.

Cricket administrators playing Russian Roullette with Bowlers

It is very well known that back-to-back tests increase dramatically the risk of injury to fast bowlers, these statistics have been determined by Cricket Australia’s own medical stats that they have been recording for over 15 years. In fact they show that a fast bowler is 86% more likely to suffer an injury in back-to-back tests than in stand alone tests. Are you getting the picture yet? In triple back to back tests, I don’t know the stats because not too many times have administrators been dumb ebough to allow it, but in south Africa, it happened again.

Who agrees to this? Step forward and sack yourself, it’s not good enough!

Every time there is an injury to any cricketer, and in particular the fast bowlers, there is a Royal Commission-style inquisition directed at the bowling coaches, physios, strength & conditioners and players, yet funnily enough never at the administrators that set this scheduling.

No excuses are accepted from players or staff, yet we get “best endeavours” and “it’s difficult scheduling packed international season” excuses from up higher. Well I’ve grown tired of this incompetence.

Really, we all know it’s to allow for IPL to fit in, just no one will say it.

Back to back tests

Back-to-back tests are considered test matches where there are only 3 days in between each match. To schedule these is inexcusable. Triple back-to-back tests, someone needs to be sacked for risking the biggest test draw cards the game currently have, the likes of Steyne, Johnson and Harris – it’s criminal. We’ve already had Nathan Bracken trying to sue Cricket Australia for medical mismanagement, all 3 of the World’s best bowlers mentioned before suffered some form of injury through this 3 test series in South Africa, and it wont surprise me if down the track, given what the Crocket Boards know, there’s not more of these law suits.

After Australia lost most of it’s bowling attack for the deciding Test against South Africa in Perth a couple of seasons back I brought up the same problem, and how earlier we played triple back to back tests in Sri anka and that I hoped it would never happen again.

I am shocked this has been allowed to happen again, but unfortunately not surprised.

Cricket countries around the world know the consequences of such scheduling yet continue to put revenue making and IPL first and player welfare second. The list of injured bowlers from this series is below, you can decide if this is acceptable.

  • Ryan Harris – knee and hip (requires operation)
  • Dale Steyn – hamstring
  • Peter Siddle – clearly something wrong with his pace this season having dropped from mid 140’s last year to in the second test in South Africa the 120’s. Dropped or injured out of the 3rd Test
  • Wayne Parnell – leg soft tissue injury
  • Ryan McClaren – impact injury
  • Mitchel Johnson – clearly something not right, missing the T20 series and coming off in the last test for some running repairs

Jock Campbell is a Sports Scientist, Elite Strength & Conditioning Coach & Level 3 Athletics coach. From 2000 -2005 Jock was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Australian Cricket Team. During this period the Team was World Champions in both Test Match (No. 1 in Test rankings) and One Day Cricket (World Cup winners 2003 and no.1 in World rankings); it was the most successful period in the teams history.  For more on Jock, see About Us.

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