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Quantification of training load, neuromuscular fatigue, biochemical and endocrine responses to fast bowling in cricket

Bray, James William


James William Bray


Mark C. Fogarty


Recent professionalization, the emergence of, and ever-increasing popularity of limited overs cricket, have resulted in traditional playing schedules evolving and expanding. Consequently, players now compete for much of the year, experiencing periods of condensed fixtures. To meet these increased demands, the aforementioned contribute to effecting team performance and player health. Thus, the prevalence of injuries, especially amongst fast bowlers, has been shown and attributed to rises in competition workloads.

Therefore, the main aim of this thesis was to explore the application of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) to quantify the training load of fast bowlers. Furthermore, I sought to assess relationships between both internal and external training load variables and proposed markers of fatigue and recovery.

The first preliminary descriptive research study (Chapter 4) aimed to prospectively quantify fast bowling workloads during a typical season of professional domestic county cricket (April – September). Data were collected from fixture scorebooks, with descriptive bowling workloads determined by calculating frequencies of overs and deliveries bowled. This was further calculated dependant on both bowler classification (opening [O-B; n = 2] or support [S-B; n = 6]) and competition format (multiday [MD], One-day [OD] or Twenty20 [T20]), respectively. Significant differences were found in total number of overs (296.1 overs; 95% CI 37.8 to 554.4; P = 0.03) and deliveries (1764.8 balls; 95% CI 183.0 to 3346.7; P = 0.03) bowled between O-B and S-B, respectively. Multiday cricket was the only format where, significant differences between bowlers were found; total number of overs (289.9 overs; 95% CI 88.2 to 491.6; P = 0.01) and deliveries (1739.3 balls; 95% CI 529.3 to 2949.3; P = 0.01) bowled.

The aim of experimental study one (Chapter 5) was to assess the between-match and within-match between-over variability of external training load measures during T20 cricket competition. MEMS data were collected from eight fast bowlers in 17 matches of domestic T20 competition, spanning two seasons. MEMS variables were categorised into total distance (TD), low- (≤ 14.4 km.h-1) and high- (≥ 14.4 km.h-1) speed running distance, total sprint distance (≥18 km.h-1), number of sprint efforts and PlayerLoad™ ([PL] arbitrary units; AU). Data were log-transformed to provide the coefficient of variation (CV; expressed as percentages). The between-match variability was greatest in high-speed running distance (32.9% CV), total sprint distance (49.0% CV) and number of sprint efforts (48.0% CV). Similarly, within-match between-over high-speed running distance (12.8% CV), total sprint distance (17.1% CV) and number of sprint efforts (12.3% CV) elicited the greatest variability, yet, this was markedly reduced compared to between-match observations. However, TD and PL were found to be relatively stable measures of external training load (range; 5.5–13.3% CV), both between-match and within-match between-over.

Experimental study two (Chapter 6) investigated short-term neuromuscular fatigue (NMF) of fast bowlers and relationships to match performance during a typical season of professional academy OD limited overs cricket. Baseline measures of lower body NMF were assessed via flight time (ms) from a countermovement jump (CMJ). These measures were repeated every morning of competition; NMF was additionally assessed within 30-min after the cessation of the bowling innings (CMJ-FIRST or CMJ-SECOND). MEMS data were collected from six fast bowlers, with supplementary descriptive fast bowling workloads classifications (LOW, MODERATE and HIGH). There were significant reductions in flight time pre to post bowling innings (Δ 19 ms; P = 0.008). Moreover, similar reductions in flight time were found in LOW – MODERATE (Δ 30 ms; P = 0.03) and LOW – HIGH bowling workload groups (Δ 43 ms; P = 0.003), respectively.

Finally, experimental study three (Chapter 7) investigated neuromuscular, biochemical and endocrine markers of fatigue after four spells of simulated fast bowling. Eleven fast bowlers completed differing spells of simulated fast bowling based on the Cricket Australia-Australian Institute of Sport (CA-AIS) fast bowling skills test. NMF were assessed via flight-time from a CMJ; pre (-0.5-h) and post (+0.5 and +24-h) simulation, with blood (Creatine kinase; CK) and saliva (Cortisol; sCort) samples collected in parallel. During each simulated fast bowling trial (4-, 6-, RANDOM- & 10-overs), internal (heart rate exertion index [HREI]) and external (PL) training load was quantified using MEMS. There were small, significant reductions in CMJ flight time pre to post (Δ 21 ms; P < 0.01) and pre to 24-h post (Δ 8 ms; P = 0.001) simulation, respectively. Overs bowled appeared to significantly affect NMF for up to 24-h post simulation. Furthermore, changes in CK were found to best correlate with estimated TD (r = 0.48; P = 0.002) rating of perceived exertion (RPE r = 0.47; P = 0.002) session-RPE (r = 0.48; P = 0.002), HREI (r = 0.45; P = 0.003) and PL (r = 0.41; P = 0.009) 24-h post simulation, respectively.

The findings of this thesis demonstrate that during limited overs cricket, high-speed locomotive activity is highly variable amongst fast bowlers. Furthermore, fast bowlers are shown to experience short-term NMF, which appears to be magnified based on descriptive fast bowling workload characteristics. Collectively, these findings have importance for practitioners, who seek to facilitate performance by informed training prescription based on replicating match and training demands.


Bray, J. W. (2017). Quantification of training load, neuromuscular fatigue, biochemical and endocrine responses to fast bowling in cricket. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 27, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Sports science
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, The University of Hull
Award Date Jun 1, 2017


Thesis (2.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Bray, James William. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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