The ECB, the first-class counties and other key cricketing organisations including the new Kia Super League teams reaffirmed the game’s commitment to staying at the cutting edge of science and medicine at a two-day conference in Berkshire last week.
Somerset’s Head of Strength & Conditioning Darren Veness and Lead Physiotherapist Jamie Thorpe were amongst those present at the annual gathering that has become well-established over the last decade. Each year the ECB invite practitioners from around the game to convene and discuss best practice at the annual Science & Medicine Conference which this year included topics as varied as throwing and fast bowling to coping with bereavement and the importance of sleep.
“It’s as much about what the counties can learn from each other as from us, and we were delighted by the quality of presentations we received from counties this year,” said Raph Brandon, the ECB’s Head of Science and Medicine.
“We’ve honed in on the engine room of science and medicine in cricket. The game has every right to be proud of its record in innovation, and that is something we are determined to continue. At the end of a demanding summer it’s a big ask for people to commit to these two days, but we are convinced it’s a worthwhile exercise, and delivers benefits to counties, our England national teams and also this year the Kia Super League teams who were represented.”
Under three broad headings of development, innovation and monitoring and profiling, a total of around 100 delegates – who included doctors, psychologists, physios, strength and conditioning coaches, performance analysts, player development and welfare coaches, and nutritionists – were given the opportunity to pick and mix from a range of topics.
Somerset’s Head of Strength and Conditioning, Darren Veness, was once again asked to present to delegates. This year he delivered a summary of his Masters thesis, based around how the effects of mental fatigue can impact cricket specific performance.
‘Daz’ said: “It’s always a pleasure to get together at the conference, which has grown significantly over recent years and continuously offers a chance to learn, either from within English cricket or from many other sports and professions. Jamie and I always look to ensure that we are available, and this year took some great information that we both believe could improve our player support strategies even further as we look forward. It was great from a personal perspective to be offered an opportunity to present my research, and my day got better because on the way home I received confirmation that my thesis had gone forward for publication, so it was a very happy drive home too!”
Other presentations included throwing performance and injury from Steve McCaig, one of the ECB’s physiotherapists who has also been working with several counties on a project relating to chronic pain.Roy Barber, one of the ECB’s strength and conditioning specialists, shared his work on the physical characteristics of fast bowlers; Phil Scott, the England S&C coach, tackled power hitting; and Alex Tysoe, Surrey’s head physiotherapist who worked with the England Lions last winter, also addressed fast bowling, specifically the monitoring of the workload involved.
Nick Peirce, the ECB’s chief medical officer, provided an update on the Concussion and Helmet Review – and the Conference was launched by a presentation from Cheri D. Mah of the University of California’s Human Performance Center, addressing sleep as “The missing link in optimal performance”, and drawing on the experiences of the Golden State Warriors guard Andre Igoudala, and the Olympic champion swimmer Erik Vendt.