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Bundesliga injuries show need for sensible management of seamers, says Surrey physio

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Fast bowlers need to build up their workloads “as sensibly as possible” in order to help mitigate against increased injury risk as they look to return from a prolonged period of rest, according to Surrey’s lead physiotherapist.

Plans are being drawn up around the world for players to return to training after an enforced break from the game, and Alex Tysoe told ESPNcricinfo that building up progressively will be vital for seamers in order to avoid the “undesirable” injury scenario seen in Germany’s Bundesliga.

A report by sports scientist Joel Mason found that injury rates shot up from 0.27 per game to 0.88 in the first weekend of top-flight football in Germany for two months, with soft-tissue injuries particularly prevalent as teams rushed back to the pitch. Tysoe said that fast bowlers needed to find a sensible balance as they prepare to return to cricket.

ALSO READ: ECB handed discretion over move to stage two training by government

“There’s a lot about elite sport and the Covid situation which is not ideal, and we’re possibly seeing the effects of a sustained lockdown on football” he said. “You’ll have seen in the Bundesliga, there were a reported six soft-tissue injuries in the first eight games, which is an unusually high number for that league and sport.

“Bowling is a lot more difficult to facilitate during this period because players haven’t been able to use their local clubs or outdoor facilities. We know from a research point of view that one of the ways to mitigate the risk of a sharp rise in workload is to try and improve the individual’s relative strength, and then all you can do is be sensible when you get back into things: increase people’s bowling workloads as fast as possible but as sensibly as possible too.”

Tysoe is a co-author of a recent paper published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport which examined bowling loads and injuries for 49 fast bowlers at six different counties, and some of the conclusions drawn are relevant to the ongoing crisis.

The study was primarily methodological, exploring the ability of ‘differential loads’ to predict injury risk compared to the widely-used ‘acute-chronic workload ratio’ method, but also demonstrated that large week-to-week increases in bowling loads and bowling after a long period without are associated with the possibility of heightened injury risks.

“A simple analogy is that if you’re flying a plane, you have to consider the throttle, the level of the nose, and keeping your wings level on the horizon,” Tysoe said. “If you can keep all those within certain ranges, then your plane is much more likely to have a nice smooth journey; if you move the nose up and down, the wings left and right, and you’re messing around with the throttle, it’ll be a bumpy ride. It’s about getting up to cruising height nice and smoothly and staying there.

“It’s similar in the case of fast bowlers: it’s about making sure that they’re not doing too much, too soon, relative to the last 42 days, that on a week-to-week basis they’re not adding to what they’re doing too quickly, and that if they do have a break it’s not for too long. What we want now is to have a nice smooth take-off, to get back to that analogy, where we’re getting bowlers to take off reasonably quickly while doing it as safely as possible.”

Tysoe has been at The Oval in the past week, overseeing Sam Curran and Amar Virdi‘s first few sessions back bowling, and said that things had gone “really smoothly”. Eighteen England bowlers are now back in individual training, with a seven-week run-in between their return and the planned first West Indies Test on July 8.

The ECB’s performance director Mo Bobat has previously said that the schedule for this summer is likely to be “pretty brutal”, and that it may be necessary to rotate fast bowlers in order to reduce injury risks. Seamers have been bowling around six overs each per session and will gradually build up over the coming weeks.

“A lot of work went into drawing up the protocols with the ECB, and then implementing all of the logistics,” Tyose said. “The important thing is that the players are safe, and that they can still have some quality training – otherwise there’s no point doing it. The ECB have been brilliant throughout the process, and we’re looking forward to seeing how things progress.”

ALSO READ: How are cricketers keeping fit in lockdown?

Surrey are one of two counties, along with Lancashire, not to have furloughed players during the lockdown, meaning the squad have been checked in on regularly. The club have run weekly Zoom yoga sessions to help increase the squad’s mobility, and Tysoe is hopeful that if a county season is possible later in the summer, players “are not going to take too long to turn around at all”.

“We’re satisfied that they’re in as good a position as they could be at the moment. When we do get the green light to get back in and know when fixtures are, we’re in a position where we’re comfortable we can get them turned around in a relatively quick period of time.

“For the fast bowlers, they can’t bowl in the nets or outside but we can mimic those movements with medicine balls to make sure soft tissues are used to repeatedly producing those powerful, dynamic movements.

“One of the things we can’t do is influence the bone density of the spine. Pete Alway, who did a PhD with the ECB, did his research on spinal density of fast bowlers, and we now know that there’s nothing that can strengthen the spine for bowling better than bowling itself. You lose spine density pretty quickly when you stop bowling, and predictably it can take you longer to build that up: we need to be mindful of building them back up sensibly.”



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Ollie Pope ready for trial by West Indies fire despite slow warm-up pitch

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Ollie Pope has insisted that England are ready for the challenge of facing a fiery West Indian pace attack next week, despite three days of preparation on a “slow” wicket in their intra-squad warm-up match.

West Indies officially added Shannon Gabriel to their squad on Thursday evening, and he looks set to go straight into the side that plays at the Ageas Bowl on July 8. He is expected to be joined by Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph and captain Jason Holder – who averages 14.22 with the ball in Tests since 2018 – in the same formidable fast-bowling line-up which blew England away in Barbados and Antigua last year.

Pope has an imperious record against bouncers in his fledgling Test career to date, scoring 67 runs off the 54 short balls he has faced to date and being dismissed only once, and managed to withstand a brief barrage from Ben Stokes and Jamie Overton on the final day of the warm-up.

But despite those positives, the pitch was slow from the outset, with several balls dying on their way through to the wicketkeeper and several short balls sitting up nicely. The Ageas Bowl’s head groundsman, Simon Lee, is in his first season in the job after joining from Somerset, and – perhaps harshly – came in for criticism in his final years at Taunton for obliging when asked to prepare challenging batting surfaces. He has not had the luxury of a county season in which to get used to his new surroundings in preparation for his first Test pitch, but will undoubtedly hope the bounce is slightly truer next week.

“It was quite a slow wicket,” Pope admitted. “On the first day it felt a little bit soft, and there wasn’t a lot of carry. Nicks weren’t always carrying through. We’re not sure what kind of wicket we’re going to get out there come next Wednesday, but it was quite slow. It started turning a little bit at the end.”

In particular, Pope highlighted the contrast with what had been served up in training. “We’ve played on some quite spicy wickets in the nets, and obviously just against our own bowlers. There’s no net bowlers around, so the quality of bowling has been seriously high on some pretty spicy wickets.

“Sometimes it’s trying to get through the net and keep your wicket rather than feeling good and finding the middle of the bat. We’re gone from one extreme to the other. That’s great for our games, because it’s good to adapt.”

And Pope maintained that he had few qualms about which type of surface he played on, saying that it was up to England’s batsmen to adapt. “Sometimes on a wicket with truer bounce, it makes playing the short ball a little bit easier, but then again it makes it a little bit easier to pull if it’s a slightly slower wicket,” he said. “It’s just adapting, whether you want to take on the pull shot or get under a few more, depending on how quick it is and how consistent the bounce is.

ALSO READ: Relief for England as Sam Curran tests negative for Covid-19

“The quality of competition going on out there was really high-class throughout the three days. I think we’re getting there. I felt pretty good in the first innings, and it was nice to spend a bit more time out there today. We’re all moving the right direction.”

England will name a squad for the first Test on Saturday morning, with seven players from their enlarged 30-man training group set to leave the bubble at the Ageas Bowl. Joe Root has already been confirmed as missing the first Test to attend the birth of his second child, and the side will be led by Ben Stokes.

The selectors were due to meet on Friday evening to finalise the details, but 22 players will be named in total, with around 15 in the main squad and a smaller group of reserves. Those likely to miss out include Keaton Jennings, Lewis Gregory and Amar Virdi, while question marks over Olly Stone’s fitness (he took no part this week due to a tight hamstring) and Sam Curran’s lack of match practice following his self-isolation this week could count against them.

Jofra Archer only bowled three overs on Friday, and twice received medical attention in the match – first on his foot on Thursday evening as he tried to break in a new pair of bowling boots, and later on Friday as he hurt his left wrist in the field – but is understood to be fully fit and available for selection in the first Test.



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Hamish Rutherford’s Worcestershire return confirmed, Ashton Turner’s deal off

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Worcestershire have announced that Hamish Rutherford will fly to England to play for them in the T20 Blast this year, but have cancelled Ashton Turner‘s contract to play in the competition.

Rutherford had initially signed to play all formats this summer, but will only play in the Blast after the postponement of so much of the county season. The ECB will announce which formats will be played next week, but it is anticipated that the T20 Blast will start in September and run into early October.

“It’s been a bitterly frustrating time for anyone in cricket all around the world and it’s no different for Hamish,” said Alex Gidman, Worcestershire’s head coach.

“We are looking forward to him coming back. Hamish and Riki Wessels can cause quite a lot of destruction at the top of the order and it’s important for us as a club and as a group of players that we challenge as much as we can in that competition.

“It’s something we’ve been successful in for the past two years and, regardless of how that competition looks this year, we want to try and do as well as possible in it.”

Rutherford, the New Zealand opening batsman, is set to be one of only a handful of overseas players in the Blast this season, with most signings cancelled in order to cut costs or due to clashes with revised international fixtures or the start of the Australian domestic season. Northants remain hopeful that Paul Stirling will be available to play for them, while Birmingham Bears are optimistic about their chances of getting Chris Green over, since he does not have a state contract.

Paul Pridgeon, the chair of Worcestershire’s cricket steering group, confirmed that Turner’s deal with the county was off. “Because of the change from the original T20 dates, Ashton would not be available for the entire competition because he would be required to return for practice by his state side,” he said.



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Recent Match Report – Team Buttler vs Team Stokes Warm Up 2020

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Team Stokes 233 and 157 for 4 (Bairstow 39, Sibley 38) drew with Team Buttler 287 for 5 dec and 200 for 6 dec (Pope 55 not out)

England’s final preparations for the long-awaited return of Test cricket were boosted on and off the field on Friday, with Sam Curran testing negative for Covid-19 and a handful of key batsmen spending important time at the crease.

Curran’s all-clear was perhaps the most important development of the day, removing the need for a fresh examination of the much-discussed ‘bio-secure bubble’ at the Ageas Bowl ahead of Wednesday’s #raisethebat series opener against the West Indies.

The all-rounder emerged from self-isolation in his hotel room to take in the final session of a drawn internal clash between Team Stokes and Team Buttler, during which five of England’s likeliest top six enjoyed valuable workouts. The game finished with Stokes’ side 157 for 4 in a nominal chase of 255 – the final equation having only been set up by Jos Buttler’s second declaration.

Now it is over to the selectors to fill in the blanks, with a 22-man squad due to be named on Saturday morning, cutting eight names from the original training group of 30. As many as seven of those could be listed as reserves, living and training on-site in Southampton but largely in support of a core group.

Ollie Pope was the day’s top-scorer, pleasingly into fully fluent mode with a rapid 55 not out, while openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Stokes himself each passed 30 to bank useful middle practice before the real thing.

Joe Denly conspicuously failed to join them among the runs, lbw second ball to Jack Leach, but the belated appearance of Dan Lawrence at No.7 suggests his place is safe for now.

There was greater clarity on the spinning position too, with Dom Bess’s status as the man in possession only underlined by expensive spells from Leach and Moeen Ali. The pair did share five wickets for Team Stokes but three of those came from the care-free pursuit of declaration runs and both were far too expensive.

Leg-spinner Matt Parkinson picked up the wickets of Jonny Bairstow and Sibley in the concluding session, only for Stokes to cool his momentum by launching him for 22 in a over.

The day began with Mark Wood taking on the role of the absent Barmy Army, waving a flag on top of the pavilion as he sang his team-mates onto the field with a burst of ‘Jerusalem’. That proved a rare break to the silence England have found so unusual this week, with some suggestion that artificial noise could be piped into the venue for the Test match.

ALSO READ: Sam Curran tests negative for Covid-19 after sickness bout

Resuming 54 ahead of Stokes’ side, Team Buttler’s opening pair of Burns and James Bracey put on care-free stand of 61 in the morning. Bracey, whose day one 85 proved the top score of the match, was first down for 22, top-edging Stokes to fine leg, before Leach trapped new man Denly clean in front for one. That was a rare victory for Leach, who leaked five sixes and looks short of rhythm.

Moeen was also loose but had the satisfaction of bowling Burns on the back foot for 35 before lunch. Runs flowed freely in the afternoon, Pope scoring with consummate freedom as he shared 50-run stands with Buttler (35) and Chris Woakes (37), who were both caught in the deep.

Lawrence’s demotion down the order, and ultimate demise for 6, concluded the innings at 200 for 4.

Bairstow was invited to open alongside Sibley for the fourth innings, suggesting a place in the 22 awaits him, and the pair added 70. Parkinson accounted for both, caught at cover and stumped respectively, but three huge sixes and a reverse sweep for four in a solitary over off the bat of Stokes proved the end of his stint.​

The soon-to-be Test captain finished unbeaten on 37 from just 17 deliveries, while Crawley chimed in with a bright 34 before falling lbw to Wood. Bess ushered in the early finish when he dismissed Moeen for six, underlining his new status as the man in possession of the slow bowling berth.



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