05 Mar Fit Enough for the Middle? A Pro and Expert’s Advice to Survive Batting
Physical preparation has become increasingly important for cricket batsmen. To be able to bat for extended periods of time, maintain focus and recover quickly from running between wickets, it’s important that batsmen are aerobically fit.
The mechanics of a batsmen have found that a players conditioning could be one of the factors that distinguishes successful elite batsmen from unsuccessful elite batsmen.
Cricket is a game of uncertainty, especially when it comes to runs and wickets. But one thing you can be sure of is that the fitter you are, the better you will perform out in the middle.
Although skill of the players is what surrounds the game, the conditioning of teams can decide whether they win or lose.
Are you Fit Enough? Hear from an elite player:
It’s no surprise that one of the biggest names in cricket, Marnus Labuschagne understands the importance of being in peak physical condition. A player who has excelled at every level of the sport, Marnus doesn’t account his skill as the sole reason for his success.
Fortunately, Marnus provided Exercise Right some insight into his training and preparation that makes him prepared to perform on gameday.
Does your running and conditioning preparation contribute largely to your performance on game day?
Although cricket is a skills-based game, physical fitness is an essential pre-requisite for successful performance. I need to make sure that my physical fitness is at its highest possible level, so I can maintain a consistent running speed between wickets the whole day and bat for long periods of time. I find that the fitter I am the better I am able to concentrate for long periods of time and the more consistent my performances are.
What are some examples of training you do each week that prepare you to be fit for game day?
I find that doing lots of high intensity sprint work helps maintain my base level of fitness, but also matches the type of running that is required in a game of cricket, where most of the running is short and sharp and occurs at a high intensity level. Most of my training throughout the week to prepare for a game is skills based, which includes batting, bowling and fielding. These skill components form part of my physical fitness training, as each session typically lasts anywhere from 3-5 hours. In addition to the running and skills sessions, I also do gym sessions 2-3 times a week.
What would your top three tips to amateur batsmen be in terms of training, preparation and match play?
1. Always make sure that when you are training, whether in the gym, running or skills sessions, that you are training at a high intensity. You can’t expect to perform consistently at a high level during a game if your intensity levels at training don’t match.
2. Always make sure that you come into the game fully prepared for the opposition you are about to face. It’s essential to understand what your plans are for each type of opponent and how you will execute those plans.
3. I find running hard between the wickets and trying to get those extra runs can positively change the intensity of the game and also put pressure on the opposition. Likewise, running hard in the field to save runs can have a similar impact. It also demonstrates the importance of off-field training to improve physical fitness, so these on field advantages can be more easily achieved.
Advice from an expert why fitness is key:
All the talent and skill in the world is useless if you can’t maintain performance under fatigue, says Accredited Sports Scientist and Physical Performance Coach of the Queensland Bulls, Brisbane Heat and Queensland Cricket Pathways, Ronan McDonald.
We sat down with Ronan and uncovered some insight into what the training for a batsman looks like for to help take their performance to the next level.
What is the best mix of programming for a wannabe batsmen to be fit enough for a full day on the field?
Cricket Australia use a “Run of 3 Test”, Running 3 wickets every 30secs, 6 times and calculating the decrement between the 1st and 6th effort. They also use a 2km time trial as their primary Aerobic test. Batsmen will include a lot of combination of repeated long (60secs-120secs) and short (10secs – 15secs) intervals, using passive and active rest breaks.
To help with speed, I would recommend Acceleration work over 10-20m and Max Velocity training (the fastest an athlete can run) over 40-60m. Conditioning is important, but so is strength. Include Bi and Unilateral lower limb strength exercises such as squats, lunges, and Bulgarian split squat exercises into your program. Plyometric training exercises such as the two-footed landing depth jump, change of direction (COD) and rotational trunk strength work as well.
What should a sample program look like for someone who wants to be at the top of their game?
When training it is important to plan for the game’s requirements, especially if competing in multiple formats (Test, ODI and T20). Whilst fundamental skills often stay the same, each format brings with it its own set of demands. Planning out the season calendar with key dates and tournaments can help break down the training cycle into specific stages or periods.
Within these periods, accounting for the actual volume of work completed in reference to what was planned can help balance workload demand. The game is so variable that an athlete may be batting for multiple hours one game and the next game may be batting for a matter of mere minutes. It is important to supplement or modify physical sessions dependent on this workload balance.
A general week would look like:
AM – Speed training, batting, strength training
PM – Fielding, batting, interval training
AM – Batting and fielding
PM – Long running interval training
AM – Speed training, batting, strength training
PM – Fielding, batting, short interval training
AM – Batting and fielding
PM – Long interval run training
GENERAL WARM UP – SKILL SESSION
Shoulder Prehabilition Program
- Banded Shoulder Rotational Exercises (using light to moderate resistance bands)
- Partner throws at increasing distances (10m, 20m, 40m)
Straight-Line, Lateral and Change of Direction
- Running technique drills over 10m + 10m acceleration
- Functional movement patterns over 10m (Bear Crawls, Duck Walks, Frog Jumps)
- 20m+ acceleration efforts
- Lateral movements (side shuffle, carioca)
- Change of direction exercises (can incorporate reaction-based drills)
Small Sided Game 5-10mins
- Usually catch and throw based game to replicate cricket skills
- Active Recovery – light aerobic activity (running, cycling, x-trainer)
- Hydration – replacing weight loss with water/sports drink or high-quality protein/smoothie.
- Cold Water Immersion / Hydrotherapy – ice bath and/or light swimming, water running/walking and dynamic stretching.
- Stretching / Mobility – banded stretching / mobility and/or self-myofascial release
- Nutrition – high quality meal 30-90mins post session
Preferably most if not all these touch points are met post session/game however it can be completed as a stand-alone recovery session.
Are you ready to take your batting to the next level?
Consult an exercise professional, such as an Accredited Exercise Professional prior to starting a training program.
We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.
The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.
Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.