In April the annual Cricket Australia conference took place at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane. Doctors, physiotherapists, strength and conditioning, dieticians, psychologists and high performance experts were among the attendees from each state. The conference offers not only a chance to review overall performance at a state and national level, but also an opportunity to discuss the growth of cricket in Australia and plan key objectives for all aspects of medical and professional coverage.
From a medical perspective, there were many highlights. Alex Kountouris spoke on his ongoing research of lumbar stress injuries in fast bowlers and the role of MRI screening for this population. There is promising data suggesting correlation between grading the intensity of oedema on MRI and the risk of progressing to stress fracture. This could lead to major implications with screening and injury prevention.
John Orchard spoke on the annual injury surveillance data and made some interesting comparisons to previous seasons. Interestingly the two leading annual injury incidences were hamstring strains and concussion (8.3 new injuries per 100 players per year). Fast bowlers were found to have the highest overall injury prevalence of 23.8% which is an interesting comparison to spin bowlers at just 5.4%.
With regards to concussion, we had 170 recorded head impacts in the past 2 seasons and 74 of these were diagnosed with concussion. The rate of concussion observed stands at ~2.2 concussions per 1000 player days in elite men/women’s cricket. This is significantly higher than previously thought and justifies recent discussions surrounding the management of concussion in cricket and the potential role of a substitute in all formats of the game. As a result of this research, the ICC has just recently approved a two-year trial of concussion substitutes in Shield cricket (following prior approvals only to one-day and T20 formats in Australia). This is an important step for cricket in Australia and will be a hot topic of conversation over the next few seasons.