Aerobic and anaerobic fitness should always be part of cricket training
Like any sport it is important for cricketers to have a cricket training programme that not only works on the skills of the game but also on fitness. A good cricket training schedule will allow players to be in the best condition possible for the matches and season ahead.
The structure of cricket means that depending on what position a player plays in endurance and concentration are vital as well as having good strength and conditioning. A proper training programme will concentrate on these areas to ensure the player is in the best physical condition possible to perform when they enter the pitch either to bat, bowl or as a fielder.
Cricket matches can last for very long periods of time, particularly at the highest levels during test matches. Players can be on the pitch for up to four hours at a time before a break in play which will test their concentration levels as well as fitness. The better physical condition a player is in the better their concentration will be and the more effective their performance, regardless of whether they are batting, bowling or fielding. As every player will be required to bat and field during a match, it is crucial that training encompasses all aspects of the game in order for them to perform.
While the dynamics of the game mean that play is very stop start, as the bowler resets for every ball delivery, the players need to be focussed and ready to explode into life once the batsman has played a shot. This applies to players in each position. The batsman must be able to sprint from one end of the pitch to the other; the fielders must be alert and agile to get to the ball as quick as possible and the bowlers must be able to sustain concentration and fitness throughout each of their bowling sessions, which can often last for three to four hours.
Cricket training should involve conditioning the players both aerobically and anaerobically. This will provide them with a good base to work from and will prepare them physically for the challenges ahead.
Aerobic training is particularly important during the off-season. It will allow players to build up a strong level of cardiovascular endurance and ensure that they are maintaining a good level of fitness. Running, cycling, rowing and swimming are the best forms of aerobic training and these sessions should be conducted at a low to medium intensity over longer periods of time. Forty five minutes to an hour of good aerobic training will work up a good sweat and get the heart rate and lungs working.
Anaerobic workouts are also an important part of a cricket player’s training programme. These sessions will improve speed, alertness and reactions. They will also work on a cricket player’s recovery time, allowing them to perform at optimum level after each shot has been played and each ball has been delivered.
It is vital that a batsman has good sprint speed and endurance in order to run between each wicket after a shot has been played, especially as this may be the best way of building up runs if they are struggling to find the boundary. A bowler may be required to bowl a lot of overs during a three to four hour period and this will test their endurance and power. This is particularly true of medium and fast bowlers. While fielders may go long periods of the game without touching the ball, it is still crucial that when they are called into action they are alert and can cover the ground as fast as possible. They need to be able to execute acrobatic catches and perform high intensity sprints to prevent the ball from reaching the boundary line, to perform fast run-outs or to limit the amount of runs a batsman can make while the ball is in the outfield.
Good anaerobic workouts will involve short high intensity sprints of between five to forty metres with short recovery times in between each set. It is also a good idea to incorporate this into cricket drills using the ball and bat to mimic match play.