It’s a well-known fact that fast bowlers are put under significant physical duress over the course of a match, a season and especially a career.
But recent data out of the West End Redbacks’ end-of-season reviews have revealed some eye-popping figures that show exactly how demanding the job an elite seamer really is.
After playing every match last season, SA spearhead Chadd Sayers bowled 427 overs last season, clocking up a staggering 938.6 kilometres - including 113 kilometres at high intensity.
A more granular breakdown reveals what these numbers mean in practice.
On Day One of the Sheffield Shield Final against Victoria, Sayers covered a whopping 23.5km in scorching 40-plus degree heat - including over 3 kilometres at high-intensity.
Fellow quicks Kane Richardson, Daniel Worrall and Joe Mennie all also regularly clocked over 20 kilometres in a day’s play, and well over 500 klicks per season.
By comparison, the average AFL player will cover approximately 14km in a match, with 900m of that being performed at high-intensity.
But it’s the unrelenting nature of the bowler’s schedule that SACA Physical Performance Manager and former Adelaide Crows and Gold Coast Suns fitness boss Stephen Schwerdt says says that the physical demands of fast bowlers exceed even that of AFL players.
“When you’re talking about fast bowlers, the amount of stress they put their bodies under in a day’s play, which will often go for six and a half hours, is quite enormous,” he said.
“Not only is it the sheer amount of volume in terms of their running, but the internal load they have to withstand as they deliver the ball through the crease is significant as well.
“To have to back up these kinds of loads up for three or four days in a row, coming off of sometimes only a four or five-day break makes it athletically a much more demanding role than that an AFL player.”
The intensity of work in-season is what makes the winter pre-season period all the more vital to prepare their bodies according to Schwerdt.
Improving core and lower body strength as well as getting enough kilometres into the legs to withstand the massive volume of running are the two main focuses for the quicks over the winter months.
The work appears to be paying dividends to date, with Sayers, Mennie and Worrall having missed a mere six red-ball matches between them in the past two seasons due to stress–related injuries, while Richardson managed a career-high eight Shield matches in 2016/17.
“It’s almost impossible to improve the player’s fitness in-season, there’s just too much cricket. It very much becomes all about recovery and maintenance,” Schwerdt said.
“The work we do around this time of year really sets them up for the season ahead, which makes the hard yards they’re putting in now crucial to getting our best team out on the park come summer.”