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Twenty20 Match Made in Heaven

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22 June 2008


Article by Darren Maddy, Warwickshire Cricket club captain - as seen in Athletics Weekly




Cricket and athletics have many similarities and UKA’s sponsorship of Warwickshire’s Twenty20 season is a great way for the two sports to join forces.


When I was at school, there was limited opportunity to participate in athletics and to play cricket due to the change in PE curriculum. So what little there was seemed like a token gesture.


I suppose like many young athletes, as a young cricketer my interest began with my father’s participation in a local league. I fell in love with the game and was fortunate to have access to the coaching and practice I needed outside of my school hours.


Like athletics, my development was helped by age group competition from U11 to U19 level, without which I wouldn’t have been able to develop into the player I have become, or to turn professional at the age of 17.


In terms of the organisation there are many similarities between sports. Both enjoy peaks of popularity as key major events help improve their profile; in athletics, World Championships and the Olympic games, or in cricket the Ashes series and the Twenty20 season.


So what are these physical similarities? The Twenty20 format is the most explosive and powerful form of the game that could be on a par with that of a 100 metre sprint.


The old fashioned image of a cricketer has long changed. Gone are the beer bellies that may have once been associated with a cricketer’s physique - they have been replaced by “six packs”! These days the conditioning that we commit to in order to reach the top of the game has many similarities with athletics conditioning.


Pre-season training used to consist of reporting back to your County in March for an April start. Now the season ends mid September and six weeks later we are reporting back for fitness preparation once again.


Running, track work and strength conditioning play a massive part in our preparations. A cricketer needs to possess so many differing attributes; we are several disciplines of athlete rolled into one. For example in first class cricket we need the mental focus and endurance of a long distance runner to be competing for six to seven hours a day. When fielding we may only have contact with the ball in limited periods throughout the day and when we do we could are expected to be as explosive as a sprinter, running flat out for 60-80m at a time to prevent a boundary.


Technically cricketers need to have expertise in so many areas. A fielder doesn’t just throw his body at a ball in the same way a long jumper doesn’t throw himself at the sandpit; there are ways to effectively field without causing injury.


A batsman needs that essential sense of timing whilst also having strength and endurance to bat for a long period of time, whilst a bowler bowling 15-20 overs in a day would be delivering more than 100 accurate powerful balls. This is a lot more then a javelin thrower would be expected to throw, though admittedly not as far!


I am sure that the family audience flocking to Edgbaston during our Twenty20 campaign will see the significance of the athletics association. With the Olympic trials taking place in Birmingham this summer, it is a superb opportunity for both sports to share in the height of their popularity and a great reminder that athletics - with the basics of running, throwing and jumping - really is at the heart of all sports.