RESEARCHERS at Sunderland University could soon be responsible for the next generation of international cricket stars.
Experts in the city are conducting their first study into the health and performance of junior cricketers.
It is hoped their work will have a wide-reaching impact on the sport and its top-level players.
From measuring the length of their limbs, playing technique and balance to motivation and diet, the researchers have teamed up with Durham County Cricket Club (DCCC) and Durham Cricket Board (DCB) to carry out a series of fitness tests.
The tests will be performed over five weeks with two age groups – under 12s and under 15s.
The data will then be collected during coaching sessions for those youngsters already showing promise at local league and county league level. It will also aid assessors during the selection process to decide who plays for the county age groups.
Durham is one of the UK’s top performing county clubs, producing many England internationals such as Paul Collingwood, Steve Harmison, Liam Plunkett, and more recently Graham Onions and Ben Stokes.
The club is dedicated to promoting the health benefits of cricket to youngsters and the wider community, as well as looking for the next generation of professional bowlers and batsmen.
Sports scientists Simon Fairbairn, who is leading the research on behalf of the university, says collecting data on the youngsters’ physiological and psychological performances during the coaching sessions could potentially be looked at in the long term by the club’s own professional coaches and the English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Simon, from Durham, said: “Cricket has often been perceived as a sedentary sport, but it’s much more of a physical game than people realise and there are increasing demands on the amount of international matches they play.
“The physiology of the elite players has been compared to rugby in terms of speed and strength relative to their body weight.
“The junior cricketers are at the same level as those youngsters playing for the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland football academies. Therefore they need access to the best training, health advice and guidance.
“Hopefully, our data will help highlight the health benefits to their young players and their families. It will also be used to aid the club’s decision on selection.”