UCT researchers not only featured prominently among the organisers of the Second World Congress of Science and Medicine in Cricket that recently preceded the Cricket World Cup, but also among those who presented their work to the about 100 international guests and speakers in attendance.
As with the First Congress in England in 1999 – which also ran just prior to that year's tournament – the colloquium attempted to assemble a group of sports scientists, sports medicine specialists, physiologists, academics, teachers, students, administrators and coaches with an interest in cricket to discuss their work. Delegates who gathered at the Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch from February 5 to 9 represented most of the senior cricket-playing nations.
According to Janine Gray, a senior lecturer in sports physiotherapy within the MRC/UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM) at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) and one of the Congress organisers, the event also serves as an important networking opportunity.
â€œThe idea is to see what kind of research is being done out there, and to make research a worldwide effort instead of a national effort, because I think that with international collaborations we, the researchers, will be able to achieve more,â€ she noted.
Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim and, this year, endorsed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the meeting was opened by the Council's Chief Executive, Malcolm Speed. The speaker list also boasted a number of luminaries, including UCT's Professor Tim Noakes; the author of the best-selling textbook Clinical Sports Medicine, Professor Karim Khan; physiotherapy sage Dr Paul Hodges of the University of Queensland in Australia; and Bob Woolmer, former Proteas coach.
The meeting was divided into a number of sessions, and covered topics such as the current state of cricket research; performance enhancement for cricket; women in cricket; and, crucially, injuries in cricket, a theme that had some resonance at the social cricket game that offered delegates the chance to put their bats where their research papers were.
In addition to her own ongoing PhD work on bowling techniques and related back injuries, Gray also paraded the studies of some of the members of her fledgling cricket research group at the SSISA.
These included Masters student Jacques Gay, who talked on the Honours research on throwing techniques that he did at the University of Brighton in the United Kingdom, and classmate Sharhidd Taliep, who is doing electroencephalograms (EEGs) on subjects (who respond to video images of a player bowling â€œatâ€ them) to test their sensory pathways.
Gray is particularly proud of this guild of honours, masters and doctoral students, which is something of a dream come true for her, she says. â€œThere's nothing better than having a whole group of scientists on hand that you can talk to and share ideas with.â€