Saturday, 10 November 2012

Warm Ups

JP Duminy - sacrificed to the warm down
Fantasy Bob is of a sporting generation to whom warm-ups and warm-downs were unfamiliar concepts.  Indeed for the cricketer in Scotland the concept warm was unfamiliar.

Nowadays cricketers and all other top sportsmen indulge in extended warm-ups and and warm-downs that frequently last longer than the match themselves.  Lower league cricketers are also encouraged to go through these rituals.  There is no indication that such callisthenics improve the prospects of not missing a straight one.

No longer is the once time honoured tradition of standing in a semi-circle around the skipper while he blasts catches off the bat in all directions good enough.  This was always and unconvincing event to FB.  Some skippers were keen.  They were well meaning.  They may well have had their own bat.  But their hand-eye coordination did not stretch to throwing the ball up with one hand and hitting it with the bat held in the other.  There are those who will say that this was reasonable practice for slip fielding since any hit it presented a meaningful test of reflexes.  Particularly if the ball came at face height.   which it did.  Always. These drills simply gave the opposition a false sense of superiority - but for the fact that they were indulging in a similar display of ineptitude.

Now however spring loaded stumps are planted here and there.  Cones are spread around the field and everyone is expected to be energetic.  It is peculiar preparation for when the toss is lost and the All Stars are inserted.  Everyone is well readied to sit and watch for the next 3 hours.  The only positive side that FB can see to this is that it tires the juniors out a bit so they sit quietly.

But there is a price to all this frenetic action, as South African batsman JP Duminy found out yesterday.  He ruptured his achilles tendon badly during the warm down after the first day's play against Australia.  While FB wishes him well, he is puzzled as to why JP was warming down at all.  For he had made no contribution to the day's play at all, since only 2 wickets fell as S Africa took up where they left off against England in the summer.

And there is the issue - should JP have been warming down at all.  Or should he have warmed up before considering warming down?  Someone needs to sort this out before more players are sacrificed.


  1. I suspect that the modern trend for warming up and warming down has something to do with the appearance on the scene of highly paid professional trainers, who have to look as though they are justifying their keep, and this has filtered down from the top levels of sport to the lowly realms of amateur clubs. The purpose of warming up, as I have always understood it, is to prepare the muscles gently for the greater exertions to follow. Depending on how much effort FB intends to expend, he could tailor this routine accordingly. The rationale behind warming down defeats me, however.
    No less an authority than Sir Roger Bannister has asserted that modern athletes have a tendency to overtrain and that this has significant physiological consequences, including damage to the body's immune system, which may explain the high number of sporting injuries now reported. I am confident that FB will not fall into this trap.

  2. Neither I, nor my good friend who has drawn this erudite discussion to my attention, can deny now being septuagenarian cricketers. We remain just about actively involved, and still very much enjoy the game. Many of our formative years were spent on Carlton’s ground at Grange Loan in the 1950s and 60s. I can still vividly recall chasing backwards up that idiosyncratic big slope square of the wicket, hopelessly trying to judge catches. The phrase “warm up” had not entered my head then, but I suppose it could just about describe my forlorn efforts. In those days, and I hope even now, cricketers favoured what I can best describe as a “cool down” after our matches, chatting outside the old clubhouse, enjoying a long drink at the end of a warm summer day, with the sunny side of Arthur’s Seat as a backdrop.

    As Silly Point happened to mention Roger Bannister, I also recall around the same era listening to my parents’ wireless, as he ran the first four minute mile on Tony Blair’s first birthday. It was only some time later that I first saw that grainy black and white film of him collapsing into the arms of his colleagues after the race. Pointless gymnastics in pursuit of sporting excellence, particularly after the event, seemed a step too far even then.

    Personally I do not wish to dislodge these distant wistful memories by starting some “improved” exercise regime. The occasional buggy push with my grandchildren will do.

    1. Many thanks - FB shares your preference for the cool down as you describe it.