If you’re looking for a sport to take up in order to boost your fitness, you may not immediately consider cricket among your top options. It lacks the explosion of athletics, the perpetual motion of football and the raw power of weightlifting, for sure. However, it should not be ignored that cricket is a sport with plenty of physical demands and which, in its way, offers plenty of ways to benefit your overall fitness. In case you were in any doubt over that, let’s look at some of the ways cricket can help you get fit and stay healthy…
If you want to stay out there in the middle scoring runs like Brian Lara, you’re going to need to have the endurance to do so. Even if you don’t have the strike, you need to be standing up and poised to run and keep this up for hours at a time. When striking the ball, you’ll need to have the correct body shape to make sure you aren’t just lazily waving a bat around, and all of this means working on your muscle tone. The good news is that the more cricket you play, the more muscle tone you’ll accumulate.
Sometimes in cricket, you’ll need to go from standing still to running at full pelt with little notice. That’s an explosive way to move, and you’re going to burn off calories with little difficulty. Either by adding runs to your team’s total or working in the field to limit your opponents’ scoring, you’re going to get no shortage of aerobic exercise, whether in a limited-overs contest or over the course of a few days.
While other sports may be more immediately beneficial for aerobic and strength training, your hand-eye coordination won’t get a better workout than you’ll give it with a day’s cricket. Whether it’s by unwinding to lash a loose delivery to the boundary, exercising your forward defensive stroke, or pulling off a Ben Stokes-style spectacular catch to remove an opposing batsman, you’re always going to be priming yourself to make that decisive split-second movement that could ensure your team wins the match, and that coordination can come in useful elsewhere.
Watch cricket often enough, and you’ll get to recognise different players’ signature movements and how they become almost second nature. Look at MS Dhoni unleashing his Helicopter shot against a late-over yorker or Douglas Marillier pulling off his Paddle Scoop, and you see how these players have accumulated the muscle memory to play shots that other batsmen dream of emulating. Practise for long enough, and you’ll find yourself mastering some fine motor skills that you hadn’t thought possible.
There may not be a better sport than cricket for bringing together the brain and the body. Pretty much anyone can swing a bat, but if that’s all you can do, you won’t last long in the middle. Additionally, you can spend long spells out in the field without the ball ever getting near you. When it suddenly flashes your way, the degree of concentration you can muster will be the difference between removing a stubborn batsman and watching him put on another 50 runs. The concentration you learn from a career in village cricket won’t go to waste when you’re back at the day job.
Hit a ball well enough, and you won’t need to run too hard or too fast in a game of cricket; the ball will do the running for you. But winning a match turns on those snatched singles and the ability to turn an easy two into a three here and there. That depends on being quick on the turn and ready to dive for safety when a run-out threatens. It can also come down to getting down low to those edged shots into the slips and turning to throw when you stop a ball in the outfield. Apply yourself on the cricket field, and you’ll hone the agility you need in no time at all.
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Cricket may not be a sport that immediately displays its fitness and health benefits in the way others do. But that is a long way from saying that it doesn’t benefit your overall health. As you can see above, there are plenty of ways that this sport will work on your fitness and give you benefits beyond what you’d first think – and it will remind you of just how many types of fitness there are. So why not pick up a bat and give it a try? You’ll be amazed how quickly the changes come.