Background. There has been a continual increase in injury rates in cricket, with hamstring strain injuries (HSIs) being the most prominent. Eccentric knee flexor weakness and bilateral asymmetries are major modifiable risk factors for future HSIs. However, there is a lack of data relating to eccentric hamstring strength in cricket at any skill level. The objective of this study was to compare eccentric knee flexor strength and bilateral asymmetries in elite, sub-elite and school level cricket players; and to determine if playing position and limb role influenced these eccentric knee flexor strength indices.
Methods. Seventy four male cricket players of three distinct skill levels performed three repetitions of the Nordic hamstring exercise on the experimental device. Strength was assessed as the absolute and relative mean peak force output for both limbs, with bilateral asymmetries. Differences in mean peak force outputs between skill level and playing positions were measured.
Results. There were no significant differences between elite, sub-elite and school level athletes for mean peak force and bilateral asymmetries of the knee flexors. There were no significant differences observed between bowler's and batter's mean peak force and bilateral asymmetries. There were no significant differences between front and back limb mean peak force outputs.
Discussion. Skill level playing position and limb role appeared to have no significant effect on eccentric knee; flexor strength and bilateral asymmetries. Future research should seek to determine whether eccentric knee flexor strength thresholds are predictive of HSIs in cricket and if specific eccentric knee flexor strengthening can reduce these injuries.