As he strolls around the team hotel,staring into his smartphone,Australia pacer Billy Stanlake might be perceived as taking a break from his cricketing duties. In fact,he might be paying more attention than ever before.
Standing 6 foot 8 inches tall and capable of generating genuine pace and steepling bounce,Stanlake is one of the players to watch out for in the current Australian U-19 squad. The 18-year-old,however,has been limited by ankle and groin injuries over the past couple of years. Indeed Stanlake isn’t unlike a number of young Australian fast bowlers who have been laid low by recurring injuries recently.
Even as he gets back to full strength,Stanlake remains under close observation by his coaches,physios,nutritionists and doctors who try to manage his workload to sustainable levels. Their job is made easier by a mobile phone app used by Stanlake and every member of the Australian contingent.
The app named GER-350 is deceptively simple. After his training every day,Stanlake answers a few simple multiple choice questions which is used to get an idea of his workload and wellness. He answers whether he has trained,how many deliveries he has bowled,and his rate of perceived exertion.
He also makes entries for his weight training and cardio sessions. He then answers queries related to fatigue,muscle soreness,stress and sleep. The entire process seems tedious but actually takes about a minute to finish. “It is so quick that it isn’t a headache for players to fill out,” says Brian McFadyen manager of the Australian squad and information manager at the team performance unit of Cricket Australia.
For entire set-up
The app on Stanlakes’ phone is used across age levels,and mandatory for players with a senior Australia contract as well as participants in the Sheffield Shield. After Stanlake is through with his entries,the data received is analysed and pored over by support staff. “All the data goes into the Australian management system (AMS) and can be accessed in realtime by coaches,sports scientists,” says McFadyen.
For a bowler who is particularly prone to injuries such as James Pattinson,the app allows physios to study his workload over a normal week and hopefully prevent strains.
“If Pattinson has been bowling upwards an average of 250 match balls over a seven day period,that is plotted on a graph. During a Test match,he may bowl 300 balls so he has gone past his conditioning load. That shows as a spike. If it is a small spike,it is manageable. But if he has been conditioned to bowl,say,an average of a hundred balls and suddenly he is bowling three hundred,then it shows up as a big spike,which acts as a red flag,” says McFadyen.
Wellness and recovery
Stanlake himself has a slightly reduced workload considering his age and injury history. While he bowls an average of 150 balls,the team physio and doctor take equal note of his wellness and recovery feedback which the app shows in a colour-coded format plotted over five or twelve days. A good night’s sleep is indicated in green while red suggests a poor night sleep. With stress,sleep and overexertion tending to add up,when the five day format shows someone moving from bright green to orange and red,physios prescribe the players to rest before stress reaches dangerous levels.
While the app has been around for a couple of years it has had another upgrade scheduled for Wednesday. It started off simply as a way to keep team members connected with each other,serving as a simple database for hotel room numbers and local SIM numbers and the daily schedule. It then expanded to statistics with coaches now able to crunch numbers on things like how many dot balls a player has bowled.
McFadyen says the app while useful,really comes into its own in situations when players are away from camp. “At the camp you obviously have the coach who can keep track of what you are doing. Where this app helps out even more is when we have guys who aren’t training under us and are perhaps with a different coach and we can see what they are doing and progressing. It is the equivalent of someone at the BCCI knowing what is happening with every Ranji player playing matches accross the country,regarding his workload,injury and recovery,” he says.