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What Are the Benefits of Playing Cricket?

By CricketersChoice Editors

Cricket is an international sport, enjoyed by millions of players both recreationally and competitively.

There are many benefits of playing cricket, including social, psychological and physical aspects that can aid improvement to health, problem-solving and working as part of a team.

Although formal, competitive cricket requires a specifically marked area and specialist equipment, however the recreational version can be played almost anywhere with a bat, ball and a couple of players. Furthermore, players can still feel many benefits from playing informal games of cricket.

In this article, we outline some of the main health benefits of playing cricket. Also, we highlight some of the key skills and learning areas that cricket facilitates in all players.

Health Benefits of Playing Cricket

There are many health benefits of playing cricket regularly. Whether someone is playing for fun or competitively, the list below highlights some of the physical benefits of playing cricket.

  1. Agility: Reacting quickly is a key skill in cricket. Batters, bowlers and fielders have to be alert at all times. Because each passage of play takes place within a matter of seconds, being ready to sprint, jump, reach and throw is essential. 
  2. Coordination: Cricket players develop sharp hand-eye coordination skills. Bowling, batting and fielding all require almost second nature hand-eye coordination. Professional players will play a shot or move to pick up the ball in the field with extreme sharpness. 
  3. Cardio: There have been perceptions in the past that cricket is a sport where players stand around in the field, run very little and do the bare minimum amount of cardio. However, cricket players are fitter than ever as they have adapted to the speed of modern match play. Cardio is a huge health benefit of cricket, especially for bowlers and batters, who run-up to and between the wickets. But even if a player is standing in the field doing very little for most of the match, they still improve their cardio by changing position in the field or chasing after the ball. 
  4. Stamina: Whether it’s a 10-over match, a quick session in the nets or a 5-day match, all formats of cricket help to improve physical stamina. Concentrating in the field or at the crease for long spells is both physically and mentally tiring for players. This is particularly the case in hot or humid conditions that drain player’s energy quickly. Increased stamina is a big health benefit of cricket, but something that players work on gradually. Playing a 50-over match without practice could lead to injury or increased fatigue. 
  5. Balance: Balance is an integral part of cricket. Players improve their balance when playing cricket by transferring weight into the right area of their body when batting and bowling. Balance can also improve when throwing and catching in the field as players must set themselves correctly.
  6. Fine and Gross Motor Skills: Fine motor skills (complex dexterity and use of fingers) comes from simply holding the ball, and it is a benefit that any cricket player will experience. However, transferring this to swing or spin the ball when bowling and releasing the ball at the right time when throwing can improve a player’s fine motor skills. Gross motor skills (the use of large body movements, i.e., moving legs whilst running) are used regularly in cricket, particularly by batsmen. Batters use their wrists and hands when playing certain shots, and practising these increases both fine and gross motor skills. 
  7. Weight Loss: As cricket requires movement and cardio exercise, calories are burned no matter what a player’s role is in the match or in practice. Players who bat and bowl regularly are more dynamic and therefore more likely to burn more calories. But those in the field will also burn calories by standing and moving around the field during a match. Some cricket formats, such as village cricket or vets’ cricket, is played at a slower pace to facilitate amateur players. However, these players will still experience the benefits of weight loss and calorie burning whether they are batting, bowling or fielding. 
  8. Muscle Strength: Cricket is a sport that requires a lot of explosive energy and muscle strength. If a player wants to strike the ball well when batting, a combination of strength and timing is required. A bowler needs to have strength and accuracy when bowling at a good pace, whether they are a spin bowler or a pace bowler. Some fielders will need to throw the ball from long distances in the outfield, and others will need to throw the ball quickly at the stumps from close range. All of these skills help to build muscle strength. However, like with stamina, regular practice will see better improvements and benefits in this area.

What Do We Learn While Playing Cricket?

In addition to the health benefits of playing cricket, there are also many opportunities to learn more about the sport and to develop different mental skills. 

  • Concentration: As well as physical stamina, cricket players develop mental stamina whilst playing cricket. Long periods of concentration are required at higher levels of the game. But this skill requires practice and is built up over time. A loss of concentration can be costly in cricket, often seen in dropped catches, run-outs or additional runs for the batting team through no-balls or overthrows. 
  • Tactics: Every competitive sport requires knowledge of tactics. In cricket, this can apply to a match situation or practice sessions in the nets. Almost every tactical situation in cricket starts with the bowler vs batsman. The bowler will vary their delivery to catch out the batsman, and the batsman must react to score runs. In formal matches, this then extends to the field as the fielder’s placement can often prevent runs and put pressure on the batting team. A great benefit of building and learning tactical knowledge is deeper thinking and seeing patterns of play. This is developed when playing cricket first hand, but it can also improve by watching on TV.
  • Discipline: Discipline is often mentioned in cricket, and it is an important skill that is learnt through extensive practice. Batsman must not give away their wicket by attempting a mistimed slog, or bowlers can give away needless runs through poor discipline. Although players can practice discipline during any form of cricket, whether it’s played for leisure or competition, there is no substitute for an in-game experience. When the stakes are higher, more discipline is required, which can only be experienced and not practised.

What are the Mental Benefits of Team Sports?

As cricket is a team sport, made up of two teams of 11 players, many social and mental benefits can be gained from the sport. 

  • Teamwork: Often, batsman and bowlers may seem like the central point of a cricket team’s success. However, all 11 players play a huge role in the game and working together is key to succeeding as a unit. Often, players will have individual tactics they will carry out for the benefit of the team. For instance, players are taught to “back up” their teammates when someone attempts to throw the ball at the stumps, or when one player chases the ball towards the boundary, another will sprint with them to provide additional support. Many passages of play in cricket require multiple teammates to work together. 
  • Improved Social Interaction and Social Skills: Communication on the cricket pitch takes place between fielders, bowlers, captains and batsman, even with the umpires too. Often, social interaction is friendly and supportive. However, the art of “sledging” – poking fun of an opponent to gain a psychological edge – is a historic part of the game. This adds to the enjoyment of cricket and often provides plenty of entertainment for both teams. 
  • Winning and Losing: Like with any competitive sport, there are also winners and losers – cricket matches are very rarely drawn. The highs and lows in cricket are severe for teams and individuals. As a team, losing by the odd run is terrible, but just scraping by and winning by the same margin is relieving and elating. In individual terms, for a batsman, hearing the ball crack the stumps after a mistimed shot at the crease is heart-breaking but hitting a perfectly timed cover drive for four is a wonderful feeling. The highs and lows of cricket are why it’s so exciting to watch and play and help to explain its popularity worldwide. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Playing Cricket?

The advantages and benefits of playing cricket outweigh the disadvantages. However, there are a few barriers that can prevent player’s progress within the sport.

One of the disadvantages is to do with the weather. Unlike other sports, such as football and rugby, cricket requires dry weather conditions. Indoor cricket is played occasionally, but, at most levels, the game is played on an uncovered outdoor space. During wet weather, cricket cannot be played as the rain drastically affects the crease and the conditions in the outfield.

Another disadvantage of playing cricket is the cost of equipment. Although informal cricket matches can be played with basic equipment, such as a bat and a ball, competitive cricket requires good quality equipment. Unfortunately, buying pads, a good bat or a helmet can quickly add up and prove costly for many players.

Conclusion

There are multiple benefits of playing cricket. As an active sport, many health benefits can support a healthier lifestyle. But the social and mental benefits of playing a team sport are equally as important.

Many of these benefits can also be achieved without playing at a high-standard or professional level. Simply by using an old bat and a tennis ball, two players can reap the health, social and mental rewards of playing cricket and enjoy the game too.