Please tell us about yourself
“My Dad was a big fan of the English cricketer Geoffrey Boycott, so I was named after him. Then I became a physiotherapist and got interested in cricket injuries, so it all just fell into place,” says Sibi.
For his PhD at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, Sibi is working on developing a programme to help fast bowlers avoid shoulder injuries.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Sibi chose to study for his PhD in New Zealand because of its excellent standard of cricket research. His supervisor, Dr Carl Petersen, has worked with elite cricket teams in England, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, and has introduced Sibi to top contacts in the New Zealand cricketing world who have been able to help him with his injury prevention research.
New Zealand’s PhD package, which enables international students to pay the same fees as Kiwi students, was another reason to study here.
Sibi says New Zealand has been a great place to study.
“I’ve had opportunities to publish as a PhD student in New Zealand, and I also taught a course on sports injuries management at Canterbury. I would like an academic career in research and teaching, so having this experience on my CV will be very useful,” Sibi says.
“I really enjoy living in New Zealand. The people are very friendly and the quality of life is good. It is an absolutely great country and I would love to work here in the future.”
What did you study earlier?
Before coming to Canterbury to do my PhD, i did my Bachelor of Physiotherapy- The Tamilnadu Dr. M.G.R Medical University, India and Master degree in Sports Science- Lund University (Faculty of Medicine), Sweden.
Tell us about your research
A new study aimed at investigating shoulder injuries in cricket bowlers is under way at the University of Canterbury.
Researcher Sibi Boycott Walter, a qualified physiotherapist with a masters degree in sports science from Lund University in Sweden, hopes to improve the shoulder rehabilitation methods for cricketers through the research – his topic for his PhD – at the university’s school of sport and physical education.
Mr Walter, who is originally from Chennai, India, home of the Chennai Super Kings, arrived in New Zealand in December.
Previous research into Black Caps’ injuries over a six-year period showed 49 per cent of injuries occurred when players were bowling.
Fast bowlers had the most injuries, with a prevalence rate of 18.7 per cent.
Spin bowlers were the next most injury-prone, with a rate of 5.5 per cent.
Latest available ACC data showed there were 9778 active injury claims related to cricket in the 12 months to June 30.
Dr Carl Petersen, who is supervising Mr Walter, said data from players at a range of cricketing levels in New Zealand, and possibly Australia, would be used in the study.
“He’s going to look at the shoulder injuries and then try and look at how the physios are rehabilitating those shoulder injuries [and] how long it takes them to get back to 100 per cent fitness,” Dr Petersen said.
“He’s also going to compare that to swimmers and how they rehabilitate their shoulder injuries.”
How does your work benefit the community?
Walter says studies on injuries in New Zealand cricket are scarce and there is scant information available on injury incidence reports of cricketers and Black Caps’ pace bowlers.
His research will help New Zealand Cricket understand more about the work overload on the shoulders of pace bowlers, help formulate an effective strengthening programme to avoid shoulder injuries and reduce the number of shoulder injury recurrences among New Zealand bowlers.
“It could also educate young aspiring New Zealand bowlers about the pitfalls of overtraining and establish a formulated strengthening programme to help extend their bowling careers,” Walter says.
“Lumbar stress fractures, hamstring and thigh muscle strains have had the highest incidence of injuries among New Zealand pace bowlers. The shoulder area is the most pivotal of all anatomical areas for pace bowlers.
“Low back pain has haunted quick bowlers all over the cricket world and New Zealand bowlers are no exception. One of the main risk factors for low back pain is excessive shoulder counter-rotation and hyperextension occurring during the mixed action which increases the stress on the intervertebral disc.
“Data I have collected shows 49 percent of all injuries are sustained while players are bowling.”
Between 2002 and 2008 the Black Caps had more injury prevalence in international tournaments compared to domestic tournaments.
“Pace bowlers had the highest injury prevalence rate (18.7 percent) followed by spin bowlers (5.5 percent), batsmen (5.4 percent) and wicketkeepers (3.8 percent). The low back (22.1 percent), knee (20.1 percent) and shoulder (10.9 percent) were the most severe of the injuries suffered by the New Zealand cricket team in international matches.
“As the international cricket calendar has become full due to the popularity of T20 and one day games, pace bowlers are continuously in demand due to the intense nature of these games. Potential rule changes for the shorter games should be considered allowing twelfth man substitutions to demonstrate their potential effectiveness in alleviating volume overload among the pace bowlers.”
Mr Walter hoped to develop better rehabilitation programmes for cricketers through his research, Dr Petersen said.
Identifying whether cricketers were returning to the game too quickly because of a heavy playing schedule, which often included numerous international one-day matches and Indian Premier League commitments, may also be investigated in Mr Walter’s study.
Lindsay Crocker, head of cricket at New Zealand Cricket, said the organisation, which has done its own research, would be interested in seeing the results of the study.