Whats causing cricketers to cramp during World Cup matches? – Firstpost

India's Shubman Gill grimaces in pain after suffering cramps during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 semi-final match between India and New Zealand, at the Wankhede Stadium, in Mumbai. PTI
It’s 10 out of 10 for the Men in Blue. On Wednesday (15 November), India hammered New Zealand by 70 runs to qualify for the ICC World Cup final and now await the winners of the Australia-South Africa match.
India began the match on an aggressive note, setting up a mammoth target of 397 with Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer scoring centuries and Shubman Gill powering a massive 80 runs before retiring hurt after suffering cramps. Later, the bowlers, especially Mohammed Shami, did their thing, bowling New Zealand out for 327.
Post the match, former Australian pacer Simon O’Donnell flayed the New Zealand team for helping Kohli when he began cramping during his innings. “Why would you go and help Virat Kohli when he had a cramp? When they’re heading for 400. In a World Cup semifinal. Spirit of the game is playing within the laws. Virat Kohli is tearing your country apart and you want to go over and give him a hand,” said the former cricketer.
But Gill and Kohli’s cramps during the match isn’t a new occurrence at the World Cup. Several other cricketers, including Australia’s Glenn Maxwell also suffered from the ailment during the tournament.
As cramps become more regular on the field, we take a look at what causes them, how they affect the body and what can be done to avoid it.
Cramping cricketers
Throughout the ICC World Cup 2023 tournament, several cricketers have been seen grimacing and suffering cramps while being on the field.
India’s very own Shubman Gill had to retire hurt in the 23rd over of India’s innings when he began experiencing cramps. He returned to bat in the final over, after the fall of the fourth wicket, and fielded during New Zealand’s innings.
Even Virat Kohli, who scored his 50th century, breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record, was also seen struggling during the latter part of his 149-minute stay at the crease.
New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell too suffered cramps during his innings, and at one point wasn’t able to stand, let alone swing his bat.
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Earlier, Australia’s Glenn Maxwell did the almost-unthinkable during the match against Afghanistan; he smashed an unbeaten 201 while he battled cramps in his calf, shin, hamstring and toes and was further hampered when he picked up a back spasm.
Also read: Why Glenn Maxwell couldn’t ask for runner despite suffering with cramp in World Cup game against Afghanistan
It was a sight to behold; the 35-year-old standing at the crease, grimacing in pain and hitting the ball time and time again with little to no leg movement.
India’s Shreyas Iyer too suffered from cramps during India’s match against The Netherlands at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. He then told the media that he had taken pills for his cramps.
South African player Heinrich Klaasen was also seen battling cramps during the match against England in Mumbai. Despite the pain, the Proteas player scored a century, which he deemed later as “It’s (the hundred) up there with my best ever.”
During Pakistan’s high-stakes encounter with England on 12 November at Eden Gardens, Mohammad Rizwan’s cramping episode stirred several memes, with many accusing the Pakistani cricketer of acting.
Reasons for cramping
But it’s not just cricketers who are suffering from cramps. Several other professional athletes have been seen suffering from acute leg pain while playing. For instance, tennis player Carlos Alcaraz was seen struggling with cramps during his French Open final against Novak Djokovic back in June. The pain forced the youngster to play the rest of the match at a lower level, eventually leading to his loss
Even people who exercise on a daily or play sports in their free time may complain about it.
So, what causes cramps? In the case of Shubman Gill, the cricketer said that the cramps were an after effect of his dengue. “It was quite humid and just the after-effects of dengue,” he was quoted as saying.
Gill said that dengue had left him with reduced muscle mass, which could have caused the cramps.
For the other players, there were other factors at play causing the painful spasms. Some experts state that people experience cramps owing to dehydration. Muscles require a balance of water and electrolytes. If someone drinks too much water, it dilutes the electrolytes.
It is said that if one dilutes all the electrolytes, the muscle gets stuck in the contraction and can’t relax, causing serious pain.
As Randy Bird, director of sports nutrition at the University of Virginia told the Washington Post, “Most athletes walk around in a dehydrated state. It’s not an acute problem; it’s a gradual problem throughout the week. Monday they practice and don’t properly hydrate, and Tuesday they do it again. And then, bam, it’s Saturday, and they’re very dehydrated.”
Experts also note that weather is an important factor in cramping. They note that an increasing number of athletes will complain of cramps in hot temperatures. Because sweat evaporates more slowly in humid temperatures, the body produces more sweat to cool itself down. This can result in a greater loss of fluids and electrolytes.
Another cause for cramps, according to experts, is neuromuscular fatigue. The hypothesis is that fatigue contributes to an imbalance between excitatory impulses from muscle spindles and inhibitory impulses from Golgi tendon organs, and that this results in a localised muscle cramp.
In simple words, muscles tend to cramp specifically when they are overworked and fatigued due to electrical misfiring.
Some sports therapists also note that cramps may occur due to a lack of blood flow. They say that a narrowing of the arteries that bring blood to the legs can cause a cramping pain in the legs and feet during exercise.
Preventive tips
It’s not totally possible to prevent cramps, but experts state that sportspersons should drink plenty of liquids and stretch the right way to avoid these painful spasms. However, if an athlete suffers from cramps during a game, they should opt for some gentle massaging and hydrate their bodies.
Some doctors also suggest taking an oral dose of magnesium or calcium.
Nowadays, many athletes are choosing to drink pickle juice as an effective method of helping against cramps. Dr Mayur Ranchordas – a senior lecturer in sport nutrition and exercise metabolism at Sheffield Hallam University, told BBC, “It contains sodium, potassium and vinegar and the obvious conclusion would be that it replaces sodium and salts lost when playing sport in a hot and humid environment. However, how it really works is that it triggers a reflex in the mouth which sends a signal to stop muscles from cramping. That’s why it is drunk at the onset of cramps. It stops cramping 40 per cent faster than drinking water.”
With inputs from agencies
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