The action of fast bowling in the game of cricket is known to cause injuries to the lumbar spine. We studied a group of 16- to 18-year-old fast bowlers, selected for special training in Western Australia. All 24 had MR scans of the spine, 22 had radiographs and CT scans; in 20 the bowling technique was analysed biomechanically. There was a high incidence of back pain and this was always associated with a radiological abnormality. Pars interarticularis defects were diagnosed in 54% and intervertebral disc degeneration in 63%. Bowling actions which involved counter-rotation were associated with a higher incidence of both injuries.