Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mind Games

Vic Marks has a pretty good article here about England's options for Adelaide.

The only paragraph I'd really take issue with is this one: -

'Which brings us to Harmison, widely identified as the cornerstone of England's hopes to retain the Ashes, widely castigated for his inept performance in the first Test. First, we should dispense with the simplistic, emotional response that Harmison, because he is bowling poorly, is gutless, devoid of commitment or a hunger to play. These are the sorts of charges players resent the most, the idea that because you play badly, you are somehow a bad person. And they are generally nonsense."

Firstly I don't think Harmison was ever considered the 'cornerstone' to England's chances in this series. There has always been recognition that on his day he is a proven match-winner, but that his days are maddeningly infrequent.

Secondly, and more contentiously, Marks argues that players resent the idea that they are bowling poorly they are not trying. Fair enough, but what spectators resent is not the fact that players perform poorly - we can all have a bad day at the office, it's that Harmison's body language and general demenour suggests that he doesn't give a stuff.

Marks, along with most other commentators, is fond of saying that cricket is played in the head. That's very true - which means that the sight of England's main strike bowler moping back to his mark, and wandering around in the outfield like a lost sheep gives the Australian batsman an enormous psychological boost. They get a similar boost when the same player keeps saying how much he'd rather be at home (it's also quite offensive to a host country) and then says 'sorry' for not asking Ricky Ponting if he was ok after hitting him at Lords last year.

If you can reduce a potentially serious problem to a minor irrelevence in your mind, then you're 95% of the way towards overcoming it.

1 comment:

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