Can’t cope with the pressure of international cricket? Put things in perspective by taking advice from Keith Miller

Psychologists, psychotherapists and what-have-you seem to be doing good business from helping players cope with something that – when all is said and done – is sport.

They are helping nerve-shattered fans, too, after the tense Cricket World Cup final between England and New Zealand, a game ultimately decided by the number of boundaries scored by each side.

On the strength of this, England won the cup.

Would the toss of a coin have been fairer?  Or should the title have been shared?

No matter.  The fact is a lot of Black Cap fans found their stress levels raised and the NZ Herald fretted:

“Kiwis have been left emotionally bruised today after New Zealand came just centimetres from winning the Cricket World Cup.”

Health reporter Emma Russell accordingly talked with psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald

” … about the impact this kind of heartache can have on your body.”

His advice on dealing with stress, lack of sleep and   low mood can be found here.

Another article  offering six tips to “to help Kiwi cricket fans cope with the heartache” can be found here.  

In England, a Daily Telegraph report was headed England psychologist relieves anxiety to make World Cup hosts finally feel at home

Two shattering defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia forced England to go back to basics, to rebuild from the bottom upwards and it started with two team “culture” meetings in Birmingham this week called by Eoin Morgan.

The message was simple. Morgan, accompanied by David Young, the team’s psychologist, reminded the players of their motivations at the start of the tournament: to embrace this unique opportunity of winning a World Cup on home turf and to be courageous with their cricket.

Young was at nets in the lead-up to this game [against India], helping to calm the anxiety that looked set to sink the campaign.

England rugby coach Eddie Jones earlier this year was reported to be bringing in a psychologist to help his team’s mental fragility in the lead-in to the Rugby World Cup.   

Blowing a 31-point lead to eventually draw 38-all with Scotland in their last Six Nations clash was the final straw for Jones who has admitted his team’s struggles under pressure has worried him.    

Jones won’t name the specialist help he will enlist other than confirming the person will be a woman.  

Back to cricket.

In England, two years ago, former off-spinner Graeme Swann criticised England’s ‘backward’ approach to psychology, suggesting players are unprepared for the mental demands of Test-match cricket.

There are concerns England’s convincing series win over South Africa and three Tests against a depleted West Indies will leave them undercooked for the hostility of an Ashes tour this winter.

An entourage of analysts, coaches and medical experts will travel with them, but Swann claims that for a team that prides itself on attention to detail, England are overlooking players’ mentality.

The former off-spinner said: “That shows how backward we are as a sport where we think full-time fielding coaches, batting coaches and full-time mentors are more important than a psychologist.

“It’s still mind-boggling to me. Every international team should have three or four full-time psychologist working with the team. The mental side of Test cricket is so powerful and so strong, convincing yourself you’re going to do well every day, and yet we still pay lip service to it.”    

Swann explained that a team psychologist was not a shrink, who sat down to talk about players’ fears and anxieties.

“It’s the exact opposite. It’s getting the best out of your mental state. Getting onto the field knowing you’re going to perform on that day is no different in Test cricket than it was on a Saturday in club cricket when you were 15 years old… 

” … The wicket is the same length, the ball is the same size, the bowlers are exactly the same – they’re not all of a sudden bouncing it five times. So what’s different? You create pressure in your head that doesn’t actually exist.”

It is a measure of the vintage of your writers at Point of Order that we remember the great Australian all-round cricketer, Keith Miller.   Former Aussie test cricketer Ashley Mallett wrote of him:  

Arguably Keith Miller was cricket’s greatest swashbuckler. Larger than life, he leapt straight at you from the pages of Boy’s Own Paper.”

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