The ‘roller-coaster’ life of a sportsman or Coach

Day 5 – Match Day vs England Lions in Pune

Today we came up against a very strong England Lions team, full of upcoming players pushing for higher honours. Nothing that we haven’t been confronted with before, but we knew we would have to lift our game even higher today if we were to be competitive. Unfortunately this morning our Captain Peter Borren woke up with a tummy bug, and had to be removed from the starting XI. This meant that Michael Swart took over the reigns for the day, and that Tom Heggelman replaced Borren’s spot in the line-up.

Captain's Michael Swart and Craig Kieswetter.

Captain’s Michael Swart and Craig Kieswetter at the toss.

Having lost the toss, we were asked to bat and so for the umpteenth time for the past season or so, the combination of Swart and Myburgh made its way out to the middle. Once again the pair put on a good show and got us off to a good start with a partnership of 42 off just 6 overs. We did however lose 3 quick wickets within the first ten overs, but with the score at 64/3 after 10, we still felt that a lot of batting was to come. Risk free cricket should still get us to a good total. Unfortunately, the batters who got in, got out, and just when we needed a partnership to get going, a wicket fell. We never really had momentum in our innings. The majority of our dismissals were soft, but credit also has to go to the England bowlers for a good effort. Being bowled out within your allotted 50 overs is never ideal, but we had a hour spell at the English before lunch to try and make some in-roads.

Things started off well, with Bukhari summing up the wicket nicely, and claiming 2 well deserved scalps. Craig Kieswetter walked in at number four and received a gem of a delivery from Bukhari first up, which caused a massive appeal for leg before from our boys. The umpire however had other ideas. A faint inside edge meant that Kieswetter survived the shout. When lunch dawned on us, the score was 39/2 after 12 overs.

James Taylor and Kieswetter, proceeded to bat on nicely after lunch, and it was their partnership of 84 that effectively sealed the game for the English. Jos Butler came in after Kieswetter was dismissed, and played a nice little cameo of 23* of 16 balls which included two 6’s. The England Lions passed our score of 155 in the 31st over, and thus recorded a 7 wicket victory.

A tough day at the office for the boys in Orange, but I’m sure we will bounce back nicely tomorrow when we take them on again in a 50 over clash at Poona Cricket Club.

Netherlands XI                      155 all out in 33 overs

van Bunge                              42(70)

Myburgh                                34(24)

Swart                                      22(23)

England Lions                        155/3 after 31.4 0vers

Taylor                                     67*(96)

Kieswetter                             37(49)

Buttler                                    23*(16)

Bukhari                                  2/38 in 8

Heggelman                             1/22 in 4

England Lions win by 7 wickets.

Thoughts on the day

In my fledgling academy days, my Coach always told me “beware of the emotional roller-coaster Rooster!”

Back then I didn’t quite understand what he was saying nor what he meant exactly, mainly because I was young, and very non-conforming. Little did I know that I would be preaching the same gospel to my Academy students 7 years down the line, as I embarked on my coaching journey.

Today, in International cricket, the story comes back to remind me yet again about the roller-coaster life as a sportsman, and Coach. In sport, as in life I suppose, you will have good days, and you will have bad days. You may very well have a stretch of absolutely great days, followed by some absolutely pitiful ones. The point that I’m trying to make is: in sport, you get your up’s and down’s. You can never allow yourself to be too happy, because that breeds complacency, and you can never allow yourself to be too down, because that will just kill you. Somewhere in-between those two extremes, you have to find the happy medium to operate in. An easy way to do that, is to emotionally disassociate yourself from the result. A tough concept to grasp, but once mastered, the world will be your oyster. Focus your energy rather on good preparation, positive energy, and attitude.

In sport, especially in cricket, there are many variables that you can’t control. Even in your preparation, you cannot control everything that you want to. Weather, illness, facilities etc, all play a roll in how you prepare for a match, series, or tour. What you can control however, and you are in control of this everyday of your life when you wake up in the morning, is your ENERGY and ATTITUDE. No matter what life, or sport, throws at you, you are always in control of these two things. Some coaches say that these two ‘controllables’ can directly be associated into what you THINK, FEEL, and SAY. I agree 100% but that I will talk about that some other time.

The Dutch in a team talk.

The Dutch in a team talk.

What does all this have to do with what happened today in the cricket you ask? Well, to put it bluntly, we got beaten badly. Or at least, that is what the scorecard says. You see, so many times, players and Coaches make the mistake, by analysing their performances on outcomes (ie. results, figures, or stats). What we should be doing is, focusing on the processes that led up to the result. Focus on preparation, planning, and execution. More times out of ten, if you get that right, the results will look after itself.  So no matter how badly you want to walk into the change room and give the players, or your fellow player (depending on if you are Coach or a player), a good talking to because you lost, rather point the finger towards yourself, and ask the question of “how was my energy and attitude today? Could I have done anything better, or different, that would have helped my fellow player or your players?” If you have ticked all the boxes correctly, chances are you failed in execution, a bad day at the office so to speak. If not, well then the answer is simple. The trick is to be honest with yourself.

So in short, yes of course its not a great feeling to lose. In fact, if it doesn’t hurt then you shouldn’t be looking to play or coach professional sport. Let it hurt a bit, and then get rid of the feeling, and focus on the next upcoming challenge, and prepare accordingly. Touch up on areas that need to be touched up and move on. In sport there always will be a winner, and a loser, that’s a fact. Be a winner in your energy, attitude, the way you prepare, and on how you go about your daily routines. Only then will you find yourself operating in the happy medium of the emotional roller-coaster.

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