Tag: Cricket Australia

What Mental Mockery Can Do To You?

KL Rahul( Cricket Country)
KL Rahul in action against Australia in Dharamsala test.

( picture from cricketcountry.com)

On 26/3/17 the second day of the fourth test match between India and Australia at Dharamsala: Post lunch session- Opener K.L.Rahul who played with a lots of patience and responsibility since play began in the morning was batting on 60 and facing up to Pat Cummins, who was bowling a spell that was hostile, intimidating and fast with speeds of over 145. In that over after every ball, Pat Cummins muttered something to Rahul: the first time Rahul ignored it: the second time he stared back and nodded his head in dissent. The next ball was bounced: Rahul instead of allowing the ball to go past him decided to slog it over mid-on but ended up giving a simple catch to mid-off. Rahul even in his wildest dreams would not play such a rash shot. All the good work was undone with one shot. It was a simple case of rush of blood, lapse of concentration, and momentary brain fade. What led to this? Obviously, it was Pat Cummins mental mockery. In the end it was Pat who had the last laugh and Rahul was forced to leave dejected and defeated. Pat forced Rahul in to mental disintegration coaxing him to play a reckless shot. In fact, Rahul tried to give-it- back- to- Pat Cummins by playing an aggressive shot- which was the wrong thing to do.

A sporting contest normally is an execution of different skills to get the better of your opponents to gain supremacy over the other. But, when things are not going their way: it has been a customary practice with the players to play mental games to regain control of the proceedings. In cricket, players indulge in verbal bashing commonly known as sledging– especially on the batsman in order to irritate, provoke and intimidate. The result is that the batsman loses concentration- internally, by his own frustrating & irritating thoughts and externally, by all the drama that is going on around him.

Mind games are not restricted to cricket alone: we have seen it happen in Tennis, where players like John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were infamous for using negative tactics to win matches. Whenever the opponent was holding the upper hand they held up matches-by picking up fights with spectators, protesting against linesman, referee or officials. In the melee the hapless opponents waiting for the game to restart would get irritated and frustrated and by the time the game started they would have lost their concentration and rhythm. Ultimately, fortunes would change and they would end up losing the match. Time wasting, irritating habits, verbal abuse, negative body language are also some of the mind games players’ play to fox their opponents in to submission. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were not two batsmen who let sledging get in to their mind nor did they react negatively to the abettors with all the drama happening around them.

How to deal with mental mockery?  

  1. The best thing would be to ignore and look elsewhere.
  2. Do not look directly in to the eyes of the person engaged in sledging.
  3. When sledging is happening around you, focus on something different like the pitch, the stumps, and the greenery of the turf around you. If you are playing a game like tennis- look around to spot something of a particular color like green, blue, white or yellow OR look at the strings of your racquet
  4. Take it with a smile and treat it just as another banter- with the guys trying to break your mind with their antics. The more you take it seriously the more stressed you are going to be. Change your thoughts to positive and focus on what is important at that point of time. Try to maintain your composure even under severe provocation.
  5. Hum your favorite tune or focus on your breathing to take away your mind from all the distractions.
  6. Mental preparedness using the above mantras is the key to handle mental mockery. You know you’ll be sledged – be prepared for it.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at viswanath.author@gmail.com

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

You can also follow at





Why are Indian Batsmen crumbling against spin?

Nathan Lyon

Photo : cricketnews18

India traditionally has produced world class spinners in cricket. The most logical reason for this is the fact that the conditions and the pitches in India do not encourage fast bowling as compared to England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies or New Zealand: this has encouraged more and more Indians to take to bowling spin.

In addition, physical requirements to become genuine fast bowlers do not match well with an average Indian physique, though there are some exceptions.

Starting with the likes of Ghulam Ahmed, Lala Amarnath, Bapu Nadkarni, Vinoo Mankad and Subhash Gupte to the present generation comprising Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayanth Yadav and Amit Mishra, India has produced quality spinners.

Many spinners of world fame have come and gone in between. India’s coach, leg spinner, Anil Kumble is the highest wicket taker for India in test cricket. Spin has been India’s forte and for too long we have depended on spin to win matches for us: and the tweaker’s have not let us down. Our emphasis on spin has been so much that there were occasions when a spinner has opened the bowling or came on to bowl in the 3 or 4th over of a test match. If Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft were a feared quartet, the quartet of Bedi, Chandra, Prasanna and Venkat was a threat of a different kind.

The breeding ground for India’s spinners has been domestic cricket. While the spinners grew from strength to strength the Indian batsmen also became adept at playing spin bowling with the kind of exposure they got day in and day out. Across generations in test cricket, spinners from other test playing nations have not posed any serious threat to Indian batsmen barring the likes of Shane Warne, Dereck Underwood, Saqlain Mustaq or a Muthaiah Muralidharan- their nemesis has always been the fast bowlers in overseas conditions. But, fast bowlers from teams visiting India also, have not posed a serious threat because of the placidity of wickets and unfavorable conditions in the sub-continent and also, this makes the Indian team a formidable opponent in their own backyard. It was so till recently, but of late the Indian batsmen not in the same comfort zone against some quality spin bowling by the visiting teams? 

It all began during the England team’s tour to India during the later part of 2012. It was a four test series that was won by England 2-1 with one of the test matches ending in a tame draw. Graeme Swann [20 wickets] and Monty Panesar [15 wickets] wrecked havoc on the Indian batsmen. Now, in the ongoing series between India and Australia another off spinner- leg arm leg spinner combination in Nathan Lyon and Steve O Keefe appear to do the same. The first test has already gone in Australia’s favour: with the spin duo sharing 17 wickets between them. In the first innings of the ongoing test match that began at Bengaluru on the 5 March 2017 Wrecker-in-chief Nathan Lyon has taken 8 wicket for 50, ably supported by Steve O Keefe who accounted for one: resulted in another dramatic Indian batting collapse-to be dismissed for a paltry total of 189. It appears India is staring at another defeat at the hands of the Steve Smith’s side, so-called underdogs. What ails the Indian batsmen against good spinners? Let’s find out.

  1. With the advent of the 50 overs and the T-20 game the technique against spinners has changed over the years with the emphasis more on the aggressive slogging game. In the longer format the spinners get more time to settle in to a groove and provide more opportunities to add variation to their bowling. The modern day batsmen fail in their ability to be patient and play the waiting game in the longer format against top class spinners- this has been their undoing.
  2. With the amount of International cricket that’s being played these days the Indian batsmen hardly get any opportunity to play against their own spinners in domestic cricket. And they really don’t get tested by the spinners of the opposition teams. When will a Rahul or Karun Nair get to play Ashwin in the longer format? This is where they are mainly losing out. Whereas earlier when there was not too much International cricket, the batsmen had enough time to play domestic cricket thereby honing their skills against the best spinners in business.
  3. The pitches these days are doctored to play dead in order to make it a batsman’s paradise, thereby denting the chances of the spinners to show case their skills. Test match wickets earlier were never used to be covered; the overnight rain or dampness on the wicket was a nightmare for the batsmen with the ball in the hands of bowlers like Underwood or Venkatraghavan. Certain wickets stood by their reputation that the ball would turn prodigiously by the third day, but today things are not the same. Batsmen like Gavaskar, Viswanath and Vengsarkar polished their skills playing on tracks like those mentioned earlier. When faced with wickets like the one prepared at Pune the modern day batsman is found wanting.
  4. Commercialization of the game to attract more spectators to the stadia or more TV viewers by making the game a batsman’s game has proved to be a boon for sponsorships but a bane for the art of spin bowling. BCCI is only interested in attracting sponsors like Star and Sony but are doing very little for the cause of the dying art known as spin bowling.
  5. Physiologically and psychologically speaking too much cricket means very little time for family life, rest& recovery. This over dose will slowly lead to staleness, lack of urge, keenness and alertness of the mind, fatigue in the body with a lack of freshness. This may be one of the reasons for India faring poorly against the Aussies after the recent series against New Zealand, England and one off Test against Bangladesh. The fixtures committee of the BCCI has to take blame for the tightly packed schedule.

The remedy to this malady is to produce more spinner friendly pitches helping the spinners to survive and the batsmen to thrive. Even domestic cricket is played on dead docile pitches these days that turn out be boring and one sided in favour of the batsmen. The right balance has to be restored lest the game will die a slow death. There should be a system in place to see that Indian cricketers take part in domestic cricket for a certain mandatory period.

India needs to believe turnaround is possible

India Vs Austrailia
India Vs Austrailia

Australia have gained a first innings lead of 87 runs and at 11 am India have just come in to bat. India obviously will be under lot of pressure from the word go because there is turn and bounce for the spinners. With two and a half days to go India will need to post a total of at least 450 runs to make a match out of it. With Aussie spin duo full of confidence from their recent success the Indians have a tough task on their hands. It is important for the Indian batsmen to rely on their strengths,  be in the present moment, play the ball on its merits, not to focus too much on the challenges that lie ahead, be positive in their approach, play sensibly and occupy the crease as long as possible. They need to believe that a turnaround is possible at this stage.


Cool down Aussies, let bat and ball talk!

Australia captain Steve Smith

Steve Smith the visiting Australian team’s captain has been quoted to have said in today’s newspapers [Deccan Herald – 15/02/17] – “Individuals to decide on verbal warfare”.

“I think each of our individual plays the way they want to play, If they want to get to the battle verbally,if they get the best out of them, then [ I say] go for it.”  It’s about making sure they have the right mindset as individuals to go out and succeed.”

He say’s, paradoxically- “ In the end it’s about us playing on skills and making sure they are in the best place to succeed in these conditions.”

Australian’s cricketers have been known to be aggressive and known to play the game the hard way with no quarter given. They have always been verbally abusive on the field through their in famous sledging tactics. These are mind games meant to break the confidence& concentration of the opposition, especially that of the batsman. The `monkey gate scandal’ and many other incidents reminds us of  sledging and the episodes surrounding it.

The teams visiting down under’ have always borne the brunt of this verbal onslaught. If Cricket is a game of physical skills then why should it be a game of `slang and sledge.’ If you want be mentally stronger and tougher so be it – show it through your execution and performance with out entering in to a verbal duel with your opponents. That is what cricket was known for- a fair game. Through ages it has been a gentleman’s game.

Steve Smith has contradicted his own statement by saying `in the end it will broil down to skills.”

Then why sledge? Cool down Aussie and let your bat and ball do the talking!