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Most sports played around the world require a lot of dedication and hard work. But to err is the most basic nature of a human. Though most of the sports do give a window of opportunities to sportsmen to rectify their mistakes, some sports are just downright relentless.
When Andy Murray was serving for his first Wimbledon title in 2013, he surrendered at an astounding 40-0 lead. No one thought that he would eventually defeat Novak Djokovic to win the singles title that year.
Though everyone remembers that Sergio Aguero was the reason Manchester City won the Premier League title in 2012, the fact that he initially missed two goal-scoring chances against Queens Park Rangers is conveniently forgotten.
In cricket, an umpire signals a no-ball when the bowler has bowled out of the line. But when Andrew Flintoff bowled a no-ball in the sixth ball during the second Ashes test of 2005, his mistake was easily covered up by the fact that he managed to dismiss Ricky Ponting in the seventh bowl.
You may find that most of the sports give their players a chance to identify, improvise and rectify their mistakes to eventually emerge victorious - except for one sportsman - Ricky Ponting. The reason was simply the fact that he was from a discipline which provided zero chances of errors. Batting.
Cricket is a worshipped as a religion in our country. And cricketers are no less than Gods to all the cricket fanatics. But when these very Gods, mostly batsmen, make even the slightest error, they are shunned for the same and all their previous achievements are all forgotten quite easily. While it may be true that a single error from a batsman can get him dismissed, his mistake may prove to be devastating for the whole game as well. This is why batting is said to be a relentless discipline, according to Steve Bull.
Steve Bull, a psychologist, served for the England men's team between 1997 and 2014. He was not only part of the backroom team during England's victories in the Ashes in 2005 and 2010/11, but he was also there during the team's dismal performance 2006/07 as well. He has had the opportunity to closely study the psychological effects of a win or a loss on a batsman and how it adversely affects his performance. He says that the margins of error in batting are so small that even a simple mistake, can dismiss the batsman, which may just increase the chances of losing the entire match.
Furthermore, Steve Bull has also mentioned about the knock-on effect on batsmen. When they have two-three low scores consecutively, their confidence starts wearing off and it can take a batsman into the path of destruction.
He observes that a batsman is under strict scrutiny all the time. Though the circumstances may not let him score big but he may feel that the big runs are coming. But on the other hand, the officials only note his form and never understand his ability to eventually score big.
It may be surprising to note that in a game where batsmen are under so much pressure, bowlers, on the other hand, have it quite easy.
There are many instances where a slight error from the batsman leads to his dismissal but bowlers often get second chances.
He quotes, "A slight error of technique and you are out. No second chances, gone. If a bowler bowls a wide, he can get it back. The margin is ridiculously small".
Similarly, he says that if a bowler drops a catch, the batsman can go on to make a century. But if that catch was on point, the batsman is immediately dismissed.
They say that a winner is the one who rises from the ashes and emerge victorious. One such batsman who has shunned the critics and spectators alike to become the top scoring batsmen against all odds is Shiv Chanderpaul, a West Indies legend.
Shiv Chanderpaul is the fifth most trusted player in test matches, with an enviable score of 11,867 runs in 64 tests. With an average of 51.37, he is eighth on the list of the highest scorers in the game.
Chanderpaul seemed to the perfect personification of all the facts that Steve Bull has put forth regarding batsmen. He says that not only Steve is on point regarding batting being the most unforgiving sport, he also adds that the bowlers are getting extremely attentive of a batsman's body language and can immediately sense if they are in bad form or under pressure. This also acts as a negative point to the batsman that can sometimes take away their game.
Chanderpaul says that though a batsman can move according to the situation, sometimes, the situations work against their favour. If batsmen are lucky, they may get to miss a few tricky balls. But if they have a tight situation ahead, they cannot do anything but give it their all and play.
Also, what makes the game more difficult is the fact that luck plays a very important part in a batsman's game. And due to the fact that it is completely uncontrollable and intangible, batsmen often have to go with the flow, even if the winds are against them.
So what is the secret to Chanderpaul's success in such a demanding field of sport?
The secret, he says, lies in the state of mind. Chanderpaul attributes his success to consistency even in the bad form. Often, players want to go into an abyss when they are not performing. This may demotivate them to an extent that they may never recover. Therefore, he says that it is important to keep practising until you feel good and confident enough to perform under pressure.
This technique was enthusiastically backed by Steve Bull as well. He says that this psychology would indeed help players bounce back and perform.
Other times, he advised his players to take a break from all of it and switch off.
The West Indies legend is also known for his impeccable sense of batting. Chanderpaul's unique technique of standing square-on to the bowler and shuffling to the sideways position as the ball is delivered, was heavily criticised. But he went on with this for his entire career and didn't let the critics affect him. This sense, he says, should be innate to every batsman as well- following your intuition and not letting people dictate to you.
In the bottom line, sports psychologist often suggests players to control the controllables. It is important to keep going on even if you don't feel good and practise until you feel confident. On the other hand, players should as not delve too deep into their past performance.
He adds that even if you haven't been scoring well lately, it does not dictate your future. Keeping your head held high and controlling the controllables will help you rise to victory.
Chanderpaul and Steve Bull were both speaking in an interview with Betway's Adam Drury.