How important is mental fitness to a cricketer? Consider the schedule of this year's World Cup: so gruelling that every international team will be on its toes in England and that includes tournament favourites South Africa ! To elaborate, each cricketer will need to be at his physical best; to combat 66 quality players from the 6 teams in his group, the weather, the constant travel and the match fatigue that are all part of 'cricketing warfare!' The Psychology of Cricket Mentally though, Cricket is a different ball game.
If you were an international cricketer, you would realise with experience, that every match is a battle for your mind and In the battlefield of play, there are many forces fighting to take control of it. Take for example the match crowds who heckle and jeer if you haven't scored a boundary in 10 overs! Overwhelmed, you might chose to react by taking a big heave at the next ball you face. It could be a swing of desperation, already borne by a self-doubt about your 'inability ' to accelerate. Perhaps you knew it.. now the crowd confirmed it! The result: your dismissal. In effect, the crowd without being aware has launched a psychological battle against you. Remember, you are also at war against some very tight bowling, extraordinary fielding, sledging, inconsistent umpiring, the loss of your partner at the other end,and then another soon after... But that's not all! there are the other forces that build up - the destructive warheads that lie within: the burden of poor performances in previous encounters, nervousness, mounting pressure, fatigue, lapses in concentration, a swirl of emotions ... Great Psychological Warriors...and Winners! A cricketer with a mentally conditioned and prepared mind is aware of the destructive potential of these factors and chooses to ignore them. Steve Waugh does just that.
Time and again and over a decade in international Cricket,, he has proved it against the very best teams and in the worst conditions(the recent Carribean Tour). There's Sachin Tendulkar, a mental giant whose focus does not waver under the glare of adversity(1998 Sharjah Cup Semi-finals and Finals against Australia). Brian Lara is another phenomenon who embraces adverse situations(match winning hundreds vs Australia) and of course Aravinda de Silva (Semi-finals and Finals in the 1996 World Cup) Equally awesome are the bowlers: you have Anil Kumble, Shane Warne, Alan Donald, Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram, Darren Gough, Glenn McGrath.... All of them are wonderful cricketing talents,great fighters, suberbly consistent performers, match winners and above all, mentally the fittest of their kind because they choose to be.
That is what makes them the best The Holistic Approach Towards Mental Fitness In part -1 of a series, Dr. Jayant Paraki, takes you through this fascinating subject of Mental Fitness and the Psychology of Cricket. Director of 'The Clinic For Holistic Healing',Dr. Paraki founded it in 1993... "With the objective of Integrating mind-body medicine and putting to greater use, the vast wisdom present in Psychology!" Dr. Paraki and his staff worked informally with the Indian National Cricket Team in 1997, stressing the role of Mental Fitness and the presence of Sports Psychologists in the team.