World Cup

Hope the players share their emotions and enjoy it

Some players believe in omens, others are superstitious — some even believe in fate and destiny. No doubt there are some in the Proteas squad who have seen a ‘sign’ that things are falling into place for them. The problem is, there will be players like that in seven or eight other teams and they can’t all win the World Cup.

I kept things much simpler than that. It is, after all, a game between bat and ball. All I knew for certain is that I played a lot better when I was relaxed and had a clear mind. Simple, really. If only!

It’s knockout time at the World Cup.

The players will be thinking about the game, but it won’t be an all-consuming, thinking, breathing, eating, sleeping situation just yet. It will become one — for most of them.

I hope they remember to talk to each other about how they are feeling and share their emotions, even if they are a bit shaky. There were times, in previous campaigns, when we didn’t do enough of that — notably before the 2007 semifinal against Australia — and we ‘exploded’ in the first hour and the game was gone.

It sounds crazy to say it, but I hope they remember to enjoy it, too. Playing at the World Cup in front of 45,000 people at a venue like that, it’s what we all dreamed of doing from when we were playing with a stick and tennis ball in the playground, or on the beach. If they feel tension or awe, they only need to remind themselves that those feelings are what they always wanted, and they have worked very hard to experience them. They are privileged to be there, and that applies to every team.

Australia and New Zealand remain the favourites, but India has been in ominous form. In fact, whereas every other team in the tournament suffered a setback and a wobble at one time or another, the Indian machine just rolls on, getting better and better.

Their biggest threat, it appears, is themselves. It only takes one player to try something different, to become a little too confident, for the whole team to go off the road.

The knockout games are won and lost by players who keep — and lose — their heads at important moments. Pressure needs to be applied and absorbed, and those ‘moments’ need to be recognised.

Some are obvious (12 needed off the last over is pretty clear!) but others are more subtle. At 120-2 after 25 overs, a team batting first is perfectly set for a big score. But the next five overs are often critical. If they can get to 30 or 35 overs, the bowling side begins to feel deflated.

It may well be an Australia-New Zealand final — but it could just as easily be South Africa vs India. What a thought that is! A rematch at the MCG. — Hawkeye/Chivach Sports


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 6:32:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/world-cup/hope-the-players-share-their-emotions-and-enjoy-it/article7004228.ece

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