The English Cricket team is going through a bit of a rough time at the moment on their tour of Sri Lanka. With the World Cup looming, and as performances on the pitch are less than convincing, there is intensifying pressure and press coverage on the selectors and captain with regard to the best line up to go into the tournament with. This is a trend seen with most English national teams, particularly football, and expect to see it for the Rugby World Cup next year.
I am not going to ponder who is best suited to captaining the side, or who should open the batting during the power play overs, I’ll leave that to the experts. What I’m interested in is the mindset required to transform a team, who individually are good players, but collectively are just not functioning well as a team.
For the team to have a consistency of play, there must be a consistency of mind. So continuously tinkering with the team and changing the opening partnership from game to game is not conducive to settled thinking and performance. Sure, tactics come into it as well, but since there is no consistency of mind, it then becomes difficult to apply a muddled mind to a match strategy. Alastair Cook is a good example here. He appears to not be sure whether it is best to defend and play his natural game at the top of the order, or if it is best to hit out and replicate what openers in most ODI cricket tend to do, but which is not his style of play. The result being that he is in a desperately poor run of form which is only intensifying speculation about his position.
Mindset also plays a part in the preparation for games. If players do the basics right, for example have a good pre-match routine, appreciate the new opportunities of each match and its conditions and realise that any game could be the turning point, we are then in a position in our mind that our past does not equal our future unless we allow it to.
A good example of this mindset can be seen in the pressure cooker situation of a penalty shootout. Penalty takers need to be motivated by what they wish to achieve, not what they want to avoid. So running up to take the kick, with thoughts in your mind of “don’t hit it at the keeper” is an example of a negative mindset, despite the positive outcome to be had. The result being that when we try to avoid something, more often than not you are likely to get it!
My final point focuses on belief, which comes from understanding and accepting what is possible in regard to future performance and results. If collectively and individually the English cricket team believes that they can win the World Cup then they are a small part of the way to realising the goal. Things have to be mentally accomplished before they are materially accomplished as it is very difficult to achieve something that you think you can’t do.
Of course individual skills, form, performances on the day and probability will play a much bigger part in the outcome, but when our mentality changes we don’t gain new skills, we simply choose to use our skills differently – we become motivated by the power of possibility and what might be.
Let me end with a simple question. Is your mindset holding you back?