So, all you cricket fans, what’s going on with England in this World Cup?
Four games played and three heavy defeats. Fortunately for England, they’re in a group that consists of six other teams, so they’re still in with a remote chance of qualifying for the knock out stage. Had the tournament been like the football World Cup with only four teams per group, England would have long been out of the running.
Eoin Morgan might be putting on a brave faces at the press conferences for now. But he’ll be feeling the pressure. He and his teammates will know that their performances haven’t been good enough.
Unfortunately at all levels of sport it’s as easy to get into a rhythm of losing as it is winning. So what’s now most important of all for England is to break that pattern and get used to winning again. It doesn’t matter how they do it. It doesn’t even matter if the performance isn’t that good or if you only win because the team you meet play very badly whilst you ‘just’ play badly. Even winning badly is winning.
So take it and move on from a winning base rather than a losing one. It will breed confidence, self belief and, in time, better performances, both individually and as a team.
Lynn Davies, an Olympic Gold medal winner in 1954 once commented that it seems all too easy for an athlete, when they’re on a run of bad form to wonder what the point of even competing is, as they already know what the outcome will be.
“It’s like when an athlete starts losing it. You think, what the hell, is it worth it, we’re only going to lose again?”
The danger of beginning to think like that is that, as soon as anyone in the England cricket team starts to feel that way then there’ll only be one outcome.
More defeats. More criticism. And questions asked, both of their ability and whether or not they are even worthy of representing England.
Little beats the pride you feel when you’re selected to represent your country. I was enormously proud to represent Northern Ireland. So if someone says you aren’t good enough to play for your country, that sort of accusation hurts deeply.
England’s remaining games will see just how strong their players are in meeting adversity with strength of character and self belief, to not dwell on matches lost and mistakes made but how to turn things around and go from a losing team with a losing mentality to a winning one.
They’ll need to regard what has already happened at the tournament not as failure but as feedback; something they learn from and which doesn’t affect their long term confidence. If the England team are able to mentally deal with adversity, use it as a way of building up their confidence again, they’ll soon achieve peak performance and start winning again.
And not only winning but winning well. And winning regularly.