Cricket Columns

Fear of defeat can have fatal consequences

  • John Wright
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 30, 2012 01:46 IST
  • Steven Finn

    England's Steven Finn (3rd L) celebrates with his teammates after taking the wicket of New Zealand's Brendon McCullum during their Twenty20 World Cup Super 8 ...

  • James Franklin

    New Zealand's batsman James Franklin, left, watches as England's bowler Tim Bresnan, right, runs to field the ball during their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup ...

  • Kane Williamson

    New Zealand's Kane Williamson plays a shot during their Twenty20 World Cup Super 8 cricket match against England in Pallekele. Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

  • Craig Kieswetter, Kane Williamson

    England's wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter (R) celebrates the dismissal of New Zealand's Kane Williamson (C) during their Twenty20 World Cup Super 8 cricket match in Pallekele. ...

  • Craig Kieswetter, Ross Taylor

    England's wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter dives to catch the ball as New Zealand's captain Ross Taylor (front) runs between the wickets during their Twenty20 World Cup ...

  • Rob Nicol ,Eoin Morgan

    New Zealand's bowler Rob Nicol, center, runs to field the ball after a shot played by England's batsman Eoin Morgan, not seen, during their ICC ...

  • Kyle Mills ,Luke Wright

    New Zealand bowler Kyle Mills (L) watches as England batsmen Luke Wright (C) and Eoin Morgan run between the wickets during the ICC Twenty20 Cricket ...

  • Craig Kieswetter,James Franklin

    England's wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter (L) runs out New Zealand's James Franklin during their Twenty20 World Cup Super 8 cricket match in Pallekele. Reuters/UNI Photo

The losing sides in the first round of the Super Eights reminded me of a phrase that comes from all those old Wild West spaghetti westerns I used to watch in my teenage years, 'Last chance at the OK Saloon'.

For India and South Africa, the pressure is on. South Africa keep denying they have problems with these World Cup limited-over tournaments, but the problems just keep occurring. How did they let Pakistan win the other night?

The mindset in playing these crunch games is your ability to avoid the trap of thinking about the consequences of losing. Even great players and teams can be made to look ordinary when faced with the pressure of the situation and consequences of defeat.

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As powerful as the South Africa batting may appear, over the years it has not performed in big World Cup matches. Now that they are the No 1 Test team, their batting has to stand up and perform against Australia.

One of the reasons why Australia stay competitive is that they are good at not complicating cricket. Pick your best XI, then pick your captain. If your name appears in the first six on the scorecard, you're a batsman and you are expected to score runs. Their best batter will be at No 3 or 4 and the opening batsmen will be opening batsmen.

Again, if you're thrown the ball to bowl, you are never a part-timer. You are a bowler and expected to take wickets. If you field within the circle, you are expected to stop singles and if you field around the boundary, you must dive when necessary to prevent the boundary. They understand that catches win matches and practice hard accordingly.

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The writer is ex-India and NZ coach

 

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