Monday, 6 January 2014

Next amazing thing a day late is the role of confidence and pressure.

Australia played England at cricket in Australia. Most people predicted that Australia were the underdogs and that England should win but they forgot to take into account the role of confidence and pressure. There maybe a talent gap between the teams but a lot of the England players have done well in Australia in the past so this is not a huge issue. The main difference between the two teams was ability to deal with pressure and the confidence to do well.

In the first innings Australia were in trouble, in the first test Australia were 132/6 but made 295 , in the second test 174/5 but made 570, in the third test 143/5 but made 385, in the fourth test 204 all out and in the fifth test 97/5 but made 326. By finishing each of the innings strongly you drain confidence from the other team and build pressure. Captains can keep more fielders close to the batsman, bowl more attacking lines, employ bowlers who he may have less confidence in for longer. It also gives the bowlers more confidence.

If the opposing team make a good start and bat time without losing wickets the confidence starts to slip and momentum starts to swing. Sadly, too often, poor shot selection allied to good bowling meant that the Australian team gained confidence with each delivery whilst England lost it. This in turn builds pressure as you want to do well so you subject yourself to more pressure in an feedback loop. I once heard a sprint coach explain that if you are running fast and an opponent runs past you the worst think you can do is to tell yourself to run faster - aren't you going as fast as you can anyway - instead try to relax so you use oxygen more efficiently.

When you are under pressure people start to question themselves. Graeme  Swann felt he could not longer continue to bowl as effectively as he had in the past. Would he have made that decision if he was in a winning team - probably not as immediately as he did.

When the pressure was off the Australians in the second innings they were able to many more runs. This but England under even more pressure - look how easily is for the other team.

Before you get too cocky Australia
1. Your team is old
2. The ball will swing in other conditions
3. The only away teams to win a test in 2013 where Bangladesh and Pakistan (both in Zimbabwe)

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