3 August 2011
For sometime now, England have been the most prepared team of all in world cricket. Their regimen is structured to each individual and religiously followed. Now, it has been hailed as the reason for their remarkable success over the visiting Indians this summer.
India, on the other hand have spoken at length over the Kirsten years that his empowerment methods have ensured that players looked after themselves – deciding as to when they needed the practice and when they needed the break. It worked. Now, it hasn’t!
England’s openers have had an average series and so have Morgan and Swann. But, a winning team is a happy team as none of it is being questioned. Their preparation can hardly be faulted. On the other hand, the whole of India is after its much vaunted stars. Their injuries and lack of preparation being the talking point on all Indian sports shows over the last 24 hours.
As is the case in any sport, you get players of all sorts: varying in intensity, talent, physical ability, natural ability, approach and attitude. Some are very hardworking and successful. And some are not so hardworking but sometimes more successful. While the fans and sports writers may marvel at a bowler’s ability to party till 5 in the morning and bowl a scorching spell to decimate the opposition, his peers may not. They would, if anything, wonder how much better he would be if he worked as hard.
It calls for immense disciple on the part of the players to keep at it game after game, season after season. It takes one bad game for a high class baseball pitcher to doubt his abilities: the fastball won’t move, the curve is flat and the sinker doesn’t. A great tennis baseliner starts missing the lines and starts to believe the court is narrower than a tightrope.
All great performers have a regimen they stick to. Cricketers approach off-season meticulously to mend and sew their shortcomings or work on upcoming challenges. As the season or a series approaches, each day is an investment on self to be at the best physical and mental frame when the time comes. Distractions are avoided and negativity repelled. Champions don’t show-up under prepared. Their best weapons are well oiled to be called upon the hour of need, their tricks well hidden from the opposition champion and mind well trained to not give-in to the best punch the enemy can throw. It is a champions’ world and there is no place for wanting to be anything less.
Champions can sometimes be hard on themselves and believe a little less of them – in preparation – can be overcome with aura and skill. Alas, it will come a cropper against a champion opposition better prepared. It calls for immense discipline to be at the peak always, but champions do so for they want to be the best. You don’t win a synchronized swimming Olympic gold with one swimmer not-in-sync. Team sports cannot afford to carry players not well prepared. It can carry out-of-form players, but not ones who might bring the team down for they are not prepared to last the distance.
England and India might follow different approaches to monitor its cricketers, but, both methods are not fool proof of player dishonesty.
India needs its champions to be honest on their disciplines and regimen and more so to the cause of their team. For now, it needs its players to prepare and believe to be at their best come the third test at Birmingham. They know they have not been at their best these two tests. If they lose, so be it, but they should ensure they lose having given their best.