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Batting Collapses and the Pyschology of "Getting In"?

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Post by Guest Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:29 pm

Listening to Michael Carberry's interview on the BBC regarding England's batting collapse - he mentioned the difficulty of a new batsman of "getting in" against a bowling attack that had its "tail up" - and that this combination can set off a form of chain reaction that gives rise to the "Batting Collapse".

I am interested in learning more about the process of a new batsman "getting in" (including the psychology and perhaps physiology of the process). It is said that once a batsman "gets in" he is then able to play his shots and should aim to score heavily.  

Are there any articles that you can direct me to that discusses this process (from scratching around at the crease at the beginning, the process of "getting in", and then the psychology of "being in")?

Cheers

ps I assume that the "getting in process" is associated with "getting the body moving and responding to what is happening"  and "learning" - learning about the conditions (wicket, bowling attack), making the appropriate adjustments to the conditions.  That is, I assume there is both a physical and psychological component to the process (?).

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Post by alfie Sat Nov 23, 2013 10:17 am

OK this has opened up a fascinating subject...

My opinion is that batting collapses are primarily the result of what is going on in people's heads...but heads on both sides.

Yes coming in to bat is a tough time : but it is always tough , assuming the bowlers are good for the grade ; so why should it be different after two quick wickets and a score line of  80/4 than facing the same bowler at 80/2 when you are following a forty run stand ? They are - largely- bowling the same stuff...you are the same man , with the same skills ...but , just like not wanting to face the last over of the day , many batsmen just don't see it that way.
OK , the bowlers are fired up , confident ...so they may bowl a bit better. The fielders are more alert , chirpy ...all this contributes to an air of menace as you take guard.  The next ball could see your team slip further into the mire...so there is serious external pressure on you.  It is easy to take all this on board and tense up , making the simple act of playing the next ball an exercise fraught with peril...
Not everyone responds to this the same way (personally , I loved it...which is not to say I didn't sometimes fail along with team mates , but that was mostly lack of ability rather than paralysis: I succeeded often enough in those situations that I am sure of that)
The pressure is often exaserbated by the "rush" factor...strapping on your pads , thinking you will then have a few throw downs etc...only to be thrust into the middle abruptly : it doesn't help.

Should this sort of thing affect the professionals at the Top Level in the same way as it afflicts those of us who ply our trade at less exalted levels ? Perhaps not ...but then again , they are only human , so why not ? The evidence is overwhelming that it does.

The physical aspect remains the same as always : assessing the pace and bounce of the particular pitch , getting a look at what the bowler(s) are trying to do , getting your feet moving ....but as you correctly surmise , this is immensely easier to do when your team is cruising at 130/2 than when you are going in to face a hat trick at 56/5...

alfie

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Post by Guest Sat Nov 23, 2013 12:20 pm

alfie wrote: ...but , just like not wanting to face the last over of the day ...
That's another good point - teams tend to put in a "night - watchman" rather than a "good batsman".  I had thought it was due to the "poor light" at the end of the day.  But thinking about it - it shouldn't have anything to do with the light level per se (?), because if the light level was "bad" the umpires would stop play.   Also the next batsman should be "light adapted" as they are supposed to be waiting on the balcony.

But maybe there is something in having to get ones "eye in" at the wicket - getting the brain used to focussing onto and following a fast moving cricket ball.  Also the lighting will be different at the wicket compared to on the balcony.  The batsmen tend to spend time getting the sightscreen adjusted. But getting ones "eye-in" should be the same no matter when the batman goes out to bat (whether there is 20 overs in the day remaining or 3 overs).

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Post by Mike Selig Sat Nov 23, 2013 12:52 pm

A fascinating topic.

Cricket was once described by a good friend of mine as "a sport for people with the body of an athlete, and the mind of a chess-player"; this may be overkill but there is certainly a big element of truth in it. It is the little subtleties of the game, and small psychological battles which for me make it such a fascinating sport to watch, play and now coach.

I think alfie has well summarised what happens when a collapse is happening. I would highlight the "rush" factor as crucial: all top sportsmen have their routine which you use to help you relax and hence get into the best mental state possible, and anything which upsets this routine (e.g. not being able to hit as many TDs as you'd like) will have a non-negligeable effect.

Alfie suggests that top sportsmen should be less open than us mortals to mental fragility but I am not sure that's fair. What is true is that the best sportsmen have the means to overcome mental hurdles. For example one of the things which makes Cook such a successful player and captain is his ability to compartmentalise the various aspects of his game, so that his captaincy doesn't affect his batting so much (and neither does the game situation - when he is batting he is focused exclusively on his innings). Ponting had a similar ability at his best, during his decline you could see things used to "get to him" more. Recently I've tried this (I am going through a fairly unpleasant time with my own board, and don't wish it to affect other parts of my life) and you know, it really works (whether it actually works, or works because you think it works is not something I am willing to get drawn into).

In the same way, being able to not be affected by the situation of the game and play to the best of your ability (which is not the same as saying "play your own game without regard to the situation") is a huge attribute for a sportsman, and often what separates the best from the rest.

As to the facet of "getting in", it is both psychological and physiological. As you spend time at the wicket, it allows you to adjust physically to the conditions: you judge the pace of the pitch, the bowlers, line up the bowlers, adjust your eyes to the surroundings, etc. Muscle memory steps in, and your feet, hands, head do what they are used to. You get more confident because you feel more settled, and everybody knows that the start of the innings is when you're at your most vulnerable, so once you get past this, you start to believe more and more you're going to get a score. When commentators talk about "getting in" they usually refer to the physical aspects like adjusting to the pace of the bowlers/pitch etc., but the mental aspect of feeling at ease is also key.

Mike Selig

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Post by ShahenshahG Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:15 pm

Excellent post mike. Just a little personal experience - perhaps not applicable to professionals but i'll give it a go. I've never been a great batsman - always a hit or out kind of guy - bowling was my forte. However - there was a mix up once with my club and a delayed match due to traffic and myself with 4 others ended up at the pitch about 3and a half hours earlier than everybody else. Just by chance and friendship - 3 bowlers who hadn't bowled since last season apart from a lone practice session, myself - who had played college cricket for 2 weeks and the wicket keeper also out of practice. Luckily the groundskeeper was an amiable sort who invited us to join him on his break and directed us to the pitch that wasnt going to be used in our match. We decided that I would bat and they would get the practice they sorely need. I got out 6 times in the first half hour, 4 times in the second, twice in the 3rd and had been batting without getting out when the teams arrived and shortly after that the match started to beat the sunset. Our team batted first and got to 194 for 9 when I got in and the pitch was similar to the one a few meters away. First ball went for 6 in cow corner, the second for 4 past square leg and the next for 6 towards the screen behind the bowler. I got a single then 2, 4,4,4,4 the first a sublime widish cover drive with barely a push behind it, the next an off drive again with barely a push behind, a similar on drive and another cover drive. The last ball i smacked towards square but the nimble fielder made a great stop and we headed towards the cafe.

That made me realise the difference between a set batsman and a new one who has just come in and has yet to adjust to the conditions. So I encouraged my club to arrive beforehand and get our batsmen into sessions on the spare pitch if possible but if not just beside it. I didn't need to bat for the rest of the season and we beat every team quite comfortably including our own first team twice. Just by virtue of a few hours of practice in realistic conditions prior to the match. Our opener commented after the third match that he'd never enjoyed his cricket more as when he got in apart from the field placings he didnt have to think - just do.

So perhaps as mike said above - the settling in - the psychology of common ground. Get into your comfort zone and muscle memory takes over and plays for you leaving you free to concentrate on variables - field placings, pace, spin etc. Its why they often get caught out by part-time bowlers who don't get the best spin or the carry, or the swing. Sometimes this extends into situations - the rearguard - the blaster, the accumulator even though they are quite capable of playing other roles they excel at one particular one.

In short - perhaps the Psychology of getting in is just moving into automatic mode where all you is turn the steering wheel, accelerate or brake reducing the capacity for error to simple tasks you've done a million times before.

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