Friday, August 07, 2015

A Black Swan sort of day at Trent Bridge

The point, of course, was that it isn't  just any old Test Match. For the first time this summer The Ashes are literally at stake. England wins the match - The Ashes are ours. Lose or draw and there's another chance at The Oval. For Australia a loss is terminal. Michael Clarke goes home without The Ashes. Again. The stakes could not be higher.

After the Toss Clarke sounded very down. He'd have bowled first and he didn't really hide his disappointment much. That was a state of mind that communicated itself instantly to all who heard it, not least his own team. The mindset was already defensive with the direct replacement of all-rounder Mitchell Marsh with his batsman brother Sean. That signalled concern about Australia's batting caused mainly, no doubt, by that first innings drubbing at Edgbaston. 

Perhaps there was a sense of injustice about having to cope with good bowlers on a greenish wicket under cloud cover and on a drizzly morning. But at this level that is part of the game. The luck evens itself out over time and you know that sometimes it's going to be tough. But you're the best in the world and that's what you're paid to do. At Edgbaston Clarke was bouncy after the Toss which he won and which, he no doubt expected, would allow Australia to build a substantial first day score. That didn't happen, and maybe that was the dent to confidence that led to yesterday's debacle. If you can't get a decent score when you expect to, and there's nobody to blame except yourselves, what chance can you have when you're put in and everyone expects a tricky morning. That's tricky as in 70-3, not tricky as in 60 all out in 111 balls though!

Confidence is almost everything in sport, especially in cricket. If you worry when you get to the crease you'll struggle. And that is contagious. Once Rogers and Smith and Warner were back in the hutch after just a few minutes play the mindset for the rest of the team must have been fearful. Courageous tough Aussies they may see themselves, unflinching and brave. But perhaps a misplaced sense of injustice combined with instant self-doubt turned them into something else. If you are fearful of losing you cannot win. The reverse applied to England of course. And remember that there is a duel going on between bowler and batsman and if the one feels confident and the other fearful there's only one outcome possible. 

Yesterday at Trent Bridge was a Black Swan sort of day. A once in 50 years day that gathered improbability as it unfolded until seen as a whole it was impossible. And yet it did actually happen. And when sport is like that we know why we always come back for more. Improbable though it may seem it just could happen again! 

No comments: