Success Lessons From Cricket
That Can Improve Your Life
This summer (2005) huge crowds in England and Australia have
been following the 5 test match series between England and
Australia. The sides are evenly matched and have played some
of the most exciting cricket seen for many years. Whether
you play cricket or not, you will find some great success
lessons in this series of matches.
The first success lesson is that you and I must not dwell
on our mistakes however humiliating they are. We have to be
tough minded and just focus on the next ball to be bowled
or the next project in our lives.
Cricket is a team game but there are only 11 players fielding
(bowling and catching the ball) and they are spread out on
a large field. Any mistakes you make are seen at once by your
team mates and the audience. The mistakes of the batting side
are also clearly visible as only two people bat at a time.
Kevin Pietersen, the promising England batsman, dropped two
catches in the first test when he was fielding but then went
on to a play a good batsman's innings. A commentator remarked
that he must have a strong mind to get over the disappointment
of dropping the catches enough to allow him to bat well.
Geraint Jones, the wicket keeper, had also dropped two catches
and again a commentator remarked that you can try to put your
mistakes at the back of your mind but it is not that easy.
The memory keeps recurring. However, Jones batted well in
spite of the memory that must have haunted him. Later in the
series, he also took some magnificent catches to make up for
the ones he had dropped.
Both captains, Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting, batted poorly
in the first two tests and were heavily criticized in the
papers. However, in the third test match both captains batted
extraordinarily well. They both showed the fighting spirit
to get over the depression they must have felt after the first
and second matches and the criticism they were receiving daily.
A second key success lesson is that you must not get distracted
from your goal of scoring runs or anything else by mental
or physical pain. In ordinary life, many painful things can
happen which can demoralise you unless you are determined
enough to keep going in spite of the pain. Keep focused on
your goals and dreams whatever happens.
Those who have not played cricket may not realise how hard
a cricket ball is. It is especially hard and bouncy when it
is new. Fast bowlers are usually given the new ball so that
they can bounce it high to hit the batsmen in the head, throat,
ribs or hands.
Once the batsmen get distracted by the pain in their head
or hands, they will be vulnerable to the next ball and will
do something silly like knocking up a catch or failing to
protect their wicket (the three stumps or sticks protruding
from the ground) from getting hit by the ball.
Brett Lee, the Australian fast bowler, was run out when he
hesitated before running. He wanted to flap his hand to get
rid of the pain. His index finger and then his thumb had been
hit by fast balls. Later, however, in another match, he redeemed
himself by batting well even though he had been hit hard on
the head and the arm!
On the second day of the first test England were bowling at
the Australians who were having their second innings (chance
However, the England bowlers were not harassing the batsmen
enough. Boycott, the former great England batsman, commented
that the ball should be whistling about the batsmen's ears
and hitting their gloves:
"The ball is new and hard. Now is the time to hit the batsmen
before the ball gets too soft. Once the batsmen get too comfortable,
they will start thinking: 'I fancy scoring a hundred.'"
Even the tailenders or weaker batsmen who bat last have to
suffer. The bowlers cannot allow them to stay in too long.
"Bowlers should hit the tailenders in the ribs or on the hand
before they get too comfortable. That's what you have to do
as a fast bowler. You have to hurt the opposition tailenders.
Tailenders are alright if there is not a likelihood of them
getting hurt. They're not too brave."
On Saturday, the third day of the test, the Australian tail
enders were batting. Gillespie, one of the tailenders, was
hit in the stomach near the belly button. He grimaced in pain.
A few balls later he was hit in the groin by a ball from Harmison
and doubled over in agony. The ball was travelling at about
90 miles an hour. The crowd roared with laughter. Harmison
had been aiming for the throat and the toes and the crown
It can take a good over (6 balls from the same bowler) or
two to get focused after being hurt. But Gillespie is a gutsy
player and practises hard at his batting. He realizes it is
important for a tailender to score runs or at least stay in.
He batted on bravely.
The gutsy performance of the Australian tailenders had much
to do with the Australian success in the first test match
of the Ashes series. They had learned how to overcome sharp
physical pain and recover their focus quickly.
We all need to learn to accept the fact that we will suffer
mental and physical pain at some point in achieving our goals.
The secret is to forget the pain as quickly as possible and
just concentrate on doing what we have to do.
Further success lessons came from the third test match. One
of them is that sometimes it is better not to listen to the
critics whether they are outside or inside your own head.
Australia had won the first test match and then England won
the second test on the 7th Aug 2005 a date that will go down
in history as the date of one of the greatest cricket matches
England won the match by 2 runs only - an amazingly close
margin. Much of the success was due to the England captain,
Michael Vaughan, but Vaughan had not scored enough runs himself
in this test or the first one. He could guarantee that the
papers would be having a go at him in a big way. His solution
was simple. He did not read the papers.
On Thursday, England went in to bat. Michael Vaughan was in
third and was under great pressure to perform. This is where
his policy of not reading the papers paid off. He scored his
first century of the series. The audience were up and out
of their seats applauding as he succeeded. He had scored 13
fours (hits to the boundary).
A captain who scores runs can lead by example. It is important
that he is in form as actions speak much louder than words.
In the end he made a large total of 166 runs with about 20
four's and at least one six (a hit over the boundary).
He told an interviewer that before batting he had talked to
the young boy who was the England mascot for the day. The
lad had already had three heart by pass operations. This made
Vaughan feel less tension as he realised that, at the age
of thirty, he had so much to be thankful for and that scoring
or not scoring runs was not that important in the whole scheme
He also decided to bat on intuition and not to think too much.
He had already done his thinking and his practice. Once he
was facing some of the best bowlers in the world, he would
not have time to think. His plan worked and he smashed the
ball all over the place.
However, in the end Australia held out for a draw. They were
saved mainly by the rain which meant that England had less
time to get them out than was necessary.
So then: keep going even if you make embarrassing mistakes
in full public view. Regain your focus on your goals even
if you have been hit by physical or mental pain. Even the
great Jim Rohn lost a million dollars after he had signed
a form without realising the liabilities involved. He soon
regained his focus and the lost money. Refuse to fill your
mind with the views of your critics and keep your life in
perspective by thinking of those millions of people who are
so much worse off than you. Finally, once your thinking has
been done, take action wholeheartedly without worrying about
John Watson is an award winning teacher and fifth
degree black belt martial arts instructor. He has recently
written several books about achieving your goals and dreams.
They can be found on his website http://www.motivationtoday.com
along with a motivational message and books by other authors.
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