Cricket Psychology: England – Soul Searching & Harsh Reality!

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It’s England wicket-keeper Matt Prior, speaking ahead of the third test at The WACA. England are on the verge of losing the Ashes. And Dr Reality has come to town.

Matt Prior is speaking frankly. He is explaining that the players have been brutally honest with each other, and telling it like it is. And this is good. And how it should be.

But is it too late? The Australians have developed a high level of confidence, belief and bullishness. They know how to beat England. They have done so twice. And will feel they can do it again.

Frankness and honesty should be the order of the day in every dressing room. And it’s a positive sign for England that this soul-searching process has gone on after the mauling in Adelaide.

But what happened between the first and second test? What kind of conversations happened between the players then? The performance fault lines and cracks were already showing. And these weaknesses in performance don’t happen by accident.

Players give clues in their behaviour, that they are not at the top of their attitude game. A catch dropped through a lack of concentration; a rash decision that leads to a soft dismissal; a weak effort to stop a shot. Any one of these errors creates an awareness that a dropping of standards is at play. And that is when someone needs to speak out.

Being alert to warning signs is the responsibility of all players. It’s being able to say, ‘That dismissal was too soft. It doesn’t match the character of this team’. And being able to say it without fear of reprisals is critical.

Once a weakness is detected, highlighted and challenged, it limits the chances of that weakness developing into a major fault line and habit.

England have attempted to hold a mirror to the weaknesses that were publically exposed at Adelaide. It’s the right thing to do. But it may have come too late. For weakness awareness is a process that should be occuring every minute of the day. And England are now playing catch up.

The next week will tell us if their soul-searching has re-connected them with their true character and values. If it has, then the lessons of this Ashes series should tell them, never to drift so far away from these core fundamentals again!