With Australia going for lunch on the final day at Trent Bridge, in touching distance of their challenging target, England re-grouped in the home dressing-room, under-pressure. But knowing that it only took one ball to break the tough Australian resistance.
It’s the kind of scenario that top players relish. The game appears to be drifiting away from you. Under the cosh, someone in the group needs to deliver something special. Hope alone will not save the day. It requires belief and conviction that things will turn. And it was no surprise that James Anderson was England’s man of the moment.
After all he had prepared thoroughly for that kind of scenario. Jimmy is a strong advocate of visualisation to mentally prepare for his matches. He rehearses the kind of scenarios he is likely to face. Plays them through in his mind repetitively, until they feel real.
He creates future history. Thus when he faces the game situations he has mentally rehearsed, he feels like he has been there before. Which he has. In his mind. He has produced in advance, the mental energy needed to face the most challenging of match dynamics.
Visualization allows the mind and body to relax, and nervous energy to be contained. Inwardly there is a powerful belief, a knowing, that the reality you have imagined will happen. It takes hours of repetition, to make the visualizations become your reality. But when you connect to the future, you will feel it and know it.
The key then, is to trust that the work you have done will yield the results you want. You cannot force it. You have to let it happen. Let the game play you. Let the ball bowl you (see the movie The Legend Of Bagger Vance for reference). When the visualization works, you will feel a sense of calm, that all is in place. And when it is successful once, your belief in the process magnifies.
James Anderson has not just mastered the art of swing bowling. He has mastered the ability to see in advance how he will achieve his goals. And that is a powerful combination of skills!