Cricket Psychology: England – A Losing Mentality!

Cricket PsychologyIt’s England coach Peter Moores after the defeat to Bangladesh. ‘We thought 275 was chaseable. We will have to have a look at the data’.

It’s a regrettable comment from the England coach. For it gives the impression of a man unable to make a critical judgement on events without data support. For he shouldn’t need data to tell him why England lost this match. He should know why in an instant. But when a losing mentality holds sway, insight can be in short supply.

As winning can be a habit, so can losing. And this England cricket team appeared to have developed a losing mentality. A losing mentality is founded on the expectation that things will go wrong. That however rosy things look in a game, an event will occur to undermine all that has gone before.

Those on the inside don’t usually recognise a losing mentality. For it moves like a fog inside the dressing room, preventing clear thinking. This lack of clarity plays itself out in poor decision-making, choking under-pressure, or absence of certainty in game strategy. And this England team showed all those traits in this shocking World Cup campaign.

A team doesn’t begin its campaign with a losing mentality. It creeps up on them. Then takes it hold. And a common cause is when players don’t have belief in their coach or leadership team. Don’t think that he knows how to help them win games. Somehow sense or know that he is taking them down the wrong strategic path.

It is this doubt that transfers itself onto the pitch. The players doubts in the coach become doubts within themselves. Players recognise it in each other, and don’t have the necessary will to overcome it. Their own will being consumed by the collective fog. Unless they have a special talent that refuses to taken down. But England lacked such a player.

Alex Hales had the self-confidence and belief drained out of him. And Joss Buttler wasn’t able to carry the collective burden on his young shoulders. The rest got lost in the fog. Why? Because they weren’t empowered to be game changers. Weren’t empowered to play with an unfettered freedom. And thus couldn’t rise above the mediocrity, by finding an extra level in their own game.

Peter Moores feels that England prepared well and did the right stuff. In which case the coach needs to be able to do some critical analysis…not on data…but on what he considers the right stuff to be in preparation for this World Cup. For his perception, and the reality of what was required may be two different things!

Note: The fog being spoken of is created by a cocktail of ingredients: doubts, uncertainties and anxieties, held in place like a glue, by negative emotional reactions. These emotional reactions are not always spoken out. They are often carried by players as a strong feeling that things arent right. An open honest culture can negate the fog. But to create that culture requires trust. And when a losing mentality holds sway, trust can be in short supply.

Posted in Cricket Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.