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September 2008
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King Cricket: Why cricket is the cruellest sport

September 1st, 2008 by Alex Bowden in England, Miscellaneous and tagged , , ,

One of the most striking things about Marcus Trescothick’s anxiety problem is that he managed to sustain a career in international cricket for so long.

Apparently Trescothick has had problems since the age of about 10, when he’d struggle to go on school trips. So he wouldn’t seem to be ideally suited to the life of an international cricketer – a life with more than its fair share of stress. Quite apart from the constant touring – which is where Trescothick struggled most – there’s the simple matter of going out to play in front of thousands and thousands of people.

At times cricket seems explicitly designed to create tension and worry for the players. Unlike most team sports, the individual shoulders the burden. It is batsman against bowler, but with a whole team’s fate wound up in events. You’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing for the team, but yet you’re solely responsible for what happens (and if you’re an international, you’re representing your country as well as your team-mates).

Then there’s waiting to bat. Is there anything crueller in sport than being the next man in during a tight run-chase? You’re totally wrapped up in the game, you know you’ve got to be prepared, only there’s nothing you can do and you have no idea when you’ll be needed. When you finally are required, there’s still all that time between balls and overs during which your subconscious can do a right number on you.

We’ve experienced a good deal of worry and nervousness simply watching a Test match. To be actively involved seems unimaginably stressful. The in-game worrying’s one thing but we’d spend our time between matches dreading that worry. Maybe we’re just predisposed to that sort of thinking, but so is Marcus Trescothick and he somehow managed to play 202 matches for England. For a man who’s been so badly affected by anxiety, he’s actually got an almighty track record in dealing with it.

See King Cricket’s regular blog at King Cricket is a cult figure in the world of cricket blogs and was TWC’s first Best-of-blogs winner in April 2008.

Posted in England, Miscellaneous | 16 Comments »

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