Staying positive through a dry patch
As I write this, the start of the T20 series against England is just hours away, and it’s a good time to reflect on the one-day series that just finished 2-2, before looking ahead once again.
From a team perspective, after a great start to the series and getting to No 1 in the world rankings, we played some poor cricket – maybe about 60% of what we are capable of – and that allowed England to get some momentum and take the lead in the series.
My personal opinion is that we lost those games, as opposed to England beating us with good cricket. We then pulled it back in the last game and played some good cricket again, although generally, apart from AB and Hash, we didn’t bat well throughout the series. Obviously, with my run of low scores, I include myself in that.
I also felt that the conditions clearly favoured the team batting second, and it was no coincidence that the last three games were won by the team chasing. With the slow wickets, I think the teams batting first battled to work out what a good score to post was.
Ultimately, I think 2-2 was a fair result, as we didn’t deserve to win the series. They played some good cricket and we played some good cricket. That being said, where we are as a team is great, if we look at the test series won and the drawn one-day series.
Obviously I’m very disappointed with my run of low scores. It’s been a while since I’ve had that and it’s brought into perspective the fact that I’ve had a good run over the last two years or so. I’ve been very consistent, but also very fortunate, and now I’m realising that sometimes the rub of the green doesn’t go your way.
If I look at the way I got out in those last three games: the third ODI, I was bowled down leg, which is a shot I always play early in my innings, and it’s a shot that’s worked well for me; in the fourth ODI, I was bowled trying to run a ball down to third man, with the ball clipping the inside edge of my bat; in the last game, I just got a beauty of a delivery from Jimmy Anderson, and on any other day, you could play and miss at that.
So, I’m philosophical about those dismissals, but it’s certainly not nice to be in this situation, as you want to perform all the time and contribute to the team. But, it’s been a real learning experience, to know that when things are going well, you really need to cash in. Every sportsman goes through a dip, but I’ve got to make sure now that I just get over it as soon as possible.
That being said, it’s really frustrating, because I feel like I’m letting the team down and I’ve got used to contributing on a regular basis, with match-winning performances. The last time I had a bit of a dry patch with the bat was about two years ago and it is a weird feeling. It’s also significantly different going through this at international level, as opposed to at domestic level, as here you’re very much in the public eye, and every low score is subject to so much scrutiny, particularly, in a big series like this.
Off the field, we haven’t been up to much, although my girlfriend is here now, which is great. A challenge for me, though, is finding that positive mindset and not letting my poor form affect me mentally. I don’t want to be someone who sulks in the corner, because things aren’t going well for me on the field. As a sportsman, I think it’s very easy to take disappointing sporting experiences into your off-field life, so I’m quite sensitive about making sure that doesn’t happen. It’s important for me to maintain a positive outlook, and as a cricketer, I know that all it takes is just a few balls in the middle of the bat, to get me up and running again.
For now, though, it’s all about the T20 series, and I’ll be reporting back after the three games.
I hope you enjoy the series.