The Cult of Personality

From an England viewpoint the main thing which stood out from the game was again Graeme Swann. Finely crafted orthodox off-spin of the type thought to be on the way to extinction a year or two back and some typically effervescent batting, the product of his seemingly boundless confidence. As someone said, he's perhaps the best number nine currently operating in Test cricket and a player it's hard to believe has been playing at the highest level for barely a year.

By contrast Ian Bell and to a lesser extent Alastair Cook cut painful figures, with Bell in particular fast heading into Mark Ramprakash territory: an English batsman of substantial gifts but without the mental wherewithal to make anything of them.

Both may be put out of their misery soon, although it's hard to see how Cook can be adequately replaced from the existing squad, but a point worth pondering is the extent to which Swann's success is as much a product of his mentality as his ability.

Even when he's been doing well there's seemed to be a diffidence about Bell which will never stand anyone in good stead at Test level, and to watch an Alastair Cook interview is to be both confused and irritated by his bouncy inarticulacy and predictability.

Coming from someone who's never met either, these are value judgements, but consistent success in Test cricket owes a huge amount to personality. And if there's one thing Swann has in spades...


Rob said...

To some extent most cricket is in the head - whether conscious or unconscious. Swann seems to have found the secret of letting his confidence out and he is all the better for it.

Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

All reasonable points in my opinion.

Swann seems to have the ability to just 'be himself' and in doing so his cricket seems to flow effortlessly, there seems no obvious signs of nerves with him no matter which discipline he is carrying out and the results of this are there to see.

In contrast Bell looks like a man who has never felt at ease in international cricket and dosen't seem to have the personality or self belief to impose himself on (maybe, as I'm not there) even the England team, let alone the opposition.

As for Cook, I think he is now that obsessed with his footwork, trigger movements and technique etc, that he is forgetting to concentrate on the most obvious fundamental thing, the ball.

He looks like his head is elsewhere when he comes out to bat. I know it's easy for all us armchair critics, but isn't it time for him to maybe just go out and try to hit the leather off the ball and maybe it might come off and give him some much needed confidence.

He is starting to remind me of the way Nick Faldo used to be when he was just so obsessed with his swing.

Maybe just go back to basics, Alastair. I doubt it could be any worse.



Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, both, for your comments. The fact that Swann's made such a refreshing change from the modern, pre-programmed professional sportsman has been one of the best aspects of his rise to prominence. And I'm convinced that the fact that he seems to have the place of cricket in his life firmly worked out helps him to play better.

Perhaps that what a few years slogging away on the county circuit does for you - introduces a bit of perspective and makes you really grab your chance when it comes along.

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