Having a passion for cricket and its parallels with human performance is not always a happy combination.
I have watched the current South Africa-India home Test series with mixed emotions, enjoying the multiple comebacks and let-downs inherent in a well-poised match. And then Jacques Kallis scores his second hundred in the (final, deciding) match, with rib contusions! Chuck Norris has nothing on this man, as Bryan Habana tweeted! Mark Boucher also showed his mettle, being a dependable partner and game-breaker at the crease.
This man, Kallis, is now second only to Tendulkar on the all-time-greats list, and is a contributing frontline bowler, as well! Well done, JK!
My good friend, sports psychologist and psycho-mechanist Sean Page, reminded me of what it takes to be on the all-time list. It’s partly drive – motivation, hunger, a deeply-treasured desire, and killer instinct – doing whatever it takes to finish off the task. But it’s also what the psychologists call “arousal,” – the appropriate measure of adrenalin (or lack thereof) for a situation.
Springbok rugby always used to be overly aggressive – too aroused – leading to the infamous “Kamp Staaldraad” mentality. They were often outwitted, until Jake White brought the balance, causing them to be seen as strategic opposition, called the “Brainy Boks” during their World Cup triumph over England in 2007.
Jacques Kallis and Sachin Tendulkar share an ability to wait for the bad ball – and punish it – whilst playing sensible shots off decent deliveries. This is the correct level of arousal for Test cricket. Dale Steyn is mastering this as a bowler, being an all-round nice guy off the field, but lethally dangerous with the ball in hand. Yet he has not overstepped the boundary, becoming livid with rage, like certain other fast bowlers.
We would do well to emulate this, and allow our thought patterns to dwell on being calm or passionate when necessary, as opposed to having a standard “demeanour”, which renders us “predictable” – or worse, unmanageable.