Australian cricket, Watson caught in a web of insecurity and frustration
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That great cover drive that makes us stand up in admiration, that late outswinger that makes us gasp, the off break that turns in to hit top of middle, the diving stop at backward point...images that allow television to carry sport into our being, to let it reside there and make us reach out to it when the world is less thrilling.
The stars create these images and television creates that aura, allows us to believe they are invincible. That is what hero-worship is, isn't it? Letting your mind believe that your hero can do no wrong...
But because television is concerned with the here and now — this shot, that dismissal, this commercial break — it doesn't allow itself time to look beyond, or indeed into, the hero who succeeds and fails so spectacularly before us. And so, we can often be led to believe that sportsmen inhabit another planet, that they are made of steel and elastic, that they are not us, they don't have our problems (e.m.i has just gone up, the maid announces she is on long leave, there is a transport strike!). And so too, we fail to understand them because we measure them in unreal scales.
But meet them away from the cameras and the scorecards and you see different people, those we can recognise better. People who worry and fret and wake up in the middle of the night and are scared for their future, people who are looking over their shoulder and maybe are even secretly happy at a colleague's bad patch. Their lives too are governed by where they are on the grid of ambition/frustration and confidence/insecurity.
When ambition is in stride with confidence, they approach the image I talked about earlier but ever so often they are consumed by life in the other quadrant; that of frustration and insecurity which is where I suspect, some of the Australian cricketers find themselves. And that is why the job of the leader, whether the captain or the coach, is to try and constantly push them towards the space defined by ambition and confidence.
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