Problems of pressure have beset Bangladesh's ODI cricket this year, evident in their winless streak so far in 2014. The post-match press conferences of each of Bangladesh's nine defeats this year had a common theme. A bewildered Mushfiqur Rahim was seen making statements such as 'we are working hard, but just not able to apply', 'we are in a rut and we need to play without pressure'.
The beginning of the year saw the Tigers lose a few close contests against Sri Lanka. They also suffered a jaw-dropping defeat against Pakistan after posting 326, their highest ever ODI total. These were certainly factors that put pressure on Bangladesh. The extent of it was as such that it even broke the ice-cool Shakib Al Hasan, who in an interview claimed that Bangladesh should not play at home for at least two years and blamed the public's expectations for their bad patch.
In order to address these problems ahead of Bangladesh's ODI leg of the Caribbean tour later this month, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) brought in performance psychologist Phil Jauncey, who began his two-day programme with the national players at Mirpur yesterday.
Jauncey's aim, contrary to popular notion, does not include any motivational factors.
“What we do is that we make people feel that they can perform. What happens in cricket or any sport is that you need to perform even if you don't feel like it. My teachings state that you don't need to feel good to act good but when you act good you feel good,” explained Jauncey.
Stating an example of what he aims to instil in the players the Australian said,
“When we are under pressure our brain tries to con us and that makes it worse. So if I am a batsman, when I feel good I tend to lean towards the bowler, when I feel bad I lean towards the keeper. So in order to counter that, I need to lean towards the bowler even when I feel bad.”
The Australian spent around four hours with the players yesterday. He was seen talking to the players individually, explaining to them the different stances that an athlete takes during different situations of the game.
“My job is to ensure that each of these players can give it their best in terms of skills, no matter how they feel at that point of time,” said Jauncey.
BCB Chief Selector Faruque Ahmed, who was also present at the ground, was hopeful about Jauncey's impact on the team.
“Every sporting team needs a psychologist. Bangladesh had them in 2003 and 2007. It's a positive thing and it's required,” said Faruque.