Squash Mad

WILLSTROP: Bashing our heroes is totally warped

By JAMES WILLSTROP (courtesy of Yorkshire Evening Post)

The fiercest critics have a tendency to come out of the woodwork with great swagger after a poor result.

As any readers may have heard me say before, it rankles that successful athletes who are excellent examples for us to enjoy are criticised with unreserved savageness when they do not perform, or lose.

How the England cricket team have been well and truly panned from every angle in the last week. Not only must they deal with the loss to the Australians, but they must endure the wrath of every armchair viewer and his dog. Most of the criticism comes from supporters of England!

It is a warped scenario in which the very people who say they want you to win merely pile the pressure on in double measure with the weight of their criticism. If these people really wanted an England win, then wouldn’t they at least find a modicum of positivity?

JAMES ANDERSON…faced a grilling

I may actually be England’s sole espouser in all this, who is yet to find anyone else with any degree of perspective.

James Anderson was dumped on the doorstep to face the salivating press and received a near criminal interrogation from a haughty hack, rather than a questioning about a world-class game of cricket. Anderson handled it with media-savvy equability but as one of the game’s great bowlers it must have been hard to take.

Geoff Boycott, as is customary, nailed in to England, unnecessarily deriding England’s team for putting resources into a facet of the game which sits apart from the field of play. “England have an 82-page booklet on what to eat but one guy comes in and bowls at 90mph and they can’t cope,” says Geoff.

GEOFF BOYCOTT: Harshest of critics

Whatever it was like in Geoff’s day when they were all big tough men who ate pies and cream teas without a second thought, he should be receptive enough to accept that nutrition is a considerable part of any sportsman’s routine nowadays.

He says the Australians would laugh at them for such studious and, as he sees it, irrelevant endeavours. Well, let them laugh. I couldn’t care less who laughed at me, if I was doing something that could help me play sport better.

Sportsmen should never be criticised for trying to gain small percentages.

The fact is that, whilst last week’s scoreline isn’t flattering for England, why is the general reaction after one match so adverse? We are seemingly unable to view a wider perspective. All commentators simply go with the flow and are score-orientated. The score or result usually dictates their oh so predictable opinions.

How soon they have forgotten that England won the Ashes in convincing fashion only a couple of months ago! Every GREAT athlete has had a humiliating or convincing defeat at one stage or another. The England target is to win or retain the Ashes, and losing one game just might have to be part of the process.

Coaches and players must have faith in what they are doing, and the challenge is to have faith off the back of the lows.

They often do. It is the public and the media and the boards and chairmen who often cannot grasp the nature of sport at the highest levels. A loss or two must never signal the world’s end.

I spoke to Tony Smith recently and he regaled to me the story of his first coaching job at Huddersfield, where they lost 13 games on the bounce to be relegated. Wisely, the powers at Huddersfield did not sack him and the team were promoted the following year. Tony went on to become one of the most successful coaches in Rugby League history.

There will be disappointments, they are unavoidable. Turning those disappointments into successes is difficult but requires a level of solidarity and belief.

Source: Yorkshire Evening Post

Posted on November 26, 2013

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About The Author

Lee Horton

Former Sun, Mirror, People and Sunday Express sports executive. Knows a bit about newspapers and the art of talking a good game. Brighter than some but a way to go to match others.

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