‘Mind Games’ is a phrase that most British sports fans would usually associate with Sir Alex Ferguson (along with the undermining and systematic intimidation of referees).
Judging by what I’ve read and heard over the last couple of weeks it would appear that ‘Mind Games’ are now going to play a significent role in the build up to the Ashes.
On top of that we’ve also had some of the usual outlandish mad predictions, such as Merv Hughes saying it will only be 3-0 to Australia due to some adverse weather conditions. Strange to hear a (former) selector coming out with that sort of language, maybe thats why he is now a former selector, although there is no evidence to suggest that the two incidents are linked.
Dennis Lillee claimed Australia would win 2-1 or 3-2 because they have the better bowling attack and that “Nathan Hauritz is still evolving”, not sure what thats supposed to mean.
Then we have the measured remarks and comments, the carefully thought out ‘constructive’ criticism designed to undermine the opponents confidence and self belief.
So far I have heard John Buchanan’s attack on Kevin Pietersen, claiming he is an “individualist” and could be a “major problem”. Ricky Ponting has questioned the strength of England’s batting, picking out Cook and Collingwood for criticism and now – in the most direct method possible – we have Shane Watson attempting to unsettle Jimmy Anderson.
Watson’s criticism of Anderson surely dates back to the Justin Langer e-mail in which he called Anderson a ‘pussy cat’, the Australian team cleary see Anderson as a weak point and are attempting to exploit it. Watson was only too happy to point out the obvious, that the ball dosen’t swing as much in OZ and that when it dosen’t, Anderson struggles.
I did hear one sane voice giving a balanced view at the back end of last week. Adam Gilchrist claimed that England are compact and in a good place, he also said that Australia are struggling as they are not used to losing as often as they have been lately and that could have a negative impact.
I have no doubt that Gilchrist is the exception to this particular rule and we can expect plenty more of the madness over the next 3 weeks.