Domestic cricket returns next week and a range of players with different mindsets will take the field. I’ve had a look at three categories of player and the mentalities they may have heading into and during a season.
If you’ve had a taste of playing for the England Lions, for instance, it’s very exciting and you feel close to getting picked in the main squad. Going into a season you just want to impress as much as possible and get the summer off to a good start.
There were times, however, that I tried too hard to take wickets rather than just do my job. The older I got, the more I learned to just run in and perform for the team rather than focus on a personal battle to take wickets.
Sometimes the expectation to take wickets or score runs can get the better of a player and performances subsequently go out of the window.
I got called into the 2005 Ashes squad but didn’t play, yet I remember feeling that I had to automatically become a better bowler because of that call-up. I forgot about the things I’d done to get where I was.
Established England player
Some players can find it a pain to go and feature at a lesser level and be motivated having been in the Test spotlight.
Most, however, would see playing for their county as a positive. It’s vital as a bowler to get miles into your legs during the early part of the summer. For batsmen, time in the middle is just as crucial to build confidence before the summer’s first Test.
There will be different mentalities depending on your status in the England team. Someone like James Anderson, who is set to play for Lancashire at Essex next week, will not be so concerned with how many wickets he takes.
Steven Finn, however, who is on the periphery, will want to take as many as possible. There’s always added pressure when you’re not a guaranteed member of the side.
Of course, perhaps not everyone is happy to see you back. After not being selected for the second Test of the 2005 Ashes, I came back halfway through a first-class match at Cheltenham and replaced then Hampshire seamer James Bruce, who was on for a five-for.
Former or dropped England player
There may be times when a player is left out or dropped by England and they simply have to take that on the chin, move on and get back to the county circuit.
I didn’t make England’s Test squad for the winter tour to Sri Lanka in 2007-08 despite bowling well against India in the summer. It can be mentally tough but I had no option but to get my head down and perform for Hampshire when the domestic season rolled around.
If a player loses his central contract and perhaps feels they won’t play for England again, it’s important they re-set their mind. When I felt my England days were over, I really tried to embrace county cricket.
At times, I did find it hard to get motivated for the county game when I was around the England set-up but I shrugged that off and put all my efforts into trying to win trophies for Surrey. I also never knew when it was going to be my last match.