Fear of success

Much is written about the paralysis induced by the fear of failing. Today’s events underline the other, greater fear — the debilitating fear of success.

More than once in this series, Bangladesh has looked to compete with India on an even footing.  — the home team’s second innings being the perfect example. At 290 for three, Bangladesh seemed to be coasting on the wings of Tamim Iqbal’s fireworks display aided and abetted by Junaid Siddiqui and nightwatchman turned thorn in the flesh Shahadat Hussain.

It is debatable whether Bangladesh could have parlayed that into a winning position — but with a little bit of application, the home side could have seriously embarrassed the visitors. And then, just as the game neared the tipping point, Bangladesh lost the plot — spectacularly and completely. Complacency, is Shakib’s diagnosis; fear of success is mine.

There was a time when India suffered from this syndrome. It would, especially when traveling, play itself into a position of strength — and then, having gotten a grip on the game, its engines would overheat, and bring the side crashing down. Bangladesh is now in that position, and that actually qualifies as an improvement — from being the easy-beats of the long form, the side is gradually reaching that point where it can stymie even top teams, for prolonged periods in each game. That transition largely owes to Jamie Siddons, who took over the coaching role in late 2007; his job now is to push his wards that extra step, and teach them how to translate their talents and energies into a winning effort [the role John Wright played with the Indians in the late 1990s, for instance].

Elsewhere, South Africa is going through one of its periodic epiphanies — the result, seemingly, of a coach and selection committee intent on picking players on merit, and of a board that wants to use cricket at least in part to correct historical wrongs. In an otherwise quiet cricket world, some reading matter: Aakash Chopra continues his insider column with a note on the Holy Grail of the professional sportsman: form.

The dictionary explains “form” in different ways, but for cricketers it’s a state of uncluttered mind: when everything falls in place and you don’t have to worry about where the next run or the next wicket will come from. When in form, it happens by itself. When in form, your focus is on the next ball, not on the one that just went past your bat. You find gaps when in form, fielders when out of it.

On a personal note, have over the past few days of inactivity gotten a few dozen mails from readers asking (a) whether I intend to resume regular blogging and (b) whether my blogging will be restricted to cricket.

Yes. No. There you go.

I’m currently struggling with way too much on my plate — both professionally, where I am busy trying to understand the intricate architecture of Yahoo’s global operations and where and how I slot into it, and personally, where thanks to a lot of traveling I haven’t yet found the leisure to settle my home down. Regular blogging resumes once at least one of these two things are accomplished; when it does, it will not be restricted to cricket [in fact, I suspect I’ll shift to a regular, probably daily, cricket column on the Yahoo platform, and use this blog to round things off, and focus on non-cricket themes.

So: yes, and no. Give me time. 🙂

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18 thoughts on “Fear of success

  1. dude, i got a boner reading that you’d be writing on cricket for a column! damn! guess who’s back?!
    shit, i missed having that man… this is GOOD…

    non cricket related issues? KLPD 😦 but its cool.
    off to Yahoo now 😛

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  3. i liked this post about the Padma awards,and since you mentioned about non cricketing posts-http://ibnlive.in.com/blogs/suhelseth/2315/54081/and-quiet-the-padma-flows.html

  4. Hey Prem
    Was already checking the yahoo site daily for your byline.Also was anticipating that you will do a daily column on cricket.
    Just give us the link once the gig starts and YAHOO will be a regular haunt……

    • Yeah, am trying to put some stuff together first. Don’t want to start something until I am sure I have the bandwidth to be regular, so most likely this will kick off in the second week of Feb — trying for earlier, but that seems to me realistic. Will update on the blog and on Twitter, and thanks for the encouragement

  5. I certainly feel Bdesh has improved as a test team. Both the tests were not cakewalks for India. I definitely feel they have a fair chance against WI, NZ et al, esp. at home. Now, turning our attention to the upcoming SA series, I am keen to see how the reserves make use of the opportunities that have risen out of the absence of 2 (or even 3) of the regular batsmen. Even when RD & VVS come back, the No.6 slot is up for grabs. Yuvraj is hell bent on proving that he does not have the game or attitude for tests. So, whoever grabs this one chance have a very good chance of making his place permanent in the test team. I personally feel Vijai would be the one.

  6. Good to see you back on the blog.

    On this very topic, I agree with your view that it’s fear of success.

    Bangladesh hasn’t won enough to know what it takes to win. Or let me put it this way, they have won the odd games but it doesn’t set a pattern of winning. Whereas India currently has acclimatized the habit of winning and therefore even an injury-struck XI is winning the moments (that matter!!).

    Hope Bangles get used to winning more (not against us!! 😀 ).

    On the test match itself, Murali Vijay’s catch was a stunner. Did you see that one ?? Surely, he’s in the XI against SA both for batting and fielding :D.

    For the tests against SA, whom would you pick to replace RSD, VVS and Yuvraj ? – MVijay, Badri and Dinesh Karthik – would be my choices.

    Good luck with settling down – at work and in the new city. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to ping.

    Cheers.

    • I would go with Pujara/Pandey/Kohli in place of Karthik for 2 reasons.
      1. I feel as a pure batsman, the above 3 score over Karthik.
      2. I don’t want all the 3 new players to be from TN when the chief selector is Srikkanth. That would unnecessarily lead to accusations of bias.

    • I’d seriously consider Pujara to fill RD’s shoes, with the caveat that I am not sure about his current form. For YS, I’d pick Manoj Pandey — he is in form, he is confident, has the adrenalin flowing just now, and all of that makes this the perfect time to blood a talent. VVS is the trickier one – I like Vijay, but I also keep thinking of the risk of spoiling an opening batsman by shoe-horning him into a high performance middle order; I like Badri to an extent too; I also believe Rohit Sharma is an option worth long term consideration. On balance, they might want to go with either Badri or Vijay just now. Karthick is a good utility player, but if you are building a Test side, I’d at best want him in the side as a reserve for MSD.

  7. Prem,
    Do post a link once you start writing on Yahoo especially cricket,and try and push it to yahoo sg site as well

  8. Prem: Would love to hear your thoughts on Dubai especially with all the financial problems they seem to be going through what are your impressions on the city?

    • I’d rather not make the mistake of pontificating on that one 🙂 Absent information, opinion is not worth a can of beans. I spent four and a half days there — of which two whole days were spent in the Deira Sheraton, shuttling between my room and the conference room. The other two days I spent in the home of a very close friend, pretty much in the shadow of the Burj — very little ‘sightseeing’, more catching up with my friend, her husband, and their 10 month old baby.

      My fleeting impression was of a very well planned, well organized city — one that has put tremendous resources into infrastructural development. I guess the general tendency is to see all those marquee buildings. What I saw was attention to detail — the laying out of the roads, the automating of toll collection so you are not getting slowed down by a toll booth, the air conditioning of bus stops even, and so on. Yeah, it seems to have overreached itself, in much the same way New York over-reached itself at one point in its history — but I’d find it hard to imagine that it will collapse under its own weight. Gut feel — it will pull itself, or be pulled out of, its current embarrassment, rationalize some of its activities, find a more balanced fiscal approach, and get back to where it wants to be.

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