Myth or not, the rivalry between the two nations never lets up, and for six weeks every other summer, England’s best cricketers pitch their skills against Australia’s finest. And what makes each test so captivating is how quickly the game can turn, based on split second decisions and subsequent actions.
In 1999 I had the pleasure of meeting Greg Chappell, Australian Test Cricketer and Captain. He’d read an article I’d written on how the Alexander Technique (named after F.M. Alexander, also an Australian!) could help cricketers and was keen to meet up whilst he was in London. I gave him a practical demonstration on how to move with less effort by focusing on things such as tension in the neck. As an extremely successful batsman with a good record against the hostile West Indian bowlers of the 1970s, Chappell had worked out a mental process of ‘going through the gears’ to cope with the challenging hours at the crease. He immediately recognised how the methods used in the Alexander Technique could also help with the mental toughness required for a test cricketer.
From a physical point of view, the Alexander Technique helps to improve coordination and balance by reducing interference we unknowingly add to many of our movements. From a mental aspect, the technique helps to develop awareness to ‘get into the moment’ and into the state of mind athletes call The Zone. When in this state, our brain’s ability to process information speeds up quite dramatically, giving the impression that time slows down. Most of us will have experienced something like this at some point, whether on the sports field or in the office. For a cricketer facing a ball hurtling towards them at 90pmh (how great is Jofra Archer, eh!), the ability to think fast is vital.
You often hear Geoffrey Boycott, one of England’s most successful openers, exclaim the batsman got out because they played the wrong shot to the ball bowled. If a player is poised and ‘in the Zone’, they’re less likely to panic and play the wrong shot as they’ll appear to have longer to assess the movement of the ball and determine what stroke to play, or whether to leave alone and let it go through to the keeper.
After our meeting, Greg wrote of his experience, “The time I spent with Roy in the UK last year was both fascinating and enlightening. With minimal effort he had me moving and standing comfortably and with minimal strain on my body. He was able to get me to do a full squat without effort and with no discomfort, something I hadn't done for years, if ever. The Alexander Technique will benefit anyone whether they are an elite athlete or whether they just wish to live life without the aches and pains that many people suffer and accept as part of life.”
You can find out more about the Alexander Technique and how it could help you (whether you’re facing Jofra Archer, or not) here.