Fear in Sport, from Craig Mee

September 19, 2006 |

Does fear in sport , as in the market put your opponent in the drivers seat? or does it depend on the personality of the warrior / trader, as to how this will effect the final outcome? I forward to you an article from Buenos Aries:

We hate Hewitt, says Nalbandian — From correspondents in Buenos Aires. September 20, 2006.

FORMER Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian stirred the seeds of animosity ahead of the Davis Cup semi-final clash between Argentina and Australia by claiming his teammates don't like Lleyton Hewitt.

Hewitt has been at the centre of several spats with Argentina over the past few years and the ill feeling has grown to such an extent that he has reportedly employed two Australian bodyguards for the trip to Buenos Aires this week.

"No-one is friends with Hewitt and he does not worry me at all," Nalbandian, who was beaten convincingly by Hewitt in the 2002 final at the All England Club, said.

"We won last year over there (4-1 in Sydney) and now we will win here."

There had been talk that Hewitt would pull out over security fears but Nalbandian thinks his presence in the team will make little difference.

"With Hewitt, this tie will be a little more difficult but that doesn't change much really," added the world No.4.

"Whichever team comes here to play knows that at home, we are very strong, and now we have a great chance to make the final."

Argentina captain Alberto Mancini echoed Nalbandian's sentiments, claiming the circus surrounding Hewitt's appearance would not distract his team.

"The issue of Hewitt and his security (which includes six local security personnel) is something that everyone is talking about but it's not something our team is worrying about," he said.

"We respect Hewitt but my players can beat him."

Earlier, Argentina's Jose Acasuso blasted Hewitt for overreacting to the perceived animosity he will encounter.

"Hewitt seems to think that he's come to Iraq, that they are going to plant a bomb," Acasuso said.

"But we're not bothered because this is the circus that he wanted to set up. Nothing's going to happen and we shouldn't pay any attention to it.

"We're just worried about Argentina. Whether Hewitt has one bodyguard or 500 bodyguards, that's up to him."

Former world No.1 Hewitt, who was named alongside Mark Philippoussis and doubles specialists Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley for the tie, had previously expressed reservations about playing in the tie because of security concerns.

The bad blood between Hewitt and Argentina began at last year's Australian Open when Juan Ignacio Chela took exception to the Australian's histrionics and spat at him as they changed ends in their third round match, copping a fine for unsportsmanlike conduct as a result.

John O'Sullivan answers:

Yes and no, if we take cricket as the sport in case. There are few more exciting sporting spectacles than a contest between a hostile fast bowler and an aggressive batsman in international test cricket. A truly fast bowler is capable of delivering the 5 1/2 oz hard leather ball at speeds approaching 100mph. Over a 22 yd pitch that takes just over 0.5 seconds to arrive at the batsman. The batsman must select and execute his shot in that very short interval. Remember that in cricket, it is perfectly legitimate for a fast bowler to deliver a "bouncer": a short pitched delivery aimed at the batsman's chest, throat or head. Obviously, the aim is to intimidate and unsettle the batsman. Often a simple, straight ball aimed at the wicket will follow. This is a classic fast bowling sucker punch - a scared batsman will fluff the shot, and get bowled out.

From personal experience I know that no other sporting experience produces an adrenaline surge like going in to bat against a really fast bowler. The ball may be traveling so quickly that you can barely see it. In the amateur game the pitch may well be uneven, leading to dangerously unpredictable bounce. As a batsman you know that when the bowler releases the ball it may well be flying toward your face or ribs at 90mph half a second later. If you get your shot wrong, you'll get hit, and it will hurt like heck.

The fear causes a massive adrenaline rush. As a batsman you must harness that rush, as it sharpens your perception and quickens reactions. You must concentrate totally and absolutely on the ball in the bowler's hand as he runs up. And you must try to play freely and naturally.

When an aggressive batsman faces a hostile fast bowler, they will seek to dominate each other. The bowler will bowl bouncers to intimate the batsman. The batsman may "hook" those bouncers. The hook shot requires tremendous nerve and skill. The batsman doesn't attempt to duck or swerve the ball, but stands in line, allowing it to approach his face. He then plays a cross bat shot hitting the ball high, behind and to the right ("to leg") just as the ball comes on to his face. If he can execute this shot correctly he will score heavily, and dominate the bowler. If not, the bowler dominates, and the batsman may be hit in the face.

All batsmen where padded gloves, pads on the legs and a "box" to protect the groin. In recent years helmets have become common place. Less confident batsmen may add arm guards, thigh pads and chest guards.

The more heavily padded a batsman is, the less free his movement. Helmets can hinder vision. So the more protection a batsman has, the less able he is to apply technique to deal with the threat.

If a batsman is confident in his own abilities, he won't hinder his movement with too much protective padding. Market analogy: confident traders will not use stops.

A great batsman must have natural ability: eagle eyesight, quick reflexes, strength and nerves. Market analogy: a great trader must be a quick & confident thinker and have iron nerves.

A great batsman must practice endlessly. He must have a complete array of shots that he can select instantly and instinctively in response to the bowler. One can only learn by doing over and over again. Market analogy: a great trader's instinctive reactions can only be honed by being in the market in all conditions.

Cricket is a team sport, but a lopsided one: the batsman is on his own against the 11 men of the fielding side - the bowler, the fielding captain, and the fielder are all conspiring to get him out. The batsman stays alive and prospers by wit, skill and judgment. Market analogy: the trader relies on his wits to survive against the combined force of the market.

One mistake, and the batsman is a failure. To be a success, he must get it right over and over again. One error, and the batsman gives a catch to the fielding side, or he is run out. Or he is bowled out. To build a big innings, to score heavily, maybe a century, he must get it right over and over again. He might face hundreds of deliveries from several bowlers over the course of several hours, with the fielding side constantly conspiring against him, in order to build a big score. His concentration must be unremitting, and application of technique fluent and correct. One error and he is gone. Market analogy: the successful trader must constantly make correct judgments on placing, pulling and sizing orders and positions. One mistake and he is underwater, maybe even wiped out.

Craig Mee responds:

I believe the great Vivian Richards who averaged 50 runs every time he walking out onto the pitch with bat in hand, and faced some of the fastest bowlers ever to play the game, never wore a helmet in international cricket. Maybe the answer lies here, in this one individual, though I believe he may have been two standard deviations away from the mean, as the downside of getting hit, well for us mere mortals, is 'there goes the account.!'

Adi Schnytzer comments:

Although, to be fair, the nastiest fast bowlers in Richard's era were on his team! Donald Bradman, the greatest batsman that ever lived, and by a fair stretch, claimed in an interview that he was only ever hit once on the body by a ball! He wore no body protection to speak of and evidently needed none. Even the fast bowlers were scared of him! I once saw Richards make 200 in a Test match at the MCG and watching that innings I could not help wondering how anybody could ever make 300 in a Test in one day (Bradman at Leeds way before my time). Watching his interviews, one gets the feeling that the man had no need for adrenalin at all.


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