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Cricketers need more mental strength to perform in empty stadiums: Broad

Sports Lounge Staff

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Empty CRICKET STADIUM

Southampton: Stuart Broad has asked England team’s sports psychologist to “create a mindset” best suited for playing behind closed doors as international cricket prepares to return with a host of radical changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upcoming three-match Test series between England and West Indies, starting here on July 8, will mark the resumption of international cricket after the coronavirus-forced hiatus.

The matches will be held in a bio-secure environment with no spectators.

“I think the games will feel a bit different with no crowds. International cricket certainly will be more of a mental test to make sure each player is right up for the battle, and I’m very aware of that.

“I’ve already spoken to our sports psychologist about creating a bit of a mindset around making sure I can get my emotions up to where they need to be for me to be at my best,” Broad said in a video conference.

The seasoned fast bower added, “If you put me in an Ashes game or a pre-season friendly, I know which one I’ll perform better in. So I’ve got to make sure my emotions are where they need to be for an international Test match, and that’s something I started working on in early June.”

Ben Stokes is set to captain England for the first time in the opening Test of the three-match series and Broad feels the all-rounder would have no difficulty stepping in for Joe Root.

According to Broad, Stokes has a “good cricketing brain” and that should help him when he stands in for Root, who is certain to miss the first Test, beginning here from July 8, to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

“I’ve no doubt he will be brilliant at captaining England for this one-off Test match — or two Test matches,” Broad said.

“Stokesy just has a really good cricket brain. He’s someone who’s matured incredibly over the last three or four years. There won’t be much pressure as he’s not being judged over a long period of time. I have no doubts he will be brilliant.”

The 34-year-old, who has so far taken 485 wickets in 138 Tests, doesn’t like it when there is no pressure, something cricket will have to bear with for now in the absence of spectators.

“It’s a worry for me because I know that I perform at my best as a player under pressure, when the game is at its most exciting and when the game needs changing.

“And I know that there are certain scenarios that bring the worst out of me as a cricketer, and that is when I feel the game is just floating along and there is nothing (riding) on the game.”

Broad said he will have to find “little things that give competitive edge”.

“It might involve doing even more research into the opposition batsmen’s strengths and weaknesses, so I’m focused on getting into a competitive battle with the batsman instead of relying on the crowd.

“We have to make sure we’re as engaged as possible,” he said.

Broad joked that he might get into a verbal duel with his opponents to charge himself up at the risk of inviting punishment from his father Chris, who is likely to be the match referee in the series.

“Maybe I have to pick more of a battle with the opposition and bring my dad into things a bit more,” said Broad.

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