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'You absolutely need to have the discipline…': Watson's advice on social media usage

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) While IPL 2024 produced towering scores, stellar spells and unforgettable memories for cricket connoisseurs, the tournament also saw numerous instances of players being trolled and abused on their social media handles by anonymous fan accounts.

In this ever-growing digital age, social media has become an inseparable part of cricketers’ lives. A good performance on a particular match day will bring them huge praise from fans. But if they have a bad on-field performance day, then the players are at the receiving end of unsavoury comments from the same fans who cheered for them on the day they do well.

Shane Watson, the former Australia all-rounder, believes the modern-day cricketers need to develop a discipline where they don’t get into reading nasty comments on their social media accounts.

“Not just cricketers, people in general and performers when you’re putting yourself, especially in the public domain, one thing is yes, there’s huge advantages to social media. I enjoy looking at social media because I love learning things. So, in my feed there’s whether it’s cooking or coffee or different things about learning and parenting come up in my feed that I love,” said Watson in an exclusive interview with IANS, on the sidelines of his new book ‘The Winner’s Mindset’ launched by HarperCollins Publishers India.

“But when it comes to social media around your own performances, you absolutely need to have the discipline to be able to not go into the comments at all. Whether you’ve had a good day or especially when you’ve had a bad day, because you’ve had a good day, people are building up even bigger than what you really are.

“So, you can get a little bit overconfident and ahead of yourself. The downside is you read the comments when you haven’t had a good day and there’s going to be people piling in on you and your performances, like personal attacks,”

Granted that cricket, with its religion-like status in India, involves high emotions of fans who want to see their favourite teams be on a winning spree. In his book, Watson has written about how reading comments made by faceless trolls can have a huge impact on players putting out their best performances and of techniques which can help them overcome it.

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“It’s hard enough to perform at your best when it’s just you and your own thoughts, and trying to manage those to bring the best version of you every time you step out. If then you’ve got people who don’t know you, have got no understanding of the work and everything that you are putting into bringing the best that you possibly can to be best version of you, then that infiltrates your mindset.

“You start to get the shovel out and start digging a deep hole mentally because of those people who’ve got no idea about actually who and what you are and what you’re doing. So, I recommend to everyone that I talk to around using social media, obviously there’s huge benefits to it, but it’s a really simple way to not have the downside of it by being very disciplined around not looking and reading the comments.

“If you don’t do that, then you just get the upside of social media, which there’s a lot, but you don’t have the downside, which then can significantly impact your ability to be able to perform because of those fears of failure, doubts, lack of confidence that comes by reading the comments and the negative comments in particular,” he explained.

In the book, Watson writes about the next step in cricket’s evolution being training cricketers’ minds to produce and execute skills under pressure. So how do cricketers build their mental skills and get it to help them perform under pressure. Watson, a two-time ODI World Cup and Champions Trophy winner, thinks it should begin from a young age, when their technical and physical skills are developing.

“When they’re developing all three together, then it’s a perfect storm from a young age. A lot of the time, the mental skills might be learnt indirectly from coaches who tell you specific things. To know why they’re so important and powerful, its because when you start to go off track, you don’t know why you were doing these things to then just pull yourself back into using and applying these mental skills.

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“I’ve seen it even with some of the greatest players. When things have gone off track, even when they’ve been dominant for a long period of time, they don’t know why these things that they used were so powerful and struggled to be able to get back on track.”

“So, by developing these mental skills and applying these and mastering these from as a teenager in particular, and then going into your 20s, you get closer to mastering your mental skills, which means you can bring the very best version of you from a younger age. Whereas for me, I started that at the age of 34.

“It took a couple of years really of integrating those in every aspect of my life, especially around my training and then performance in game, to be able to get closer to mastering it. So then I knew how to be able to bring the best version of myself and access all my skills.

“So, when you apply those mental skills from a younger age, you don’t have the stress, anxiety and worry that goes with performance to bring out the positive side – the best version of you every time when stepping in to perform,” he elaborated.

After his playing career ended, Watson has taken up coaching roles which require him to use his mental skills into bringing the best performances out of teams, something which he calls has been fascinating. He worked as the mental skills performance coach with the men’s NSW Blues squad from September 2023 to February 2024, apart from two IPL seasons as an assistant coach with the Delhi Capitals.

Apart from being Australian Cricketers Association President for four years and taking up commentary roles, Watson has coached Quetta Gladiators, who entered the PSL 2024 playoffs this year and will be flying to USA for his second season of coaching the San Francisco Unicorns in the Major League Cricket (MLC) season two in July.

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“It’s what I absolutely love – being able to be a coach. The core things that I worked on when I was at the Delhi Capitals, and now with the head coaching roles I’ve had as well, I’d say probably 70% is all to do with mental skills and around mental skills coaching, like setting that environment up at the start so people really understand the mental skills side of us as human beings.

“But then the one-on-ones that I do with players, that’s where I really get the most cut through because even the highest performers that I’ve worked and played with, they had a lot of very good times. But they also had times where they would sabotage their own performance because of having the wrong thoughts at the wrong times.

“Being able to educate people and pass on this information, even if they pick up one or two little things that it might not have to do with their ability to perform at their best, it absolutely could be very relevant to them in dealing with setbacks, failure, to be able to reduce and significantly pull out stress, anxiety and worry that goes with not performing and not getting the results you are looking for.

“So, there’s a number of different sides that I tap into as a mental skills coach, because that’s the thing that we’re chasing – to be able to perform more consistently better and pull out all our skills that we’ve worked so tirelessly for. But then to deal with failure and not have the stress, anxiety and worries that builds up when we haven’t got the results that we’re looking for especially holds importance if it becomes over a smaller period of time,” he concluded.

–IANS

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Mewar Premier League trophy unveiled in Udaipur

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Udaipur, June 16 (IANS) The much-anticipated trophy for the Mewar Premier League, which is set to begin from June 19, was unveiled on Friday in a grand ceremony at the Wonder Cricket Academy, Shikarbadi Cricket Ground

The Mewar Premier League is scheduled to take place from June 19 to June 28. The District Franchise League, held at the Wonder Cricket Academy Shikarbadi Cricket Ground, will feature day and night matches.

The unveiling of the trophy has set the stage for a thrilling series of matches in the heart of Udaipur, generating immense excitement and anticipation. The Mewar Premier League aims to promote cricketing talent and also to unite communities through the universal love for the sport, creating lasting memories and inspiring future generations of cricketers.

The event was graced by Gautam Ji Dak, cooperative and civil aviation minister, Government of Rajasthan. The ceremony saw the presence of several prominent figures, including the chairman of Mewar Premier League, Manoj Choudary, and the Founder of 100 Sports, Ravindra Bhati, along with other members of the Udaipur District Cricket Association (UDCA).

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Speaking about the Mewar Premier League, Gautam Ji Dak, said, “There is a new environment of sports in the country. UDCA has been working well for the game of cricket and I wish them well for the future. 100 Sports is also doing a good job under the guidance of Ravindra Bhati and I want everyone to come together and promote the game both at the national and international level. My message for fans is the City of Lakes might become the city of players after the Mewar Premier League.”

Jointly organised by the Udaipur District Cricket Association and 100 Sports, the League will feature, six formidable teams representing various districts of Mewar. Players such as Ashok Sharma, Shubham Garhwal, Mohit Jain, Aditya Garhwal will feature in the tournament.

–IANS

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Archery: Bhajan Kaur claims gold, secures Olympic quota for India

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Antalya, June 16 (IANS) 18-year-old archer Bhajan Kaur clinched a gold medal in the recurve women’s individual event, securing India a coveted quota place for the Paris 2024 Olympics at the Final Olympic Qualifier on Sunday.

Kaur’s triumph comes as a beacon of hope for Indian archery, especially after seasoned archer Deepika Kumari’s unexpected early exit.

Despite the early setback when second-ranked Deepika Kumari, who received two byes, was defeated 6-4 by Azerbaijan’s Yaylagul Ramazanova in her first match, Kaur and Ankita Bhakat carried the torch forward. The competition allowed only one individual quota per country, and Kaur’s exceptional performance ensured India claimed this spot.

Ranked third in the tournament, Kaur showcased her prowess throughout the event. After receiving two byes, she overcame Mongolia’s Urantungalag Bishindee 6-2, Slovakia’s Ursa Cavic 7-3, and Poland’s Wioleta Myszor 6-0 to secure her place in the quarterfinals. Her winning streak continued as she defeated Moldova’s Alexandra Mirca 6-2 in the semifinals and Iran’s Mobina Fallah 6-2 in the final, earning her the gold medal and an Olympic berth for India.

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Ankita Bhakat, seeded ninth, also delivered a commendable performance. She received two byes and then defeated Israel’s Shelley Hilton 6-4, Mikaella Moshe 7-3, and the Philippines’ Gabrielle Monica Bidaure 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals. However, Bhakat’s journey ended in the quarters with a close 6-4 loss to Iran’s Mobina Fallah.

Despite the successes of Kaur and Bhakat, the Indian men’s and women’s recurve teams faced early exits, missing out on the team quotas which would have allowed India to field three men and three women at the Olympics. However, hope remains as both teams are positioned at the top among the countries that have yet to secure team quotas. Their standings in the world rankings offer another route to qualification.

–IANS

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Smriti, Deepti & Pooja did the work of contributing for the team: Harmanpreet Kaur

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Bengaluru, June 16 (IANS) After decimating South Africa by 143 in the ODI series opener at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur appreciated vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, as well as all-rounders Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar for contributing to team’s victory.

On a slightly sluggish pitch, Smriti smashed a fantastic 117, her sixth ODI century, to take India to 265/8. She was well-supported by knocks from Deepti (37) and Pooja (31 not out), followed by the duo taking two wickets and one scalp respectively to bowl out South Africa for 122 in 37.4 overs. The result has meant India have gone 1-0 up in the three-game series.

“It’s definitely a good start, and it was a great team performance. The message was very clear: just be there and keep backing yourself. We have a long batting line-up; we have at least six batters who can bat for 50 overs.”

“I know in a game everyone can’t contribute; only two or three players are going to take the team ahead. I think today Smriti, Deepti, and Pooja did that work,” said Harmanpreet after the match ended.

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Talking about the bowling combination and Pooja’s left leg injury scare, Harmanpreet said, “We already discussed that we are going with five bowlers, and maybe myself, Hemalatha, or Shafali might come and bowl a few overs when required. I hope (Pooja) she’s fine and not that bad. It was great for me that I got a few overs to bowl for the team.”

Smriti, named Player of the Match for her composed knock in tough situations for India laced with 12 fours and a six, said she was elated to have played a huge role in the hosts’ win. “We won the match so really happy that I could contribute, important to start the tournament well, we got 100+ win, nothing better than that.”

“As I said earlier, it was really a task not to go aerial and go for the grounded shots, we have played a lot of T20 cricket, today the need was for partnerships, credit to Deepti and Pooja for getting those. It was playing the situation.”

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“In one-day cricket and white-ball cricket, there will be days when one or two batters will carry the team. My role was to take it deep, once I was set, having got to 30-40. I don’t think anyone got out after getting set and that was the role given to me.”

Leg-spinner Asha Sobhana, who took 4-21 on her ODI debut, said her plan was to keep things as simple as possible, due to the pitch offering help for bowlers. “I just kept it simple, I wanted to bowl in the right areas, I was in a good rhythm, I wanted to continue. I have been practising this for years, I did not want to do anything extraordinary, wanted to focus on the basics.”

“There was a lot for turn on the wicket, did not want to give space to the batters, wanted to vary the pace so that the batters don’t pick my variations. This stadium is very special for me, by the grace of god everything went well. Pitch is amazing and a little bit of my effort as well.”

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“I woke up in the morning today and prayed to God that everything should go well, glad that it went well. They (team management) just told me to enjoy, they had lot of confidence in my skills, they wanted me to go out and explore. I’m happy that my nation won.”

South Africa skipper said she was disappointed over her batting line-up never being in the hunt to chase down the total posted by India. “Obviously, this is not the ideal way to start the series. I think there are a few positives, however. I thought it was a very decent score.”

“I thought one person needed to bat through; was a very chaseable target. I think the bowlers did pretty well; as I said, 265 was not too bad. We just lost our way with the bat. We had the batting line up to fix whatever had gone wrong earlier. But being 30 for 3 was not ideal.”

–IANS

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Draper clinches first ATP Tour title in thrilling victory over Berrettini

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Stuttgart, June 16 (IANS) British No. 1 Jack Draper secured his maiden ATP Tour title with a resilient comeback against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, winning 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 at Stuttgart Open, here on Sunday.

The match, played on Sunday, began with Berrettini displaying his formidable serving power, which earned him the first set 6-3.

Draper struggled to find his rhythm against the Italian’s consistent baseline play and powerful serves. However, the second set saw a different Draper, one who matched Berrettini’s intensity and refused to back down.

The second set was a nail-biter, with both players holding serve throughout. Draper had two opportunities to take the set at 5-4 but was unable to capitalize. Berrettini then had two break points at 5-5, but Draper dug deep, fending off the Italian’s advances to force a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Draper showcased his mental fortitude, clinching it 7-5 to level the match and push it into a deciding set.

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The third set was equally competitive, with both players battling hard. The turning point came at 3-3 when Draper managed to secure a crucial break of serve. Holding his nerve, Draper served out the match, winning the set 6-4 and with it, his first ATP title.

“It is incredible. Thanks for all the support. It was a really tough match and I am really happy to win my first title. It means so much to me,” Draper said after his victory. “There has been a lot of hard work and a lot of tough moments. It’s been up and down but I’m really glad with the way I played, and it’s a testament to the work I have been doing.”

Draper’s journey to this point has not been without its challenges. He previously reached two ATP 250 event finals, losing to Adrian Mannarino at the Sofia Open in November 2023 and to Jiri Lehecka at the Adelaide International in January. This victory, however, signifies a breakthrough, highlighting his growth and potential on the professional circuit.

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Berrettini, a seasoned player with eight ATP Tour titles to his name, including two at the Stuttgart Open and five on grass, was gracious in defeat. “Congratulations to Jack – an unbelievable week, an unbelievable match. I am sure this guy is going to lift more trophies,” the Italian said. “I got close and this will hurt for a bit, but that is tennis. Hopefully this is the first step on the grass-court season.”

For Draper, the celebration will be short-lived as he prepares to play in London on Tuesday. “In tennis, there is not a lot of time to celebrate,” he noted, already looking ahead to his next challenge.

–IANS

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Euro 2024: Weghorst strikes late to secure Netherlands' 2-1 Victory Over Poland

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Hamburg (Germany), June 16 (IANS) The Netherlands overcame an early setback to defeat Poland 2-1 in Hamburg, with former Manchester United striker Wout Weghorst coming off the bench to score a decisive late winner in Group D opener, here on Sunday.

Poland, missing their star striker Robert Lewandowski due to a hamstring injury, found an early hero in Adam Buksa. Buksa, stepping in for Lewandowski, capitalized on a Piotr Zielinski corner to head Poland into the lead in the 16th minute. The goal stunned the Dutch side, who had already squandered good chances through Tijjani Reijnders and Xavi Simons.

The Netherlands, however, quickly sought redemption. Memphis Depay, having missed a golden opportunity by lifting his shot over the bar just minutes earlier, saw his team level the score when Cody Gakpo’s deflected shot wrong-footed Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the 29th minute. This goal marked the beginning of an intense offensive display from Gakpo, who registered five attempts in the first half, the joint-most on record for a Dutch player in the first half of a match at the Euros since 1980.

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Poland, needing to regroup, showed renewed vigor after the halftime break. Jakub Kiwior’s shot deflected off Nathan Ake, forced a save from Dutch goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen. Piotr Zielinski then tested Verbruggen again with a long-range effort, highlighting Poland’s determination to regain the lead.

The Dutch responded with equal intensity. Denzel Dumfries came close, sweeping an attempt wide of the far post. The breakthrough for the Netherlands came in the 84th minute when substitute Wout Weghorst, still on Burnley’s roster, latched onto a clever through ball from Nathan Ake.

Weghorst coolly guided the ball into the net, marking his seventh goal in his last 11 appearances for the Oranje and securing a late lead.

Poland refused to bow out quietly. Substitute Karol Swiderski nearly equalized when he met Jakub Piotrowski’s cross, firing a low shot that forced Verbruggen into a full-stretch save. Piotrowski’s follow-up, however, was sent into the side-netting, sealing Poland’s fate.

The victory places the Netherlands at the top of Group D, with the next match featuring France and Austria set to take place in Dusseldorf on Monday.

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–IANS

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