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It's not the ego

Cricketers often try to mask their diffidence and insecurities behind their sunglasses and strut

Iain O'Brien

September 12, 2012

Comments: 81 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen spent the day in the outfield, Surrey v Lancashire, County Championship, Division One, Guildford, July 11, 2012
Sometimes the way players behave is the exact opposite of what they are feeling and of how they want to come across to others © Getty Images

Early in my career, I remember walking past a bunch of Northern Districts players while playing for Wellington in Hamilton. I was feeling like I shouldn't be there. Uncomfortable. I was good enough to be there but I didn't know how to feel comfortable.

I had my shield up, sunglasses on, pretending not to notice them. I was noticing them, of course. I was looking their way from behind the tint. I was so uncomfortable. Trying to be staunch when all I was doing was appearing arrogant. Matthew Hart spoke in my direction, but past me, as if I wasn't there, and just loud enough for me to hear. "He's a strange one. Weird."

I was, probably. My own team-mates thought that too. Well, that's what I thought they thought. That lack of self-confidence emanating as perceived arrogance. All I had to do was say, "Hi lads" and I would have appeared "normal". But I couldn't. I just couldn't. I didn't know how to.

I'm pretty sure we all agree that physical sports and sporting competitions aren't always won by the biggest and strongest. There has to be, and there is, a large mental aspect to it too. Whether it is in pre-event preparation, in-game tactics, dealing with pressure, and then performance review.

But let's not stop there. What about the "mental" stuff off the park? How do sportsmen, and for the purpose of this article, cricketers, deal with themselves and those around them on a personal level?

In the last couple of weeks a certain player has captured a lot of headlines. There is a very easy image to conjure of an arrogant sportsman: sunglasses on, chest out, tattoos, and a "you can't touch me" strut. A strong, determined look, a million miles away, pondering his next contract, endorsement and on-field success, obviously.

Is that really what's going on behind the lenses, the strut, the tattoos, the lack of acknowledgement of others around? For me, and certainly for many others, it was the polar opposite of what was really going on.

Behind my sunglasses I was always analysing. Analysing how people were analysing and judging me. My eyes darted around nervously. Eyes that wanted to know what people thought. Eyes that saw people's reactions. Eyes that read body language. Eyes that tried to work out where I stood. Shy. Scared. Slowly drowning.

If you don't make eye contact, you don't have any awkward conversations. Don't have to remember people's names or acknowledge anyone. Not knowing what to say and how to react. Am I being judged? Am I being boring? Am I a shadow in the background?

If you shut yourself away, put the barrier up, you don't have to worry about all that. You can just analyse, be uncomfortable but safe in your own little world. I could see who I wanted to see, whether I was comfortable enough to say hi or pretend not to see them. Life with sunglasses on is easier.

The issue with shutting yourself away like that is that you end up looking arrogant. The exact opposite of how you feel. The exact opposite of how you want to be perceived. You've got your shield up and no one can get in. You become a shadow. You're the painting on the wall to be discussed but not approached. Even when I went back to playing club cricket from the pressure-cooker environment of Test cricket, I found it tough. I still didn't know how to be. Should I be the "Test cricketer" or should I just be one of the boys? It sounds silly to me now, but I didn't know who I was and how to act.

Often, though, instead of becoming this "shadow", the person would go the other way and become the clown, or as Mike Brearley called it in a piece for the Observer, "a joker", gaining attention for all the wrong reasons.

Behind my sunglasses I was always analysing. Analysing how people were analysing and judging me. My eyes darted around nervously. Eyes that wanted to know what people thought. Eyes that saw people's reactions. Eyes that read body language. Eyes that tried to work out where I stood. Shy. Scared. Slowly drowning

I remember the times I was the clown. I now realise I was - and still am - trying to work out what people thought of me. I'd be silly, annoying, say things that were too cutting or just plain wrong, to get a rise. This wasn't done intentionally; it was a subconscious reaction to feel involved. I couldn't control it as much as I wanted to. There are so many such people on Twitter now. You know the type.

This behaviour would confirm what I thought they thought of me. I thought everyone didn't like me. I was in a position where, as long as I knew what people thought of me - like me or not - I was more comfortable. It became easier to have and make people dislike me.

Self-sabotage, I now call it. Subconsciously you'd turn people against you, so at least you could control one part of the relationship. In one instance, I remember texting a mate something so thoughtless that it ended our friendship. I didn't mean to be harsh, I didn't mean to be rude, but I was, and weirdly, at the time I was okay with it. It meant I knew I didn't have to worry about how I was to this person anymore and how to fit them into my life. You become selfish, only you count. You say to yourself: "It's okay, I don't need them. I don't care what they think." When in reality, you do. You really do. No matter what we say to ourselves, we all want to be liked, to be loved, and be in a position to like and love in return.

It's the ego talking. The ego that shields and encases the soft and gooey centre. It doesn't allow us to think properly, and it means we say the wrong things.

I had no cricket pedigree when I first played first-class cricket. No age-grade cricket tournaments. I had only played a couple of Emerging Players matches. I knew some of the guys from playing club cricket but nothing more than that. They didn't know me, we had no shared experiences, we had no history. I didn't fit in. A horrible lack of confidence came across as arrogance, when all I was was a scared little mouse.

I didn't know how to have discussions and conversations in the changing room. This is where I was the least comfortable. Some players, I know, didn't like me. Some didn't talk to me. The "banter" and teasing in the changing room was tough and I didn't have the skills to deal with it. Instead of responding with reason and a level head, I reacted. I unintentionally became rude. Eventually team-mates told me, in a hotel conference room in Sydney in November 2008. And it came as a surprise. I really wanted to change. I needed to change.

Can you see any similarities?

It took a good few sit-downs with a counsellor and some work with a psychiatrist for me to start working out patterns of behaviour, why I behaved like I did. But I didn't do this until I had finished playing cricket. About a year ago, almost to the day. I worked out the cause and effect. I worked on how to try to be comfortable. How to at least try not to be rude. It's something that takes a lot of work, and I'll always be working on it. I still get it wrong, often.

Why am I telling you all this? Because there are so many others who just don't know how to handle themselves around their sport. They are good enough to play, and play for a long time. Some even get the Three Lions tattooed on themselves and strut around with egos, sometimes acting like they are bigger than the game. Or are they? Is there more to it than the simplistic "arrogant nob" label? Is it self-confidence? Is it pure arrogance? Or is it the exact opposite - a lack of self-confidence, a bluff, an "I just want to be liked but don't know how to get people to like me"? My meagre money is on the latter.

The inability to find the middle ground between a shadow and a clown - where you feel comfortable, where you're accepted, and where you can flourish as a person and player.

All I wanted to do was be myself. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. But in these situations, outside of my hotel room, I didn't know who I was. Everything I did was a bluff. All the confidence I showed was faked. Fake it until you make it. The problem with this, though, is that you're never comfortable. You spend so much time and energy pretending that it wears you down.

Physically, sport is tough. Mentally, it's harder. It's hard being me, it really is - living with my ego and the doubts it brings.

Iain O'Brien is a former New Zealand fast bowler who played 22 Tests

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (September 15, 2012, 22:32 GMT)

Iain, why don't you forward this article to our grand folks in the ECB ? A group of egoistic, self-inflated individuals who in the name of English cricket are putting the team at risk. Sure, it's not about the ego when it comes to KP BUT we all know it's always been about the ego isn't it ? Well written article by the way.

Posted by BackfootNossyfan on (September 15, 2012, 21:13 GMT)

This is quite an incredible article. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to it, as can I. I never quite feel comfortable in my schoolgirl team and tend to say stupid stuff... good to know I'm not the only one. Great insight. Write again Iain?

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

An excellent piece of writing from an unexpected(?) corner...!! u made me to look forward for ur articles in the future..:)

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 17:38 GMT)

A brilliant and fascinating insight behind the headlines and behind the noise. Ian obrian is gifted and deep

Posted by kdcricket on (September 15, 2012, 16:59 GMT)

This is indeed the most insightful article that I have read on cricinfo. For me the scope of this article is not restricted to cricket. In fact all of us face insecurities in our daily life and this article feels so real and connected to those. Iain, the quality of your writing in this article has earned you a very loyal fan following. If I may, I will request you to write such insightful stuff highlighting different facets in a athletes life. Trust me you are going to sell far more copies than the biographies of yesteryear's and current(latest trend) cricketers'

Posted by SmellyCat on (September 15, 2012, 16:15 GMT)

Fantastic article. Not just sportsmen but almost all professionals would have gone through similar circumstances. I could so very well relate to it as if I was reading my own story.

Kudos Iain.

Posted by propeller on (September 15, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

Precise, incisive, meditative, piercing, ruthless, simple, clear, and violent all at the same time. These are what I feel when I read this bit of writing.

I not only read your article three times already, I read all the comments above and I will continue to do so. As some one said above, even if you get roped-in, please maintain your clarity of mind. Don't let the "neutral and corporate speak" corrupt you.

I now believe there is something called "clarity-in-language" and it is always simple, humble, and relatable.

Posted by balakumar246 on (September 15, 2012, 14:25 GMT)

Where have you been mate?Have always loved your posts.Truly profound one.Takes a brave man to bare his heart out like this in public.One of the best articles on cricinfo for a while now without a shadow of doubt.I can bravely now say that I am not much different from you..maybe, i don't have my sunglasses on but i behave as if I don't care about anybody around me.My biggest insecurity is that people might take advantage of me or whatever.Had been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and underwent some counselling for it.Better now but still a long way to go.Hope KP reads your article or you give me a call.It will certainly be worthwhile.

Posted by propeller on (September 15, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

"The inability to find the middle ground between a shadow and a clown - where you feel comfortable, where you're accepted, and where you can flourish as a person and player. "

Incredible Line!

Brilliant article overall. It is amazing how you have found a way to solve the KP conundrum with humanity and humility. It probably took a lot of probing and plumbing your depths to come up with an article as fascinating as this.

Congratulations for showing us the way and having the courage to write the way you did.

You are a superior human being.

Posted by creekeetman on (September 15, 2012, 11:18 GMT)

@ tweets... totally agree about kp man, well said.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

Just to echo the other comments here - a profound, moving and uncomfortable piece of writing. I'm going to be looking out for your work from now on.

Posted by tweets on (September 15, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

brilliant article..just goes onto show the degree of insecurities one faces..not only in cricket or soccer...but in any workplace for that matter..not everyone can be of those "damn i don't care" attitude kinda guys..a lot of them do suffer from insecurities and are victims of team-mates nexus and groupism..which is what KP is going through right now..else why will a man who has immense potential and is immensely talented shoot from his mouth in this manner..he feels he has been undone and treated shabbily by his colleagues..and has all rights in expressing what he is showing pain in your heart a crime?? blurting out the truth make one arrogant is it??..why dont ppl understand that everyone cannot be diplomatic or a rahul dravid...KP just called spade a spade..and i dont see any wrong in that

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 8:52 GMT)

this article deals with problems faced by ordinary people in there daily lives as hear such a thing frm an int'lm cricketer is inspiring. very brave of Iain to come out in the open like this

Posted by creekeetman on (September 15, 2012, 8:49 GMT)

fantastic article, so true.

Posted by mehulmatrix on (September 15, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

Very good post. Yes, when we are not comfortable it can actually make us feel to be isolated and hence aggressive/skeptical in ways towards others. If someone can just make us comfortable and makes us feel nice we feel much at home. Its really good to hear this from an international cricketer, cause it inspires. All is not glitter at higher levels, but the bouncing back in adverse situations makes them great! Regarding KP, i'm not too sure whether he comes in the same line, from seeing him he seems to be more outgoing and confident.I hope things pan out well from Eng.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

One of the best articles i've read on Cricinfo.

Thanks Iain

Posted by ygkd on (September 15, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

Too honest really, but who can complain about that?

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

Iain, what you have written makes it to my all time favourite cricket articles along with Ed Cowan and Ed Smith's works. I echo Srinivasan Narayanan's comment above that it takes an immense amount of character to be able to write this, and 'sdavmor' 's comments that you have a promising career as a writer and possibly as sports psychologist ahead of you. I do hope KP reads this article and realizes that he is not alone in feeling the way he is; that he could seek help and that his condition is neither so trivial as to be ignored nor something to feel stigmatized about. If you can, Iain, please forward this article to KP, or better still get in touch with him yourself. Because i have a feeling that there would be nothing more you would want out of this article than if it could actually help someone in need.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 4:07 GMT)

absolutely wonderful post. Clearly comes from a man who has overcome his self doubts. Heart-warming and inspiring

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 0:01 GMT)

I went through a stage like this too, and I suspect a lot of people do. The difference was that, because I wasn't a professional sportsman, I didn't have to go through this stage on international television. Iain, I think this is a great article, but it sounds like you're now comfortable enough that you don't need me to tell you that this is a great article.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 17:10 GMT)

Excellent article. I have been following and reading about cricket for over 20 years. Iain you certainly have the qualities to be a great columnist. A lot of former players talk just to earn a living or in a neutral and corporate way so to speak, I have always admired former cricketers who are honest and speak their heart and write about it.

Posted by Erebus26 on (September 14, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

A great piece and I think a lot of people out there will feel a connection with what you just said, and not just cricketers and other sportsmen.

Posted by njr1330 on (September 14, 2012, 12:40 GMT)


Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 12:11 GMT)

Well written Iain. and well commented on everyone. It is re assuring to know that there are others who feel this way. Personally, i feel like this every saturday and come to think of it, every other day too, only in a different environment. You don't want to let people in. The part about awkward conversation, is so true, it's easier to walk on past, you hate yourself for it and it chips away at you. The opportunities for introspection cricket gives you are numerous and Messrs Ambrose and Yardy and OB are surely amongst friends, i have lost count of the times i have wanted to walk away from the game because of doubt in my own ability and team "fit". Keep up the good work Iain, we salute you.

Posted by ed.dixon on (September 14, 2012, 12:02 GMT)

Wow, a fascinating article and one of the bravest I have seen. It takes real guts to publicly admit to fear and insecurity and how it can affect us and the perception that others have of us. Iain, I salute you.

Posted by canuck00 on (September 14, 2012, 11:12 GMT)

Like quite a few others, I registered after years of following cricinfo, just to leave this comment on Iain's article, one of the most honest and heartfelt articles I have read online. It holds relevance and extends beyond sports into everything that involves team work - reading it was like holding a mirror up to my life. At the same time, knowing from experience, it is not impossible to get the best out of people who want to be liked but end up faking confidence. It takes something called leadership. The sorry state of affairs of English cricket currently is as much a reflection of the lack of leadership and people management at the top as much as it is about Kevin Pietersen, who needs a bit of understanding and help. Thanks Iain!

Posted by Game_Gazer on (September 14, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

absolutely brilliant article Iain !!, hats off !!, hope the English team spend time & more reading this !!

Posted by Pattu5 on (September 14, 2012, 8:02 GMT)

Amazing article, hats off to you Iain. I have watched you bowling in the past, I could never have imagined you to be like this. This is definitely applicable in all walks of life, personal or professional. Will have to start following your articles now!

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

Ian... Ian!!! Long past, I thought, I cam from my public school days, where I felt I don't belong, and, developed this "care-not" attitude as a shield. But, after this piece, I must confess, I still am shielding my self. My heart-full thanks Ian. Time to take off my sunglasses.

You have a flair for writing. Mate, carry on. I am gonna save this for piece my son to learn along with Harsha's article on how Tendulkar hasn't changed a bit from his teen age days. Should be good education for my kid.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 6:19 GMT)

Iain, what you have written makes it to my all time favourite cricket articles along with Ed Cowan and Ed Smith's works. I echo Srinivasan Narayanan's comment above that it takes an immense amount of character to be able to write this, and 'sdavmor' 's comments that you have a promising career as a writer and possibly as sports psychologist ahead of you. I do hope KP reads this article and realizes that he is not alone in feeling the way he is; that he could seek help and that his condition is neither so trivial as to be ignored nor something to feel stigmatized about. If you can, Iain, please forward this article to KP, or better still get in touch with him yourself. Because i have a feeling that there would be nothing more you would want out of this article than if it could actually help someone in need.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

wow! I am a fan! loved it

Posted by Yasir_Reza on (September 14, 2012, 5:15 GMT)

Amazing. One of the best articles that I ever read and I can totally relate to it. Iain O'Brien, you got a fan there.

Posted by chakdephattey on (September 14, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

One of the most honest cricketer/writer I have seen. Aakash Chopra is the other that comes to mind. Loved this article - a lot of philosophies apply not only to sportsmen, but in all walks of life.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 3:28 GMT)

I have to say, learning about inscape or inner self is much harder than learning about others.....Same here signed up first time to write comments. Emotions and sharing them lights up the life.... after all it is fuel to our creativity and advancement.

Posted by JohnnyHopkins on (September 13, 2012, 23:33 GMT)

LaGeek has hit the nail on the head. One of the best articles I have read. Thankyou very much for writing it!

Posted by mikaelnorm on (September 13, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

Nice work Iain, the single most poetic article ever written on Cricinfo.

Posted by LaGeek on (September 13, 2012, 20:44 GMT)

Wow. In my 10 years of regularly reading cricinfo,my first comment, and I specifically registered just to write this comment.

This is not just for sports persons, though it is amplified if you are in a team profession like this. I was able to relate to everything you said, and I am just an engineer.

You should be writing far more often than the *cough* useless statistics and "technique" writers on this site. A human side to the tough world we live in. I didnt hear about you in cricketing terms, but now, I am a huge fan of your writing.

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (September 13, 2012, 16:46 GMT)

While the article is interesting coming from a different angle. You do have to ask at what point you stop making excuses for a divisive attitude that causes team friction. Do we wrap sporting superstars in cotton wool if they're feeling a bit fragile? If you want to be an emphathist there are numerous career paths open to you - go become a social worker. If you want to be a sporting superstar in the limelight and under the microscope then you better have the right attitude to go with it - on & off the field.

Posted by kunjster on (September 13, 2012, 16:20 GMT)

We played competitive INDOOR cricket against each other quite a few times it was a very long time ago(may be 13-14 yrs ago) i used to play for the Wellington B team, forgive me for saying this but I always thought you were arrogant may be it was your competivie edge. But I read your article today twice and was compeled to sign up and post my very first comment at cricinfo. WOW what a self reflecting article, in creating awareness, In some ways i have seen myself in this position in life. Its probably the best article I have read on cricinfo. You definielty need to take your skills to the next level may be a book surely the NFL, NBA could use your wisdom here, would want to see more of your articles on cricinfo. ESPN if you are reading this dont let this guy go!

Posted by Selassie-I on (September 13, 2012, 16:13 GMT)

Lovely bit there Iain, really good. Hopefully KP returns to the fold, and is accepted, Cookie is the man to broker the peace, I have no doubt at all that there is two(or more) tangoing here!

Posted by yidam7 on (September 13, 2012, 16:05 GMT)

hi ian..its me your twitter & blog fan from nepal..this is probably one of the finest article i've ever read..bow to you sir !!

Posted by pr3m on (September 13, 2012, 15:00 GMT)

A lot of the people who read what you were writing back in the day miss you, and wish you hadn't quit the game when you did, and hadn't quit writing when you did.

While mental issues can be different, the causes could be similar. All I can say is I hope we see the Three Lions back on the international playing field soon.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

You nailed Mr. O'Brian ! Remarkable article

Posted by Noman_Yousuf_Dandore on (September 13, 2012, 14:05 GMT)

Very well written Iain; this surprised me!

Posted by Nmiduna on (September 13, 2012, 13:49 GMT)

to be honest Ian, ive never heard about you before.(Now il surely go to ur profile)but im commenting in the middle of a heavy exam workload, just to tell you that there's soo much i can relate to in this piece.i think almost all of us face this psychological dilemma at some point of our lives.but i have a feeling that there are certain personality traits that are more susceptible.i experienced this big time when i first went to the university.i for once coudnt tolerate the ragging,it was only verbal,and as u hv said,it now appears to me as silly,but there are numerous occasions i have cried at bed,not coz anything serious hapnd to me,bt just coz i culdnt fit in.i saw everybody around me getting along so well,but i was stuck,nobody talkd to me.And wen smone occasionaly tlkd,i failed to say sth worthy.i still am recovering from that phase but now i have built up some confidence by getting along with one or two that i can cope as u said,more or less,we all like to be liked & loved

Posted by Chaz_59 on (September 13, 2012, 13:39 GMT)

Ian, I think you've just given buckets of hope and encouragement to the many sufferers in silence who are out there across all walks of life.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 13:31 GMT)

Nicely put. This is actually the main reason for the showdown. Each one is trying to identify the reason where there is none. It happened with Chris Gayle, and now Petersen. Hope Petersen matter is settled soon, otherwise, there will be a big loss.

Posted by reddevil82 on (September 13, 2012, 12:51 GMT)

Good observation and ability to put in writing what you eventually analysed about yourself and others but I have a nagging feeling that KP might be different. A small doubt that he is lacking in confidence and shutting out others or portraying an ego at this stage in life and career.

Posted by Prashanth12 on (September 13, 2012, 12:31 GMT)

Excellent article Ian you can become a Mind conditioning coach for any team

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 11:52 GMT)


Posted by roven23 on (September 13, 2012, 11:35 GMT)

Loved the article! Good work Ian.

Posted by satish619chandar on (September 13, 2012, 11:29 GMT)

As always, good to read. One of the best writer. The best thing about the likes of Lian, Akash Chopra writing is, the players providing the insight information on how the things are done when they are still playing the game. They are not outdated like some of the senior writers and provide the views in best possible way. Good write mate and please continue :-)

Posted by YogifromNY on (September 13, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

TERRIFIC article, Iain! Thank you for being so courageous in publicly writing this. I can myself relate to some of the stuff you wrote about, in the context of my own life and (corporate) career. I have been seeing a therapist for the past 18 months to work my way past it and it is helping. One of the things I have done myself is to go public about it in my circles. Many people in my life have since gone to therapy themselves after being inspired with my story. I am sure your article on a widely-read website like cricinfo will help thousands, if not millions!

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

Cracking piece this - relates to people in all situations in all walks of life; somehow, though, I doubt King KP has the self-awareness to turn all of this on to himself and realise that he does, in fact, need help.

Posted by din7 on (September 13, 2012, 11:06 GMT)

Aweome, Excellent, Superb.....etc etc. best article of all i read on cricinfo. Its not just for sportsmans but for all human being. Im not a sports person (though i wanted to be cricketer) but this is what i experinced all my life and still have problem...but couldnt speak.The para from....behind my sunglasses...till...Life with sunglasses on is easier.. .. was my story for all these years..but couldn't explain it in words.. though i dont wear sunglases i do it thru naked eye.. which makes me so uncomfortable. Even while walking on the road when i see some1 i just start thinkin what he thinks of me and start judjing myself...if i see him/her in the eye and then pretend that i wasn't seeing hem/her it would make me look rude and i dont want to look rude cause im not.. i was never able to explain it in words and ian u did it so easily..thanks Ian..u shld start writing lots of books now this will be among best articles i ever read....Thanks Ian O Brien...

Posted by VijaySaraswat on (September 13, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

What a lovely article -- thank you, Iain. Very courageous.

Posted by Shajkh on (September 13, 2012, 10:12 GMT)

Hi Ian, I believe its true with Peterson case it should be the case of lack of Self Confidence, as I watched him talk to journalist, with no eye contact what so ever, the article is so true

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

What a brilliant piece! I doubt any sports psychologist can drive the point O'Brien makes in the article home as effectively as he does. Probably because he experienced it himself. But I think he was very lucky to have realized that there was something wrong-wrong not with the people around him but the way he was perceiving things.

Posted by RakeshDash on (September 13, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

A great peice Ian...hope its gonna help the people involved and better sense will previal...

Posted by 100_rabh on (September 13, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

how can God give so many qualities to one person. Ian, forget the fast bowling and writing, you are an amazing psychologist first. Your observations true not only for sporting field but for all the places where you think people are watching you. Can relate so much to this.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 9:35 GMT)

what a gem Iain o'brien is, great competitor as opening bowler and superb journalist.

Posted by Zulubooitjie on (September 13, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

Outstanding article Ian! Really enjoyed reading it. Well written and honest. Great job!

Posted by JP_the_genius on (September 13, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

Just Wonderful... Pls forward to ECB...

Posted by sks_1984 on (September 13, 2012, 8:07 GMT)

Wow! Such an insightful & touching article. I registered myself with cricinfo for the first time just to submit my comments for this article. Iain, It takes a lot of wisdom and strength to analyze ones own problems. To be able to do that indicates that you are well on your way to conquer the problem.

As someone else suggested, you truly have a great career as a writer and thinker. I haven't read any of your articles before, but now I would be looking forward to. You probably have won yourself a lot of fans today.

I think you will have a greater impact on many peoples lives with your words of wisdom than any one could ever do with cricketing heroics.

Posted by Mike61 on (September 13, 2012, 8:01 GMT)

Absolutely superb article Iain. So true,and I agree, you have a fantastic career in sports journalism ahead of you

Posted by sachkaan on (September 13, 2012, 7:30 GMT)

I am a fan of your bowling, now a fan of your writing. Expecting a lot more articles from you.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 7:27 GMT)

An excellent article, ECB should take note of this. For saboteurs like Swann and Anderson they want to do without their best batsman. Players like KP are the safest bet when you tour the subcontinent. Swann and Anderson have always been and will always be pretty ordinary in the subcontinent. Anyway Iain, a brilliant work here. I always liked you as a player, and this piece shows that you're a mature and good human too...

Posted by sweetspot on (September 13, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

Very good article, and very brave of a competitive sportsman to share his innermost thoughts with us. Many kudos! I wonder how someone like Virender Sehwag goes about his business. He doesn't seem to care an owl's hoot what others say or think about him! And yet, he is simply great fun. Why not just play the game like it is meant to be played? For enjoyment, anybody? Yes, it is professional and it is pressure and all that, but when the ball is bowled and the bat is swung, all there is is human enjoyment, so why can't we leave it at that?

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 7:02 GMT)

Iain, what you have written makes it to my all time favourite cricket articles along with Ed Cowan and Ed Smith's works. I echo Srinivasan Narayanan's comment above that it takes an immense amount of character to be able to write this, and 'sdavmor' 's comments that you have a promising career as a writer and possibly as sports psychologist ahead of you. I do hope KP reads this article and realizes that he is not alone in feeling the way he is; that he could seek help and that his condition is neither so trivial as to be ignored nor something to feel stigmatized about. If you can, Iain, please forward this article to KP, or better still get in touch with him yourself. Because i have a feeling that there would be nothing more you would want out of this article than if it could actually help someone in need.

Posted by Slabi on (September 13, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

Superb article!. Going through the same all my life. Great eye opener!. Thank you very much Mr. O'Brien

Posted by bchandars on (September 13, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

Excellent article. Though not a sports person, personally I have felt this so many times, where I avoid people, just so that I would utter something awkward. A must read for all the sprorts persons.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 5:52 GMT)

Brilliant article. Should be recommended reading for professional sportspeople and, well, other humans.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

I thank you for writing this... similar was the case with Shoaib Akhtar..and now KP. Players I loved for who they were.. Its a pity that careers are ruined by silly psychological trauma by not-so-worthy chiefs and society.. How true these words are!

Posted by vasisht_d on (September 13, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

Amazing Article.@Ian-->You should probably become a sports psychologist in future..

Posted by Don_The_Saffa on (September 13, 2012, 5:36 GMT)

Excellent article - probably true. I also misunderstood KP. I was initially really angry when he first represented England and then eventually all I could do was admire him. It would not have bothered us Saffa's that much if he wasn't so damned good. Took a while to accept that he was English. What more does he need to do to prove that? I would not be surprised if he was secretly hated and alienated in the English dressing room because of his abilityand perceived arrogance. I read somewhere that if you move to America and become very successful they love you for it but if you move to England and do the same, they will secretly hate you for it - until you mess up and then the knives will come out. It's true - his ego and fast mouth resulted in some really bad behavior. But it's that ego that contributed to England winning many crucial games. How quickly many English fans have forgotten that.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 5:16 GMT)

Brilliant! This is easily one of the best article I have read.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 4:45 GMT)

Extremely well done, Iain! What you have shared in this article calls for huge guts (and I am not known to deal in exaggerations). Yes, your story will be the story of at least half the youngsters - and even older ones. "Behind my sunglasses I was always analysing..." A graphic metaphor. "It's hard being me, it really is - living with my ego and the doubts it brings." Thats the essence of the struggle.

I remember reading your article here when you had quit Test cricket and New Zealnd and went over to England. iirc, you had even wondered aloud whether you were doing the right thing. Whatever hindsight may say, one always is doing it right at that moment if one had given sufficient thought to it.

After the present article, you may find some laughing at you still. They must be the shallow ones. And insensitive. But heed them not.

Sharing means caring. You would do well to take youngsters in your fold and guide them through an awkward passage in their lives. Wish you all the best!

Posted by chainsawww on (September 13, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

Awesome !! But this is not gonna help him being liked. I wish he is liked.

Posted by sdavmor on (September 13, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

Iain, that is a fine essay. One that puts the entire out-of-control KP and the England dressing room + twitter idiocy issue on the table without being hostile, insulting, derogatory or taking sides. You were a quality cricketer for New Zealand, one whose career could have and probably should have been more than it was. But it is behind you and the future is what you make of it out beyond the blue event horizon. From this essay I glean two important things:

(1) You have a serious future ahead of you in sports journalism and maybe writing beyond that. I enjoyed your thoughtful and humorous blogs but this is horse of another colour. Well done.

(2) As fine a cricketer as you were I think you have in you to be a far far better man. One that the rest of us can look up to and respect as a thinking man who makes an effort to see beyond the obvious, shallow, and not always right, easy answers. Who knows where that maturity will take you? A long way is my guess!

Regards, SDM in SoCal

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 4:08 GMT)

A very refreshing article!

Posted by GedLadd on (September 13, 2012, 4:06 GMT)

The very fact that you are able to write this article about yourself demonstrates how different you are to KP, Iain!! Very interesting piece though, nonetheless.

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