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News

Snape pulls Sri Lanka players closer

Former England cricketer turned psychologist Jeremy Snape is playing such a role in keeping the Sri Lankan players focused on the World Cup

Sa'adi Thawfeeq
14-Mar-2015
Nuwan Kulasekara is congratulated by his team-mates after dismissing Freddie Coleman, Scotland v Sri Lanka, World Cup 2015, Group A, Hobart, March 11, 2015

Sri Lanka players have benefitted from the interaction facilitated by team psychologist Jeremy Snape  •  Getty Images

Sri Lanka have converted a slow start in the tournament to become one of the dominant teams entering the quarter-finals. While the success on the field has been visible, a lot of work has gone in the background to help the team cope in a high-pressure environment.
Former England cricketer turned psychologist Jeremy Snape is playing such a role in keeping the Sri Lankan players focused on the World Cup. Snape initially worked with the Sri Lanka team during their ODI series at home against England before he was reassigned for 12 days for the World Cup. Following the team's successes, Sri Lanka decided to extend his stay till the end of the World Cup.
But working with a new team has come with its challenges. "Sri Lanka's got its own unique culture and the language, some people speak very good English and some people not so much, so with some people who don't speak English I can work with one of the senior players or coaches to interpret the words," Snape said.
One of the things Snape has attempted to do within the team is to foster discussion between the seniors and juniors, so that knowledge is shared better, a key component of any high-performing team.
"The Sri Lankan team is very respectful, certainly to the senior players," Snape said."I've interviewed Kumar [Sangakkara] and Sanath [Jayasuriya] for the players and asked them about their thinking, asked them about their nerves, when they failed, when they built really strong innings, asking about advice they got and how they kept a balanced life. All these things are so important for the young players. If we didn't create that opportunity they probably wouldn't have that conversation because the young players wouldn't ask those questions.
"We have done it in a group over a team meal and the players have loved it," he said. "I asked the questions in English, the answers are often in Sinhalese and it's been very strong. The players have been very receptive to what I've said and everyone is fascinated by the mental side of this sport."
Snape, who played for England in 10 ODIs and a solitary T20, holds a master's degree in sports psychology. He had previously worked with Shane Warne in the IPL team Rajasthan Royals, with South Africa, with Premier League football managers in the UK and in Formula one. He has also applied his work in the corporate world.
"It's the same thing, how do we simplify things?" he said. "The game is quite complicated how do we simplify it because we want players to make one simple decision, commit 100 percent not be confused and not commit to anything."
One senior in the team has been making simple decisions and with four consecutive centuries, he has been reaping rewards, setting a solid example for the rest.