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“It’s always been the way with bowlers and some teams down the years to try to intimidate batsmen”
England batting coach Graham Gooch has announced that sledging has become a “part of the game” and batsmen simply “have to accept that”.
Gooch also revealed that he talks with the England players about sledging and admitted that everyone handles it in a different way, whether they get bogged down and pressurised by it or whether they get fired up and feel as if they now have something to prove.
“We talk to the players every day,” he said. “I’ve got two players coming in now – that’s the job. Coaching is building a relationship with someone. You discuss things: how you deal with things mentally, how your technique is, how you look to build an innings, score runs. How you look to approach things if someone’s trying to verbally intimidate you.
“It’s always been the way with bowlers and some teams down the years to try to intimidate batsmen. It’s nothing new, it’s part of the game and you have to accept that. I don’t think anything that happened in Brisbane we haven’t seen to some degree in the past. You have to handle it. It’s part of being a success in international sport. It’s about being the complete player and handling the mental side as well as the technique and the conditions.
“If someone comes with sledging, people deal with it in different ways. Some people it motivates, makes them play better, more determined; some people it can unsettle. But generally sledging is about getting you to play the man and not the ball, to get your focus off the ball. In my career, the players I’ve seen who’ve dealt with it best either smile at the opposition or take it as a compliment. Generally if you get sledged, you’re doing okay.”
Gooch believes that Joe Root handles sledging in the best way, whereby he simply smiles and nods his head instead of adding to the tension by saying something back.
Speaking about the number three spot, which became vacant when Jonathan Trott returned home with a stress-related illness, Gooch acknowledged that Root and Ian Bell were the two frontrunners to take over the spot.
Gooch also noted that a batsman coming in at number three should always have a plan and must be able to adapt if the situation changes drastically.
“Whoever moves to No.3 – and it’s probably fair to say that Joe Root and Ian Bell are the two candidates – I’m sure they’ll stand up for England,” Gooch said. “You start off with a plan and you’d like to stick to it all the way through but players have to be adaptable. If these things come along, someone has to move and do the job. The decision has not been made but obviously it will be talked about in the next couple of days.”
Gooch also lauded the pitch in Brisbane, stating that it was “a fantastic Test wicket”.
The 60-year-old believes that England lost the first Test due to the fact that they caved in to the pressure and let everything get out of control.
“The pitches are great over here,” Gooch said. “It was a fantastic Test wicket at the Gabba. There were stages when we were batting when things were calm, but then things got a bit out of hand, the crowd whipped it up a bit and we didn’t handle the situation as well as we should have, so we’ve got to improve. To get dismissed twice for under 200 is very disappointing. You’re not going to win any games of cricket if you do that.
“Johnson had a great game at Brisbane and I take my hat off him. He took nine wickets and you’d be lauding any bowler on any side who took nine in a Test, so congratulations to him. He bowled fast and inconvenienced a few of our players with the short ball, but short bowling has been around since the game started. We have to deal with it better this game.”
Gooch also outlined his philosophy heading into the second Test in Adelaide, which was: “Play better, okay?”