TELFORD VICE in Birmingham
YOU won’t find Matthew Killingsworth’s name among those involved in the Champions Trophy match between South Africa and Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
Why would you? Killingsworth has a Ph. D. in psychology from Harvard University and, according to his online biography, studies “the nature and causes of human happiness”.
Cricket causes happiness in billions around the world happy, but that’s different.
Even so, some will see a connection between Killingsworth repeatedly exhorting his followers to “stay in the moment” and the use of exactly that phrase by JP Duminy and Wayne Parnell in separate conversations with reporters in the past few days.
What’s it all about, AB de Villiers?
“I wouldn’t say it’s part of team tactics,” De Villiers said on Tuesday.
“It’s just an awareness of not thinking of the past or the future, as simple as that.
“If we live in the past there’s lots of scars that we can think of, lots of bad experiences; some good ones as well.
“If you try and touch on the future, it’s something we can’t control as yet.
“So it’s just wise to try and stay in the moment with what you’re confronted with at the time. It’s pretty simple.
“It’s just a little saying that I feel is quite powerful for us, to focus on the very next ball and not … well, not the very next ball but the one that you’re actually dealing with at that moment … and not trying to think of how you’re going to finish your over or the few boundaries you just went for.
“Everybody has the opportunity to influence the game, and that’s the idea behind it.”
De Villiers said he hadn’t been absorbing Killingsworth’s thinking, but perhaps it inadvertently helped South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 96 runs in their first match of the tournament at The Oval in London on Saturday.
South Africa’s performance was far from flawless, but they dealt with situations as they arose by, yes, “staying in the moment”.
They achieved, in a word, happiness.
A dearth of happiness was evident at the press conference that followed India’s 124-run thrashing of Pakistan at Edgbaston on Sunday.
“That’s a total insult to say we’re playing even worse,” Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur railed at the thinly veiled accusation that he was the problem.
“If you have a look at our records over the last year we’ve won two series.
“We’ve got ourselves from nine to number eight [in the rankings] and our brand of cricket has changed.”
Arthur wasn’t alone in his exasperation at the Pakistani press, whose questions can veer from the inane to the asinine.
After being reminded that “the last time you met Pakistan in a World Cup they got the better of you” and that “a lot of people are wanting South Africa to win a big tournament”, De Villiers was asked, “So how much pressure is there?”
“No pressure,” De Villiers said, and straightened out what had been lobbed at him.
“The last time we played them in Champions Trophy we got the better of them at this same ground.”
That was in 2013, when South Africa dismissed Pakistan for 167 to win by 67 runs.
So incensed were the ’Stani Army, Pakistan’s passionate supporters here in the United Kingdom’s most Asian city, that they booed Misbah-ul-Haq after his post-match interview – despite the fact that he had scored 55.
The ’Stani Army don’t have Misbah to kick around anymore – he’s retired, as has Younis Khan – and Wahab Riaz has been ruled out of the rest of this year’s tournament with an ankle injury.
All of which will be part of the narrative of Wednesday’s match, in which victory for South Africa will mean translate into a giant leap towards the semi-finals.
Conversely, Pakistan must win to retain serious hopes of staying in the running.
Happiness looms for one of the teams.