LEADING performance psychologist Dr Phil Jauncey’s background with Brisbane’s NRL and AFL teams and the Queensland Bulls didn’t prepare him for the scenes he witnessed at Dhaka.
Drafted in as a consultant to the Bangladesh cricket side under new coach and former Sydney Thunder mentor Chandika Hathurusingha, Jauncey says the reactions of the crowds at the stadium and in the streets were like nothing he’d seen before.
“We were going on the bus to a game against Zimbabwe,” Jauncey told the Herald Sun.
“You could not believe the fans and their enthusiasm for cricket.
“They’ve very rabid. You get these people in tiger outfits.”
Bangladesh swept Zimbabwe five-nil in the one-day series in November and December 2014, much to the delight of the nation of over 160 million people.
Today, ninth-ranked Bangladesh takes on unbeaten defending champion India in a knockout World Cup quarter-final at the MCG.
Jauncey, who also worked with the Bangladesh squad in Brisbane for a couple of weeks in late January and early February this year, says the fans want them to simply give their best.
But he says the pressure on the Queensland Maroons in rugby league’s annual State of Origin series is nothing compared to what Mashrafe Mortaza’s side will feel at the MCG today.
“In Dhaka, the fans can relate to these other people,” Jauncey says.
“We call it vicarious involvement.
“Our heroes in Australia make us feel good, but our lives are pretty good.
“But you imagine if you have a life that’s very average and the only thing you’ve got to give you anything to get you out of where you are is some cricketer.
“That makes them feel really good but imagine the pressure it puts on these players.
“It’s almost like the Queensland State of Origin. These guys feel the pressure that Queensland says ‘if you don’t do well, we’re going to feel bad tomorrow’.
“That’s just a minor thing.
“If you imagine what the Bangladeshi guys feel, with people saying: ‘If you do well, it makes me feel so good. It doesn’t matter about my life situation, I’ve been lifted.’
“There’s this huge enthusiasm for them.
“Even if they don’t do well, the fact that they’re trying, it just makes these people feel so (proud).
“I have been to there games and the enthusiasm and the joy of the crowd when their players won against Zimbabwe, it’s just a huge feeling.
“So it’s very good when it goes well but you could imagine the pressure they feel of when they let those players down.
“But they handle it really well. They accept the responsibility of being role models.
“Our players have no idea what that’s like in any of our sports.”
Bangladesh’s vice-captain and star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan says there’s no hiding from the pressure.
“In the subcontinent always people do expect a lot of things from you,” he said.
“We are playing well so there is some expectation.
“Win or lose, if we play our best cricket that is the key thing we’ll look to do.”
Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza says Bangladesh’s first appearance in the World Cup in 1999 sparked a national love affair with the game.
He said the crowd support at matches in the 2015 World Cup had been amazing.
“Once we played in the 1999 World Cup, most of the people started loving cricket,” he said.
“Still people love football but cricket is now the number one game. As a player I feel that.
“All the people are supporting the cricket right now.”
Source: Fox Sports