Living within the England panopticon

Writing in The Times, Mike Atherton has said of the England setup:

“The impression is of a closed, institutionalised and claustrophobic world.”

We’re sure he chose his words carefully. It’s also worth noting that this is a man who felt the strains of international cricket despite only ever considering it a game. He has previously written of his efforts to quash feelings that what he was doing was inherently trivial in a bid to muster more emotion and passion:

“I somehow had to convince myself that what I was doing was the most important thing in the world – that if I failed all manner of plague and pestilence would descend.”

The point is, even a man like Atherton felt the pressure and he now perceives an even more mentally taxing environment for current England players.

It’s not so much that players are managed and mollycoddled and supervised, it’s what David Hopps draws attention to in his article for Cricinfo, that players feel like they are being judged at all times.

Imagine that level of surveillance. The principle behind the Panopticon was that people would behave in the desired manner even when they weren’t being watched, simply because they would feel that they might be being watched. Imagine the pressure of that. Imagine the effect it has on you.

The Panopticon was a design for a prison, by the way.

Hopps uses a quote from a nameless England player who says that it can feel like you are constantly being assessed when you’re within the England setup. We have no idea who that player was, but it instantly brought to mind the strange case of Nick Compton, who said after he had been discarded that he didn’t feel that the management really knew him.

More than anything, Compton appears to have been rejected on the basis of his character and while much of the incriminating detail will have been culled from the skittish innings in his final match, you wonder how much was gleaned while watching him away from the middle. Maybe the selectors got that one right, but if other players watching on deduced how the decision was reached, what was the cost?

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6 Appeals

  1. The bubble can be a great benefit when things are going well and an accident waiting to happen when things go awry.

    I am reminded of the Mark Twain quote, in Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, about putting all your eggs in one basket:

    “Behold, the fool saith, “Put not all thine eggs in the one basket” – which is but a matter of saying, “Scatter your money and your attention”; but the wise man saith, “Put all your eggs in the one basket and – WATCH THAT BASKET.””

    Perhaps the England management have taken their eyes off the basket that is “the Squad England bubble”. Or forgotten its prime purpose.

    • King Cricket

      November 26, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Or maybe detailed player profiling and a duty of care make uneasy bedfellows.

    • A scary thought, KC, says Ged, speaking as an employer who tries hard simultaneously to do both of those things effectively and with compassion.

      Not easy, even in a little business that is normally well below the radar of public gaze.

    • Ah, the underground brothel business. Happier times.

    • Sam – I should have realised all along that it was you.

      Always a delight to run across one of our very best and regular customers. Especially in your case, Sam. You always paid up front, never made a fuss and never stayed around for more than two or three minutes a visit.

    • Curses. This wig and false nose combo clearly isn’t doing the trick.

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