Will is an ex-England A cricketer and founder of Performance Catalyst, a culture-change consultancy.
Sport is fickle. You play a part of different pieces. Moving pieces, different on any one particular day. In sport you get some very special moments in time, where luck, talent, hard work all come together.
The time I played for the England A team was one of them. It was a one-off tour to Bangladesh. The emotion I was feeling… I wanted to embrace every second. I’d done the hard work and wanted to express my talent. I put on the cap and shirt of the England team and remember thinking this might be your last chance so absolutely embrace it. When I look back I was very consciously enjoying the team I was part of.
The other was an individual moment, but it also contributed to a team moment. It was probably a split second, under the most extreme pressure, hitting the winning runs for my team in a knockout semi-final. It was the biggest crowd I ever played in front of, it was live on Sky TV and it was a unique situation because it was what was called a Super Over, and it was the first time that had ever happened in the game. So I was suddenly thrust into the limelight at that moment.
But that moment was the accumulation of months and months and years and years - the conversations I’d had, the people I’d met, the relationships, and what everything boiled down to was actually one ball.
That moment was the accumulation of months and months and years and years.
I could probably write a whole book on this one-second six, taking our team from the knockout semi final to the final, which we won that day too.
Even though it was just one ball, what happened in that moment created a huge knock on effect for me, my future, my career. So that moment in time is actually really significant and a really lovely place to reflect on because I could look back at that and think, lucky ball.
But it wasn’t luck. It was a whole build up of everything that had gone into that moment. The hard work, the perseverance, the physical development, my mentors, and the time, psychological and emotional investment on my part.
I had been intentional about many different aspects of my life over a several year period before. I had said yes to workshops, gone to events, met people and stayed in touch over many years. Those intentions were born out of previous experience and disappointment and failure and loss.
After I lost my mother when I was 26, I had access to cognitive behavioural therapy from The Professional Cricketers' Association, a vital support for all professional and ex-professional cricket players. So I knew I got into some negative thinking cycles that I couldn’t see a way out of. Going through that process left an impression on me, and a genuine curiosity to want to keep growing and evolving.
My temperament wasn’t to provoke, but I think I felt a need to learn that actually a robust conversation is sometimes needed. And then the next evolution for me was to create an environment where a team realised this as well. So we have to ensure there is that level of trust and openness and honesty to have those types of robust conversations, in order to get to being greater than the sum of our parts.
And I had my fair share of injuries. When I thought my body let me down, actually it sharpened my mind and my focus. I persevered through rehabilitation of various injuries and used a sports psychologist when I was at university and playing for Essex and also a hypnotherapist in the latter stages of my career. I was the one knocking on their door saying let's sit and talk and work through these things. This work showed me the importance of relaxation and being able to find a way of relieving your pressures and stresses inside your own head.
I could look back at that and think, lucky ball. But it wasn’t luck. It was a whole build up of everything that had gone into that moment.
So even though that golden moment was just one ball, all these things were built up into a way of being at that particular moment in time. A moment that was seen by a lot of people, which I think created a platform for what I do now. There is so much in that moment about a readiness for luck; I was ready to be on the receiving end.