World Cup Pressure Causes Different Players To Engage In Media Spats

By Dhanu Delphi on July 9, 2019

The 2019 ICC World Cup takes place once in every four years and every participating team knows the importance of winning a World Cup. Consequently, World Cup pressure on all players builds from Day 1 and continues as the tournament progresses. Some of the players cope rather well under pressure. However, others tend to let World Cup pressure get the better of them and impact their performance.

World Cup Pressure and Resulting Incidents

India and New Zealand will be under a lot of pressure as they head into their semi-final clash. India is expected to win with betting odds of 1.30 to New Zealand’s 3.50. The second semi-final is between defending champions Australia who are the underdogs at the sportsbooks with odds of 2.20 as they take on favourites England with odds of 1.68.

It is quite possible that we see a few more incidents where players succumb to the pressure during the semi-finals and finals. However, let us take a look at the incidents that have already occurred during the 2019 ICC World Cup.

Jonny Bairstow

When England suffered back-to-back losses against Sri Lanka and Australia, the critics lashed out against England for their poor performance. England have been the favourites to win the World Cup from Day 1. However, their two losses put them under pressure of qualifying and making it to the semi-finals.

Opener Jonny Bairstow let the pressure get the best of him. He subsequently told the press that both ex-players and English fans were waiting for the team to fail so that they can criticise and troll the players. Former captain Michael Vaughn did not take those comments well and called Bairstow pathetic and negative.

Bairstow responded well hitting back to back centuries against India and New Zealand to help England qualify. Bairstow has decided to keep his comments to himself after he learned a valuable lesson.

Ravindra Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja has had to sit on the side-lines and watch Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal play most of the games this tournament. He got upset when Indian commentator and ex-player Sanjay Manjrekar labelled him as a bits and pieces player in ODI cricket. Jadeja decided to take to Twitter and respond to those comments.

Jadeja, who is viewed by many as an all-rounder, reminded Manjrekar that he had played twice the number of ODI matches and is still a current member of the World Cup squad. He asked him to stop his verbal diarrhoea. He also suggested he learns to show more respect to people who have achieved something in their career.

India decided to pick Jadeja in the very next game against Sri Lanka and he struck in his first over. Former captain Sourav Ganguly came out in support and tweeted that he bats, bowls and fields making him a terrific asset to the Indian team.

While Jadeja has had the last laugh, he can learn a thing or two from Rohit Sharma about handling criticism. Sharma, who is having a phenomenal World Cup, said he preferred to ignore negative comments and focus on positive things like the beautiful weather in England!

Sarfaraz Ahmed

The Pakistani captain and his team received a lot of criticism, abuse and even threats after they lost to India. Sarfaraz received the most flak on social media, though. Especially because the cameras showed him yawning twice during the high-pressure game against arch-rivals India.

The Pakistani captain admitted that the amount of abuse the team received had affected them psychologically. He was very candid in saying that he understood that Pakistani fans were emotional after their loss to India. However, he urged them to stop targeting the families of the players and trolling them.

Cricket players get exposed to a lot more pressure and criticism, thanks to social media. This is particularly true during a tournament like the World Cup. The fans are definitely not going to stop it. Therefore, it will be up to the respective cricketing boards to provide their players with media training and counselling on how to handle the pressure and criticism that a World Cup brings.