"I say 'watch the ball, Balcony Boy'. It's just a little thing I've had since 2007"
Kevin O'Brien on the mental switch he employs before stepping up to bat4 days ago, 19:07 15 May 2018
Sometimes a little voice in your head can be a good thing.
Irish cricket star Kevin O'Brien joined OTB this evening to talk about Ireland's inaugural Test match yesterday which ended in a five wicket win for Pakistan.
Despite the loss, the day involved the country's first ever Test century, with O'Brien breaking the 100 mark over the course of his turn at the stumps, and he noted his ability to switch on and off mentally throughout the day as a reason for reaching such an accomplishment.
"With Test matches you start at 11am and sometimes don't finish until 6.30pm of 7.00pm. OK you get 40 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for tea. Other than that, so that's an hour off the play...you literally can not concentrate for that amount of time, so that amount of time, for every single ball. so you need a switch-on switch-off technique".
"Even in one-day cricket, a 50 over game, that's still three-and-a-half hours you're concentrating in the field, and then you have go in and bat for three-and-a half hours, so you're going to be absolutely fried come the end of the match. People need a switch-on-switch-off technique and of course when you're batting you certainly need it. It's something that we all work on, and we all have our own different, unique ways of doing it, some a lot more different than others".
When it comes to his own personal switches, O'Brien has a few to keep himself calm and focused when he's out there.
"There's a couple of things I do, just in between each ball and you've probably noticed. I kind of walk over the the square-leg, the square-leg is the umpire who is behind the batter in line with the stumps. So that's kind of a switch, I walk over to him, I might kick the ground a couple of times and just flick away a bit of muck, look up into the fly and watch a plane fly past, maybe see if I can see someone in the crowd while the bowler is walking back to his mark.
"Once he gets back to his mark and he's ready to turn and bowl I'll get in front of my stumps and in my crease, in my stance, and I'll say a couple of things in my head. Then I'll just play that ball and try to repeat that kind of process".
There was no chance that Ireland's first centurion was getting off the show without giving us some details about what in particular those words to himself might be, and O'Brien revealed a mantra it's fair to say we weren't exactly expecting.
"I say 'watch the ball, Balcony Boy'. It's just a little thing I've had since 2007, which won't mean much to your listeners, but it means a hell of a lot to me".
"Balcony Boy is...we did a lot of work with Jeremy Snape, who's a psychologist, in the lead up to 2007 World Cup. He spoke about Balcony Boy being the little person on your shoulder after you get out and you're sitting in the changing rooms with the pads off, and you're just sitting in your seat going 'why the hell did I do that?'. So that's just Balcony Boy trying to tell me not to do something rash and stupid, but listen it doesn't always work out as today has shown, but it's worked for me in the past so hopefully I can continue to do it and be fairly successful".
The very best bits delivered every weekSubscribe now