Have you ever been on the losing side, thrashed by a wide margin?
You don't have to have played cricket for long to experience that moment: The slow realisation that your opponents are clearly better than you and there is nothing you can do to prevent inevitable defeat.
Or is there?
For a slow game, cricket can turn remarkably quickly from one side to another. Especially if you are in the field. The history of the sport is littered with remarkable performances snatching victory when only moments from defeat. Botham, Willis, Brearley and the 1981 Ashes anyone?
So how do you 'do a 1981'?
1. Ask yourself: 'How good are they'?
Some teams arrive with terrifying reputations. Many times a defeat can be put down not to the performance of the winning team but the fear of their opposition. They may be a strong side, but anyone can suffer a batting collapse. They may have a series of lightning fast bowlers at their disposal but anyone can bowl poorly while the batsmen have all the luck.
My point is; don't let an opposition side beat you by reputation alone. They may be better than you in theory but you can still have the attitude that if David can beat Goliath you can have a darn good go at this lot. They may crack under pressure like anyone else.
2. Plan your tactics
Speaking of pressure, it's important your tactics reflect the best way to put the pressure on. For example, against a strong batting line up it's best to put them in on winning the toss. You are more likely to bowl them out for a below par score than you are defending your own low target.
If they rely on a star player to win them games you can take advantage too. See off their best bowler and attack their second string bowling. Keep the star batter off strike by subtlety manipulating the field.
In most cases you will have an idea about the strength of the opposition. Study last year's score book and read the newspaper reports to help you get a idea of which tactics will work against a stronger opposition.
You may find all your positive attitude and detailed planning is still not enough. If they truely are the better side the odds are in their favour and they will probably still win.
However, you don't have to like it. Be gracious in defeat and start making plans for the next time you meet up. Perhaps you need to find better players or be even more devious with your tactics. Whatever the reason for your defeat, analyse it, learn from it and become a better team because of it.
Image credit: buddha's breakfast