You have never seen him before, but there is something not quite right about the batsman as he takes his guard.
You can't put your finger on quite what it is, but it's clear something doesn't add up.
He plays a couple of balls out and still something nags at you about him. You glance at the 'keeper and he nods his head towards the new man at the crease. Whatever it is, he has seen it too.
Something in your head says a short midwicket will see some action so you don't hesitate or think about it, you just put him in.
Next ball he pops one into the waiting hands of the close fielder and you are heralded by the team as a rare genius. Was it just luck or was something else going on?
The power of the cricketing hunch
Author Malcolm Gladwell thinks it's the latter.
In his book, Blink, Gladwell shows, through a series of real life examples, how the hunch is the subconscious mind at work. In many cases these hunches can be more effective than thinking about it too much.
The key, it seems, is to have a large bank of experience to call upon at a moment's notice. In the example above you knew something was not right but you couldn't work out what or why. Instead of trying to think about it too much and leaving the field change you made it based on limited information.
As long as you have the experience you can let your unconscious mind do the work and just go with your hunch.
Want another example?
Hunch batting: How top batsmen pick up line and length early
Do you ever wonder how the world's best batsmen are able to play 90mph+ (144kph) bowling?
It should be impossible. The ball arrives quicker than even the best human reactions can manage.
The reason it is possible is down, again, to the power of the subconscious mind working on a hunch. Over the years batsmen gradually develop the experience to learn the speed and trajectory of the ball by clues given by the bowler.
These tiny clues are not something the batsman can describe easily because they are picked up unconsciously. Studies have shown that the better batsman can predict line and length very accurately purely from the action of the bowler. In other words, they can detect where it is going even before the ball is released. This is working on a hunch at the highest level. It makes the impossible a possibility.
It's all about experience
The key to all this is not some mystical third eye that gives you ESP.
It's all about playing.
The more you bat the better you get at picking up line and length early. The more you play the quicker you see technical errors in batsmen that you can exploit in the field. There is no substitute for real life experience.
As long as you have that experience you can trust your first thought and go with it. It will make you a better player and bring you more luck.
Have you ever acted on a hunch? How did it go? Leave a comment and let us know.
image credit: canonsnapper
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