Nino Severino: Arise, Sir Ben Stokes – what a story that would be!
- Credit: PA
In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses England’s famous Cricket World Cup triumph, his own experiences in the sport and his admiration for one England star inparticular.
If you're a sports fan I think it's safe to say that you were pretty satisfied with watching some world class performances last weekend.
Sunday delivered a sporting feast - Lewis Hamilton winning a record sixth British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer playing out the longest Wimbledon Final in history and, of course, England were crowned Cricket World Cup champions at Lords.
I am very privileged to able to say that I am well positioned to comment about the world of cricket, as I spent five glorious years around this incredible and unique sport, and enjoyed every minute of it.
The cricket journey started for me while I was working at a tennis academy in London. I was coaching some tennis players when I noticed a small group of people watching on court side - I did not recognise any of them, so I just continued with my work.
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Once I finished, the senior coach at the academy introduced me to them and in particular one very important person who was to change my sporting life and start a pathway that would see me visit some of the biggest arenas in world cricket - his name is Alan Butcher, and at the time he was the coach for Surrey Cricket Club.
Within in a week I was invited to visit the magnificent Cricket Oval Ground in Kennington, London, now known as the Kia Oval, and what a first experience of the world of cricket it would be for me.
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I will never forget arriving, the staff were incredible and the legend Alan himself gave me a tour of the stadium, including the players changing rooms, where he told me about some of the incredible cricket stories that took place there.
This visit included a coach delivery session with the first team, who included some great cricket names, such as Mark Ramprakash and Mark Butcher, I could quite frankly write a whole year's of columns on the great memories I have of Surrey Cricket team, the Oval, and Alan!
News of the work I was delivering in the field of dynamic movement was spreading in the cricket world, and this led to Mark Robinson, head coach of Sussex Cricket Club contacting me.
Mark was an exceptionally skilful coach, now coach of the Women's England Cricket team. During my time at Sussex, I was privileged to see them winning the double in one year, and will always cherish the access I had to the players in the lounge as they waited to field and bat - cricketers are an incredible breed, and being around them is without doubt a learning experience.
After my work with Surrey and Sussex the representatives of the ECB approached me to be involved in the National cricket educational programme.
I am very proud of my time with the ECB and have a memory bank full of incredible experiences, delivering at Lords Cricket Ground, at Edgbaston, and at the ECB's National Academy at Loughborough University, working around great coaches such as Peter Moores and Freddie Flintoff's personal bowling coach, Kevin Shine.
My work with England cricket led me to be part of their national training video that was shot in La Manga, Spain - this is a very special memory as it involved my late wife, Elena Baltacha, who was British No.1 at the time.
So it's no surprise I joined the millions who celebrated our great victory over New Zealand at the weekend - and what a match it was, said by some to be one of the greatest of all time.
The victory was sweet and well deserved, no doubt, but there is a very significant story within this story, and that's the one of Ben Stokes.
Funnily enough, in some strange way, for me personally, it links into the very interesting work I am involved in at the Ipswich Town Academy with Bryan Klug, Lee O'Neil and Jimmy Reynolds.
The management team have given me the task of developing a mental skills programme, which involves coach development, and last night I left the training ground very late, after an incredible coach discussion session, about the champion mindset and why the very best athletes in the world have it.
I think it's safe to say that Ben Stokes has experienced an extremely challenging phase of life, his personal life only recently was played out in full glare of the media, a very stressful experience for anyone.
It made me think of Professor Steve Peters' great book, The Chimp Paradox - he writes that life is not fair, the goalposts keep changing and there are no guarantees, either in sport, or life.
It's these aspects that the greatest athletes in the world overcome and conquer, and it's these life challenges that Ben has taken on and, through mental strength and resilience, delivered the performance of a lifetime, securing himself a place in sporting history.
Who would bet against him soon being named Sir Ben Stokes - and what an incredible life story that would be!