Ten Doeschate reveals mental strain of bittersweet year

For the third time in four years, and for the second year running, Netherlands and Essex all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate has been named ICC Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year. It is an award, however, that hides the heartache of a worrying loss of form that afflicted ten Doeschate during the recent county season.

Following a highly-successful year in 2010, ten Doeschate found himself in widespread demand and spent last winter globe-trotting. He played for Mashonaland Eagles in Zimbabwe, Canterbury Wizards in New Zealand and Tasmanian Tigers in Australia. Additionally, he racked up the air miles in the World Cup when Netherlands were involved in matches in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka while he made another trip to India when he was engaged by Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.

Yet all that travelling and playing took its toll, leaving the 31 year-old drained and, when he did return to Essex after missing the first two months of the domestic season, he failed to spark in somewhat alarming fashion.

Ten Doeschate managed just 55 runs in his first seven County Championship innings of the season to illustrate a dramatic loss of form that led to him being rested from the side at the end of July and told to go away and forget about cricket as he battled to address a crisis of confidence.

“I just couldn’t seem to get bat on ball and although I eventually managed to overcome the problem, it was not a pleasant time and it has been a massive learning experience for me,” he said.

“I was training and practicing as hard as ever but mentally, I was pretty much gone. Not in a desperate way mentally but I did have massive self-concerns about my ability.

“The pressure started to build up and, of course, you take that out into the middle with you. The doubts counteract anything you are trying to do to overcome the problem and I have to say I was in a very bad place confidence-wise with myself in cricketing terms.

“I had more than a week off and got right away from cricket and anything to do with the game and that played a massive part in helping overcome my self-doubts and the associated problems.”

The break did the trick with the runs and the confidence flowing back immediately as he took a century off the Gloucestershire attack at Colchester and also scored a couple of half-centuries before the season drew to a close.

“Obviously I still had the pressure when I did return but I felt refreshed and it was like having a clean start. I knew that I was ready to come back and that was a key factor in timing my return. I also got some good advice from Graham Gooch, Paul Grayson and Alastair Cook and went and had a real tough net session and I just knew that I would be able to go out in a match and score runs.”

He did receive a stroke of luck in that innings against Gloucestershire when umpire Steve Gale initially gave him out caught off the last ball before a lunch break believing the batsman had ‘walked’  but the official then retracted his decision after discussions with the batsman and fielding side.

“I suppose that decision was the slice of luck I needed, I knew I hadn’t hit the ball but sometimes decisions go for you and sometimes they go against you,” ten Doeschate said.

“Part of my problem, besides the mental and physical tiredness issues, was that I just needed someone to identify a fault that had developed in my technique. It was only a minor thing but, because of our heavy schedule of fixtures, there just wasn’t time for people to work closely with me.

“I’ve learned from this experience, so after I’ve played in the Champions League I’m going to have a long rest and a good holiday. I’ll be doing the IPL again but that will help keep me fit and ready for our next season over here.

“I went through a horrible time and I wouldn’t want to wish the experience I had on anyone. It’s behind me now but one thing it’s taught me is to appreciate the good moments that you have in the game even more.”

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