Robert Croft, cricket player

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The Welsh cricket icon says "You've got to be committed, dedicated and you have to be able to make sacrifices."

Raise Your Game: What makes a good captain?

Robert Croft: First and foremost a good captain has to be a good player. You can't have the rest of your troops thinking that they're carrying you just because you're the captain. You have to be at the top of your game. You need an understanding of all types of individuals because no two people are the same.

You need to be able to grasp very quickly what makes people tick. Some people need a kick up the backside and others need an arm around the shoulders. If you put all those factors together, that should make a good captain.

RYG: Tell us a little bit about your pre-match talk - how do you get people psyched up?

RC: Cricket is a difficult game to get people psyched up for. You're on the field for six hours sometimes. If you're running 100m or playing a game of rugby you can really get people psyched up and wanting to bash down walls. Cricket is more of a mental slog. It's not about getting people wound-up, it's about making them calm and getting them to focus.

RYG: When you've got a side that aren't playing so well, how do you go about improving their performance?

Profile

Name:
Robert Damien Bale Croft

Born:
25 May 1970

From:
Swansea, Wales

Game:
Cricket

Speciality:
Spin Bowler

Teams:
Glamorgan and England

Achievements:
First Welsh player to achieve the double of 1,000 first-class wickets and 10,000 first-class runs.

RC: You have to make sure that you play well. I believe that teams get good team spirit when they win. I don't think you can have good team spirit if you keep losing.

You need to be at the top of your game, concentrate on your skills and get your fitness levels as high as possible. Once you start winning, team spirit builds from that, not the other way around.

RYG: How disciplined is your training schedule?

RC: It's far more disciplined at the start of the season than it is at the end. At the start of the season the boys have had four or five months off from playing. Therefore you're getting fuel in the tank to sustain you through six months of the cricket season, so you're really put through your paces. Gone are the days of the odd beer belly hanging over the belt in cricket. These boys are highly tuned athletes. Towards the end of the season, when a lot of the lads in the squad are carrying injuries, training tends to be tempered down a little bit.

RYG: What skills can you learn from cricket?

RC: When I think of someone like Steve Waugh I think of total mental toughness. If I look at somebody like Shane Warne I think of high skill levels. If I look at Sachin Tendulkar I think of somebody that goes about his business with complete dignity.

RYG: What skills does Robert Croft have?

RC: I've got a pretty strong work ethic. I practice my skills and I'm totally committed to the cause. I'm very proud to wear the daffodil on my chest and I think that's what people can take from me.

RYG: What is sledging?

RC: Sledging is used by some players to bring about a form of mental disintegration in their opposition. It's used to get the opposition to take their eye off the ball - to keep them from concentrating on what they do well. When things aren't going well for you, you try and turn it around and try to get on top of your opposition - not necessarily through skills of bat and ball, but through using mind games.

People say it's a form of bullying - I don't know. It's done during the hours of play, and afterwards there's always a drink in the bar to talk about it. I do sense that it's increased. If you do get involved in it, you've got to make sure that you play well. If you sledge someone and end up playing poorly then you look silly. You often find, in schools, that the kids who pick on people are often the ones who can't do what the other kids are doing. They get jealous, so that could be associated with it.

RYG: What have been the highlights of your career so far?

RC: I started with Glamorgan when I was 15-years-old, and I'm 37 now. To have 22 years in professional sport has been fantastic. Every time I walk out for Glamorgan it's been an honour and a privilege. I've studied the history of the club and to be able to follow in the footsteps of the people that have gone before has been brilliant. To play for England at the highest level was great. I've had the opportunity to represent Wales too, which I'm extremely proud of.

RYG: What advice would you give to youngsters wanting to be the next Robert Croft?

RC: You've got to be committed, dedicated and you have to be able to make sacrifices. First and foremost you've got to have the skills - there's no getting away from that. I've seen people with massive skill, but if they haven't got the commitment and dedication they fall by the wayside. If you've got a little less skill but are committed and dedicated to the cause, you've got a good chance of getting through.

RYG: One last question - if you were asked to go on 'Strictly Come Dancing' would it be for you?

RC: Oh gosh I don't know about. I think I'm probably best suited to half a glass of lager and a bit of a soft-shoe shuffle at one of the clubs in Cardiff.


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