THE BLOG
02/12/2013 07:55 GMT | Updated 01/02/2014 05:59 GMT

England Need to Find 'Team Resilience' for the Ashes

I strongly believe England's cricket team must stick together and learn from their experiences before refocusing their efforts on the next Test following their crushing defeat in the First Test of The Ashes against Australia.

Myself and researchers from Loughborough University have completed a study defining team resilience in elite sport which has elements England captain Alastair Cook and his team team should heed for the matches ahead.

Our research involved focus groups with 31 members of top sports teams including field hockey, rowing, and soccer, with Olympic medallists and world champions among our respondents.

I think there are elements of our results which would prove useful for the England cricket team.

Based on the findings of the research, as a team England must maintain a sense of perspective and togetherness following that heavy loss in the First Test in Brisbane and also move on from the events surrounding the departure of key batsman Jonathan Trott.

What we term as 'resilient teams' are teams where all members are on the same wavelength about how to positively adapt during tough situations - and that is what England must do now.

Quality of relationships is critical for team resilience, and sporting situations don't come much more challenging than the one currently facing the England cricket team in Australia.

They are under pressure from all sides, including the media and comments from Australian players, and as a team their collective ability to withstand the pressure will be crucial to achieving top performance.

Our research has shown that teams can face different types of pressurised situations to those faced by individual athletes.

Before the series, bowler Stuart Broad said that tests showed that he, Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen reacted best to being under pressure. Their leadership will be vital to help others handle the pressure now but our study showed that even if you have a number of individuals in the team who can withstand stress, this doesn't necessarily mean that the team as a whole will deal effectively with intense pressure.

With that in mind, it is important the England cricket team operates on a basis of trust and respect and everyone knows their teammates are all pulling in the same direction. The side must operate a 'no blame' culture while they are in Australia, and ensure there are open communication channels following that First Test setback.

In order to prosper the team must also learn from the First Test, as our findings show that learning and team resilience are intertwined.

Resilient teams regard setbacks as a natural part of their sporting development and consider learning from disappointments as vital to optimal performance.

In the study we conducted, some of the athletes said had they not encountered adversity in their teams, they probably would not have ended up in the position they were in of playing sport at the highest level. They regarded setbacks are vital for learning and improvement.

So England need to stick together, learn from the First Test, and reset their focus when they take the field for the next Test at the Adelaide Oval.

I completed the study with Dr David Fletcher and Mustafa Sarker of the Sport Psychology Research Group based in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University.