Weekend watch: The Edge

Sometimes the sport of cricket is dismissed as ‘hardly athletic’ – perhaps you’ve heard someone say they’d ‘happily stand around getting paid while topping up the tan’?

Whilst there may be a grain of truth in there, many wouldn’t enjoy facing a ball being chucked at 90mph from close range. There is a level of power and agility needed to play cricket but the mental strength required is on another level, and that is what documentary The Edge delves into.

The narrator outlines from the start that, while the sport of cricket resides in the hearts of millions throughout the world, England, where the game originated, is always the side everyone wants to beat. Back in 2009 the side was in pieces, bottom of the world rankings with no coach or captain, and in need of a serious rebuild.

New coach Andy Flower, an amiably gruff former cricketing great from Zimbabwe, basically told his inherited squad: “It’ll take two years. Those that don’t want to fully contribute can leave.” Although harsh on the surface, any successful team (be it within sport or business) needs everyone pulling in the same direction to achieve desired results.

There’s great behind-the-scenes footage used within The Edge and some engrossing personal stories highlighted like disgraced former captain Kevin Pietersen coming back as ‘just one of the troops’, Matt Prior creating a ‘quiet sanctuary’ to keep out “irrelevant thoughts” and others revealing how the constant demand of perfection was to the detriment of their own mental well-being.

There are also moments of levity including when the squad reminisce the time Monty Panesar (a self-confessed terrible batsman) needed to hold off fierce Australian bowlers for 50 minutes so England wouldn’t lose a match. There are wry smiles during the recollection, but Panesar later reveals he isolated himself sometimes because he was trying to balance ‘his enjoyment of playing with being taken seriously as a professional cricketer’.

Good mental health is an important factor across all aspects of life, particularly in this climate of lockdowns and working from home; do you have the awareness not to send a snarky email after eight hours of juggling work/the kids/pets/chores? Do you always remember to sign out of the company Twitter account before replying to the latest media outrage? Have you the capacity to restart a project that has already taken up six months of your life?

Flower reveals at the end of the documentary: “if I had my time again, I’d definitely try to work with the person as much as I worked with the player”. It never hurts to check-in with your personnel for a casual chat from time-to-time, while if you yourself ever feel overwhelmed then it never hurts to step back and take stock – don’t get caught out trying to shoulder everything on your own.

The Edge is streaming now on BBC iPlayer.