On Talent

Andrew Bloxham wrote an interesting piece in the huffington post.

I refuse to post a comment because I won’t allow HuffPost to update my tweets. Plus I bet Andrew posted for free (for this issue see Press Gazette on interns).

I would have posted this:

There is a point here with regards what leads to success in the game itself. Whether a natural ability to work hard and eliminate the shots which lead to one’s downfall can be considered talent is difficult to judge.
I think that in this area talent is, and should remain, true to the dictionary definition, namely ‘natural aptitude or skill’, with emphasis on the natural. It’s same in music, where some sublimely gifted players never make it because the game of the music business starts with talent … but ends with hard work, grit, application and so forth.
In the examples you pick here, notably the current test captain, you are talking about Test cricket as  specific game for which he seems preternaturally gifted … but that’s a different argument altogether (though you’re patently correct).

2 thoughts on “On Talent

  1. Pete

    Thanks for that.

    As you say, it is difficult indeed to judge. Do the traits synonymous with the likes of Paul Collingwood, namely mental strength, grit and determination, qualify as natural? I’d argue that they do, and hence are covered by the definition of talent. You can undoubtedly improve in these areas, particularly with experience, but likewise a naturally gifted strokemaker can also improve in their strokemaking.

    If that is the case, then there is a reasonable argument for the likes of Collingwood being more talented than those that might prove easier on the eye and look more naturally adept.



    • Yes, there is a case to be made for that, indeed … but those attributes are practically universal if you want to succeed, so become meaningless when applied to one sport. The other gifts to which you allude, which are arguably more cricket-focused, are less common.
      It’s like ‘natural’ rhythm … you can learn timing, but not that tiny bit extra that separates the great strokemaker, or drummer, from the horde. If you fail to work on the other aspects of the game, however, you will fail at the highest level.
      I understand your argument, and in principle agree – it’s the word ‘talent’ that grates. I just don’t think it needs re-definition. In fact, I think the fact that the gifted are seen to fail in spite of their gifts can only help inspire those of us who, ahem, lack any such gifts. I have no talent for cricket, and yet I learnt to play left-handed because I had no other choice. I may still suck, but I can still play.

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