When selected for the second Test, Panesar admitted he felt the pressure. “I knew I had to be at my best, so my self-belief had to be high. I had to have that mindset where I don’t take things for granted but I commit to my processes,” said Panesar. “For instance, when I bowled that ball to Sachin (Tendulkar) which bowled him, the previous ball was a short ball, so when I was walking back I was thinking: ‘Get my mind right. How is my breathing?’ All these things are on the checklist in my mind I was ticking off. It was like I was doing a service on me.”
I find this quite a helpful way to think about following in a social dance. It can very easily seem as though the leader is the only person with any real control over what's happening. But in fact, even with very little experience, you do have a lot of control over your own dance. You can deliberately cultivate things like calm, balance, a good axis, and a good level of concentration, right from the start, and they can make the dance go a lot better even if the leader is all at sea.
For instance. I remember, oh about four years ago, dancing with a young man who had just learned that he could do fast and complicated stuff with his feet. So overexcited did he become, that he tripped himself up, and almost threw us both into the DJ. I gained a lot of confidence from the discovery that I could rescue that situation - in high heels - and keep both of us upright and dancing, hardly missing a beat, although he would have made two of me sideways. It must have looked hilarious, but it's most unlikely anyone noticed.
As you get better at it, and you lose stiffness and improve your connection, things like tension or balance problems or miscellaneous off-ness from your partner tend to affect you more rather than less - they become a lot more painful and disturbing - and mostly you just avoid those situations, which wouldn't have bothered you before. But I still benefit from finding ways to make sure that I dance well, even when the partnership isn't quite working as intended.
At the festival I went to last week, I actually thought about the interview with Monty, and when I was having minor troubles I said to myself "what's my process?" Straighten the neck, breathe, plug the mind in. Commit to my processes, and don't worry about the other stuff. Virtually all the dances I had were great. And the one or two that gave me problems, didn't mess up the next one. So that went well.
Cricket information for Americans and others:
A short ball, in this context, is one that went a bit wrong. In other situations, a short ball might be right.
The ball to Tendulkar went perfectly. To bowl Sachin Tendulkar is a thing to be wished.