Born again cricketer Jimmy Neesham has revealed the obsessions which contributed to his downfall and the way he managed to fight back.
A proud Neesham — in danger of becoming a forgotten man during a long Black Caps absence — burst back into World Cup calculations with a strong ODI series against Sri Lanka.
The highlight came in the first match, when he smashed 34 runs from a Thisara Perera over at Mt Maunganui.
The 28-year-old, who is playing for Wellington after spells with Auckland and Otago, admits he succumbed to mood swings which affected his performances and training in the past.
"Of course," Neesham replied, when asked on the Radio Sport Breakfast if he ever thought a Black Caps recall was beyond him.
"Anyone who spends 18 months out of a team and comes back and says I always believed I'd make it back is either a liar or an idiot.
"Of course it goes through your mind...especially after getting left out of the Otago team last season. It was a long road back from there.
"I'm pretty proud of the last 18 months being able to get back up, dust myself off...make it back for a pretty successful comeback against Sri Lanka.
"I'm proud of just doing the work. I made a bit of a pact with myself that no matter how I was feeling on a day, it didn't matter if I hated it if I was done or whatever...just do the work and get it done and get out of here.
"I think in the past it's probably not been my MO. I've been a good player and trainer when I feel like it, but not at other times when under the weather or not really feeling it.
"There's certainly been a bit of a change over the past year or so."
Neesham explained he had learned to enjoy the moment when on the field, even if another side emerged off it.
"I wasn't nervous at all before the Sri Lanka series," he said.
"In the past I've been quite self critical and anxious before games. I acted like the world was on my shoulders.
"It's a cliche to say relax go out and have fun, but I genuinely didn't really mind if I got runs or wickets."
Neesham said he was still very conscious of taking a vital opportunity after replacing Colin de Grandhomme.
"(But) there's a difference between knowing that and obsessing over it," he said.
"In the past I was looking at the scoreboard every ball thinking I've got to get 30-plus to guarantee my spot in the next series.
"You can't have a slog like I did in first game without being more carefree."
A mental skills coach recommended by the players' association had played a big part in the turnaround.
"She was very good at bringing things into perspective with techniques to stay relaxed and focussed on the present, something I'd never explored before," he said.
"With Wellington, it is how you feel rather than what you are doing technically...that has helped me stay in the present.
"This will sound like mumbo jumbo to people who don't understand but it helps you stay focussed and concentrate on what is important."
When asked about his batting average against Sri Lanka, Neesham made a confession of sorts in saying it was 123.
"I know not only what I am averaging, I know what other people are averaging," he said.
"I can't really escape that, it's just how my brain works. I think it's a case of being able to quieten that mind when you get out there.
"Obviously your brain will catch up with all that crap after the game."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.