All players are replaceable: Morne Morkel reveals the daily pressures of elite cricketers

The transition from a player to a coach is possibly one of the most important transitions of an athlete’s life. And it is a transition worth studying. From being embedded in high pressure situations to now having a bird’s eye view. From being a part of the team to now standing on the sidelines. So, how does one approach the mental aspect of the game after making the transition?


For Morkel, the biggest difference in the transition, personally, has been family. When Morkel was a cricketer, he did not have a family to look after and could completely focus on himself. But even then, as revealed by Morkel, the Proteas had a system in the dressing room, where every young player in the team had a senior who would look after the aforementioned cricketer. Every senior had a responsibility to open up conversations of mental health and struggles with the youngsters of the team and the youngsters had a responsibility to ask for help. The South African team would have weekly sessions with young individuals to support them through their struggles and find a way forward.


It is also intriguing to pick the brain of an IPL team coach, given their unique challenge of managing young players who might not necessarily be used to the intense spotlight and the additional pressures that come with it. Morkel, in his response to the question, began with a blunt and candid statement: all players are replaceable.


His statement, although blunt, reveals the crucial reality in professional cricket and how daunting it is to play the sport at an elite level. Even if it may look glamorous from the outside. But it also highlights the importance of adaptability and resilience. Morkel went on to explain how players are not just fighting for a place in the team, they’re also fighting battles fans may never see: financial struggles, personal struggles, all unseen to the naked eye. He also places a significant attention on mental conditioning, emphasising how important it is to have the right group of people backing you. Be it the coach, senior players or even your own family.


In essence, while his assertion that “all players are replaceable” might come across as harsh, it’s a reflection of the tough realities in professional sports and a motivation for players to keep improving. By blending this honest perspective with a supportive and communicative coaching style, Morkel helps his team navigate the game and the numerous pressures that come with being a youngster in the IPL setup. His approach ensures that players feel both challenged and supported, preparing them not just for the matches, but for the demands of their cricketing careers.


It’s also just as important for a young athlete to listen to these conversations from someone who knows the sport inside out. Cricket is a team sport, yet the majority of the players feel lonely in their pursuit for excellence. And the road to glory is often a solitary journey. That is precisely why ‘Grounded’ was conceptualised, even if out of the millions of athletes around the world, one realises that they’re not alone and feel understood and connected in their struggles, then the job is well done.