Worcestershire CCC have appointed Tony Ghaye as their 'Positive Psychologist' for the 2016 season – with the aim of squeezing that extra couple of per cent out of a players performance which may be the difference between success and failure.
It is a ground-breaking move by Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes with Ghaye the first Psychologist in his particular field to be employed in the professional county game.
He is contracted to the club for 40 days this summer. A professor and a doctor, Ghaye is regarded as an expert in his field, having written over 20 books on the subject of improving performance.
He has also worked across different sports in addition to employing his skills in the corporate and private sector with companies interested in achieving high performance results.
Ghaye has been delighted with the response of the Worcestershire players and coaching staff and will be working with them at Kidderminster's Chester Road ground for the next two days.
He said: "So far, everyone has been brilliant, very welcoming. Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) has been incredibly supportive.
"Everything I have asked, he has just said 'yes'. He said 'I want you to do what you do' and I've got open doors. All the coaching and support staff have been very welcoming and I'm really looking forward to working with them and the players.
"Bumpy and I will sit down very soon and look at the best use of those 40 days. For example, there will be times like this Wednesday and Thursday, when I want to be with the players when they are training.
"There will be times when I need to see them on match days and there will be times when I want to work individually with the players, discuss their performance."
It was Worcestershire Academy coach Elliot Wilson who provided the first link with Ghaye.
He said: "I was invited to run a day at Trent Bridge for all the Academy directors, a workshop, and Elliot Wilson happened to be in the audience and I think he must have liked something about what I said.
"We had a chat and we exchanged email addresses and he followed it up and I said I was really interested in what you are trying to do with the Worcestershire Academy, can I come and have a look.
"Elliot, being a very open and very positive and motivated academy director, said I was very welcome to come to Malvern College one Sunday, talk to the lads, see them train, which I did.
"Then we got talking about my background and he said wouldn't it be great if you could come and work with the lads.
"I have been doing that since October-November last year and we have been doing various things together.
"Then I invited Elliott, Bumpy, Matt (Mason) and Sharpy (Kevin Sharp) down to the University Centre at Hartpury College in Gloucester where I am based a lot of the time and they met my colleagues Sarah Lee and Dr James McCarron while Gordon Lord (ECB Head Of Elite Coaching Development) was also present.
"We got talking about high performance and what a positive psychologist like myself might bring to the professionals and the club.
"I met Bumpy a couple of times, we exchanged views, and all of a sudden it started to snowball and they got interested in what a positive psychologist was and what I could do in terms of helping the players and working with the coaching staff and it has just slowly grown into a really nice partnership."
Ghaye already had a connection with the City of Worcester before being given his opportunity to work with the County.
He said: "Many years ago I used to work at the University of Worcester, a blend of psychology, health and education, and there were times I could take a few hours off and come down to New Road.
"I've been very lucky to see some of the great stars here over many years so in one sense this is a little bit of a homecoming.
"For the last 15 years, I've been working in High Performance Sport and then this opportunity came up and I said 'it's too good to say no to, let's give it a try.'
"Positive psychology is a new field. We are talking 30, maybe 40 years only and I think I am the first and only trained positive psychologist to work in the English county game.
"The club have been brave and courageous and I'm very proud to be part of the club and I hope I can do a good job with the coaching staff and the players."