Being in the zone and being in form, according to former English captain Mike Brearley, are two different things. While the former might involve several factors coming in harmony with us and vice versa, the latter could be extended over a period of time and may include a test of individual will and character.

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And according to Brearley, it isn't just the attacking batters who find themselves 'in the zone'- that state of mind where 'everything seems to be right; those moments he (batsman) may not be thinking at all' - players like Geoffrey Boycott, Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid, to name a few, are also in the zone when playing defensive cricket.

"It isn't just flair and flourish," Brearley pointed out.

Hence, "the balance between spontaneity and discipline, or the conscious and the unconscious mind - occasionally we can get that right," Brearley said. But once a player finds his 'true nature', he/she has to keep 'questioning' it all the time.

Brearley, who led England to victory in the 1981 Ashes series, likened captaincy to parenting. Striking the right balance between 'thinking about something and spontaneously reacting - that sort of judgement is crucial' to doing well on the field, Brearley said.

Mike Brearley was in conversation with eminent sports writer Suresh Menon at the Hindu Literature Festival here on Monday.