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Mind matters on big tours, says Gordon

The Indian board is the richest cricket body in the world, yet it chooses to be penny wise, pound foolish when it comes to providing adequate support staff to its most prized possession — the national team players. This is what noted sports psychologist Sandy Gordon —who worked with the Indian team between 2002 to 2005 — feels.

cricket Updated: Jan 11, 2012 02:27 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
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The Indian board is the richest cricket body in the world, yet it chooses to be penny wise, pound foolish when it comes to providing adequate support staff to its most prized possession — the national team players. This is what noted sports psychologist Sandy Gordon —who worked with the Indian team between 2002 to 2005 — feels.

He is shocked to learn that for possibly the most mentally challenging tour in cricket, the BCCI chose to send the team without a sports psychologist.

A need that became all the more quantified after two of the younger players, Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma, cracked under pressure and retaliated to heckling by showing the middle finger, which showed a lack of proper mental training.

Gordon, who was part of Australia's victorious 1999 World Cup support staff where they came back from the brink to emerge champions, spoke to HT on why a psychologist is so important.

"Sports science is very thorough and there are no half-measures. It's like playing golf… you need all 14 clubs to be at your best. The same way, you need full support staff for the team to perform at its best and a psychologist plays a very important part in that crew."http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/11-01-12-metro18.jpg

He added: "When you're on tour, each individual player needs someone other than the coaches to talk to. They need someone with whom they can share thoughts in a private environment knowing that the conversation won't leave the room. It's especially helpful for some of the younger players in the mix," he said, pointing to the controversy surrounding the transgressions of Kohli and Ishant.

In fact, former Pakistan skipper Rashid Latif has suggested that Tendulkar should undergo counselling to ease the pressure of being stuck on 99 international centuries.

Gordon, however, was confident Indian players still had the mental reserve to fight back and salvage something from a seemingly hopeless situation. "I've worked with many of the players in the team, and I must admit they are quite positive. They never let the situation bog them down. Guys like Sachin (Tendulkar) and Rahul (Dravid) are always mentally prepared to face any situation."