In all the cackling and wink-wink-nod-nods, among the shrill cacophony of channels screaming out the s-word, everyone seems to have forgotten that there’s far more to the refreshingly different document prepared for the Indian team by its think-tank, than sex.
For instance, the four-part dossier, as detailed in the HT, also deals extensively with self-improvement. It tells our young cricketers, many of who are considered pig-headed and arrogant, about the importance of humility, about emotional intelligence, and learning to grow as good human beings as much as cricketers.
It talks of the importance of team spirit, the need to learn from history (cricketing and otherwise) and the uselessness of differences based on geographical, cultural, caste and economic divides.
It’s also a compact guide to food, important given that our cricketers like their butter chicken, daal makhni and parathas, so much so that any NRI with a home-cooked dabba is welcome at most hotel rooms on tour.
Incidentally, it does not tell them that going out and getting laid (or staying in and doing it) is the panacea for every sportsman’s ills, it uses science and analysis to just tell them to not worry about whether sex is good or bad for their on-field play and advises players to relax and do whatever makes them comfortable.
In any case, what’s far more important than what’s in there, is that it’s something to build upon. The BCCI, unfortunately, hasn’t done anything to help its cricketers cope with the stress of being India players.
Apart from an odd class for juniors at the NCA, there is no training, no counselling, no educative material on dealing with an obsessive public, an intrusive media, fly-by-night agents or big-city warring sports agencies, crook investors, lovestruck/lust-struck women (and men), being suddenly rich, public etiquette, dealing with success with grace… nothing.
That is where this dossier by Paddy Upton and Gary Kirsten, reportedly put together with common sense and humour, can make a difference. And, over the years, hopefully, be expanded to perhaps become a bible of sorts for Indian cricket.
Whether we agree or not with the India at war analogies to cricket (the idea is probably to get players to have a historical connect) and whether we wonder if our players, most of who have little interest in reading apart from entertainment magazines (though some swear by Shiv Khera’s easy-to-read ‘You Can Win’) can understand the vision behind it; there is no doubting that something like this was long needed. Take it seriously.