Team Attitude has what it takes
It's a document that the Indian team is treating like its Bible, and it exhorts Sourav Ganguly and his men to get into "F***-you mode".india Updated: Mar 23, 2003 00:33 IST
It's a document that the Indian team is treating like its Bible, and it exhorts Sourav Ganguly and his men to get into "F***-you mode and stay there during the competition". From all accounts, the boys are doing exactly that as they prepare for the Cup final against Australia. They are following the script, and will go about their job exactly the way the Australians do: with "Aussie bloody-mindedness".
Team psychiatrist Sandy Gordon, the man who helped Australia in the 1999 competition, circulated a sheaf of papers entitled "World Cup Preparations" among the team just after the forgettable Holland game. It puts down how to approach games and team meetings; it even has a set of forms that the players fill before every game. This is the kind of approach you would expect from Wall Street firms, but given how far India have got in the competition, it has obviously helped. the Hindustan Times had access to the document.
Developing a championship attitude
There are three key parts to this, and they are: unity, leadership and integrity. If you cheat in the practice field, you cheat in the game, says the document, focussing on integrity.
It also says that most champion teams develop a leadership structure in which four or more players act as leaders. This seems to have happened already with India: Ganguly, Dravid, Tendulkar and Srinath have clearly emerged as the inspirational figures in the squad.
Which suggests that a team is playing, rather than a set of individuals. The document uses a quote from Abraham Lincoln on teamwork: “It is surprising how much you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit.”
Dealing with pressure
No team in world cricket exerts as much pressure on the opposition as Australia. But there is a way to win even against them, according to the document. Gordon calls it the greatest paradox in sport: “The probability of getting the outcome you want (e.g. winning the World Cup) increases when you let go of the need to have it.” In short, the Indians are being told, if you want success, don't fear failure.
And don't focus on outcomes. “The most common psychological reason why climbers fail to reach the top of mountains is because they start thinking about reaching the top,” says the document. It asks the players to play the game for the reasons they started playing in the first place: because they enjoyed it.
Before every game, the whole squad fills out a form which lists the things they should do/have done to reach their “Ideal Performance State” (IPS). This involves answering questions on what activities they engaged in, what emotions they felt, and matching those with what they did or felt during a game.
There is also a “task-awareness checklist”. Players have to fill in the blank after “When (batting/bowling/fielding) what I need to do to play well in South Africa is…”. They have to also “identify pressure-laden situations” and write down what they would do to remedy them.
And finally, there's a self-rating system (1 = very poor; 5 = excellent) which has fields like “execution of personal game plan”, “execution of team game plan”, body language/communication, etc. There are lots of forms to fill.
At the team meeting in the Sandton Sun Intercontinental hotel on Saturday evening, the Indian cricket team will go through most of what's been described above. Each of them will be given the job of dissecting one Australian player, and how best to neutralise him. Each of them will focus on the positives of what's gone on before.
And each of them, will, hopefully, get a good night's sleep at the end of it all. And dream they can win the World Cup.
First Published: Mar 23, 2003 00:33 IST