In preparing for World Cup, Windies must pay more attention to mental preparation
Dear Editor, The second match of the India v W.I. ODI series was a tie. The W.I. won the third. In the fourth and fifth the W.I. were blown away. Those last two matches ended, for all practical purposes, after the Indians had bowled about 5 overs. In the 5th W.I. had great opportunities to take 3 quick wickets (including those of India`s 2 best batsmen) for under 30 runs in India`s chase of 104 runs, but got only one, the least dangerous of the top three. Why?
Remember shortly before the tour started the Head coach gave notice of his intention to depart before the end of the term of his contract and the preceding coach was dismissed prematurely for reasons that were incomprehensible to most observers. Remember also that about two years ago commentator Bishop, a close follower of the game , had observed that W.I. teams did not usually win successive games. Finally remember that psychologist Rudy Webster, even earlier than Bishop, had noted a tendency in the team during games that he described as a “fear of winning”. I had never heard the term before, but I knew immediately what he meant.
In an unpublished letter to your paper earlier in the series I had noted how the younger batting stars were affected by milestones, apparently giving up their wickets on reaching milestones without regard to the state of the game.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, international cricket teams today are quite competitive, and given the talent available in the region the upcoming world cup should not be seen as some kind of opportunity to learn. W.I. can win the cup. I have seen enough videos to be sure that Viv Richards was the most dominant batsman in the world for several years. In light of the attitude of cricket managers and fans in the region I was quite surprised by an interview Richards gave in an English journal about three years ago in which he said that psychologist Rudy Webster was perhaps the most important influence in turning around his early career from mediocre to phenomenal. Although Richards has been very involved in W.I. cricket after his retirement, and has been a broadcaster I have never heard him speak about the potential value of psychology in the preparation of W.I. players. That has been very disappointing, and even more perplexing, to me, especially as, for reasons difficult to articulate, modern young W.I. cricketers seem to have egos that are more fragile than the earlier conquerors.
In preparing for the World Cup next year W.I. must pay more attention to
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mental preparation, which, by the way is not identical to book learning. Winning at this level is not only about talent (of which there is a great deal in the region, not unlike in the arena of law where many people seem willing to remain sovereign in name only). Psychology, which would help players appreciate that winning actually brings greater pleasure than individual performance, relaxation techniques, confidence and such skills, is the missing piece.
Hetmeyer, Holder and Hope (the 3 H`s) are just about ready to break out. Ambris would be good to go once he gets over the New Zealand trauma, Lewis is already as good as any, and believe me some of the young bowlers could be winners .
With serious coaching and a few veterans this kind of talent only needs thorough mental preparation. Yours faithfully, Romain Pitt
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