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Commercial demands can distract: Gordon

Ashish Shukla | December 01, 2003 17:16 IST

Sports psychologist Sandy Gordon has warned the Indian team against being distracted by "commercial demands" and keep in mind what works for them and what does not on the current tour of Australia.

"Commercial demands on players are distracting and are increasingly intrusive. Those demands are around important events so it needs to be managed," said Gordon, who caught up with the visitors at the Allan Border field on the first day of his three-day assignment with the team.

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"The players need to be prepared for it so it doesn't affect their real reason for being there, and that is to play cricket," said Gordon, adding "some demands from some agents and
sponsors could distract".

Gordon, a Perth-based psychologist whose past association with the Indian team earned him rave reviews, believes the team on the present tour could be extremely competitive provided the players keep in mind what is good for them.

"With my association with them I know for sure they know what works and what doesn't. If they could do it right, they could be very competitive," he said.

Gordon said he would have a session with the boys this evening [Monday] and possibly work out a team theme, like the 'Now-or-Never' during the World Cup in South Africa, for which he gives the credit to Sourav Ganguly.

"I had then left it to the players and it was Sourav who had come up with the theme. Such things just keep you focused on the task ahead," Gordon said.

Gordon has an on-and-off kind of association with the Indian team and he backed the comments of Ganguly, who has appealed for a more regular interaction with the world-famous psychologist.

"Continuity is what I'm after and that's what players say. It's tough for me to see everybody, especially younger players for interaction, so it would have been better if there was more exposure."

Gordon said he now finds a few new faces in the Indian dressing room and has exhorted them to interact with people and get to know the local culture in quest for better performance on the field.

"There has been some changes in the team, players like [Javagal]  Srinath are not playing any longer. Every team has its own life span. It will be interesting how they respond on this tour.

"They must set out to enjoy themselves. I think it's an opportunity missed if you don't get to know the culture of the place you are visiting. Australians do a lot of it and visit places of interest," he said.

"I don't know if it helps them in terms of technique but it certainly relaxes their mind. You can't be obsessed with cricket all 24 hours. If you do it, it can be mentally unhealthy. It just keeps your balance and perspective.

"Personally, I haven't seen the language and regional barriers restrict them [the Indians]. They bond very well. There could have been certain diffidence but I haven't seen it. I don't think it is an issue with them, they are very cohesive."

Gordon said he is presently preparing a paper on "mental toughness" which the Indian Board has asked him to develop with the help of 21 international cricketers, including a few present ones.

"I was in India for two weeks, meeting cricketers for the research on mental toughness. My main concern was what is mental toughness and how you develop it."

"Life is difficult in India so everyone must be mentally tough. Most of the cricketers I met said similar things. It is something which can't be taught. Mental toughness is all about not taking the easy option," he said.

Gordon said he had noticed the talent of the Indians and their affinity with artistic cricket.

"What I have noticed is the talent and love they have for the game. They have an affinity with the artistic aspect of the game. They are craftsmen and their personality comes out in how they bat and how they run."

Gordon could not help but praise Sachin Tendulkar for his personality and the way he handles pressure.

"He is one example of being mentally very tough. He is very modest, sincere and a delightful individual," he said.

"My interaction with Indian cricketers has been very rewarding. Some have talked for 30 minutes while others have spoken for two-and-a-half hours.

"I hope it turns out to be the best touring Indian team both on as well as off the field."

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