He analyses players' toughness

Bangalore Nov. 13. He loves to track a cricketer's mind. Sandy Gordon, the Australian sports psychologist with Scottish roots, is a busy man these days. He is catching up with 21 Indian players - both past and present - and is mapping their mental toughness techniques.

It all began in January this year when Brijesh Patel, the then selection committee chairman, asked Gordon to present a proposal to the BCCI for analysing the mental toughness in Indian cricket. "The Board approved my proposal and I am doing a research paper that will be completed next year. I meet the players and ask them two questions, `what is mental toughness?' and `how do you develop it?' I analyse their replies and my findings will be presented to the BCCI and it will be used to appraise and implement mental toughness techniques in training schedules," Gordon says.

Gordon believes that mental toughness is not a distant goal for the Indian cricketer. "Conditions in India are tough and I guess the cricketer also imbibes some toughness while he makes his way to the team. As for the Aussies, bloody-mindedness or being stubborn comes naturally to them. Also their tough domestic cricket structure helps a great deal and I can say that there is no soft Aussie player. I am also doing a research among the Aussies and the first player I met was Steve Waugh, an exemplar of mental toughness," Gordon says.

He also reiterated that sledging is not necessarily an evil. "I believe that 99 per cent of sledging is harmless. It is more often a joke or an aside. But yes, derogatory remarks that get personal or racist are bad and now it is illegal too with the ICC clamping hard. As for Australia, even on the streets they indulge in some banter, it is part of their culture," he says.

On the `huddle' that he inspired among the Indian players during the World Cup, Gordon says, "in one-day cricket, there is a lot of noise and you can get lost. When I met Ganguly and other senior players at the team hotel in Cape Town during the World Cup campaign, I told them about the need to get into a huddle, to communicate, watch the next man, plot his dismissal, besides celebrating a dismissal. It is better to talk than stand in the deep and presume things."

Gordon caught up with Javagal Srinath and Erapalli Prasanna in a busy morning session at the National Cricket Academy here on Thursday.