Sir Vivian Richards’ debut win as ambassador and advisor for Delhi Daredevils will be inked in bold on the history pages of franchise cricket in India.
Only a few hours before the Daredevils vs Mumbai Indians game at the Kotla, the host of a spoof show on a TV channel joked that the capital’s team appeared like a football outfit considering their 0-5 loss record (at the time of shooting the programme) in IPL VI.
It would be warped to credit Richards too much for the comprehensive win over Mumbai yesterday simply because he didn’t bat, bowl or field. On the other hand, he would have contributed to lifting spirits and talking strategy with the Daredevils before they took on the formidable Mumbai Indians.
Dr Rudi Webster, who was Kolkata Knight Riders’ mental expert last season when they emerged champions, reckoned Richards will do great things for Daredevils. “What will Sir Viv bring to the table? He will bring a wealth of experience and a recipe for success. Although he will stress on the importance of fitness and technique, he will focus more on the things that propelled him to greatness — common sense, simplicity, mastery of the basic skills, sensible batting strategies, mental control and the ability to cope with pressure,” Webster told MiD DAY.
Webster should know. He helped Richards get out of a slump on the ill-fated Australia tour of 1975-76 when West Indies lost 1-5.
Webster, who was in Australia then, attempted to help Richards at his request. Clive Lloyd’s No 5 batsman, according to Webster, was suffering from “performance anxiety” which is a “killer in sport.”
While Richards was taught how to relax and simplify things, he was also made to open the batting from the tour game against Tasmania at Hobart where Richards plundered 160 and 107. In the remaining two Tests at Adelaide and Melbourne, his scores were 30, 101, 50 and 98.
He finished the year 1976 with 1710 runs, averaging 90.00.
“Apart from Sir Garfield Sobers, Viv and Brian Lara are the best batsmen I have ever seen. I learnt a lot from Viv while he was playing and I am proud to have been associated with him,” said Webster, who dwelled on Daredevils’ problems. “Looking on from afar,” said Webster, “these (sensible batting strategies, mental control, and the ability to cope with pressure) seemed to be the things missing in their game, particularly coping with the situations that create and magnify pressure.
“If Viv can get the players to start believing in themselves and in their ability to play well, they will take a giant step forward.”
Webster stressed that Richards’ methods will work only if the Daredevils make the extra effort. The mental expert said from Grenada: “The success of his intervention will not be determined by what Viv says or how he says it, but rather by what the players hear, see, understand and believe. If the players see his intervention as an opportunity to learn, enjoy the contests, and focus on the process rather than the results, they will improve their performance.”
Webster: Critics are so wrong about Viru
Virender Sehwag, who stayed unbeaten on 95 in Daredevils’ victory over Mumbai Indians yesterday, benefited from Dr Rudi Webster’s chats when the two met during India’s tour of the West Indies in 2006. Webster was delighted to hear about Sehwag’s 57-ball innings. “Those people who have been writing off Sehwag are so wrong. He is a bit older now, but his extraordinary skills are still there. Once he clears up his head, imprints positive images and thoughts in his mind and starts to believe in himself again, he will shine. A few years ago, I told him that he was the best striker of the cricket ball that I had seen since Viv Richards,” said Webster.