South African mental conditioning expert Paddy Upton has been recalled as Indian cricket team’s mentor ahead of the T20I World Cup this year in October-November. However, Upton’s contract is for a short period of four months which might be extended by the BCCI, news agency PTI reported.
Upton has already joined the Indian team in the West Indies ahead of their third One Day International (ODI) on Wednesday (July 27).
Why? The decision is said to have been taken by the team’s head coach Rahul Dravid, who wanted Upton to mentally strengthen the players ahead of the big tournament in Australia.
Before this, Upton played the role of a team catalyst of IPL team Rajasthan Royals. Under Head Coach Sangakkara and Upton, Rajasthan went on to reach the finals in 2022.
Excited and privileged to be back in #TeamIndia colours, working alongside long time colleague, friend and Head Coach Rahul Dravid. Much of our journey was thanks to @rajasthanroyals https://t.co/4v38iDGWgc— Paddy Upton (@PaddyUpton1) July 26, 2022
Upton’s previous stint with Team India: He had been with the Indian team from 2008 to 2011. Upton’s task was to mentally prepare the team with the head coach Gary Kirsten to win the World Cup at home.
Upton carefully worked behind the curtains to prepare the team. At one point in 2010, Upton had an inkling that the side wasn’t prepared well enough to win the grand cup the next year.
At the team’s meeting in 2010 after the Asia Cup final in Sri Lanka, both Kirsten and Upton talked about what they needed to do in the next 10 months to prepare the team for the World Cup at home.
And India won that World Cup in 2011. It was for the first time in the history, that a team had won the World Cup at home.
In 2013, Upton became a mentor of South Africa team which went on to become number one Test side.
Upton's style of working: Upton doesn’t follow the old school ideas of coaching and instead focusses on individual players and understands their strengths and weaknesses and works around it.
“20 years back, leaders became CEOs of companies because they were the persons who knew how to play the game. So, their method of coaching was instruction. That model is fast becoming outdated,” Upton had said to The Cricket Monthly magazine in 2016.
Upton said that the answers to coaching lay outside the traditional model. The need is to harness the collective intelligence that sits within the group.
In his style of working, Upton focusses more on utilizing the expertise that sits within the group.
A modern-day coach: Not a mentor or a head coach, Upton prefers to call himself as a modern-day coach. He believes that the coaching in cricket is not just about telling the player what would be good for him based on the experience or learning of the game by the coach.
But it is rather a two-way dialogue where a coach asks questions and discovers what is going to work out best for his player.