E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: With just hours to go before the first Test begins in Antigua, Dr Rudi Webster was a worried man.
Never in his long years of practice had the sports psychologist seen a bunch of so many frightened, confused rabbits. With little time to lose, Dr. Webster started using his famed no-nonsense approach straight away.
“Don’t sleep off! What do you see when you go and open the innings?” he asked Virender Sehwag, his first patient lying on the couch.
“Doc, I see only 4s and 6s.”
“That’s the problem! You don’t look at the ball at all. No wonder you score only once in several blue moons!”
“Doc, I am missing Boost! That drink is the secret of my energy.”
“You have to grow up, Veeru! Even the boy who stole Boost from you has grown up. The way you are going down, soon we may have to put you in Horlicks and Complan! Anyway, I will ask Greg to arrange for a box of these for you."
Next came in Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“I can’t see your face behind the bush. Anyway, I understand you drink a lot of milk and run every day. You’re fit. What’s preventing you from scoring?”
“I keep thinking of my rating. No wicket-keeper from India has ever been No. 1 in the ICC rankings.”
“The way you are going now, you will be lucky if you are in the first 100! Wait a minute! Can you tell me how many fingers I am holding up?”
“It must be either 4 or 6. But I can’t see your hand!”
“Just as I guessed, Greg! Dhoni needs two or three haircuts before we get him on the ground next. When he can hardly see Chris Gayle, how do you expect him to hold a catch offered by him! Ditto while facing Bravo. Get him a few haircuts or better still, get him the Sreesanth cut. At least he will know whether he is standing in front or behind the stumps!"
Next came the captain. “I hear you are called ‘The Wall’ by cricketers all over the world.”
“The youngsters are putting up their hand and want to be counted. They are in a learning curve and will come good on any surface if we give them time,” said Rahul.
“It’s not a presentation ceremony, captain, so don’t give me a speech! Do you know you are about to overtake Inzy in run-outs? You seem to be finding new ways to get yourself run out? There was a time, people would worry you’d run out of partners at the other end! You’ve got to think on your feet instead of chewing your fingers. At this rate, Lara and his boys will chew the whole team up."
Finally, the shrink put the coach on the couch.
“Where am I going wrong? I have the team, the selectors and BCCI eating out of my hand. Why the 1-4 defeat?”
“Greg, Your feet should remain where they are—walking, running, etc. Don’t bring them any where near your mouth!”
“What are you saying, doc?”
“Listen. Foot-and-mouth disease is for English cows. Foot in the mouth is becoming your trademark. Don’t give an inch to the opposition on or off the field. Your ‘West-Indies-have-forgotten-how-to-win’ was the one tonic which helped them crush India! Lara couldn’t have given his own side a better pep talk!”