In his just-released book The Barefoot Coach, Rajasthan Royals head coach Paddy Upton has written in length about mental conditioning of sportsmen and also pointed at how former India opener Gautam Gambhir was riddled with insecurities, doubts, and vulnerabilities. He went on to add that the former Kolkata Knight Riders skipper was one of the most negative people he has worked with. Speaking to IANS on the way his image has been portrayed in the book, Gambhir said that while he has enjoyed every session he had with the former India mental conditioning coach, Upton could have highlighted other facets to the batsman than just pointing at his desire to raise the performance bar.
“I don’t see anything sinister with what Paddy wrote. He is a top guy and I see this as his personal opinion. He just missed two important things: firstly, he didn’t state all the other facts and secondly, he failed to explain the perspective. Anyone would like to have a guy who is not satisfied with his current achievements. So in short, I wasn’t satisfied with a 100 and wanted to have more,” he said.
Asked if Upton should have also highlighted the numerous achievements of Gambhir, including his match-winning knocks in the finals of the 2007 World T20 as well as the 2011 World Cup, Gambhir said: “Well, if Paddy chose to ignore my services for the country, I can’t comment on that. This is a question for him and not me. But I am not hurt, the facts are there for everyone to see and judge.” Gambhir went on to further explain that as a sportsman, it is important that one strives to succeed and reach greater heights with every performance.
“That is what a performing art like sport is all about. You want to strive for higher achievements. I think the late Sir Don Bradman would have liked to finish with an average of 100 plus, Sachin Tendulkar would have liked to win at least one more World Cup, etc. I am certain my dear friend Paddy won’t have termed these desires as “negative” or “weak”. To aspire to excel is the very basis of playing the sport for me and thank Heavens it never changed for me,” he explained.
In his book, Upton wrote: “I did some of my best and least effective mental conditioning work with Gambhir, the International Test Cricketer of the Year in 2009. I worked with him up until that time, but I had little to do with him being named the world’s best cricketer.
“Often, when I got onto the Indian team bus, Gautam would invite me to sit next to him. What followed was predictable: ‘Paddy, man, I know I just scored 100, but I should have got 200. I mishit too many balls, I struggled in the beginning, I hit the fielder too many times … It just wasn’t good enough. I need to sort things out.’ He would be in mental agony about losing his wicket and about needing to fix things. He was so riddled with insecurities, doubts, and vulnerabilities. He was one of the most negative people I have ever worked with.”