Mental conditioning expert Paddy Upton who featured in India’s support staff in India’s 2011 World Cup winning squad has been added to team India’s support staff again to assist in preparations for the upcoming October-November T20 World Cup in Australia. Upton has been involved in cricket around the world in various capacities and he shared a great camaraderie with head coach Rahul Dravid.
As per the reports in Hindustan Times, an anonymous BCCI official said, “Paddy will be joining the team in West Indies as a mental conditioning coach and will be there till the T20 World Cup.” Both Rahul Dravid and Paddy Upton have worked together as coaches on many teams. Dravid was just a player when Upton assisted former head coach Gary Kirsten in the late 2000s. The duo then joined hands as a mentor and head coach respectively in two IPL franchises – Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils (now Capitals).
In Upton’s book, Rahul Dravid wrote: “Paddy is a thought leader. He brings a unique approach and relevant approach to cricket and life”. Upton’s last gig was with RR in IPL 2022 where he was the ‘team catalyst’.’ Over the years, the Indian support staff has been regularly roping in mind experts to mentally condition the players in dealing with the pressures of a World Cup.
Before Upton’s 2011 association, coach John Wright had decided to rope in the services of sports psychologist Sandy Gordon for the Sourav Ganguly-led 2003 World Cup team, where he introduced the pre-match team huddle. Before the 2007 World Cup, then head coach Greg Chappell had used the services of renowned sports psychologist Rudi Webster.
However, the mind coach went missing after Ravi Shastri took charge in 2014. He served as the Indian coach for 7 years (Anil Kumble was the coach for the 2017 Champions trophy) is known to be a strong motivator himself and preferred to prep the teams up in his own style. By now, mental conditioning in various sports has become more holistic and Paddy Upton has spoken in his past interviews of working to help the players deal with insecurities over selections and not overthinking during the intervals of crunch games.
Paddy Upton would speak about normalizing the use of ‘when we play the World Cup final in Mumbai’ in lead up to the 2011 World Cup to ease the pressure within the group of playing a big final. He may soon be switching to ‘when we play the World Cup final at MCG’. India remains in search of an elusive T20 World Cup win, having won the inaugural title, fifteen years back.