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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Ravichandran Ashwin, Mankad - criticism and ... Paddy Upton

The Cabinet Mission sent in March 1946 by the government of Clement Attlee cleared the path towards freedom, but that process would prove tumultuous, with large-scale communal riots in Calcutta that August giving a taste of what was to come a year later when the country was partitioned. 

That was still a time when the Nation was nearing pangs of birth, but Cricket was still important for the British;  undeterred by war and despite the continuing domestic unrest, an Indian team sailed for England ~ it turned out to be the last team from undivided India to tour Britain.Iftikhar Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi, who had made his debut for England during the infamous Bodyline Series of 1932-33, was now leading the nation of his birth. The Indian cricket board had voted to give him captaincy over Vijay Merchant by ten votes to eight !!  ~ a Captain selection by votes !  - part of that team was the famous all rounder.

Have seen Ashok Mankad play at Marina; he  was touted to be the  great cricketing brain in India, especially leading Mafatlals in Buchi Babu Trophy.  His father  MulvantraiHimmatlal Mankad  known as Vinoo Mankad, the  more illustrious taking 162 wickets and scoring 2109 runs in Tests is the man in news.  Ashok Mankad did not succeed in a big way, though immensely talented.  His brothers Rahul Mankad and Atul Mankad were also first class cricketers.  He was married to Nirupama Mankad who was a former Asian Tennis champion. Their son Harsh was a member of Indian Davis Cup team.  Though people may not know this long history, Mankad is a name trending now ~ because of Ashwin action – and is there a particular bias to such criticism – all England players & critics have jumped bandwagon, joined by the likes of Shane Warne.

Paddy Upton, the coach of Rajasthan Royals also is vehemently voicing – and after the match, when players crossed shaking hands, he exchanged something palatable to Ravichandran Ashwin – is that in the spirit of the game ?.. ..and after the match he said that they were leaving it for the Cricket World to judge Ashwin’s action calling it controversial and also went to say that the actions of Ashwin, speaks for him and represents him.  When I looked in the eyes of his teammates, I’m not sure it represented his teammates. We’ll leave it up to the IPL fans to decide if that’s the kind of thing they want to see, and we’ll leave it up to the cricket world to judge R Ashwin’s actions tonight’.  ~ who asked him to read the mind voice of the Punjab team, let him coach the team he is assigned to .

Paddy is a learned man – in Big Bash League when he became the coach for Sydney Thunder, he   gave his freshly-assembled squad an unusual task.They were sent far away from a cricket field and asked to hold their breaths underwater. Remember that when Gary Kirsten was appointed as Head Coach in 2008, Upton was recommended to the dual role of Mental Conditioning coach and Strategic Leadership Coach.

It could lead back to the role of Coaches, mental conditioning and more – remember that when Kapil Devil’s won the World Cup in 1983, the only non-playing member was Manager Man Singh who for sure did not mentor Kapil on how to bowl or bat, nor did he tamper with the unconventional approach of KrishSrikkanth.  Chris Gayle has no footwork, neither did VirenderSehwag excel in that area. Chris Gayle clobbers bowlers – standing at the same place – and a similar ball sails once over mid wicket, then straight and then over extra-cover – nothing in the Cricket manual.  With Bumrah’s action, one cannot dream to bowl a single ball straight – generally, when the bowling arm goes up, the other comes down !

In Sports, Coaches have made big money by their theories and they have taken over the business World too.  There are Fortune 50 companies that have coaches – but whether the change is real and whether all brought about by these high flying coaches only is debatable. 

South African born Patrick Anthony Howard 'Paddy' Upton is a Coach who does mental conditioning also.   He holds Masters degree in Sport Science at University of Cape Town.  After working with SA Cricket and Rugby teams, he had a Second Masters degree in Business Coaching from Middlesex University (2003).  Between 2012-2018 Upton has been Head Coach in 12 professional T20 cricket seasons, for five different teams across three tournaments, including the Indian Premier League, Australian Big Bash League and the Pakistan Super League. Upton has degrees from four different Universities, including two Masters degrees. In 2015 he was awarded the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Achiever Award, awarded to Alumni who made significant contributions to their specialist fields and contributed to the development and well-being of society at local, provincial, national or international levels. In 2017 he was appointed Professor of Practice at Deakin University.

He is vociferous against Ashwin, perhaps trying to justify his role for the team that has him at the mantle.  There was one infamous incident, in Sept 2009 when the man who recommended him Gary Kirsten too sought to distance himself from the controversial dossier that encouraged his players to have sex during the Champions Trophy to increase their competitive edge, claiming it was entirely the handiwork of his conditioning coach, Paddy Upton. As   effigies of Kirsten were set alight in Indore  upon news – there were suggestions that the man whom he had brought along had issued a detailed document to players before a major tournament and  Upton was not available for comment.

Gary Kirsten claimed that he would never indulge in such a thinking and that the  leaked article was written by Paddy Upton and provided information for the players on the relationship between sexual activity and sports performance. The dossier, first leaked to the Hindustan Times, was the talk of the Champions Trophy. The section on sex asked: "Does sex increase performance?" And the answer began: "Yes, it does, so go ahead and indulge." India's players were told: "From a physiological [body] perspective having sex increases testosterone levels, which causes an increase in strength, energy, aggression and competitiveness." Kirsten's own hormone levels were also rising yesterday, although that was more to do with the urgent need to protect his job.

At that time, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, then India's captain, was asked whether the advice had been taken on board. "No comment," he said, smiling. "You knew when you asked that I wouldn't be able to say anything about that."

~ what is the controversy all about – when you are the non-striker, stay within the crease, till the ball leaves the hand of the  bowler ! ~ and when there is rule, what non-sense of prior-warning ! – would anyone drop a catch, miss a stumping or a run-out, simply because the batsman is on threshold of a milestone ?  Spirit is in keeping with the rules and not cheating .. .. and those who claimed fake catches, teams that indulged in Vaseline and ball tampering .. .. and more are now talking..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Mar 2019.

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