The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘I’m willing to help whoever approaches me... ’
- Dr Rudi Webster excited at getting Team India assignment
Greg ChappellL,who approached Dr Rudi Webster

Port-of-Spain: Dr Rudi Webster, who has delved into the minds of not just top cricketers but the Greg Normans as well, is “excited” at getting to work with Team India, but has no idea whether it’s the start of a long-term relationship.

“I’m excited about this assignment, yes, but can’t say whether I’ll be interacting with the boys on a regular basis,” the reed-like Dr Webster, among the most revered of sports psychologists, told The Telegraph.

Speaking at the Hilton on Saturday evening, after the team meeting ahead of the final ODI and before a one-on-one with coach Greg Chappell, he added: “Where I’m concerned, I’m willing to help whoever approaches me... Mental toughness does make a difference...”

Chappell, who approached Dr Webster, revealed he’d worked with him “over a number of years” during his playing days. “I’d sought the Board’s permission to involve Dr Webster and things got finalised once I got the okay,” he said, talking exclusively.

However, even Chappell couldn’t say whether the arrangement would go beyond one week. “Among other things, that depends on the Board... To be honest, right now, I’m not looking too far ahead... I’m not thinking about next year’s World Cup...”

Dr Webster, who has been associated with West Indies cricket for long, was the founding director of the Academy in Grenada. “I helped set it up, five years ago... It was needed in the Caribbean,” the 66-year-old pointed out.

The Academy, of course, is no more as Shell withdrew its sponsorship. Then, the hurricane of 2004 caused considerable damage.

A one-time quick, who had a successful career with Warwickshire in the 1960s, Dr Webster was in Melbourne for 17 years. “I practised sports medicine, I was into radiology... I kept travelling across Australia and that’s when I met Greg...”

According to Chappell, he “gained” by interacting with Dr Webster and would like Team India, too, to benefit. “It’s difficult to judge how much of a difference one week can make, but I’m confident the players are going to be richer in the mind.”

Dr Webster, who will be travelling to Antigua with the team (and, thereby, getting to work with the Test specialists as well), is the author of the acclaimed Winning Ways ' a study of the minds of champions.

Incidentally, Sreesanth is a big fan and is awaiting a one-on-one. “I’ve got the entire book stored in my laptop... It’s a fascinating work and I’m thrilled that Dr Webster is working with us,” he remarked.

Sreesanth’s first exposure to a sports psychologist was when Dr Sandy Gordon visited the MRF facility in Chennai some years ago. “I found that rewarding... The interactions with Dr Webster are also bound to be enriching...”

Being open to ideas is one way of moving forward.

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