Northampton: Cricket's best known psychologist Rudi Webster has a message for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's seemingly destroyed Indian team: "Failure is an essential part of success. In fact, failure is the father of success."
Webster was roped in to help the West Indies team in their last Test series against India in the Caribbean which ended 1-0 in India's favour.Webster picked the brains of a few Indian players during the series for a new edition of his famous book, Winning Ways.
Andrew Strauss' Englishmen have been receiving some serious praise. Pundits believe this is the best England team in contemporary cricket and former all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who was the hero in England's 2005 Ashes win, believes the current side is superior to the one which played that series.
The Indian team probably agrees. However, Webster said from the Caribbean: "In a slump, you overestimate the ability and reputation of your opponent at the same time that you underrate yourself and your ability. When players are in a slump, they examine their technique carefully and pick it apart bit by bit."
Apart from being manager of Clive Lloyd's champion West Indies team in the late 1970s, Webster has helped cricketing luminaries like Viv Richards, Greg Chappell and Brian Lara shake off their batting blues through his counseling
Webster (72) also turned out for Warwickshire in the English county championships. "Like all foreign cricketers, who play in England, the Indians must make some adjustments to cope with English conditions, but they must still play their own style of game.
If they try to change too drastically and start doing things they are not used to doing, they will sabotage their performance and play poorly," Webster warned.
Apart from a loss of form, India have been plagued by injuries to key players like Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh. At Trent Bridge, India missed Gautam Gambhir, who was hit on the elbow in the previous Test at Lord's. "A slump," said Webster, "may start through physical factors like injury or technical problems but in the end, it is always due to poor mental functioning. Fiddling too with technique does not usually solve the problem. In fact it often makes it worse."
India now face a more-than-uphill task to ward off a 0-4 loss margin. Next week's third Test at Edgbaston will be followed by the final Test at the Oval in London. Doubtless, Edgbaston is the Test which will test their character. Webster said: "Their attitude to the game (third Test) will be critical. If they see it as a challenge or an opportunity to do well for their team and turn things around they will use the pressure positively.
"If they do that, their attitude will be in line with the attitude of Dhoni, who recently said to me, 'people say a lot of negative things about pressure. Pressure to me is just added responsibility. That is how I look at it. It's not pressure when God gives you an opportunity to be a hero for your team and your country.'"