West Indies v India, 2nd Test, Barbados June 27, 2011

Sammy welcomes sports psychologist Webster


Rudi Webster, the sports psychologist, sat in the small viewer's gallery at the Kensington Oval, and watched West Indies' nets session. Last month, he was breathing fire against the West Indies board. "The board must now step up to the plate, accept responsibility for their substandard performance and design ways to improve it," he wrote in a column. "They can start by answering the three questions that were posed earlier: where are we going, what do we believe in, and what do we exist for?"

Webster has now been roped in ahead of the second Test against India to help the West Indies batsmen. West Indies' batting in recent times has had been like a déjà vu. Every time West Indies get themselves into a strong position, the batsmen slip up, and collapse. Ian Bishop called it frailty of the mind.

Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, acknowledged that the batsmen are lacking in confidence. "Sometimes, the opposition, the pressure, the situation of the game, we don't handle it as well as we should. We bat well, get into good positions and then collapse. So when we are in that situation, we need to rise above it. That's a mental issue. Hopefully what the doc is doing will work for us. He is trying to build some confidence in our batsmen."

The time frame seems too short. Webster joined just two days ahead of the Test. What can he do on such short notice? "Everybody starts somewhere," Sammy said. "Throughout the past few series, apart from the first Test in Sri Lanka, our batting has been struggling a bit. Webster's inclusion can hopefully work out for the best."

Webster looks avuncular. He chats with the Indian journalists about confidence and fear. "If I place a plank down on the ground and ask you to walk, you will walk. But if I place that plank in the air and ask you to walk you won't. You will worry about all the attached fear."

Perhaps, it is not just fear of failing but fear or nervousness to achieve success that is at the root of West Indies' problem. Sammy cited some instances. "Once we create an opportunity to get on top we should stay on top. We don't often find often ourselves in that situation and so we find it difficult to put the nail in the coffin. We have been working on it. Hopefully, in this game we can get it all together."

Sammy comes across as a man who tries to be open to criticism. "I should contribute with the bat," he said. "I know it's affecting me and the team. I have not been able to put runs on board."

However, he must be getting increasingly tired of the Chris Gayle question. He has been assaulted on the issue at every venue. He often first tries to manoeuvre around a question before he is almost forced by reporters to give a straight answer. Monday was no different. "Whoever is picked must score runs. Whatever issues they have is beyond my control. It's between the board and Gayle to sort it out," was Sammy's first attempt to duck the probe. The questions did not stop, though.

Would you like to have him in your team if he is available? "If he is available why not?" When did you last interact with him? "I cannot recall. I last saw Chris in Jamaica. We said hi and that was it."

The inquest continued. Are you still friends? Sammy allowed himself a grin before saying, "As far as I know we are still friends. He hasn't done anything wrong to me and I haven't done anything wrong to him. That constitutes friendship." That answer finally drew some smiles.

The fact is, though, that Gayle will not play the Barbados Test, and however skilled a psychologist Webster is, only the West Indies batsmen can actually break the déjà vu. Will they?

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on June 28, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    Radar007, ask yourself the question. Is is really the role of the West Indies Captain to act as a mediator between a player and the WICB? Last time I checked, the role of any Captain is to 1) pick the team, with the help of the selectors and from the players available, that most likely can manufacture a Win based on playing conditions 2) lead the 10 other men on the field to play to their maximum potential 3) Ensure that his players play within the spirit of the game and lead by example. 4) Interact with the media and provide match insight as a primary spokesperson of the team. Radar007,the role of the Media is to look for a story where none exists. That is how they make money. The press continue to push and prod Sammy hoping he will crack. I commend Sammy for continuing to stay as much as possible outside of the fray while trying to perform his captain duties. Finally, how can you form such a strong opinion on their convo, when you were not even there to confirm what was said?

  • radar007 on June 28, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    This is RADAR007's views on Sammy's comments regarding his relationship with Chris Gayle, Quote - " Would you like to have him in your team if he is available? "If he is available why not?" When did you last interact with him? "I cannot recall. I last saw Chris in Jamaica. We said hi and that was it." Are you still friends? Sammy allowed himself a grin before saying, "As far as I know we are still friends. He hasn't done anything wrong to me and I haven't done anything wrong to him. That constitutes friendship." That answer finally drew some smiles.

    First of all, Sammy has displayed a Superioity Complex of a very high level, being the leader of the Hilaire coveted WI Team. Why is Sammy's replies so arrogant. If someone says Hi, would you not form a conversation to try a attract a PLAYER WHO SHOULD BE A CERTAINTY IN A TEAM? Sammy is helping Hilaire in frustrating WI fans and "Bury the Hatchet". Comm'n Hilaire, initiate Gayle's inclusion.

  • Outswinging on June 28, 2011, 16:56 GMT

    What good has this "psychologist" ever did for any player? How much is he being paid? His is another distraction by a stagnant and uncreative WIBC, which just doesn't seem to have a clue.

  • dummy4fb on June 28, 2011, 14:37 GMT

    Dr. Rudi Webster is a nice man that has done alot for West Indies cricket in the past. But, the fact that the WICB continue to bring him back into the fold every few years, tells me that WICB have no vision or new ideas. He comes back for a test series or two, then he is gone again. Surely by now, they are other Caribbean sports psychologist,that are younger and the players can more relate to? The generation difference alone between Dr. Webster and these players is 50+ years. Sammy is an average cricketer/captain, but I would support him and give him my money over the IPL lot, any given day of the week. Bring back gayle for what exactly? I am a fan of chris gayle, but don't for a minute think he is the saviour of West Indies cricket and he will return WI to glory. If Lara couldn't, neither can Gayle. Until Caribbean prime ministers clean out WIPA (aka ramnarine and hinds) and gut the WICB, more of the same will continue.

  • BrianStephenson on June 28, 2011, 12:46 GMT

    Is there there a special psychologist that can help cricket boards?

  • qaiserjaan on June 28, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    They Need Chris Gayle !!!!! not the psychologist.....

  • Superteeth on June 28, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    I feel really sorry for Darren Sammy. Captain of a losing team, deprived of his best players (Gayle, Bravo) by contract disputes, his other key experienced players (Sarwan, Chanderpaul, Nash) struggling for form and confidence, clearly an honest man both on and off the pitch, and the best leader West Indies have. BUT that doesn't make him a test cricketer (he is a good one day international cricketer, but that's not the same thing), and I think his inclusion in the team unbalances it. On a quick wicket, try this side (if available)

    Gayle, Barath, Simmons, DM Bravo, Chanders, DJ Bravo, Baugh (really good keeper), Russell, Taylor, Edwards, Roach.

    Hard on Bishoo, but an "old fashioned" West Indian attack.

  • Stos on June 28, 2011, 8:49 GMT

    @Rakesh Vasu: No, they definitely need a psychologist much more than they need Chris Gayle, especially if his attitude doesn't improve in the meantime. They're a team that's been pretty woeful for quite a while now, with or without Gayle, and need to rebuild, and given that they hardly lack talent the most important factor in this will be mentality and discipline.

  • dummy4fb on June 28, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    My comment on this issue has to do with comments I heard Tony Greig from England making about the West Indies team. He has to gall to actually make these kinds of comments on TV as a professional commentator. He said that the West Indies should pick 11 players and let someone captain the team. He advocates dropping Sammy. The point here is very simple. Tony Greig is airing his personal views which I believe has racial overtones. Would he make a statement like this about the English team or the Australian team. Nowhere in the cricketing world does an organization pick 11 players and let one of the players be the captain by casual selection. Sammy was appointed captain of the West Indies and until he is relieved of his duties, everyone should respect that position. Tony Greig also feels that he should be commenting on the situation between the WICB and Christ Gayle and feels that he is some sort of authority on this issue. He believes that Gayle does not have to apologize . Wrong .

  • everfaithful77 on June 28, 2011, 7:29 GMT

    @gottalovetheraindance you lambasted SAMMY for all what his dropped catches cost West Indies. Is Sammy that bad a FIELDER compared to the rest of the Windies team? HOW MANY CATCHES has he taken in his short career compared to those he dropped? You also said he scored 405 runs in 14 matches. How many WICKETS did he take in that SAME PERIOD and at what avg and whilst you at it tell us how many of our CURRENT bowlers have a better avg in TESTS. You see many of you Sammy BASHERS don't want to face REALITY or take things in PERSPECTIVE. The fact is this WEST INDIES team is not as TALENTED or DISCIPLINED as the great teams of the 70's and 80's. The BOWLERS including Sammy are holding their own but the BATSMEN have struggled; the top 6 contributed just 112 and 145 in the 2 inns of 1st test vs India. We must credit Sammy for his efforts to INSPIRE this team to achieve better results despite their limitations. He remains the best choice for CAPTAIN in this REBUILDING PERIOD.I wish him well.

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