Sir Viv Richards has offered to help India develop their mental toughness after what he called a "mind-boggling" ouster from the World Cup. Richards, widely regarded as the most destructive batsman in history, said a lack of self-belief sent India crashing to their worst World Cup performance since the 1979 tournament in England.
"Like many of their fans, I find India's ouster from the tournament as mind-boggling," Richards, 55, wrote in a syndicated column that appeared in Indian newspapers. "I would not blame the team management for this debacle, but there has to be some reason why a team as supremely talented as India does not achieve more success.
"The reasons have less to do with talent and potential and more to do with mental strength. Each player, especially the experienced one, is responsible for himself and capable of self-training and managing his mental preparation."
India, title holders in 1983 and runners-up in 2003 runners-up - were stunned by Bangladesh in their opening match before they suffered a second defeat against Sri Lanka to be knocked out of the tournament.
Richards felt the blame should not be put on any on individual. "These are aspects that come from within, so blaming coach Greg Chappell or even captain Rahul Dravid is not going to take Indian cricket ahead," he said. "I would certainly like to help India in this aspect of their preparation if asked to. I have always enjoyed a challenge as a player, and would enjoy the challenge of instilling self-belief and confidence in a group of players as talented and promising as the Indians."
Richards, who helped West Indies win the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979, said India would do well to learn lesson from his team's experiences. "I remember we were devastated when we lost the 1983 World Cup final [to India]. That is why we came in full force and with great intent to win when we toured India later that year. We needed to prove to the world and more importantly to ourselves, that we were the best team."
Richards said he hoped India would bounce back on the tour of Bangladesh in May for two Tests and three one-day internationals. "They should regroup and convince everyone that what happened in Port-of-Spain was a blip, and nine times out of ten there can be only one winner in an India-Bangladesh encounter. Having said that, we must also acknowledge that the Bangladeshis are a talented, fast-improving bunch. They remind me of the Sri Lankans in the late 1980s, and therefore cannot be considered pushovers."