With the Indian Premier League about to start tomorrow, mental coach, Tim Goodenough shares his thoughts on what will impact on the teams.
There are several important factors that will impact on the teams contesting this year’s IPL tournament.
Money, context, history and skills.
Money is as important a factor as any. It creates a tremendous amount of pressure, as well as a strong distraction, success in cricket is still about cricket, no matter how well paid everyone is.
The IPL has an interesting concept called Icon player status. An Icon player is basically a home town hero that can only play for his home city’s team. Icon players are paid 15% more than the highest paid player in their respective teams. The Icon players for 2008 where: Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag. VVS Laxman was offered icon status, but declined it so that his franchise could spend more money on star players – principally Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist.
Out of the Icon players in 2008, Sehwag had the best batting average at 33.83 with a strike rate of 184.54. Next best was Tendulakar at 31.33 with a strike rate of 106.21. Overall an average effort for an expensive bunch especially when you compare these averages to the tournament’s top runs scorer Shaun Marsh with an average of 68.44 with a strike rate of 139.68. Aside from Yuvraj Singh’s Kings XI Punjab (Shaun Marsh’s team), the sides with Icon players finished 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th on the log respectively. Not what you as a team owner were hoping for in an 8 team tournament. Icon status is a sure way to create division within a team; especially with the magnanimity of VVS Laxman’s gesture casting a shadow over those teams whose Icons accepted their financial windfall opportunity. Icon status is also is a sure way to create extreme pressure for those icons, as their batting averages proved.
The Galácticos effect is the challenge that teams face when signing highly paid superstars, named after the Galáctico’s (or Superstar’s)– the highly paid world famous football players signed by Real Madrid. Real Madrid are as famous for signing world famous footballers as they are for firing their managers who can’t get the best from their highly paid stars, and can’t manage their egos effectively enough to create a highly supportive team culture. Even the most talented cricketer and footballer can’t shoot the lights out every game, and the amount of quality supporting performances is often related to not just the other talent but also the quality of the team culture. As a rule of thumb the more money that is spent the more the captain and coach of the side needs to have high level people (EQ) skills coupled with strong resilience and communication skills.
Last year’s winners, the Rajastan Royals where the cheapest franchise bid, with the team that finished 2nd on the log, Kings Punjab XI the 3rd cheapest.
If you can’t buy experience, than it is equally true that you can’t buy youth tonic either. There are several aging legends of the game involved in the IPL, with some of these players not playing regular international cricket any more. Sporting form is a matter of shifting gears, top sportsmen will have developed themselves mentally and physically to train in 4th gear and to hopefully perform there or thereabouts (occasionally getting into 5th or 6th gear.) For these aging greats to suddenly be put into situations where they regularly need to perform in top gear, in spite of not training or playing at that intensity regularly is a massive ask. Aside from the occasional top class performance (if that), I will be very surprised if any of those retired players can sustain that form for a tournament. Their value will be nurturing, mentoring, guiding, developing, growing and supporting their teammates. If they are effective at this, then they would be cheap at the price, even with poor tournament form.
The biggest factor in the tournament is that every time a team takes the field, it can have only 4 non-Indian players playing. This is going to turn the formbook upside down, as before young, emerging and established Indian stars made their mark on the IPL, playing at HOME. This tournament is away from home and it requires a very different mental skill set to play effectively away from home under this kind of pressure. The Indian team under Gary Kirsten and assisted by Performance Coach Paddy Upton, has made huge leaps and bounds recently, and the distribution of those players will be a significant factor for this tournament. The Decan Chargers and Kolkata Knightriders are at a distinct disadvantage here, having less of India’s current in form stars in their team, compared to the other franchises.
The expectation of the star performers of 2008 will be so intense, that for many the weight of expectation will be too much to replicate that level of success. Here the quality of coach is going to be a decisive factor. Can the coach manage the pressure and expectations effectively for his players? Few coaches have been as successful in international cricket as John Buchannan, his experience and ability is a massive plus to the Kolkata Knightriders, even in this new emerging form of the game.
For me the favourites have to be the defending champions, the Rajastan Royals. The combination of Shane Warne and a specialist performance coach in Jeremy Snape, the lack of an Icon, the relative lack of money distraction and their fair share of India’s premier cricket players is a potent combination. For me Snape is the key, if he can get his players to play like they are playing at home, under Warne’s guidance they could go all the way.
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