Chappell acknowledged Webster's role in India's about-turn in the Tests against West Indies after a 4-1 loss in the one-dayers.
Jamie Alter in Mumbai
October 6, 2006
In the week that Glenn McGrath accused Monty Panesar of being "soft" for seeking help from a psychologist, Greg Chappell, India's coach, has singled out the role of Rudi Webster, the noted sports psychologist, in giving the national side a better perspective from which to achieve their goals.
"Rudi's had a lot of experience with many top-level athletes, not just cricketers but around the world, particularly in tennis and golf," Chappell told reporters. "We sort of dragged him back into cricket a few months ago when we were in the West Indies." He was speaking at the Indian launch of his new book, Cricket: The Making of Champions, at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai.
"In my experience, I've seen quiet a few people involved in sports psychology, and Rudi is one the best two," Chappell added. "I think his involvement with the team in the West Indies was important in the short time that he was there. He built a quick rapport with the players, and we're hoping to use him in a few short stints over the coming months and that he'll be able to build on his good work."
"Even I benefited from him when I was playing, and I believe that he's a very user-friendly sports psychologist because of his hands-on experience with leading athletes. Because of the importance of mental skills, we felt that it was a good time to involve him leading into the World Cup. What he does with each individual will depend upon where each individual is at in his development as a cricketer, person, and where he's at with his mental skills."
Chappell also acknowledged Webster's role in India's about-turn in the Tests against West Indies after a 4-1 loss in the one-dayers. "Absolutely, he certainly played a key role in that, but at the end of the day it's up to the players to be able to take on board the information they get.
"Virender Sehwag has gone on record to say that Rudi had a big impact on him in the West Indies. Rahul [Dravid] and some of the senior players responded very well and were quite impressed with what Rudi did there, and that's the reason he's coming back. If he can continue to do that, then it can only benefit the individuals in the team plus the group as a whole."
Chappell did not take a stand on whether Webster, or any other sports psychologist, should be implemented for India's junior cricketers. It was a matter, he felt, that was best left to the administration.
When asked about what sets top athletes apart, Chappell said that, apart from the mental skills, it was "the love of the contest that separates champions from the rest."
Speaking exclusively to Cricinfo at the end of the evening, Chappell reflected on his book and the development in the man who wrote the book a few years ago and the man coaching India. "I just hope I'm able to build on what I've learnt," he said. "It's been a fantastic experience, and journey. Very instructional, inspirational, and I'm still learning. I'm older and hopefully wiser for it."