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Paddy Upton returns as India’s mental conditioning coach

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Paddy Upton, support staff member for 2011 World Cup, is set to join India’s squad for the five-match T20I series in the West Indies

Paddy Upton, support staff member for 2011 World Cup, is set to join India’s squad for the five-match T20I series in the West Indies

Paddy Upton is set to return to the Indian men’s cricket team’s dressing room as its mental conditioning expert in its quest to regain the T20 World Cup later this year.

Upton, who was head coach Gary Kirsten’s trusted lieutenant during India’s triumphant World Cup sojourn in 2011, is set to join India’s squad for the five-match T20I series in the West Indies, starting Friday. A Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official confirmed to The Hindu that Upton “will be appointed as the mental conditioning coach till the T20 World Cup in Australia”.

A qualified strength and conditioning coach and a sports psychologist, Upton also served as the performance director of South Africa’s men’s team for three years after ending his association with the Indian team on a high, with India winning the World Cup.

For most of the last decade, the Indian team hasn’t had a mental conditioning coach — an integral part of the modern sports coaching ecosystem — on a full-time basis.

The Hindu understands that Upton has been roped in following deliberations with head coach Rahul Dravid, who has shared an excellent rapport with Upton for well over a decade. While Dravid was a veteran, especially in the Test set-up, during Upton’s stint as Indian team’s mental conditioning and strategic leadership role.

Then, from 2013 to 2017, Upton and Dravid were an integral part of two Indian Premier League (IPL) set-ups. From 2013 to 2015, the duo worked together with Rajasthan Royals while for the next two years, they were in charge of Delhi Daredevils. Dravid has described Upton as a “thought-leader” in the latter’s book.  

It will be interesting to see if Upton’s addition results in India’s fortune. After winning the inaugural World T20 in 2007, India has failed to repeat its performance. Mahendra Singh Dhoni — the last captain to lift ICC titles for India — was appointed as mentor for the T20 World Cup in UAE in 2021. India failed to qualify for the knockouts.



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