Paddy Upton has shared his apprehension about Virat Kohli scoring runs the way he used to without the physical presence of spectators in the venue during the upcoming IPL. To add to that, Upton also believes many players might find themselves on the same boat as Suresh Raina in the near future.
The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League is going to be a completely different kind of experience considering the entire league will take place in a bio-secure bubble, with the players having no interaction whatsoever with the outside world. The absence of spectators in the venue as well meant the carnival-like atmosphere inside the ground during an IPL match would be missing.
So much would be the ripple effect that former Indian mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton, who was the head coach for the Rajasthan Royals franchise in the last edition of the Indian Premier League, feels that a player like Virat Kohli might not be able to score runs the way he used to without the physical presence of spectators in the venue.
"The big-match temperament players do well when the pressure is on, when there are a lot of people around. The fact that you are gonna have games in front of empty stadiums now, you are just not going to have that level of pressure. So the players who rely on big-match temperament to deliver results… Someone like Virat Kohli, will he still be as good when you take away that external stimulation and noise and pressure? You are gonna find players who normally fall over when the pressure gets high. They will be able to just carry on batting because there is not going to be the physical presence of spectators,” Upton said on ESPNcricinfo Newsroom.
"Athletes who are internally driven, who find the motivation from within themselves, they are going to be fine, they are going to do well. Your typical confidence players, who look for motivation, inspiration or validation from outside, they are really going to struggle. Your optimists are going to do a hell lot better. Your pessimists are gonna struggle. So it depends how many introverts, internally driven, optimists you have got in your team. The more you have got, the luckier you actually are."
Suresh Raina pulling out of the league citing “personal reasons” which some people suggested due to the bubble concerns, has set the cat among the pigeons and opened up the debate about the players having to deal with a lot of mental demons. Upton is of the opinion that Raina’s case may become the first of many more.
"There are a number of other players who are very much in the same boat as Suresh Raina and I just hope that the teams are aware of that and are catering for that. There are coaches who are gonna be struggling, there are support staff who are gonna be struggling in that three-month bio-bubble,” Upton said.
"Arriving there already depleted, having navigated, being locked indoors, we are gonna find players who haven't been exercising, we will see some strangely overweight players, we will see players out of nick. I know some players have been lucky to be able to get into the nets, so they are gonna go ahead.
"We need to be predicting these strange things and not have a knee-jerk reaction. When all of a sudden Suresh Raina goes home, we have this knee-jerk reaction and strange comments in the media. Funny things are gonna happen. Smart teams will predict them, put things in place and have that cushion of support system to be able to support players. The teams that do that best are gonna go so far ahead of the other teams that really don't do that well and they [who don't do that] are just gonna fall over, unfortunately, in this IPL."