Book, Cricket, Values

The Barefoot Coach

“The Barefoot Coach” is Paddy Upton’s attempt to share his insights from coaching world’s best cricketers. The book is filled with anecdotes especially from his stint with the world cup winning India Cricket team. A light and an enjoyable read for anyone and more so for a cricket lover.

Paddy’s friend Mike Horn is an accomplished adventurer. Paddy roped him a couple of times as a motivational speaker for the Indian Cricket team. Mike says that developing talent is not enough and one has to better oneself as a person every day, in order to be able to handle success.  While it’s nudging at one level, I found it assuring at another.

The book points out that most mountaineer deaths happen downhill and that is a sort of under preparation of the mind as most mountaineers prepare themselves for the uphill but struggle once after they reach the summit as their mind is unprepared for the journey downhill. This insight, in my view, strikes a chord with the story I heard of Suleika Jaouad on Ted. She is a cancer survivor and New York Times columnist. After many years at the hospital and miraculously fighting the disease off, she felt lost in the external world and often strangely fantasized going back to the hospital as a patient on the death bed. Her mind was unprepared for the routine life and she made lot of effort to be part of it.

Back to the book. It provides a quick exercise in order to identify one’s values. The exercise is simple. Imagine that it’s your birthday and you get to invite five really special guests who would make the occasion best ever. They need not be real or alive. By writing those names, the qualities that make them special for you and ranking those qualities, you get to identify the values that are important to you. I must say, I got to know more about my family i.e. as to what they value most, after we did this exercise together.

Paddy also touches upon the chokers tag associated with the South African cricket team. His take is that the team performs poorly whenever they are expected to do well and perhaps that is not limited to knockout matches of major championships. Seems to explain the team’s plight in the 2019 world cup.

All-in-all, I would say it’s a nice read.


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