Regaining Form: HR advice to Alistair Cook and Virat Kohli

“What do you think? Has Alistair Cook become a high performer?” Lulu, my parrot, asked after flying in and perching on my table lamp.
“Ha ha! Cook had a rather bad time as a batsman in the first two tests, and he also lost one as a Captain. Too bad. But he is a great player. High Potential or ‘HiPo’ as HR folks will label him. You can’t deny that surely.”
“He hit 95 in this test.
“Yes, he did.”
“And what did Virat Kohli do? Poor test scores in the two tests and nothing better in this third. I want to ask you one question.” Lulu moved forward and looked straight in my eyes.
“How does a HiPo recover his performance level? I mean – how does he regain his ‘form?’” Among the things I am afraid of are Lulu’s questions.
“Do you have an answer?” That condescending voice of Lulu was so familiar – it stalls my thinking.
“Let me try and explain. Whenever a golfer loses his swing or a batsman loses his form he is advised to go to the nets and practice.”
“Everybody does net-practice. That can’t be the solution. Otherwise all will score well.”
“They say go to the basics. Check your stance. Watch your videos. Check the back-lift, and so on…”
“Are you serious? Doesn’t every cricketer do it? What’s new? No! There is more to the story; this must be necessary, but not enough, as they say.”
“Let me rethink…..  The question is - ‘How does a HiPo recover his form, right?’”
“And we noted that Cook regained his form but Virat Kohli did not.”
“I think one has to do his best and leave the rest to the fate.”
“Ha ha! You can’t get away with that. I did not ask you to narrate the message of Bhagwadgita.”
“Hmmm…..  It really beats me. This will need more time.”
“Yes and it will need some silencing.”
“Don’t speak in riddles.”
“You need to silence your mind – the mind which tells Alistair Cook ‘Look Bhuvaneshwar Kumar has made a ‘bakra’ of me and he is bowling again. This is going to be tough. I have to be very cautious.”
“I think I see your point.”

“His coach would have told him how to position himself, what to do, what not to do. And the batsmen like Cook will go for batting with fear in their mind. Fear of failure, I mean.”
“When Sharma comes to bowl batsmen like Cook will tell themselves ‘he is going to bowl in-swingers, I have to be careful, I have always got out on his in-swingers.’”
“Right. This kind of inner talk only destroys the confidence. We must stop it.”
“Ha ha! Surely you are not asking batsmen to meditate there on the cricket field, ok?”
“No. They must concentrate on the movement of the ball. Haven’t you read Tim Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Tennis?”
“Got it. One must kill the evaluative voice in his mind. One must simply focus on the task on hand rather than listening to and guided by that evaluative voice. Stop the interference, we must.”
“You got it.”
“But will this help Virat Kohli to regain form?”
“Yes it ought to. Why are you asking this question to me?
“He is listening to his girl-friend’s voice when he plays!”
“There is no solution for that problem, perhaps he should get married!” Lulu, my parrot, winked at me and flew away.

Vivek S Patwardhan

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