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Raina needs to seek advice from Amarnath
The bottom-line is you need to keep playing
Mental toughness is as necessary to cricket as physical strength and technique. If a player can't handle pressure, no matter how strong he is physically, he won't survive. That he has to be technically sound is part of the game. Is Suresh Raina mentally tough to withstand the pressure of international cricket?
For a cricketer who has hardly played international cricket compared to Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag, it is unthinkable to ask for rest.
Tendulkar is a phenomenon whose devotion and dedication to the game is beyond comparison. Watching him practise at the MCA cricket academy is in itself an education to the kids who are practising at the same premises.
Not a minute is wasted and no casual movements are seen when he is in his whites for the five hours that he is practising all the skills of the game.
He subjects his body to extreme rigours when he is practising outdoors.
His focus is to get the body and mind in the right shape to counter the challenges of international cricket.
For that matter the others like Dravid, Sehwag, Laxman, Zaheer Khan also have a strict regimen to follow.
The only difference between Tendulkar and them is that Tendulkar has been doing it for two decades. There were ups and downs in his career in 2006 and that prompted coach Greg Chappell to advise him to quit the game.
But now the situation is such that quitting the game after the World Cup next year is not at all the priority. Reaching 20,000 runs could be the priority. Take the case of Dravid. He struggled technically against the Australians; he analysed his flaws and used the facilities at the NCA to his advantage. He recharged his mental faculties and the ball began to hit the sweet spot of his bat.
In Raina's case it's his continuous failure with the bat after the century on debut that is putting him under pressure. Lack of performance in competitive sports does create immense psychological duress. But there are methods that Mohinder Amarnath demonstrated in the 80s.
The more he failed, the harder he practised. Simply put, he spent more time in the middle and managed to stage a comeback. Perhaps Raina needs to seek advice from Amarnath or other senior players about possible solutions. The more he is away from the game, the more rusty he will get. The mantra of successful players is if you ask for rest then there are chances you might rest forever.
Like the famous maxim — think of the days when you played well yet you failed and you didn't play well yet you performed. The bottom-line is you need to keep playing.
In the 1979 season India played four Tests against England in England and after landing in India played six Tests against Australia followed by six Tests against Pakistan. Sixteen Tests in seven months against three top teams is a tall order. But none of the Indians ever complained of fatigue and there is no record of any player asking for rest.
And now some of the Indians will be flying to South Africa early to get acclimatised. Funnily, barring Pujara and Unadkat, others have all been to South Africa before.
How will that help India's preparations if other juniors in the team don't get to acclimatise is perhaps a question the coach should answer.
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