Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Conceit is costing cricket



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Australia has sunk to a depth that will take a few series to resolve. Any and all blame for axing talented players or not integrating them successfully must fall with the management. Cricket and indeed all sport is a spectator sport. The public pays to watch entertaining players perform and revel when their team wins. It's that simple. Cricket's long term economic muscle improves when teams with flair do well, not machine like robots showing up on the field.

Much like India lost Kambli, Sandeep Patil and a few others, Australia are now onto their second big loss after Andrew Symonds. The conceit of administrators, sometimes selectors and coaches is amazing to me. The episodes with Flintoff, Pieterson, Symonds, Taylor and now Watson is stunning in its impact. What's also stunning to me is the number of fans that are willing to buy into this theory of "discipline".

A whole host of cricket writers, bloggers et al seem to be hitched to this bandwagon that believes in the virtues of military like discipline as a requirement to win sporting contests. Curfews, wellness programs, limits on calories, exercise regimen etc seem to have taken precedence over actual performance and results. It appears that Clarke and Arthur have successfully diverted attention from their failure to deliver by backing their methods over players' lack of buy-in into those methods.

My own corporate experience tells me that leaders fall into this trap of not taking enough ownership for the failure of strategies and instead blame employees for not delivering. It is the leadership's responsibility to bring players on board. To fire players for anything other than performance is thus self-serving and inherently stupid. It is clearly a product of conceit. Clarke semi-about face today suggests a lack of confidence in the stance he has taken. This is a further erosion of his credibility. The less said about Arthur and Howard the better.

From my perspective, the Australian selectors gave the team management the best available talent in Australia. It is the management's job to build this set of talented people into a cohesive team. Some of the management methods have not exactly convinced the players. This means management has to work harder to get the players to buy-in an perhaps show some early results of their methods without input from some of the non-believers. Benching them is a big mistake that's going to negatively affect others too. I'm not saying Australia will necessarily lose, but the public and the players will now pay too high a price for such an Australian win.

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