Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The KP Mishap

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The ECB took the bold, but dimwitted step of dropping Kevin Pietersen from the test team. Well-intentioned rules and regulations controlling player behavior are just that. “Well-intentioned”. They neither guarantee success nor do they ensure cohesive team behavior. However, many people get caught up in the rules and regulations and assume them to be the foundation for team success.
Here’s something that you always knew but no one told you. There is no formula for team success. Some of the most successful teams would have been called undisciplined by today’s pundits. And some of the most regimented teams have fallen by the wayside frequently. Note South Africa’s continued quest to be number one and win a world cup. [On that subject, why is ESPN reporting Kirsten’s statement about SA’s desire to be number one as some big secret being let out? As opposed to what? South Africa is playing to be the number 3 team in the world? Or just playing to play?]
We suffer the bureaucracy regularly in businesses that bemoan the loss of innovation. Teams that are constrained by too many rules, regulations and codified ethics can’t function creatively enough. While this piece is not an advocacy for debilitating self-centeredness or anarchy, for sure individual expression and freedom must be cherished and preserved. Theere is a line that should not be crossed. But this should be left to the team to decide, not officialdom and definitely not codified by edicts to cease and desist tweets, blogs, etc.
All the establishment cronies – Nasser Hussain, Atherton, Vaughan, etc. have come out advocating KP being dropped. They are also unwittingly advocating England losing the next test match. Does anyone believe that Bairstow and whats-his-face will be able to withstand Dale Steyn, Philander and Morkel? Are spectators paying to see a military parade or a cricket game with flair, flourish and pomp? Spectators want a battle out there, not a meek surrender? Spectators want players to play out of their skins to win a game of cricket. They don’t care if players are running with the right form and doing good media interviews? What will the ECB and even Andrew Strauss end up doing after England lose? Blame KP for the loss for “misbehaving” and losing his place in the team?
Misguided officials and team captains cover up their own inadequacy of being unable to manage and motivate extremely talented individuals by scurrying to justify their failure with rules. Flintoff, Pietersen, Warne, Symonds and probably every Pakistan player falls into this category of players. Perhaps, a bunch of 70s era Australians and the entire West Indies team under Clive Lloyd did too.
My guess is that many fans too will come out in support of ECB’s move. “No individual is bigger than the game”, they will proclaim, completely missing the point. Individuals make up the team. A captain and official’s success is being able to get the best out of the most temperamental genius in the team. There’s a reason Botham prospered under Brearley. Warne prospered under Taylor and Waugh. And there’s a reason Symonds was lost by Ponting and now KP is being lost by Strauss.
I’m not at all advocating that every prima donna be pampered. However, the fault lies with ECB and Strauss for letting things come to this state. KP’s personality is well-known. Not being able to plan and manage a player of his caliber is definitely Strauss, Flower and ECB’s fault. A little bit of humility from them early on, would have helped tremendously.
Thanks to their incompetence, the next test match has been reduced to a farce. What a shame!

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