Regarded as one of the greatest captains ever, Mike Brearley pointed out clear-headedness as key quality to becoming an outstanding leader.
International captains are under siege!
There are calls for Alastair Cook’s head as England stare down the barrel of defeat to go 3-0 in the India Test series. Media are questioning whether Faf du Plessis should continue as South Africa captain or hand the reins back to AB de Villiers. There is a declaration that Virat Kohli is a better leader than Steve Smith!
Then there are the coaches!
There is the rabble that is the West Indies – constantly chopping and changing their coaches for speaking out or winning a World Cup!
Lately though, there has been this gem in the lead up to the Australia v Pakistan Test series due to begin on Thursday 15 December!
Mitchell Starc has taken a shot at Pakistan coach, Mickey Arthur when he said the Australian team are a lot closer under Lehmann than with Arthur.
Starc declared, “we’ve developed massively as a squad since the time of Mickey Arthur, and I think for the better.”
Mickey Arthur’s time as Australia’s coach was marked by ‘Homework gate’ and the lack of clear-headedness around the Baggy Green.
Brearley said in 2007, that there are two qualities involved in captaincy “technical aspects and man-management.”
Michael Clarke was a great tactician but quite average at man-management. He is the average bloke we thought him to be in this 2016 interview. He knows he was sub-par in this category and doesn’t care. However, should your actions cost a player his career and get a coach sacked, you’re doing something wrong. Ask Geeves.
Where does clear-headedness begin, with the coach, captain or the boards? Let’s run through a few examples.
Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers didn’t seem* to be clear-headed on the field and that affected their personal gameplay and that of the team (respectively). Let it be noted that Amla relinquished the ODI vice-captaincy because he was uncomfortable taking over from AB when needed. Was Hashim a wise choice as Test Captain? I think not.
Virat Kohli seems* to be quite clear-headed and the results speak for themselves. Three double-tons this year and the team seemingly unbeatable (albeit at home). Virat also made a ton against Australia at the Adelaide Oval in India’s 2014/15 tour.
From the above, it appears it begins with the captain. However:
Take the West Indian skipper, Jason Holder. He seems to have a clear-headedness about his plans however issues with the board and appointing coaches negate that. The Windies are going somewhere with Holder; he needs clear-headedness up above him.
Alastair Cook is seemingly quite clear he wants to captain defensively. He is a defensive captain, however that seems at loggerheads of the coach, Trevor Bayliss who preaches aggressive and positive cricket.
These says it starts with the boards and coaches!
Successful teams are those that aren’t heavily influenced by their administrators. There is a very slim chance that will occur. Players are screaming for less international fixtures but the cricket fat cats can only hear the tills ringing and see dollar signs.
I wrote a piece about how to keep players and administrators happy. Read it here.
Administrator influence also affects club cricket competitions. Many Australian clubs are fire with youth policies – a directive from club administrators to ensure the future of the club. We know what they’re doing but when you play over $1,000 in subs, cricket gear, umpire fees, you’d like to play at least 75 per cent of the season.
Clear-headedness works from the top-down. It has a calming influence on everyone. When the administrators are settled, it filters down to everyone within the setup. When that goes pear-shaped, it goes into disarray.
“Some captains are good when they’re up against it, some are good when they’re on top of things,” said Brearley.
Read up on everyone’s favourite skipper, Darren Sammy.
Leadership is difficult, especially in the limelight of international sport. It takes a certain strength of character, a little stubbornness and finally clear-headedness.