â€žA web definition of team spiritâ€š is esprit de corps: the spirit of a group that makes the members want to succeed” www.cogsci.princeton.edu
Charles Randall, a cricket journalist who writes for The Daily Telegraph in England, filed an article on April 14 2005 about the Kent cricket team which I think is very instructive in the context of West Indies cricket today. He reported as follows: Captain David Fulton allowed his players’ derision and doubt to wash over him when he instigated some Fame Academy pre-season team bonding for three days last month. With the assistance of the real-life Fame Academy choreographer Kevin Adams, the Kent squad were required to wise up on singing and dancing, stretching their limited show business talent for a couple of days at Sutton Valence School. This imaginative ordeal provided Graham Ford, Kent’s new coach, with an opportunity to judge the character of his charges.
Fulton admitted that the players’ initial reaction had ranged from scepticism to outright disbelief until the work began. “They really got into it and they responded well,” he said. “It showed what could be done.”
Kent had shown what could be done last season when they finished runners-up in the Frizzell County Championship, a surprise in the absence of their leading bowler, Martin Saggers, to injury for most of the summer. The batting top order shouldered the responsibility for achieving match-winning advantages, with Robert Key pummeling six centuries before joining the England teamâˆ‘Ford, the former South Africa coach, has a reputation for good man-management and investing time with individuals. Fulton said: “He has impressed everyone hugely, and he isn’t going to suddenly change everything.” It was wise of Fulton, 33, to seek intensive coaching for himself in Australia over the winter âˆ‘the captain has started scoring runs again as an opener âˆ‘The Kent academy has completed the second winter at the St Lawrence Groundâˆ‘the Kent county team is entering a transitional period and will have to work hard to churn out the right results. The old lime tree within the boundary has gone and a sapling installed in its place. Randall concluded that the process of regeneration continues.
So much for those who think that success comes and goes in cycles without significant inputs from the science of management.
In my article last week, I called for strategic visioning for the WI cricket industry. My regular female respondent, Jocelyn, did not disappoint. She contributed the following food for thought: Basil, I support your suggestions contained in the final 3 paragraphs. I would add that job specs/descriptions should also be created and published for all players in addition to the captain, so that even young boys in primary schools can know what would be required to qualify for a play on the WI team. Qualifications could include, for example, probably 75% – 80% skill, a good ‘team’ player, deportment, behaviour, public speaking etc. Those who reach selection that have not met the full requirements could be allowed a time frame, with training, to see how they can match up. I’m simply tired of seeing bad behaved people trying to be sporting ambassadorsâˆ‘My thinking is that if people know from early what is required they can work towards achieving and not suddenly find themselves on a WI team/national team with demands that are foreign to them…She concluded that skill can take you only thus far.
There was another comment from Malaysia. Dev is a former professional and cricketing colleague. We used to play on the same University team 35 years ago. He commented: Dear Basil – Greetings from this end. I have followed and read with interest your last few excellent writings with a focus on WI cricket. I fully agree with your analyses and the probe for corrective direction. Arising from these, you can obviously take credit for stirring up healthy wider public response. This probably is also linked to recognition of guiding principles that resulted in WICB`s stand to continue with Chanderpaul as captain, and the comments of Deryck Murray and Brian Davis Ë† with all of which I agree. WICB`s stand is especially commendable as principles, discipline and transparency together, will determine the make or breakâ€š outcome of the oncoming World Cup series in the West Indies.He concluded that: More particularly, your call for a one-day interactive dialogue or workshop to discuss issues including captaincy is most appropriate and very timely. Alas, I am not alone.
As Tony Cozier intimated in a TV interview following the latest WI defeat against South Africa: it is neither the captain, coach, selectors, playersâ€š representatives, veterans, youth, superstars, sponsors, supporters, pitches nor umpires. He concluded that we have had all these in varying combinations and we are still unable to achieve consistent performances. The problem is indiscipline and the lack of team spirit. The ball is in the court of the WICB to do something about it. We are gambling with the future of our cricketing industry. There is no short cut to a systematic approach of strategic visioning which will lead to a process of change where we set our priorities and establish and implement a plan. Let the WI squad wise up on singing and dancing, stretching their limited show business talent for a couple of days at Sutton Valence School or equivalent.