Why Some Cricket Teams Are Bad, And Others Good

Cricinfo has a wide-ranging (and rather disjointed) interview with H. Gibbs about his thoughts on the current South African team. The most interesting parts describe Gibbs’ thoughts on a powerful cabal within the team (composed of Smith, De Villiers, Kallis and former coach M Arthur) that basically split the team in two and bred resentment. E.g.:

The book reveals how Arthur was often held hostage to this clique and “bowed to senior players’ opinions.” Gibbs also described Smith as being “too powerful.”

I started to wonder why cricketers can’t get along, and whether that matters in their performance. In the last few years, we’ve heard horror stories from many teams’ dressing rooms (Australia — Symonds v. Clarke; India — I. Pathan v. everybody; Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan v. everybody; Ganguly v. Chappell; Pakistan — everbody v. everybody; England — Pietersen v. coach).

More often than not, we forget that when we watch cricketers, we are, basically, watching a bunch of 20-somethings who spend most of their time jumping from hotel room to hotel room. I’m not saying cricket cumbayah is the most important part of cricketing success (at the end of the day, if you have people like Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S Laxman in your team, as opposed to Ross Taylor and Scott Styrus, there’s only so much you can do).

But it still matters. I remember when I belonged to a high school academic team (yes, I was a nerd). Initially, when I was picked to go to a tournament, I loved everything about it — I sucked up to the coach, I hoped the veterans would pay attention to me, and I did the most I could.

Three years later, as a graduating senior, I was thoroughly disillusioned — the coach played favorites; the team had broken into factions, largely because we disagreed about who was chosen (or didn’t personally like others); and, by the end of it, I did only the minimum necessary and was happy to leave.

I’m just saying: maybe all these “bonding” camps aren’t so ridiculous?

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3 thoughts on “Why Some Cricket Teams Are Bad, And Others Good

  1. Masuud Qazi says:

    If only the 80s and 90s were remembered here too, it would’ve made a genius of a post. Gone are the days when Zimbabwean farmers would play professional cricket too (Hello Eddo Brandes) and Asian players leave engineering careers for the beautiful game. Loved the who-vs-who though 🙂

  2. /* Pakistan – everybody v. everybody */ – that was a true gem.

    It’s all a matter of human ego. The need to satisfy it and the lack thereof inevitably leads to these clashes. As you rightly say, bonding camps may be a decent way to ensure that these ego levels of the players and kept within control.

  3. […] human resource management, a topic that has become increasingly interesting to me. I ask once more: why do some teams ‘gel,’ and not others? Why did Greg Chappell fail as a coach (and Dravid as captain), only to see Dhoni (one of his main […]

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