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?