The Selection of a Captain is one of the most important and critical decisions that a club can make as the impact and influence is deeply felt across all layers within a team, club and community. A poor process and little thought invites risk and disaster, while a well-considered and inviting manner can establish a foundation for progress and success.

This article How to Help a Captain is the next step as a reference for club leaders to identify the support in so that the decision once made, is key for setting up success.

The methodology and logic around Selecting A Captain – Get it Right was written and published in August 2018 with a focus upon how it should be done with some guidance to deliver the expected and desired standards and outcomes.

Described by Gideon Haigh, “Captaincy is the most mythologised of cricket’s faculties.  Its required skills compound of tactical acumen, interpersonal skill and public diplomacy not to mention individual excellence is also unique to the game. Historically, captaincy has been learned at lower levels.  Australian skippers have come to the job with prior experience at junior, grade and state levels.”

A well-regarded reference point is the book written by Mike Brearley “The Art of Captaincy” in unlocking the qualities needed in leadership for intuition, resourcefulness, sympathy and clear thinking. Brearley with the ability to draw from a combination of theory, research, experience and observation was also expansive in his view on the modern game with admiration and respect for Virat Kohli.

“Everyone has his style, I like (Kohli); he is keen, hawk-eyed,” Brearley said in an informal chat during the match.

Some of that comes from Kohli too. There is an intensity about his cricket. Occasionally, I daresay, it makes people nervous. But on the whole, I think it animates them, dynamises people.”

Leadership expectations have undergone a dramatic shift with, thankfully, improved energy on support and mentoring, rather than pick the best player and hope they can work it out.

To allow the best environment for the captain to be given encouragement, support and space to deliver upon the responsibility, it does require a unified effort from club leaders.

EXPECTATIONS AND BEHAVIOURS OF A CAPTAIN

The list of expectations and behaviours is limitless. In working through the accountabilities and responsibilities, any of the following that have been curated from our discussions about leadership expectations at Cricket Mentoring, can be applied:

  • Approachable
  • Encourage teammates to aspire to goals and behaviours
  • Listens carefully to direct the thinking of teammates toward positive goals
  • Care to acknowledge the contributions of those outside the team
  • Never shows favoritism or promotes cliques
  • Be at his or her best in the tough times
  • Shares the credit
  • Demonstrate optimism and inspire hope no matter the circumstance
  • Link between coach and team
  • Understands that a leader is still a team player
  • Works as hard as anyone on the team
  • Conveys a belief in oneself and all teammates
  • Makes the effort to bond with every team member and those with whom the captain has little in common
  • Trustworthy, consistently doing the right thing, regardless of the circumstances, to create an environment of trust and respect
  • Disciplined thinking in that an environment of trust and respect does not mean acceptance of improper actions or behaviors by team members
  • Observes all team rules
  • Conveys the message that bullying or humiliating teammates is unacceptable and damages team harmony trust
  • Selfless ambition, an ability to direct ambition and passion toward the success of the team, more than toward personal success
  • Sets aside personal problems to show genuine concern for teammates in need of support
  • Adherence to the highest standards of behaviour
  • Sets the goal of doing such an excellent job that his or her captaincy serves as a model for future captains to follow

The Cricket Mentoring Community – the world’s best cricket community for players and coaches, launching 23rd November, 2020 (click above for more information)

A list that appears exhaustive, daunting and overwhelming. Finding the path where the leadership qualities of intuition and clear thinking can emerge takes us to the How.

PLANNING, SUPPORT AND RESOURCES

How do we actually put in place the planning, support and resources to help a captain?

The How, being able to arrive at the position as to how these outcomes are delivered, setting the environment up for success, is the next step.

As a starting point, please search for Simon Sinek. It is strongly recommended that twenty minutes is invested for either viewing or listening to the presentation “How great leaders inspire action” which is a framework that has been embraced by successful leaders in sport and business with consistent results over considerable time.

During the Level 3, High Performance Coaching course with Cricket Australia, Sinek was given as a regular reference when working through problem solving tasks.

From this point, we can then move into some practical exercises to develop better levels of belief and trust with the captain, coach and leaders from identifying and establishing the values, guiding principles and leadership standards which are accepted and meaningful. The objectives of the exercise being able to establish a reference framework that:

  1. Keeps a sense of order
  2. Ensures clarity
  3. Reduces unnecessary conflict
  4. Allows a forward focus
  5. Releases empowerment

Good practice and governance within a club environment would already include documented and communicated information for Code of Conduct, Member Guidelines, Strategic Plan, Values, History and Selection Policy.

Helping these come to life to become habits and behaviors is where the education exercises in How to Help a Captain” is able to allow leadership and confidence to flourish. These can be divided into three activity blocks.

  1. Diagnostic Analysis
    • Preparation in collecting feedback to share
  2. Information Gathering
    • Review feedback to agree on values and standards
  3. Presentation
    • Communicate to club

The first activity block is a Diagnostic Analysis for the club and then then the leaders involved by information gathering tasks. The purpose here to explore and verify a common ground from personal and individual reflection. These questions can be simply set up as a Google Form to collect the responses to then share with the group. The first task:

  1. Why have we come together at the club?
  2. What is it that we want to achieve?

The second activity block is Information Gathering that is more to focus upon collecting useful feedback for the captain directly that will help produce meaningful guidance and support.

  1. List three (3) strengths or good points
  2. List three (3) areas to improve

This knowledge is recommended to be collected, collated and distributed with the group before initially coming together, allowing time for due reflection and checking anything further that may emerge.

Click the image above to find out more about The 6 Pillars of Success.

Of useful wider support, is to include the whole club, inviting them to share views to help shape the direction in using the following open-ended questions:

  1. Things we are doing well are …… ?
  2. Where we can improve and why ……. ?
  3. Uncomfortable or concerned because of ……. ?
  4. More help is needed on ……… ?

This activity, Information Gathering, can be easily set up and collected using Google Forms with the option to set up the respondents as anonymous or identity optional as a deeper health check.

The third activity block is a Presentation back to the management and club on the knowledge gathered and views formed from the previous blocks.

The Presentation should consist of the following content which ideally should be able to fit on a single page.

  1. Values = the words that define and guide culture
  2. Guiding Principles = extension of Values for behaviour and decision making
  3. Leadership Standards = actions we are going to do and make happen

From here we can then reflect back to the initial objectives and agree that they have been handled to the expected standard:

  1. Keeps a sense of order
  2. Ensures clarity
  3. Reduces unnecessary conflict
  4. Allows a forward focus
  5. Releases empowerment

At Cricket Mentoring, we hope that this article has been useful and please feel free to contact us if we can assist further in developing a workshop for your club to deliver value of this sort.

About the writer: Andrew Walton is a Cricket Australia Level 3 coach, and as the head of coaching for Cricket Mentoring in Victoria, he is currently mentoring a number of cricketers of all ages and abilities in Melbourne. Andrew has previously been Head Coach in Premier Cricket Men’s cricket for a total of 11 seasons [Melbourne CC (3), Prahran CC (4), Fitzroy Doncaster CC (2) and Hawthorn Monash University CC (2)]. He also has international experience through regular annual visits (8) to the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC) in Bangalore and as a guest coach at Middlesex County Cricket Club during the 2014 season. In 2018, Andrew was appointed by Cricket Victoria as Head Coach of the Blind Cricket team for the NCIC and has since been appointed by Cricket Australia as the Assistant Coach of the National Blind Cricket team. Apart from proven ability in teaching skills based activities and methods for players from introductory to elite, Andrew has a high level of ability in the development and education of  leadership, game sense, planning, decision making, adaptability and clear thinking to unlock the potential within players and coaches.

About the author : Andrew Walton

Leave A Comment

Subscribe to newsletter

Insider offers & flash sales in your inbox every week.

Latest videos

Join our mailing list today

Insider offers & flash sales in your inbox every week.

[one_full last="yes" spacing="yes" center_content="no" hide_on_mobile="no" background_color="" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_position="left top" hover_type="none" link="" border_position="all" border_size="0px" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="0px" animation_type="0" animation_direction="down" animation_speed="0.1" animation_offset="" class="" id=""][imageframe lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" style_type="none" hover_type="none" bordercolor="" bordersize="0px" borderradius="0" stylecolor="" align="none" link="" linktarget="_self" animation_type="0" animation_direction="down" animation_speed="0.1" animation_offset="" hide_on_mobile="no" class="" id=""] [/imageframe]

Chris 'Bucky' Rogers batting for Somerset in one of his 554 First-class innings

[/one_full]

I once spoke to a former professional player who became a coach in the professional ranks and asked him whether he would change his technique during the season during his playing career. He responded in the negative.

[one_third last="no" spacing="yes" center_content="no" hide_on_mobile="no" background_color="" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_position="left top" hover_type="none" link="" border_position="all" border_size="0px" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding="" margin_top="30" margin_bottom="" animation_type="0" animation_direction="down" animation_speed="0.1" animation_offset="" class="" id=""][imageframe lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" style_type="none" hover_type="none" bordercolor="" bordersize="0px" borderradius="0" stylecolor="" align="none" link="" linktarget="_self" animation_type="0" animation_direction="down" animation_speed="0.1" animation_offset="" hide_on_mobile="no" class="" id=""] [/imageframe][/one_third][two_third last="yes" spacing="yes" center_content="no" hide_on_mobile="no" background_color="" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_position="left top" hover_type="none" link="" border_position="all" border_size="0px" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding="" margin_top="30" margin_bottom="" animation_type="0" animation_direction="down" animation_speed="0.1" animation_offset="" class="" id=""]

About the writer: Chris 'Bucky' Rogers isn't your typical cricketer. Having toiled away in First-class cricket for over 15 years, he was finally rewarded for years of dominance opening the batting in both Australia & England with selection in the Australian Test team for the 2013 Ashes in England. He went on to play 25 Test matches for Australia where he scored 2,015 runs @ 42.87 including 5 x 100s. With the amazing First-class record of 25,470 runs & 76 centuries, he has now retired from playing and transitioned into coaching, where he currently is the batting coach for Somerset CCC. 

[/two_third]

He said working on technique is for preseason and once he started playing, all that mattered was watching the ball.

That, I’ve discovered, is a very traditional response, handed down from father to son.

I had to stop myself from groaning out loud. “How short-sighted” I wanted to reply. I’m sure he’s not alone and these days, coaches are reluctant to challenge technical issues in young players, preferring the students to figure it out themselves. Perhaps they fear intervention will only create more problems.

NO PRE-SEASON?

What if a player never has a pre-season as, like me, he plays continuously on both sides of the world, where the seasons overlap?

Just once did I have a pre-season in Australia – and that I remember mostly for the agony of running the sand-hills at City Beach in Perth, rather than any working on technique.

Instead I was chasing an endless summer by playing 12 months of the year in England as well as home. “What is a pre-season?” was my standard jibe at teammates.

That meant technical experimentation had to be done on the job – so the standard answer to not work on your game for six months of the year seems like a waste of time and opportunity to me.

Often as a young batsman, you’ll have days when you pick up a bat and it feels like it is a natural extension of your body and other days when it feels like you’re hefting around a railway sleeper.

DAYS WHEN THINGS WEREN'T WORKING

Numerous days in grade cricket and even opening the batting for Western Australia, my swing would feel so awkward I would be trying to adjust almost every ball. I might try picking the bat up higher in my swing, other times move my hands forward in my stance and even change the width of my stance. These were just a very few of many.

In fact what would really confuse me is, somehow I’d last until the lunch break feeling like I couldn’t hit one off the square and then come out after a 40 minute sit down and feel like I was Brian Lara … well not quite but you get the drift.

What it taught me though was to keep trying to get better. I would often think to myself, and now sprout this to every kid possible, one step back to go two steps forward. Working with my dad who was my coach, I’d try all sorts of technical changes and usually, after a while, something would click and it would all fall into place. It would be like hitting at a brick wall and then all of a sudden one thing works and the rest fall over like dominoes.

PROBLEM SOLVING - DON'T GET OUT THE SAME WAY

One of the great advantages of playing in four innings matches is the chance to problem solve as a batsman between the first and second innings. I disliked … no, I hated getting out the same way or to the same bowler in the second innings as I did in the first.

After getting out I would sit down and figure out a way to combat the bowler who dismissed me first time around. It might not have just been a mental change but quite possibly a technical one.

Stuart Clark once dismissed me for a duck with a perfect ball that pitched on off stump line and nipped away but instead of just accepting he’d bowled me a jaffa, I checked out the footage and saw my hands were not coming down straight in my swing pattern and caused everything - my hands and bat - to go towards mid on. So my bat actually was inside the line, hence the ball found my outside edge.

Second innings, my focus was trying to get my hands to go towards mid-off while playing with the inside half of my bat to counter the away movement. Yes I know this is a bit more than ‘Batting 101’ but I only started to understand my own batting by constantly tinkering – even to the extent of working out what doesn’t work, to find out what does.

PLAYING TO COACHING

As I moved from player to become a coach, a surprise first-up piece of advice from other coaches was to be careful about the level of input you try to pass on. Yes, that makes sense and it would be ignorant to not listen to advice from people who have spent a long time coaching. However, it will need to be balanced against my long-held belief that the best players in the world never stop seeking improvement.

My first club-coaching role came via former Australian player and teammate Bob Quiney to help out at his beloved St Kilda Cricket Club, where the players have an average age younger than ever and a thirst for learning.

I was wary of saying too much early, but when one player said, “I’ll do whatever you tell me to do Buck”, my tinkering instincts took over.

“One step back to go two steps forward”, I reasoned.

The first player asked me how to play slow medium pace bowlers as he had nicked off to one the previous Saturday. I told him to be positive and proactive. Walk at the bowler or walk into his line … a la Steve Smith … and whip him through the leg side if the bowler went for the stumps. The next Saturday he was in the same position and ended up, he said, with too much going through his mind and being neither proactive nor defensive. He nicked off again. But he had learnt from his mistake and knew what he’d do the next time and since has had some success.

[imageframe lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" style_type="none" hover_type="none" bordercolor="" bordersize="0px" borderradius="0" stylecolor="" align="none" link="" linktarget="_self" animation_type="0" animation_direction="down" animation_speed="0.1" animation_offset="" hide_on_mobile="no" class="" id=""] [/imageframe]

 Bucky passing on some knowledge during a batting masterclass for Cricket Mentoring in Perth

[separator style_type="none" top_margin="" bottom_margin="" sep_color="" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="" class="" id=""]

INDOOR NETS SYNDROME

Another had what I call ‘indoor nets syndrome’ and had developed a swing where he just jabbed at balls that would race off his bat on the true synthetic surface, but had difficulty with the natural variation of turf wickets. His hands would go towards the leg side in his swing but the ball would slice to cover or more likely the slips. I was wary of trying to reshape his whole swing but then thought “Why not?” I’ll show him what I think works and he can figure the end result out for himself”. He was quite difficult to adjust and we even experimented with grip changes, not something I’d usually recommend.

After an hour’s work he was starting to get the basic principles and enjoying it. He had a far better understanding of a swing after trying something new and that can only benefit him. He can always go back to what he was doing but at least he’d tinkered and thought about it. Afterwards he seemed genuinely excited at the change and the understanding.

Yet there have been plenty of times where my coaching hasn’t worked. I tried to help Peter Siddle with his batting but made it worse. Eventually he figured a few things out himself and is still getting better – so maybe my “one-step-backwards” theory helped!

CHANGE TAKES TIME

With most things, change takes time to feel natural and this principle needs to be stressed and I’m wary of trying to change players into playing like me but sometimes certain things need to be tried.  I’m amazed when I see any tall player stand with his feet close together in his stance when Kevin Pietersen is ‘Example A’ of how to succeed as a tall batsman.

I firmly believe all the best players in the world are tinkerers and never stop trying to improve. Just ask Marcus Trescothick, who at age 41 was still telling everyone how he’s trying to fix things. That and his saying that ‘form hides in mysterious places’ were my two favourite things I got from him.

At the moment the county season has just started and he’s still working on his game plan against different kind of bowling. You’d think he’d have it all sorted by now but no, he’s using every opportunity to improve as we all should.

SUCCEEDING AT THE AGE OF 38

When asking me to write this article, Scolls (Tom Scollay) asked that I write a little about my own journey and how I managed to play well in the 2015 Ashes at age 38.

Like Trescothick, I had a thirst for perfection. Grit and determination was only a part of it. So many years of 12-months-playing of four-day cricket meant I had a very good understanding of my own game, with all its strengths and weaknesses, and to have some success against James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood and Steve Finn in bowler-friendly conditions was only possible with an in depth, intimate knowledge of my swing and my game.

For different bowlers and conditions, I would have different triggers. On the wickets that provided more bounce and seam I would have a back and across trigger while at other times, particularly against Anderson’s swing, I would push forward to try and cover the movement.

This skill only comes from trial and error and experimentation and willingness to learn. If every time I tried something, had initial failure and not persevered, my game would have been very one dimensional and limited.

Growing up I often watched in awe some of the bigger kids who seemed to make batting look easy but then fell away when they had to play against adults who matched them in size and strength. I believe it was because these kids had got it so easy early on, that they hadn’t learned to work at their game to try to understand it better.

ALL THE BEST ARE ALWAYS CHASING IMPROVEMENT

Of course, there are plenty of examples to disprove the mould but of all the best batsmen I have seen, the one consistent attribute they possess is a desire to never be satisfied and to chase improvement.

They tinker to learn … and then comes improvement.

[separator style_type="none" top_margin="" bottom_margin="" sep_color="" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="" class="" id=""][one_full last="yes" spacing="yes" center_content="no" hide_on_mobile="no" background_color="" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_position="left top" hover_type="none" link="" border_position="all" border_size="0px" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding="" margin_top="30" margin_bottom="" animation_type="0" animation_direction="down" animation_speed="0.1" animation_offset="" class="" id=""]

If you enjoy our thoughts and insight into the game then please Subscribe to get our articles straight to your email (keep an eye on your junk mail as they sometimes end up in there).

[/one_full]

Curabitur non nulla sit amet nisl tempus convallis quis ac lectus dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit sed porttitor lectus.