Friday 18 May 2007

Coach or Man Manager?

Last month and a half saw exit of as many as six coaches, all from test playing nations, for varying reasons. With the changing face of cricket, the role of coach has come into focus like never before.

The question is, should we have an omnipresent coach as in football, who runs the show almost by himself, allowing the players to concentrate on the field? Or a traditional cricketing coach to help the players correct their technical flaws? Or a good man manager to compliment a strong leader on the field?

Whatever the combination, it is amply clear by now that coaching requires special skill sets and past reputation as a player hardly matters. In fact, most of the "great players" have been proven failures in their coaching assignments. Bishen Singh Bedi, Javed Miandad, Kapil Dev, Viv Richards -all distinguished players - have tried their hand at coaching with little or no success. Of the lot, Greg Chappell, I thought was best equipped to succeed because of his innovative approach to coaching. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

What about the "great skippers" - a rare breed in test cricket? Frank Worrell, Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell, Clive Lloyd, Imran Khan, Mike Brearley, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh all have preferred to stay away from the rigors of coaching for varying reasons. We can only speculate, but going by their track record, each of these players would have made a good coach.

Finally, those cricketers - who were neither great players, nor great skippers - but have shown themselves as good managers. Most of current coaches fall under this category.

Today’s management gurus make a clear distinction between Managers and Leaders. A layman like me often wondered how these two could co exist exclusive of each other. But try to draw a cricketing analogy and the picture becomes clear.

Men like Imran Khan, Clive Lloyd and Ian Chappell were good leaders who rallied their teammates by their own performance and charisma on the filed. Tom Moody, Bob Woolmer, Mike Brearley were good managers who were able to turn players’ talent into performance. And blessed were Frank Worrell and Richie Benaud, good leaders as well as managers.

It is pertinent that today’s coach should be a good man manager. Better, if he has a "Degree in People" like Mike Brearley. Great, if he is also a good leader.

It is no coincidence that the best team for last decade and a half has had a potent combination of good leaders in Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting and good managers in Bobby Simpson, Geoff Marsh and John Buchanan.

6 comments:

Nilesh said...

Coaches are surely taking as much or more media attention as cricket ot cricketers now a days.
I dont know if Viv Richards, Sobers, Great Greg himself, Bedi, Sunil, Imran, Minadad or Botham and such ever felt the need of a coach.

Coaches are for training youngsters till they become cricketers. Then, they are quite independant since they have the game in their heads. If you havent matured enough to tackle situations all by yourselves then i hope you better go out of the team and learn the game, which itself is very simple.
'Player' should be a totally different breed than the student. the word professional confuses me, since i thought that the word ' Player' itself meant he understood the game.
Once you are on the Pitch and say you see a couple of wickets falling at the other end you know what you are supposed to do in a one day match or in a given situation in a test match. You dont need a coach to explain.
Thats because you know the game, and you are a 'PLayer'.

Cricket is more about understanding than about being able to dive and take catches, taking brisk runs, or being fit to bowl long spells. As a player you are expected to do that. Cricket is about how you use your skills to win under a given situation. If you need a coach to make u know this , i think you should quit.

Till we dont have REAL CRICKETERS coaches will take most space and attection.

Cricket Guru said...

Nilesh,

I agree, they have made cricket a complicated game. Today we have a separate coach for fielding, batting, bowling etc.

Who knows, in future we may have specialist coaches for slip fielders, point fielders and for those on the outfield! We are not far away from the day when the coaching staff will outnumber the players.

Certainly not the way we would like to watch the game, but I guess we have to move on.

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