The Ashes are gone for England, and while there are still two Tests to come, the recriminations, the dissections will have begun in the halls of the ECB.

Selections, individual performances, behaviour, captaincy, coaching will all be part of the review.

We could spend this whole post on exploring all the numbers that lead to getting a result, or not in England’s case, on all the significant themes such as top order batting, top order partnerships, late order partnerships, scoring shots, bowling strike rates, opening bowling combinations, spin bowling, etc – Australia has England well and truly covered on almost every statistic.

One statistic that is not measured, or at least not quantitatively measured is leadership. In particular, leadership demonstrated by the captain.

Leadership can be discussed in terms of values such as integrity, discipline, taking the road less travelled and hard work.

Leadership can also be discussed by the translation of these values into daily actions and behaviours which show the team what are the standards that are expected of everyone.

In a contest such as the Ashes, there are few more inspiring acts for the team than the captain leading from the front. And conversely from the opposition dressing room, there is nothing more demoralising for the opposing captain to be ‘out-led’.

Steve Smith through his dominance on the field has inspired his teammates. He has given them the confidence that they can achieve something special in this Ashes series.

Joe Root on the other hand has demanded a ruthlessness approach from his batsmen and bowlers – yet, he has not delivered himself.

He has wanted his team to not just play well in periods of the game, but throughout the game – yet, he has not delivered himself.

Captaincy and leadership is hard to define and therefore hard to measure.

However, if we suggest that one aspect of being a good leader and captain of a cricket team is being able to ‘lead from the front’ or ‘lead by example’, then Krishna Tunga has looked at recent captains of England and Australia, and what the averages show once they were appointed captain, compared with when they were a player.

The table below shows averages and includes centuries as well –

 

England’s Captaincy(Bat Avg and centuries)
Captains Tests-Won Success rate All Tests as captain Won Lost
MP Vaughan 51-26 50.98% 36.02 (9) 38.19(4) 23.81(1)
A Flintoff(Bat) 11-2 18.18% 33.23(0) 37.66(0) 28.92(0)
A Flintoff(Bowl) 34.44 (bowl) (0) 20.00(0) (bowl) 35.68(0) (bowl)
AJ Strauss 50-24 48.00% 40.76(9) 51.14(4) 18.63(0)
AN Cook 59-24 40.68% 46.57(12) 57.63(7) 38.00(2)
JE Root 10-5 50.00% 50.27(2) 64.00(2) 39.30(0)
Australia’s Captaincy (Bat Avg and centuries)
Captains Tests-Won Success rate All Tests as captain Won Lost
SR Waugh 57-41 71.93 % 52.30(15) 55.34(11) 55.06(4)
RT Ponting 77-48 62.34% 51.51(15) 59.12(14) 29.06(1)
MJ Clarke 47-24 51.06% 51.92(14) 61.05(8) 26.21(2)
SPD Smith 29-16 55.17% 74.00(14) 87.68(8) 37.93(2)

 

 

As a Player
England Before Captaincy Post Captaincy As a player Total Career
MP Vaughan 50.98(9) None 50.98(9) 41.44(18)
A Flintoff(Bat) 32.36(5) 27.28(0) 31.66(5) 31.89(5)
A Flintoff(Bowl) 31.51(bowl) 38.00(bowl) 31.51(bowl) 32.78(bowl)(3)
AJ Strauss* 42.37(10)          42.63(2) 41.04(12) 40.91(21)
AN Cook* 42.65(10 ) 53.71(18) & 34.47(1) 44.88(19) 45.57(31)
JE Root 52.80(11) Not yet 52.80(11) 52.37(13)
·      Both Strauss and Cook had 2 different period of captaincy
As a Player
Australia Before Captaincy Post captaincy As a player Total Career
SR Waugh 50.44(17) None 50.44(17) 51.06(32)
RT Ponting 55.97 (20) 38.00(2) 52.18(22) 51.85(41)
MJ Clarke 46.97(14) None 46.97(14) 49.10(28)
SPD Smith 51.83(8) Not yet 51.83(8) 62.32(22)

 

Points to note are –

  • All Australian captains apart from Ricky Ponting increased their career batting average during their time as captain
  • Steve Smith at the time of writing has significantly increased his career average during his captaincy
  • For English captains, their career averages were reduced due to their batting average whilst captain, apart from Alastair Cook and Joe Root
  • Joe Root’s current average this series is 176 runs @ 29.33 with 2 x 50’s

For England to improve their team performances through the final two Tests, Joe Root needs to score at least one century in the 1st innings of a Test, preferably both, and have a batting average at or beyond his career average of 52!

Lead by example Joe!

 

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The specific vagaries of night pink ball cricket made the 2nd Ashes Test in Adelaide an absorbing contest for a period of the game.

It was symptomatic of England’s 1st Test loss as well – a few good periods amongst many others which consigned them to running second in each match:

  • The tour has some similarities to our Ashes loss to England in 2005: – Each team had its strengths and vulnerabilities.
  • Like this England team, we had a young captain in Ricky Ponting, touring England as captain of his first Ashes campaign.
  • We had had a low-key build-up to the 1st Test at Lords, and certainly not dominating the lead-in games and tournaments as would have been expected of a team that could assert itself through the series.
  • And we had some off-field and internal problems that festered throughout the tour. Unseen in most cases, but nonetheless, fractious and debilitating for the group as we were being stress tested every day as the tour marched along.

One of the main differences was that all we could see was RED.

England in the 2017-18 Ashes are not only seeing RED, but also have been required to see PINK too.

Now we can argue that both sides have had to make those adjustments and Australia did it better. I am not about to get into that debate.

Apart from saying that I could not see what all the Hoo-Ha was about concerning Steve Smith’s declaration, although it does point directly at the root (no pun intended here) of this article.

Steve Smith chose to give his 3 pronged fast bowling attack a rest after what they had been through in Brisbane, as well as an eye to the remainder of the series. He then backed his batsmen to bat England out of the game.

The fact that England played very well in that night session and then for the majority of the next day is not something that should not happen – England are allowed to play well!!

But back to the root of the article.

Pink ball Test cricket is the new format of the game. It is the 4th format behind red ball Test cricket and white ball ODI’s and T20.

The old game now has 2 forms of long cricket and 2 forms of short form cricket. Whether administrators can manage these forms properly and get the balance right is a wait and see proposition.

But importantly what cricket administrators, players, coaches, umpires and media must recognise is that the day/night pink ball format is different to the red ball game – do not mix them, or risk throwing history, traditions, statistics of Test cricket away, being more and more at the mercy of commercial.

The pink ball Test has a place as Adelaide has demonstrated, but it is not for every country, not for every Test series, and not for a whole Test series.

Other countries have experimented with dubious success. England’s one off Test was a disaster due to bleak and cold weather, inducing bowler friendly conditions. Anderson and Broad would have been huge supporters though…

 

Back to everyone clamouring about Smith’s decision to bat in night conditions. The reason for the outcry was that conditions at night, especially when starting an innings, are completely different to daytime.

Yes conditions change over 5 days of a red ball Test match which makes for the beauty of the game.

But there is little predictability of what these conditions will be from day 1 to day 5.

In pink ball Test cricket, it is predictable that each night, the conditions will be different to the day, no matter what the day. With predictability comes significant influence over decision-making and how a game unfolds – especially as it seems, what you want to be doing during night time.

The whole biorhythms of the players, coaches, umpires have to quickly adapt and change from starting play at 10.30am as opposed to 2.30pm. It is like playing with a bad case of jetlag.

So beyond some of the obvious, do the numbers support the case for the pink ball Test match being seen as totally separate from the traditional red ball Tests?

In his recent very interesting post, Indian cricket analyst, Krishna Tunga examines the pink ball game verses the red ball game a little more closely http://allthatcricket.com/498-ashes-2017/, looking at Adelaide since 2010 when playing red ball Tests verses the 3 day/night pink ball Tests.

 

The many facts he produces clearly demonstrate that the pink ball game is a different game to the red ball Test match:

  • There have been 4 innings under 250 runs in the 3 pink ball Tests compared with only 2 innings in 5 Tests under red ball conditions
  • The overall Australian batting average has been 23.3 in pink ball games compared with 35.8 in the traditional Tests
  • The average number of balls faced by batsmen before a wicket is lost stands at 45.8 for pink ball matches, while for the red ball, the average is 71.5

 

If we look at current Australian players batting and bowling data, it adds further weight to the significant difference between the two formats of long game cricket:

Name Pink ball average Red ball average
Batting
Warner 24.9 64.4
Smith 50.6 72.8
Khawaja 49.3 58.7
S Marsh 65.3 36.4
Bowling
Starc 20.8 30.9
Hazlewood 23.4 27.2
Lyons 29.2 34.2
Cummins 28.7 26.3

 

The purpose of this post is not to argue one format over the other.

leadership coaching peak performanceWhat this post seeks to achieve is that cricket now has a 4th form of the game – pink ball Test cricket.

It will not be played regularly due to a host of climatic, geographical, financial and scheduling issues.

But when it is, do not try to compare it with Red Ball cricket – because red and pink are different, and should not be mixed.

 

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Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull celebrated the re-election of Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce this week by saying they have the old team back together again.

However, just the week before there was little cause for celebration as Deputy Premier of New South Wales and National Party leader in that State, John Barilaro called for Malcolm Turnbull to step down from the role.

He believed Mr Turnbull was not the leader the NLP coalition needed nor the country required, to lead its members and voters into a better future.

This was like Shane Warne speaking publicly about the role of the coach being simply to get the team from point A to point B when he was a member of the Australian Cricket team. Although he did say at the time, his comments were taken out of context.

In the PM’s case, a member of the LNP team, somewhat more “obscure”, according to George Brandis, than Warnie was to the Australian cricket team and public, spoke to an eager media personality, Alan Jones about the need for change at the top.

While this incident is specific to the LNP, there are numerous like events over the past 12 months and longer that signal this type of occurrence is endemic in all political parties.

As a voter and taxpayer, I expect those who have been elected to run the country or the State or to lead their respective parties to deliver on promises, to live up to expectations, and operate like a peak performing team.

I do not see this from any side of politics and have not for some years now.

In my experience, a peak performing team will:

  • get results, and sustain these results over a long period of time
  • demonstrate strong leadership throughout the team
  • have leaders who stick to their values and principles which will put them at odds with people inside the team, and stakeholders out side the team
  • include game changers and match winners like a Shane Warne, but who, when stepping outside team boundaries, are quickly pulled into line by his peers and the agreed team standards
  • constantly seek to improve as individuals while collectively in pursuit of excellence

So in this current case of John Barilaro, the LNP if operating as a peak performance team would:

  1. Bring the PM, deputy PM, premier of NSW and relevant senior leaders of the LNP together to clearly understand:
    • Why the event occurred
    • How this issue should be handled internally now, and in the potential future
  1. Deliver a strong public message about what had happened, and what will be happening in the future
  2. John Barilaro to support this message and demonstrate his passion for his electorate, his State and country through his actions and behaviours

The Australian public simply want their parliamentary leaders to get on with doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. This means not being distracted by poor leadership and decision making to enable delivery of what Australians cherish about this country – security, health, jobs and the lifestyle that they support, climate, freedom, community pride, opportunity and mateships.

The two P’s, political parties and peak performance currently sit at either ends of a continuum.

We are looking to our leaders, especially our political leaders, to accelerate the alignment of the two P’s in order to provide this wonderful country, a future that is exciting and full of real prospects.

 

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