Mobilise the Set plays – the actions and behaviours that drive culture, change, outcomes and peak performance…

On Friday 19th January I was invited to speak to ABC radio Brisbane about firstly, being more successful than 2017, and then, how can the Brisbane team continue to build upon that success.

What a wonderful opportunity to be able to speak with all those who bring us the news, the sport, the local human interest stories – but most importantly, radio has the capacity to help sculpt the structure of our day as well as weave the emotional fabric which colours every moment of our day.

I was encouraged by conversations I had had with Acting Station Manager, Rob Mailer and his 2-IC, Halina Baczkowski Content Director – not only was there change afoot in terms of programming and teams that would lead these changes: but also management and the station recognized they need to think and operate differently too.


I provided my workbook, What’s your Everest – team for the whole group to consider what peak performance is and how to begin to set it in place for 2018.

We bunkered down in a first floor room of the State Library.

The day very much reminded me of my first meeting as Head Coach of the Australian Cricket team November 4th, in a small room at our team hotel, prior to the commencement of the 1999-2000 season.


It was a new season, new coach, new team with some old heads, some younger players and couple of debutants in Gilchrist and Muller.

The message was that we were going on a journey to Everest together and that by the time we had completed our journey together, our vision was to have changed the game, and possibly be accorded a label, in a similar way to the recognition of the feats of Don Bradman’s 1948 undefeated tour of England – THE INVINCIBLES.


So my first question to the gathered staff was what was the vision for ABC Brisbane Radio?

Vision, values and sacrificial acts form Base Camp for What’s your Everest – team.

The ABC organisation has as its vision to be the “independent source of Australian conversations, culture and stories” – but how is that translated for impact and meaning for Brisbane?

The ABC organisation has a series of Leadership principles with behaviours that demonstrate these principles. It also provides an ‘investing in audience strategy’ to help structure an overall approach to delivering the vision.

If ‘team ABC Brisbane radio’ had done their homework, then they would understand that getting Base Camp right inspires strategy, the Game Plan.


I was not disappointed as there were a number of questions.

Emma Griffiths wanted to know more about sacrificial acts.

Before I could explain, Kelly Higgins-Divine had already jumped in with some very good examples of how this works, or could work within the station.

We continued to explore the Everest model where the Game Plan mobilises the Set plays – the actions and behaviours that drive culture, change, outcomes and peak performance.

At this point, Steve Austin chimed in with a question about an interview he had done with me in 2002 when I was Australian Coach. He recalled asking me about having SK Warne read poetry – what was that all about?!


As I explained, one of my ‘set plays’ was always about challenging each individual to be better not only on the field; but also in less comfortable environments, taking them outside the security and familiarity of the dressing room.

With Set Plays in place, this gives the individual, leader or team the opportunity to ignite results and ultimately peak performance.

However to sustain peak performance, to dominate your market place as the Australian cricket team had done for some 8-10 years around the world, Brisbane Radio need to understand what is success.


Station manager, Rob Mailer was quick to acknowledge that if ABC Brisbane Radio is to change, then it needs other measures of success to complement those based on ratings, budgets, staff engagement and so on – what will these be…?

What Rob is wanting to do is not much different to what I was wanting to do with the Australian Cricket team in 1999.

He has a new opening combination leading the ABC Radio team in the morning. He has a changed top order, middle order and late order – all seeking to perform at their best from the first day of competition.

Rob and the team understand that they cannot hide from the traditional numbers that are used to judge success in the media.

Just like a head coach.


You need to win games to remain in the position, and not to feel constantly under siege by the various stakeholders who can make life difficult for the leader or coach.

Some early wins will be important for the Brisbane ABC radio to settle the reorganised team.

However, it is critical to understand the process of achieving results as these become the success measures that drive peak performance.

From my short time with all the people who attended on Friday, it seemed to me all the ingredients are there. Good and talented staff, a good culture which is open to change and constant improvement, and a leadership willing to change for success, not for the sake of making change.

They are beginning the climb to their “EVEREST”


As the saying goes, Stay tuned………


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Plenty of cause for celebration at the SCG early afternoon of Monday 8th January as Australia wrapped up the Ashes 4-0.

Pat Cummins Man of the Match and Steve Smith very deservedly, Man of the Series.

Lyon could have been a worthy recipient of the bowler most likely to make a needed breakthrough, especially if Moeen Ali was at the crease.

The New South Wales quartet of bowlers Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon have achieved the rare distinction of taking all 20 wickets in each of the 5 Tests.

Selectors or selections of Sean and Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine and Usman Khawaja have all been vindicated as the team basks in the glory of the Ashes triumph.

It is good to see a resurgence of Australian Test cricket; however, as Steve Smith pointed out in post series interviews there is still a long way to travel for this team if it is to be seriously regarded as a team verging on peak performance – that is, it can win anywhere, home or away, over a long period of time.

Looking at the numbers below from 2017 (, Australian Test cricket has a lot to do – despite the current Ashes win.

leadership coaching peak performance

Some of the mountains to climb on the way to peak performance, for which we will have a real measure by the time Australia returns to England to defend the Ashes in June 2019, will be –

  • Becoming the dominant peak performance team in world cricket after this was the first Ashes series since 1984 that each Test went to day 5.
  • Increasing the winning % Of Tests compared with 2017 results (see table below provided by
  • Like all the leading Test teams, Australia plays well at home, but cannot repeat these results overseas
  • Improving the winning margins (see table below provided by
  • When Australia wins, it generally wins well – meaning it gets on a roll, and is hard to stop
  • Can Australia learn a way to grind out close fought wins especially overseas?
  • in March 2018, overcoming South Africa whose Test results for 2017 are similar to Australia – the coming series will be a very good gauge of the progress this Australian team is making

leadership coaching peak performance

With Joe Root mentally and physically drained after the Ashes, it will be interesting to see how the ODI format will regenerate the winning ways that England have developed over the past 12 months as the data suggests – see short form tables below provided by

  • England should enter the short format series verses Australia as favourites if 2017 results are the best indicator
  • The ECB have described Trevor Bayliss’ role as Head Coach – firstly improve the results of England’s short form team with the silverware of World Cups the primary measure
  • Australian selections have attracted some attention again with the mantra of ‘..doing well in domestic competitions in order to gain selection in Australian teams….’ being a repetitive soundbite. However, it would seem there are contradictory messages for some being excluded and some being included. Opinions vary, but as I have reiterated a number of times, the current selection system is archaic and wasteful of resources which could be better directed for the longterm benefit of the game.

Peak performance is not accorded to any team or organisation on the back of one or two results. It is earned over a sustained period of time against many circumstances which are not favourable.

Boof Lehmann and Steve Smith are well aware of what needs to be done, and how this can best be achieved.

There are good signs from this current Ashes result.

Hopefully the short form format will continue to build upon the baggy green efforts.


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*All data supplied from


How does one judge Australia’s Test performance of 2017?

There are many ways in which to do this, but principally it is about team results and individual results.

This blog will address the INDIVIDUAL perspective.

I am also concerned with indicators of performance which are not simply due to the number of games or innings a player has played through the year, but I am more concerned with their respective contribution indicator (see red columns) as well as their effectiveness indicator (see blue columns).


I was also interested to look at international comparisons for Test cricket in 2017 –

  • batsmen who have scored over 1000 runs
  • bowlers who have taken over 50 wickets

Unfortunately after all the analysis that is undertaken by statisticians around the world, and the way broadcasters provide viewing of the game, FIELDING analysis cannot be provided with any accuracy or meaning.

From a global comparative batting perspective Virat Kohli just heads Steve Smith in terms of effectiveness, scoring on average a touch over 66 runs each time at bat, whereas Steve Smith is scoring about 1 run less per innings.

However, Steve Smith’s team contribution is significantly better than Kohli in that while Steve Smith is at the crease, he is involved in, on average 134 runs being scored. However, the master batsman on the world stage at the moment is Chet Pujara with a touch over 148 runs being scored while he is at the crease each innings.

From an Australian perspective, the numbers show that Australian top order batsmen, other than Steve Smith, are not scoring effectively and not providing strong contributions for the team.

There are a range of factors contributing to these outcomes:

  1. Lack of technical and mental adjustment to foreign conditions – solution, spend time there
  2. Insufficient time spent in these conditions, pre-tour and during tours – solution, adjust schedules to include extra games
  3. Lack of skill technique when facing a ball that deviates, either swing or spin – solution, building 1) and 2) above
  4. ‘Revolving door’ selection that is unforgiving for new players or young players in order that they can settle into an international environment – solution, head coach to run the program and use State Coaches and assistant coaches as talent scouts

It is of note that two Indian players feature in both batting & bowling top 5 rankings!

When looking at the global comparative bowling, Nathan Lyon, like Steve Smith stands head and shoulders above his teammates, and at the same time, is one of the best in the world. His contribution of over 3 wickets per innings is by far the best of any player in the world; while his strike rate is very good at 52 balls per wicket.

Australia has banked on its pace pronged attack which reaps dividends when wickets have some pace and bounce, and opposition batsmen are uncomfortable with this type of strategy. But as we have seen in the recent Boxing Day Test, the potency of the attack can become quite mundane with the loss of Starc, and more importantly, a wicket that gave England batsmen confidence that they were not going to be troubled by bounce.

Agar has been included into the 5th Test. But on figures alone which selectors are constantly seeking, O’Keefe on his familiar Sydney Cricket ground pitch, would seem to have a strong case to argue – this would have been the case had he not broken a bone in his leg during last night’s BBL clash.

If Australia is to continue with its pace bowling strategy, it would seem that each bowler needs to improve their contribution as well as their effectiveness if Australia is to move its way up the Test rankings, and maintain top position.

Some of the factors that will help are:

  1. Reduced use of ‘rotation’ policy for quick bowlers
  2. Increased amount of bowling for all quick bowlers from grade cricket through to representative ranks
  3. Sports science to provide information, final decisions to be made between coach and athlete
  4. Final selections to be made by Coach, and reduce or abandon the role of traditional selectors

The next blog will look at the Australian team results throughout the year as well as a wrap on the Ashes series and preview to the ODI and T20 series.


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