Zilla Efrat speaks to John Buchanan about the importance of good governance in sports.

 

For players and spectators alike the results on the sporting pitch are what get the most attention. We often credit (or blame) those results solely on the preparation of the athletes and the strategies of the coaches. Less visible — but just as important — is the work behind the scenes, of board members, lower-level employees (in professional sport) and volunteers.

I’ve seen the inside of a lot of different governance structures — from national peak sporting bodies to grassroots sporting clubs — and the best of them share a few characteristics.

 

  1. Today’s leaders are fostering tomorrow’s leaders

The board is actively aware that turnover is natural in any organisation — they are keen to bring in new people and help them grow into leadership positions. A strong governance structure guides volunteers and provides a pathway to higher-level positions

I recently visited a small regional cricket club, where the club president, who has been in the role for over 20 years (since his children were first involved) told me he wants to step down. However, he cannot find any younger people keen to take on smaller roles and tasks within the club — so that they could, in a few years, be part of a succession plan.

This is a challenge, in part, of volunteerism. Volunteers are the life-blood of Australian sport; obviously, there would be no clubs without them. Structured leadership helps volunteers move into higher levels within a club. With sports administration changing rapidly, volunteers who understand proper practice, current legislation and regulation, leadership and good governance as best practice are well positioned for success.

 

  1. Checks and balances kerb white-line fever

Some people who come to the boards of our various sports organisations are attracted by a love of the game and the desire to improve the sport. However, once they get involved with the club, they seem to leave the business acumen they’ve gained in their professional lives at the door. The emotion and passion for the sport interferes with their ability to make consistently good objective decisions.

While passion is crucial in sport, it sometimes gets the better of our decision-making. A well-constructed governance system will help guide a board to good decisions even when white-line fever hits.

 

  1. Everyone’s time is respected

As time has become a more precious commodity those involved with sport have less time to spend doing their jobs and preparing for the complexity of the role. Having a sound governance foundation makes a world of difference in the efficiency of board and club functions.

Good governance aids in running meetings smoothly, with decisions being made once, and clear lines of authority over financial and legal matters drawn — all of which contribute to a lesser demand on the time of board members and volunteers and help reduce the risks of poor decision making.

 

Want to improve your governance knowledge and better support your club?

If you are interested in gaining more proficiency in sports governance, I encourage you to check out Governance Institute of Australia and etrainu’s Working in sports essentials, an on-line training program supporting anyone who needs to understand sports governance, from the grassroots to the boardroom.

 

…fill out the form below to get your free e-booklet with tips to help you unlock the full potential in yourself & your team ↓

The Australian ODI team has lost its way.

Coming off an Ashes series in which the Aussies dominated England, the old foe has hit back hard in the limited overs format.

Indeed when compared to the English side, Steve Smith’s team is clearly in a developmental phase, and certainly cannot be considered a powerhouse in the 50-over form of the game.

A quick glance at Australia’s ODI results since their 2015 World Cup triumph paints an alarming picture.

Statistics prepared by Krishna Tunga at allthatcricket.com detail the Aussies’ demise.

Post the 2015 World Cup Australia has won just 49% of their ODI matches, and that percentage drops markedly post January 2017, to just 30%.

In contrast, England has won 65.5% of ODIs since the 2015 World Cup, and has increased their win percentage to 76% since January 2017.

A look further into the stats from the past 12 months shows that England’s win percentage when they bat second sits at a whopping 90%, while the Aussies have shown a paltry return of just 20%.

The recent Tri-series T20 results between Australia, England and NZ have redressed some of the lost mojo; however, I believe these T20 results are a combination of –

  • The BBL has helped craft Australian players to this new format, second only to IPL
  • All of the new players drafted into the Australian T20 team have come directly from the current BBL competition, meaning that these individuals have been operating in T20 mode for some time
  • And as England did from Ashes to ODI, Australia has followed suit in T20, with leadership changes and key personnel changes, more suited to the new format at the time of the series
leadership coaching peak performance

So what’s the difference between the two sides?

During the post-World Cup period England has changed captains, they’ve brought in a group of specialist ODI players, and their support staff is better in tune with the requirements of ODI cricket.

The Australian team, its selections and how it is being prepared are transitioning from the long format to ODI cricket.

Such an approach influences the type of game that is being played and the type of players that deliver this game style.

Therefore the technical, mental and tactical skills are drawn broadly from the Test cricket arena .

Australian cricket needs to come to grip with the fact that the future of the game will be the reverse.

T20 cricket will be the major building block to playing all forms of cricket into the future.

So rather than players, coaches, selectors adjusting, modifying and altering their games and game skills from longform (Tests) to shortform (ODI), the future game will require the reverse – adjusting from shortform (T20), and using ODI cricket as the key transition format into the longform game (Test, red and pink)

I’m not for a moment suggesting that Steve Smith should be replaced as captain, but the Australian setup would do well to go back to defining the basics of T20 cricket.

Smith and Coach Darren Lehmann should take a look at the strategies and set plays that bring success to leading T20 and ODI teams currently if they want to return to being the dominant cricket team across all formats of the game, in all countries.

Some of the basics that England, as well as others have been showing are –

  • Batsmen like Buttler, Roy, Hales, Morgan, Billings, Ali and so on bat with a ‘contempt’ of the bowlers. They are audacious (too much so at times) because they have an incredible array of shots to balls that are normally recorded as good deliveries by bowlers and expert commentators. Their use of wrists enables them to get the bat into position to make powerful contact with the ball.
  • Indian batsmen are similar led by Kohli, Dharwan, Rahane, Pandya et al
  • From a fast bowler’s perspective, it is no longer good enough to have 2 or 3 variety balls as batters games have advanced far beyond the bowling skills of the game, and the rules which definitely favour batting
  • Andrew Tye is the archetypal bowler of the future. He has enough pace when he chooses to use this variety ball. Otherwise no two balls appear to be the same.
  • Fielding acrobatics that were displayed in a recent BBL game between Jake Weatherall and Ben Laughlin are becoming increasingly more regular

They seem simple fixes, but they don’t call it “getting back to basics” for nothing.

Regaining the mojo is as much about getting the basics right for today’s game, as it is about preparing for the future of the game.

 

…fill out the form below to get your free e-booklet with tips to help you unlock the full potential in yourself & your team ↓

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………

 

…fill out the form below to get your free e-booklet with tips to help you unlock the full potential in yourself & your team ↓

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.

 

…fill out the form below to get your free e-booklet with tips to help you unlock the full potential in yourself & your team ↓

It is a quick turnaround from the red ball Test format of the Gabba to the pink ball, the second form of Test cricket, in Adelaide.

If this is not a difficult task in itself, England’s plans for the series have been dealt a serious blow in Brisbane.

Add a touch of Bairstow bar-room humour using a headbutt rather than a handshake as a greeting card, and England have some head banging, or at least scratching to do before Day 1 at the SACA.

The obvious conclusions to draw from the 1st Test are –

  1. England’s game strategy of wearing down the three-pronged Australian attack so that runs could be plundered as the match wore on, were undone firstly by Lyon who took partnership breaking wickets at the right time.
  2. Secondly, by a timid batting display in the second innings, and especially by their tail
  3. Thirdly by Alastair Cook who is pivotal to the English game plan of subduing Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins such that they are physically spent by the time they reach Perth.
  4. The Smith factor has already shown that he will lead from the front with the bat, and control the game for as long as he remains at the crease
  5. The Smith-Cummins partnership brought the English 1st innings total to account, albeit at one time it seemed 50 to 100 runs short; then tantalisingly, looked like it may produce a lead of 50 to 100; to be finally shown to be inadequate
  6. This partnership highlighted the huge reliance England have on Anderson and Broad as Woakes, Ball and Ali could not produce enough consistency of spells to support the old opening pair.

To support these conclusions, I have included the analysis from Krishna Tunga: http://allthatcricket.com/496-gabba/

Draw your own conclusions from the numbers but look carefully at these sections which demonstrate the key differences between the teams, resulting in the thumping that England received in the First Test:

  • Role play
  • Scoring rates of the first 3 batting partnerships (and behind the data sits another telling statistic of balls faced per wicket lost by the top 6 batters in each team)
  • Bowlers spells, and bowling partnerships show the penetration achieved by Australia’s 4 bowlers compared with Root desperately searching beyond Anderson & Broad for breakthroughs

So the answer for them is simple – reverse all these points above to put themselves in a position to win the Second Test.

However, for them the key is not to go into any panic mode, or reactive selections, or change in game plans. Trevor Bayliss, the coach is smart enough to realise this.

It is whether he can convince the disbelievers, of which there will be a couple inside the English dressing rooms right now who have severe doubts of their individual and collective abilities to combat Australia.

England will also need to ride the luck that the change of conditions that the second form of Test cricket brings due to the pink ball, new biorhythms and night cricket.

If England go 2-0 down after Adelaide, the whitewash ghosts of 2006-07 and 2013-14 will haunt the English team – more than the occasional headbutt!

 

…fill out the form below to get your free e-booklet with tips to help you unlock the full potential in yourself & your team ↓

 

WOMENS’ ASHES BURNING, WHILE THE MENS’ COMES ALIGHT?

The womens’ Ashes have burned, while the mens’ is about to come alight!

Contrasting styles, formats and controversies could best sum up the dual series.

The womens’ Ashes are being played on cricket grounds allowing spectators to enjoy the skills on offer viewing from grassy mounds and hills.

The game is almost played at a ‘pace’ that was the male version prior to the advent of ODI cricket.

This is in no way to disparage the contest between both women’s national teams of Australia and England. It is a comment that reflects upon the ‘good old days’ of cricket.

The games were played with uncomplicated skill. There was tough competition, but any ill-feeling between the teams (if it existed at all) was not seen or heard. The media attention was paid to the cricket and the players’ delivery of performance – not any side issues or controversies. And the spectatorship was relaxed, calm and enthused.

For a more detailed analysis of the women’s Ashes prior to the three T20 matches, take a look at http://allthatcricket.com/494-ashes-womens-test-cricket/

 

In stark contrast, the men’s Ashes have been set alight by the selection of the Australian team.

England have hardly been sighted or at least followed in their build-up – partly due to whom they have been playing and where; but mainly due to the microscope that has been placed on the Australian team, and those who have conjured up the starting XII, the selectors.

I have already posted my views about a selection panel being a relic of the past, so I will confine my commentary to what is, not what should be.

So to the real contrast between both Ashes campaigns…

 

PRODUCING PEAK PERFORMANCE: THE 4 C’s

My experience has shown me that to produce peak performance or at least, results which are trending to peak performance, then the 4 C’s are very important –

  • Consistency
  • Continuity
  • Combinations and
  • Communication
Consistency

This principle refers to consistency of message delivered through consistency of selection policy. For those who are selected into teams, then it is essential that they satisfy on the majority of counts that he or she meets key criteria of selection. More importantly, those that miss selection must clearly understand why they do not satisfy the selection criteria and what needs to be done to correct the specific criteria lacking.

 

Continuity

Wherever possible maintain continuity of athletes within a team or squad. In so doing, great rapport and team culture can be developed within the group. A team can move to maturity and self-regulation if there is not ‘turnstile selection’, players and staff coming and going. In teams where positions in the team are uncertain, most people protect themselves first, and team values are of little relevance. There is poor leadership culture as trust has been significantly diminished.

Since the South African series in November 2016, the Australian team has played 4 series, 12 Tests with 23 players, and now an additional 2 new faces at the beginning of this Ashes series. They lost 2 series, won one, drew one, with a Test win/loss record of 6/5.

In 11 series prior since Dec 2014, 34 Tests Australia used 24 players of which 6 retired; winning 5 series losing 2; and Test win/loss ratio of 12/6

Unless injury or retirement is forced upon the selection process, should any change to a team selection not indicate the selection process was wrong in the first place? Who carries the burden – player or selector or both?

 

Combinations

The longer people play together the more they understand each other’s game, and therefore the more help/coaching they can provide. Opening batsmen need a good combination to weather opening attacks through running between wickets, rotating strike for one another when a partner is having trouble, working as a pair to mentally combat the opposition. This can work throughout the order.

Other combinations that are critical are keeper to bowlers, and especially spin bowlers; 1st slip and keeper as well as slips cordon; fast bowling unit; and so on.

To keep interfering with combinations being established, reduces the effectiveness of team play and fosters individualism, poor team culture, and ultimately inconsistent to poor results.

 

Communication

If the selection policy is clear, then it can be easily communicated and understood by those within the group and outside the group. There are very few people that are ever unhappy about being selected. So where communication can play a significant role is to clearly communicate to those who are on the fringes of selection what they must do to give themselves best chances of selection. Equally, these communications must also be with coaches of the fringe dwellers so that they are aware of what is required.

Communication is often compromised by too many voices or channels that are part of the messages to be delivered. Reducing the clutter of people and noise, providing clearly understood criteria and sticking to policy all help the communication.

There will be on occasions, situations which fall outside the ‘guidelines’ such as the ‘cultural fit’ or the character of a person within the group; or the fast tracking of a person into or back into the team environment. These will be the occasional case and should be treated as such, and communicated accordingly.

However, like all forecasting and predictions the proof is in the eating.

 

HOW WILL AUSTRALIA WIN THE ASHES?

I think Australia will prove too strong on home soil for England.

England will rely on the savvy of Australian coach, Trevor Bayliss; a swinging ball new and old, delivered by Anderson with support acts Broad & Woakes; a top order that can deal with the menace of Australia’s quicks and the guile of Lyon to allow Joe Root and his well performed middle order of recent series, albeit lacking their most potent weapon Ben Stokes, to score the necessary amount of runs.

Australia on the other hand go into the series with the best pace attack assembled for many years – brilliantly supported by one of the world’s best spinners in Nathan Lyon. However, the Achilles heal to this strategy is that the quicks need rest throughout games and over the extent of the series. There is no allrounder like Shane Watson to shoulder 10-15 overs a game or an innings due to quality of players available, and the worry Australia has with its top and middle order batting. If Warner, Bancroft, Khawaja can combat the swinging ball effectively, then Australia’s batting should thrive and allow Australia to take the Ashes comfortably.

 

…fill out the form below to get your free e-booklet with tips to help you unlock the full potential in yourself & your team ↓