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.

 

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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.

 

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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 (www.allthatcricket.com), 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 allthatcricket.com)
  • 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 allthatcricket.com)
  • 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 www.allthatcricket.com

  • 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 allthatcricket.com

 

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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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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