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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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!

 

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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.

 

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Rekindle’s success on Tuesday 7th November was not just a success for all the parties that had something to do with the historic win, but it was also a celebration of how an event, something special in the Australian calendar, can bring most people of the nation together.

On Saturday at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we were again brought to a literal standstill as we remembered those who died for this country in World War 1, and who have in previous and subsequent wars, given their lives to protect ours.

These events in our nation’s history speak to different human emotions – one of joy, one of horrific tragedy.

But both speak to similar outcomes where most Australians come together in a collaborative, supportive manner, connecting and communicating closely.

 

Such collaborative behaviour seems uncommon these days in a world that on the one hand appears to be increasingly connected through the technologies of Facebook, Google and IoT. On the other hand, people are becoming more disconnected, isolated in their own communities due to the increasingly uneven distribution of wealth; through the activities of political and religious extremists; and through the busy-ness of everyday life which demands more self-attention than loving thy neighbour.

Even in the “do-good” organisations such as not-for-profits and charities, these groups seem more intent on building separate bureaucracies rather than collaborate with others formed on similar missions and goals. Look at the number of organisations which are all trying to help find and fund ways to support people with cancer and their immediate families.

My work over the last couple of weeks with Boggabri Coal, Queensland Public Service Commission, Glencore, Moreton Bay Regional Development Association, and Victorian Leaders have in their different ways concerned themselves with how to nurture, develop and grow more collaboration between people and agencies, as well as collaborative work practices.

 

Respected demographer Bernard Salt recently made the case for coming up with a sexy new moniker or brand for South-East Queensland and unifying all the “fiefdoms” that comprise the region into a more powerful collaborative aggregate. While each region or LGA would retain its current identity, eg Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Darling Downs, etc, they would all sit under the umbrella brand, much the same as Silicon Valley does for its constituents.

Silicon Valley is a nickname for the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay area. The “valley” in its name refers to the Santa Clara Valley in Santa Clara County, which includes the city of San Jose and surrounding cities and towns (Palo Alto, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Saratoga and others) where the region has been traditionally centered. The region has expanded to include the southern half of the peninsula of San Mateo County, and southern portions of the East Bay in Almeda County.

 

In the world of sport this makes complete sense too.

While there are superstars that make up the engines of successful teams; or the coaches who conduct the vision, the game plans, and the game day plays, those that are the most successful, that endure over time, and that are recognised as examples of peak performance, are those where the energies, the skills, the minds, the brands are harnessed into one collaborative unit.

 

So take time to reflect on your week.

Look at the signals that are all around us, every day, about collaboration verses ‘going it alone’.

How do you want to live your life?

What do you want for your neighbourhood, your community, your country?

Rekindle the actions and behaviours that lead to a collaborative future environment.

Your choice…

 

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Conventions in our working lives, our social interactions, family structures, political and religious norms are constantly under challenge and change.

One of these conventions is to do with age, which says that number of years on this earth correlates to knowledge, experience and sometimes, but not always, wisdom.

 

So the older we are, the more likely we will have greater knowledge, experience and wisdom than a younger person.

Convention also seems to dictate that at a certain age relative to each industry and sector, generally around what is considered to be the ‘retirement age’, this knowledge, experience and wisdom is no longer useful as it has passed its ‘use-by’ date.

 

Of course we have met, worked, played sport with people who were young but seemed to have that ‘old head on young shoulders’. As well as, there were older persons who still thought they were “Peter Pan” or “Tinkerbell”, and had never grown up.

But as a consequence, there can never be a fixed rule or unwritten policy that skews favour on age alone.

 

That is why I was interested in the comments of Steve Smith recently regarding a selection decision of Ed Cowan verses Daniel Hughes. If selection was based on results only, one would have little doubt that Ed Cowan’s numbers were superior. If selection was based on experience to perform at the level of the competition, Ed Cowan’s name would still be in front. If the selection was based on CQ, cultural quotient or ‘fit’ within the group, I cannot offer comment – but at the same time, those involved in selection have not either. So one can assume this is not the reason for Daniel Hughes’ selection.

 

The article suggested ‘potential’ was the reason for Daniel being elevated into the starting XI. While every player has ‘potential’, as very few, if any, have reached their ‘potential’, the younger the player the more ‘potential’ they are perceived to have.

So the conclusion that most people would reach is that age was the determinant of this selection.

 

I have seen this worrying trend in cricket and many sports in Australia over the past decade or more. It cannot be written into policy, as this would possibly lead to a legal challenge based on discrimination.

 

However there is plenty of evidence that clearly demonstrates younger players receive preference to older such as –

  • Those who make up academies;
  • Representative teams composition is biased to younger players;
  • Younger aged teams placed into higher level competitions;
  • Club competition structures and schedules work against older players remaining in the game, or playing at the level they should.

 

Why is this an issue? – Surely we want to give our younger athletes more exposure to higher-level competition to constantly test their skills and ‘potential’? And at the same time, there needs to be succession planning for the future.

 

The answer is yes – we do want to test them at higher levels, provided they get the learning experiences that will improve their current knowledge, experience and possibly wisdom or maturity, and give them the opportunity to take over from incumbents when the time is right.

 

But how are these young athletes exposed to in-game coaching and learning, if they are only playing with and against players of their own age?

My experience as a player and a coach over 40 years showed me that the best development of young players was when they are surrounded by older players – either those with whom they were playing, or those that they were playing against. Country and regional athletes and cricketers are good examples of development as they play their sport in and amongst adults for much of their younger years.

 

Australian batting for instance has forsaken the experience of Bailey, Klinger, Voges, Ferguson, White, Cowan, Henriques to name a few of recent times, in the hunt for ‘potential’ young cricketers.

 

Age should not be the barrier to playing cricket or being selected in competitions.

Simply because you are older does not mean you can no longer perform. And conversely, just because you are younger with ‘potential’, does not mean you will be successful.

 

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