I was amused and dismayed by the reported story from Steve Smith’s  book launch on the process of his appointment as captain following injury to Michael Clark.

It was reported that a conversation between Board member Mark Taylor, and vice-captain Brad Haddin at a bar post Adelaide Test match was where a decision was made.

 

According to the report, Mark Taylor told them both that he would make a few calls to the Board and get matters cleared. The following morning Chairman of selectors, Rod Marsh, called to say the elevation of Steve Smith to the captaincy had been approved.

Admittedly there was only some 4 days to the next Test in Brisbane, and the position of captain of Australia needs Board sanctioning – but if what is reported to occur, did happen, Mark Taylor’s intervention highlights the need for a selection panel to be a relic of the past.

I have suggested on many occasions that I believe selectors are no longer a requirement in Australian cricket.

 

For cricket to change as David Peever was outlining with respect to the ACA-CA contract negotiations dispute, then processes and systems must change.

When selectors were first ‘invented’, there were no coaches, no talent identification systems, no technologies that allow for capturing of all data and vision of all players, no support systems such as Academies, sports science staff and so on.

Professional sport has moved on.

 

Professional sport, in most codes, places the Head coach or Manager as the person responsible and accountable for team results.

If there are selectors, they perform more scouting roles, and report directly or indirectly to the Head Coach.

 

These Head coach positions rely very heavily on the input of the coaching staff in their system to make the best calls on players. There are few better examples than the ALL BLACKS system where all coaches are employed by the national body and work closely together to ensure the best management of athletes, as well as putting the best possible teams on the park.

With the NZRU, this approach flows down through second tier provincial competitions, to clubs and schools.

 

If Cricket Australia seeks to return to world cricket dominance again, then in a number of key areas, it cannot expect to keep doing the same things and get different results.

The current archaic selection system, utilising a band of selectors is one of those key areas.

 

Respecting tradition, paying homage to the past is important to the culture and performance of any organisation.

But clinging to relics only anchors the business or the organisation in the past, and does not allow it to move into the future with direction and confidence.

 

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What has become very evident in the first 3 ODI’s of the Women’s Ashes series is that there are very skilful athletes on show who are executing simple but well thought through plans.

 

Powerful batting is normally not associated with women’s cricket, but even despite the loss of Meg Lanning, there is a healthy dash of boundary finding as well from both teams.

 

However, there will always be a different power game in women’s cricket due to the ball being smaller and therefore lighter; the bat speed that women can generate will be less; and the pace that the quicker bowlers can deliver limits the pace off the bat.

 

Nonetheless, all teams adjust to this lack of power and pace with other skills and tactics.

 

The use of spin or slower bowling forces batters to hit the ball if they want to pierce the field.

Consequently, teams have worked assiduously on their fielding athleticism to back up the bowling strategy.

 

Wicketkeepers are more likely to spend little time back from the stumps, preferring to be hovering over the stumps, no matter who is bowling. This keeping skill is reminiscent of male keepers from the 30’s through to 70’s who might make as many stumpings in an innings as take catches.

 

Allthatcricket have examined what the current stats (see tables below) are telling us about the series and the tactics. Unfortunately, the women’s series is not being covered very comprehensively from a broadcast and a statistical viewpoint, but we can draw some conclusions from the first 2 ODI games –

  • When batting the highest scoring shot rate (i.e. number of balls scored from compared to the total number of balls bowled) shows England and Australia similar on this indicator at 48.1% and 46.9% respectively
  • When batting and looking at the ‘dash of power’ where one team finds more boundaries? Australia have set the benchmark so far with 50 x 4’s and 9 x 6’s compared with England 31 x 4’s and 3 x 6’s with 6 times consecutive boundaries, twice as many as England
  • For the bowling teams we are seeking the reverse of these numbers, and Australia has been striking regularly taking a wicket at after 29.2 balls while England have only been striking every 42.6 balls. England were averaging 40.2 in the recent Women’s World Cup!
  • Australia’s dominance in the first 2 ODI games from the bowling crease is evidenced through –
    • Taking 18 wickets – verses 12 by England
    • Bowling 28 times, where consecutive overs were 4 runs or under – verses England 20
    • Bowling 53 overs of 4 or less runs in the 2 games – verses England 46
    • Delivering 30 overs that had 6 or more taken from them of which there were 6 that went for 10 or more – verses England 38 and 14
  • An interesting insight to the tactics of the first 2 ODI’s is that Australia spinners have bowled 54.33% of the total overs while England have used their spinners for 28.5%
  • Unfortunately, it is not possible to view fielding data (as we cannot see dropped catches, misfields, saved boundaries, etc.), to highlight the athleticism in the field from both teams. A gauge at the end of the series may be the number of runouts per innings achieved by both teams.

 

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Indian cricket analyst Krishna Tunga, http://allthatcricket.com/ looks at the numbers and believes Australia has lost its way in ODI cricket.

Here are his reasons based on the numbers:

Since winning the World Cup 2015, Australia have lacked any consistency. He points to a slightly better than 50% winning record 50 ODIs 25 wins.

What are some of the reasons behind these results which are lower than the previous periods –

  • post WC2011 to WC 2015 – ODI  wins (59.78%)
  • post WC 2007 to WC 2011 – ODI wins (63.55%)
  • post WC 2003 to WC 2007 – ODI  wins (72.80%)
  • post WC 1999 to WC 2003 – ODI  wins (69.72%)
  1. Player turnover:

Selectors have been relentless in turning over players – some churn can be helpful, but too much can destabilise a team

  • 35 players represented Australia since 2015
  • 15 debuted which is second only to lowly ranked Sri Lanka(21)
  • the playing XI hardly remained same .with the number. of injured and rested players, far less than dropped players.
  1. Batting weakness:
  • Higher % of batters dismissed inside 3 overs compared with any other period of ODI cricket – 26.40%
  1. Bowling weakness:
  • Under Steve Smith’s captaincy bowling has been the worst since WC 2015 compared with other Aussie captains and current ones of other nations
  • A couple of key indicators are, taking 25 games as min qualification for Australian captain since 1998 –

 

 

Recent ODI’s in India – some key performance indicators of results.

We will review these numbers and this tournament prior to the ODI series in Australia.

PEAK PERFORMANCE COACHING

 

Do the numbers lie?

Or is this trend changing for Australia?

Will such results have some bearing on the upcoming Ashes?

And how does the Australian women’s team compare, given their tussle for the Ashes series begins in October?

These are some of the questions that Krishna Tunga and I will answer over the coming months in our regular blog.

We look forward to your views and thoughts as the summer of cricket unfolds in Australia.

 

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What are my recent learnings as a business coach, a passionate Queenslander and Australian, a husband, father and grandfather?

  1. Never miss the opportunity to say “I love you” to every member of your family, at least once a day
  2. It is tough times for many businesses in Australia, but keep believing in yourself so that each day, you are as well prepared as you can be, and motivated to have another crack!
  3. Take time to reflect upon what we have; appreciate how good this country is; and then do everything you can do to preserve it

I hope you can use my learnings, especially over the Christmas period where you may have more time with family and the ability to reflect on the year.

 

Interested in what I have been up to since our last contact?

I have been doing some writing of which recent articles or tips are:

  • Beyond19 blogs with coaching tips for sales team leaders and sales process
  • Governance Institute article looked at the issues that sport face with good governance

 

Over the past few months there has been quite varied coaching and leadership engagements such as –

    • Boggabri Coal (Idemitsu) – assisting the Senior Leadership team to manage a major organisational, operational,  and technical change to the mine by running in parallel the longterm vision, values and culture that will differentiate Boggabri Coal from its competitors
    • Southern Region Victoria, Deputy Principal Network conference – leadership roles in schools have become quite complex. In order to navigate through the complexity, I provided the conference with my Everest Leader framework through a full day workshop.
    • The Victorian Public Service Commission (VPSC) have tasked the Victorian Leadership Academy (VLA) as the body to develop a new generation of public sector leaders who are high performing, diverse and collaborative leaders, delivering quality services and outcomes for the community. I am a member of the coaching panel, and provide executive coaching to senior members of the VPS
    • AFL Level 4 program involves mentor coaching with the next set of AFL Club head coaches
    • Queensland Public Service Commission (QPSC) conduct a variety of leadership programs for middle managers to senior leaders within the QPS for which I have been involved through the People Matters workshops.
    • Continuing the roles in International Leaders as Advisory Board member to Victorian Leaders and Director SA Leaders
    • Conducting the Everest Team workshop for growing law firm, Batch and Mewing
    • Interview and speaking for the main fundraising breakfast for the Hills and District Chamber of Commerce
    • And on the immediate horizon –
      • Sri Lanka Leaders group are looking to launch a leadership conference in Colombo
      • Western Australia’s HR Leaders Summit
      • Principals conference for SE Qld

 

Projects that are keeping me out of the garden and away from the beach but exciting and filled with possibilities:

  • Rpm360 – a performance management system and app for business
  • Launch Teespecially designed equipment to help young children gain greater success and enjoyment when involved with activities that require a bat/racquet/paddle and a ball
  • Digital disruption ambassador with REDD
  • Reinvent Australia  – One Vision Many Voices: Building Australia’s resilience and improving the quality of life for its people
  • Video blogs throughout the coming Ashes series

 

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Knowing what your role in an organisation is; delivering on that role; and being accountable for that delivery.

Not knowing is one of the reasons why we are constantly seeing poor leadership and decision making from many of our National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) and peak sporting bodies (eg Australian Olympic Council AOC).

Professional athletes, coaches and support staff are under this scrutiny all the time.

It appears that those who are involved in offield policy, strategy and organisational decision making are less accountable for their performance.

This may be perception only and not factual. However, recent examples such as Cricket Australia’s (CA) pay dispute; AOC continued public  dispute over an alleged bullying culture; the debacle of ARU’s ongoing reorganisation of Super Rugby franchises; the NRL’ s Commission and looming player pay dispute has maintained interest away from the actual playing of the game; and the list goes on.

Now Mark Taylor, CH 9 commentator, Cricket Australia (CA) Board member, former Test captain has weighed in on how the Australian Cricket team should be playing in Bangladesh.

As a former Test player, there is little doubt he has a right to his opinion – even if his opinion is inaccurate.

As a CH9 commentator, it would also seem he has the right to make comment about Australia’s fortunes as he has a vested interest in Australia playing well and continuing to build their performances towards an Ashes series for which CH9 are host broadcaster.

However as an administrator, as a Board member of CA, he will have his views, but these should not be expressed publicly for a few reasons –

  1. Good corporate governance and leadership should mandate Board members not to express personal opinions on the day to day operations of the business. Commentary of this nature must be handled by those who are employed and directly accountable
  2. In expressing personal opinion, it becomes a reflection on how the Board of CA operate as a leadership team. The Board develops policy and strategy to enable those who are employed to manage CA to return the expected results – one of which is onfield performance. So Mark Taylor’s comments, if reflective of the Board, are either a direct criticism of the coach, captain and playing group; or conversely, a direct criticism of themselves for adopting poor policy and/or poor strategy
  3. If it is CA Board policy to allow Board members to speak publicly on various matters, then the spokesperson should not be conflicted in how comments will be interpreted or perceived – is Mark Taylor a former player when he comments? Is he representing the interests of his employer Ch9? Is he a Board member of CA and speaking on their behalf?

While this article may seem trivial to some readers, I believe this example is further evidence of what is endemic within Australian sport and has been becoming more pervasive.

Good governance and leadership has not kept pace with the changing demands of sport, whether that be at professional level or at grassroots.

The professionalization of Australian sport has happened very rapidly on-field – it has a long way to go off-field.

 

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To see more about Taylor’s views on the plans of the struggling Aussies:

 

Over the past few months I have been interviewed on different aspects of leadership coaching, peak performance and current issues in cricket.

The first of these podcasts was done in the studios of ABC for the program The Minefield co-hosted by Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens.

Here’s the interview, I think you’ll enjoy the interesting mix of social and economic theory and thought, combined with a practitioners view of the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the Players union.

 

Click to listen to John’s interview with ABC radio

 

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