The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) took the bold, but dim-witted step of dropping Kevin Pietersen from the Test team. Well-intentioned rules and regulations controlling player behavior are just that. “Well-intentioned”. They neither guarantee success nor do they ensure cohesive team behavior. However, many people get caught up in the rules and regulations and assume them to be the foundation for team success.
Here’s something that you always knew but no one told you. There is no formula for team success. Some of the most successful teams would have been called indisciplined by today’s pundits. And some of the most regimented teams have fallen by the wayside frequently. Note South Africa’s continued quest to be No 1 and win a World Cup. [On that subject, why is ESPN reporting Kirsten’s statement about SA’s desire to be No 1 as some big secret being let out? As opposed to what? South Africa is playing to be the No 3 team in the world? Or just playing to play?]
We suffer the bureaucracy regularly in businesses that bemoan the loss of innovation. Teams that are constrained by too many rules, regulations and codified ethics can’t function creatively enough. While this piece is not an advocacy for debilitating self-centeredness or anarchy, for sure individual expression and freedom must be cherished and preserved. There is a line that should not be crossed. But this should be left to the team to decide, not officialdom and definitely not codified by edicts to cease and desist tweets, blogs, etc.
All the establishment cronies – Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton, Michael Vaughan, etc. have come out advocating Pietersen being dropped. They are also unwittingly advocating England losing the next Test match. Does anyone believe that Johnny Bairstow and whats-his-face will be able to withstand Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel? Are spectators paying to see a military parade or a cricket game with flair, flourish and pomp? Spectators want a battle out there, not a meek surrender? Spectators want players to play out of their skins to win a game of cricket. They don’t care if players are running with the right form and doing good media interviews? What will the ECB and even Andrew Strauss end up doing after England lose? Blame Pietersen for the loss for “misbehaving” and losing his place in the team?
Misguided officials and team captains cover up their own inadequacy of being unable to manage and motivate extremely talented individuals by scurrying to justify their failure with rules. Andrew Flintoff, Pietersen, Shane Warne, Andrew Symonds and probably every Pakistan player falls into this category of players. Perhaps, a bunch of 70s era Australians and the entire West Indies team under Clive Lloyd did too.
My guess is that many fans too will come out in support of ECB’s move. “No individual is bigger than the game”, they will proclaim, completely missing the point. Individuals make up the team. A captain and official’s success is being able to get the best out of the most temperamental genius in the team. There’s a reason Ian Botham prospered under Mike Brearley. Warne prospered under Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. And there’s a reason Symonds was lost by Ricky Ponting and now Pietesen is being lost by Andrew Strauss.
I’m not at all advocating that every prima donna be pampered. However, the fault lies with ECB and Strauss for letting things come to this state. Pietersen’s personality is well-known. Not being able to plan and manage a player of his calibre is definitely Strauss, Flower and ECB’s fault. A little bit of humility from them early on, would have helped tremendously.
Thanks to their incompetence, the next Test match has been reduced to a farce. What a shame!
(Vidooshak is a blogger @ Opinions on Cricket . He was drawn into cricket by Golandaaz as a schoolboy. His bluster overshadows his cricketing ability. He played as a wicket-keeper in a college team but was promptly dropped. The college selection committee had slightly higher standards than Pakistani selectors. He did reasonably well in tennis ball cricket until he was benched for a final game by the team that he captained. To say some of it was due to his opinions would be an understatement of sorts. Regardless, Vidooshak finds time to opinionate relentlessly and lives a vicarious life by watching cricket teams make obvious mistakes. Good news for Vidooshak is that someone always loses a cricket game, someone always gets belted and someone always flops. Vidooshak always looks for an alternative explanation and rarely agrees with mainstream consensus. Needless to say he has no friends, only ‘tolerators’! While not throwing his weight around, Vidooshak does not run marathons or draw pictures, but reads voraciously on all topics, volunteers at local failing schools, is an avid but average golfer and runs an Indian association in mid-west America)