The task: To form a cricket team to win the final of the biggest prize money championship ever.
The challenge: To pick the winning unit and do whatever it takes to win.
The prize: Whatever it takes. But if you lose, you pay.
No excuses. Only results. Get paid if you deliver. Pay penalties if you cannot.
The day may not be too far away when such an ad would appear. How would you go about it?
I’d pick the coach first. One who has more knowledge and understanding of the game than anyone in the team. Technical knowledge, strategic and tactical knowledge, man management and most importantly the psychology of winning. The coach will be responsible for all the inputs that the team and the captain gets and will take all responsibility for its complete preparation. The coach gets to pick his support staff. The coach would provide his plan, his detailed roadmap to the final. This plan would be approved of by the captain and the team management as the one they all stand by.
The captain next. With him I’d vest the responsibility of picking the team and that of its performance. Goes without saying that he is the best man for the job in the team, has excellent leadership and man management capabilities. Not the popular choice but the best man. The captain needs a strong intuition, complete belief in himself and his players, ability to bring out the best in all his players, to keep his cool and always be probing to convert half chances into an advantage.
The captain would be assisted by the coach and the team management in selecting the players. However, since the captain is the one vested with the responsibility of the performance of the team, He must be able to convince the committee on his decision. The captain leads the discussion with his list. The other members on the committee balance out the selection process so it is not skewed.
The committee would pick the team keeping in mind the overall balance of the team and the role of each player. Most importantly the playing eleven should be backed up by enough bench strength, each sub capable of replacing the player in the first eleven. Player’s capabilities, motivational levels, ability to adapt, capability to fit into their roles, availability and being part of the team are factors that would be considered while selecting the players.
Having picked the team that everyone is agreed upon (since your captain picked the team, better support him or else pick your team and another captain), its imperative to get the team to bind together. This is the one area which needs most focus. To know individual strengths and what makes them give their best is what the captain and coach need to find out. Infact everyone in the team needs to know that – since most are proven players they have a record but then there could be new roles, new dimensions. Everything must be explored to make the team come together like a fist. One goal, one purpose, one team. All for one and one for all. Apart from having the services of a sports psychologist (one who knows his job) its worth getting trained by a commando outfit for such an expedition.
The big factor is always going to get the team working as a unit as quickly as one can. That remains the main job for the support staff - the coaches, CEOs, COOs and all other support staff with the captain and senior players. Knowing strengths and weaknesses of each and every team member, making everyone feel as they belong in the team, making everyone aware of the team's goal, the team's method, their roles and the roles of others. It is important because the differences between players is not just about geography; it is also culture, and about the huge gap in their exposure to the game. Since most players are hardcore professionals, coaching them is not so much the big thing as getting them to function as a unit. That I think is the key to the successful teams and the not-so-successful ones.
Coach. Captain. Team. Bonding. Mission. Goal. Preparation. Belief. Action. Correction. Action.
If the team can take the ownership of the goal, if all the preparation can make them take ownership of the goal, its more than likely that they will give their best for the cause. They will have a personal stake in the cause. Success is more likely to occur than failure in such circumstances.