Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ian Chappell on Captaincy

Here are some excerpts from a fine article by Ian Chappell on captaincy that I found on the web. (http://www.wandererscricket.com/captaincy.html.). Chappell's article is exactly the way he speaks - blunt and to the point. Overall he feels that the good captain is one who gets the best out of his players, who earns his players respect, who knows and invests in his players individually and addresses their anxieties, who has a good knowledge of the game, good observation and memory, who thinks ahead, who acts first and aggressively, who hates losing and who is not afraid to make things happen, who always appears calm and who is open to ideas.

Earning respect   
Chappell stresses on this issue and rightly so. The captain needs to earn the respect of his team. No statement is truer than this."Respect is not something you ask for. It must be earned."

I agree that a captain needs to invest time in knowing his players. “Captaincy is not an 11 to six job. A skipper must be prepared to plant some seeds by spending time with his players after hours if he wants to reap rewards on the field and become a respected leader”.

I found this thought very interesting - that the captain must earn respect as a human being. It puts all the right values of integrity, fairness, clear headedness into place. - "Respect is vital to a captain. He must earn it in three categories: as a player, as a human being and finally as a leader."

In far too many places I have heard that a captain must be first prepared to do anything that he asks his team members to do for him - and it is right - else you'll never earn your team's respect."...weren't asking their team-mates to do anything they weren't prepared to tackle themselves and quickly earned respect as leaders." 

Knowledge of the game, common sense and daring 
Good captaincy is all about taking responsibility (even for delegating responsibility), being fully aware and not being scared - and it needs preparation in more ways than one.
"A good knowledge of the game which he applies with common sense and a dash of daring…on the way to a rating of excellent."

Be responsible for your decisions, lead the way you think is best
Chappell is pretty clear that since the captain is the one who is in charge, he is better off taking responsibility for his decisions himself. He cannot blame someone else for the result.
"The captain gets the pat on the back when it goes well and the kick in the backside when it unravels. Therefore, he should be responsible for his decisions, rather than captain by committee."

Any captain must remember this. Your team will always be referred to as "Your Team" so be careful with how you want people to remember your team.
"Ray Steele’s advice (the manager of the 1972 side in England) - 'Remember this team will be known as Ian Chappell's 1972 Australian team. Your name will always be attached.' Hence..captain the side the way you think best."

Get the best out of the team 
This is really interesting - on how to get the best out of your team.
"A good captain is someone who gets the best out of his team. There is one sure way for a skipper to get the best out of a team: make the cricket interesting."

On the importance of going all out for a win (as the one means of making the game interesting).
"A captain shouldn't fear losing, but he should hate losing. There's a big difference. The former will be a defensive captain, the latter aggressive. Why? Because in the first case the captain will do everything in his power to avoid defeat, including manoeuvring into a position from which he can't lose before he goes for the win. The second type will go flat out for victory from ball one and only opt for the draw when all hope of winning is lost. It's a captain's duty to make the game interesting for his players."

On two methods of going for a win and making the game interesting!
"Attacking captains Richie Benaud and South Australian skipper Les Favell had different ways of achieving the same result. Richie expected his team to bowl as many overs in a day as possible, working on the theory that the more balls delivered, the more opportunities to take wickets. Les, demanded that SA make 300 in a day's play. He reasoned that scoring quickly allowed the bowlers more time to take wickets and hence gave the team a better chance of winning. If we batted first and were 320 for 7 at stumps, 'Favelli' was as happy as a new parent, but if we were 280 for 2 then look out, he was like an Indian on the warpath."

Communicate roles and targets
To communicate roles clearly to players (and not assume that they will know what to do) is a big part of the captain's job. Tell them what is expected of them. 
"In addition to making the cricket interesting, a skipper would be well advised to inform his teammates exactly what part they are expected to play in the overall plan. This is best done by talking to the players individually."

Be ahead, plan ahead 
This is the hallmark of a thinking captain and is most important. Again it comes from endless thought, discussion, introspection and observation.
"On the field, a captain must be proactive rather than react to situations. Like a good snooker player, who is always a couple of shots ahead in his planning, a captain should be at least two overs in front of the game."

Get the initial advantage 
A bit of courage, a dash of aggression is most important to a winning record.
"Wherever possible a captain should make things happen, rather than sit back and wait for the opposition to make mistakes, particularly when the match is in its formative stage. Treat it like a boxing contest: you can shadow-box for the first few rounds, sizing up your opponent, or you can walk forward, land a big punch and see what effect it has on the opposition. I prefer the cricketing equivalent of the latter method."

Observe and file away
This will happen automatically when the captain is proactive and wants to win badly. He will observe and file away because he knows every little helps.
"A good captain must be observant and have a good memory. Listen, watch and file things away. You never know when they might bring about the downfall of an opponent."

Remain calm 
A calm demeanour gives a lot of strength to the team as everyone looks to the captain when the team is in distress. If the captain appears ruffled the team loses faith and gives up.
"A skipper can also help himself if he remains outwardly calm on the field at all times. There may well be moments when your guts are churning as the tension bites, but by maintaining composure, a captain helps keep his team focused on their task rather than worrying about the consequences if it all unravels. To help bring about a calmness on the field I preferred to create an atmosphere where the players feel comfortable coming to me with suggestions, rather than me seeking their advice."

Be Open to Ideas 
Being open to ideas gives space to everyone to express. Of course the captain must know which advise to take and to what extent and which advise not to.

"Remember, 11 heads are better than one  you never know where the next good idea will come from. Fast bowler Jeff 'Bomber' Hammond came to me in his debut Test and said, 'I think I can bounce Kalli ( Alvin Kallicharran) out.' I replied, 'Jeez, Bomber, Kalli's a good hooker and the Sabina Park pitch is pretty flat.' After a short discussion, I told Jeff he had two bouncers and if they didn't work we'd go back to the original plan. Hammond's first Test wicket reads: Kallicharran caught Marsh bowled Hammond 50. Bomber's first bouncer was well directed and Kalli gloved it."

Treat each player differently 
Wonderful stuff this and one which Mike Brearley also puts so well. Something I always found difficult to understand and practice because I'd wonder how to know each one ticks. The only way to find out how each one responds is only by investing time with each individual to know his personality.

"A captain must get to know his players; find out which ones react well to a pat on the back and which ones respond to a kick up the backside. Hence the need to spend time with the players after hours."

Invest time with players and address their anxieties
More on the above, but going a step further. If you can get here as a captain, you'll have your team dying for you.
"A captain demands 100 per cent from his players when they're out on the field, therefore he should return the compliment when it comes to the players' off-field needs. This can result in discussions on cricket technique, personal problems or even financial hassles."

Overall a wealth of information and some fine practical pointers to leaders and captains that could come in good use if practiced. And get great results for the team. Thanks Ian Chappell, for sharing your wisdom.


ysrivet@rediffmail.com said...

Excellent Blog...Congrats harimohan for a really good blog on Captaincy....
May be...Dhoni should read your blog....

Harimohan said...

Srivet, Thanks. But that's pretty much Chappell's blog - with my comments on it. So I can't take any credit for it. Only to the extent of finding it and putting it on my blog. But glad you liked it.