Wednesday, April 6, 2016

T20 World Cup 2016 - Lessons From the West Indies Win

I was keen to hear what the Windies had to say after their convincing win in the T20 World Cup 2016. Too many times the team had thrown away games which it could have won. There are too many fights with the Board. Maybe too many egos also. They are human after all.

But somehow this loveable team, this bunch of people that celebrates life, be it on the field or off the field, in the way they dance and celebrate, have not got the script right save the T20 World Cup in 2012. That tournament was one of the few, where they enjoyed every moment - doing their gangnam moves and such. For a team that is struggling with so much, within and without, its tough to do a turnaround.

How does someone get it right - the intense Curtly Ambrose and the dour Phil Smmons among the coaching staff, a team full of diverse and highly excitable characters who have little motivation left to play for, but the love of their country and their pride - how does one get it right?

Among the things that the players said, I picked up some wonderful pointers. The players did feel victmised by the Board, obviously someone also made the 'no brains' comment to put them down and wanted to prove a point. It's always good to have a common enemy who unites you. To add salt to the wounds we have the Aussie commentator Shane Warne and the English team's Ben Stokes who stoked a bit of fire in the already burning embers with their own partisan behavior perhaps (from what Samuels said). If anyone saw the documentary film 'Fire in Babylon' you understand that the black versus white story never dies. And in a power game, you cannot beat the West Indies - they used their athleticism, power and strength to maximum effect - something we haven't seen since the days of Lloyd, Richards and company.

I thought that tactically the Windies might be a bit weak but this team got it all right in the head. Almost everyone used the same words, like a good army does, to describe how they went about their wins. These were some of the guiding rules.

It's about the team - all 15 are matchwinners
Sammy said - it's not just about Gayle. We believe we have 15 match winners in the team. This is a belief that the coaching staff must have instilled in the team I feel and the team picked up. Each member is valuable, important and a potential matchwinner.

We can chase down any total
They were clear that they had the firepower to chase down any total. It's a huge belief but everyone believed it. Ambrose said after the final - we knew we had the power to pull off 19 runs in that over.

Knew their strengths
The Windies knew that from Charles, Simmons, Fletcher, Gayle, Russel, Bravo, Brathwaite - they had an arsenal of big hitters that no other team could possibly match. If any team could chase down 15 runs an over target consistently, this was it. Mishits would clear the fence.

Prepared well
This team prepared well and it showed. The kind of catches taken, fielding on display, shots played, everything showed the intensity and hunger to win.

We will go and get it
Sammy said after the India game - we knew they would not give it to us. We had to go and get it. That's a huge shift in thinking. This means they were prepared to create those opportunities and ensure they end up on the right side in the end. Responsibility and creativity. Frankly, the team believed that they could go out and beat everyone and that each one in the team would personally do it for the team.

We trusted the next guy
Samuels said this after the final - we trusted the next guy to go and get it. We believed that each one of us is capable and that we could do it. So it was easy for them to come back out of a 10 for 3 situation or a 19 runs an over situation.

We did not panic
Samuels said in the end - we knew we should not panic. We had enough talent to chase down any total. Stay calm. We will then find a way.

All this is mindset work. Someone in the team laid down the guidelines and said this is what we will believe. And everyone in the team said the same thing just as everyone in an army - from the general to the soldier will say that same thing. And that preparation, that belief, that clarity of purpose and backing their preparation paid off.

Big time.

Huge lessons. Well done coaching staff and team.

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