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Ashes squad fail to find outside edge

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The England cricket team shouldnt be so quick to dismiss outside help - or personal mentoring - as it seeks to reverse the fortunes of the national side.

On BBCs Radio 5live, The Ashes, The Tuffers and Vaughan Cricket Show, Philip Tufnell, Michael Vaughan and Mark Pougatch lamented that not only had England lost the Ashes series in Australia 5-0 but the manner of the loss was lamentable.

It was noted that Alastair Cook had failed with the bat and performed poorly as captain.  Inside the England camp there were potential issues with the coaching team led by Andy Flower (45) with batting coach service being supplied by Graham Gooch (60).  It seemed that they (and possibly others) were adamant that they would not accept any advice from outside of the camp. 

Such expertise comes from a range of ex-captains (and batters), shown below, who are largely engaged as commentators on TV, Radio and the written media.

  • Andrew Strauss 2006-2012
  • Michael Vaughan 2003-2008
  • Nasser Hussain 1999-2003
  • Michael Atherton 1993-2001

Perhaps the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is confusing the role of coach inside the camp with private mentoring potential? Personally, I felt that the ECB staff were concerned about their own egos when denying Mr Cook the opportunity to learn from more recent captains to help him is his development.

According to Wikipedia (where most of us go in the first instance) coaching, is a training or development process via which an individual is supported while achieving a specific personal or professional competence result or goal. In sports, a coach is an individual that teaches and supervises, which involves giving directions, instruction and training of the on-field operations of an athletic team or of individual athletes. This type of coach gets involved in all the aspects of the sport, including physical and mental player development.

Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue, and challenge. 

One definition of the many that have been proposed is: Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protg).

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but lets hope that come 2015, and the next Ashes series, that captain Cook is able to call on all of the resources and wisdom available to him   whether that's from inside or outside of the current camp set up.
The People SIG blog will be continuing on this theme during the coming weeks and will be exploring the nature of mentoring and coaching in a bit more detail so do check back.


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  1. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 18 January 2014, 01:31 AM

    There are two sides in every battle the difference between 3-0 and 0-5 is not the players (they are basically the same pools of talent on both sides), nor the support staff (again largely unchanged).  Whats different is the attitude of the respective teams.Prior to the start of the English series, Australia was focused on peak performance at all costs, there were internal divisions, rules, curfews and strictly enforced discipline. This led to dissent and disenchantment with the inevitable failures and negative headlines in India and England.The appointment of Boof Lehmann as the new coach just 16 days out from the first English test was too late to make much difference but by the time the current Australian series started his philosophy had made a difference and the Australian team culture had changed. Most of the arbitrary rules are gone; but every team member is committed to team excellence and self-discipline is more effective. A work-life balance has been restored, rather than training drills for the sake of drills to drive performance, players want to improve and develop the drive is intrinsic, not extrinsic and importantly the most often repeated comment is Lehmann made it fun again!The Australian team is a happy team taking genuine delight in each others successes as well as providing support and encouragement when things dont go to plan.  Certainly its easier to be happy when you are on a winning streak, and the real test will be in South Africa in a few weeks time, but I suspect the team spirit will survive even if Australias winning streak succumbs to the SA pace attack.Creating an environment where striving for excellence is self-motivated fun is the skill brought into the team by Darren Lehmann. Probably the most telling quote is from possibly the least successful of the Australian top order, Shane Watson It really is an absolute pleasure to be part of playing cricket for Australia[and] to be involved in something that is so much fun. The challenge for England is to get the team back together as a team and to inject fun into whats a very demanding job.  In fact this is a challenge for every leader of every team, building a champion team that enjoys its work and challenges, rather than a team of champions.

  2. Adrian Pyne
    Adrian Pyne 16 January 2014, 09:04 PM

    I never thought I would do this, but I would also liken the England Cricket Team to the Persian army's  "Immortals". But here is a force, highly successful and confident coming up against a despised, or at least ill thought of foe. and being defeated - badly.For the Immortals, they had a setback under Darious I at Thermopylae - those Spartans, what are they like?But it was Alexander the Great who destroyed them, their reputation for invincibility, Darious III and the Persian Empire!Ye gods, does that make Michael Clarke the new Alexander? If so, who then is Hephaestion? (rhetorical)