Friday, January 10, 2014

England Cricket - What would Sir Alex have done ?

The idea that an England team without Kevin Pietersen would be severely weakened is true to an extent. That is a statement of the obvious – certainly when we look at KP at his best. But managers/selectors have to look at the team as a whole. For example if we look at Manchester United under Alex Ferguson he was prepared to indulge big names to a degree - but if he did not feel that his team building plans required them he would offload them. Everyone said the team would suffer but United prospered even when the likes of Paul Ince, Jaap Stam, David Beckham, and Ruud van Nistelrooy had left. As Sir Alex says in his autobiography they were offloaded quickly as soon as they became disruptive, or 'brands' (Beckham). Ferguson once said to Tony Blair "The most important thing in my job is control. The minute they threaten your control, you have to get rid of them". 

It is sometimes said that cricket is not as much of a team game as football and in a way that is true. At each “play” the bowler, batsman and fielder is on his own. So even a prima donna can perform even though he may be disdainful of his teammates. But this ignores the fact that a squad, especially on tour, spends a huge amount of time together. Fifteen or sixteen men will of course all be different but they will not perform well unless they have a common purpose. In the 2013/14 Ashes the Australian team clearly had a common purpose – to stuff the Poms. Individually some of them are moderately talented players with there being perhaps only two or three of world class. But together they did the job. The England squad was more talented and more experienced but they clearly failed to operate effectively as a team. Two left the tour for reasons unconnected with fitness or injury. Others were marginalised. The common spirit was lacking.

It is for the England management to judge whether Kevin Pietersen or any of the other squad members was a disruptive influence and contributed to the team’s lack of togetherness. Matt Prior has said about the failings in the team:
"Little things like wearing the right kit, turning up to meetings on time, not five minutes late. They appear to be trivial issues to those on the outside but they are important when building a team environment. We talk about the little things that can make a big difference when added up. It is always those that go first and we were not quick enough to realise that."
I think that Matt is talking a bit in code here but the tone of his message is clear. England lost the Ashes because they did not work effectively as a team. I think we know what Sir Alex Ferguson would have done in these circumstances !

1 comment:

Pam Nash said...

Excellent analysis, Paddy!