England suffered a heavy defeat this morning in the first Test Match against India at Ahmedabad. What is it like being a leader at times like this?
Alastair Cook, England’s relatively new captain will be learning some tough lessons:
1. You can’t do it all by yourself.
Despite Cook scoring over 200 runs himself, England were beaten by 9 wickets.
That’s a spanking! Cook is an excellent batsmen. He has a perfect temperament and near flawless technique. But to be the leader, the captain, he needs to cultivate two other key skills.
2. You need your team mates to deliver.
That’s a lot easier said than done. He may even find his excellent batting temperament gets in the way. That ability he has drone-like to shut out all distractions and take each ball on its merits needs to give way on the field to interacting with the guys. And in the dressing room too.
Cook has 10 excellent players, but the game requires him to understand each person and maximise their contributions. Only one bowler delivered wickets: Swann: 6 out of the 9 taken.
Four chances were missed. That’s a leadership issue.
Away from home the cries of the critics will be there but quieter. However the captain will repeatedly have tough questions to answer off the field and in the public domain. No manual trains you for this. Cook’s predecessor, Strauss, learnt and improved how to handle the media over several years. Cook is starting from scratch.
3. Finally, and this is the (relatively) easy bit: Tactics.
These games are so tough, the margin between success and failure is very tight. A supreme tactician can narrow this gap. Cook is bright and will learn the craft of this. It is a relief to know that the coach and back office team are very strong and will coax him through these choppy waters.
To me his hardest job will be working on his team. By playing well himself he has started well, but now the work really begins.
Come on England!