A big part of the reason the team I play for is near the top of the league is our team spirit.
Last Saturday was a grudge match against our local rivals, a good team just relegated from the division above. Several of our senior players were missing including the captain, vice captain and main bowler (who was next in line for the captaincy). Due to another player falling ill just before play we had to go in with 10 men.
That's shameful at our level, even worse for a team challenging for the league title.
In our weakened state we decided on a last minute captain, lost the toss, were inserted and rolled over for less than 150. I then dropped their star batsman on nought. He went on to a match winning innings as they beat us by 7 wickets: A terrible day for us.
What amazed me was the team spirit throughout the game. We still felt in the game right up until defeat was inevitable. We bowled well, our tail wagged brilliantly and we didn't give up. Everyone considered the defeat a blip we will be back from next week.
Below are the 6 things I have noticed about our team this season that has taken us to the top, and given us fight, even when everything seems to have gone wrong.
In short, why I think we will be back to winning ways next week:
- Take personal responsibility. Just like your cover drive, attitudes of team unity take practice. That means each player taking responsibility for his attitude on and off the field. You must consider yourself a leader even if you are not captain. Show a never-say-die attitude, use positive body language, motivate others and be unwavering in your confidence. In short: be a team of captains.
- Pull together. The best teams all know what their goals are so they can all pull together the same way. Imagine a tug-o-war team all doing their own thing! Cricket teams need to be just as efficient. This efficiency comes about through agreed goals at the start of the season and a captain who the team trusts to lead them in those goals even under the fast moving pressure of a game.
- Know your role, know everyone else's. Everyone in the team needs a crystal clear idea of their own job so they can concentrate on it fully (pinch hit, take wickets, stem the flow of runs, etc). On top of this, everyone needs to be clear of others role in the team so you all know all bases are covered.
- Unite against a common enemy. Nothing brings people together quicker than a common enemy. Show the opposition how united you are with tricks like running on the field together, doing impressive fielding drills, having a huddle and making them doubt themselves through well placed comments.
- Keep standards up. Standards of dress, appearance and practice vary widely but everyone needs to know what they are in your team. Ideally they will be agreed and written down in an obvious place. People who don't meet them quickly realise they are letting down the team unit.
- Balance out personalities. Some people are natural players in it for the fun, others have to practice hard to keep up standards so can be more focused and serious. Everyone, especially the captain and senior players should know what type of players are in your squad and how much they can put up with of discipline or creativity. To force too much of one on the wrong player will cause them to get fed up and eat away at team spirit.
Good team spirit builds up the confidence of individuals. Even when you are playing badly, the team can pull you through it with the right words. Knowing someone is backing you all the way is a powerful way to improve your own performance and the results of your team.