Great cricket teams can do extraordinary things. But greatness is not just a matter of individual talent. The captain has a key role in bringing the best out of every player and merging them into a successful team.
In "The Art of Captaincy" England's finest leader, Mike Brearley, outlines how captains (and senior players) can build 11 players into a formidable unit:
- Rights. Everyone in the team should feel like they are able to contribute to decision making. Off field this can be done in in team meetings or prematch discussions. In the field the captain retains control but players should be open to making suggestions and be happy for their ideas to be vetoed by the skipper.
- Responsibilities. If everyone has a voice, they must also understand the responsibility to the team that goes with it. Everyone has a duty to practice, keep morale up and most importantly never give up on the will to win the game.
- Personality. Everyone is different and the captain should get to know the person as well as the cricketer. This is not to say everyone will get on with each other, but understanding what rubs each other up is just as important as enjoying each others company, especially in the middle.
- Balance. Some people are natural players in it for the fun, others have to practice hard to keep up standards so can be more focussed and serious. The captain should know where each player is 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.
- Respect. Everyone in the team knows their role and everyone else respects that role. That goes beyond the cricket pitch too. Some players are the social glue that makes playing fun. Their role needs just as much respect as the star leg spinner.
- Praise. It's easy to expect success and forget to praise a job well done. Everyone needs different levels of praise, but everyone like it. Find out what each player needs to hear.
- Sympathise. It's also easy to criticise failure. This is a sure way to cause more failure though. In fact, it's not failure if you have tried your hardest and never given up. So sympathise with the dropped catches and refocus on the next ball.
- Standards. At every level there will be a minimum standard expected of some kind. Make sure everyone knows what this is. Whether its standards in dress, practice, or on the field, the captain sets them. Ensure they are realistic expectations for the level you are playing.
- Strengths and Weaknesses. Finally, all cricket teams have strong and weak areas. As captain you need to know what they are so you can manipulate the game to play to your strengths and play down your weaknesses. You should also be constantly working to improve the weaknesses where possible.
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Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.
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