Rewind to 2004 and a moment that struck a chord with world-class cricketers.
When Michael Vaughan took over as England captain, he said that he wanted 10 other captains out on that pitch with him every day.
Very soon that group of England players were winning Test match after Test match on their way to Ashes success. As a group of coaches, we felt that there was a minimum of 9 captains on the field at any one time.
Each player did this by making independent, proactive decisions.
Each player asked himself the type of questions that captains ask themselves all the time. This kept him engaged with the task at hand and limited "drifting time".
Can you help they players in your team do the same in the field?
Here are some questions to light the spark of captaincy in all players:
Vaughan 10: Bowlers
How many times do we run up and deliver balls without being fully focused on what we are going to bowl? Talk to your inner captain:
- What ball am I going to bowl?
- What field do I need to support that ball?
- What is the likely response from the opponent?
- Can I manage my pre-ball routine to help me engage and execute?
Vaughan 10: Fielding Questions
- What's my role? (Catching, saving 1, holding the edge of the circle)
- What angle do I need to be on?
- What's our bowling plan? (What length are we looking to hit?)
- Then how will our bowling plan to this batter impact upon my depth/angle?
- Is there a throwing preference end? Are we targeting one batter over the other?
- Which fielding angles do I need to back up on the other side of the ground?
Paul Collingwood was incredible at this. He had a number of specialist fielding positions during any given day. He had to ask himself a lot of questions about each position and from memory. He was never asked to change his angle or depth.
He was captaining himself as well as others around him. Vaughan tossed the coin, yet "Colly" was one of the captains in the field.
Vaughan 10: Wicket Keeping Questions
- Are high traffic area fielders on the right angles?
- Are the inner ring fielders at the appropriate depth?
- Does anyone need a shout, so back up when the ball goes on there opposite side of the pitch?
- Have we got the right fielders in the correct positions?
- Have we got the right "bowlers end keeper"? And what can I do to influence that?
- What feedback can I give the bowlers about the opposition batter from my unique viewpoint?
Wherever players are are from bowler to keeper, many of these questions can be asked ahead of the game in preparation for performance.
Others can be asked in between each over or as we move into a specific position for a new batter or change of bowler. We ask others as we adjust to the context of the game or batting partnership that is playing out in front of us.
So if your team doesn't have 9 or more captains out there then give them a hand by encouraging each player to ask some "Vaughany's 10 Captain Questions".
It will take the load of the actual skipper and increase performance, guaranteed!