Captain and Coach.

I know I shouldn’t go there again. But its a perspective I want to share.

For those that haven’t read Steve Waugh’s 800 odd page opus “Out of My Comfort Zone”, please do. Its an amazing study into the mind of a cricketer and human being that stretches his boundaries to optimise his potential and live his life to the fullest.

Steve Waugh’s obviously somebody Rahul Dravid seriously believes in. And vice versa. When you consider that Dravid is the one who’s written the foreword to the book. Consider then this extract about the relationship between the captain and the coach’s methods.

This is Steve Waugh about John Buchanan.

I was learning more and more that being on tour as a leader invariably involved dealing with issues before they became major problems. I have always believed in the policy of praising in public. criticising in private. As soon as criticism is out in the public arena, a different spin can get placed on it and a wedge can be put in the team mechanics. When coach Buchanan in his well intentioned way questioned Warney’s fitness and future place in the side through the media, he may have meant to inspire, but all he did was alienate. This ploy may have worked when Buck was in charge of Queensland, working with a lower-profile player on the way up who might have found such a public challenge motivational, but in Shane he picked his mark poorly. It was Buck’s first real blunder as coach, and after 24 hours of mulling over the situation I organised for the three of us to get together and work through it. Shane saw it as a cheap shot that should have been discussed face to face, and the coach admitted that would have been a better plan.

Also brewing in the background on this tour was a Buchanan – Bernard feud that at one stage had them dealing with each other through intermediaries. Buck was always going to ruffle a few feathers with his strong opinions and ways of doing business, which was 100 percent full-on and at times inflexible. His great strengths were his vision and his proactiveness, but at the same time, if you didn’t entertain his ideas you could get left behind. As Buck tried to move in a different direction to the one Steve preferred, our manager felt like his authority and place in the pecking order were being challenged. It was a clear case of the ‘old school’ clashing with a new wave of change and neither wanting to give ground. Egos are not exclusive to players and the existence of a disruptive support group will often be reflected in a team’s results. It was a distraction I didn’t need and one they had to sort out, which they did after the tour.

Even ignoring the fact that Steve Waugh was of the opinion that Greg Chappell was not the right person to coach India, I think the parallels to the Chappell tenure are many. They probably are in most team situations. Chances are they are in most work situations as well. Did Dravid deal with the issues with the same authority as Steve Waugh did ? We know he did in Multan. But that was John Wright. . How about under Greg Chappell ? Somehow, that seems less certain.


16 thoughts on “Captain and Coach.

  1. Dravid’s problem is that he has too many role models within which he wants to chose which man he wants to be.

    In any leadership role, definition of responsibilities is the first step and screwing those up was probably Dravid’s biggest failure. Starting with himself.

  2. Rahul, I guess what anon’s trying to say (and I cud be completely off the ball here) is that once flexibility was the mantra in year one, reslotting everyone in conventional roles in year two was a big mixup. Then there was the big thing about Irfan. And Sachin.

    Its a fair argument. And by the looks of it, a never ending one.

    All I wanted to say in the post was that every team has such issues. Botham with Willis. Wasim with Waqar. Waqar with Wasim. Shoaib with Inzy. Woolmer with Shoaib. Just a few examples.

    Steve Waugh’s handling of the Buchanan – Warne affair is probably one where it worked, despite egos staying frayed. Greg Chappell with Ganguly, on the other hand is a prime example of how it should not be tackled.

    The Dravid & Chappell metamorphosis from flexibility to solidity/rigidity/consistency probably caused the mixups in assigning responsibilities. And Dravid didn’t measure up ?

  3. I think it is unfair to speculate.

    The fact is that inspite of any of Buchanan’ s problems in managing Shane Warne etc. he still had enough quality personnel (in the main – Warne himself along with McGrath), who ensured that the results wouldn’t suffer.

    The bottom line is results.

    The issue with Warne is not comparable to the issues with any of the Indian players, because the core requirement of winning was being met in the Australian camp.

  4. Also, Shane Warne did not go squealing to the Cricket Australia chief when Buchanan had his periodic bust ups with him. Neither was Shane Warne captain.

    Hence, the comparison is flawed.

    Ganguly bears the brunt of the responsibility for the way in which his dismissal as captain affected India. He has always been a canny, street smart operator and his behaviour during and after his removal is the down side of his methods.

    We applauded when he behaved badly with Steve Waugh in 2001, and when he ignored referees about overrates…. but we blame Chappell when he used the same tactics during his ouster.

  5. Hi Kartikeya

    The parallel of Buchanan – Warne and Chappell – Ganguly is not that dissimilar actually. Both might have been well intentioned. But both ended up being seen by the players concerned as washing dirty linen.

    I am not comparing Warne and Ganguly a cricketers or Buchanan and Chappell as coaches or even Waugh and Dravid as captains.

    I’m just saying that Steve Waugh’s perspective in his book (with hindsight’s benefit) is that his not addressing those issues could have impacted “results”. Also, that establishing pecking orders, bring in changes, “old vs new” are of course part and parcel but all require constant addressing and leadership. And are a huge responsibility of captaincy.

  6. Let us, for a moment talk about my pet peeve – the lack of bowling coach.

    Our captain, given a microphone in hand, never failed to remind us on how “young” and how “raw” our bowling attack is.

    And the very same captain did not hesitate to toe the line of his coach vis a vis the need to get a bowling coach.

    When Irfan Pathan was undergoing his crisis of confidence in South Africa, Wasim Akram offered to help.

    It was Greg Chappell who dissuaded Pathan from seeking out Wasim Akram.

    And through all this, our captain said nothing.

    There is a reason why our captain finds himself isolated in the team.

    Decisive leadership, on and off the field, makes the difference between a fractured team and a winning one.

  7. We needed a batting coach Homer, given our performance over the last 12 months.. we have almost never conceded more than a 300 in the last 12 months in these days of 400+ totals.. So do you mean to say GG should have got a batting coach as well..

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