Jonty Rhodes' blog

Posted on/at 6:00 PM by The Cricket Corollary

There is an old saying in cricket – and probably in all team games – that the best players don’t necessarily make the best team. In fact, I’d say it was almost a rarity for the best team to have all the best players, especially at international level.

And I feel absolutely confident that I would not offend New Zealand’s players or their supporters by suggesting that it is primarily their team work and commitment as a unit which has got them into the Champions Trophy semi final.

I wonder how many of the Black Caps would make a current World XI? Certainly a few more now than would have been the case at the beginning of the tournament but even right now I suspect most people wouldn’t look too far beyond Daniel Vettori although mentions would be made of Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Shane Bond. And two of their best players, Jesse Ryder and Jacob Oram, are injured! It has been a fantastic achievement.

On the one hand it is hard to qualify – and certainly quantify – the term ‘team spirit’. Often it just happens naturally but, on the other hand, a captain or a coach can try enhance it by telling his players to support each other, physically and emotionally. When somebody takes a great catch, run to him quickly from wherever you have been fuilding and make sure he knows how much you appreciate it.

When a bowler is tired and hurting, tell him that you understand, and look in his eyes when you do it so he believes you. Tell him that you’d happily share the pain if you weren’t so useless.
Remember, at all times, that nobody drops a catch on purpose, nobody deliberately bowls a half volley, run outs happen even to the most experienced partnerships and everybody plays a bad shot from time to time. Empathy and encouragement with team mates goes a lot further towards improvement than criticism.

And then, of course, there is appreciating what skills you and your colleagues do have rather than regretting what you don’t have. Grant Elliott is a classic example of a player performing to the very maximum of the parameters he has set himself. He knows exactly what he is capable of and concentrates on doing that rather than becoming distracted by something he can’t do.
Take a close look at the New Zealand players during the final, if you are lucky enough to be able to watch it. See how the fielders support and encourage each other, how the bowlers are made to feel special and nobody allows either their own head or a team mate’s head to drop.

New Zealand’s cricket teams, of course, have always felt like a special ‘band of brothers’ because there are so few of them in the first place and maybe the team spirit they have at the moment has just happened naturally. It doesn’t matter either way but it is what has got them to the final. And if they win I can’t think of anyone who would begrudge them the title.


Stani Army said...

I reckon Bond would be the only one to be honest Bon. Before New Zealand....well sacked him, he was the number 1 bowler in the world I think. There are better spinners in the world than Vettori so he won't make it in a world XI but I'm not saying he's rubbish, just that it'd be Bond for me.

Team spirit can be achieved and relatively quickly. Look at what Shane Warne did for the Raj Royals in the 1st IPL and they were the lowest spending franchise. His success was all about team spirit.

New Zealand's fielding was superb except for the one fumble which resulted in an extra run.

The Kiwis have consistently over-achieved and good on them.