Having assembled the best side we can manage the next task is getting them to deliver, which brings us back to the Haddin article. The key quote, as far as I’m concerned, is this one re. the notorious homework incident: "That wasn't the Australian cricket team that I knew when I flew into Mohali.”
Now, it’s obvious that we not only didn’t know what our best side was, but we couldn’t get the squad working together. Allow individuals to pick and choose what they want to do, and you can probably wave a tearful farewell to unity of purpose.
Clear routines, an agreed way of going about things and some system to back them up are the key here, as is the need to make all this enjoyable. The homework issue probably stemmed from is this really necessary? matched up with a fair bit of well, this other bloke isn’t worried about it, so why should I be?
You can, of course, work your way around those mindsets by laying down the law. This is what we’re doing. Here are the reasons why. And here are the consequences if you don’t. You match those statements with a system of penalties and incentives. Impose fines for breaches, use the proceeds to provide incentives for the sort of behaviours you want to encourage.
Dummy spits and late arrivals for the team bus et cetera get pinged for the dosh that’ll create a slush fund to pay out for particularly good bits of banter. If the fund gets too big, throw a donation to some worthwhile cause, with the cheque being presented by the leading contributors.
The most recent incident with the Wallabies is a timely reminder that you need to ensure protocols regarding nights out are adhered to, so you appoint a social co-ordinator for each game who’ll generate an itinerary that will allow the team to relax away from the spotlight and have a good time doing it. That’s the official program. If you’re not keen on tonight’s option, there’s always room service at the hotel.
If you’ve got your wife, girlfriend, partner or kids along, here’s a family-friendly option you might want to consider, and for a quiet night for two, how about this one.
When you get to that point, of course, you have the risk of fragmentation, so it might be best to leave the family home for the first part of the series, but if that’s the policy, that’s the policy.
And, most particularly, if we find ourselves in a situation where we have to draft in a replacement when the cupboard looks relatively bare, there’s to be nothing resembling the can’t bowl, can’t throw incident. Don’t even think it. But if you do, and you’re sprung in the act, expect your wallet to be a fair bit lighter and anticipate being the face in the photograph when the cheque’s being handed over to the worthy cause…