Thursday, January 04, 2007

How the mighty are fallen! - goodbye to the Ashes.

Less than 18 months ago we were over the moon as the England cricket team beat the Aussies to win 'The Ashes' for the first time in living memory. This famous victory led to street parties and we probably got a bit too heady with the wonderful feeling of beating our oldest rivals Australia.

We should have known what was going to happen and as I type this on Thursday evening at 11.15 p.m. England are about to lose the current test series in Australia 5-0. A complete whitewash that has been embarrassing for England fans.

The England team has been pathetic quite frankly. They look ill-prepared and the selections have been a disaster with some crazy decisions by the management.

It proves to me yet again something I have always believed in the world of management and leadership. That is the time to concentrate and do your homework even more is when things are going well for you; otherwise you can become arrogant and then complacency and over confidence sets in and someone comes along and metaphorically punches you on the nose!

Well done Australia – you fully deserved your victory – as a team you were ‘together’ and looked like you really wanted this victory and England did not.

The best team (by a mile) won.


Anonymous said...

Not entirely sure I am in total agreement Trevor. Last year there was so little between the sides and we got slightly lucky when Glen McGrath wasn’t able to play in all of the tests. I don’t believe that we selected the best team. I am a firm believer that you should always play your best man in every position – we didn’t do that because we preferred Geraint Jones to Chris Read as wicket keeper. However, having made the selection, we stuck to it and the guys bonded into a formidable team that just had the edge.

I felt that the celebrations were rather over the top when we won – oh, by the way, it wasn’t the first win in living memory … well, unless you are a lot younger than I think!

This time we were missing Michael Vaughan – a superb batsman and possibly even better captain – Simon Jones, Marcus Trescothic – both key players in the victory last year – and we had Ashley Giles who had not had the time to get match fit after his long injury layoff. On top of that the pressure of the captaincy added to the responsibility of being one of the key batsmen and key bowlers, was clearly just too much for Andrew Flintoff.

I think that it was entirely unreasonable to expect us to win the series in Australia in those circumstances. Yes, of course Monty Panesar should have played from the outset, as should Chris Read, but I very much doubt that it would have made much difference.

Having said all that, the manner of the defeat was very disappointing. Especially the test when we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Over the last few years, Australia has been blessed with some fantastic cricketers. But for me the difference is that they are just so much tougher mentally. I think that it is generally accepted that winning (or losing) is as much in the mind as in ability, and this is where the Australians appear so much superior to us (and most other countries of late).

A friend has just returned from Australia and commented on their positive outlook on life. Even the TV news had a more positive spin than here where we are used to the media always looking for the negative. Maybe this is the real leadership lesson. Always accentuate the positive, make people feel good about themselves, even flatter their abilities and they might just raise their game (whether on the sports field or in business) to justify the praise.

Trevor Gay said...

I do genuinely hear what you say David and I agree with some of the excuses. We may have been unlucky with injuries and we may well have over-celebrated when we won the Ashes in 2005 – and yes I am old/young enough to remember the last one – sorry abut that slip up

Having said all that we lost 5-0 – we were thrashed and we were just simply not good enough.

Saying anything else is like saying ‘we lost a football match 5-0 but they were 5 breakaway goals!’

Let’s be honest for the last two months we were not on the same planet as the Aussies when it comes to ability and teamwork!

I agree that we can learn much from the Aussies attitude if we look at business. I loathe working with pessimistic and cynical people – they drag me down eventually. I am often accused of seeing the world through rose tinted glasses. So be it but surely it is better to be optimistic than pessimistic – HALF GLASS FOREVER I SAY!

Anonymous said...

Even given the injuries, I'm not sure that there was a huge difference in ability, but there certainly was in application, determination and belief.

As for losing 5-0 to breakaway goals, I can do no better than quote Laurie McMenemy.

“When you're 4-0 up you should never lose 7-1”

It does occur to me that your many American friends may wonder what on earth we are talking about!

Trevor Gay said...

A quote from your hero the great Bill Shankly comes to mind:

"We murdered them 0-0.”

breakdown said...

It seems to be a culture within most of our national sports teams, that if we do win, it si unlikely to continue. in fact we are so used to losing that ofetn wins come with great surprise, including last years Ashes. I for one had my normal expectations from our national teams. Leadership is about creating and possibly changing cultures. Alex Ferguson does just that, even with 3 minutes to go we will still play to win. Even with no cricket experience, Alex could achieve more because he creates a winning culture and raises the standards, everyone follows and respects or moves out.

Trevor Gay said...

I am a huge fan of Sir Alex and I have noticed one word he uses now and he used when he first arrived at Old Trafford over 20 years ago., He has always said Manchester United players must have a 'hunger' for success. I somehow feel the England cricket team have ‘full stomachs’ in that context and are therefore not ‘hungry’ enough. Sir Alex as England cricket manager would be an interesting experiment methinks :-)