Essence of Leadership Wisdom, Impossible to Imagine

A leader with unprecedented wisdom and perspective.

Whatever the match result of IPL 10 tonight between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant, Steven Peter Deveraux Smith will emerge with this exact outcome more firmly entrenched within his soul and spirit.

Australian cricket is presently navigating cautiously through challenging waters with the current imbroglio being played out between head office and the administration. Smith, one of a small group of key players targeted to have a rest in April and May away from the IPL.

Reported recently ” CA wants to keep the players fresh during their off days in April and May when the cash-rich League is played and insisted that there is nothing “sinister” behind the move.

The offer, made to Test captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, however, were met with a lukewarm response from the players, who normally get a one-year contract.”

Steve Smith Credit Goenka

This IPL, Smith was made the captain of the Supergiants over MS Dhoni. A situation that would appear unthinkable, unlikely and an unnecessary risk to many. The outcome of making the IPL final, a grand and due reward indeed, fully supported by owner Sanjeev Goenka.

Smith has been delivering an ongoing historical remit of performances, unparalleled in batting brilliance since August 1st 2013 in Manchester.  5251 test runs @ 61 in 100 innings has him placed rightfully with cricket legends. At only 27 years of age, having endured a contrasting range of captaincy consequences to batter and confound the psyche since accepting the role, where does he turn to gain this wisdom and perspective.

Steve Smith India Gratitude


Thankfully the social platforms of choice allow us a direct passage and ability to determine the authenticity of feeling within.

During the recent Border-Gavaskar series, Smith regularly used “adapt” in his comments, demonstrating an acceptance of where he wanted to lead the team rather than subscribe to the historically aggressive methods applied.

“It was a fantastic learning curve. I think the way the guys were able to adapt and really challenge India in these conditions was terrific. I’m really proud of the way the boys competed in this series.”

With proper perspective he adopted a thinking and planning process that fully considered all that was ahead and around, not letting himself fall into the historical trap of sameness.

The images and comments within this Instagram post are revealing. The tactics applied with RPS to uncover Rahul Tripathi and Washington Sundar while the forgotten Jaydev Unadkat rediscovered his talent, evidence of a leader in charge of his team.

To immerse himself in discussions with Dhoni and Stephen Fleming, handle the expectations of an enormously renumerated Ben Stokes, manage the emotions of Khawaja and Zampa biding their time as international extras and finish 5th position overall for the Orange Cap  lends weight and depth to the points stated in the aforementioned post.

Therefore the question begging to be asked is this.

For Steve Smith to be allowed to continue his quest for leadership excellence, to properly gain the extremes of responsibility, is the pathway of knowledge unfolding that shares the Indian and IPL experience not better than resting at home, possibly spending time planning around the same familiar colleagues?

The natural smile on his face, the sheer joy of different companions, the reverence from those respected would suggest that the eventual answer for some, is impossible to imagine.

Footnote: The author has completed several trips to India during the IPL and witnessed first hand the adulation and deep respect for Smith as a player from the now resting Rajasthan Royals to the present. It is impossible to properly describe the goodwill and admiration that he is afforded. This overall, if properly harnessed, surely is an asset and for the benefit of Australian cricket.  

Posted in India, IPL, Knowledge, Steve Smith | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Be Impatient

Feb 2014 was the last time an Australian #6 scored a century for Australia in test cricket.

Centurion Park, Steve Smith walked to the wicket at 4/98 – a not unfamiliar position.

On the second day in the 102nd over, Smith worked a ball into a gap behind square for the single to reach the milestone.

Steve Smith 100 centurion

How life can quickly transform for a player who made his test debut as a leg spin bowler (developing), lower order bat (useful).

Still youthful, now just 27 years old. Only 54 tests, batted in 100 innings. 5251 runs @ 61 with an equal number of centuries and 50’s – 20 of each. Probability of 40% that when Smith walks out to bat he passes 50.

As a benchmark for this remarkable consistency, Ricky Ponting had a probability of 36% with 41 centuries and 62 scores of 50+ from 287 innings.

The extrapolated future suggests Smith may shift this high watermark well beyond 15,000 runs and contain around 115 test match innings with a score of 50+.

“He’s been brilliant. He’s been unbelievable. He’s been Bradman-like with the bat but all the stuff behind the scenes has been exceptional,” Lehmann said of Smith.

Even moreso incredible as Smith has been completely true to himself in technique, style and temperament. There is very little from the traditional coaching manual that reflects his methods, apart from the final moment as the blade meets the ball and sends it with power and purpose towards the identified end point.

The Indian tour even seemed to add another layer to his powers. The ability to adapt. Not just tactically, yet also very apparent in his mind, extending his resilience to the task at hand.

Back though to the opening line time stamp of February 2014.

For such a long period, so many options tried being unable to deliver a score of substance. For many years, this was one of expectation when the #6 position was occupied by players such Symonds, Hussey and North.

Ranchi did not faze the approach of Glenn Maxwell as he arrived to pair with the captain at 4-140. Recalled for his 4th test match, now at 28 years of age, the delightful symmetry in it being just over 4 years since his debut. A partnership of 191, a century of patience and careful selection. The anti-christ of an innings given what many an expert or those in the opinion choir deemed, or wanted, him to be capable of.

Both men begin the IPL season as new captains of their respective franchises. An honor not bestowed lightly. The foreign views of those in control abroad can be learned from.

Don’t be impatient. The glimmer of hope for the test cricket future has arrived.


Glenn Maxwell.jpg


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From Little Things, Big Things Grow

How a cohesive approach in a country region has taken junior girls cricket from 0 to 100.

The surge of interest in cricket continues to become evident as knowledge arrives from innovative methods being applied to encourage participation. As sports clamber to find the next entry level program of interest to keep primary school age children active, interested and engaged, Warrnambool & District Cricket Association (WDCA) has achieved an impact of significance with a girls competition not played before. A recent encounter with Andrew Sloane (Program Manager at South West Sport and a WDCA Director) at a Vicsport event uncovered this knowledge.

The WDCA recognised a level of interest, were mindful of not overloading club volunteers and developing an environment where new volunteers could find their way to be involved.

From the initial awareness of 6 local clubs and a neighbouring association, assisted with funding from Cricket Australia and support from Cricket Victoria and the Western Waves, a series of practice sessions were scheduled. Stephanie Townsend, the WDCA Female Renegades Ambassador, travelled to clubs to conduct practice sessions and share her experience of playing at Premier Cricket level.


Following this contact, cohesion and energy, 100 participants were unearthed and formed into a competition. Credit is due to the WDCA for the innovation in creating a competition by not falling into the application of traditional thinking.

The season was structured to cover six rounds from November 9th to December 14th on a Wednesday evening.  The age groups U16 and U13. Matches started at 5pm, consisting of 16 overs each, modified rules and played over three grounds. For the top two teams in U16 a final is to be played on Australia Day weekend as part of the Sungold T20 Tournament.

“Cricket is a sport for all, the steps that the WDCA have taken sets the foundation for a successful and sustainable junior and eventually, senior female competition.”                           – Andrew Sloane (WDCA Cricket Delegate)

The WDCA will look to build on their inaugural season with additional clubs already expressing interest in fielding female teams in 2017/2018.  The process is fluid however, and with growth will come continued learnings.  The challenge for the WDCA, and many other sports in the modern era, will be the need to strike a balance of innovation, stability, and adapting to its participants needs.

Purpose: To introduce girls cricket to the Warrnambool region.

Strategy: Create interest with a cohesive approach amongst stakeholders & activate an ambassador.

Innovation: Wednesday evening, modified rules, quality grounds and facilities used.


Posted in Country Cricket, Cricket Australia, Innovation, T20, Women's Cricket | Leave a comment

Busy Bucky!

“There’s nothing better than feeling wanted; and there’s nothing worse than feeling unwanted.” – UNKNOWN

With summer now actually here, by the calendar at least, the disjointed cricket schedule has been further weighed down by the plethora of books released from every direction. Many are very good judging from initial excerpts. The Santa order is in.

Amongst these publications has been the well regarded Chris Rogers, Bucking The Trend. A rather apt title for one who could have easily been a member of the one test only club (Stuart Law, Phil Emery, Matthew Nicholson, Bryce McGain, Dan Cullen, Roy Park et al) who through the sheer weight of performance and consistency found the door open for the 2013 Ashes.

During the recent weeks, the Hobart 85 debacle where “decision-making around the Australian team has lost its envied clarity” gave cause to many suggested remedies.

During the Hobart Test, Pat Howard sent out an SOS via press conference on a rained out Sunday, “for advice on how to scotch the bleeding of the Test team’s currently hapless top six.” A rather peculiar message in timing and context based on the conversation between Rogers and Gerard Whateley live on ABC Grandstand that immediately followed.

This week, Dean Jones, while launching his book Dean Jones’ Cricket Tips, suggested that Rogers would be an ideal candidate for Glenn Maxwell as “I think he really needs a mentor.”

Described by Cricbuzz, the left-handed opening batsman is a typical Test opener. He doesn’t have the flashy, aggressive or eye-catching game, but his patience, grit and self-confidence makes him stand out.

In addition to this astute observation is that Rogers, if anything, is far from a product of the Australian system. His craft, skills and resilience constructed from repeated seasons in the English county system at Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Middlesex (plus a season at Somerset following his retirement from test cricket). A balance from a bygone era that has faded with the cluttered schedule.


A current national level selector, harbored a view of Rogers in 2012/13, that he was more likely to be active in club cricket as a talented junior was set to usurp him in Sheffield Shield ranks for the Bushrangers. That talented junior is now playing club cricket, while Rogers went onto a distinguished test career of 25 matches with 2015 runs at 42. The selector is still employed and making decisions on the future of many. Hopefully he has learned from this obfuscation in judgement.

At the moment, the direct official coaching and mentoring position in Australian cricket is under the direction of Ryan Harris at the Under 19 National Junior Championships in Adelaide.

This involvement at development level has occurred before. A valuable indicator of an ingrained willingness to adapt and share wisdom without searching for a profile. Not unlike the patience and grit that has served the baggy green so well. Qualities to be somehow inserted properly into the system.

A busy time for Bucky ahead it would seem.




Posted in Ashes, Bushrangers, Chris Rogers, Management, Middlesex CCC, Premier Cricket, Ryan Harris | Leave a comment

Leading Youth

What engagement skills are required to effectively connect with the range of attentions spans for youthful cricketers today? The explosion of participation and shift in ethnic backgrounds has made our game stronger for those with a passion to play. How a captain is able to nurture and encourage in a competitive environment calls upon a broader range of leadership skills for younger players in senior competition.

The old school “do as I do” instructions blurred by the accessibility to streaming and YouTube official and fan clips.  A recent conversation with a long term captain of lower grade teams with experience from over a decade provides the following when given the responsibility of leading youth.

  • Let them play, back them in. Allow the talent enough rope to succeed or fail.
  • Instill competitiveness from history and experience. Draw a thread between now and who has been before us with the club against the opposition.
  • Treat them like adults. Hold them accountable for their actions. Be the same with older players in the team. Show no favoritism.
  • Enjoy each others success.
  • Attitude and plan to win from any position. The more difficult position, find a way to get through. An early batting collapse as 5/69 is able to become 6/301.
  • A passion for learning is contagious, it has been around for centuries.
  • Be prepared to step back and listen to the conversation unfold.

Undoubtedly there is plenty more. Thanks @jhuddart79 for your wisdom. Look forward to our next chat.


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Trust. Bowler & The Captain

The relationship between bowler and captain presents as many challenges as there are rewards. The equation to satisfy the intent to capture 10 wickets calls upon so much more thought power and creativity to produce the opportunities.

Calmness, clarity and an accepted plan the overall objective. This may well fall into the skills set and character of the captain. However, a rampaging, snorting quick or a moody, over aroused tweaker present  their own demands at the time.

Kristen Beams , Southern Stars and Vic Spirit leg spinner, was able to deliver a tremendous insight into this complexity of the game with purpose and simplicity. Her logic all based around trust. A simple aspect to have an awareness of, but not always an easy thing to attain. I was fortunate to be able to listen to her point of view around the building of trust between captain and coaches for spin bowlers.


The first element for coaches is to understand the player, their character and temperament. What age and skill level are they at? what is their appetite, their willingness to learn?

From here, encourage the spinner to maintain ownership over their bowling, technically and tactically. Encourage them to experiment with grip, release point, angle and pace.

At practice, set up the environment for the player to practice game sense situations. Consider using coat hangers with shirts hanging from a net to indicate fielders. Manufacture targets on the pitch to aim at or to spin into. Even consider keeping a few balls wet on occasions to learn how to handle. These conditions do happen.

Moving into the match situation and relationship with the captain, key points as noted by Kristen:

  1. Expect the player to know what field to start with. Always easier to start defensively and adjust field positions as spell evolves.
  2. Captain be specific in task request. An example could be that we need 3 dots.
  3. Let the player work it out from here. Give them responsibility and allow the trust to flow that they can deliver.
  4. If the plan doesn’t work at this point, captain steps in to discuss and change. If this occurs, player can’t take this personally. Is just a time to adapt and adjust.
  5. Smile.




Posted in Spin Bowling, Tactics | Leave a comment

Nurturing The Clarity For Leadership

Does the pressure upon the leader become amplified as the format shortens from Test to One Day to T20?

Does the brevity allow the dynamics of a leader reveal a sense of clarity more critical in the maelstrom of white ball cricket?

In recent years, England have found the exhilaration in dominating India and Australia in Test matches, a feeling quickly tempered during the immediate One Day Series. Captain Alastair Cook, the target of much concern. His capital gain from the long form rapidly evaporating as the build up for the World Cup gathers momentum on the back of losses and unsubstantial innings.

The dynamic has had a dulling impact upon the team. Only a few were able to rise above, Joe Root continuing his outstanding summer.

Curiously though, Eoin Morgan despite several promising starts in the One Day matches, never achieved the outcome he would have desired. Technical flaws against spin being touted by the critics, or impetuosity from being contained. Similar criticism that he received during his Test career.

But then as if by magic when shifted into the leadership of the T20 team, bang, everything falls into place. A team with energy, excitement, innovation, application and composure.

In this case we have been able to witness a leader who has flourished again, returning to the One Day team. The same ingredients emerging within the team. An ability to be adaptable and handle changes of personnel. A belief that has no boundaries as new standards are being set.


As a leader, Morgan has been able to draw upon a wealth of experience. Being regularly involved in IPL and BBL has given him regular exposure to situations, conditions and the wisdom of others to form his own tactical methods and nous. The involvement did not always include playing, many matches he was left on the bench (watching others should also be viewed as development).

It could also be stated that in the consistent role of a “finisher” he has naturally developed a reliable ability to handle pressure when the requirement is to influence a game and arrive at the position to be able to win.


With many competitions now consisting of the three formats, is it worth considering using the pressure from within the white ball game as a development space for leadership?









Posted in Clarity, Game Sense, T20, Uncategorized, World Cup | Leave a comment

September Simple

September simple for bowlers.

Suppress the urge to over extend the body too early, especially if starting indoors.

Gradually build the muscle memory.

Take your time, focus on technique.

Ease into the run up, a few small steps to start.

Be balanced, find rhythm.

Momentum builds to flow through the crease.

Activate front arm, hold strong, front arm elbow above shoulder height.

Energy towards off stump.

Follow through in a straight line, bowling arm down to opposite knee.

Build confidence.

Allow yourself to enjoy the gradual gains. Showtime is only a few weeks away.





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Integrity & Standards

One of the benefits of being a coach in the millenial, digital age is access to an endless range of knowledge sources. Wisdom gained from experience, some good and some not so.

Many a successful coach (success qualified as recognised by their players, peers and record) quote influence from Abraham Maslow as a guiding principle.

You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety” where the growth aspect is considered an ongoing awareness of integrity and standards while gaining experience and knowledge that advances the development of players, staff, team, club and community.

As a contrast to all the goodness that can be sourced, there are also many reflective insights into the experiences of others that are not exposed daily in the papers or sport websites and blogs that offer deeper knowledge and wisdom.

Becky Carlson sent the interweb into a frenzy across social media with “An Open Letter to the Athlete We Must Stop Recruiting” (LinkedIn comments = 1567 & climbing), that exposes the flaws of coaches enslaved to the mechanics of sport, not the principles, when in pursuit of a talented player. A complete insight into coaches consumed by the winning imperative within the lure of improvement that is somewhat distorted.

An Open Letter

Stop Making Everything Perfect For Your Kid by Susan Speer, another view of the interfering parent, not purely in a sporting context, that easily invokes reflection of a situation that emerges at times in a coaches experience.

In cricket, accredited coaching programs from mid to elite level have shifted the focus onto genuine learning and knowledge gain with the ability to sensibly communicate, as being far more important than the latest technical and skill acquisition methods.

This focus prompts the coach to understand their philosophy, personal integrity, mentoring and being capable of effective communication in a safe and progressive learning environment. A key part of the communication is strongly emphasised as listening…….(another post coming shortly).

Reflection on the integrity aspects can be a difficult challenge for a coach. Many coaches are lumped with every conceivable task imaginable, then some more that are not listed in a position description. Overlooked often is an outlet, mentor or coach for the coach. If you are reading this and belong to the management section of a club, kindly please consider this paragraph again. The ability to be of support and strength in this alone is capable of making a measurable difference.

Coaches who are shackled to the expectation of winning can occasionally let slip the expected integrity and standards of their qualifications. It has been reportedly overheard that “he might be a top, level 3 qualified coach, but is a complete c#*@head with poor standards of behavior” a concern to club management that feel somewhat compromised.

Sections of the community are quite forward and capable of initiating and expressing outrage towards unacceptable behavior of adults towards children. Religion, education, law enforcement and community groups are some from the community that have been held up in the brutal spotlight and judged beyond any legal ramifications.

The coach who strays into like unacceptability by relentlessly sending unwelcome communications under the guise of recruitment to prospective players aged eighteen and less would be viewed dimly upon open exposure. Not to mention the harassment felt by the players and the potential embarrassment to mates innocently drawn in. Harsher terms –  stalking / bullying – could be construed by minds with a different balance.

The emphasis by the sport on genuine learning and knowledge gain is key to the belief this will ensure that integrity and standards in all aspects of coaching are set perpetually high.

“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.” – John Wooden






Posted in Clarity, Integrity, Knowledge, Management, Review, Standards, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unlock The Wisdom

In the pursuit of success aligned to change, clubs will inevitably alter the structure of coaches in the positions of head, assistant or development coach at some point.

For the coaches that find themselves in this situation of a new environment, attention to gaining knowledge before launching into action allows the inner guiding principles to create a sense of relevant order.

Taking some time, proper time, to listen and learn from the senior players is imperative. Expectations from the senior group may not be in sync with initial thoughts as to why change is needed, and most likely are resistant to change.

However they provide the wisdom from experience, triumph and pain, that can be the seed of progress with a positive impact.

Find a quiet space, away from the club. possibly in your own environment to display a welcoming attitude. Give yourself enough time, 45 minutes as a guide. The hard part is, with a mind bursting full of ideas, is to have the balance tipped overwhelmingly towards listening.

Set a framework of simple questions. Apply the Johnny Cash few words logic. And let it flow. Some examples:

  1. Is your role clear & understood?
  2. How can we as coaches be better for you?
  3. What are you /we doing when our cricket is going well
  4. Do you have the interest & ability to help others? How?

Building a relationship and expanded awareness of substance from those senior players with wisdom during the early phase has an importance as great as a series of indoor net sessions.

Guru Bob > think about it!




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