On deadly ground, fight

“On deadly ground, fight…Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape…and there is nothing they may not achieve.”  So wrote Sun Tzu, in his Art of War.

That sounds like fighting talk…but what does a Chinese general, strategist and philosopher, writing some 2,500 years ago, have to say about cricket?

I watched the second innings of an indoor game yesterday morning.  With little chance of defending a very low first innings total, the bowling side took the only approach open to them – to try to bowl the opposition out.  And they succeeded.

OK.  Division 3 of a local indoor cricket competition is hardly Sun Tzu’s “deadly ground”, but with nothing to lose, they produced a performance as convincing as any I have seen.

So perhaps there is something in this, for the future of “good cricket”.

Continue reading On deadly ground, fight

Match rules again – providing positive incentives for positive cricket

It’s that time of year, again.  The League is consulting on possible changes to match regulations for the 2013 season.  And the proposal this year is to play a lot more limited overs below 1st XI.

I can’t fault the logic behind the proposals.  1st XIs already play a lot of limited-over cricket (National, regional and League cup competitons, twenty20, some Sunday league formats), so lower XIs should too.  Many Captains throughout the League, but especially below 1st XI Premier, probably do not really know how to manage a “time” game, let alone how to win one.

But, as I have written before, my preference for the time game stems from a desire to see all of the skills of the game come into play, and limited overs cricket can (sometimes) require limited skills – what space is there for the young spinner to learn to deceive the batsman with flight, for example?

I suspect the battle might be lost, this time.  Match rules can be imposed to restrict overly defensive field placings, but perhaps there are more creative ways of providing positive incentives for positive cricket. Continue reading Match rules again – providing positive incentives for positive cricket

Follow the leader

As the England cricket team prepares for the test series against India, the spotlight falls inevitably on their new captain, Alastair Cook.  Largely untried as a leader at the highest level, general opinion seems to be in favour of Cook’s appointment.  Top batsman, good team player, resolute under pressure.

Cook’s predecessor, Andrew Strauss, alongside coach Andy Flower, saw England take the no. 1  position in the ICC Test rankings  (a position subsequently lost to South Africa), so Cook has a tough act to follow.

But what makes a leader?  In sport, or in business?

There is a clue in the title – a leader needs to lead.  Sometimes from the front (opening the batting in a Test match; first into the office and last out); sometimes by offering advice and support; sometimes simply by providing the space for others to flourish.

But a leader also needs to be followed.  And that can be the tricky part.

Continue reading Follow the leader