Why strategies and decision making are key to a champion team
“Perhaps they got their strategy wrong - Russell didn't bat." – these were the words of Steve Smith, Man of the Match, at the presentation ceremony after his team Barbados Tridents snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL.
In Russel’s previous match, he arrived at the crease with the scorecard reading a sorry 16/4 in 3.3 overs. What transpired next was a freakish innings of absolute mayhem as his whirlwind knock of 121 off 49 balls helped the Tallawah’s chase down an improbable 224 runs from an even more improbable position. Lets reserve praise for that innings for later. What was shocking was the fact that in the next match, against Barbados, Jamaica lost the match by 2 runs with 7 wickets ( including that of Russell!) in their kitty.
From a stage where the match could have been done and dusted by sending power hitters like Russell and Powell early on, Tallawahs instead sent Ross Taylor, who is a known slow starter, and eventually lost the match.
If this doesn’t strike upon you the importance of backroom decision making in cricket, now lets move to the other end of the spectrum – the opposition Barbados Tridents.
There were rumors going around, and visuals seemed quite obvious too, that they deliberately dropped catches towards the later stages of the Tallawah’s innings to keep Russell from possibly showing off his pyrotechnics and winning the game for his team.
Nonetheless, one must also observe that the longer the game is played, lesser is the importance of these backroom decisions. The longer a game is played, the decisions need to be instinctive and need to be taken by the presiding captain on the field spontaneously.
However, the value of a wise coaching staff is not lost completely too.
In the recent Lord’s Test between India and England, the Indian think tank replaced a seamer with a second spinner in Kuldeep Yadav at Lord's, when the pitch was lush green and the conditions largely favored seam bowling. Their argument that it was a rainy on the first day , and that the forecast for later days was bright and sunny was, well – just a show of their rigidity to accept their mistakes.
For a point in case, England in the same match played 4 fast bowlers and a spinner. So it definitely was a tactical error on the Indian team management’s behalf.
Cricket is a game whose horizons can be extended to infinite levels. And these issues such as decision-making can either be the making of a champion team or the grand fall of another.