Can retired cricket players be successful professional coaches?
With the increasing professionalism in cricket, there is an increase in the expertise of the management staff as well. We, being avid cricket followers, are seeing a drastic increase in the inclusion of retired professional cricket players taking up coaching roles. At first thought, this is positive for the future of cricket. If the professionals performed at the top level for so many years, surely they can assist the young cricket professionals? Not necessarily. It is also an easy transition for players to become coaches as they have experience with travel, team dynamics and know what it takes to do well at the top level. It seems almost a no-brainer, doesn’t it?
However, as easy as the transition may be from player to coach it may not necessarily be the correct decision. Retired players offer vast professional experience at the international level, I mean who would you employ as a batting coach; a coach who has 5000 Test runs or someone who may have very little first-class experience? If he can score 5000 Test runs, surely he can make me do the same… not necessarily.
Do not get me wrong, retired players offer guidance and support from their vast playing experience and could very well assist many players to do the same. However, his 5000 Test runs become useless if he does not know HOW to teach you to score them. You see retired players usually teach from their own experience and perspective, which may not resonate with all the players. Cricket, and sport, is very individual. Every athlete's body and mind is different and therefore they require different leadership and management styles to get the best out of them. Just because a coach has 5000 Test runs, it does not mean that he can teach you how to score 5000 runs.
Coaching is effectively getting the best out of each player to ensure they perform well. This requires an open mind and adaptable approach. As a coach, you should set up a culture and environment which accepts failure, but promotes growth, one which gives every player the opportunity to become the best version of themselves. Being able to effectively and successfully lead and manage players is an art that takes years of coaching experience.
Do you see where I am going? Coaching and playing experience is vastly different… however they are equally important and can translate into being a successful coach, but just because you can score 5000 Test runs does not mean you can effectively teach someone else to.
Having a retired successful player on your management staff will offer guidance and assistance, however, it may not resonate with all the players. Having the skill to successfully communicate, connect and lead a group of athletes as a team is a skill and art that takes years of experience.
Therefore, I am not saying that retired payers cannot coach, or that one should not employ retired professional players, but one should not underestimate the art of coaching and how important that is.
Remember, players are individuals on their own, one team is made up of multiple different personalities, all of whom require a different coaching approach to get the best out of them. Being able to notice this, set up an environment which gets the best out of everyone and being able to connect with every player is an art that should not be underestimated. There is nothing to prove that retired players cannot do this, but just because someone has 5000 Test runs does not mean he can effectively coach people how to score them.
What he can do is offer HIS experiences and approaches in hopes that the players can learn and grow from how he did it, but that does not mean that every batsman has to do what he did to score the runs.