‘Mollycoddled’ players can’t think for themselves

Laptops have become a mainstay of the coach’s armoury
© Cricinfo Ltd

There was a piece in the New Zealand press which I Surfered yesterday in which Nathan Astle revealed the “brain washing” he and his team-mates have been experiencing, or whatever the term is.

This is the much-trumpeted forum that as told in Nathan Astle’s just released autobiography includes a session in which each player has to leave the room while the rest of side break into groups and dream up adjectives to best describe him, and a few things they believe he should try to brush up on.Apparently the brainchild of a former Australian school teacher, the supposed aim is to improve the relationship-dynamics between the players, therefore imbuing the squad with a greater sense of trust and, as a consequence, helping to achieve more success on the playing field. That’s the aim, anyway.

And today John Morrison, the former New Zealand batsman, has joined in the debate – even arguing that in terms of “over analysis,” the New Zealand cricket team is heading in the same direction as the All Blacks. He raises some important points:

“I’m always worried when I go to a ground and see cricket coaches poring over laptops but the problem is, now if you say anything to the contrary you’re called old and out of touch.

So instead we’ve created this industry of extras around the team who have to justify their existence by taking any decisions or responsibilities away from the players.

“So we’ve got this mollycoddled generation of sportsmen who might be great athletes but who have lost all ability to think for themselves.

All this (for me, anyway) ties nicely into Giles Clarke’s comments the other day, in which he said “cricket is a business”. And it is. Cricket (and many other top-level sports) is no longer about the players, or even the sport itself. The game has become an incidental extra to the serious business of making money. Now, Morrison’s comments aren’t directly linked to this – but the constant over-use of technology, inspection and analysis isn’t helping anyone, and is another needless obsession away from the actual game itself. As he says, these players are all supreme athletes, but what do they have to show for it?

And what is the solution?

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