This week, something remarkable happened.
The English Test Cricket Team won a game against India that they really shouldn’t have won. They did it despite the fact that they had mostly exactly the same players that had been on the end of a recent 17-match losing streak. And they did it by chasing down the highest fourth innings total by an English team, ever.
So, this was not your usual result. And this actually was not a one-off. They had also just won the previous series against New Zealand 3-0. So the same players who had lost 17 times in a row turned this around to 4 wins in a row – and four stunning, record-breaking run chases.
What was the secret to their success?
Space to entertain
A new coach (Brendon McCullum) and new team captain (Ben Stokes) have recently come into the team. Both seem fully aligned on what needed to happen.
They made tweaks around the side to alleviate stress. Meeting times are no longer set in stone, training workloads depend on the individual and what they want to get out of practice sessions. The captain, in particular, has been the main driver of a more casual approach.
These changes even have a name. A total cricket approach known as Bazball.
Quoting from The Guardian:
The night before the game started Stokes had watched the film Elvis and emerged inspired by how one man had changed the course of rock music, and pondering the possibility of bringing some of that supple-hipped swagger to his sport. Root’s crooked-pinkie celebration on reaching triple figures was a reference to that film.
“Ben’s wanted us to be entertainers. He mentioned trying to be rock stars on the field,” Root said. “It’s about trying to have fun and relish every opportunity you get to showcase what you’re about and put on a show for everyone. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to feel or look like a rock star, but for 10 seconds I might have done today.”
One thing is for sure, this was no fluke. This was a reading of a situation and making the absolute best of it using the materials on offer, and then bringing the best out of them.
Whatever the sporting future brings, it’s sure to be exciting.
As Joe Root, says, “It’s like being a kid again”.