Comment

Why all the fuss about coaches? It is captains and players who win or lose matches

And when players have a technical problem, fellow players are best placed to sort them out

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
13-Feb-2022
Pat Cummins is a smart cricketer and has the makings of a fine captain  •  Getty Images

Pat Cummins is a smart cricketer and has the makings of a fine captain  •  Getty Images

The Test touring parties of Australia and England both feature interim coaches, and this has raised more questions than provided answers.
In particular, the demotion of Justin Langer caused Australian hysteria to reach the Monty Python comedy stage, where someone screeches, "He's not the Australian coach he's a very naughty boy."
Cricket fans tend to take more notice of who is or isn't the coach rather than focusing on the important matter of the appointed captain. Pat Cummins and his charges take the wickets, make the runs and handle the chances. It is they, not the coach, who will win or lose the upcoming series in Pakistan.
Anybody who thinks international players need coaching and mollycoddling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is confused. International techniques don't disintegrate. Players might encounter a problem along the way but what goes wrong is generally in the head. A decent natter with a preferred senior player in the team usually sets the cricketer on the right path.
Why are fellow players the best international coaches? For starters they are playing against the same players. They are also out in the middle in the heat of battle and understand the trying consequences. They also see their fellow competitors regularly and will quickly notice any change in technique or mental approach.
It's much more important to have well-credentialled selectors choosing the right squad than it is to have the public ranting about coaches.
Using the title "head coach" is a mistake. Anybody looking after a team should have the word "manager" in their title. If the captain, with the help of a few trusted aides, runs the cricket side of the game and the management concentrates on off-field matters, a team will be very competitive. An international coach should be something the Australian team travels in on a tour of England.
Cummins is a smart cricketer. He is a good captain because he understands bowling, approaches the game with a common-sense attitude, and has tough competitors around him. He also competes fiercely on the field and has no time for any hijinks; his team generally plays in a similar vein.
There's no doubt Cummins will experience tougher days than those he encountered against England. He will also have to fight through the occasional frustration - that's the life of a captain. Nevertheless he will establish his reputation as a good captain for the simple reason that he's a solid leader. His captaincy will be recognised because of his own efforts.
On the other side of the world England, under the temporary stewardship of interim managing director Andrew Strauss, have come off a monumental sacking spree. In addition to the three members of the hierarchy who bit the dust, Strauss' contingent did away with eight players who toured Australia and appointed an interim coach, Paul Collingwood.
There have been some good moves among those made by the Strauss group. The dropping of ageing stars Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad took courage and signalled a new direction for the team. The retention of an inconsistent Ollie Pope displayed faith in a talented but disoriented player. The elevation of a credentialled wicketkeeper, Ben Foakes, was welcome.
However, the one move that could have made a real difference - a change of leadership - was avoided. There's no doubt that England with good, strong leadership could be a side that improves a great deal on their recent showing in Australia. Joe Root deserves the title "prominent batter" but the team will not achieve its potential under his stewardship. He is not a good leader and never has been.
Who could England nominate as captain? That is a major problem. Apart from Ben Stokes there's not another name in the squad that stands out as a potential leader. Nevertheless England badly need to unearth a strong captain and do it quickly. If they don't have a captain providing direction to the Test team, they will continue to struggle against the major cricket nations.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist