OK, I know I got the whole Chris Gayle sexism thing off my chest recently, but when one of my junior cricketers yesterday was telling me how good Gayle’s recent 12-ball 50 was (… hopefully his final innings at the Big Bash), I had to take issue.
Did his team win that game, I asked?
Err… dunno, but wow, what hitting, I mean, a 12-ball 50! he replied in awe.
But did the team win? Did the innings set up a win, or take them over the line? I said again.
The 11 year old looked at me, puzzled. He was (I think) trying to remember who won that game, and was confused as to why I had not said something like Yeah, great innings wasn’t it?
No, his team lost, I said, so what good was that innings apart from being a celebration of his individual, perhaps wasted, talent? He played 17 balls in total, but there are 120 in the innings, and if he’d faced 40 or 50 of them, do you think his side would have won?
Now today (this boy was about to go out and open the innings for us), I want you to play for the team. It’s what I always want from my players. The opener’s job is to lay a platform for the rest of the team. To have wickets in hand for the final assault, when overs are running out. OK?
Gayle is an opener. He likes to stand and blast away. Sometimes he comes off, more than often he does not, because he plays with a high degree of risk. He has two shots – one a lofted drive down the ground (which he’ll bring out if the ball is anywhere near him), and the other, a push from the same position for a single if the ball is not in his arc. Or he leaves it alone. Invariably his sides lose. Why? Because his innings are always about him. If he cared about the team, he’d still be playing for his country, the West Indies (where he made his reputation). If he cared about winning games, he’d make sure that when he ‘got in’ and things were coming off, he carried on to post a winning score, or get his side over the line. Not just walk off after a meaningless, somewhat self indulgent thwhack which made headlines for him, but did not allow his team to win an important game.
He’s played for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash for a few years. They’ve come last for 3 years running, then second last last year. This year they won the tournament, but Gayle had since moved to a Melbourne team, who did not make it to the finals.
Is there a pattern here?
Play for the team. Play for the organisation. Play for your family. Play for your community. If we all do that, then we all enjoy much better outcomes.