The IPL Multiple captaincy theory; will it last?
(This is a Guest Post by a Cricket Sports Pundit)
Anyone who has ever played a game of cricket would know there was only one captain per team. Even if it was just for the toss in a backyard game or the captain at your local club. There was one man at the helm and that was how things were done.
It’s an easy enough concept, one man makes the decisions and the rest of the team follows. A small scale dictatorship with hints of democracy, with your seniors supporting you on the field backed up with all the team meetings before games.
It is a concept that has worked well for test cricket. From Douglas Jardine to Mike Brearley to Allan Border and Steve Waugh, the one man captaincy theory works.
Enter John Buchanan. Reading his paperback copy of the ‘Art of War’ by Sun Tzu, apparently written about 2020 cricket, and introducing his multiple-captaincy theory.
It was confusing before it was even tried out. Ganguly seemed oblivious to the concept. Kumar Sangakkara liked the ‘Maverick’ idea. Mcgrath was non pulsed.
Even John Buchanan himself had difficulty getting people to understand his concept – first called the multiple-captains now called the multiple-strategists. Renaming a flawed concept is hardly a step in the right direction.
Cricket teams almost always have a core group of strategists, so this is nothing new. They come in the form of senior players or players with an aptitude and have the proverbial ‘cricketing brain’. Captains usually consult these players before making a big decision or when he is unsure which is in the end what Kolkata decided they would do anyway.
“Needless to say the term ‘multi-captains’ has raised a few eyebrows and questions. The idea is to have a set of strategists as is always the case classically in cricket, who will form a team of 4 to 5 core experts in the field of fielding, bowling, batting and data, etc,” the statement read. “These coaches or strategists will assist the one captain on field with their viewpoints on the game-plan set earlier or shoot from the hip as the case maybe.”
This is hardly revolutionary or indeed maverick. But it’s a stark contrast from the idea that Buchanan initially tried to introduce and was killed which was to have several captains on the field at the same time. Maybe Buchanan hasn’t heard of the term, ‘too many cooks spoil the soup’. But having different captains on the field at the same time is bound to fail.
The idea behind introducing varying captains is to free up time for others to think more clearly and has been in cricket news for a while now. I would argue that if you are not fit enough to lead for 20 overs without being able to handle it then you shouldn’t be a captain in the first place. To captain a team you need experience in playing the game and in leading men. You need to have earned the respect of the players you manage. You also need a certain degree of flair and dictatorial attributes. Imagine putting several individuals with these attributes on the same field and ask them to lead. Each one will have a different idea.
Different ideas that clash in the middle of a heated match are the last thing you need as captain(s). Majorly the cricket reviews and stories have been mostly about criticising such a strategy. The other question is that do we REALLY need four different captains to make decisions like who should bowl next and where the field should be. A quick consult with the bowlers and your senior think tank has worked for centuries.
Why fix something that isn’t broken.
While the theorists are happy to experiment with these ‘maverick’ ideas in 2020 cricket, it should be the hope of every true cricket fan that is it limited to that format of the game.
The idea of multiple-captains is redundant in test cricket, where the pressure of the 20 over format is minimized and there is more room to think and time to experiment over 5 days. Besides it would be a change in culture for a game that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.
Cricket leagues and the game as such have changed so much in the last 3-4 years. Some changes that were needed, some changes done purely to increase revenue and entertainment. With time-outs and double sided bats not too far away;
How much tinkering is needed before cricket becomes unrecognizable?