Outsourcing excuses

Personally I question the validity of enquiries into the management and conduct of a non-American game by an American instrumentality; not because of a lack of management and business knowledge — I am sure that the consultants are more than well qualified in these universal areas of business expertise — but because of deficiencies in their awareness of the culture, history and evolution of cricket.

The Romans consulted the entrails of animals to forecast the future. Medieval Englishmen used the same sort of internal examination as part of execution by hanging, drawing and quartering. More recently, The Australian newspaper (Wednesday April 20, 2011), suggests that a scrutiny of the innards of Australian cricket's horrible summer of 2010/2011 by the American leadership advisory firm of Heidrick & Struggles will produce in August a review which will probe the state of the game in that country.

Already the American consultant has started interviewing leading players after sending them a list of enquiries, as part of Cricket Australia's “post-Ashes fiasco”: questions such as “is your team a learning organisation?” and “Are you choosing to improve your game by availing yourself of efforts other than your own?” The investigation is headed and collated by Cricket Australia's Don Argus and is only one of many reviews appointed to probe the state of the game in Australia. The Argus review findings investigating the state of the game in Australia will be handed down in Spring 2011.

Personally I question the validity of enquiries into the management and conduct of a non-American game by an American instrumentality; not because of a lack of management and business knowledge — I am sure that the consultants are more than well qualified in these universal areas of business expertise — but because of deficiencies in their awareness of the culture, history and evolution of cricket.

Already cracks are beginning to appear in the ambitions of Mr. Argus. When responses to Cricket Australia's questionnaires began trickling in, it was rumoured that some players were said to be annoyed at being asked to fly interstate for interviews during non-business hours, underlining a dichotomy of interests between the professional and amateur games. The reluctance of some players to volunteer part of their non-earning time to the game, must surely bring into question the altruistic motivation to play the game. One can only presume that they prefer being paid for their efforts.

In August let us hope that Cricket Australia, with all the wealth of modern technology at its disposal, will rely on more scientific methods of explaining the shortcomings of Australian cricket's performances in the international arena. Faults in technique can usually be evidenced by such biomechanical reasons as the non-summation of forces, or the lack of the alignment of levers. On the mental plane, the inability to build an innings might indicate poor shot selection, the absence of the narrowing of internal and external concentration leading to a batsman's being unable to fine-focus. But at least the discovery of such evidence will enable Argus' review committees to provide tangible rational reasons for Australia's inability to bring home the Holy Grail of the Ashes — based on such inadequacies as illogical administration, negative coaching and undeserved selection. And once such torts are identified — their remedies are just around the corner — not in the superstitious Mumbo Jumbo of some animal's entrails!