Thursday, March 21, 2013

Leadership questions are distracting from the bigger issues


With Michael Clarke looking at the prospect of missing a test through injury for the first time in his career, the return of Shane Watson to India has stirred up a commotion about leadership and even the future of our cricket side over the next decade in regards to the captain's role.

This kind of reaction from the media over the past few days seems to come from Watson's lack of popularity in the public as a captain. As someone who is seen by the public to lack passion and talk on the pitch, Watson's potential rise to the top simply had to be a focal point.

The past few days have been worrying for myself because everyone has grabbed hold of an easy target in the form of the Queenslander and what started as a discussion of short term captaincy has exploded into long term leadership speculation.

Watson's credentials as captain are not what I'm here to discuss - that's a topic of its own.

But what I feel is that the media are almost driving the team's focus into a long term vision instead of the short term it so desperately needs to be.

In two separate stories today I've seen David Warner and Ed Cowan both mentioned as possible future leaders. I'm sorry, but why are we discussing potential leaders for years and years down the track when we have two final test matches in India and an Ashes to prepare for?

We have a pair of openers who need to figure out why their form is so all over the place, instead of filling their heads with notions of captaincy. If you want a pair of focused opening batsman, don't you think it's better to have them earn their place before making them feel like a secure part of the team? Telling them or writing that they have good leadership material can only serve to make them a little more complacent.

Even leadership questioning about the upcoming test is getting stale. You may have your opinion on who may be a better leader for the upcoming test but last time I checked a game of cricket was won with 11 players. A good voice in the field and well thought out field placement is crucial, of course, but it can only take you so far.

Huge questions need to be made of recent selections and how some players have managed to keep their place in the side, looking outside of the recent four man expulsion of the previous test.

Phil Hughes is incredibly lost and is being wasted at first drop. Yet it's difficult to see him bumping one of the openers of the top of the order after this tour. Where does he sit? Henriques started with a bang then limped off the last two tests. Does he need a break, or is it too quick to write him off? Khawaja needs the game time if he wants to be a long term part of this team. Get him in there?

These are the tough issues that we should be addressing. Not leadership for this test. Not leadership for five years down the road. Just playing cricket and playing it well.

I believe the only reason we've seen such a shift in focus by the media this week is because Watson is the subject. Supposed 'unpopularity' in leadership seems to breed a good story, as Julia Gillard could attest to.

Regardless of your opinion of Shane Watson, throwing other names in front of his for leadership certainly can't be inspiring confidence in the man.

The media is becoming distracted and seemingly wants to forget that this tour has ever happened - but you can't pretend it hasn't. No amount of long term vision came make you see beyond the wall of trouble in front of your face.

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