Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Leading in the face of an insulting defeat

The Indian cricket team will not be able to forget this ‘Black Thursday’ for a long time. While batting it collapsed to India’s second or third worst innings total in more than 75 years of Test match cricket and then its bowlers were badly belted, giving away three times as many runs as the Indian total for only four of the opposing side’s wickets. The team’s morale and self-confidence this evening, when I am writing this post, would be the pits – to say the least. But theoretically there are four more days of play left, what should be the Indian team’s strategy now? I am putting myself into the shoes of the team’s captain and trying to think aloud what I would do at this critical juncture, what I would tell my team to do.

After a quiet dinner I would ask the team to assemble in my room. All of us eleven would then sit in a circle, holding one another’s hands. Sitting like that we would softly close our eyes and meditate for fifteen to twenty minutes just being aware of the hands in our hands and not consciously thinking about anything. After this exercise in cosmic bond building I would tell my teammates to let bygones be bygones and to take care of the remaining four days’ play in the best possible manner. We must play ball by ball, while bowling and fielding, it should be our endeavour to get a wicket on every ball, failing which to deny the opponents a run, failing which to restrict the number of runs scored off that ball. While batting, the effort would be not to get out on that ball and then to score as many runs off it as possible without taking undue risks.

To end the meeting I would tell them to think as a team but give their best individual performances so far, it is only times like this which verily test a player’s mettle and character. The task before the team is daunting but not impossible, had not the Indian team beat the world champion Australia in the 2001-02 Calcutta Test after conceding a follow-on, thanks to VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh, all also members of the present team? And if despite the players’ best efforts the match is lost, let it be; we would lose the match but not our honour.

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