There has been a great deal of talk and recrimination following England’s dreadful Ashes performance, writes Greg Cary.
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main - John Donne.
Try telling Kevin Pietersen.
Pietersen and Coach Andy Flower were the first heads to roll and debate has been fierce as to whether Pietersen was poorly treated. To what extent, the question goes, should teams cater for individuals who don’t always understand – or even like- the notion of team.
Pietersen,as they say, has history. He undermined his former skipper, Andrew Strauss, and the team of which he was part when he texted – in a fashion critical of his captain and team- to his South African opponents in 2012. He was sacked – rightly.
Believing in rehabilitation (and fancying their chances better with him inside the tent) he was brought back into the fold in the full knowledge of who he was. He then inspired England to a series win over India before imploding (along with the rest of the team) against the ferocity of Mitch Johnson and co.
Most teams and organisations have mavericks – individuals who might be difficult or unpopular. Handling these things can be challenging but isn’t that the role of decent management? To manage?
Ian Botham was hardly a shrinking violet but Mike Brearley harnessed his talents to the benefit of the team. And Ian.
Team sport has always made a place for the individual – from W.G. Grace to Shane Warne. True, any successful organisation has a culture that all members must understand, but sometimes the various characters and attributes of the group become the culture. Conformity can bring its own limitations .
Occasionally, as with Anthony Mundine, the solo sailor is better advised to farewell the crew and,in his case, both parties prospered. England,meantime, is tearing itself apart. They lose again.