Kazim Abidi is an entrepreneur, sportsman and a good friend who has just started contributing to this blog.
When we talk of cricket we talk of those big strides a fast bowler takes, the graceful stroke play of a batsman, the horizontal dive of a fielder, wizardry of a spinner and numerous other things that take place on the field. To a cricket lover it is poetry-in-motion. Close matches bring about the excitement, which is so unique because it’s a game with lots of gaps that allows you to think, ponder, discuss strategies, make changes etc. In this excitement we often forget the role a captain plays.
I think about my team HKU where I play my Saturday league cricket. It’s quite a mixture of English, Australian, Pakistani and Indian players. We didn’t do well for two seasons until we got Phil Glenwright, a player who has passed his prime, as our captain. The internal politics disappeared, the level of commitment from each individual soared. The team became a cohesive unit where an average player performed at parity with the stars. The captain’s confidence in each one of us and his appreciation for trivial things meant the world to us. We finished second in the league last year and are playing in the finals for the title this year.
I believe there is a spirit that drives humans to the height of their physical abilities. For some, it’s a creative spirit, which is more physical, for others, the spirit is mental. Watching Rajasthan Royals (RR) in recent IPL matches confirmed this notion. RR is a side that has no stars. The biggest names in the team are Greame Smith and probably Yusuf Pathan who is still struggling to make to the Indian playing eleven. This is also the cheapest team in the franchise where some players are bought at a meager $24,000 against the top auction price of $1.5 million. So how does this team perform so well? It is Shane Warne’s captaincy that does it for the RRs. The bowling changes, the element of surprise he brings in, the field placing along with his own superb bowling might be a part of the cricket that he played for Australia. But it is his unique leadership qualities – his faith in each individual and his ways to handle them – that bind the team so well. He inspires and motivates them so much that each individual is determined to give more than 100%. His immense confidence in Kamran Khan, eighteen year old kid from the impoverished backwaters of UP, who hasn’t played even first class cricket was worth noticing in a recent match. The pat on the back and the hug after he said, “I am sure you can do it” must have fired the lightly built Khan to do the job. This confidence along with the continuous encouragement coming from the great Warne must mean a lot to the otherwise unknown players of RR. So much so that they want to lay their lives for him. This is a strength that is a potential match winner.