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Is the Australian cricket team a lesson in poor talent management?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008


Well, the Australians have just lost the second test against India at Mohali, losing by 320 runs. I’ve been reading the coverage in print and online and it struck me that there were a few home truths in the Australian team’s performance and behaviour.

Monday’s disgraceful spat between Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee is a lesson in how not to manage poor or declining performance in your team. Brett clearly wanted to bowl and thought he could do it, although Ricky thought otherwise, and handed the ball to another bowler. There followed an argument and heated words.
Lesson for managers: Don’t discipline underperforming team members in public. It causes hurt and consternation all round. Remember to clearly explain your expectations for high performance and help (rather than insult) those that once had great performance but are now struggling.

Some commentators have been lamenting the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.  The reasoning goes that they were senior players who brought great skill and great cohesion to the team, and assisted Ricky in building team spirit and discipline.  But now, they are gone.  And the Australians are looking like a second rate team, with good, but not great, younger players joining the test team.  To me it seems quite short-sighted that the Australian cricket fraternity has not been grooming junior players to have the quality and the attitude that is required at international test level.
Lesson for managers:  Don’t think succession planning is someone’s else’s business.  It is your business and it is your business now.  With financial conditions changing on a daily basis, with the economy in turmoil and with talented employees always looking out for their next career move, you cannot afford to be caught dozing when your key talent retires or moves on to other opportunities.  So do what you need to do to identify your key talent, work out succession plans, and start talking to peers and executives about creating the right conditions to retain and grow your talent.

2 Responses to “Is the Australian cricket team a lesson in poor talent management?”

  1. Chris S said

    I suppose it depends on how you look at it. Brett Lee has been suffering from poor form and personal issues resulting in very poor bowling in India. For all you know Pointing may have told him before play that he wasn’t going to get a bowl. Apart from that it is Pointing’s call as to who he bowls. A good team member will suck it up and vow to improve, not have a hissy fit on the field.

    Australia has been the benchmark in Cricket for a long time now and you’re the first to cast doubt on succession planning in Australia. Most commentators for a number of years have praised Australia’s domestic competition for producing talent. The one big hole is the lack of a quality spinner.

    It could be that with the retirement of some senior players that Australia have come back to the pack, or that India is rightfully pressing for number 1 spot. I think it may be a combination of a dip in Australia’s performance, India playing well and a tough tour of the sub-continent

  2. Sports teams are always a good analogy for usiness management, they have very well defined goal (win) which are time bound (a 5 day test) and of course are measurable etc.

    I would like to think Australia will become a second rate team and maybe England could beat them more often. However I think the sucession planning has been excellent and Australia has had great talent coming through for many years and this will likely just be blip.

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