first_imgBy Dr. Rudi WebsterON March 13, 1967, fifty years ago, Sir Frank Worrell passed away. He was loved and admired by cricket enthusiasts around the world and will not be forgotten. In the Caribbean his achievements are constantly extolled in numerous cricket discussions and memorial lectures. This is extremely important. But most of these lectures have taken on too much of an academic slant.Consequently, the practical application of the cricket culture that Worrell developed as well as his principles for cricket development and performance enhancement have been forgotten or lost. This is unfortunate.The skills of ‘literacy’ – knowledge, information gathering and dissemination are very important, but are different from the skills of ‘operacy’ – doing or executing. Both are needed for successful performance. Sadly, the current West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has consistently neglected both of these things, hence the very poor state of West Indies cricket.In 1960, the WICB abandoned its policy of appointing captains only from European ranks and selected Frank Worrell as its thirteenth captain of the West Indies team.Frank then led the team in Australia and what a series it was! That tour revived cricket down under and although West Indies lost the series approximately half a million people lined the streets of Melbourne to bid farewell to the players and to implore them to ‘come back soon’.This was quite amazing because when the players arrived in Australia hardly any of them had much of a reputation, but by the end of the series they were all stars or superstars.After that series Richie Benaud, Australia’s captain declared, “I don’t think it would be uncharitable to say that Worrell’s turn as captain was long overdue.“Worrell has been a fine cricketer for West Indies for many years but this was the first time he had been given the opportunity of leading his country, and how wonderfully he justified the confidence placed in him. However, it is possible that over the years the part he played in his side’s triumph may fade.“That should not happen because he was the main cementing agent of the successful teamwork of his side. He is a man of stature, not frightened to say what he feels about any particular matter, and prepared to stand by his opinion.“Above all, on this tour, he held to the maxim of not telling the team something that is patently incorrect. There is nothing of the ‘con’ man about Worrell. He pointed out to them (his players) all through the tour that the Australians could be beaten, but only if the side of individuals played as a team … to say that he was right would be to understate the case.”Richie added, “Worrell will quite rightly go down in cricket annals as one of the best captains we have ever seen. His quiet, happy disposition and fine public relations have done much not only for the game of cricket, but also for many who have played with and against him.”When Frank returned to the Caribbean he further improved the team and later joined a select band of captains that won all five Tests in a series. Furthermore, he created a winning culture that Sobers, Lloyd and Richards carried on.Richie Benaud and Frank Worrell admire the eponymous trophy in 1961.What were the personal attributes that made Worrell such a great leader? First, he possessed a high level of integrity, a powerful set of core values, a healthy level of self-confidence and a strong sense of self-acceptance and self-belief.Second, he had extensive knowledge of the game and its history, a sharp understanding of his players, their culture and the things that made them tick. Third, he had wide experience and a tremendous track record; he knew how to control himself and how to stay calm and focused under pressure.Fourth, he had the ability to create harmonious, cooperative and stimulating relationships within the team. Fifth, he had a keen mind, strong analytical abilities, good judgment and the capacity to think simply, clearly and strategically.Sixth, but by no means least, he possessed high levels of motivation and self-discipline, two of the most important factors in performance at the highest levels of sport. And he did his best to imprint some of these qualities into the minds of his players.It is quite rare for leaders to have all of these personal qualities. But successful leaders who have limitations in some of these areas usually appoint people to the leadership team who have the skills to make up for their limitations.Although Worrell had these great personal qualities he knew that he would only be successful if he could use them to get the players to execute his plans and strategies.He had great confidence in his players’ ability but he first had to get them to see the talent that they had within, and then stimulate them to express it effectively to deal with the many challenges they were likely to face on and off the field.Frank was a great ‘man-manager’ and soon accomplished those goals. At the end of the Australian tour, he said. “This is one of the happiest teams I have ever toured with, and the response from every player was tremendous whatever the circumstances or the result of any particular match.”Worrell had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve for West Indies cricket and how he wanted his team to play the game. When he shared that vision with his players and clarified their roles and responsibilities he created an awareness of purpose and a strong feeling of belonging.The players then brought passion and commitment with them because they believed that they could truly make a difference to the performance of the team. And when Frank directed and focused these energies to the tasks and challenges at hand, a major requirement for success was satisfied.West Indies cricket is in urgent need of revival. The Board, coaches and players should make a point of revisiting the Worrell era to see what they could learn from the past to jumpstart this revival, since human performance is not only influenced by goals or models formulating the future, but also by history and past experiences.last_img

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