Cricket is a competitive occupation.
Cricket as Occupation? England players get paid a lot, along with the attendant opportunities, it’s a life transforming lot.
Competitive? Each player competes against the opposition, against rivals for his place, against himself (his demons).
Fear is the Hobgoblin of cricketers.
Fear can be manufactured by a conflict between Team Orders and instinct, between responsibility and freedom from responsibility. England players are expected to both accept responsibility and play with freedom. These are twin masters who rarely can both be satisfied.
Some call it a style of cricket but it is more than that it is CULTURE built on a foundation of fear.
The Moores/Flower/Moores culture creates a conflict between caution/consolidation and confidence/attack; This conflict creates uncertainty and fear. The England set up? It’s a fear factory.
Michael Vaughan rightly exposed player fear created by Flower and the backroom for England’s failures in Oz this winter.
Vaughan also nailed the old lie about selectors and captains. The Coach gets HIS team. He is the Boss … not the selectors, not the captain.
Flower and Moores believe in the same culture, use the same Play Book/Team Orders
The ECB did not remove the source of the conflict between Team Orders and Instinct when they replaced Flower with Moores and entrenched Flower at Loughborough.
The ECB first invested in this Culture in 1999, that’s why it had no intention of changing the culture last winter. It finessed the Flower difficulty.
Continuity/loyalty/strong-leader/obedient players is an integral part of the Culture
The shorter the form of the game the more fear debilitates; the more damaging is internal conflict. It is this that has meant England perform relatively better at Test cricket. . Relatively being the operative word.
The India Test Series? It was a fix. The Duke ball and some English-bowler-friendly surfaces papered over the cracks. Just extraordinary they didn’t beat India 4-0.
Case Study of Cultural Change: Lehmann’s arrival at the Oz camp in 2013 transformed the culture in which the team operated; freeing the players from internal conflict and fear.
Lehmann provided clarity of approach, a confidence that those trying playing that way would be supported and a CULTURE that was in tune with how players dream of being able to play.
It will be harder to sustain this culture in the future. It’s very Generation X. Generation Y, the Millennials, don’t do the Moores/Flower/Moores Culture,
Millennials have less fear; their competition is with their opponents, not with themselves,
Millennials learnt at their mother’s knee: they can never fail; they can achieve anything
But even Millennials can be worn down in The Fear Factory.
The players themselves are probably the last people to see how they are being affected adversely by this culture. In the ‘bubble’ it is not obvious at all and Moores and Flower generate loyalty.
Changing the side and issues over captaincy are all second order ones.
While the CULTURE is wrong nothing will be known about the real potential of players qualified to play for or lead England.