Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hoggard’s captaincy

Be careful what you wish for. Years ago, I started a campaign for Matthew Hoggard, hammer of the metrosexuals, to be appointed captain of the England cricket team. Considering that he was beaten to the post by Kevin Pietersen, England once again overlooked my sagely advice.

However, for flimsy reasons, Hoggard was expelled from the England side for good. Another badly treated player, despite talent and good heart.

Replicating his success with England, Yorkshire also sacked him, despite years of service and being from Yorkshire. Which, apparently, counts for something up there.

So. Off he went to Leicestershire. Suicidally, they gave him the captaincy.

What could go wrong with giving the leadership and future of your entire team to man whose autobiography boasts that “he’s mad as a box of frogs”?

Last weekend, I watched Hoggard’s captaincy with interest. Essentially, it involved give the ball to his excessively tall spinners and watch Surrey do the jig of asthmatic doom. He was perhaps overcautious. Refusing to place a silly point, despite the ball lobbing up there repeatedly, and a massive first innings lead.

What struck me about Hoggard was that strangely corporate approach to management.

Of course, giving Hoggard an entire team to shape in his image was asking for trouble. Will Jefferson, for instance, loudly followed a train of thought from mentioning Nelson, then musing on Nelson Mandela and then a few tasteful references to Robin Island.

The captain, however, was the king of the endless dribble. Hoggard’s late session bleating about varieties of wine, Guinness and Bulmer’s eventually faded into the background. Much like the irritating nagging of an unwanted grandmother. AYALAC, as you would have noticed, is all for mindless, non-sensical chatter. But it's all about the context.

Weirdly, it was Hoggard’s insistence for “energy” that struck me. This rang discordant bells of shitty managers from years ago. Managers that would use phrases like “gang”, “guys” and “let’s do this!” Managers that used mindless dribble as a force for evil - instead of good.

Players that didn’t produce sufficient quantities of mindlessly bleating were publicly admonished. When a boundary was scored after the dressing down was delivered, the person would be isolated further with a few more barbs.

Occasionally, Hoggard would muse at length at the verbal reticence of targeted individual. The team would fall into an embarrassed silence. The worst way to build a team’s “energy” is by an authority finger victimising them with sarcastic comments.

Today the Hoggard for Captain Campaign dies. With regret.

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