“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a Leader”- John Quincy Adams
Many people have the illusion that leadership is all about marshalling a troop or a team in an ordered manner to get the desired outcome. However, the wise ones know that it is much more than that and it involves bringing out the best from each of the team members to help them grow on both personal and professional levels.
In other words, a leader’s actions should directly influence the thought process of the team members, push them to get out of their comfort zone, make them confident enough to dream big and turn those dreams into reality.
Captaincy in Cricket is not an easy job
Captaincy in cricket is nothing different from leadership and it isn’t an easy task at all. The team members always look up to their captain as their inspiration when nothing goes right for them. A captain’s job is to push his team in the right direction and keep them on the right track.
Even when there is no support from other players on a given day, the captain must kick on with his sights firmly set on driving his team home safely single-handedly. Such is the job of a captain that there is no room for excuses.
The game of cricket has witnessed many of such great captains like Allan Border, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, MS Dhoni and others who inspired team-mates with their performances and heroics on and off the field.
However, there have also been some of those captains who didn’t get their share of fame just because they didn’t lead their sides for longer periods of time or they didn’t get enough chance to lead on big stages. One such player in recent times has been David Warner.
He has shown exceptional leadership skills, leading the IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2014.
When the Sunrisers announced David Warner as their skipper in 2014, the decision raised a few eyebrows as naturally aggressive and flamboyant players have seldom gone on to become good captains. However, there have been exceptions like MS Dhoni, who was aggressive, careless and flamboyant during his initial years but went on to become a successful captain afterwards.
Every fan and pundit had the opinion that the Aussie swashbuckling batsman knew only one way to play and the responsibility of captaincy was too much to handle for him.
Warner proves his critics wrong
However, Warner started proving them wrong as he led the Sunrisers in a superb manner right from the first year. Though they finished at sixth on the points table consecutively for two years in 2014 and 2015, Warner was inspirational with his individual batting performances.
The Sunrisers lost out on a playoff spot narrowly on both occasions as Warner didn’t get enough support from other players. He had scored over 500 runs in both the editions but still could not take his side to the play-offs.
The real turning point for them came in 2016 when they not only qualified for the playoffs but also went on to win the title. The left-hander had amassed over 800 runs in that single edition and ended up as the second-highest run scorer in the tournament behind Virat Kohli.
The fabulous result that year was an outcome of Warner’s energy, positivity and vision which was being infused into the team members from the previous couple of years.
With his individual performances, Warner had finally succeeded in inspiring other individuals of the team to give their best on the field. The confidence, aggression, winning mentality and never-say-die spirit that he inculcated in the team for two long years was finally showing off in their performances.
And with their run till the playoffs in this year’s IPL, Warner once again showed the consistency that he has instilled in this team.
His short international stint as a captain
Six months after lifting his first IPL title in 2016, Warner got the chance to lead his country in the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka. The Asian giants had already whitewashed the mighty Aussies in the Test series and once again looked good to win the ODI series also as the series was level at 1-1 after two matches.
The Australian team management then decided to send Aussie skipper Steve Smith back to Australia. The reason being they wanted to give him ample rest before the home series against South Africa.
The move came as a shock, more than a surprise, and was criticised by many people. Vice-captain David Warner was handed over the captaincy duties and he turned Australia’s fortune around in the same way as he had done for his IPL franchise.
Australia won the remaining three ODIs under Warner’s leadership. He even scored a century in the final ODI of the series and won them the match single-handedly. Australia also clean swept the subsequent T20I series under Warner’s leadership.
Suddenly, the cricket world was abuzz with how well the exciting opener had done to turn the series in their favour completely.
Qualities like never-say-die spirit, winning mentality and desire to convert half-chances into full ones, something that he had shown during his captaincy stint in the IPL was now visible in the international fold as well. The Australian board should have acknowledged his captaincy skills by handing him over the duties, at least in T20Is.
However, Steve Smith was again back in action as the captain after that series and Warner never led his country after that.
Nevertheless, no one can take away anything from what he achieved in his short captaincy stint with Australia. Moreover, only a few can match what he has achieved in IPL as a captain.
Warner enjoys that responsibility and statistics of 2579 runs in 59 matches as an IPL captain at an average of 52.63 suggest that. What he has achieved so far as a leader can be perfectly described in the following statement by John C. Maxwell-
“A Leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
(This Opinion Piece first appeared in the Sportskeeda on May 29, 2017)