February 19, 2011

Letter From the Deputy Editor: How to Build a Winning Team

Rajasthan won the championship not merely on the field but through administrative reforms off the field as well

Winning, it is said, is a habit. Individuals or teams that win frequently know how to escape the trapdoors of defeat. They know how to keep going mentally and physically for that extra minute that tires their opponents into surrender. Winning combinations can battle their demons and find a way to overcome them. When the pressure to perform is at its peak, winners bring out their best move. What happens if you have never known the winning feeling? As the Eagles (almost) sang: “… haven’t had that (winning) feeling since 1969”! Asking such a unit to win is equivalent of you or me doing the Roman Rings at the Olympics. There will be only broken bones and shattered ego on display.

Somebody forgot to tell the Rajasthan Cricket Team all this. Before the 2011 season, they had little to show in domestic competitions, especially the premier Ranji Trophy. The Rajasthan team was the proverbial minnow. The purpose of their existence seemed to be to provide the other team with 5 points to advance through the league. Rajasthan changed the script to cast themselves as the winners of this year’s Ranji Trophy. And they won the championship not merely on the field but through administrative reforms off the field as well. They were gutsy and dominating, as champions should be. They could be in that mental frame of mind because the Rajasthan Cricket Association officials set aside factionalism to create a player-friendly environment. The officials took some radical decisions like importing some talent from outside the state. They combined the radical with the incremental and took small but important decisions like investing in their players’ medical care. The players returned the favour by not losing even one match and posting massive totals in almost all their matches.

This story holds a great deal of insights that can be used by our own Men in Blue and their Captain Fantastic to best all the other sides in World Cup 2011. As my colleagues, Special Correspondent Udit Misra and Principal Photographer Amit Verma, discovered while working on this story, the one critical thing that Rajasthan can show Team India is that to be a champion you should believe that you are the champion, dominate your opposition and once you have them on the mat, keep them down in a deadlock till they scream: “Concede”!

Here’s looking at the Cup!

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