First and foremost my sport is football. It has been my passion to play (when my joints allowed me!) and watch ever since I can remember. But I am a lover of all great sporting occasions and am in awe of the elite level that top sports people operate at.
The cricket world cup final was one such event. Whilst I am not a massive cricket follower, England in a World Cup Final was an important event and one that kept me enthralled all day. The drama of the day was incredible, and that final ‘super over’ was sport at its absolute best. The fact that, after 8 hours, the teams could only be separated by the number of boundaries hit during the day was a measure of how well-matched England and New Zealand were.
I have lost count of the amount of times I have now watched that final wicket being taken by Jos Buttler. How the England fielding team clicked into action as soon as the ball was hit showed hours and hours on the training field. Everyone played their part and executed their roles superbly, and the joy as the wicket went down was amazing.
What has struck me since the win has been the obvious role that England’s captain Eoin Morgan has played in the development and ultimate success of the team.
Morgan is a very calm individual. Every interview he gives shows him as an articulate and very measured man, and all the players talk very highly of him.
I heard an interview with Mark Wood at the weekend. Wood is a fast bowler and by his own admission is not a batsman. However, as the England wickets tumbled and Ben Stokes continued his one man battle with the New Zealand bowlers, Wood knew that he would have to enter the field and play what could be a pivotal role in England winning (or losing) the Final. He describes how nervous he was waiting for that moment.
Morgan simply approached him, calmly put his hands on his shoulders and said: “You know what to do.”
No instruction, no panic, just complete confidence in his next batsman.
How calming that must have been for Wood as his captain showed complete confidence in him.
The choice of bowler for the ‘super over’ was a massive decision. One man would carry the responsibility for the six deliveries that would decide the game’s outcome.
Jofra Archer is 24. He had played only a handful of internationals for England. This was his first World Cup experience. Maybe a natural choice to bowl the over based on ability, but not necessarily based on his experience and how the occasion may affect him.
Morgan apparently had no hesitation in giving the task to Archer, and I am sure in the same way he did with Wood, gave him the confidence that he believed he could deliver for the team.
Trust is such an important part of leadership. Knowing where the talents in your team lie and giving those individuals the space and confidence to flourish. However, trust is two way, and for your team to trust you, they need to respect you. Respect is earnt over time, with consistent behaviors and honest feedback.
Eoin Morgan has the trust of his team, and in turn trusts them all. Great leadership from a great leader that so many of us can learn from.