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Musings with the swinger - Unlearn; Relearn!

June 14, 2021

There's always a sense of anticipation leading up to and during competitions. The anticipation from many angles.

The anticipation from the organizers, hoping that their many months of preparation will be worth it. The anticipation from the officials, knowing that each competition is unique; and that they need to put their best feet forward. The anticipation from the fans, expecting nothing but wins. The anticipation from the athletes, getting ready to showcase their skills and different levels of preparation. I dare say that the one from fans represents the biggest source of pressure. Pressure on players, coaches, and administrators.

Speaking of preparation, individual nations seem to have a template. Templates that have, over the years worked according to each country's respective expectations. We will talk about the expectations later but now, let's relate the outcome to each team's level of preparation, support, and exposure.

After the round-robin schedule of matches, the table below (derived from CricHeroes) shows the standing of the teams according to their performances. Were you surprised?

If you have been following the game in Africa, especially the women's version in the past few years, this table should not surprise you much. You would have been able to predict the position of each of the teams with some level of accuracy. Namibia has been a force in recent years and they are closely followed by Kenya. The battle for the last position on the podium would have been between Nigeria and Rwanda; with Botswana anchoring the table.

If this was your prediction, your expectations would have been met. Unless there was some upset of seismic proportions, or like a typical Nigerian (not just a sports fan), you were hoping to reap where you did not sow, you would not have expected our ladies to finish higher up the table than Namibia and Kenya. Nobody prays like (for unmerited favors) like a Nigerian.

One thing we have learned over the years is that history always repeats itself...and the big lesson we repeatedly derive from history is that we never learn from history (especially in this part of the globe). A wise man once said that only a lunatic will do something many times the same way and expect a different result. If we hope to escape from this vicious cycle of shoddy preparation before most of our international showings, commensurate performance at the tourneys, and bogus disappointment after the competitions, we need to learn two things.

First is that after every outing, we need to learn how to pick up relevant lessons instead of our habit of looking for who to blame. Call it a post-tournament review session if you will. It is usually difficult but necessary to highlight the lessons in our failures whilst they are still fresh. Oftentimes we tend to look for faults in the approach of the coach or methods of the team manager; or we look for a player who should have bowled, fielded, or batted better. And we forget that these people gave the best they could afford under the prevailing circumstances. Like an American attorney, Allan Lazor, once said: "failures blame others, winners take the blame".

Secondly, in case you still have not picked the lessons from Kwibuka, I will do you the favour. Unless we wish to remain as a mediocre team that goes to tournaments just to make up numbers, we need to start preparing as winning teams prepare. At this level, the only cricket the ladies play is the one they get to play once the umpire calls "play" at wherever tournament they find themselves at the time. Preparations go beyond just assembling prospects a few months (weeks, really) prior, having them bowl at each other, and drawing up a (sometimes subjective) list of the "final 14" that will eventually fly the green and yellow.

We are finishing in the 4th position in this competition because we have prepared for that position and to be fair to everyone, a lack of cricket due to the effects of Covid-19 would be a somewhat tenable excuse. In the future, we should be looking to place our team in a better position. Until we do that, the level of our expectation should be at par with the level of our (relative) preparation and we should take equal responsibility for the results. It cannot be just the players, just the coaches, or just the selectors.

Note that this was not in any way to exonerate or indict any person or people. It was just a pointer to our need to unlearn and relearn, collectively.

- A Groundsman


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