THE recent performance of the national cricket team has brought the element of in-match coaching into sharp focus. Pakistan’s surprising defeats have led to widespread criticism of the captain for poor strategy and even poorer individual performance. The burden placed on cricket captains during matches is immense.

In football, team managers play an active and continuous role throughout the match, making real-time tactical adjustments and strategic decisions. This approach leverages the experience and knowledge of the managers, ensuring that players can focus on their performance.

Applying a similar model to cricket may prove beneficial. Allowing coaches to have a more direct role during matches would alleviate some of the pressure on the captain, and potentially improve the team’s overall performance. Coaches can make strategic decisions regarding field placements, bowling changes and batting orders, using their extensive experience and tactical understanding.

This change could be particularly advantageous in high-pressure games. Imagine the impact of a coach’s real-time decisions in crucial moments, reducing the cognitive load on the captain and allowing him to lead more effectively on the field. This approach could have possibly altered the outcomes of Pakistan’s recent matches against the United States and India.

While cricket’s traditional structure places significant emphasis on the captain’s role, evolving the game to incorporate a more active coaching role during matches could be a progressive step. It would essentially require clear communication channels and a major shift in traditional thinking, but the potential benefits in terms of improved decision-making and reduced pressure on players make it a worthwhile consideration. Cricket, like all sports, must evolve. Embracing a more dynamic role for coaches during matches could be the next step in that evolution, ensuring that teams like Pakistan perform to the best of their collective capabilities.

Azeez Ahmad Zai
Karachi

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2024

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