As I write this down, one of the biggest spectacles we have witnessed in Indian Cricket , the Indian Premier League, has just drawn to a close. To be honest, I have never really enjoyed cricket. Cricket is a long game which gives lot of scope to correct errors in any aspect of the game. The smaller version of the game brought to light, how important it is to avoid mistakes and how easily the game gets away from your hand. It brought out a spirit that was necessary to win the game.
But, was this IPL just about cricket and entertainment? I would have said yes if it wasn’t for Rajasthan Royals. On paper, Rajasthan Royals is the weakest team in the league. They are the cheapest team; they don't have icon or star players and even their foreign players (except Graeme Smith) are either retired from international cricket or benchwarmers (Man of the series, Shane Watson) in their respective national sides. So what is the key factor that helped Rajasthan Royals succeed and that too in an awesomely convincing fashion, losing just 3 games one of which was inconsequential at the least.
In the end, it wasn’t technique, it wasn’t the millions spend on buying players, but it was getting the leader of the squad right, that became the key factor to Rajasthan Royals’ success in this tournament. Shane Warne was an all-in-one father figure, mentor, friend and motivator for the whole team; and it is a lesson for anyone leading a team.
Even before the tournament started, Shane Warne was studying his team. He prepared actual documents for each of his players underlining what their roles will be. Shane Watson who is not even in the national side, had a three point agenda with details on his fielding position and ways he should be motivating the other fielders. In a way, Shane Warne had a very thorough project plan in place.
Shane Warne, also reportedly hated Indian food and Indian climate when he toured here last with the Australian Team. But when he got the job of coaching an Indian regional side, he had to side with his differences. He started having Indian food, he started taking language classes and he made a huge effort to understand the ethos of leading an Indian side. This made sure that the local boys never feel alienated to him. More importantly they could easily warm up to him as a friend. Yusuf Pathan after the final match told the TV reporter that before he went in to bat he was very nervous and that it was talking to Shane Warne that helped him ease his nerve. Yusuf Pathan speaks next to no English. How did Shane Warne manage to have such a friendly relation with Yusuf when language was a huge barrier? That can be attributed only to the personality of Shane Warne who very successfully dissolved boundaries of nationalities to have a successful team.
Kamran Akmal, another player who speaks next to no English, was endearingly honest when he commented about Shane Warne as a captain. He was emphatic about the support Shane Warne provided to the youngsters. Shane Warne made everyone understand their capabilities. Though they were considered underdogs by the whole media, Shane Warne never let the team feel that way about themselves. The players refused to see themselves as underdogs even after repeated remarks by Ravi Shastri in the presentation ceremony. The mood was upbeat, and the air was of confidence; success is what happens when people start believing in themselves.
We have to open our eyes. To see that where we are right now, is not because of luck, its not chance either. We are all capable of doing something and that is exactly the reason why we are doing what we are asked to. But to haul it all up as a collective effort takes the vision, compassion and level headedness of a great leader. A great leader, as Shane Warne remarkably exhibited throughout this series, is not someone superior to you. A great leader is rather someone who helps you understand your abilities, instils in you a passion to win, and cheers you up even in the worst adversities. Shane Warne, I bow before thee for teaching us all a lesson or two in being a great leader.