Wed | Jun 28, 2017

Tony Becca | Captaincy, a labour of love

Published:Sunday | March 19, 2017 | 3:00 AM
England's Alastair Cook
Jason Holder
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Last month, Alastair Cook gave up the high-profile job as captain of England, and that after leading his country for five years and 59 Test matches, after being the most capped England player with 140 appearances, and after scoring the most runs, 11,057, and the most centuries, 30.

And to top of it all, the England management, the England players, and the England fans, all thanked him and gave him a round of applause for a job well done and wished him good luck as he bade to continue his wonderful career as a batsman.

Cook's exit followed England's 0-4 loss to India in India recently, and the 32-year-old left-hander stated, simply and precisely afterwards, the reason for his decision.

"You can't do the job at 95 per cent," he said, hinting that he needed to devote all his time, all 100 per cent of his time, to the job of captaining the England cricket team.

If I was beside him when he made that statement, I would have, without a doubt, shook his hand vigorously.

To captain England, to captain any team, especially an international cricket team, calls for knowledge of the game, it calls for selflessness, it calls for leadership, and it calls for commitment, the kind of devotion which sometimes leads to obsession, almost like a religious fanatic.

If one is to succeed in life, in one thing or another, one needs not to like what one is doing, but one has to love what one is doing, one has to know about what one is doing, inside and outside, and one has to do it day in and day out, day after day.

Show me a successful man, or woman, in any sphere of endeavour, and I will show you a man, or a woman, who has worked tirelessly at what he or she is doing, knows what he or she is doing, tries to know more about whatever he or she is doing, and is fair to everyone, or tries to be to almost everyone with whom he or she comes in contact.

And it matters not what he does, whether it is business or pleasure, or whether it is voluntary work, especially in social life and in sport.

In fact, voluntarism is probably the greatest gift of all, especially in societies of limited resources such as Jamaica, and one with gifted people who generally need the support, such as Jamaicans.

 

VOLUNTARISM VALUABLE

 

Voluntarism is good and valuable. It is good and valuable to those who volunteer if only for personal esteem, but also to those who benefit from volunteers, especially those who achieve their dreams and those who become great and famous because of volunteers.

The good volunteers, however, are not necessarily those who do it occasionally, or at their own convenience, as some are often quick to say, or those who do not recognise the value of time, their own and that of other people, by acting or saying, almost defiantly, that they are volunteers whenever they get something wrong or arrive late.

The good volunteer knows that once he accepts being a volunteer, it is his job and his commitment, he knows that he accepted the job and thus the commitment, and he knows that he is obliged to do the job, and to the best of his ability.

A volunteer, a good volunteer, goes about his job, not at the expense of his regular job, but just like it was a regular job, sometimes with more devotion and dedication, and that is why he is successful.

Alastair Cook was not a volunteer, but although as a professional he was paid to do the job as a cricket captain, as the England captain, he was like a volunteer - doing the job every day, from day to day, never complaining, taking the good with the bad, always reaching for the sky, or the mountain top, but never making a demand as if it was his by divine right to get there.

He seemed to enjoy his innings in charge at or near the top.

Cook may have had other reasons for his much-lamented decision, but whatever they were, if indeed they were any other, in his own words, he gave up the England captaincy when he could not give 100 per cent of his time and skill, and he knew that in whatever one does, that is what it takes to do a good job.

If only there were more men, and women, like him, much, much more, and especially in Jamaica and in the West Indies.

Although the 42-year-old Misbah-ul-Haq is the captain of Pakistan, the four captains of Australia, India, New Zealand are 27-year-old Steve Smith, 28-year-old Virat Kohli and 26-year-old Kane Williamson, respectively, and the new captain of England is 26-year-old Joe Root. They are all among the world's leading batsmen, and with Root suggesting that he will follow the other three in their footsteps as a captain and as a leader, and is expected to do so. West Indians everywhere are hoping and praying that Jason Holder, the 25-year-old captain of the West Indies, will fall in line.

They are hoping that in a short while, he will really develop into in a medium-fast bowler of immense skill, an all-rounder of some skill, and a captain worthy of comparison with Frank Worrell, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, and Vivian Richards.