Chris Rattue: Leading Teams fail the test with Black Caps

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As employees of the suddenly famous Leading Teams outfit analyse each other over where it all went wrong, our heroic Black Cap cricketers have been presented with a great chance to start putting things right.

I don't have any inside information about corporate team builders Leading Teams and have studiously avoided making contact, for fear that they might give me an assessment form to fill out. I hate filling out forms.

But if their cricket modus operandi is anything to go by, the entire company will have been locked in a room at the weekend pointing out each other's strengths and weaknesses after getting nudged towards the dressing room door by the new Black Caps coach, Andy Moles.

From this vantage point, Leading Teams made one crucial mistake - getting involved with the Black Caps in the first place. They were on a hiding to nothing the moment they invaded the Black Caps' test dressing room.

They should have played it smart and said that they help analyse only one-day teams. But our test cricketers ... hell's teeth, that's like trying to turn around the Titanic.

The trick here for Leading Teams was to tell New Zealand Cricket that they were still working hard on developing a programme for test players and would be delighted to put it forward once it had been fine-turned.

Then, they should have delayed going anywhere near a New Zealand test team until they were absolutely certain that we'd uncovered the next Richard Hadlee.

What Leading Teams really need to do is analyse the teams before they start analysing them. If the team list goes something like Wright, Crowe, Jones, Smith, Hadlee (particularly important) then get in there (although it's doubtful if Crowe and co would have let outsiders anywhere near their dressing room).

If the lineup goes, Redmond, How, Ryder and (giggle) Fulton etc etc then you move on to something a lot easier, like the Wellington Phoenix or the Chiefs.

If Leading Teams were to get involved with our test cricketers, one question they should have asked themselves was "has anybody got an ICC test schedule"? It's amazing that people who are experts in strengths and weaknesses didn't latch on to that.

The ICC test schedule is a very revealing document. You could include Sigmund Freud and Dr Phil in the squad and you still aren't going to win a test series in Australia, especially just after the Ockers have had their arses kicked in India.

But hey, if the West Indies are coming over, yabba dabba dooo.

Timing is everything in sports analysis. Which is why Leading Teams must be kicking themselves right now, not only for going anywhere near the New Zealand test dressing room, but for getting such a public shellacking before the West Indies tour came along.

If only they could have hung on for this tour, they might have come out of it smelling of roses.

Even Auckland batted forever and a day against the touring Windies outfit. Okay, so the experts reckoned it was a flat track. But there was no such thing as a flat track when Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts were terrifying the world's best batters.

Yet this modern-day West Indian bowling attack looks so bad that you could hold the analysis sessions while the Black Caps are batting with supplementary questions and answers after stumps so as to involve the two or three blokes who batted that day.

I know Leading Teams are copping it from everyone, but quite frankly, they deserve a bravery award for letting their name be associated with the Black Caps. Either that, or they hadn't ever seen Aaron Redmond bat which is the case with most of us since he's never out there very long.

Let's look at the positives, though. Leading Teams will be stronger for the experience because you often learn more in defeat than victory. It will have made them ask the really penetrating questions of each other and perhaps consider the need for outside analysis. Maybe they need someone who knows nothing about analysis to help them analyse themselves.

This has been the mother of all learning curves for Leading Teams, and they'll come back stronger next season. Either that, or they could go and make a fortune handing out forms for Twenty20 players in India.

This remarkable controversy is something many leaders at Leading Teams will carry for the rest of their careers, firing their resolve to never let another Black Caps debacle happen again. But they face an uphill battle. And they need outside help because it would be too great a risk allowing Leading Teams to start running their own analysis sessions or more dangerous still to simply let them get on with their jobs.

On the eve of this test series, the question many of us are asking is who will come in and start asking the tough questions at Leading Teams. Maybe John Bracewell is the man for the job.

- NZ Herald

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