Alright it’s a horrible, silly word but the new national coach is clearly heading towards total control of almost every aspect of the national squad and that makes him a supremo in Italian vernacular.
The difference between Eric Simons and most head honcho administrators is that Simons is assuming control by accepting complete responsibility rather than taking control because he enjoys power and status. In fact, Simons couldn’t care less about either of those side-effects.
Responsibility, to Simons, means accepting that the proverbial buck will not travel further than his lap. No one else will be blamed for poor results, indiscipline, bad public relations and lack of fitness. Simons will cop the lot.
But in order to do that, he must be given as many management tools and powers of influence as he believes he needs. In other words, he must be in complete control. The “guv’ner”, the “gaffer”, the “big cheese”. The Supremo.
Power, they say, corrupts and ultimate power corrupts completely. In the wrong hands that is surely true. But Eric Simons is a successful businessman, working and operating a family engineering business alongside his father whilst maintaining an unshakeable commitment to cricket – playing and then coaching – for 20 years.
He will most certainly allow the national team to be individuals and express themselves, he will support them publicly and he will never demean them. But by accepting responsibility for their performances, he will be obliged to compel them to work to a standard and with an ethic that convinces him they are optimising their potential.
So, no longer will national players take a breather from nets or training when they feel like it, no longer will they decide that they want to practise alone against a bowling machine in the indoor school, no longer will they arrive late or leave early and no longer will they be able to enjoy a late-night out at critical times during a season – unless they perform brilliantly and consistently afterwards. And the only man ever to do that was Ian Botham.
And if anyone feels like complaining, Simons will simply explain that he is taking responsibility for the end product and if they don’t like the way he is going about it, then they are free to leave.
Right now though, Simons is trying hard to keep his head down and maintain a low profile. After all, if people keep writing columns like this it isn’t going to make his job any easier when the squad does finally have its first get together in about three weeks time. If he has to play ‘tough guy’ then he will, but that doesn’t mean to say he wants to!
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