Be Wary If You 'Follow The Coin' And Other Lessons From Beating Aussies
I do enjoy my sport & selling posts. Especially when finding inspiration from my beloved cricket. If you don’t share my passion for cricket or have no idea what the sport means, feel free to skip the next 700 words!
The Ashes are in full swing. England at home are on top. But the Aussies are fighting.
When the first ball of the series was lost to rain fourteen days in, I remained true to radio’s treasured Test Match Special coverage.
The landmark 2005 series was under discussion by Aussie middle-order batsman Damien Martyn and England’s winning captain Michael Vaughan.
Vaughan’s recollections gave three lovely insights on how to handle the trials of Sales.
Follow The Coin
First, he suggested that England wrestled back the urn after our mammoth wilderness primarily because they batted first in the last four Tests.
We amassed over 400 in three, and 373 in the other. This created enough “scoreboard pressure” for the team up next for them to come up short.
Yet it could have been so, so different. After going one-down, the second rubber was in a city where immediately prior there was a freak tornado and ridiculous rain. In part moved by this, but also in attempting to promote the famed “mental disintegration” of the opposition, when Australian captain Ricky Ponting won the toss, he elected to bowl. Vaughan could not believe it.
He recounts how you could tell which skipper was under pressure because at the toss (when the supposedly critical decision of who bats first is up for grabs) the one under the kosh will always “follow the coin”.
He did just that on this occasion. His counterpart remained a fair few metres away, cool as a cucumber, when the coin came to rest.
I’ve seen salespeople fret so much following their coin. Usually in the form of mithering a prospect by phone to utter distraction. Often to the extent that they lose a deal and see their funnel disappear as a result of the inattention caused.
The Cracks Show
Vaughan also gave two examples of where the once invincible Aussies revealed that their powers were possibly on the wane.
After First Test defeat, he drove up the M1 home to Sheffield. He began the journey miserable. Then he realised two huge positives gave hope. None of the great batsmen had scored a century against them, and the bowling attack had taken all 20 wickets. This was never usually the case.
Then, with the scores level at one apiece, the Third Test saw the Aussies cling on at the death after five days of being outplayed in every session bar one (where Warne flung his bat).
After seeing out the final five overs to secure a draw, the Aussies were celebrating wildly. Vaughan had never known anything like it. As he sensed his team were dejected at not winning, with potentially the chance of overall victory gone, he gathered them together.
He made them think about seeing the Aussies celebrate the draw. They never do that. ‘We’ve got them’ was his message. Stay focused and we shall prevail.
Remember To Smile
At that Third Test’s toss, Vaughan was on edge. His own form had wilted under the weight of Ashes captaincy. He was desperate to score runs.
In the middle with them was a then five-year old mascot, Connor Shaw.
As they awaited the toss, the little lad jolted Vaughan. In this article, his main question is quoted back as “are you enjoying it?. I heard Vaughan on the radio just, recall it as “why aren’t you smiling?”. Either way its consequence was huge;
“At that point it hit home. That little lad had given some perspective to a game of cricket. It is amazing how something can free you up to play. Connor did that. I relaxed, trusted my ability and thought this could be the day.”
It made the captain realise he was too wrapped up in his own seriousness. Every schoolboy into cricket dreams of reaching the pinnacle he was at. Representing England in an Ashes Test. It made him chill a touch. Enough to go out and enjoy himself. And luck was all of a sudden on his side and he put the Australians to the sword that day.
Take The Event Seriously
As for Damien Martyn, he talked about a game that set the tone for the Summer. It was the first encounter, the Twenty20 match on the South Coast. England hammered the tourists.
Apparently, the (much maligned) coach, John Buchanan, ran a full training session in the afternoon of the evening game. None of the players were really switched on as a result. Did they expect to simply rock up to win?
The parallel is obvious… And are you being similarly distracted by something, whether by bosses or otherwise?