It is one of the true pleasures of the English summer season to spend a day watching a test match at Lord’s, the home of cricket, as I did last Friday.
It was day two of the first test between England and Pakistan, and while there were many talking points - the century scored by the 42 year old captain Misbah Ul Haq on day one, the return of Mohammad Amir the medium fast bowler to the ironic cheer of ‘no ball’ amongst others; most obvious was the sense of togetherness evident within the Pakistan team. Too often in the past, they and their sub-continent neighbours India have been disappointing tourists, unable or unwilling to master the conditions and the team challenge set before them. Not this time; and England had better watch out.
A sense of togetherness or ‘team emotion’ is a bond between high performing individuals who go on to convert a team of stars into a star team, and is the alchemy sought by every head coach and team manager. Under Misbah and Australian coach Mickey Arthur, Pakistan may have found the magic. Togetherness was evident throughout the match – chasing down balls in the outfield, encouraging each other overtly, laughing and joking to relieve the tension during hours of concentration. Pakistan looked fit and up for the challenge. As if to demonstrate this further, captain Misbah performed a string of press ups on reaching his century and led the whole team in unison at the triumphant conclusion to the match, in tribute to the Pakistan army soldiers who had run their ‘Boot camp’ before travelling to England.
Togetherness in a high performing team is the bond that is forged through shared adversity – real or imagined – that deepens trust, intimacy and the willingness to play for a higher purpose other than one’s own reward.
Watch out England, it looks like this Pakistan team have got it!