Team Captains Let Players Reach Personal Milestones, Even at Expense of Team

A study from Queensland University of Technology in Australia, examining more than 3,000 One-Day International matches from 1971-2014, found that cricket batsmen who were close to reaching personal milestones were less likely to be dismissed by their captain. That is, if a cricket captain is thinking about possibly declaring (ending his team’s batting to avoid a draw if time expires), he may decide to wait a bit more if one of the batsmen is close to a landmark (scoring 50, 100 or 200). For instance, if a batsman has a score of 90, not declaring will provide the chance for this batsman to score a “century,” but also wastes time if his team is sufficiently ahead in runs. This strategy at first sight, seems detrimental to the team because the decision to declare an innings should be entirely determined by the team’s overall score or the field conditions, not by its individual batsmen’s score. However, the authors suggest that this balance by captains could be done as a form of social-exchange, where the captain hopes the risk in allowing a player to reach a strictly personal goal is repaid by a higher level of overall performance by not only that player, but other players in the team who appreciate the captain’s gesture. This research highlights the complexities of how leaders must manage both an individual’s and the team’s goals, and how the two may interact to influence team performance.

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