OPINION: With Great Power Must Come SOME Accountability

The Loughborough power grab which has seen Paul Shaw assume sole responsibility for England team selection is far from unprecedented in the world of sport.

In football as we know, the manager invariably acts as a sporting dictator in on-field matters; and this arrangement generally works pretty well – the players know who is in charge… and so do the fans, the media and the board when the team’s performance doesn’t live up to expectations! Indeed it is this which provides a degree of accountability within the system – if England Rovers lose The Ashes Cup, the crowds chant, the press pillory… and the chairman loads the shotgun!

So whilst this may not be the way we’ve traditionally done things in cricket, preferring the more collegiate approach of a selection panel, the football-style “managerial” system now in place for England Women isn’t necessarily wrong.

However, it can only work if it is accompanied by the kind of checks and balances provided by the robust (if mostly informal) structures which are in place in football; and this is where things potentially start to get problematic.

Thus far, Paul Shaw seems to have largely avoided any degree of accountability. He managed to drift through the summer without anyone actually knowing he was in charge of selection; and the one time he sort-of-agreed to speak to the press after the defeat at Worcester, we were told this was only on the condition that we softballed him. (Such agreement was not collectively forthcoming; and it didn’t happen!)

And since The Ashes, mainstream media interest has waned to a whisper, with even the couple of ill-informed calls for resignations that we did hear focusing on the captain instead of the admiral.

Of course there is always the shotgun, which was used on Mark Lane a couple of years ago, but Clare Connor has a lot on her plate right now, with the Super League, contract renewals, World Cup planning… you name it – the last thing she wants is to have to spend valuable time looking for a new head coach against the wishes of her skipper!

In short, Paul Shaw is largely unanswerable in practice right now. Going forwards, this needs to change. Shaw needs to be made available to the press at the very least at the end of each series, and he must accept, if the team’s performance justifies it, that hard questions will be asked. Will he enjoy it? Of course not! But he has all the power now… along with it, he has to accept some accountability.

2 thoughts on “OPINION: With Great Power Must Come SOME Accountability

  1. Exactly, well said. The situation over the summer was ridiculous because of the secrecy. Using the football analogy, we are now in a place where the team are not doing well in he league, knocked out of the cup, and it’s revealed that the manager all along was Paul Shaw. He now has some serious work to do to help the side recover and because of what’s gone on before, some fans feel justified in not having much confidence he can do it. He also has to face up to the media, in my opinion after every game.

    It’s a change that’s been made without any visible evidence to suggest it might work, without any consultation that we’ve been privy to, and has so far, frankly, not worked.

    We will see what happens. I hope he manages to pick the team up, but as things stand I am left feeling we were better off under the old “management by committee” formula.


  2. So I went back to read the post Ashes article on the BBC website.http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/34107704

    The last 3 paragraphs are accredited to the Boss where he talks of shared responsibility within the management and playing group no mention of ultimate accountability and a final paragraph that talks of a team profile that I struggle to recognise.

    This feels too much like a closed shop, looking to the next tour rather than a long term project. I hope we see progress.


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