Sunday, January 01, 2006
A very British look at supercoach-dom
Here is a book review from the London Review of Books which makes several excellent points:
- There is nothing like a 'hot' basketball player - it is purely a matter of chance:
Exhaustive analysis ... has revealed that making a sequence of three-point baskets has almost no bearing on the likelihood of making the next one, which remains determined by a player’s basic skill level (some players are more likely to make the shot than others, but that is just because they are consistently better at it, not because they are intermittently Hotter). What we experience as the Hot Hand is simply a result of the random distribution of chance, which determines that some players, inevitably, will string together a successful series of shots, just as if you get enough people tossing a coin, some of them will get heads 20 times in a row.
- Coaches (or managers, in soccer terms) are important, but much more important are factors like home court advantage (66% or so times the home team wins - in soccer, American Football or basketball), team quality, a lot of luck, and a touch of glamor. The last is a bit tough to digest, but what the heck. The writer even tries to extend the exact same logic to politics - comparing the Manchester United supercoach Alex Ferguson with Tony Blair.
There are some interesting implications for cricket as it hurtles towards the age of the supercoach. We hope that these coaches remain grounded - like John Wright or Bob Woolmer - and don't become showboats like Phil Jackson or Alex Fergusson.
Another interesting article in the London Review of Books: In cricket, Australia = US, India = China and England = EU.