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Smells like team spirit

India have many individual stalwarts, they need to pull together as a team to pull it off, writes John Wright.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2007 02:12 IST

“Individual talent can win you games, but team work and intelligence win championships.” So said Michael Jordan. And he should know.

In this World Cup, there will be some outstanding individual performances but at the end we will all know which the best working team in the competition is. That team will surely have several individuals who will have performed exceptionally but they will have done more — its players will have complemented each other, worked together and fought hard. A lot of smaller performances make up a championship-winning effort: whether its your Nos. 9 and 10 who get the last 35 runs to reach the target in a must-win game, the part-timer bowls his five overs for 15 in a tough situation or perhaps “Old ButterFingers” produces a stunning catch to turn a match.

Teamwork just doesn't happen, you can't just click your fingers and summon it. You have to work at it, develop it and nurture it. It starts at the top by those who lead, the captain, his senior players, the coach and his management team. Most winning teams possess within their ranks an internal leadership group, where four or more players act as leaders. In this Indian team along with the captain, it will be players like Tendulkar, Kumble, Sourav, Harbhajan and Yuvraj. When he finds his form again, Sehwag will have more to say. But it’s not about what you say, it's about what you do. Leaders set the standards by example in practice and in matches. Leadership is about performance.

When Sandy Gordon spent two days with the Indian team before the 2003 World Cup, he reinforced what we had been working on for the previous 12 months and how important it was that the team kept working at developing a championship-winning attitude. Where team members have a shared goal which is more important than any personal goals and aspirations. Where you are unselfish and do what’s important for the group. Even if that means slogging in the 90s because the team needs quick runs or diving to save a four when you know that it's going to bloody hurt.

Championship teams have elevated expectations and self-confidence running right through the side. They truly believe they can win the big one. Even through the Indian team's tough days in New Zealand early in 2003, and our slow start in the actual tournament, I always sensed that the boys still really believed they could win the Cup. I hope that those who remain have kept that belief burning.