Home Opinion and Features OPINION: Berated to make one better

OPINION: Berated to make one better


Like an upset, scolding coach trying to fine-tune his team that has just endured a horrible run, sometimes a word of censure could do some good, writes Lance Fredericks.

Sir Alex Ferguson dishing out some of his infamous hairdryer treatment. Picture: AFP

WHAT a sad record. Three games and three losses. The Northern Cape Heat seemed to be rather off the boil in their Pool A clashes against South Western Districts, Western Province and the Lions in the CSA T20 KO competition at the Diamond Oval recently.

The hosts never seemed to pitch up, taking losses of 24 runs against SWD, a super-over loss to the Lions, and then that four-wicket loss in their last game against Province.

When I read the reports of the games one thing kept surfacing – the Heat had butterfingers.

Yes, sure their batsmen seemed to be firing, but when the outfielders couldn’t back up the bowlers and restrict the scoring, or more importantly hold on to catches, then it is no surprise that the hosts were brushed aside, ending at the foot of the table in Pool A with zero points, and a nett run rate of -0.66.

I don’t know what the coach’s method is, but I know of some team managers that would have given the Heat the hairdryer treatment in the dressing room.

However, let’s not get carried away calling the NC Heat team all kinds of derogatory names. Just think about it, for coach Mark Charlton to know exactly where the major problem lies with his team, and to know that the problem can be fixed in a very short time with some focused, intense training drills, should make the other teams worry.

Sure the supporters have a right to be disappointed. Yes, the coach has every right to jump down their throats, but criticism is not always meant to break down those on the receiving end.

For instance, this past week I visited a store at one of the malls in the city.

When I found what I had come for, I went to the checkout. I was one of six customers in the entire store and the only one at the checkout counter. The young lady standing there noticed me, and without acknowledging me, turned to her colleague who was sitting behind the counter and told him to help me.

As he got up, one of his colleagues walked over and they exchanged some friendly banter while I stood there still unacknowledged. Eventually, the colleague left and I was helped. I paid for the item and left the store.

However, I had not gone 20 metres away when it occurred to me that it’s not actually right to treat your customers that way. I turned on my heel and returned the purchase.

Next, I wrote a review online expressing my disappointment at their level of service, reminding them that these days shopping online is convenient, and stores cannot afford to lose customers.

But here’s the point … the store has great merchandise, their prices are reasonable, very reasonable in fact and their staff are not a bad lot at all. It would be unfair to throw a tantrum just because I was upset. However, like a coach trying to fine-tune his team that has just endured a horrible run, sometimes a word of censure could do some good.

One of my former colleagues, Dave Alexander, wrote some harsh words after many of Griquas’ games over the years. But Dave had spoken to the coaches beforehand telling them that he would pull no punches if the team messed up. He would write it as he saw it, and the different coaches over the years appreciated Dave’s candour.

Even your’s truly, a good few years ago, felt what it was like to be rebuked out of ‘mediocrity’. I was deep in thought and was just about to enter a hardware store in the city, when a gruff voice barked at me sternly: “Smile while you still have the teeth!”

I looked up and my somber mood dissolved as I looked into the playful eyes of a legend. Bushy Oliver smiled and extended his hand towards me, welcoming me to the store.

I never had the opportunity to attend many Griqua games in Kimberley, but those I did attend saw this self-same Oom Bushy shouting encouragement, advice and criticism from the sidelines. He would tell a fumbling ball-carrier exactly what he thought of him, and with his powerful voice that could not have been nice to hear for a young player.

However, his scolding was coming from a heart of love, excitement and passion. He loved his boys in the peacock blue jerseys and he knew they could do better, and he was determined to help them believe it too.

So to the Northern Cape Heat cricket team that were humiliated at home, while doing your best, to the staff at retail stores around the city who are not yet up to standard but working at it, to the Tafel Lager Griquas that came so close to history while achieving greatness in 2021 and to a certain man who still walks around in the city with a frown on his face, here’s a word of advice I stumbled upon by French philosopher Michel de Montaigne: “We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticise us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him.”

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