The View From My Study – 23rd June

What a start to the Ashes 2023! Competitive to the end – that’s how sport should be played. Debates will rage about the decisions of the England cricket captain, Ben Stokes, but whatever one thinks, his boldness certainly makes the game exciting. Many people were surprised when Stokes was given the captain’s armband as they did not think his own game would thrive while also dealing with the pressure of supporting his team-mates. After all, so few of the top players in a sport make the successful transition to captaincy and/or into management? They don’t because, in the words of Mike Brearly, “they haven’t been able to understand the struggle. You have to have an empathy for the other players.” And it is hard to do that if playing the game comes so easily.

While Stokes is proving himself to be an exception to this notion, Brearly was not. He remains arguably England’s greatest cricket captain, turning the fortunes of a confidence-sapped group of players into an Ashes-winning and legendary team. He was by no means a great player; he was good of course but his average as a batsman was, well, distinctly average. What he possessed though, was “a degree in people” and he was able to get the best out of others.

Mrs Jones and I hosted the prefects last night for a BBQ to say thank you for their leadership efforts this year and it was a lovely event. With colleagues, I am beginning to think about next year’s prefect body and also the merits of introducing other leadership roles too – ambassadors. The common thread with all leadership roles is that great leadership is getting the best out of others. Brearly was able to do that through a combination of intuition, resourcefulness, sympathy and clear-headedness in pressurised moments. Brearly, like all the great captains and leaders, knew that he did not have all the answers, or indeed the skills, to be a success on his own but by being consistent and true to his beliefs, he built trust with those around him which was vital for the pressurised moments. As a result, more often than not, everyone prospered. He is certainly a captain that I admire and I hope to find more Brearlys and Stokes among the current 5th Form.

There has been so much going on this week that it has been hard to keep up – from the leavers filming an end of year video to the Juniors enjoying Greek Day and the parents playing Kubb on the South Lawns. Plus many other things which are featured below. Enjoy the productions over the next two days if you are going to see them – this evening’s 3rd Form offering of Murder at Magpie Manor in the Ravenscroft and tomorrow morning’s Music & Dreams production by the Juniors. The children have worked so hard in both.

Gareth Jones, Headmaster

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