Ed Smith is a journalist and author, most recently of Luck. He is a former professional cricketer and played for both Middlesex and England.
In both sport and business, players with independent temperaments are often dragged into the middle ground, undermining their value.
Not only do we indulge flaws but we often, wrongly, interpret them as the engines of success.
Cricket is famously a team game played by individuals – but it is easy to miss the crucial adjacent fact: a better performance by one player often enhances the performances of the other individuals.
Establishing an explicitly exclusive and anti-populist club is, of course, a long-established route to long-term popularity.
The story is familiar as a morality tale.
Bad blood between teams may provide a short-term boost but it also brings with it a longer-term popular disengagement. Thankfully, the opposite is happening within English cricket.
Truly independent expertise can never be swayed. Numbers, on the other hand, can be manipulated reasonably easily.
Ed Smith celebrates the free spirit of the New Zealand cricket team.
In South Tyrol, I set myself an unusual ambition: to reduce my incoming mental stimulants to the point where I became bored. I highly recommend it.
Competitiveness – against peers or past greats – may prove the initial motivation. But how long can it drive a life or a career?