Greatest ODI Finisher of All Time! Bevan or MSD

A-ha! Now you decide whether an Aussie or an Indian -> my friends would say. I had planned to write the article after Dhoni retires. But I can’t bear the waiting any longer. Mirror mirror on the wall. Who is the greatest finisher of them all? Well, all that apart, the only real contestants being called the greatest one-day cricket finishers of all time are Michael Bevan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Nope do not make the mistake of comparing them as cricketers because Dhoni with his versatility will win hands down. Just compare them as ODI finishers. That’s what I am out to do today. I came up with some interesting facts and stats while doing so.Let’s first list some candidates who deserve although not in the same league as these two specialists. Some of them are Lance Kluesner, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Mike Hussey, AB De Villiers and VIA Richards arguably the greatest one-day batsman of all time. He and Sachin will say no we do not need a finisher. We can finish the match a long time before the overs are completed with available resources at the other end. But that is another story and another breed of batsmen.By finisher do we mean a batsman who remains not out at the end when an inning is over? Nope. I mean the batsman who finished the match and won it for his team is the greatest finisher. In most cases, such an inning will result in the batsman remaining not out at the end. But there are many an innings in which the batsman had pretty much finished it before getting out. Sachin Tendulkar at Sharjah in 1998 against Australia played two magical century innings, one to propel India into the finals and the second to win the final for India. He got out in both the innings. But it was finishing of the highest order and did the job for his country very effectively indeed. And this is where Bevan and Dhoni come into the picture. They made a real difference when it mattered most to their teams. And they did it many times. This fact alone leaves clear daylight between them and the others.

The best qualities of MS Dhoni is that he is calm about everything when everyone in the stadium and watching the match on TV is about to have a heart attack. This was pretty much the case with Michael Bevan as well. But Bevan had solid batsmen keeping him company during his time such as Waugh brothers, Damien Martyn etc. Dhoni also benefitted from these batsmen at the other end but more towards the end of his career. They were both outstanding runners between wickets. More than that, they were excellent judges of runs. They knew when to convert a single into two and a two into three, and also when to not take the risk. This increased the pressure on the opposition a great deal. Not only the boundaries kept coming but the running between wickets killed the match for the opposition.One area where Dhoni stands out is big hitting. He can hit sixes and Bevan, on the other hand, was not a big hitter. He could hit out if required but not with the same consistency as Dhoni. That to my mind is the real difference between the two. Bevan has won as many matches for his team as Dhoni did but with caresses and pushes rather than the controlled hitting of Dhoni. A finisher needs temperament and they both had it. I am saying “were” though Dhoni is still around. But I believe we have seen his best.Most Indians will point at career strike rate to tilt the balance in Dhoni’s favor but Bevan played in a slightly different era where the batsmen did not score at the same rate as today apart from the Tendulkars, Waughs, and Laras obviously. And the teams also did not amass the same totals as today. So this statistic does not do justice to Bevan. They both have great batting averages in the excess of 50s. They absolutely killed the opposition with exquisite finishing. No matter how they did it, by running around or hitting out, it was clinical.Dhoni finishing is about his ability to do both: big hitting and nudges and pushes and run like a hare. Also, Dhoni played in an era when there was a lot of cricket played and he had to perform multiple roles in T20s, ODIs, Tests and IPL. This alone is backbreaking. While Bevan played ODI cricket basically along with the first-class matches and a little bit of test match cricket. Less stress definitely than compared to the modern cricketers like Dhoni. Maintaining fitness in such cases is very difficult. Dhoni has managed this but Bevan struggled towards the end of his career with a series of fitness problems.Michael Bevan batted at no 4 or 5 when he engineered those great finishes while Dhoni at 5-6. This is mainly because Dhoni would take more risks than Bevan and due to the heavy price tag on his wicket, a tendency to push him down the order must have existed within the team management although this is conjecture. Although Dhoni’s most famous innings the 2011 world cup final had him playing at no 4. It was exhilarating to watch the great cricketer clinically finishing the final with aplomb. And he finished it all with a six. That was like placing an exclamation mark on the match and the world cup!!Most mortal cricketers in this world panic when the difference between the numbers of balls left and runs to get starts to get out of hand but not these two. It was just unbelievable to watch them keeping their calm and going about their job as if it was everyday chores. What these guys are made up of can be seen with finishing no one else can repeat so many times. Many great cricketers have graced the game and a lot of them have played stellar roles in their teams winning. But finishing the matches victoriously for their teams so many times? No. No one! These two just cannot be beaten at that.Bevan was a part of two world cup winning squads in 1999 and 2003. It is noteworthy that Australia was at the top of their game when he was playing ODI cricket and was in his prime. Dhoni won the single ODI WC victory for India in 2011 although he is still playing and I am sure is eyeing the 2019 world cup as his last hurrah.

Bevan has the highest batting average for a retired ODI cricketer of 53.58 while Dhoni averages 51.37 at the moment and will end up around 50. This also doesn’t indicate any clear advantage for Bevan because Dhoni would take more risks and as a result, would have a better strike rate than Bevan who will have the slightly better average. Both of them played and won matches playing with tail-enders and many times. I cannot describe in words how unbelievable it was to watch these men do it over and over again.Another critical point that goes against Dhoni is the pitches he played on. Bevan played on large Australian grounds which make hitting sixes difficult while Dhoni batted at a time when the game was tailor-made for batsmen and on Indian conditions which have always been friendly to batsmen. Though Bevan comes from an all Aussie domination era where the team was on a roll, Dhoni busted the Indian habit of being poor chasers. That is his greatest achievement really for his country. It is no mean achievement, allow me to tell you, as I have seen Indian cricket since the 1980s and this had become a minor crisis back then.VERDICTI have tried hard not to compare them as overall cricketers and talk about Dhoni captaincy or Bevan left-arm spin bowling. These were like bonuses to their teams. I am not going to discuss the Bevan test record either as again that is irrelevant to the topic. You can compare their stats all you want, all day. You will find them counterbalance each other in the end. But despite considering everything I still cannot ignore the huge difference in strike rate. It is 15 points and I think that is the real and telling difference. Need I say more?

The Effective HR Manager

Winning the respect, trust and confidence of line managers and making a difference

Ask many line managers what they think of HR managers and you will get a variety of views from the positive to the most damning.

Examples are:

- “Excellent. Very professional.”

- “Very responsive, supportive and helpful”

- “Great if I can ever get hold of them”

- “Talk their own language. Not really in touch with the needs of the business. A bit flakey”

- “You mean the dead hand of HR!”

As the issue of effective HR management has grown in importance over the years so has the need for HR managers to be both responsive and proactive in meeting the needs of their developing organisations.

Clearly it’s important that an organisation’s employees are paid on time, they are able to access the benefits they are entitled to and can receive straightforward help and advice from HR when needed.

This operational piece of the HR management responsibility needs to be reliable and responsive in every respect. Getting the basics right is all important.

So is partnering with line managers in recruitment activities, performance management processes, training and personal development provision. These are all very necessary, core elements of the HR function’s role. Organisation’s have every right to expect that HR managers will be proficient in these areas.

But what about gaining the respect, trust and confidence of line managers, over and above these basics? How can HR managers really add value? Here are eight tips.

- Vision

HR managers need to clearly understand the organisation’s vision and challenge the CEO if it is not clear. They need to create an aligned vision for HR to support the corporate vision.

They need to draft a vision, share it with selected line managers, check it, refine it and communicate it both to the HR team and line managers. They need to be clear on HR’s vision for future success, and clear on how it is aligned to the organisation’s overall vision.

- Objectives

HR managers must be clear on their organisation’s objectives. They need to put clear, measurable objectives and milestones to the HR vision. They need to make their objectives concrete, tangible and deliverable with time frames attached.

They need to announce them and ‘stick’ to them. They need to communicate their success in achieving them. They need to be seen as “business like”.

- Strategy

HR managers need to understand their organisation’s strategy. They need to be clear on their HR strategy to deliver their objectives. How will HR be positioned within the organisation as a whole? How will it work alongside the business to deliver the strategy of the business? How will it marry the day to day needs of the business with the longer term development needs?

How will it operate with closer external specialists and suppliers? What short, medium and long term plans does it have to really add value to the business?

What changes will need to be made to deliver the strategy?

HR managers need to answer these questions, share their strategy and plans with the business and their standing will automatically be enhanced!

- Resources

HR is in the business of attracting, acquiring and developing the RIGHT people. HR managers will need to assess the quality of the organisation’s existing people and compare their current capabilities to the capabilities required by the organisation in the future. That’s why they need to understand the organisation’s vision, objectives and strategy so well.

They need to compare the current competency framework to a desired competency framework, say three years from now. What will be different in the requirement of the organisation’s people? How will this impact the type of people the organisation will need, where in the business, and when?

HR managers need to create a strategic HR development plan to deliver the right people resources to the organisation to meet both its current and future needs. The use of performance management, personal development and capability management systems will help them to do this accurately. They must get transparency of the organisation’s human resources to plan effectively.

- Structure

HR managers need to structure the HR function in the most appropriate way.

They should centralise those activities which are core to the whole business. This will include policy development, recruitment, compensation and benefits, performance management, personal development and disciplinary processes. Many of these are governed by legislation and need to be corporate wide, although there may have to be regional or county variations.

HR business managers should be allocated to lines of business to work closely alongside line managers to create and deliver specific interventions to meet their ongoing needs. These people need to be seen as true business partners adding specialist knowledge and skills to line managers. In a sense they are internal consultants clearly understanding the business as well as best practice in HR management and development in the market place.

- Systems

HR managers should employ “fit for purpose” systems for both HR management and HR development. This does not mean the most sophisticated, costly and “heavy weight” systems. They should choose systems that can be easily integrated with one another, are customisable and require little management time.

Systems need to be user friendly as the trend is for managers to use them to ‘self-serve’ more and more these days.

Systems should work together holistically enabling the organisation to obtain transparency of its entire human resource, to enable it to adopt the best people acquisition, retention and development process.

- Knowledge and Skills

HR managers need to ensure that they and their team members really understand the business they work for, including its:

- Market-place

- Customers

- Products/ services

- Routes to market

- Competition

- Major commercial challenges

- Threats, e.g. legal constraints

- Vision, strategy and objectives

- Plans for the future – short, medium and long term

- Culture and values

- Leadership and management style beliefs

Many HR managers fall down because they lack essential knowledge of the business and fail to use the language and terminologies which clearly show that they understand the core business and how it works.

They should avoid “HR speak” which really turns off line managers. This may be helpful shorthand to HR professionals but it is an anathema for line managers and their staff. HR managers should focus on the objective, tangible, concrete, business related issues not just the softer, behavioural and more subjective issues.

They should gain respect for their knowledge of HR issues as well as the tangible issues faced by the business. After all, human resources are just one element of tackling these issues. When handling people related problems HR managers should go back to the vision, objectives and strategy of the business before embarking on solutions.

HR managers should expand their knowledge to include strategic thinking, change management, business planning and organisation development. Oh and finally HR managers and their teams need to become very IT savvy! They are usually not!

- Leadership and Management

The HR manager’s role is to challenge where necessary the behaviours exhibited by managers, who clearly do not ‘walk the talk’. They are to a large extent guardians of the culture and values and need to be seen to be adopting this role.

HR managers should ‘educate’ senior line managers on modern management thinking, helping them to move away from a command and control approach to a more collaborative, consensual working style which truly engages and motivates employees at all levels to give of their best.

The job of today’s managers is to recognise and release talent at all levels not to overlook it or squash it. Performance management systems, personal development programs and reward systems all need to focus on the behaviors and competence required of managers to imbed the corporate values and culture into the organisation. It is the job of the HR manager to ensure that this happens.

So how well have you developed your skills in these eight areas of expertise as an HR manager? Check out how well you are currently doing by using the list below. Tick the box on the left of the statements only if it is TRUE of you.

Start each statement with the words “I..

Top of Form

Have a vision, clearly communicated and accepted, for the role of the HR which is aligned to the corporate vision.

Have short term (up to one year), medium term (two to three years) and longer term (over three years) objectives for the HR function.

Have a thought through written strategy and plan to deliver my objectives.

Am able to assess accurately the organisation’s current HR needs and its future needs, aligning its corporate development plan to strategic HR reviews.

Have a structure for my HR team which enables it to play a centralised and decentralised role in the business, catering for its daily operational needs, and its future development needs.

Have in place HR management and development systems that are fit for purpose, reliable and user friendly.

Am investing in my own and my team’s knowledge and skills in specific areas of HR and wider business related areas.

Challenge the behaviours of managers at all levels of the organisation to live out the corporate values, and my performance management and reward systems reinforce the need to walk the talk.

Am seen as a respected, knowledgeable professional in whom people can put their trust because they have confidence in me.

Continually invest in my own and my team’s personal growth and development.

Total Score:
Bottom of Form

How did you score?

8-10 – Excellent to very good. You have a few gaps to fill.

5 to 8 – Very good to fair. You have quite a few gaps to fill.

0 to 5 – Not so good. If you believe in the points made in this article you have some way to go!

You could say that these are the basics. Getting them right will in itself enhance the HR manager’s standing and reputation. However there are also issues to consider.

These include:

- Being emotionally intelligent

- Being ‘politically’ savvy

- Exercising critical judgement

- Influencing without authority

- Being a catalyst for change

- Having personal credibility

- Being culturally aware

- Conflict resolution skills

- Team building skills

- Managing upwards and managing peers

Plus a host of other soft skills!