Test cricketer Rachael Haynes on the individual resilience and collaborative relationships essential to becoming a winning outfit. By Richard Cooke.


Leading role: Rachael Haynes, 31, cricketer

Captaincy is very much a collaborative effort. I don’t think it’s just one person who is the driver behind whether or not a team is working.

There were certainly times throughout the Ashes series where we didn’t quite execute what we were trying to do. Or what we were doing wasn’t working and we had to adapt out in the middle. As a captain, you get a bit of a gut feeling as to whether or not something’s working, and I also was pretty well supported out there by Alex [Blackwell], Ellyse [Perry] and Alyssa [Healy] who I went to at times to get their thoughts.

Highlight of the summer? Obviously retaining the Ashes was pretty cool to be part of, and being able to captain my country as well.

We’ve played a lot of cricket against England and we’ve had a lot of tight contests against each other so, yeah, there’s definitely a really big rivalry there. The Ashes is a big series for us as well. Perhaps our sledging isn’t as forthright as what you see with some of the guys, but we certainly enjoy playing against each other.

I really enjoy trying to work out what an opposition’s weakness is. And then trying to exploit it. That’s one part of it, and then you’ve got to be able to have players who can execute what it is that you want. Whether they’re batting or they’re bowling. There’s a sense of satisfaction there, when you’re able to exploit it.

I captained the Victorian team and I captained the Australian Under 21 team as well, so I feel like I’ve had little insights throughout my career. I think the other element that’s helped me as well is that I spent some time out in the workforce. When we weren’t professional. And I got to see a real cross-section of how managers work with their teams and manage people. And I’ve definitely taken little bits and pieces out of my experiences and tried to use them when I have got an opportunity to lead.

Quite often it is different personalities coming together to try to achieve a common goal so, yeah, I’ve definitely taken things that I’ve learnt from cricket back into my job when I was working.

A really key part of it is making sure that you do form relationships with each player in the team. You sort of know how that individual ticks a little bit. Naturally within a team there are some people who you get on better with than others and that’s just life, really. It’s got nothing to do with playing favourites or anything like that. There are definitely times where you’ve got to have difficult conversations.

I did try to reach out to people if perhaps they did miss out, or were a bit unlucky being dropped. But I think, as a professional, everyone goes through that. You make some teams and you miss some teams. It’s sort of part of the roller-coaster of elite sport. I think it’s about how you respond as well as a player.

You do have to be resilient. There are times where things will be going really well but also times when things aren’t quite happening for you, and the thing is it all happens really quickly. You might go through a really good patch of form, and then for whatever reason go through a period that’s a little bit tough, and then all of a sudden people are questioning whether or not you’re still capable of performing and those sorts of things.

When I do retire there will be moments in my career that I’ll look back on and sometimes it’s not necessarily something that’s happened to you. It’s seeing other players that you’ve played alongside having success. At the moment when I’m playing I’m very much looking ahead and trying to approach each series as it comes. But perhaps when it’s all finished and the dust settles, I’ll take a moment to look back on some of the good times.


This week’s highlights…

• Horseracing: Chipping Norton Stakes Day

Saturday, 1st race 12.25pm (AEDT), Royal Randwick, Sydney

• Motorsport: Supercars – Adelaide 500

Saturday and Sunday, 3.20pm (ACDT), Adelaide Parklands Circuit

Cricket: Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Day 3

Saturday, 7pm (AEDT), Kingsmead, Durban

• Swimming: Australian Championships

Saturday, 7.15pm (AEST), Optus Aquatic Centre, Gold Coast

• NRL: St George Illawarra Dragons v Brisbane Broncos

Thursday, 7.50pm (AEDT), Jubilee Oval, Kogarah, Sydney

• Paralympic Winter Olympics: PyeongChang 2018

Friday until March 18, Pyeongchang, South Korea

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 3, 2018 as "Leading role".

For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.

All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.

There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.

Select your digital subscription

Month selector

Use your Google account to create your subscription