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Sight Screen

Friday, December 02, 2005

Captain versus coach

Or should that be captain plus coach? Frank Tyson, in this column, uses the peg of the earlier Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell face off to reflect on the role of coaches and captains.
There was no ambiguity about the role of the captain in a Test team — just as there is no doubt about the definition of a captain as spelt out in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: "One who stands at the head of others: a chief or leader: a general: a strategist: in cricket, the leader of a side." The origin of the word `captain' is to be found in the Latin word `caput' meaning `head'. By contrast the word `coach' comes from the Magyar `Kocsi' — which is the name of a town near Raab in Hungary. `Kosci' gave its name to the `Kosc cart' — a large closed carriage used to transport passengers — and by analogy a person who transports people from a state of ignorance to one of knowledge. In the dictionary a coach is defined as "someone who trains others for an athletic contest; prepares them for an examination or primes them with information." Nowhere in that definition is there a suggestion of the coach being a chief, a general, a leader or someone in a position of power — although many coaches believe that they are cast in the likeness of American or soccer coaches — and appointed to command.

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