In December Australia played Pakistan in the second test at the Adelaide Oval and the result was a whitewash. David Warner made 335 not out as Australia romped home to win by an innings and 48 runs.
Spare a thought for the hometown local Travis Head batting at number 6. When Australia declared at 3/589 in the first innings, he was still sitting in the pavilion. Head is a handy off spin bowler but his off breaks were not required as Australia’s bowlers comfortably claimed all twenty wickets.
Australia fielders took 15 catches but sadly none of them came in Head’s direction. Head became the third Australian to play in a winning test match without scoring a run, taking a wicket or taking a catch.
Head’s performance was truly unique because the other two Australians (Bill Johnson in 1955 and Craig McDermott 1993) were injured in those games. Travis Head was the first fully fit Australian to play in a winning test and not contribute a single stat.
Didn’t get a touch
Cameron Mooney played 11 games in his debut season for North Melbourne in 1999. His 11th game was particularly significant; it was the AFL Grand Final. North Melbourne forward Jason McCartney was suspended after North’s victorious preliminary final opening the door for Mooney’s Grand Final selection.
North Melbourne defeated Carlton in the Grand Final by 35 points. Cameron Mooney had his first premiership medal. Mooney didn’t contribute much to the result; he didn’t get a touch.
Watching from the bench
Just six Australians have won the ultimate prize in American basketball. Matthew Dellavedova became the pride of his hometown Maryborough when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship. Dellavedova’s teammate LeBron James dominated the finals series; Dellavedova spent most of the series watching from the bench.
Did Travis Head, Cameron Mooney and Matthew Dellavedova contribute nothing to their team’s success? I think they contributed much more than the scoreboard claims. Here’s three ways they made a strong contribution to the success of their teams.
1. They helped build a positive culture
Positive cultures within teams don’t happen by accident, they involve everyone buying into a culture of high commitment and high accountability. Athletes in a squad compete for positions on a team. Even players overlooked for selection are helping to set that high-performance culture by competition with their teammates for selection.
If players were guaranteed match day selection you can be sure their training performance would decline. You can’t always get selected but you can always set a high training standard and contribute to a strong team culture.
2. They were ready to perform
Travis Head’s batting wasn’t required in the Adelaide test but he was ready when his team needed him. During the boxing day test at the MCG Travis Head top scored with his 2nd test century and was awarded player of the match.
Cameron Mooney spent most of the 1999 Grand Final watching from the bench but eight years later in the 2007 Grand Final Cameron Mooney now in Geelong colors kicked 5 goals to claim his 2nd premiership medal. Athletes don’t control team selection, but they can control how to prepare themselves for when selection comes.
3. They set an example
Matthew Dellavedova has often been derided as an average NBA player; some questioning if he’s good enough for NBA. LeBron James strongly defended Dellavedova arguing what he might lack in skill he more than makes up for in tenacity.
James said in a contest between Dellavedova and a bear; Delly would tear the bear to pieces. Dellavedova’s fearlessness on the court spurs his teammates on; they know he’s giving everything. Athletes can’t always score the winning goal but they can all set an example through their effort.
Sport imitates life; in life we’re not always dominating on the scoreboard in our work or personal lives. All of us however can help build a positive culture in our workplaces and homes, we can all be ready to perform when needed and we can all set an example to others.
Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is a contributor for Christian Today and a sportswriter.