You hear this a lot in cricket commentaries. It was Michael Holding who used the term most frequently. He would say, if a batting side was not doing enough in the middle in an ODI, ‘someone has to come to the party’. Sometimes, someone does. A game-changer.
The problem is that you can’t really count on ‘someone’ doing the honors in the case of a rebellion. Sure, there are match-winners like Muttiah Muralitharan, but by and large battles are rarely won singlehandedly.
There are individuals with that extra something by way of endowments. There are sharp-shooters, people with extraordinary reserves of determination and such. They do count. They can make a difference. On the other hand, expecting the ‘exceptional’ to get you out of a hole or deliver victory indicate bad and incomplete preparation.
It’s like putting all your eggs in a single basket. If the person carrying trips, you lose all the eggs. That can happen.
Think of the great cricket teams, for example the West Indies in the 80s. They had a seemingly inexhaustible pool of quicks.
After Andy Roberts there was the foursome quartet Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner. If one of them was injured there were others like Sylvester Clarke ready to breathe fire. Later, there was Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. You could think of the Australian ‘academy’ of great batsmen too or India’s spinners in the early 1970s.
Such resources are luxuries that rebels rarely have. In any case, if you rely too much on an individual he/she invariably gets overworked and burns out. Michael Jordan would readily say, for example, that his individual brilliance would not have helped the Chicago Bulls win so many basketball titles if he didn’t have Scottie Pippen and the rest of the support staff including Coach Phil Jackson.
It’s a long journey and one or few people cannot carry the entire army across the finishing line. Pick the right individual for the specific job by all means, but remember that one individual cannot be employed in multiple operations. The more efficient way is to look to maximize the output of combined energy.
If you want another sporting example, think of the ‘rolling maul’ used by the rugby team of Royal College this season. Sure, it’s one individual that scores the try, but it is the team that gets him to the try line.
Sampath Agalawatte, the captain of Royal’s invincible team of 1984 puts it well: ‘It was all about 14 players working together to make sure that the 15th will score a try.’ It doesn’t always work in reverse.