Conflict between a captain and star player: An ethnodrama of interpersonal conflict experiences

Matthew Smith, Christopher Robert David Wagstaff, Christoph Szedlak

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)


Within sports psychology, researchers have explored intrapersonal conflict, and how individuals perceived to be “problematic players” can create conflict in a team environment. We present an exploration of the psychosocial processes of a case of interpersonal conflict that occurred in an elite sports environment. The case centers on Warwickshire cricket club’s successful, treble-winning season in 1994, and focuses on the conflict that occurred throughout that season between club captain, Dermot Reeve and star batsman Brian Lara. The data sources used in this study were the autobiographical accounts of the captain and star player, supplemented by autobiographical accounts from the coach and a third player, and subsequent interviews with seven other players from the team. We first adopt the role of story-analysts, by undertaking a thematic analysis of data and then the role of story-tellers via the development of an ethnodrama, developed to illustrate the conflict between Reeve and Lara. The dialogue within the ethnodrama highlighted some of the determinants of these conflicts and the resulting consequences from multiple perspectives of those involved. Recommendations are offered in terms of interpersonal conflict and the potential use of ethnodrama as a pedagogic resource.  Lay Summary: Using autobiographies and player interviews, we studied conflict within one of the most successful sports teams in history. The data are presented as an ethnodrama to showcase the complexity of conflict, encourage reader engagement with the results, and promote discourse on varied perspectives on conflict.IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE This work provides a novel insight into the conflict between a captain and star player occurring in an elite environment. The ethnodrama allows readers to understand the determinants and consequences of conflict from multiple perspectives. The ethnodrama could be used as a resource to develop shared understanding, create empathy for different perspectives between individuals in conflict, and stimulate discussion as an educational resource in performance domains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-624
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date25 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2023


  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Conflict between a captain and star player: An ethnodrama of interpersonal conflict experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this