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Cricket and Life: 5 Insights from 100 Matches

People close to me know that I love playing, talking, watching, and writing about cricket. Cricket as a sport has had a lot of influence on my personal and professional life. Whether it’s having fun with cricket friends, building cricket communities, experiencing the joy of winning, overcoming tough situations, losing close matches, or captaining the team, cricket is far more than just a sport to me.

I love the number 100—be it my first 100 km cycle ride, my first and only century (44 balls, 100 runs), 100 workouts over time, completing 100 km running over time, or 100 days of meditation in a row. Recently, I noticed that I reached 100 recorded (ranges from 6, 10, 20 overs matches) cricket matches on the CricHeroes app. Most of these matches are community/apartment-level, with a few corporate ones and one of the major objectives has been to rejuvenate and get ready for busy week.

Batting stats

While there could be at least 200 not recorded matches as well, I thought to take this opportunity to share the top 5 learnings from my journey to 100 recorded matches and how they have helped me in my career and life.

Disclaimer: These are just raw thoughts off the top of my head and seem like limited perspectives on each point.

1. Teamwork Matters:

Cricket being a team sport, no matter how many superstars are in your team, unless the team works together for a common goal, you are going to lose more often than not. Team means a lot to me, and I try my best to contribute (batting, bowling, fielding), lead by an example and help other players as needed to win as a team. The same mindset of working as a team has had a positive impact on my career and what my team has achieved over time.

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team – Phil Jackson

2. Learning from Losses:

If you see the batting stats above, our overall winning percentage is just above 50% (58 won, 52 lost). This shows that while our team won many matches/tournaments, we lost many matches as well. Every time we lost, I would reflect on my contribution and continuously improve for the next time, be it improving fitness, assessing my decisions, listening to feedback from team, creating a bond with individual players to make sure they have all the support to contribute as much as they can etc. Losing taught me resilience and the importance of turning up again for the next match.

In addition, when I lost matches/tournament as a captain, of course I had to face some criticism also. When Rohit and Virat had to face the hit over their captaincy, who am I ? At times it affected me but over the time, I learned to take criticism positively, listen to individual players concerns & feedback and tried to keep getting better.

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit– Napoleon Hill

3. Appreciating Individual Differences:

Often, just because I put my body on the line, I expected the same from every team member. Over time after playing or leading at-least 5-6 different teams, I realized that every individual is different, everyone brings different skills to the table, everyone is inspired by different aspects etc. We need to accept and get the most out of their abilities and most importantly enjoy together, enjoy each other’s success.

4. Working on physical & Mental fitness

Cricket has been my number 1 hobby and I was knowing that I am not going to play competitive cricket but I use to think about how can cricket help me in my day to day life. Leading by example or contributing to team’s success inspired me keep working on my fitness for 5 days a week just to perform better over weekend matches and it helped me in my day 2 day life also. Whenever I could not do well, it also reminded me that fitness (both physical and mental) has come down so that I need to again get going. In addition, I always made sure that whatever difficult situations are going in life or career, I never stopped playing cricket. Banter with friends, being on the cricket field always helped me not to think about any outside noise/distractions going in day to day life. In fact, I have set the expectation with my wife that no matter what, over weekend, I will be playing cricket for 3-4 hrs. At times, I take my kids (Son-Virat – who is more into football though and Daughter-Virakshi) also with me to avoid any possible clashes (“Galia“) with my dear wife (lol)

5. Managing Emotions:

Naturally, I have been an aggressive batsman, and many times the team situation required me to play a certain way, but my instincts and emotions took over, leading to my dismissal and sometimes the team’s loss. Multiple times, not staying calm led to poor decisions as a player and captain. Over time, I have learned that being calmer during the match helps both myself and the team.

Lately, I have been on a journey to keep my emotions like anxiety, fear, and self-doubt in check. While this journey is in its early stages, this effort, combined with my experience, has started to work in most of the matches I played in 2024. My batting strike rate is improving and is mostly above 200 (screenshot below). In the past, I used to get bogged down by the match situation, such as when the team is 30 for 3 or chasing 200 runs in 20 overs, and this affected my performance. Nowadays, I try to focus on each ball coming up and act on it as best as possible without thinking about the past or future match situations. is not it applicable to day to day life also? Still, there is a lot of scope to improve on this as I keep faltering, but hopefully, I get better as I keep playing.

Matches in 2024 till June 15th

One memorable moment/tournament

There have been many moments but If I need to pick up one of it, it has to be when our team won VMware Cricket Bash 2018 (tournament with around 40 teams). Being a captain, I could see so much positive energy within the team to win this tournament, this positive energy and support from each team member made by captaincy easy and I could focus on my other key strength i.e. Batting. As a batsman, it was challenging as this was one of the tournaments which was played on 3 different grounds and conditions for all matches were different (Morning, evening , rain interruptions, pitch, ground size and final was day night with visibility around 60%). I was delighted to be awarded as best batsman of the tournament award, below are some of the moments captured.

Winning final moment and trademark celebration
Winning team

Let me know what are the learnings most resonated with you also. I also want to re-iterate that these are just top off my head and limited perspective. There are many other aspects I learned over time that helped me implicitly in my career and I continue to learn even now. Looking forward to continuing my journey to 200 matches and applying these lessons to my professional journey as well & who knows probably I may write a small e-book around “Learning from sport for professionals”. Finally I would like to leave you with a thought I came across on social media. I think this applies to any sport you play.

You do not stop playing cricket when you get old, you get old when you stop playing cricket – Unknown