Monday, August 27, 2012

An Exciting Cricket Match

In a simulated version of the game that was used on a corporate team in a workshop on team building (for associates of Mars), I witnessed a classic match last week. The rules were modified to a shortened and simulated version (akin to indoor cricket rules) and teams were chosen completely randomly and the process of electing captains left to the teams.

After losing 4 matches in a row in two days (all ten over games), the Gladiators which was slightly weaker side altogether, beat the Challengers in a thrilling final. But the match was to watch and the growth of the players was to be seen. One could not have hoped for a better result and certainly it would not have been possible if the players had not been honest and given their best.

Coming off four wins the Challengers approached the final confidently. The Gladiators had a do or die attitude as they had nothing to lose anyway. But they were also smarting under the defeats, and were also  secretly gearing themselves up for the big final to redeem themselves. The final was a two inning - a fifteen over and a ten over affair.

Challengers captain Saurav Bhatia won the toss and decided to chase. The Gladiators started their innings confidently, lost their way in the middle and ended in the positive with a +7. The Challengers in reply ended up with a score of +16, giving them a lead of 8 runs. The Gladiators went in and batted and got themselves a lead of +8 which was not too easy. In a game that fluctuated wildly the Challengers got the match in control, lost it again and looked fully under control when perhaps the weaker bowler bowled the last over to their best batsman. With a lead of 4, the Challengers had all but won when their last batsman got out thereby levelling the scores. On the basis of lesser number of dismissals the Gladiators won the final.

Some fantastic takeaways for everyone through the game.
1) Saurav Sharma for leading a down and out team to victory. Critical contributions under pressure, leading from the front and getting the best out of his players through a never say die and a well sorted out approach. 
2) Sarma for fighting his inner ghosts and scoring under pressure. As a key player he let his team down by dropping some important catches. Coming into the final he fought all the ghosts of his failures and played a match winning innings.
3) Melwyn for accepting the new team and making critical contributions with the bat and with his support. Always giving his 100%, giving frank and straight forward advise, doing his job to the best he can and most of all, embracing his team to the point of taking even their past failures as his own. Fantastic stuff.
4) Ravi, the most transformed who decided to pitch in fully and made a huge difference. As a non-player, he probably felt hugely disadvantaged. But there are more ways to pitch in once you decide to and he was all charged up psychologically attacking the Challengers, refusing to buckle down to their parleys and making critical contributions in terms of field placements. All this showed up in his game which picked up some 25%. More importantly his team got a boost from one who was considered a weak link, and also set the opponents thinking. Huge growth as to what one can do when one makes up his mind to.
5) Jitin who did the best he could and ended up an unlikely hero by getting the last batsman out. Started contributing from putting his body in line of the ball. Little ball sense as a non-player but did all and more. Bowled the critical last over to the best batsman of the opponents and kept his head enough to keep the last ball tantalisingly out of reach causing a mishit and a tie. Never lost his cool, always relaxed.
6) Surendra for putting his failures with the bat behind and picking up some stunning catches. For a volleyball player of repute who never played cricket Surendra's sporting instincts were stinging when Melwyn and Saurav chided him for losing his wicket pointlessly but he quickly came into his own and picked up some fantastic catches that put the Challengers back.
7) Suresh for contributing as a batsman, a runner and as a fielder and always in the thick of things. Ever the team man he always ran for the injured Pankaj, kept well and did his part exceedingly well. Good team man.
8) Pankaj for batting on one leg and bowling some decisive overs.Played a couple of brilliant knocks and got some crucial boundaries even with a badly hurt knee. Also came on and bowled a fantastic over in the first innings that set the opponents back. Great show under pressure.
9) Ambarish for keeping his calm and contributing all through the game. Again a non-player who kept his cool, did not carry any baggage from the previous games and stuck it out till the end, Good temperament and great team work.
10) Sandesh for keeping his cool and performing under pressure. One of the key players of the side he was also under pressure to raise his game but all he needed was to do what he could and he did that well.

1) Saurav Bhatia, for his larger than life presence and inspirational leadership. Also full marks for going for it even on the last ball when he could have actually played it out with his pad and ensured a win. Kept the spirit of the game intact and showed a large heart. If anything, he took the foot off the pedal slightly against the Challengers. Never give hope to the opposition - always kill them.
2) Shashank, for catching almost 25 catches and giving his best in all departments. He was under pressure too for having been switched around from the Gladiators to the Challengers but performed admirably well and bagged the award for most number of catches. Adapted quickly and
3) Gajendra, for accepting his role in the new team and contributing his best. He mingled easily with the new team, gave his 100% in all departments and fought fully. Thoughtful and watchful, deliberate and calculated, he was a big asset to his team.
4) Shaji for catching and batting well and doing all that was required of him. His batting and secure catching were definite pluses for his team.
5) Makarand for his batting and solid presence at the line as he saved several boundaries. A constant source of strength to his team with his combative attitude and skill.
6) Gokul for his wicket keeping and bowling and a never say die attitude. One of the players who hates to lose and goes to great lengths to ensure a win. Terrific involvement and constantly thinking and improvising.
7) Rahul for sticking through in a team and contributing his best on the line and with the bat. Also a strong presence on the field as he goes at the opponents and keeps the pressure on through a psychological verbal warfare.
8)  Ganga for doing his best all through as a batsman, bowler an fielder. One of the few who realised his role early on in the games and stuck to it. Learned much from his study of the game
9) Amartya for contributing with the ball and the bat and all round ability. He pulled off several great catches, bowled very well with his left arm and contributed his everything for the team. Superb work as a team man. Highly competitive.
10) Dazel, who stepped on for Charan who did not land up for the final was a blessing in disguise for the Challengers as he brought some superior cricketing skills. A decent bat, bowl and fielder, he did his bit.

Overall the workshop was aimed at understanding the mechanics of team building and team work. From understanding the importance of a common purpose (its all important) and the need to communicate it, to assuming or articulating roles, using strengths, investing and getting fringe players to contribute, the all important leadership angle, synergy of a team that is desperate and hungry to win, the transformation of individuals when seized with a common goal bigger than their own goals ... and more..the games did it all. The amount of self-belief one would have got from those situations, the amount of learning that one can get by analysing the performance of both sides is wonderful.

Some great takeaways that I would stress on for individuals working in teams are:
1) The importance of investing confidence in fringe players and getting them to perform an extra 20% makes a huge difference to the bottom line
2) Leadership is a huge thing and can have a telling impact. However in the long run the leader must empower the team to handle itself even in his absence. (the team must think they did it themselves.)
3) It is for the better players to contribute what they normally do without taking on too much responsibility which can actually set their performance down. Just do what you normally do and do not assume too much responsibility that may tell negatively on your performance. The team needs you to do what you do.
4) When you make a mistake, learn from it and get over it. If you dwell on it you will make more and more mistakes. Cut your losses and cut your drama and get on to the next ball. Its a new ball game.
5) When down on performance and faced with a huge challenge, slow it down, break it up into small bites. One ball at a time.
6) Keep the faith in your players and never let it sag. Even when it all seems dark and the best batsman is batting and the team is in the lead, there is still hope. Hang in there and miracles can happen. But hang in with hope, and give it your all until the last ball.

And much more. I will revisit this page again. But guys, fantastic work. Such results come only from intense, honest work.

No comments: