Ok so this is going to be weird, I am attempting a complex piece here, trying to relate three different subjects viz Cricket, Real-Practical Life, and Spirituality with one important life experience, so bear with me and try to connect the dots while going through it.

When I was a kid, maybe till the 11th grade, I was super crazed, obsessed and almost maniacal about Cricket, (not that now I am not) I would eat, drink, and sleep Cricket, I would practice shots in the air with an imaginary bat, would redo my bowling action and I would think about it all the time,

As I grew older I began to relate life experiences and real life situations to imaginary Cricketing scenarios, I developed a strange habit (quite annoying for some of my friends)  of creating a Cricket analogy for absolutely everything, It is fascinating how easy things become and how much motivation I can derive by imagining a situation in Cricketing terms.

Lets take an example to illustrate the theory, suppose there are 5-6 days left to prepare for an exam, I would start thinking of those 5-6 days as a Test Match, break the whole time down into days, and sessions, and take it session by session, keep telling myself each session is important If I want to win the match, In case there is not much time left, I can always go for saving the test, by cutting down on the risks, and playing safe (i.e. concentrate on a few important topics well), finally the actual examination can be seen as a T-20 match, where you have just three hours, Time and Speed hold the key here, being flexible with your choices, and keeping the momentum always works.
Another example could be of a five day week Mon – Friday, if you are stuck with a nasty problem in your office work, and you have a Friday EOD deadline a five day week can very well be imagined as a Test Match, and each day comprises of 3 sessions, the morning session, the post lunch session and ofcourse that all important post tea session. If nothing else, it at-least makes you feel like playing Cricket instead of working.
Just recently, I came through one of the most challenging phases of my life, with hindsight it turned out to be one of the most important lessons. What’s interesting is how turning it into an analogous Cricket scenario makes one realize the lesson so quickly, though, only in retrospect.

Think of it as the 5th day of an absolutely critical series deciding Test Match, played on a dusty crumbly Indian pitch, your team has lost 3 or 4 of the top order batsmen, and your innings is absolutely critical to the team’s success, basically it’s a career defining innings, you make it or you brake it. World class spinners are weaving their magic, bowling in tandem and making the pitch behave like a “spitting cobra”. There’s a lot of chatting and chirping in your ear by the close in fielders to get you under even more pressure, also you perceive the umpires, the ultimate authority on the field to be a tad biased against you and hence you are wary of their judgment.

Now usually there are three ways to tackle such a situation,
1. Go hell for leather, take the attack to the bowlers, resorting to the old adage of ‘Best defense is a good offence’; basically it means, looking out for opportunities where ever you can, be cheeky always, and use all your resources to get what you want even if it involves taking risks or being unorthodox. Most times, with such an approach you would find yourself out before you know it, or in bad weather with the authorities or the umpires.

2.  Go into your shell, protect your wicket like a fortress, and rely completely on your defense.
This basically means becoming very circumspect, sitting back on your heels and playing the waiting game, not worrying about missing opportunities and just focusing on ironing out the weakness in your defense instead of working with your strengths. But this approach usually takes you nowhere forward, and only adds to the mounting pressure, In the end, you need the runs to win the game,

3. The Play Every Ball on its Merit approach.  Over the years the truly great batsmen like Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara or Ricky Ponting have mastered the art of playing every ball on its merit.  What it takes is ..
– Completely forgetting about the unfavorable pitch conditions
– Forgetting about the criticality of the Test Match, and the importance of your innings
– Ignoring the pressure tactics used by the opposing fielders
– And finally forgetting the fact that umpires are in any way biased against you.
If you can do all these things, then only you can focus all your energy and concentrate best on facing each and every ball, treating it as a detached event and always putting your best foot forward. It is this approach which has been instrumental in building many a memorable, match – winning innings on the fourth innings of a test match.

Understanding that this is the best approach for such a situation came to me after years and years of watching Cricket and listing to commentary intently, but realization of how the approach can be suitably related to the real life situation happened only after a skimming through  of a loose English Translated version of Shreemad Bhagwat Geeta, in spite of getting only 5-10% of what was being said, something in it inspired me to keep on reading, and an amazing sense of calmness pervaded after completing it.
They say anyone who has read The Song Celestial, comprehends the message in it, in his or her own different way. It took me a couple of weeks to sink in the message, and for me the essence of it was,

Persisting and Detached effort is the key to lasting bliss.

Basically meaning, continuous efforts detached from any sort of emotions, anxiety or excitement is a surefire way of achieving the goal or lasting success.
Having said this, the fact cannot be overemphasized that it takes years of practice and a superior level of concentration in producing the required ‘detached effort’, or successfully following the Play Every Ball on its Merit approach.

Its also mentioned in the The Bhagwad Geeta, that spreading or even trying to spread the sacrosanct message contained in it is the most virtuous deed (Punya)  a person can do, hence I would take a privilege here and request you all to spread it as much as possible, The simplest way would be sharing this post  ;-).


Anurag Verma

MBA ITBM – 2011-2013

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