Be a sport. Cricket’s 8 lessons for success in the modern office

by Simon Henry @simlington

The cricket season is upon us – which can only mean one thing: the news is absolutely chock-full of football.

As an antidote to the Man United lunacy, here’s a blog about cricket. And to make it actually useful, it shows how cricket can help your career.

Before you groan ‘But cricket’s a load of old tosh’ and stop reading – let me just say, it’ll take you less time to read this than it takes a batsman to get ready to face one ball.

The Laws of Cricket state that before facing each ball, the batsman must:

– Fiddle with the box protecting his private parts at least six times
– Look all around him as many times as possible
– Rearrange the protective helmet on his head three times
– Hit his bat on the ground at least 10 times
– Fiddle with his protective gloves four times
– Mess about with the pads protecting his legs five times

And you won’t be surprised that the first lesson you can learn from cricket is:

1. Patience

Playing Patience at cards is less likely to lead to serious injury than playing cricket.

Playing Patience at cards is less likely to lead to serious injury than playing cricket.

If you work in an office, patience is not only a virtue. It is a prerequisite for avoiding nervous breakdown.

The ‘process’ for getting anything ‘signed off’ requires ‘stakeholder’ ‘feedback’, meaning various ‘iterations’ before all ‘the boulders have been removed from the runway’.

(See my A-Z of corporate jargon for more lovely examples.)

The ability to relax, get a cup of tea and mess about on Facebook – sometimes for weeks – while your colleagues mither is an important skill that can only lead to career success – if only in the very long term.

Read on – your career trajectory is already on its way to matching that of a ball smashed for six by a very strong, sun-kissed young man with rippling biceps and a six-pack.

Here’s a gratuitous picture of some nice-looking, nude players to retain the interest of readers who like that sort of thing.

Cricket has a dull image - but take cricketers' clothes off and the dullness fades.

Cricket has a dull image – but take cricketers’ clothes off and the dullness fades.

2. Jargon

Cricket introduces you to the theory and practice of jargon. Play for long enough and the most ridiculous office jargon will seem tame.

Here’s an example of what trips naturally off the cricketer’s (dry) tongue:

‘On a turning pitch, playing across the line is risky, especially when the bowler has a half-decent googly, Chinaman and arm ball in his armoury.’

3. Management incompetence

Most cricket captains hold the position not because of their inherent skill as a tactician. They’re the only ones who can convince 11 people to give up a full Saturday or a week night to play cricket!

This takes supreme resilience, persuasive power and thick skin – but not necessarily expertise.

Being told to do something really, really silly by your incompetent captain is great practice for being told to do something really, really stupid by your boss.

4. Disappointment and anger

Humiliation and frustration are inherent to the game of cricket. The list of ways to fail is heartbreakingly long. These include:

– The Golden Duck (being out first ball) is what all batsmen fear most
– Dropping a catch makes the bowler angry with you
– Getting hit for six is really depressing and embarrassing
– Being hit in the genitals by a cricket ball is one of the most painful things known to man

Being able to handle anger, fear and failure are all vital during any normal day in the office, aren’t they?

5. Excuses

Cricket would not be cricket without the Excuse For Failure.

Here are three popular excuses for batsmen’s poor performance.

‘Movement behind the bowler’s arm’ ‘Bad pitch’ and ‘Bee buzzing around my head’.

These are usually bogus. Here’s a cricket glossary in case you want to know what the first two mean. The third is, I think, self-explanatory to the layperson.

Office life requires an infinite capacity to avoid blame – and cricket offers no end of opportunities to practise this skill.

6. Disability issues

Cricket positions include:
– Long leg
– Short leg
– Silly mid off
– Backward point

A cricket field sounds like it’s full of people with physical or mental disabilities. So the cricketer is more likely than the average person to take an inclusive attitude. And that’s a really useful attribute in the modern office.

7. Gossip

Most cricketers hate cricket. Its arbitrariness, its capacity to injure – often seriously – and the mind-numbing boredom of waiting around doing literally nothing.

So the best thing about cricket is the drinks in the pub afterwards.

Offices are the same – the best thing about them is the office night out (usually to celebrate someone escaping from it).

8. Inclusive

If you think cricket is only a game for heterosexual he-men, here’s the most famous line from decades and decades of Test Match Specials:

‘The bowler’s Holding the batsman’s Willey.’

If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy my post about why it’s silly to run marathons.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter for more attempts to make you smile, laugh, giggle and even possibly wet yourself.

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

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