Internal Audit Lessons from Cricket

Blogger: Satish Shenoy

IA @ BCAS Blog #7

Cricket and Bollywood are the two national favorite pastimes. With both taking a forced break after the outbreak of the virus, I am motivated to write about the sport I passionately played until a few years ago and follow closely now. Cricket did teach me many aspects of life that I have applied and continue to apply in my Internal Audit career.

  1. Practice practice and practice

It is not magic that Lara, Sachin or Viv would be in such good positions to play a shot and convert even good balls into runs. It is all attributed to the hours and hours of practice that has enabled them to read the bowlers arm, gauge the speed of the delivery and the angle at which the ball is arriving. I learnt that as an auditor, I need to spend more time sharpening the saw so that it takes less time to cut the tree. Practice makes an auditor perfect. Each audit interaction for every  audit assignment is a practice which has led me in the direction of perfection….my journey is still on….it matters little to me now when I will reach, I am thoroughly enjoying the journey.

2. I may not be in the playing eleven

My team consists of players who are chosen depending upon on factors such as the strength & weakness of the opposition, one’s own ability & skill and the state of the pitch. My team has a combination of opening batsmen, one drop, middle order, all-rounders, wicket-keeper, fast bowlers, medium pacers and spinners. I could be among the top 6 batsmen but if the decision is to play only 5 batsmen, I could get left out; I could be the best spinner but if the wicket is fast paced, I do not get a chance to play, and so on. I learnt that as an auditor, I may get the assignment/job or it could go to someone else. But I have to continue to be good and better at my auditing skill-sets and do my best and wait for the next opportunity. As far as I go, either the opportunities have come or I have created them and that has worked for me. Apna time bhi aayega.

3. Home advantage

The national cricket team for long were known to be home tigers and did exceptionally well in Asian conditions but faltered when playing in swinging English conditions, or the fast paced tracks at Perth and Sabina Park. However things have changed now for the better. The recent win in Australia is a show case. Foreign teams are also now trained to do better than before in Asian conditions. We saw what England did to us in the first Test recently. I learnt that as auditors we need to adapt to the conditions in which we operate. We have handled India based assignments and done exemplary work for clients/businesses based abroad too. India, through the ICAI, has been the pioneer in framing Standards on Forensic Accounting & Investigation Services, in which many of us directly or indirectly contributed.

4. Advantage of the toss

In cricket, winning the toss is crucial to the outcome of the match and it is a matter of luck to get the favour of the coin. Depending upon the conditions, the toss winner puts the opposition in or chooses to bat first. Often in Test Cricket, the captain that wins the toss, chooses to bat first guided by the proved hypothesis that pitches tend to deteriorate over days and batting becomes more difficult as the spinners have a “field” day (pun intended). Batsmen also experience variable bounce that makes batting a nightmare. I learnt that while auditing, I am at times fortunate enough to have the first mover advantage – when I am called upon to audit a brand new business or to review a system before implementation or use a new audit tool for superior analysis – I need to seize these opportunities and play my best game. But, there will also be other times, when many things are not in my control. I have to make do with what is, and move on keeping a good strategy in mind. Winning a toss is not in my control, but playing my best game nevertheless is well within my reach.

5. Googly & Doosra

Googly is a type of deceptive delivery bowled by a right-arm leg spin bowler, achieved by bowling the ball as a conventional leg break, but spinning the ball further with the fingers just before it is released. It is also called a wrong ‘un. Muttiah Muralitharan was the best exponent of the googly and now it’s over to Rashid Khan. Doosra is a recent addition, first developed by Saqlain Mushtaq. Doosra is the delivery which goes with the arm. It means when an off spinner is bowling, the batsmen expects the delivery to be coming in but it goes straight with the arm and foxes the batsmen. If batsmen does not pick the bowler’s arm, the chances are high of getting out. I have learnt during my audits, that situations threw me lots of challenges but I made sure to study what’s coming at me and adapt my actions accordingly. I have always felt the need to do something different. We as auditors, meet difficult auditees and also experience challenges in getting data and information that are critical for the purpose of our work. But that does not stop us from completing assignments as required. Read the mind and body language of the people we connect with in the audits, and we will be the best.

6. Reverse swing

Normal swing occurs mostly when the ball is new. As the ball wears out, the aerodynamics of the asymmetry changes and it is more difficult to extract a large amount of swing. When the ball becomes 50 plus overs old, it begins to swing towards the shine. This is known as reverse swing, meaning that a natural out-swinger will become an in-swinger and vice versa. Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were the pioneers of reverse swing. A batsman needs good eye reflexes which are considered to be a key skill when facing swing bowling and must anticipate beforehand what the ball will do and adjust accordingly by observing the bowler’s grip and action. I learnt that as auditor I had to use the scarce resources available to me and discover new techniques and I need to adjust my audit technique depending upon the situation through keen observation. Attending thoughtfully crafted training programs have helped me immensely in use of technology in conduct of audits. Observing senior members of the profession going about the audit tasks has also considerably helped me in my journey.

7. No second chance

As a batsman, reputation does not count. A poor judgement, a mis-reading of the ball, a top-edge and you are a gonner, at least for this innings. A bowler can get away with a loose ball, a fielder with the ball going through his legs or a dropped catch but not the batsman. He can make amends only in the next innings. Whether it is a Sachin or a tail-ender, if a rank bad ball is hit into the hands of the fielder, you are out. I learnt that I need to understand the role I am playing and I have to give it my best. As an auditor, reputation does not act in my favour. In fact, my reputation comes with higher and higher expectations and I need to be performing at my best all the time. Like the batsman, I need to perform the best here and now. This philosophy has helped me sustain a continuous good performance.

8. Judging a quick single

This is where the team spirit comes in. While judging a run, the batsman has not only to judge that he will reach the other end, it is also important for him to judge that his partner will also reach the other end. Technically, if the ball is played to mid-on, the non-striker relies solely on the call of the striker and the run is taken. I learnt that while doing audits, it is not just important about how well I perform, but it is the team effort that counts. This is what team spirit is all about. Take care of yourself but also take care of your team mates. You must reach your destination but along the way, the team also needs to reach with you. How important it is to collaborate with team members who bring different skill sets to the assignment.

9. Walking

What’s walking to do with cricket? Adam Gilchrist was one player who “walked” every time he knew he had edged. Walking is the act on part of the batsman to walk back to the pavilion when he knows he has edged and the catch has been taken behind the wicket, irrespective of whether it has come to the notice of the umpire or of the opponents. These moral custodians can sleep easy, safe in the knowledge that they did the right thing and upheld the ‘Spirit of Cricket’. This has taught me one thing – a right is a right even if no one is doing it, a wrong is a wrong even if everyone is doing it. Integrity is important in life – it builds a great reputation. Integrity is one of the seven prized attributes that Richard Chambers has identified for Highly Effective Internal Auditors.

10. Judging a High Catch

Just think what goes on in the mind of the fielder when the ball is hit high and he is on the boundary line with the background sound of the entire stadium rooting supporting for or against with all eyes on you – a million pair of eyes (including the television audience) and you have to perform. The fielder has to adjust the light (artificial or the sun) and the swerve of the ball due to the wind and not cross the boundary line. I learnt that when executing audits, we have to be consistent in performance, I am continuously being watched and evaluated by my colleagues, my auditees, my management, my Board, my profession and above all my conscience. I have to perform all the time and yet always remain within the “Boundary” (pun intended).

11. Comradeship

Don’t we see that when a buckle of the pad or the shoe lace gets untied, the opposition team member would help in getting it back to position. When a match is over, there is a warm shake of hands and a pat on the back between each of the umpires, the players and support staff. I learnt that in audits we must celebrate success with our own team mates, we must be cordial in our relationship with all those we come in contact during the course of the audits and we must have the best relationship with the top management/client. We must create win-win situations all through.

12.  Communication

When the batsmen are taking say two or three runs, there is always an instruction by the batsman who is facing the direction in which the ball is hit when the two batsmen cross, whether there is an opportunity for the next run. At times, instructions are given whether it is an easy run or a cheeky one. This enables the other player to adjust the pace of run to conserve the stamina. Fielders also communicate loudly and clearly whose catch it is, when the ball is hit high and there is a possibility of more than one fielder getting close to taking the catch. I learnt that I have to give clear guidance to my team members and say the right thing and at the right time. I also have to receive the communication from others correctly as communication is not a one-way street. Non-verbal communication, at times, is as effective as verbal communication.

13. Ambidextrous

We have seen quite a few fielders in a position to throw the ball with the wrong hand which makes them so versatile and has resulted in many a run-outs too. This ability also increase their utility to the team. I learnt that as auditors we must continue to improve in whatever we are good at and find out ways to be more in a position to deliver. Audit is all about the balance between identifying gaps (finding control weaknesses), providing assurance and encouraging good governance; and knowing what to emphasise when.

14. Run on a mis-field

We all have grown up hearing the oft-repeated coach instruction, “Never run on a mis-field”. Many batsmen have got run-out running on a mis-field when the fielder quickly re-coups and throws the ball and effects a run-out. I learnt that while doing an audit and coming out with observations, I must not attempt to capitalize on another’s mistake and respect the ability of the other to quickly re-coup after the mistake. What is really necessary to unearth is why that mistake happened and suggest steps that will help that mistake from not happening again in the same place and also elsewhere in the organisation.

15. Sledging

The Australians have the track record of being the best sledgers in the world. The banter among the keeper and close-in fielders (they out-number the batsman) can rattle the concentration of the best in the world resulting in needless errors of a disturbed mind. The Dravids and the Sachins have mastered the art of ignoring the banter. What I learnt is that while doing audits, there will be such cross talk going on endlessly, but I must be so sure of my own ability and performance and should not get provoked.

I am happy that I have written this on the day that the world’s largest stadium – Narendra Modi Stadium was inaugurated at Ahmedabad by the Honorable President and Honorable Home Minister. I am so proud to say that the stadium was built by L&T, a company where I spent one fourth of my professional life – a company which redeveloped and refurbished the Wankhede Stadium in record time for the finals of the 2011 World Cup.

There are so many other aspects of the game that have given me valuable life lessons. Just 15 lessons have consumed close to 2500 words, so I will leave it for some other day to share my balance thoughts. Cricket is a fascinating game and I used to think as a teenager, that there is nothing better in life than cricket, until I decided to make my career in Internal Audit. Now Internal Audit means the world to me and time has certainly come to give back, not only to the Internal Audit profession but to the world at large. The world is waiting for capable people to give, rather than continue to take from the world. There is nothing better in life than Internal Audit. The future is for Gen-next. My best wishes and encouragement to each of you.

The teacher learns more than the student. The author learns more than the reader. The speaker learns more than the attendee. The way to learn is by doing.

What say? 

I welcome your comments and as a batsman, I promise to respond to each one with my best shot!

The Blog solely reflects the personal views of the author(s).

99 thoughts on “Internal Audit Lessons from Cricket

  1. What a wonderful blog. Six sixes hit and two hat tricks taken in the same over. Fantastic corelation

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    1. Six sixes is only for Sir Gary, my good friend Ravi & Yuvraj. thanks for the compliments, Ashu….i value it.

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      1. Beautifully written as always..

        Actually, I always admired your other (seminar presentation) on the analogy of writing audit reports with that of a newspaper..that one I have used several times ..

        While the analogies in your current blog are spot you may seek to explore further, the similarities of a slower ball, taking guard afresh and ‘Expecting the unexpected’.

        Lovely to relate to the blog

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    1. Thank you Atul. Six sixes is only for Sir Gary, my good friend Ravi & Yuvraj. thanks for the compliments, Atul….i value it.

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  2. Wonderful blog. Loved it. Straight from the heart. Just demonstrates ” Form is temporary, class is permanent” and you are a true gentleman of this game of audit.
    One thing you missed out writing explicitly but which you practice for learner’s like us is give back to the profession and create next level – you amply done that as a coach and mentor.
    Have some contentious thoughts too – like can an auditor market self akin to a cricketer, but will leave that to our personal discussion ☺️

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    1. Thanks Shailendra. Playing with the straight bat in cricket and in life is a very successful formula. Cricket and audit is a gentleman’s game. God has given us enough and more…..time for payback sir. Marketing is necessary for everything, so says my daughter who is pursuing a post graduate degree in Marketing……for Accountants, it is all the more imperative..Rest in next when we meet in person….I am looking forward.

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  3. Satish has variety of shots, played with equal ease n style. Creative n hard workng minds can do wonders and set lessons; be it cricket, be it audit.
    Keep it going my friend.

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    1. Thanks Borkar….we played quite a few shots together in our work, at times we got bowled and stumped but we never “ran out”.

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  4. Wonderful blog. Love the way it’s written – straight from the heart and like one playing the gentleman’s game.
    One thing you missed out but which you practice amply is also to create next line of leaders and pass on your skills to them as a coach.
    Also that Form is temporary and Class is permanent.
    One contentious topic is whether the auditor needs to market self akin to a cricketer and the glamour attached to the profession- will leave it for another day when we meet.
    Keep writing and inspiring ☺️

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  5. A Fun read and analogy do work
    Sledging to me could be integral hazard of internal auditors profession but as you said if you focus on what you are good at you can produce best results without getting provoked. And for the Management for whom you play what value add bring to table is important despite Sledgers on this case could be your auditee if we may say so..

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    1. Yes SS (my namesake), we have had a few slug-feasts together but we got thru pretty unscathed. But yes, as your correctly said, we must be focussed on what we are good at.

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    1. Thank you Mr. Mohanan…..Cricket and audit are indeed as fascinating as we can make it to be….there are literally no boundaries (pun intended!!!!)

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  6. LinkedIn (ternal Audit) and Cricket so beautifully. Fortunate to work with
    and be part of Satish ji in developing FAIS.
    Wide:
    Initially scope of audit work is defined and after some time, audit scope gets expanded due to additional findings.
    Internal Auditor has to again redraw the Audit Strategy like a bowler being asked to bowl again for the wide declared by the Umpire.
    Bouncer
    An internal auditor cannot be expert in certain areas. In such of bouncers being bowled the Batsman has to duck safely.
    Internal Auditor has to give a disclaimer in his audit report.
    Third Umpire
    Third Umpire is required to ensure that human error in giving decision by the main umpire does not impact the outcome of the game. Hence technology is used for action replay for LBW, Runout,Caught behind catches etc.
    Similarly Internal auditor depends on System specialists and other Subject matter experts to be doubly sure of his findings.

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    1. Wow Guruprasad what a super analogy too. I loved working with you in the FAIS. You have egged me to a few more parts to the blog…..which I hope the BCAS will permit to…..

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  7. Greatly lucid, relevant and relatable read for all internal auditors. As I always say – Satish Shenoy – naam hi kaafi hai 🙏

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    1. Naval, my fav Mentee…..kaam hi kaafi hai, sir. It is always the runs, wickets and the “catches” that matter.

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  8. Had fun reading your article on linked in🙂. You are anyway a deeply contemplative person plus you have the patience to grind through such a long article 👍

    Interestingly, almost any sport or movie can be compared to almost any profession

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    1. Thanks Venkatesh…..each one of us are made differently and that’s the fun of life. True that we can draw parallels from any sport or movie to any given profession…..i just attempted to link my two passions.

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  9. Mesmerizing…..is all I can say…..take a bow Satish…..how effortlessly put and each point so true…
    Wait for more gems

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    1. You are gem, Surath….I too get mesmerised when i hear you at public platforms. Thanks for the prompt for more gems….. i promise my best shot.

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  10. Great 👍. Internal Audit relating to cricket is really nice. All skills of IA and cricket collaborated.

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  11. Interesting lessons drawn from the game of cricket! Having worked with you Satish, was always aware about your passion for both Internal Audit & cricket, but drawing correlations as you have done, was really interesting & fun to read!

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    1. Yes Yajnik…..it was always fun working with you. Yes both Internal Audit and Cricket has made life very interesting. You said it….borrowing a phrase.

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  12. How beautiful Satish has linked cricket with IA. What he has linked is absolutely correct and relevant for IA and to write like this a person should have in depth knowledge both in cricket and in Intetnal audit. 15 attributes of cricket including sledging has been beautifully linked with internal audit and what Satish mentioned about 15 points if each one of the internal auditor implements the point in their job we all will be doing great IA work. Excellent write up Satish. Keep it up.

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    1. Sankar…..we all have been good auditors……i just suddenly felt inspired to draw a parallel with Cricket…..thanks ofr the nice words.

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  13. Satish has beautifully linked cricket with Internal audit Job. He has given 15 points of cricket starting from Practice to sledging and he has beautifully explained how the same can be used in internal audit work. What a creative way of writing . Hats of to Satish. If all internal auditor follow the 15 points of cricket example into Intetnal audit example we all internal auditor will do a great Job. Well done Satish. Great Job

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  14. Brilliant! Very effective way of putting across some key lessons. A contribution from me – Umpiring (Audit Committee) decisions. In cricket as a bowler, you may be sure that you got the batsman, but when the umpire gives a not out decision, it may be heartbreaking – all the hard work having come to naught, but the auditors have to learn to take it in their stride

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    1. Very true Menon…..life in IA at times appears unfair but there is always a subtle message hidden for us…..yes sir…we truly need to take it in our stride.

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  15. Satish always had this trait in him. Three and half decades back it used to come out in spurts. I remember so many of his one liners if those days and practice them too. He is one of those few who practices whatever he says. Thankfully for his own benefit (as stated by him) and for the benefit of all of us, it has become free flowing. Wish this continues. Best wishes. Rgds

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    1. Sure Srini….we know the “game” long enough together……walk the talk, else don’t talk…is a good mantra…..thanks for always being part of my rather our team.

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    1. Yes Debashis……there are many intricate nuances in our Internal Audit Profession and we all have the talent to conquer them.

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  16. Excellent writing- connecting cricket with internal audit is a great idea – sometimes audit also can get hostile sometimes the pitch can be positive and friendly ready to accept suggestions- the authors knowledge of the game is very authentic and well connected with nuances of his profession

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  17. Wow!

    Once a cricketer always a cricketer . A cricketer keeps the cricket live in himself and keeps contributing in all possible ways…plays crickets, coaches the team / next generation and even becomes a commentator to spread wise analysis….

    Same is with an internal auditor, he audits, trains the audit team and thereafter uses his wisdom and experience to contribute to the profession (ref. Your recent contribution – Forensic Accounting and Investigation Standards)

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    1. Wow Gopal….words are flowing from you as smoothly as the cars manufactured by your company. I am happy to be associated with you.

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  18. Nicely written Satish.
    In next part you could add the following:
    1. Send the appeals to field umpires & also for review upwards fir the third umpire… the same way Internal Audit reports go up to Management ( field umpire) & Audit Committee ( Third & fourth Umpire). Learn to live with it…
    2. You have to declare how you will bowl…over the wicket or round the wicket. Similarly Internal Auditor need to be disciplined….
    but Batsman can play straight or even reverse sweep… similarly Auditee can change his stand…Internal Auditor should ensure that you don’t allow him to change the stand….
    3. Take stock of each player… his strength & weakness… see how he gets out.. see which side he likes to hit the most… accordingly plan your bowling and field setting…..
    Accordingly plan your Internal Audit Scope suitably to ensure you get the vulnerable side of the Auditee.
    4. As a wicket keeper ( that’s your role) you decide where to stand for your pace bowling… if the bowler is accurate ( good internal auditor) then you stand close…. if he is not that accurate then play safe & stand at the back… so accordingly take Audit Observations from your great internal auditor at face value or else you discount to internal audit observations…

    Many more points come to my mind. Shall call you to give few more points

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    1. Thanks Nagesh for the words both written and oral……you are the person i look up to both in Internal Audit and in Cricket.

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  19. Sir very interesting article and really amazed to see the correlation u have done with minute details of cricket related activities 👍🙏

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  20. Satish sir, you have drawn a wonderful symmetry, I am sure Internal audiors will look at cricket differently.

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  21. Very lucid and fantastic writing Satish. We not only learn the finer aspects of Cricket and Internal Audit but also how we could intelligently link these two too. By this, you have demonstrated one critical quality an internal auditor needs to possess: keen observation.

    Your simple flowing writing style has also captured my admiration. Let is keep flowing and enthrall us in the future too. All the very best wishes

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    1. Yes SR…..thanks for the motivation. I learnt a lot from you travelling the entire UAE, spending so much time with me.

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  22. Tish. A truly an amazing analysis of similarities in two totally different fields. This intricate analogy can only be a work of someone who has mastered both fields by his long involvement. A great analysis by a genius.

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    1. Your words are spoiling me……thanks Anjana. Work hard and play harder….is the mantra. Wow the great time spent in Baroda (work hard, play harder…) is a lovely memory.

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  23. This is an excellent article with brilliant analogies. Satish sir, as always it’s a pleasure to read your articles. This one is special in a way that it resonates with me, as an internal auditor 🙂

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    1. Yes Samprati…..you have a nice long time to go in the field of Internal Audit….your contribution to the team in the FAIS was magnificent. Play the shot according to the merits of the bowler.

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  24. What an analogy.. very interesting and practical insights. As always, truly words of wisdom coming from you.

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    1. Thanks Punam….i encourage you too to write on the good work you do in Internal Audit at Aditya Birla Capital and related stuff. Nice words such as these keep me going.

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  25. Dear Satish,
    This is a wonderfully conceptualised blog (surely, relevant to work beyond Internal Audit too!). The style of articulation is so simple, yet profound. The parallels drawn are very relevant.
    It will be interesting to also look at the corollary – what cricketers can learn from Internal Auditors to improve their game! For eg, no ball tampering, continuous feedback, among others
    Thanks for sharing
    Warm regards,
    Arvind Brahmakal

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  26. Very interesting to read how precisely you have related every minute aspect of cricket with internal audit and have also given valuable lessons in integrity and ethical management. Superb!!

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    1. Thanks Vidu….we all know how important it is to play the game straight. Yes indeed, the fun is in the detail.

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  27. Though I play racquet games and cricket is only with my son in my backyard, but in this part of the world, where this game is a religion and then correlating some of the finer nuances of this game with Audit was an entertaining read. Look forward to more such collection of thoughts …

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    1. Very well articulated blog. The analogies make it very simple to understand. Needless to say the blog is simply stupendous.

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    2. Sure Ashish….I am sure your son is learning the game of 22 yards right down in the backyard. Thanks for the motivation to write more…..you will soon “hear” from me.

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  28. Satish bhai, Well done! Thoroughly enjoyed reading the blog and was visualizing the each of the cricketing analogy to our day to day professional realm. Sometimes we also play the role of the 3rd umpire when we have to sit in judgement of a particular individual in the organisation to share in confidentiality. There I would say that the Internal Auditor should use his or her judgment which should be free from personal bias and be based on underlying facts. Cheers! Venkat

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    1. Sure TVV. Thanks for the addendum which i will surely use in the next blog. Nice to hear from you TVV. Our promise to each other of the nature trail is long overdue thanks to the global restrictions.

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  29. Truly inspirational & wonderful analysis, comparison & correlation of two of your (general public of India) passion of life on personal & professional level.

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  30. It is really worth reading this article …many points are directly connected to pratical scenario and adaptable at face value..Thanks Satish Sir for such a great topic coverage

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  31. Amazing connection of cricket and internal audit. Both deal with strategy and performance.

    Learnt a lot. Thanks

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    1. Wow Radha…..an author of 16 books and a person who has been invited by many countries to speak on Chanakya….words such as these coming from you, mean a lot to me.

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  32. Very powerful messages given through the analogy of Cricket for Internal Auditors. How we must ensure maintaining quality, using technology and be ethical in what we are doing. Sir, hats off to you for writing in such a captivating style. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Thanks Sanjay….a person i admire for the skill of an IT auditor. An accountant who can talk IT in IT language to the best IT professional. Thank you for your motivation.

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  33. What a thinking !!! Amazing visualization and comparison of two areas which are no way comparable. Hats of to your creativity. Congrats and keep the flame of this skill burning

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