Blogger: Satish Shenoy
IA @ BCAS Blog #10
As Indians, our love for cricket is legendary and I know for a fact that a team sport such as cricket has had a significant positive impact on me, serving me well at every stage of life. After the love I received from my very dear colleagues on my previous blog on the subject, I was prompted to pen a few more lessons. We are in the midst of IPL 2021 and I am sure we are enjoying the contests all the more from the comfort of our homes. So here goes:
- Keep the eyes on the ball!
One of the most basic tutorial lesson in batting and fielding is to keep the eyes on the ball till the last nano-second resulting in a better shot, a better “leave” and very importantly that the ball does not knock the batsmen. When a fielder takes his eyes off the ball to see on which end to throw, invariably there is a mis-fielding. That is why the other fielders always shout out to the fielder in action, as to which end he should throw the ball to. We have recently seen how Fakhar Zaman was run out on 193 after “fake fielding” by Quinton de Kock just because Zaman took his eyes of the ball. Pakistan then went on to lose the match. How important it is in audits to keep the eyes on the objectives and focus (kill the outside noise) on it so hard that there are no distractions and nothing is taken for granted. Keep the end in mind, said Stephan Covey too.
2. Sweet timing….
What a beautiful sound it makes, when the ball is hit from the middle of the bat and with perfect timing. If you see the bat of the great batsmen, only the centre of the bat has ball marks. In audits too, timing of what you do is as important as the doing. Timely closing of assignments and being well prepared for Audit Committee meetings are the take-aways. What you do must not only be timed perfectly but should also sound (pun intended) perfect.
3. Seeing the ball like a football!
The commentators often use these words when a batsman is playing perfect cricket, is well set and makes no mistakes. It is also said when the batsman is in great touch or form. Likewise, in audits, we need to be on top of everything we do – we cannot be seen talking with half-baked knowledge to people who are completely immersed in the business activities. I have always felt that I must have a firm grip of whatever I do, or not do it all.
What a beautiful word this is. Gary Sobers, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham and Ravi Shastri are few names we associate with all-rounders. Seeing them perform was a treat whether it was batting, bowling, fielding or even captaincy. They could get into the best of teams solely on their strength of batting or their bowling – so good were they. Why, only the other day in IPL 2021, it was Ravindra Jadeja v RCB – he batted, bowled and fielded as if he was the sole man on the field for CSK. It taught me while auditing, I must not only have good auditing skills but also a good communicator, a good writer, comfortable with technology, fraud risk assessment and above have a deep understanding of the business environment.
5. Piercing the field….
I recently read an article where Ricky Ponting mentions that when he comes to bat, he does not see the 11 fielders on the ground, he only sees the gaps and hits right through them – no wonder he was such a prolific run-getter. As an auditor, it taught me that I must understand the processes so well that when I see one, I must master what the gaps are and what is it that needs to be done to ensure that the gaps are filled in – the proverbial “what is” and “to be”.
6. Bowling at good length or just short of it?
We all know at nets, how Glenn McGrath could consistently hit a coin kept on good length 99 times out of 100. He could bowl “in the zone” for long spells, which is what made him such a great bowler. This taught me consistency. One good report does not make a great auditor. It is not enough to have flashes of brilliance – consistent good work is the hallmark of good auditors.
7. You can’t set a field for that shot…
Imagine the situation when 4 runs are required for a win and the last ball is to be bowled and a tail-end batsman is at the wicket, an edge can go for a boundary and the match is over. You just can’t set a field for that shot, if you call it one. It taught me that at times during audit assignments, despite the best planning and best execution, the audit outcome might not be as expected, I must accept it and move on. There are always lessons to be learnt from everything, even a loss or a failure.
8. Catch after multiple attempts….
We have seen some fielders taking catches after 2 or 3 juggles. At times, the fielder at the boundary line, pushes the ball into the hands of another fielder. The lesson I learnt is that the best attempt must be made to ensure the audit job on hand is completed and there are certain times that more than one attempt is needed. Take help of colleagues in the fraternity (extended teams) but find a way to complete the task.
9. Making difficult catches look easy….
Jonty Rhodes is a person who lived by this sentence. When the ball was hit in the region where Jonty was fielding, mostly at point, the call by the batsman was not a “No” but a “Jonty”. Batsmen could not take any chances with Jonty. While auditing, I learnt that there is no need to make a show of what I do but go about doing the work diligently to my satisfaction, however easy or difficult the tasks may be. That way one commands the respect of the team, the auditees and the profession.
These are bonus runs given to the opponents. They take the form of wides, no balls, byes and leg byes. History tells us that bowlers such as Trueman, Lillie, Willis, Botham, Underwood, Imran, Sobers, Gibbs and Hadlee never bowled no balls / wide balls. Such was their level of dedication. In auditing, resources are scarce and we are constantly called upon to do more for less, there is no scope for gifting away the “extras”. My sincerity, dedication and quality of output should be so high that I should always be feeling wanted and not considered as an “extra”.
These are extra runs given since the throw by a fielder to the wicket-keeper or at the bowler’s end was either wide or was not collected properly. But the extra runs are given not because of this, but because the other fielders have not backed up well. In an audit, how important it is for us to anticipate what can go wrong and we must create a back-up plan for it. Our reports should not be all over the place and in case of any questions or doubts must be backed up with solid puncture proof evidences.
12. Dropped despite a century?
One of the greatest English batsmen of all time, Geoffrey Boycott, was dropped from the team for the next match just after he made an unbeaten double century against India, at Headingley in 1967. England won the match by six wickets, but Boycott was dropped for his slow batting as he took 555 deliveries to score 246. The importance of team-work in audit is far more important than individual brilliance. Whatever we do, must be aligned to the final outcome of the audit assignment. This incident taught me that personal performance by itself is not enough but it must be useful to the environment and situation in which I exist.
13. Bench strength!
We are aware of the bench strength that teams like Australia and West Indies had. We all saw this happen when the paternal leave taken by Virat Kohli in the recently concluded memorable series versus Australia and how a certain Ajinkya Rahane led Indian team took cricket to a different level prompting Australian coach Justin Langer to say that if 11 players represent India out of the 1.4 billion people, then those must be really good. If any player did not play a match because of injury, then the player who replaced the player did so well in the match, that it was difficult for the original player to be in a position to get back into the team. We need to be fit and do good work that we become difficult to replace, but fitness is the key. Even in slow part of the season, or during temporary lulls, we need to stay sharp and ready to get into action at a moment’s notice.
14. Bowling according to the field set….
This is so tactical – a real partnership between the bowler, the captain and the fielders and understanding the strength and weakness of the batsman. There is so much expectation from the bowler that he bowls to his field, else there is easy pickings for the batsman. Similarly in our audits, we have to understand the target audience & the auditees and utilise the scarce resources sensibly and tactically.
15. Night-watchman (to conclude the day’s play)!!!
Who has not heard of the night watchman who comes in late near the end of the day’s play in order to protect the established batsmen from coming to the crease and running the risk of getting out. We have seen the night-watchman getting out and then requiring the established batsman to carry on the fight. We have also seen the night watchman going on to pile runs the next day. From an audit angle, I learnt that strategy is strategy and things could go wrong and at times the reality can be much better than what was envisaged. I have experienced how at the crucial final stages of an audit, a particular team member stands up and gets counted which results in great work done. At times, I have been particularly impressed with the resilience of senior members of the team walking into assignments and leading a helping hand for client satisfaction. That is team spirit, my friends.
Audit & Cricket are individually such vast subjects that any literature seems inadequate. I have made a humble attempt to share my lessons with you and I encourage you to comment on this blog so that I can continue to give my insights on this fascinating “life” called AUDITING. During my playing days with Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar, we used to joke that these two blokes would eat, sleep, think cricket all the time. My game was inadequate compared to the luminaries. I just substituted Cricket with Audit – eat, sleep, think Audit all the time. That’s the advice I would like to leave with my very dear young brigade of the profession – let your passion in the profession be so strong that the whole world will believe in the adage – the child is the father of man. I want to see more of the younger, tech-savvy auditors over-taking and taking over seamlessly from us “veterans”.
Vijay Merchant used to always say that a Cricketer must retire when people ask “Why” and not “Why Not”. Sunny Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar demonstrated this. I have taken this to heart and I have Retired from Active Auditing, well before I am asked “WHY NOT”. Your love has always kept me going.
Value of Tan-sen is known only when there are many Kaan-sens around. Thanks everyone for just being there for me.
Signing off with a strong whiff of positivity – the whole world needs a big dose.
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).