Some More Internal Audit Lessons from Cricket

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:

  1. 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.

4. All-rounder!

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.

10. Extras!

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”.

11. Over-throw!

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).

128 thoughts on “Some More Internal Audit Lessons from Cricket

  1. Dear Satish
    Really very nice comparison and learnings. As usual you scored a “ton”. Your writing is also enjoyable like your speech. Keep writing!

    To take this further,
    1. Auditor should be a batsman. If he bowls and takes wickets he becomes unpopular with auditees. His job is to score runs and add value.
    2. Here the boundaries and sixers reach the Board-rooms.
    3. Rather than cold-drinks tea / coffee / and biscuits are served in AC rooms to keep the warmth of the discussions.
    4. Lucky auditors prefer globe-trotting to visit various peaches rather than carrying out shop floor audits.
    5. Instead of ball tampering the figures are twisted to prove the reports wrong.
    6. The umpires are Audit Committee members.
    7. The expert auditors like EDP, Financial, Legal ones prefer to play only on their home peach.
    8. Cheer leaders are the few colleagues who sing a song “I told You” when the errors are seen in the report.
    You may take this further in next blog———
    Shrikrishna Sumant

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    1. Wow – great food for thought Sumant. You have always been an inspiration for me Sumant. I have seen the good work you have done in Pune both for your employer and IIA. I have the highest regard for you. i promise you that i will use your inputs in the next blog (should BCAS permit me to feature one more). Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will be sending you the registration link separately.

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  2. Excellent article. I remember Johnty getting man of the match for only fielding (3 superb catches at point n 2 run outs). Only occasion till date.

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    1. Yes Prakash – that was what Jonty was all about. What a fielder. He took it to the next level. What good days we spent together at OCC – such a fond memory – those trips to your home at Lonavla in the rains always hid my tears of joy when we were together there with our friends, The nice evening we spent at Indore is always a great memory too. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will be sending you the registration link separately.

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  3. Dear Satish Sir,
    Analogy so well articulated.
    I particularly liked this – “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.

    Something for all of us to ponder over… What are we leaving behind.

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    1. Sure Pooja – this I learnt from your father – what he has left behind. I learnt so much from him. what a great man. He literally gave me a “Nayi Disha”. What a lovely poem he coined and the way he narrated it is a class apart. This is my “Silent Message” – thanks Pooja that you are taking his legacy ahead. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will be sending you the registration link separately.

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    1. Thanks Ramana – i remember the wonderful discussions we had had when you were with Cement and thereafter in the Valves business in L&T. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will be sending you the registration link separately.

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  4. Excellent write-up. Applying the cricket techniques in the Audit field enhances the auditing experience / knowledge. It is also a team work where individual’s also show their brillance like a great batsman or a good pacer / tweaker !

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    1. Thanks Kumar uncle – you love the game so much Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will be sending you the registration link separately.

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  5. As usual, Satish, the blog is well written. Your message to the youth is really the bullseye. Keep it going buddy

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    1. Thanks FJM, my dear 1985 batchmate of HPCL. Stay connected. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will be sending you the registration link separately.

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  6. Another wonderfully articulated piece of analogy of internal audit with cricket. Thoroughly enjoyed reading. Congratulations, Satish. Your love for internal audit is truly infectious and will surely motivate many aspiring professionals to make it their career. An expert internal auditor with the right mix of business knowledge and deep vigilance, is a very important enabler and guide for the top management of any company. I have no hesitation to say that a dedicated internal auditor like you, will always be a great asset for any responsible corporate.

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    1. Thank you PSB. You have always been one of my mentors and words like these, flowing from you, means a lot to me. Please do join the session organised by BCAS & IIA on Wednesday May 19 from 1700 hours on the same subject. I will be sending you the link separately.

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    1. Spent so many years mainly “taking”…..now will follow your footsteps Raghu of mainly “giving”.

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  7. Fifteen different characteristics of cricket are well analyzed with that of the Audit profession. This indeed a great way to narrate the importance of interconnected elements of audit. Analogies always help in understanding the principles. Great writing Satish

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    1. Thanks Rajan….I remember the thoughtful discussions we used to have when we worked together in “Growth is Life”. This analogy has its roots in those discussions. Glad you have approved of it. Not as “innovative” as you. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will send you the registration link separately.

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  8. Nicely written and found the comparison funny yet worth pondering. I take the liberty of adding ‘Hat-trick’ – which can that set of observations usually of high risk nature that typically forms the bulwark for the audit report and also causes the auditee to view the audit team with great respect and seriousness!

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    1. Thanks Vivek, I have kept that “trick” for the 3rd part of the article. Just shows your experience in the field of auditing too. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will send you the registration link separately.

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  9. What a beautiful analogy comparing cricket with audit . You are truly blessed to have an easy assimilation of the game you love and passion for your profession , hats off for doing justice and sharing your thoughts in such a beautiful way . Nothing comes easy there is a lot of effort and dedication required to translate desires to reality. You are a true example and an inspiration 😊👍🙏

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    1. Ashok, I am humbled by your kind words. I remember the good times when i was at L&T and how you and your wonderful have helped me and my teams for all the travel and other arrangements which has helped us become better auditors. Grateful. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will send you the registration link separately.

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  10. Satish Shenoyji has linked cricket terminologies with Internal audit very beautifully. In the process if you reverse engineer new entrants to IA profession should read his Auditing guidelines first and then read cricket illustration. This will help them to excel in the IA profession like Satish Shenoyji.
    Thanks ji for your excellent and amusing write up.

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    1. Thanks Guru. In my short association with you thanks to the ICAI & the Forensic Accounting & Investigation Standards work that we teamed together, you really are my Guru. I particularly have a lot of gratitude for me when we you remembered me in your prayers when you visited a temple. The reverse engineering is akin to the “reverse sweep” or the “switch hit”. I liked it. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will send you the registration link separately.

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  11. Wonderful Satish ji – you seem to have endless supply of ideas in your repertoire. I thought that one cannot go beyond your last article, but now we have one more as seasoned and well reasoned as the previous one. Great going Satish. You might have retired but definitely not got tired, for sure. Your energy and enthusiasm is always an infectious one. Keep going Satish and all the best wishes for more and more to come.

    P.S.: What about linking guest auditor and cricket? What about how internal audit has evolved over years when compared to cricket (Test cricket to One Day to T 20).

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    1. Thanks Rajagopalan, you really are a Raja. There is so much to write about both Cricket & Audit. Thanks for all the good times we had in UAE when i visited there. We made a great team. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will send you the registration link separately.

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  12. Dear Satish, You have a passion for Auditing and any thing done in life with passion is called “Labor of Love” . I really enjoyed reading your blog and the equivalence to cricket, lot of learning for me. I am missing you and the coffee, I am sure we will meet soon.

    I know you will never retire and will be active in some other avatar. Good Luck & regards

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    1. Thanks Vinay. I used to call it “Coffee with Vinay” series. My association with you right from the Hazira days, the nice lunch we used to share along with intellectual conversations is a memory. Please do attend my talk on the same subject on Wednesday 19th May from 1700 hours arranged by BCAS & IIA. I will send you the registration link separately.

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    2. Wonderful article Satish. Perfectly co-related internal audit with cricket. Couldn’t think of so many ideas. Great !!

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  13. First of all congratulations for this well articulated write-up.

    We have seen your passion for internal audit and the way in which you handle each and every assignment.

    Beautifully analyzed cricket viz-a- viz internal audit and who else can do this job better than you. I know you are a good cricketer too.

    Keep going and waiting for your other articles.

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  14. Congratulations on a such well written article Satish. Reflects your deep expertise on both the topics and your unique flair of expression.

    Like

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