Saturday, 9 May 2015

Playing cricket is somewhat like living life – at least in the area of Zero Based Problem Solving

Bowl this ball without any undesired influence from the past
Concentrate on this ball

Watching cricket is no sin, is it? Occasionally you should also indulge.

I was happy when in a nail biting finish the batsmen ran desperately for the one run needed and made it home. I was happy and the stadium full of fanatics too.

Post-match expert analysis

It was the post match analysis that got my attention, but in a different direction now. The expert analyst was explaining, “For batsmen, concentration is important. For a single ball, you lose the concentration and you are OUT. But the same goes for the bowlers also. Look at how he bowled the last over.”

Last over


In the last over, my team needed 8 runs from 6 balls – otherwise an easy task. But today situation was different. Seven wickets had already gone. Three wickets with eight runs needed in six balls. Nobody could be sure of the ending.

First ball


In the crucial last over, the first ball was a good ball, but the left-handed batsman could manage a single. 7 runs needed in 5 balls. The man at the crease now was short and stocky. He was not considered as an established batsman. But he could hit cleanly and hard. He was a big-hitter.

Second ball


The bowler bowled a beautiful Yorker at his legs. The batsman somehow blocked it. His partner was running in from the other end. The bowler also ran towards the ball, picked it up and turning round knocked the stumps down in a direct throw. OUT.  7 runs needed now from 4 balls. But only 2 wickets remained.

Bowler’s mind


Let’s pick up the thread of analysis. Our expert continued, “At this point imagine what was going on in the bowler’s mind. He had just bowled a beautiful Yorker and on top of it ran the other end batsman out. What did he do with the next ball? He bowled a length ball.” 

Our short but funky little big hitter hit it immediately out of the ground for a beautiful six. 1 run needed in 3 balls. How fortunes swing!

Zero based Problem Solving


I remembered our Zero Based Problem Solving principle that we first theorized more than a year back. I must admit, without the expert analyst explaining in his inimitable style and intent, I won’t have noticed the similarity between a cricket match situation and zero based problem solving in real life.

Main point


He continued, “When someone had just done something good with the last ball, he was still thinking of the past glory when bowling the next ball. And that’s it. He loses concentration. He doesn’t focus on the present moment. 

So many batsmen get out just after reaching the half century or the century landmark. They raise their bats to the sky, spectators roar, and facing the next ball still thinking of the past glory, the batsmen lose concentration.” 

Common failing


The analyst spread his hands wide and shrugged, “See, all people have a tendency to do like this. I am not just picking on this bowler. It is a common failing.”

So very true – I thought. The bowler couldn’t forget the rush of joy a moment before and erase his mind clean before bowling the next ball. He couldn’t focus on the present moment. And that was his undoing. This has been the undoing of humanity million times before.
Just like life. 

Bowling a ball is solving a problem


While bowling a ball, the bowler is solving a problem. 

He must not be influenced by the happenings of the past balls, the past problems. Specially the problem he had solved just before. He should only remember that much from the past that he can use effectively while bowling the present ball.

Using the past
Go to the past to learn or to relive joyous moments
Using the past

“Never go back to the past except for getting joy or for learning”

– I couldn’t help this bit of related truth escaping from my mind.

Basic principles repeat

With only one run needed in 3 balls, the bowler had his nerves in tatters – he had just been hit for a six. He bowled a rising ball down the leg. A clear WIDE with penalty 1 run tagged in bold letters. It would have earned my team the win if the batsman at the crease just stood still, doing nothing. 

But again, just like the bowler a moment before, the batsman also had forgotten about zero based problem solving (I am assuming both of them knew about it however obscure the principle is). 

He swung his bat wildly at the ball, got a feather touch and the ball landed safely in the gloves of the agile Keeper. OUT. 1 run now needed in 2 balls with only 1 wicket to go. The large stadium fell silent.

Zero based Problem Solving

Zero based problem solvin
Zero based problem solving

Life is solving a series of problems. While solving the present problem, start at zero point, your mind swept clean of any hangover from the experience of solving past problems, specially the last problem you solved just a while ago.