Howzat! Learnings from the sport of cricket and how they relate to technology

My brother (left) teaching me the ropes where it comes to cricket scoring!

Funny story. My PR team reached out with a fun request to answer questions on the great game of cricket. I stupidly assumed that this was fodder for internal content so filled it out to later realize that this was to be placed in a multi-interview piece where I was honored to be one of the “other tech leaders” partnered with Satya Nadella of Microsoft!

My answers were a touch too long and had to be edited, so I decided to put them in their entirety here ☺

Why do you like cricket?

Cricket is like chess. An honorable sport that has everything, including the ability to be multiple games in one (20 overs vs. one day vs. test matches etc).

I love how the game is both a team sport and highly individual at times. When you are out there batting it is you and your fellow batsman against the world. But you need to come together to execute as a holistic team with a strategy.

Oh, and what other sports let you stop for tea!

Playing a cover drive in the US of all places!

Have you played cricket, and if so in what capacity and at what level?

I have. I was captain of my cricket team in high school, played club cricket, and also played for my county (kinda like playing for your “state” in the US?). I also grew up around the corner to a cricket school that Joe Hussain owned. He was the father of Nasser Hussain, who was the captain of England, and we played at the same club when kids. He was a leg break bowler back then, so it was fascinating to see him become a batsman. It showed me that if you have a growth mindset and work hard you can do great things.
The same club (Ilford) also saw the great Steve Waugh who joined us for a summer spot at the tender age of 14ish. He was brilliant back then, even if he was a touch brash (apparently went on to be a great guy).
I was a left handed batsman, and bowled right handed (medium pace on target-ish). I also enjoyed playing wicket keeper at times to keep in the action!

What lessons have you taken from the sport of cricket that you’ve applied to your job in the tech industry?

Cricket teaches you a lot. I learned much on leadership as captain of club and school. In fact, now that I think about it, my laid back “leadership” style for the field is definitely mirrored in the office (to my teams chagrin?).

Being a captain is more like being a coach than in other sports. You make a lot of the decisions. It is also interesting to do that with your peers (vs. an adult coach). My father was coach of some of my teams so I had to overcome the “Dad made you captain!” feelings by modeling good behaviour on the field (and scoring a lot of runs!).
I am often trying to find “the flow”. When I reach back I remember a game of cricket where I rushed out of the gate and time stood still. The ball was huge. I blinked and I was in the 90s and we had won the game. It was magical. It turns out that by huge coincidence a photographer from the local paper was there just to watch, and started to take some shots. Without telling me, he sent the photos in the mail. It was such a treat.

I remember the first time that my club played cricket against a team of visually impaired players. I was confused. How could we play? It turned out that the way you play is to have a large ball, like a volleyball, with a bell inside. The rules are such that the ball can bounce once for a catch etc so you can hear the ball. What was fascinating was that the players were amazing! They fought hard for each run or wicket, and it gave me a new appreciation that the world is your oyster and nothing needs to get in your way.

What is the importance of the Cricket World Cup to you?

Over a billion people tuned in to watch India beat Pakistan (110M watched the superbowl for reference). It is huge. It is worldwide.

What team will win the Cricket World Cup?

Why England of course 😉

Note: this was written before we lost the first two games! An Aussie friend ran into Stephen Fry at LAX and teased him about that fact :/

Other thoughts about cricket?

A fun story. When I started high school (age 12) I was summoned to the head master’s (principal) office. Uh oh. That isn’t something you ever want! I went in there to meet the Santa Claus figure and he sat me down and said. “So, Simon’s brother. Finally”. My brother was a semi-pro cricketer (playing for Oxford) and won many trophies for the school. He had heard that I could play and made me captain as a 12 year old! He also pulled out some brandy and offered it to me: “To a winning season!” We did quite well ☺

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