This Summer I decided to sponsor a cricket team, partly because my Brother plays for them but mostly because, as the classic reggae song states, I don’t like cricket, I love it! I come from a family of cricket fans. Watching the cricket immediately makes me feel better. Sitting outside on a warm summers day with a picnic, raises my vibe. To be honest, watching the cricket when the weather isn’t so great raises my vibe. So it came as quite a surprise to find that I would get so much learning from my involvement with the team.
One particular game this season was a real roller coaster of emotion. At one point the team were 4 wickets for 4 runs. If you know anything at all about cricket, you’ll know that this is pretty diabolical. Our best batsmen were out and for all intents and purposes, the game was lost. Then came the come back of the century. It was awe-inspiring and I couldn’t have been more proud.
In business as in cricket, we tend to put our best/strongest/most experienced team members first. But are we actually missing an opportunity for people to step up? Are we giving those further down the pecking order enough of a chance? Cricket isn’t just a one-man game and it isn’t always about the best batsman. We all have a part to play. What this game did was give those last batsmen an opportunity to shine. And my goodness, they did. In the end, it was the lower order batsmen that won them the game.
Furthermore, the team never once gave up. I’m working with a few organisations at the moment that aren’t doing great. They’re not winning much business and I’m seeing heads go down. It’s extremely de-motivating when business isn’t doing well and it can lead to a vicious cycle of negativity and ‘there’s no point’ attitudes. This agonising game of cricket summed up perfectly the fact that there is always hope. With grit, determination and belief we can always come back and win. The win changed the team’s mindset completely and they went on to win the league.
As their sponsor, I’ll admit that I’ve been quite ‘hands on’. I’ve gone down and watched as many games as I could. I’ve organised their end of season doo. I’ve DJ’d at the home T20 games. I’ve sorted new Rising Vibe collateral. I’ve even been known to charge into the changing room for some high fives! So yeah, I’ve been very keen.
At the T20 final, Sparsholt lost. But only just. Considering the season they’d had and what they’d already achieved, it would have been the icing on the cake. At the end of season doo, one of the team (I won’t name and embarrass him) put his arm around me and said ‘we really wanted to win it for you.’ I was extremely touched and quite taken aback by this. I realised then, that they had felt supported and genuinely cared for.
I learned two valuable lessons from sponsoring Sparsholt this summer. First, that my care and interest made all the difference. It triggered a sense of loyalty within the team that gave them a new motivation. As business leaders, if we show that we care and we take a sincere interest in the well-being of our team, then really great things can and will happen.
Secondly, there’s always hope. Even when faced with the seemingly impossible, we can always come back and get the win. It just takes that one positive outcome to really fire up the motivation again.
So nurture your team. Give those with less experience a chance. And never, ever give up.
Anything else is just not cricket.