Catches win matches

If you follow cricket you’ll likely know the phrase ‘catches win matches’. In cricket, it is literally true. It’s also figuratively true both in cricket and beyond.

When you think about cricket and famous cricketers you think about the big name batsmen and bowlers. You think about Tendulkar with the bat and Warne with the ball.

What the phrase catches win matches is driving at is that beyond the glitz and glamour of beautiful batting strokes and bamboozling deliveries there is a less celebrated but no less important supporting role of an entire field of players who have the responsibility, among several, of catching balls flying their way.

Matches are often decided, not by some legendary batting or bowling effort of an individual but, by a steady and consistent effort of the whole team doing smaller actions, like catching a ball, consistently well. No matter how good an individual is in cricket, a single player cannot compensate for a bad team who make repeated sloppy mistakes.

This is absolutely true in business too and in life in general. Your lesser appreciated boring but consistent actions are more important than your occasional impressive flourishes.

This can sometimes be hard to see. If you’ve watched the movie Moneyball (you should, it’s a great movie – although it would have obviously been better if it were about cricket of course!), you’ll know that a data analyst played a huge role in helping a perpetual underdog baseball team coming from nowhere to break world records. They did this by recruiting a fresh team of misfits who had been overlooked by the major teams because of their apparent lack of star quality.

There are two big lessons you can take away from Moneyball. The first lesson is one of rationality over emotion (or to put it another way, data over gut-feel). The second more crucial lesson that one of the biggest mistakes you can make is overlooking the power of small consistent actions over large singular achievements.

Catches win matches.