Stay in the Game
I miss cricket. It’s not as if I have had time to play or even watch it much as an adult with work and family responsibilities. But I always loved knowing it was happening somewhere in the world. I loved checking in every now and then and feeling the excitement of someone on a hot streak (Labuschagne has hit another century..!) or the emotional rollercoaster of supporting Pakistan (How can they collapse again…?!).
I am talking about Test cricket, of course: the five-day game, that most leisurely, indulgent of pursuits; a sign of the highest civilisation.
It demands characteristics and perspectives that are, for the time being, out of step with our TikTok / Twitter / T20 age. Much like long-term investing, Test cricket needs patience, acceptance and strategy; you accept the vicissitudes of fortune and circumstance, yet take action to mitigate the effect of luck or timing over the long run.
Above all, Test cricket requires that you stay in the game.
The financial crisis triggered by the coronavirus outbreak has been a crucible for our much-repeated mantra to clients: successful investing is as much about the journey as the destination. If you are still in the game in 2, 5, 10, 20 years… then you will have succeeded. If you had a few great years but got blown off course the year after – it was all for nothing.
You have to stay in the game like a top quality Test batsman. Alastair Cook comes to mind. If he was still batting at the close of play – and came in the next morning and saw us through to lunch – then you knew we were in a strong position.
What did you want from him while he was batting? Sixes and fours? Risky singles?
No. Just stay in. Occupy the crease. Get to the close of play. Get to lunch the next day. You might not even be able to recall one extravagant shot he hit in that whole time. Yet there he is at lunch on day two, 120 not out.
By doing this, after lunch, we have choices. The match is now in our control. We decide whether to bat on or to declare. We decide whether or not, from this position of strength, we should loosen up a bit and go for some of those riskier shots.
Hopefully cricket will return soon. When once again we are gripped by the outcome of an over, a shot or a wicket – then we will know we have made it through the crisis.
Until then we will continue to emulate the best batsmen: see off the new ball, don’t be greedy with the medium pacers, exercise self-restraint and caution when the ball is turning late on and get through to the close of play.
Stay in the game.