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Careers are like cricket test matches!

Here's how:

~ The toss
On the morning of the test match, the match referee comes on to the field with the captains and tosses the coin.

The captain then calls for either heads or tails. The outcome of the toss decides the course of the match; it also plays an important part in the outcome of the match.

The toss in each person's career is the stream s/he chooses while joining college. It may be science, commerce or arts.

None of us are quite sure as to what the field we choose holds for us. We just go on a hunch.

This choice affects the course of our further studies and, in turn, our career.

~ The pitch

The crucial and most dynamic part of a test match.

The pitch (the playing area, where a bowler pitches the ball to a batsman), changes drastically over the duration of the test. It generally eases out during the second and the third day.

You have to be careful playing on the first and last days of the test, as the pitch is difficult to deal with.

Career-wise, the pitch is the job you choose.

You could choose a variety of jobs in the course of ones career. And the job you start with may be very different from the job you retire from.

The start of your career is crucial to gain the right experience, while your last few years on the job are crucial in terms of cashing in on money!

~ The first day

It is crucial to get off to a good start on the first day of a test match.

It usually sets the tone for the rest of the match.

At times, in overcast conditions, when the ball swings a lot in the air, the batsmen have to be patient and wait for the right ball to score. A long opening partnership sets the course for the match.

The right kind of education generally fetches you a good first job with promising future prospects. But, at times, promising jobs take some time coming.

Be patient. Don't rush to the first job that comes your way.

The first five to seven years of your career are vital to progress along the right track. Do not chop and change jobs too much in this period. Give yourself the chance to grow in the company you work in.

~ The second day

The second day gives you a fair idea of the target (the number of runs) you need to achieve.

The conditions are usually perfect for stroke play, and many runs are scored.

The pitch behaves predictably. By now, the batsmen would have got a hang of it and would be scoring freely. Also, the planning of a new innings has to start on this day.

This period is when you have already worked for about five years and are comfortable in the working environment.

You should have gained a position of strength in your firm by now. And should be well versed with the finest of details.

This is the time to revaluate your position and plan new ventures or revisit your career goals.

~ The third day

The most important day by far in a test match.

The team's fortunes can change rapidly on this day with good or poor performances. They can secure victory by building on strengths and playing as per plan.

The third day offers batsmen and bowlers an equal opportunity to thrive, as there is still sufficient time left in the test match.

This is the phase in your career where you have already put in ten to 14 years. It is vital to your career chart.

Smart, well-informed choices and strong performances can give the slight thrust your career may need at this stage.

This stage is supposed to be the peak of your career, with the maximum chance and potential for growth.

Not only do you have experience on your side, you also have the energy to outperform others.

~ The fourth day

The day when a team can nearly ascertain the outcome of the match, or rarely produce a great comeback performance.

The pitch is not easy to negotiate, as the ball starts turning and swinging.

This day puts the skill of the batsmen to its ultimate test. A strong performance here can almost ascertain success.

You have already put in about 15 to 20 years of work, perfecting your skill sets and understanding your job better.

You should ideally be in a position to ascertain success and fulfil this responsibility.

A formidable showing on your job could in some instances earn you your career ambitions at this stage itself. Nevertheless, there is still a chance to fight back from a weaker position to finish in a respectable way. You should have acquired enough assets by this stage, and be in a comfortable position career wise.

~ The final day

You are either confident of forcing a victory, or are fighting hard to settle for a draw. Rarely would you have already won or lost the match. Ideally, this day should be the time when your efforts over the past four days produce the desired result. This should not be a day of planning, but of faultless execution. Don't leave too many runs to get on this day, as the wicket is difficult to play your shots on.

The last phase of your career. You would have put close to 30 or more years working for this day. Ideally you should be in a position of power and authority, calling the shots. Do not rely on making most of your money in this phase, as you are possibly past the prime of your career. If you are not in such a strong position, try to consolidate and settle for a respectable result.

And here are some cricketing terms that hold good for your your career!

~ The cricketing whites
Analogous to the formal office or uniform preferred at work.

~ New ball

The new boss at work. Can either work in your favour or against you!

~ The lead and follow on

The outcomes of good or poor performances that usually determine the result of the match. In this case, your career.

~ The night watchman

A menial job taken up while looking for a good job. Generally applied to play out the time factor.