• Rob Hunt

Becoming an “All Rounder”: Lessons from Cricket that Apply to International Dispute Resolution

Hunt ADR’s managing director and founder, Gregg Hunt, has recently joined forces with Dr Kabir Duggal and Rekha Rangachari to develop the Certificate in International Dispute Resolution (CertIDR). Discussions between them naturally led to cricket, and in particular the on-going test series between India and England, and they tasked me with writing a blog to identify some of the common traits found in Captains Virat Kohli and Joe Root, and the top mediators. Cricket is something that unites India and England although Kabir and Rekha also tell me that Cricket is “religion” in India. And yes, that is me batting in summer 2020 for St. John's Cricket Club, Stock, Essex, England.

I am finalising this on day three of the second test in Chennai, just after tea - and Ravichandran Ashwin has just hit a home test century. You will know England triumphed first time round, but now with India at 264-9, a massive 459 runs ahead, it is looking like it will finish on Wednesday (or before) with a win for India tying the series at 1-1.

Being a mediator-in-waiting and an avid cricket fan (and player, my medium to fast bowling for St. John’s must get a mention), this task should not be too difficult, and watching the series so far it has been clear to see that test match captains share traits with those at the top of the mediation profession.

Both Joe Root and Virat Kohli are strategists. They are calm, assured, even-handed, professional and motivated. They are able to manage personalities, control a room (sometimes full of blood pumping high ego individuals), manage time, manage pressure and take their team through situations of absolute deadlock.

These are all skills exhibited in abundance by mediators. Indeed, if a mediator cannot show the parties that they possess all these traits then it is likely they will fail to facilitate a resolution – and quite possibly fail in their efforts to make mediation their career of choice.

Managing people, whether a team of selectors or a room full of business-people and their legal teams, is all about dealing with personalities, making and taking concessions and keeping control. When Kohli and Root sat down with selectors to select squads for the series there is no doubt that there was an element of negotiation and concession making / taking. Who is ready to deliver on potential? Who can survive in a bubble away from family and friends? What does the team need? What other fixtures are coming up?

While I am sure most of you reading this would rather be at the crease for a couple of days than resolving disputes (everyone wants to be a professional cricketer, right?), the truth is that, like cricket, mediation can be a gruelling affair. Gregg says

Tenacity, stamina, focus. These are key skills required of…yes, Kohli and Root and yes – a mediator. In Root’s case in this first test he spent hours at the crease, defending, attacking, scoring runs and taking chances - almost perfect metaphors for the mediation process.

The cricketing analogy applies equally for arbitration, with Kabir adding

The interplay between procedure and substantive and a variety of different applicable laws in any arbitration is similar to a batsman who is juggling bowlers and multiple fielders in cricket at any given point of time

Mediation tends to be scheduled as a half day (akin to a T20) or a full day (the 50 over white ball version of the game). Arbitration can take much longer, days or even weeks, so it is more aligned with a Test for that reason alone. Whether limited overs or a five-day test, making sure you have a mediator or a captain with mental agility and focus is key.

Whether you are Virat Kohli or Joe Root, or you aspire to be either or any of the international or county captains of world cricket, male or female, you can see now you share attributes with great mediators and arbitrators. When the time is right get in touch, there could be a career as a mediator (or arbitrator) ahead for you (we can’t make the same claim for mediators and arbitrators wanting a second career as an international cricketer!).

Shane Warne famously stated “To me, cricket is a simple game. Keep it simple just go out and play.” That's a "Nice one Shane" (2005 Ashes reference there). We attempt to make international dispute settlement simple. Check out certidr.com for our beginners’ course on mediation and international arbitration. We are here to make it simple.

(NOTE: At launch we have a special module on Arbitration in India, which is included in the package and can be bought as a stand alone item).

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