It's funny how things turn out. There I was, a mid-ranking cricket executive, sent to Brisbane to sit in on a few meetings, only for my world to be turned upside down. I'd expected it to be a fairly low key trip - some note-taking, perhaps a little light administration in the evenings - but what I got was far, far more than that. To put it bluntly, I found my new religion, having come face to face with a spiritual leader of extraordinary charisma.
I pay very little attention to the on-field element of cricket, so I didn't especially notice the bear-like Australian man with the bushy eyebrows and receding hairline when I walked into that first meeting. I was told he had been an opening batsman of some significance, but that meant little to me. However, once he began speaking, I could no longer ignore him. I've never been in a situation where someone's every word rang so true. It was transcendent.
"Big dreams always start with the most basic executions of process," he began, and my heart quickened. Here was a man who spoke a language that I understood.
That man, Matthew Hayden, described how he envisionised Australia's Big Bash League: "Families coming to the cricket, enjoying a three-hour proposition, with not the trinkets and the charms but a true value proposition."
I was blown away.
That had been precisely what I had been saying in meetings back at headquarters for months. Not just the sentiment - the exact words. It was almost like this man had read my mind. Later on, back in my hotel room, I would check the minutes of a meeting I had had with the general vice-president of cricketainment strategy earlier in the year. My memory was correct. I had said: "It's not about the trinkets and the charms, it's about a true value proposition - a three-hour one."
It happened again and again. It was clear this man was on my exact wavelength. When he spoke of "a leisure-tainment and entertainment package that has never yet been seen on our shores in cricket", I thought back to my presentation entitled: "A leisure-tainment and entertainment cricket package that has never yet been seen on our shores".
That presentation detailed an entertainment proposition that would hopefully re-engage our fan base, and clearly Hayden shared my vision. With admirable succinctness, he laid his cards on the table: "An eight-team Big Bash League structure - involving separate organisations running these entities with private equity stakeholders in the future - has launched the 'Business of Cricket' and relaunched my interest as a highly viable business decision, adding value both to The Hayden Way, and also to me personally on the field."
As Hayden spoke of "offering a competitive proposal to families and fans to engage in three hours of velocity, vibe and impact", I realised that here was a man of great wisdom and clarity of thought. Here was a man of values who I would follow to the ends of the earth.
The rest of the meeting was a blur, but a good blur. I felt warm inside, knowing I'd finally found meaning and direction in life. As Hayden spoke about how he encompassed his core philosophies, I felt that I too wanted to encompass them.
It was even more of a surprise to have experienced an epiphany in this meeting, because until that point I'd always considered the Big Bash League to be little more than a pathways programme. Afterwards I plucked up the courage to ask Hayden how he felt about it and he said: "I've never been interested in this tournament until now as I've always seen it as a pathways programme."
That sealed it. I am now one of Hayden's disciples/stakeholders.