A fresh start, September 25 2021

Last year was a shocker off the field while I was trying to balance both my cricket and family commitments which proved to be a disaster. It was a shame that my actions left me no choice but to leave PAOC and start afresh having fallen out of favour. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge that PAOC gave me the opportunities which Adelaide Uni couldn’t guarantee, and I responded with runs, wickets and catches in the handful of games I was there for, thereby justifying their faith and confidence in me.

However, I needed to start afresh at a new club with a new mentality, which I managed to do by joining the Adelaide Warriors. So far, they have shown to be a very family friendly club and so far, several people in the club have gone out of their way to look after me. I remember one time when a couple of people from the club who were also on the Indian Mela organising committee, took me aside, shared their food and we talked cricket and the club. One of them assured my wife that cricket will not get in the way of family which matters the most. That statement gave me the confidence to just go out and enjoy whatever I am doing, whether it’s cricket or family.

While, training had started a few weeks back, I didn’t really rush towards grabbing my kitbag since there was work to do at home. Previously, I used to be desperate to go to training as I was over-serious about my game. If I was disappointed over a net session, I would be looking to go to the nets every day until the eve of the match to regain my confidence. Now, I should take the positives to keep my mind fresh and confidence high towards the match.

Today, my new mentality worked at training. Having been short of a gallop as I hadn’t bowled for a while, I regained my rhythm having adjusted my grip and eyesight and started swinging the ball both ways at pace which caught the eye of the new leadership group for the season as I troubled all the batters I bowled to, even though I couldn’t rattle the stumps. With the guidance of the seniors, I learnt how to be a thinking bowler which will help save runs and possibly gain wickets. My pace was the result of the intense diet and fitness over the last two months that resulted in a weight loss of 8 kgs. I had initially swaped the BowlFit program with the program that I received some time ago from Southern Cricket, as my technique was honed through them. As the weight ballooned towards the high end of the 80s, I added both HIIT on the Treadmill and power training which resulted in the significant weight loss.

On the eve of the training session, Vikram Rajpurohit messaged me to advise that I was to be added to the LO1 squad, which seemed that the team manager, Suresh Wadala would have had a say as he had told me that he was going to recommend my name. From what I learnt previously, LO1 is a tough division, more tough compared to the C grades in ATCA. Nevertheless, having performed well in higher grades in ACT Premier Cricket, LO1s will be no different if we bowl with a 4-piece ball compared to a 2-piece ball I was using in LO6s.

Given that I maybe a critical piece of the LO1 jigsaw, I will need to look after my body in terms of diet, fitness and workload. Before leaving training, I was experiencing soreness in my inner thighs and right now as I write, my soreness has transferred to the shoulder. As I’m only going to play one day matches where I’ll bowl no more than overs, I will need to be smart with my bowling workloads in the lead up to every match. If I don’t play every week, that will be good for the body.

Prince Alfred Old Collegians vs Hectorville at Park 15, December 5 & 12 2020

November 18, 2020

As a result of the latest relevations about COVID spreading through a pizza as well as the growing of the current Parafield Cluster, we are going to into a six-day lockdown. Yesterday, all community sport including cricket was temporary cancelled for two weeks, which meant that we will lose two weeks of cricket. Having managed to build up a decent bowling rhythm with a now bustling run-up and delivery stride, this is a bitter blow together with the closure of gyms. Which meant, that I was going to be confined to home workouts until the gyms can reopen

November 30, 2020

First day back in the gym and felt very energetic as I was able to progressively overload on several of my strength-based exercises. This is courtesy of a high carb while maintaining adequate protein diet that I had to put on as a result of my gradual weight loss over the past few weeks. Whilst my weight has pushed over to the standard BMI levels of 25, I should remember that about 0.8-1kg is the weight of the skin. Thereby technically, I am still within the BMI level of 25 based on this fact when I did my recently EVOLT weigh-in last month.

Irrespective of this, I was foolish to cut carbs which triggered the weight loss since carbs is actually a critical component in a cricketer’s diet. Considering that I am an allrounder these days, I need sufficient fuel in order to bowl and bat in a single match like I have been doing in the past. Being able to get through a few shadow bowls with the pre-lockdown bowling action implies that the latest addition of carbs has not hampered the action. The action will be put to the test on Thursday, weather permitting.

December 4, 2020

Yesterday I felt a bit rusty with the bat considering that I haven’t played nor trained for 3 weeks. I had completely forgotten how I held the bat which helped me start the season off with a bang. Nevertheless, I managed a few good drives off Dan Mosey whilst managing some short arm pulls off Connor Craigie. I just don’t understand why he always likes to bowl short every time I go into bat. I am starting to get a bit fed up with him even though I am starting to play him better. My performance in the nets was down to a sore shoulder from having to carry the kit to training after parking the car right on Dequetville Terrace.

But that sore shoulder didn’t really affect my bowling nor fielding. I bowled mainly straight but also got a few to swing away while I managed an overarm direct hit during fielding drills at the end of training.

Today, I was selected to play in Cs under Maxy for the second time this season (the first time was in Rd 1 which was washed out) but it meant that I have an opportunity to play two-day cricket this season as long as today’s and tomorrow morning’s rain doesn’t affect the pitch which should have been covered by 7pm tonight as per the ATCA instructions. Considering that I am expected to miss the next round of fixtures, this is a welcome sign for me. Should tomorrow be a wash out, I will at least be able to play next weekend rather than having to wait till the start of the new year if I was in LO6s.

I managed to get some Intel into our opponents Hectorville from Jeet Patel who used to play for them. He told me to watch out for Gary Dwiar and Stephen Lessing who are pretty good at dispatching bad balls while he thinks that there are also some good medium pacers/spinners that we need to be mindful off.

But from our line-up, we’ve also got some awesome bowling depth. Maxy and Yogi I presume will open the bowling, then there is Raj Gopal, Stephen Otanelli and myself to follow. I am hoping to be the 5th bowler but will be surprised if I came on first or second change. Nevertheless, my focus would be to bowl dry for whatever number of overs I am given.

December 5, 2020

There had been some doubt about whether we would be able to play at all. When I went to the shops in the morning, rain had fallen on the car and while I was at the shops, it continued to rain. Nevertheless, the pitch at Park 15 which wasn’t covered at all, was not affected by the rain which meant we were on.

Once again, I arrived at the ground late which was the last thing I wanted having frustrated Maxy with my lack of time management last season. By the time I arrived, Maxy won the toss and chose to field due to the past and the current overhead conditions. However, prior to us going out to field, the sun came out which was slightly frustrating.

Thereafter the Hectorville openers P Ritchie and Soulsby provided their side with a solid opening of 49 but not without incident. In the first over, Campbell Porter effected a direct hit at the non-striker’s end which wasn’t given. Then Josh Clarke dropped P Ritchie off Steve Ottanelli before he had the batsman then bowled off a no-ball. After nine overs of Otters and Yogi, Maxy brought on Raj at Yogi’s end, and himself at Otters’ end.

One thing that hasn’t changed from last season was Maxy’s modus operandi of bowling straight which led to a profitable season with the ball earning 27 wickets. Today he bowled four batsmen. He first clean bowled both the openers as well as Patel.

After Raj bowled his seven overs for 22, I finally got my chance. After bowling a tidy over that went for just three runs, I induced an edge from Barwick in my second over which went low down to Jacob Leak at slip to his left which he couldn’t cling on. But there was a mix-up and Leaky fired a throw into Sudsy (Josh) to effect a run-out. Soon after, I induced another edge, this time from Staggard off a perfectly pitched outswinger which Sudsy and Leaky dropped much to my frustration. While I managed to beat the bat a few more times, my first spell came to an end after four overs when Maxy decided to attack with Otters and Yogi prior to tea albeit unsuccessfully. They were 4 for 100 at the break.

Following the resumption of play, Otters had enough after one over and Maxy took over. That proved pivotal as Maxy clean bowled Staggard. Then it started to rain, and it got heavier which forced the players off the field. Thankfully it was only for 15 mins. Following an inspection, we were back on the field. It did start to rain again but it was drizzling, and the ball started to get damp. It was precisely around this time that Maxy brought me back on for a second spell. By then, we had a change of keeper as well. After dropped a few chances and had conceded 23 byes, Sudsy had enough keeping. Connor offered to take over, but Maxy went for Raj who also offered to keep. Over the course of his stint, Raj found the courage to keep up to Maxy which is never easy since Maxy bowls at a skidy pace. He even kept up to me as well.

Meanwhile, Maxy obtained his fifth wicket courtesy of a good low catch by Connor Craigie at short mid-off to dismiss Stephen Lessing, one of the danger guys Jeet had been telling me about. He later finished with 5 for 35 from his 14 overs. At the other end, while I was able to swing the damp ball away from Lessing’s bat, I wasn’t able to get a critical breakthrough after three overs. So Maxy gave me one more and still there was no result after four deliveries. Knowing it was going to be my last over regardless, I instinctively decided to bowl the split fingered slower ball. I delivered it, Pazeski swung at it across the line and was bowled. I mentioned this in the huddle and Leaky told me it was a cheeky move to that affect (don’t know what exactly he said). Anyways, I got a wicket at that matter. I got another over as a result but with no further luck. For now, that was the end of my spell and I never bowled again as Connor and Otters cleaned up the tail.

Connor was the surprise package since by default he delivers a bouncer barrage. So, when he cleaned up Crawford (who was holding the innings together with 40) with an inswinger, I told him that he is a much better bowler than I thought he was. His immediate response was “Shut up!”. Later on, he bowled another inswinger to trap Singh LBW before Otters cleaned up Premaratne to end their innings at 168. As the innings finished after 5 o’clock, Maxy decided to finish the day there as opposed to batting. Perhaps the safe choice considering our batting line-up.

When I checked the book, the actual top scorer was extras with 45 and I also checked my figures which was 9-3-17-1. A good thrifty return to C1s which was the result of hardly bowling a short ball and mostly bowling the length I had been bowling on Thursday: full to good length with some swing. Maxy was thereby pleased with my efforts.

In the end, we were lucky to play after the rain delay unlike most of our sides which were washed out except for our LO6s who proceeded to end their winless run with a comprehensive win over Modbury by 60 runs. As a result, we were lucky to have Patty Sadlier come on as a substitute fielder when Yogi had to leave early.

A job well done with ball in hand. Now it’s time to score runs. Maxy is expecting everyone to come to practice at least once over the coming week to get a hit which is my intention. I am hoping, weather permitting, I hope to go on Tuesday.

December 12, 2020

If there was a lesson to be learnt, it was not to commit towards two-day cricket ever again. In hindsight, I should have made myself available only for last week which meant a game in LO6s instead of C1s. I had been caught in the crossfire between setting up the new home which we got on Thursday and help the C1s chase 168 in 72 overs on a hot and humid day. From the club’s perspective, I had put my house ahead of my club and even though I had advised Maxy of my predicament in the lead up to the weekend, C1s took the defeat really badly and they weren’t really happy once they were bowled out for 143 in 51 overs.

Tough lesson learnt. One day cricket is the way forward with two-day cricket now in the oblivion as family takes precedence. I am not disappointed as this will allow me to play alongside my friend Vivek while enjoying myself in LO6s.

Prince Alfred Old Collegians vs Adelaide Lions at Prince Alfred College (Back Oval), November 7, 2020

November 3, 2020

Even though I had taken a catch over the weekend, I had done it with a juggle which wasn’t very pleasing to me. It must be noted that this particular technique gets me into trouble at the same time. As a result, I messaged our team coach Latchy if he could help me fix my catching technique. He said no problem.

So, I rocked up to training, did my warm-up run around the oval and a few stretches with Vivek before approaching Latchy. Unfortunately, I caught him when he was going to pad up and bat. Thereby, he suggested that I could wait for him to finish before seeking his helping. However, as VD was about to start a fielding session with a couple of others, Latchy suggested that I could go and work with VD instead.

This turned out to be the right call as VD helped us a lot with our catching. He had noticed that by default, I was attempting to take every high ball catch with my palms down which looks ungainly when the ball is from shoulder height onwards. He suggested that for these kinds of high balls, I should look to take them palms up which soon became easier to adjust and adapt to. He also had worked on our slips catching too, making sure that we started from a low enough position for us to take any sort of catch especially those below our ankles.

While bowling was promising as I get a few deliveries to swing, I felt I had a good net session with the bat. Carrying on from Saturday in terms of both tactically and technically, I drove with conviction and defended the deliveries that was going to hit my stumps. While I mis hit a couple of pull-shots, I managed to middle one from the middle of the bat off Tom Taylor’s bowling. All of this was good enough to impress Sads.

November 6, 2020

As expected, Vivek and I were selected in LO6s since I was going to be free tomorrow and not next week. After the selections were released last night, I got in touch with the captain, BA about my selection and said that I was hoping to get a trundle despite last week’s effort. BA assured me of bowling opportunities since Jemmett, Brabs, Raj and Hugh were going to play 2-day cricket in Cs and Ds. That meant, I have a good opportunity to perform a similar role like the late Eddy Barlow for South Africa and the recently retired Shane Watson for Australia did in international cricket. Opening the batting while being part of the bowling attack.

Looking at the lineup, our bowling lineup seemed rich on seamers. Apart from BA and myself, there is Vivek and Brent Hillier. The question being who will open the bowling with Jemett and Brabs returning to 2-day action. I had told BA about my intentions to take the new ball but it’s ultimately his decision come tomorrow. He had already encouraged me to open the batting again. I suppose why not. Not just based on my results but also the fact that we’re playing at the back oval of the college. That meant, good batting pitch, fast outfield and small boundaries.

Last time I batted there, I made the only score past 50 in a two-dayer in Cs against Athelstone, 67 not out off 113 balls with 10 fours and a six from number 8, taking the score from 6 for 72 to 188 all out, which proved to be a match-winning performance. A return to familiar territory which had been just about 12 months ago. Could this be the opportunity to redevelop a batting consistency I had a few years ago? Time will tell although I am vary about our opponents, Adelaide Lions. I should focus on batting for time, if I score runs, then that’s a bonus.

Even though I was feeling sore in the upper back courtesy of the Overhead Dead Ball Slams together with the Bench Pulls exercise, I went for some bowling while sporting the posture band. After several deliveries, I managed to find my rhythm that allowed me to pump my arms at chest level before pulling my right arm prior to releasing the ball. It resulted in outswing and while I was able to get inswing to go, I usually sprayed the ball way down the legside. This is exactly what had happened last weekend when I tried the same delivery which led to my downfall in the two over spell.

Having bowled the equivalent of six overs, I was called upon by a couple of guys at the neighbouring net for a bowl. I obliged, as it would give me adequate practice ahead of tomorrow’s encounter. Even though the batter was standing slightly outside his crease, I induced a few leading edges through late bounce and movement before slipping in a full outswinger that slid underneath him, pitched on middle and hit the off stump. He was stunned. As far as tactics go, I should keep it simple by sticking to my stock ball, the outswinger until I can accurately pitch the inswinger. Depending on the day, a slower ball or two may be required.

November 7, 2020

By the time I had arrived right on 12.30, we were going to bowl first. Before stepping out to the field, we had a bit of a ceremony as this week was NAIDOC week. It was simply about respecting the traditional owners of the land, the aboriginals, through a statement read out by BA. We soon started play. BA and Brent Hillier opened up despite having offered to open the bowling yesterday. BA started to pull his calf muscle having just started his third over, which meant I was due to bowl soon, but then asked me to give him one more over as he tried to bowl off three paces. It was later effective as he was able to bowl out his 9 overs on the trot, only giving away 21 runs despite conceding two boundaries in his first while having Seneviratne bowled around his legs in his final over.

I instead took over Brent’s end which was after he had Hennayake caught off an airy square drive by Clement Ting at a deepish point, a result of the funky fields BA had set keeping in mind the short boundaries at the back oval. I nearly had a wicket in my first over as Seneviratne chipped a leading edge back down the pitch which I managed to fling myself towards courtesy of my follow through, but I couldn’t hang on. Sharp chance gone begging.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t to be denied. Gunasinghe played across an inswinger and was given LBW. I got a wicket, and I didn’t celebrate like I normally would. I had decided to tone it down having been inspired by the no-celebration celebration by Pakistani left-armer Ruman Raees. I bowled a maiden next over to Papadimas where I managed to finally get my outswinger to go before going to drinks unscathed after six overs. Not quite though. I busted at the bottom of my bowling hand trying to take an impossible reflex catch to a very hardly hit ball back at me. It remained painful for the rest of the match.

Adelaide Lions were 3 for 54 at drinks, but when BA decided against me bowling later as he wanted to give others a chance, they went Twenty20 mode and quadrupled their score at drinks as the batters teed off. Vivek replaced me and managed to bowl a couple of overs, but he was not spared and was replaced by Scott Greber. Nelson Ellis bowling his uncomplicated Jeff Thomson like action, got his first wicket for the club. Ali Raza miscued a pull shot straight towards me which I was able to hold on despite a little bobble courtesy of the busted hand. It was the same delivery that got me into trouble at practice on Tuesday which in a way retribution for me. He bowled reasonably well in his six over spell.

Meanwhile Papadimas and Nipuma teed off as they reached a century stand in about 12 overs as nobody was spared including me who come on to bowl at the death to complete my last three overs. I had gone for 17 as well as getting a ball lodged into the roof which prompted BA to take out last week’s ball. Eventually, I went for 12 an over in my last three, ensuring a personally difficult ask to concede 3.5 runs per over for the rest of the season. I tried an assortment of slower balls and full deliveries, but the batters got some help with the short boundaries. I managed to get Nipuma LBW with a slower ball, but I was smashed over my head for six the next ball by the new batsman. The Lions finished with 5 for 221 from their 40 overs, a tough ask.

Having bowled at the death, I needed a break knowing my history of cramp from the past. Instead, Paddy England and Johnny Coop opened the batting, which provided a solid start with little urgency as they batted 18 overs for 32 runs. However, we typically suffered a massive batting collapse. Paddy having compiled 21 decent runs, held out to Seneviratne at mid-off off Gunasinghe before the bowler swung through the gate to dismiss Damien Heath four balls later. We went to drinks at 2 for 33 with Clement getting off the mark on his first ball.

First ball after drinks, Clement pulled a short ball straight to midwicket and having smashed a similar ball for a flat six, Johnny was given out LBW despite getting a clear inside edge. Nelson who played some impressive shots to the boundary was bowled trying to go for it. It was 5 for 63 and I was in. I had wondered even before the match whether to ditch the helmet today knowing that there’s no mandatory requirement to wear a helmet, a decision taken by the ATCA prior to the season commencement. Which meant, opportunities to bat like the Antiguan greats of Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Richie Richardson was still possible, in terms of the headgear. Thereby, I strode out with a floppy hat like Sir Richie which could backfire on me if I got an injury on my face, but I was lucky in many ways at least from the injury perspective. More on that later.

Scott, father of Josh and Liam (who plays 1st grade for Adelaide Uni) held out despite making a pact with me to play risk free cricket for the remaining 14 overs of the innings. In came BA who told me to ease off on the quick singles. Too easy. He hit a boundary and took a couple from a bottom edge before was out LBW trying to sweep a full ball. Brent also was out LBW, having been hit on the toe. Vivek came in and survived for a little while, in the process scoring his first run for the club. But he also fell LBW.

It was 9 for 82 and in strode Venkat Lingampally. Earlier, I had played a late cut off Sooriyabandara to get off the mark with a boundary and later managed a clip on the leg side for a single. I nearly got out to him, failing to get over a drive on the up only for the man at cover to drop a relatively simple chance. However, that failed to deter me to drive him through cover-point for another boundary.

Back to Venkat. He suggested that I protected him for the last six overs where I tried to hit boundaries before pinching a single off the last ball of the over. After a bit of grumbling from the sidelines having refused a second run which would have got Venkat on strike, I had to tell Venkat that he should back himself and that he should try to score as much as we could. It worked, Venkat played straight and scored his runs through deflections through the vacant third-man region, even for a couple of boundaries.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to finish matters off, they brought back their opening bowler Weerasinghe but I dispatched him for a couple of boundaries only after appearing to edge one off him that just fell short of the keeper Papadimas. One was a pull shot through wide mid-on, the other was a clip through backward square leg. I managed one other boundary which was a thick edge through the slip for four in the last over of the innings before pushing the last ball of the match for a single.

I had finished unbeaten on 24 off 43 balls, again topping the scores for the second time of the innings. More importantly, I made another double figure score unlike previously where I followed a decent score with a single digit one. Progress is being made in this regard. They were surprised as to why I was batting so low which I had to explain that I needed a rest having bowled at the end of their innings.

Nevertheless, Venkat and I put on 29 for the final wicket in those six overs, which was easily the second highest stand of the sorry innings. I was telling Venkat that he needed to believe in his batting considering he was there at the end against Blue Brigade Sports Club in a low scoring thriller.

Despite the disappointing team performance, I take solace in my own all-round performance. I took a catch, took the most wickets (2) and scored the most runs (24 not out) which shows that I am in a good cricketing space even though I am off to Canberra next week to see my niece for the very first time.

Pembroke OS vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Park 17, October 31, 2020

October 4, 2020

The season is fast approaching with the Twenty20s going to kick off the season next Saturday. Twenty20s are a format I’m happy to miss as the opportunities to contribute are pretty less. These days, I fancy playing both 1- and 2-day cricket as opportunities to contribute are more.

Speaking of 2-dayers, the opportunities to play are becoming unlikely with a raft of quality imports coming through the club. Having been a permanent member of both Cs and Ds last season, I face the prospect of fighting to keep my spot despite positive backing from both Maxy and Patty.

I don’t really fancy competition (especially if performance is a strong consideration) as it takes the enjoyment component out of it. As far as I concerned, I want decent game time having left behind family and family matters behind to spend 5-6 hours playing the sport I love. The competition for selections, is threatening to kill the enjoyment factor.

I’ve only learned all about this when I asked Latchy, our captain cum coach. Given all the above together with the uncertainty surrounding my guaranteed availability for 2-day cricket, I had requested him to only consider me for Limited Over matches only.

It will work in many ways. The new guys will get an opportunity to show their wares in the higher grades while I can enjoy prospering in the lowest grades with both bat and ball. Irrespective of who fields in the slip cordon, I see it as a good opportunity to focus on meeting my goal of conceding no more than 3.5 runs per over this season by trying to hit the hard length with late bounce and movement to make it difficult for batters to hit over the top.

Aside of all that, there may be a prospect of my work colleague and friend, Vivek Devarajan going to join me at the Reds and if he plays in the LO6s, I would prefer to play with him to help him settle into our environment. Mind you, he’s still needing to make friends and is generally lonely. When you put all this into perspective, you would understand why my decision should not be considered a cop-out. After all, I will still work on my fielding and will where possible try to face some decent batters and bowlers in the nets which can help my quest for domination.

October 6, 2020

Today is the first day of outdoor training and I am excited and raring to go. At least to use my 4-piece white cricket balls. With potentially four sessions before my first game of the season, my focus is to work on a few technical specifics. Specifically, making sure that the thumb of my left hand touches my nose during the pre-delivery jump that will enable me to bowl wicket to wicket to make the batsmen play while preventing them with any width to free the arms. Then, there is also my bottom hand grip where it’s only the thumb and first finger that takes responsibility in hinging the bat thereby allowing for better execution in both the shot and footwork.

Having arrived half-an-hour late to practice, I was going to go do some fielding thinking that there’s enough bowlers across the four nets until Patty Sadlier called me on to bowl. I took some time to settle down with gentle outswingers to Don Kieu. But by the time, Jacob Leak came into the bat, I was settled as the late bounce and movement that I gained last week started to trouble him. I even overheard him telling Chris Spencer, who plays in B grade that he was finding it difficult to get those deliveries away. That gave me strength that I can be a handful. I just need to get the line right which was what I did briefly to Maxy Clarke before I was called upon to bat. There, I got the ball to zip away from the right hander with some bounce as well.

After bowling to Maxy, I got my pads on and went to bat. The focus was on the bottom hand which was why I had mixed success as I forgot about my grip and hinge. I didn’t hit the ball well as I would have liked, and I even edged a couple of deliveries of left-armer Brendon Francesca to where gully would have been. But I managed to cut him thrice in front of point and did not get bowled. More work needs to be done, but progress at least.

Towards the end of the session, we did some fielding which was I wanted to do every session. It wasn’t too bad given that I put in some accurate throws to Harry Hockney over the stumps and even scored a direct hit with an underarm throw.

Sadly, the session had come to an end shortly after 7 but I decided to hang around a bit more to practice bowling until it got dark. I managed to get the late movement and bounce, but I started to feel sore in the upper back which then caused me to bowl short. It is an indication that I would need to start wearing my posture band which has helped me previously during pre-season.

October 8, 2020

After shadow bowling with an action similar to that of Jofra Archer’s, I wondered if I should resume my pursuit for pace especially after getting through my action reasonably quickly. But then I realised not only that my previous pursuits weren’t that successful, I would end up throwing away both the good work and my recently acquired weapon of late bounce and movement and starting again from scratch. After all, it was Luke who reminded me some time ago that pace isn’t going to get batters into trouble, it is bounce.

I managed to arrive at training just before 6pm having left home late and after doing a couple of rounds of the schpol trying to find parking for me to enter the Red Center, our training base as the morning rains prevented the opportunity to train outdoors. I managed to find a parking near the Back Oval and had to walk a bit with a heavy kitbag in tow.

When I arrived, I deduced that there were enough bowlers and immediately joined in the short catching exercise where surprisingly, I saw Josh Bean hitting the catches. I was just surprised to see him back given that I was thinking he was done after his patchy form with the bat last season. Anyways, good to see him back. Hopefully he can have better luck with the bat this season.

Beany was hitting those catches hard which made the session a hit and miss for me. I caught some and dropped some as I had no time to react with whatever’s coming my way. This is definitely why I don’t field in the slip cordon due to my poor reactions. It got to a point where enough is enough, time to bowl because my hands were wringing in pain.

Unfortunately, the late bounce and movement from an action similar to Shaun Pollock’s didn’t work for me as I got carted around by Jacob Leak and Will Linke. Hence, as a last resort, I started to bowl with the Archer like action which lead to better outcomes especially against our newly appointed co-captain for D-grade Twenty20, Harry Hockney. I had got a ball to lift when he tried to work me to the legside before continuously hitting the length which Harry could only offer the forward defence. There was progress.

Sadly, I didn’t get to bat with Latchy telling me the bad news given that it’s almost fielding time. I was hoping to rectify my batting technique tonight, but unfortunately it would have to wait till Tuesday, as promised by Latchy. Given that I wasn’t going to play Twenty20s, I thought it would have been pointless to go and field but, in the end, I went with the flow.

I quite liked the fielding exercises we did in the end because I was able to field everything that came my way with some reasonable throws. I even caught a catch as well which was much easier than the short catches earlier in the session. Towards the end, Chris Drew called me aside to try on the Twenty20 strip as a guide for him to know what size I would need for my personal shirt once sponsors are finalised.

Having finished fielding, I returned to bowling seeing Alex Marantos and a young tearaway quick practising in the nets. After bowling one ball, Antony Brabham went up to me and suggested I relax and get loose. He also suggested to sprint through the crease as opposed to running with high knees. He’s simply telling me to just go and bowl and not worry about technique. Next ball, I bowled an outswinger at good length that quickly travelled to the back of the net after pitching. Brabs also noticed that I was following through quite close to the end of the net as a result of the momentum from both the sprint and a low pre-delivery jump. So far, this is a different side of Brabs to the one who told me to pitch the ball up last season. It will remain to be seen when he will eventually ask me to do that.

With everyone disappearing to Schitty Night at the Seven Stars, I ventured out the back to continue bowling for a little longer until my upper back continued to give way. I actually didn’t get around to wearing my posture band simply because I forgot to put it on before leaving from training. Maybe wearing that band isn’t going to be enough. Anyways, I should remember to start using it.

October 11, 2020

As I am unlikely to train as family and friends come first, I had to find some means to practice so that I do not go in cold come Saturday. I had informed Latchy of my absence from training and trying my luck, I requested some one-on-one time with him outside of club training. Either an hour before regular practice or potentially on Wednesday or Friday evening.

Having assumed that the particular session may not materialize, I head out to Campbelltown Oval nets to do some bowling. Thankfully one net was free with the other one taken up by a pair of players from the East Torrens District Cricket club. I started the session using the posture band having forgotten to wear it on Thursday and started to bowl with my Archer like action. While I was able to follow through well and get the ball to move, I wasn’t quote snapping through my action like I did on Thursday.

So, I returned to my Pollock like action briefly without success and then back to the Archer like action again with no luck after removing the posture band. I was discouraged with no meaningful success behind me. Thereby, as a last resort, I replicated the action of Ashes Pantomime Villain Stuart Broad, known for his refusal to walk back in the 1st Test of the 2013 Ashes.

His action was rhythmic with the front arm pushing up to allow him to swing the ball. I tasted better success immediately. Not only I swing the ball, I found better control in terms of line and length courtesy of my front arm. The further the arm is from me, the more pitched up the ball is. Then if I move the front arm across horizontally left and right, I can dictate the line of the ball.

Sometime ago, I watched a bowling masterclass video conducted by Damien Fleming, now known as the bowologist and paid attention to how to bowl the inswinger. The biggest tip was that my bowling hand should finish inside of my front knee as opposed to the outswinger where the hand finishes at my left hip. That tip helped me to bowl the inswinger as long as rotated my shoulder inwards during my pre-delivery jump. This is a tremendous finding just before the start of the season.

To add further to my joy, Latchy agreed with a one-on-one session with me on Wednesday afternoon at the back oval. I have a good opportunity to test my bowling theory with a high-grade cricketer in the captain cum coach while also getting an opportunity to work on my batting grip. I am looking forward to getting some private time with him with an potential chance to discuss tactics.

October 13, 2020

Actually, Wednesday’s session may not be required after all since the initial Tuesday evening plan had been postponed by a week which would then allow me to attend training tonight ahead of my first game of the season. I now have an opportunity to hone my skills against a variety of batters and bowlers on the turf wickets at the front of the college instead of bowling to just Latchy on the synthetic wickets at the back.

As it turned out it was a productive session even though I was still coming to grips with my batting grip where the thumb and ring finger of the top hand grips the bat with two fingers and thumb on the bottom hand pinching the bat. Instead of pinching, I was gripping which produced inconsistent results together with the starting point of the hinge. Despite this outcome, I am hopeful of my chances come Saturday because I knew what I did wrong and what I need to do.

Batting aside, my bowling and fielding practice went very well. I was able to replicate my Broad like action and hardly bowled a loose short ball. Instead I erred on the full of a length side, but I got the ball to move mostly inswing, thereby continuing the progress from Sunday.  Critically, I continued to follow through after bowling every single delivery which itself is a massive improvement from before. Not only, I can prevent injury from this, I now open the opportunity to pounce on any half-chance for a caught and bowled dismissal should there be a leading edge.

The good thing about coming to training instead of training with Latchy tomorrow is that I also did some fielding. In the presence of both A and B graders, I didn’t disgrace myself at all. Yes, I misfielded a couple of balls, but I caught every high ball catch except the last one which was due to poor communication which had Shayan Najeeb Ghuman and myself trying to go for it at the same time. The success in the high ball catching was down to getting in steady positions at the earliest possible opportunity, a tip I received last season. Top it off, I even managed a direct hit at the solitary stump. That aspect still needs some work because I continue to rush through my throws instead of giving me a chance to set up where my target is.

October 17, 2020

Looks like that I have come full circle. I am going to play where I started with the Reds, Park 15. Last season, I took a wicket with my first ball albeit with a long hop that didn’t rise. Furthermore, I will be starting off where I ended last season in C1s under the captaincy of Maxy Clarke. Looking at the line-up, I hope to be one of the change bowlers behind Maxy and Brabs but may need to step up with the bat. I am hopeful that all the tinkering and tweaking of my batting technique can pay off today given that I know what I need to do and what actually had worked not only in the nets but also in the final innings of last season.

It is good that Vivek will be making his debut for the Reds as he was named in the same side as me. I had told Latchy and Lexi (Alex Marantos) that it is my wish to play with Vivek the whole season irrespective of which grade I play in. He is also a bowler but sadly isn’t guaranteed a bowl as it depends on how the match pans out.

Speaking of the match, it probably remains to be seen whether we would get on after two days of rain. When it rained on Thursday, I drove past Park 15 on the way home from IKEA and found out from a distance that there were no covers put in place, a fact confirmed by Maxy when I told him yesterday. From past experience, rain from the previous days can force matches that are played on turf to be at best reduced overs matches or at worst abandoned even without a bowl balled. The fact that no rain is forecasted today, should give us hope that we can have a full game on our hands.

However, yesterday’s consistent rain was enough to force an abandonment without having to rock up at all which was disappointing as I’m unlikely to play until the end of the month. Bs also had their game abandoned too which saw some of their players fill in for the one-day sides. One of those sides had Andrew Heitmann playing his 300th game for the Reds in LO1s against Flinders University, the reigning premiers. While that match didn’t go to plan, it was nevertheless a fantastic achievement for Heito to achieve the landmark as he joined a small yet privileged lot to play this many game. One of those was Andrew Olsson who played a vital hand in LO6s to guide a small yet tricky chase on a sticky wicket by carrying his bat.

October 20, 2020

Vivek came to training today at my behest to get himself comfortable within the club setup. Crucially I ensured I had introduced him to several key personnel. Namely Latchy, Benno, Clev and the club chairman. Given that he hadn’t played cricket for a while, he was initially very rusty. He had sprayed the ball all over and had dropped a high ball which clipped his left eyebrow.  However, with some help from me with the bowling and the likes of Leaky with the catching, he got better. He started catching almost everything that came his way while bowling a bit straighter to make the batters play with the ball.

I didn’t really bowl much since we had a lot of bowlers which meant I spent most of my time fielding. As usual, I got the ball to wobble both ways late but when I tried a change of pace, I was clobbered almost over the fence. Understandably, it’s Twenty20 week which probably was why I was dealt this treatment. Fielding wise, I felt my throwing was a lot better since I gave myself time to size up my target before throwing. It was accurate but strong as the ball hit the baseball glove with force. I continued my good work with the high ball catching from last week and even tightened up my ground fielding. The difficult drill was the turn around and catch but I managed to catch one.

Finally, towards the end I got a bat which gave me an opportunity to perfect my technique. While I played a few good leg-side clips and a few pull shots, I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of the pinch grip of the bottom hand. Instead, it was a loose bottom hand which lead to another hit and miss session. Later I realised that I had to pinch the handle with the two fingers and thumb on the bottom hand while shadow batting. Having struggled for fluency with the heavy Kronus bat, I probably would need to experiment again with the Kaboom next week.

October 27, 2020

I am itching to train again having had Thursday off as I am keen to get some morale boosting batting practice this week ahead of my first game of the season while trying to perfect the bottom hand pinch grip. My initial thoughts were wrong as the two fingers and thumb simply slide in which later tightens if we want to apply the bottom hand into the shot. I would need to practice with both the Kaboom and the Kronus to feel comfortable with the grip.

I had just now discovered that I could whip my front arm across to my left hip as long as I could externally rotate my shoulder. I had honestly forgotten about this bio-mechanical tidbit even since Luke initially thought me how to bowl his way. This discovery simply happened by chance. Now it is time to put it into practice. Perhaps more so on my own preferably before going to bowl against batters.

Sadly, it rained during the journey to practice which meant that we spent the whole night fielding. Nevertheless, it was a good opportunity to practice the pulling motion which resulted in some decent throws to whoever was hitting the balls to me, as long as I take my time to set myself up. The wet outfield was a challenge for the ground fielding initially, but I got accustomed to it overtime. Catching was a bit of a hit and miss. While I dropped what seemed to be the easiest of the skiers, I managed to take the skiers over my head, the same technique that got me into trouble almost fatally two years ago. Taking those catches, was a confidence booster especially when they were very difficult chances.

October 29, 2020

Having not had a bat on Tuesday, I really needed to have a hit for that morale boosting batting net and thankfully I got it at the very end. I decided to use the Kaboom reasoning that a lighter bat will help my technique with a sore body, mainly the chest after doing those punishing push-ups from dropping sharp close-in catches. The session was worth it. While I was made to play at every ball that came my way, I was solid in defence and attack on the front foot especially my offside drives off Jack Emmett and Antony Brabham. I also played a few square cuts against the part-time spin of Johnny Coop but was rushed on a pull shot off Jemmett’s bowling. Basing my stance and backlift of the great Sachin Tendulkar together with the grip really helped me today.

From a bowling perspective, I felt progress with the pulling motion had been made despite the sore chest, resulting in late swing and movement and that is without needing to telegraph the wrist position. Sometimes, I also get the ball to reverse but it is merely accidental rather than deliberate. The only concern was that I am bowling a bit too straight which meant that if it doesn’t swing then I am easily pickings. It would probably make sense to err of bowling a bit wide but not too wide. As long as the soreness goes away come Saturday, I should be good to go.  

A few hours later, I see that I am playing in LO6s which will be my first time at the club. I am part of what seems to be a reasonably strong side with Ed Thomas and Jacob Leak having played Cs last season leading the batting while the bowling attack which is mainly seam comprises of myself, Ben Allen who will captain, Brabs, Jemmett and Hugh McDonald who made his debut in Ds last match. It will be a different experience bowling with a two piece on a turf wicket as long as I get a bowl.

October 31, 2020

Today was going to be different as I start to play under COVID-19 affected conditions which included BYO afternoon tea and water. I don’t quite feel affected by this since I had been doing these BYOs back in Canberra. It would have been a shock for those who expect communal food and drinks, hence it will require adjustment. Prior to the match, I had a close look at our line-up and come to a conclusion through MyCricket stats that our line-up is purely bowling heavy. Based on these conclusions, I would need to put my hand up to open which is what I did and when Leaky was going to arrive late, I got my chance, opening with Ed Thomas when BA chose to bat. I was hoping he was going to field and then put me up to bat since I had to leave early at about 5-5.30 to go for dinner at a family friend’s house, but this wasn’t the case.

On a green tinge surface with a two-piece ball, chaos ensured. Ed edged Agness to gully; Clement Ting bottom edged a pull shot off Blight onto his stumps; Campbell Porter chased a wide one from Bourke and shovelled a skier to mid-off; Rajasekhar Kesavan wandered out of his crease despite me saying No twice and made no effort to retreat back; Leaky left a straight one from Burford and was bowled; Then I edged Ambiss to the keeper trying to cut one that was too close. It was 6 for 57.

There was some relief through a 7th wicket stand of 29 from BA and Brabs which later proved to be the highest partnership of the innings as we then had another mini collapse. Brabs missed an inswinger from the left-arm of Blight; Jemmett was brilliantly caught on the deep mid-wicket by Tristan Colmer who stuck out his right hand in hope which left the batter gobsmacked for a while; BA slapped Blight to short fine-leg and then Hugh drilled a drive to mid-off to give Blight his fourth wicket. As a result, we were all out for 103 in 30.4 over. Could we win it? I had my doubts.

But we started very well. Jemmett performed the 3-card trick (2 outswingers then an inswinger) to open our account. Next over, Brabs claimed an LBW. BA came on replacing Brabs in the 10th over and got a nick first ball straight to Coopy. Raj came on replacing Jemmett and despite being hit for a boundary, induced a top edge, resulting in a swirling skier that was well caught by Hugh. Raj then bowled the perfect delivery, pitched middle hit off for our fifth wicket. Even though we couldn’t get an immediate breakthrough, we were on top at drinks at 5 for 44.

I would have been in chance of an opportunity to come onto bowl at this point, but BA decided to try to close out the match with Jemmett and Brabs. I would have done the same thing as well if I was in his position. It worked. Brabs attempted a yorker which resulted in a full toss that rapped the pads. After consultation with square leg for height, he was given LBW. The fact that the batter was out of his crease, worked into our hands since in the normal position, the ball would have landed around the shins. It was a very good decision.

Brabs nearly had a third had Coopy clung on to a tough sharp chance, but Brabs was not to be denied. The slow ball, quick ball trick outdid the batter who inside edged onto his stumps. Jemmett got an LBW having rapped the pads and then I helped Brabs take his fourth by clinging onto a dolly with a juggle having moved a bit from short cover. For me it was good reward having prowled around during the innings in close and out on the boundary. It was 9 for about 60 odd with Brabs on the verge of a five-wicket haul. He was later to be denied.

That allowed me to finally get a trundle with an opportunity to seal the match. I didn’t bowl too badly but the last pair managed a few swipes much to my frustration. After two overs, of which I conceded a run-a-ball, I was taken off for Raj. Raj started badly by being hit for six as the final pair inched towards the target such that only a shot over the ropes was enough to win. Even though Raj had an appeal turned down which he thought was out, he later got a plumb LBW decision his way. I immediately ran to Raj to embrace him as we were full of glee. We just managed to successfully defend a total of just over three figures by 5 runs.

A curious glance at the scorebook that showed that four batters reaching double figures but no-one topping 16 was indeed brilliant news for me. Not only I had top scored in our dismal innings and in the low scoring match that was played in overcast conditions throughout, I made the only score past 30. I had earlier compiled 33 off 54 balls opening the innings and had been sixth out for 57. That was 57.89% of the runs scored at that point. I had a nervy start initially by playing a very late forward defence to Blight and only in the last minute withdrew my bat to the one that slid across me which could have resulted in a faint edge to the keeper or onto my stumps.

However, when I got off the mark with a cover drive for two, it felt like the shackles had lifted which then enabled me to relax. Next ball, I pulled the first of my four boundaries. Interesting enough, all of my boundaries were from pull shots. Two in front of square leg, two behind square. The other runs were made from checked drives and nudges (with an edge for three) in the gaps with a few drop-and-runs for singles.

As I was feeling comfortable at the crease, it was thereby disappointing for me to get out to a loose shot (described earlier). Not only I got out when the team was in strife with drinks only two overs away, I threw away a great chance to score my second official fifty which could have made the result a bit more comfortable for us. As it turned out, making the only score past 30 in a bowler dominated match was satisfying enough. The key moving forward is to back up this performance by remembering how I batted in this match. I then need to replicate this in training. I also hope that my bowling doesn’t get overlooked and it is up to me to remind my captains of this fact.

Pre-season Training, September 2020

August 18, 2020

Training is about to start for the coming season. Although it must be said in different circumstances due to COVID-19. For that reason, Gyms were closed between March and June which meant I was confined to just home workouts only which sucked. I was happy when they reopened, and I wasted little time to do some strength training and treadmill running. When the weather cleared off, I started to bowl a bit more in the nets and managed to gradually find my bowling rhythm while hitting ideal lines and lengths together with swinging the ball.

I was considering that this season was involve district cricket with West Torrens. For that reason, I had purchased couple of White coloured 4-piece cricket balls to bowl within anticipation of playing coloured-clothing one-day cricket. However, I started getting anxiety attacks regarding whether I will be able to not only get selected but to get a bowl in these matches despite my former batting coach Nick Maegrith’s previous assurances. I even wondered whether if it would be worth spending Sundays at pre-season training (if that was the case) as opposed to with my family.

The clincher was the tentative ATCA fixtures which will have some Twenty20 matches in amongst the regular one- and two-day matches. Knowing that Twenty20s isn’t really my game, I would be readily sitting out these matches. Instead, I can spend more time doing housework and other things on those Saturdays whilst also keeping myself fresh for the regular matches.

I don’t regret giving up on the district cricket dream as it requires both commitment and a strong mind as I was told that it’s a cut-throat environment out there. Moreover, I would have been needing to step into another unfamiliar environment. Instead, I can surround myself around a fantastic team environment at Prince Alfred Old Collegians.

Speaking of them, we got a new head coach. As a matter of fact, our A grade captain Jack Latchford will be taking the mantle. To me it was no surprise. It was just a matter of time. And I say that because Latchy has been leading our training sessions for most of the season even while his predecessor Trent English was present. I am hopeful that he will do a good job regardless of the end results for the club. Having a player as a coach is a very good thing as I have found in Ginninderra under Mick Delaney as well as Naveen Vinod both captain and coach of the Flinders University club. Both registering premierships during their stint.

It remains to be seen what kind of success Latchy could potentially taste this season, but it would be wise to keep expectations low.

August 19, 2020

Pre-season training was going to be different due to COVID-19. First of all, the use of hand-sanitizer, signing in each training session for the purpose of contact tracing in the event of a positive case as well as the non-sharing of water balls and equipment.

Instead of warming up with throwing and catching which would sharing of cricket balls which is discouraged in the current environment, the warmup was a game of soccer. For me, I don’t any playing other sport other than cricket as I am no good in that sport. But I had no choice. I did get a few touches on the ball while eventually ended up on a winning side.

When it came to the cricket practice, I was average in both batting and bowling. Bowling wise, my consistency leading up to tonight deserted me. I bowled short and full, wide and straight. I was trying to recreate the swing I obtained of late, but I only got some balls to swing. In hindsight, as I couldn’t coordinate both my arms in time to swing the ball on an ideal line and length, I probably might have to use more of my non-bowling arm to ensure that I can get through my action in time.

Batting was average too. I had forgotten how to hold a bat even though I played a good pull shot off Connor Craigie, a cracking square drive off Gary Branford and a down the wicket inside out shot over cover off Sam Knight’s spin. I couldn’t remember how I held the bat against Gepps Cross where I looked in control except for a few deliveries (including the one that got me out LBW). I am reaching out to Luke for what he helped me with back then but I kind of have to continuously tinker the technique and perhaps switch between my bats until I reach the perfect rhythm.

August 26, 2020

I managed to achieve better batting rhythm today. Having managed to tweak my batting technique with Luke’s help while reconciling his advice back in March, I looked like a different batter. I was decisive when leaving or playing, front or back, attack or defence. A complete contrast to my nervy self. The only adjustment I might need to make to ensure that my Vs are straight down the splice is to modify the direction of my downswing, like from the middle-off line instead of middle-leg which was initially making my grip uncomfortable.

Regardless, it was pleasing that I got a few pull shots away both in-front and behind square on the leg-side. I even pulled the only short-ball I faced from Connor Craigie, my net-practice nemesis. Even though I top-edged the pull over the keeper’s head, it was a more confidence movement as opposed to the default ‘duck under every short-ball’ tactic I had been adopting against him until now. I hope it will remain that way for this season at least.

Bowling though, continues to be a concern as I continue finding the ideal rhythm, line and length. Sometimes I fell short of a length, sometimes just length with rare occurrences of the full length that might get wickets. As a result, I felt discouraged with the results and let out my frustrations to both Jacob Leak and our newly appointed assistant coach, Jack Dent told me not to be too upset. ‘Denty’ in particular noted that indoor nets are never the best place for full run-ups and thereby suggested on hitting a line moving forward. This advice came after I told them that when I bowl outdoors, I bowl much better as opposed to indoors.

September 2, 2020

In the lead up for tonight’s session, I was very dispirited with how I bowled outside on Monday given that hitting the fuller length was proving to be difficult on a consistent basis. I find it easier to hit a normal length, sometimes short of a length on a more consistent basis which was how I was able to dry the runs up in Cs last season. I then turned to my captains of last season, Maxy Clarke in Cs and Patty Sadlier in Ds for advice. I asked them if I was going to be playing for them this season knowing the competitiveness for selections, how should I bowl.

Both Maxy and Patty suggested that I should settle on keeping in tight. Maxy said not to worry about bowling full as he’ll bowl that full length while Patty suggested I should try to throw the odd full ball in. Both of them also pointed to my batting potential and suggested to work on it further. For me, I cannot disagree on this fact. I would like to be a bit more consistent with the bat. I can’t really say how many runs or how long I intend to bat for, but I should aim to have a partnership every time I bat (as long as there’s enough time).

I then thought perhaps if I do play in LO5 this season, I should potentially put my hand up to potentially open the batting, as long as we bat first. I am saying this given my past history of cramp having gone into bat having bowled a decent number of overs in the first innings. Otherwise batting in the lower order would suffice. I did mention to Patty that in the event that I’m unlikely going to bowl much in matches, I would like to go up the order but not at the expense of those who are unlikely to bowl at all. He has noted that point.

Speaking of batting, while I was able to continue making good judgment with regards to when and what to play, the execution wasn’t quite up to scratch at times. I only realise after my batting session that I was feeling tense when I keep my arms at waist level that explains what had happened. I had theorised that if I could potentially lower my hands a little so that it touches both my inner thighs, I hope to at least swing the bat more fluently, leading to better timing and execution.

With my frustrations having reached boiling point leading up to tonight, I managed to find a fuller length more than my last two sessions even though I couldn’t quite get the bowl to swing. This was because that I couldn’t coordinate the pushing of my left hand that would allow me to bring my bowling hand around to swing the ball. That had come about having tried to bring my left arm up for my pre-delivery jump to help my accuracy which came about due to a sore upper body from gym sessions the previous day.

September 9, 2020

It was time to go back to the bowling drawing board. The aim is to pull my bowling hand to the hip during my pre-delivery jump, which will allow me to push the left hand and swing the ball like I had used to in the past. Thankfully, the level of soreness in the upper body isn’t there having had my weights session on Monday evening as opposed to last night. Moreover, it also had to do with the change of method of doing incline bench rows.

Despite all of that, I was unable to get the ball to swing while hitting the same length as last training session. I thought initially that the condition of the ball was hampering my ability to extract movement. Even though I later switched to a pink ball to hopefully rediscover my swing, it was to no avail. It probably transpired that my sore legs where throwing my rhythm out of sync with the ball in hand. Nevertheless, more tinkering will be required in order to rediscover the rhythm with a few more weeks to go. I also have to develop the habit of following through as detected by Antony Brabham. My sudden momentum halt in my follow through could likely lead to injury and I should also, take the fear of getting hit out of the equation. Having suffered an eye injury two years ago is holding me back.  I would love to chat to Denty about this at some stage.

As more people wanted a hit, I was shunted to bat against all the available bowlers as the very last batsman. Thankfully, I protected my wicket and held my own. While the likes of Nick Clayfield and Riley Robinson were tough to pick up, I found it easier nevertheless once I get my hinge timing right.

Out of the blue, Leaky threw me a challenge. I had to score 20 off my last eight deliveries where each bowler will bowl me one delivery. While I struggled against the fast, short pitched bowling, I remarkably managed to complete the challenge which included hitting Denty back over his head and swatting the last ball for six even if it was delivered by Leaky. The latest correction towards my hinge seemed to work but I felt that the starting position of the toe of my bat could be a bit higher at times.

Overall, I am considering whether I should train in isolation until I rediscover my swing. It will eventually come down to the weather forecast and perhaps the availability of the nets. It is a strong option given that my batting is on the upswing. It’s my bowling that needs work and it’s something I’m desperate to hold onto as I strongly believe it’s my primary strength.

September 16, 2020

The weather forecast dissuaded me from training in isolation today with seemingly a likelihood of showers. Over the week, I realised that if I pull to the hip while push my front arm prior to back foot contact, I might be able to pull that front arm, which will then enable me to snap through my action. It would then require me combine that thinking together with the band-aid approach I took the session before last to hopefully move the ball while hitting the right areas. Expectation would be then that it would click just before the season started (although it must be said for me that I am unlikely to play until October 17th).

Even though, my batting seemed to be on an upswing especially after conquering a challenging net session last week. It must be said thought that if I could potentially bring my hands up a bit to bring the toe of the bat a bit more off the ground (as long as my hands continue to touch the insides of both thighs), it could help the hinging process greatly especially with my reactions against quicker bowlers. 

The expectation as usual was different to reality. While I was able to snap through my action as expected, it was on occasions due to the indoor surface which makes it difficult to develop good rhythm. When it clicks, I become a handful. I clipped the edges of Ed Thomas and Andrew Olsson. Then I bowled a bouncer then yorker to Don Kieu before beating Matt Kildea’s edge on consecutive deliveries with length. I got the ball to swing at times, but the seam had been flattened after overs and overs of bowling during pre-season. That aside, crucially, I started to follow through a bit more unlike last week, even though at times, I abruptly stop after delivery.

September 23, 2020

The weather forecast for the week ahead again dissuaded me from going outdoors to practice on my own with the harder white balls. I wouldn’t have been able to bowl with them in the indoor nets given that I run in from the white wall which would have made it difficult for batsmen to see it.

On that note, I was strongly considering skipping practice this week to work on my fitness with the opportunity to return to practice when outdoor training commences. I am at present unlikely to attend next week as I want to get two weight training sessions in before I go out of town on holiday.

Having made the decision to attend practice, I was contemplating whether to expose my new red ball in order to me to give me the feel-good factor from getting the ball to move prodigiously. However, seeing how much my current ball has been flattened and worn out over the past few sessions is making me think twice.

My focus then would be to just run in and bowl and perhaps practice using my angles around the crease as a form of deception. Which is what I tried to do with the snap through my action today. But I bowled short of a length and wide which fed the cut shot initially. From a bowling action, inspired by Shane Bond, my action became similar to that of Shaun Pollock which resulted in late movement with a bit of bounce.

As a result, I bowled better. I got a few edges, beat the bat a few times especially when I pumped my arms harder through the crease. I had fallen in a trap trying to be a wannabe fast bowler in the 2nd half of the season, which proved detrimental to my performances. Now, I’ve got something to work with just in time before the season started. If keepers started keeping up to me, I should let it go from an ego perspective as it probably might help me hit my lengths better whilst daring the batters to charge me with the risk of being stumped.

Having been the last person to arrive at practice, I was due to bat last. I ended up facing the A and B grade bowlers which were genuinely sharp. It was horrible initially. I struggled against Gary Branford’s leg spin and got rapped on my left glove by Riley Robinson (a former Northern District Jets cricketer)’s short ball which I failed to pick up. As a result, I became more conscious of my hinge which allowed me to deal with everything else there forth. I was comfortable blocking, leaving and playing the occasional drive which was mostly served up to me thereafter.  Henceforth, I need to hinge early but slowly to develop the rhythm on the downswing.

September 26, 2020

Pre-season is over for me. Unlike last season, I am in a much better frame of mind with respect to my all-round game. Although, it must be said that I should be starting to spend more time fielding. Now given that it’s mandatory to have no more than 4-5 bowlers in a net at one time, fielding is an aspect that I could dedicate some time to every session which might hold me in good stead. I found it very helpful to work on my throwing before the last game of last season against Gepps Cross which lead to an improved showing in the field where I threw nice and straight.

Generally, if there’s something you don’t quite have a strong preference for, you would look to get it out of the way. In this case for me it’s fielding. Spend some time practising throwing nice and straight along with some catching practice at the start of training before getting into bowling and batting. Doing fielding would be a good way to warm up to keep the body loose for bowling. So, my goal during training is to spend time fielding every session.

As Maxy and Patty had told me, my batting is useful. Maxy is hoping that I become more consistent with the bat given the overall struggles in the batting department last season which costed us a top four finish. Thereby, I shall aim to make double figures every time I go out to bat as long as I am at the crease for at least 30-45 minutes. That is my match-by-match goal.

My season goal which proved later to be my measurable goal as well (an initiative by Latchy) is to concede no more than 3.50 runs per over across both one- and two-day matches. Ok, perhaps I dropped my standards considering that I only went above 2 runs per over but it must be said that I played more two day cricket. Now, with selections going to be competitive, I face the likelihood of spending more time in LO6s. Hence, I am likely to concede more runs in a one day match as opposed to a two day one. The onus would be to ensure that I am focused towards generating the late swing and bounce on a length through my action as opposed to chasing for pace. The action I have from Wednesday’s training will help me in good stead irrespective of the conditions. Bring on the season.

2019-20 Season Review, April 3, 2020

The season has come to an end……albeit two weeks ago courtesy of you know what, The Corona Virus.  With the Sheffield Shield canceling the season with one more round remaining before the finals, it was within Cricket Australia’s wisdom to request that all local competitions also come to a halt.

Given that C1s missed out on the top four having lost the last two matches, we don’t feel bad after all. In the normal circumstances, we would naturally be very disappointed considering it was not long ago that we were sitting in the third spot on the ladder. On the other hand, the boys who were part of the As and Bs and the LO1 sides that qualified, they would have been hard done by. The As (having finished second courtesy of a defeat to Marion in a reduced match at the front oval of PAC as well) as LO1s (who had defeated the minor premiers Flinders Uni captained and coached by Naveen Vinod) will undoubtedly be more disappointed compared to the Bs who finished minor premiers without dropping a single match.

From a club perspective, the fact that they’re able to field six teams every weekend itself an achievement, ensuring that the decision to register one more side at the start of the season paid off. To top it off, the club also fielded five T20s teams of all made it to the semi-finals with the side full of the PAOC football club members coming up trumps. So two premierships make a successful season, I suppose.

From a personal perspective, it also makes my decision to switch to this club from Adelaide University a perfect one. I was surrounded by outstanding people who backed me to give my best even when I felt I got conflicting advice with regards to my game (for the record, I’m not having a go at anyone. They have perfect intentions by advising me to help me). In the end, I have to accept what they say and see whether that will work for me moving forward. Only one’s self can understand their own game better than anyone.

I actually can’t summarise how I really went this season. At times, I was doing reasonably well, sometimes it hasn’t worked out so well. All I could say is that when the opportunity really presented itself to contribute with bat or ball, I managed to do so from time to time.

Before the Christmas/New Year break, I have been getting wickets every game only to manage a solitary scalp after that. I put it down to getting more overs, especially in the two-day matches where I was able to dry up the runs, which allowed Maxy to run through the batting line-ups in a flash.  It was no wonder he finished with 35 wickets at an average of just below 12. My performances included with season-best figures of 3/15 off 8 overs against Golden Grove, 2/7 off 11 overs against Brighton. I was back to my restrictive best in the last two matches, but I started to have second spell syndrome when I was up against well-set batters. That aside, 12 wickets isn’t really a bad season with the ball considering I only went for about 2.45 runs per over. Perhaps my tidiest season ever.

With regards to the batting, I wished (perhaps a bit far-fetched) to come good. But even though I was batting within the lower order, I managed to contribute where I could. In the second half of the season, I managed to reach double figures and share some useful partnerships. Against Golden Grove, I made 12 not out and shared two critical partnerships that proved to be the difference between them and us. I had added 30 with Gary Branford before adding an unbeaten 27 with Maxy. Both helped us to bat 72 overs and post a match-winning score. Then I had shared the highest partnership of our forgettable Performance against Gepps Cross as I added 37 with Matt Dickson, contributing 13 but felt in control until I was out LBW after being hit on the toe.

Those performances aside, they do not overshadow my most excellent match ever against Athelstone, which I shall look back with relish in the future. Let me summarise what had happened. I came in at 6/72 and looked comfortable, having made the conscious decision to bat outside my crease to help me get forward. I had moved to 18 or so when we lost our 8th wicket on Nelson (111). Then I added 70 odd runs with Daniel Mosey on either side of me going off for cramps.

As a result, I finished unbeaten on 67, having faced 113 balls and resisted for about two hours, hitting ten fours and a six. Reading Maxy’s match report later in the season, his piece included a comment about my knock Class, poise, and dexterity summed up his innings.” Without that kind of innings, we would have been in the shits. Instead, we posted 188. Game on.

The following week, Athelstone had added 61 before Maxy’s five-wicket bag ensured a win for us even if it took a bit longer than we expected. I also chipped in with two vital wickets while only going for exactly two an over throughout my 17 over spell. Firstly, Rocco Canino, who fell for the three-card trick (outswinger, outswinger, inswinger) that the likes of Malcolm Marshall and Martin Bicknell have pulled off. The ball went behind Rocco’s legs to hit his middle stump.  Then I bowled a slower ball that trapped Lovely Mittal LBW just as he was about to get going following a couple of early blows to the fence.

Basically, 67 not out and 2/34 from 17 overs against Athelstone was no doubt my best Performance of the summer and perhaps my best ever. Nothing might be able to top that ever.

In a way, progress has been made with both bat and ball. I just need to trust the techniques that I’d developed over time while also making sure I strengthen my retractable shoulders that will improve my ‘preparation’ phase, whether it’s lifting the bat or bowling/throwing the ball. I also should be giving focus to my fielding where I can. Mainly making sure my footwork is right to take a catch or to throw the ball. In saying that, taking three high-ball catches during the season is a massive improvement compared to my nightmare that started last year’s pre-season.

Moving forward, it’s just a matter of working on my fitness ahead of the next pre-season. Now made it harder with the gym closed as we try to stop the spread of the virus. Instead, I’m confined to bodyweight training at home and weather permitting, cycling/running. I’ve managed to start a couple of programs created by Garrick Morgan and Rob Chipchase (a former teammate of mine) from AP3X Performance. So far, I’ve found them to be very useful, which could improve my weight lifting ability once the gym reopens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gepps Cross vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Duncan Fraser Reserve, March 7 & 14 2020

March 5, 2020

On Tuesday, PAOC won a trophy in Division 3 Twenty20 competition with a team full of players from the PAOC football club. I supposed though all the work Trent English enforced with Twenty20 dedicated training on Tuesdays has paid off in spades. Not only it resulted in a trophy, but it resulted in an all PAOCCC showdown in the semi-final, which was unfortunate. Personally, I would have had the showdown in the final so that cricket would have been a winner for the whole club. It doesn’t matter now as the club has a trophy this year. Hopefully, more to come this season with both As and Bs likely for semis while Cs are still in touching distance but honestly up against it as they’re behind Hope Valley (4th) by 5 points and Goodwood (5th) by 4 points. LO1s are also likely for semis with 2 games remaining. Thereby the last two weeks are now critical regarding preparation. As the coach and senior club figures had stressed, the more people attend, the better it is.

Assuming that I retain my C1 position, we have to beat Gepps Cross and pray that both Hope Valley and Goodwood lose their final match. So all three factors need to go in our favor. Stranger things have happened in cricket. I just hope this is also another instance. 

Today was a bit of a struggle as my left shoulder was paining, having had a pre-travel vaccination injected there. But I still managed to play some good shots, got some balls to swing away from the right-handers, as well as throw straight while fielding. For once, I spent a bit of extra time fielding since we had a lot of bowlers in every net. Most of my fielding time was spent trying to throw straight, having botched two run-outs in our defeat to Hope Valley. Along the way, Maxy Clarke was there to assist by rolling balls to me as I threw ball after ball. I just realized during practice that while there’s always a rush in getting the ball into the right end ASAP, I really need to slow it down to give myself the best chance of an accurate throw. I need to trust myself in this regard, moving forward.

March 7, 2020

No matter how hard I try to stay upbeat, this game is likely to be a dead rubber for us unless the Cricket Gods decide to intervene. However, another critical moment perhaps could have re-motivated ourselves to win this game. Yesterday, I learned that Ben Lobban, the club secretary who helped me transfer from Adelaide University, is about to play his 200th match for PAOCCC, which is itself a massive moment considering it will also be his birthday weekend as well.  What better way to celebrate this milestone with a win. 

I also managed to smoothen out my bowling action last night, which had allowed me to swing the ball away from the right-handers when I wanted to. Besides, the balls that I didn’t want to swing also behaved to my command. To be honest, after trying some actions that I have used to this point, I only got a slight subtle seam movement. When I changed to my past bowling action that was inspired by Ben Hilfenhaus, that was when the ball started to behave in the manner I wanted it to (as described before). Moreover, as long as my eyes are focused on the knee roll of the batsman’s pads, I’ll be able to hit the full length that Antony Brabham has been encouraging me to target since the game against Hope Valley.

It was always a good thing to have fixed, and it helped that the left shoulder pain has reduced significantly, which meant I should be able to use my front arm to pull towards my target more frequently.   

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind bowling first if we win the toss as I have rediscovered my rhythm. Moreover, if Maxy firmly wants to chase an outright victory, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to send Gepps Cross in to try to bowl them out cheaply and hopefully get ahead of their total or at least get close by stumps. On the same token, I wouldn’t mind having a bat either even though given our line-up, I’m likely to come in at 8 or 9. Let’s see.

As it turned out, we lost the toss and had to bowl, which pretty much Maxy wanted to do anyways as he was going to chase after an outright victory. Maxy and Brabs did not start very well as they drifted down the leg side, which meant a lot of chasing for me at Backward square leg. By the third over, I was immediately fed up despite my best efforts, which included more accurate throws (as I was giving myself a bit more time before throwing the ball). I was now literally praying for some respite, knowing that I might have a bit of bowling to do as we only had three specialist bowlers.

Gradually Maxy and Brabs kept it tight, and the latter struck with the first blow trapping Grantham LBW, which was down to Charles Aust (promoted up from C2s) keeping up to him to keep the batters within the crease. Courtesy of that wicket, Brabs was able to settle into a good ten over spell. During his spell, the wicket started to misbehave as some deliveries rose sharply and some kept low. It reminded me of the track in the Neil Bulger Oval as well as the Aranda tracks of old in 2016. For this particular reason, Maxy switched ends once Brabs completed his spell and promptly had Hynes caught at gully by Tom Welsby. 

After dropping a tough chance during Brabs’ spell that would have sent Hynes back to the pavilion before drinks, I got my chance a few overs afterward replacing Tom Welsby. While I got the ball to move both ways, I could not reproduce the same length that I have begun to produce with more regularity. While I wasn’t bowling loose deliveries, I was instead just hitting a length. While I was keeping it tight when I requested quick feedback from Ben, our milestone man, the consensus was such that wickets were in the order of the day. Thereby I had to risk going for runs in the hope wickets will come.

I completed a five-over spell, which only went for just two runs and featured four maidens. The accuracy that had helped me be one of the most economical bowlers in our C1 side at the start of the season. Those two runs came off a sliced heave by Dhruv Gajjar as he just cleared Matt Dickson at Mid-off. Like earlier in the season, my thriftiness accounted for two more wickets to Maxy before the tea break. Bhutak was clean bowled, and Gajjar was beautifully caught by Charles diving to his left. Gepps Cross was 4 for 70 at the break.

Having bowled that five-over spell, Maxy took me off to give Brabs another spell hoping to go for the kill. But he did tell me that another spell will be required of me after the tea break. 

First of all, we have to enjoy the afternoon tea that Gepps Cross put across. There was Watermelon, Oranges, Pizza, Spring Rolls together with an assortment of sandwiches. A far cry of the variety offered by Hope Valley last game. In that game, we were looking forward to Gepps Cross, putting out a better afternoon tea. Well, they didn’t disappoint today.

Upon resumption, Maxy and Brabs continued to bowl for about ten overs, which allowed us to move into complete ascendency. Brabs claimed another LBW shout to dismiss Clark while Maxy found himself on a hat-trick when he castled both Loader and Patel on consecutive deliveries. While he was unable to produce the killer blow, we were on top at 7 for 94, with a substantial opportunity to push our case for finals.

How wrong could we be? As it turned out, the tables completely turned against us for the rest of the day. Forbes started to tee off against both bowlers, and soon enough, the eighth wicket stand between him and Jensen had past fifty. My opportunity for a second spell finally came but precisely in hindsight at the wrong time. Not for the first time this season, I was unable to reproduce the efforts of my first spell. When Forbes launched me for six over cow corner, I had to take pace off to slow him down. It worked for some time until he launched me for two sixes in my ninth over.  It wasn’t all that bad for me since I was able to attempt to swing the ball and keep it reasonably tight against Jensen. Unfortunately, not for the first time, I failed to get a wicket. An overall analysis of nine wicketless overs for 24 runs could have been a lot better, but it seems that all the luck I had in the first half of the season has indeed deserted me upon resumption.

Meanwhile, Maxy began to look desperate as he resorted to very defensive fields (against Forbes in particular) and giving bowling opportunities to Rory Husler, Ed Thomas, and Lincoln Halton to break this partnership that certainly had taken the game away from us. Eventually, it needed Maxy himself to end the stand that was worth 130. He did so by yorking Forbes for 94. But the damage had already been done. On the other hand, Jensen did well to stay unbeaten to the end and getting his fifty. Towards the end, we managed a late run-out through Ed Thomas. Having spilled a high ball, the batsmen were running for two, which prompted Ed to throw the ball to Maxy, who knocked the bails off to have Barratt run-out. But it was yet another long day in the field for us as they finished on 9 for 247 from their 72 overs.  

While he was no doubt disappointed in how the day eventually panned out, Maxy was gracious in acknowledging that everyone tried their very best, which seemed to matter to him the most. More importantly, while it might seem a tall order, the boys remained upbeat, citing that both the wicket and the outfield have given them hope in chasing this target down (together with the inclusion of Gary Branford, who some people hope that he could tonk a ton). 

For me, the writing was on the wall. Unless we pull a rabbit out of the hat, our season might as well be coming to an end. The day itself wasn’t really that bad for us since both the C2s and the LO5s endured much worse days. C2s conceded 4/403 from their 72 overs while LO5s were trounced by 10 wickets after only posting 102 all out. Perth awaits me for a week where I hope a session with Luke can set me up moving forward, especially next weekend, as I may need to bat depending on how we go.

 

March 13, 2020

I managed to get a session with Luke today before lunch. I took away some invaluable lessons for the season ahead (assuming that the season is likely to finish tomorrow for me). I had told Luke what Richard Hockney had been trying to do with me as I had a tendency to get my bat stuck before I hit the ball, which is a real problem against bowlers who bowl at least 100 km/h. Luke, to his credit, understood why I was told to hinge the bat as late as possible as it was the same advice the professionals would have given. He then suggested that I refocus on hinging the bat early but at least slow that process down to ensure a smooth swing of the bat afterward. Something that Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith have been doing very well of late. My memo to Richard (as well as Jack Latchford who also helped me out), “I really appreciate the efforts you both have put in to help my batting, but having been with my coach for a much longer time, I’ve just been accustomed to his methods for a while now. So it’s all more natural. Please don’t feel bad.”

The good thing was that soon after that adjustment, I was making more concise decisions regarding shot selection as I have more time due to the hinge. I just need to pay attention moving forward so that I time this to perfection while maintaining a high front elbow as possible. If all this particular work paid off tomorrow out in the middle, then it’s great. Otherwise, there’s always a case of the off-season to be firmly accustomed to it.

Luke made minor changes to my bowling by raising my arms at the level of my pectoral muscles to allow for the early shoulder rotation. As an exercise, he suggested that both of my hands should finish at my left hip to ensure maximum trunk rotation even though he had been impressed with my improvement in this regard. 

Nevertheless, the biggest takeaway I got from today was the exercises that will help strengthen the back of the shoulders that will help me either when hinging the bat or loading the ball before bowling or throwing it. Moreover, it is supposed to also improve my overall posture. This was all something I have heard before. Now I’ve got something to play with during the off-season to keep me occupied before I restart my BowlFit workouts. 

 

March 14, 2020

In light of the current CoronaVirus outbreak, all clubs were advised to at least not use sweat or saliva to shine the ball, shake hands and maintain at least 1-meter distance between players to prevent any potential spread of the virus. As a result, the likelihood of the ball not being shined might give us a chance to chase down the runs we need to at least keep our finals’ hopes alive. However, we realized during our chase that Hope Valley had an excellent week last week by bowling Athelstone for 74 before being 1/17 in reply. It is likely though that they’ll win and solidify their top-four spot.

At the start of the day, Maxy announced the batting order with Gary Branford and Tom Welsby to open. However, I suppose neither of us knew that Gary wasn’t going to be available from the start. In the end, it needed Charlie Aust to go and fetch him, and the two of them arrived just before tea. Gary’s absence meant that Ed had to open instead of going at number three. Maxy also had advised that the batting trophy was on the cards if they can surpass Charlie Keeves’ aggregate of 126 runs. At this stage, Ed, Maxy, Lincoln Halton, and I had a possible chance of getting a bat. As it turned out, neither of us succeeded in dethroning Keevesy. 

Gepps Cross opened up with their batting heroes in Jensen and Forbes. They did an excellent job of ensuring that we ended the first hour on 3/47. Ed was caught and bowled by Jensen as he tried to hit leg-side only to close on the face of his bat early. Charles Aust having whacked a hat-trick of boundaries was clean bowled by Forbes. Then Ben Lobban, in his 200th match sadly, got bounced out by Jensen as the ball was held by one of the members in the slip cordon who slipped but caught the ball in his left hand. That was a surprise, but it wasn’t so given that he had struggled to pick the ball up from Jensen’s hand.

If we were looking for any respite from the back-up bowlers, we didn’t get any as Barratt and Patel definitely backed up the initial efforts. Lincoln edged Patel in the slip cordon before the same bowler castled Will Farminer’s stumps. Tom Welsby, who only managed to offer significant resistance in the top order, also got bowled but by the left-armer Barratt, who seemingly would have got one to swing back into Tom. Tom was disappointed not to have passed 50, but he played well for his 47 off 100 balls. 

Because Gary hadn’t arrived yet, I had to come in at 6/83 with our innings in shambles. With nothing to lose, I brought out my Gray-Nicolls Kronus, which I haven’t used in a match since Round 2 back in October. I was batting with Matt Dickson, who urged me to get to the tea interval. Even though I played and missed a couple, I was at least decisive in what and what not to play even if I was to go to tea without getting off the mark. Dicko at least finished the first half of the day in style by pulling Barratt to the boundary.

Once again, Gepps Cross’ afternoon tea did not disappoint as the same variety was there. During this time, Tom asked me how I was seeing them. I told him that even though I chased one, I felt I was okay. After all, I’ve got a lot of time remaining to score. It wasn’t the first time he asked me this particular question as I remember him asking me back in our recent game at Golden Grove. 

I immediately felt good upon resumption. I was showing intent to score where possible and managed to get off the mark with the push into the covers for a single. In the next over, another push this time to the left of mid-off give me another run. When I drove again through the covers for a couple and then pinched a quick single. Soon enough, Dicko and I started to accumulate. Dicko was hitting the ball hard, which helped him gain a few boundaries, and all of a sudden, he was feeling good. We batted together for 12 overs and added 37 runs. It was later to be the highest partnership of the innings.

I started to feel confident. Not only was I looking to score, but I also continued to be selected in terms of picking balls to defend. The work Luke did with me is slowly beginning to reap the rewards. I even nailed a few cut shots and managed to hit one behind point to the longest side of the boundary. With our partnership beginning to frustrate them, Forbes returned. I spooned a ball behind square but managed to get it in a gap for a couple before pushing a single to cover who was quite deep.

Even though I continued to confidently hit the ball, I was disappointed to be out LBW having been hit on the toe. I felt that either my head or hands would have fallen to the off-side. It was indeed a good ball, but I thought that I should have done better at least to keep it out with the bat. I don’t know. Anyways, I at least made double figures, 12 to be precise. As a matter of fact, Will told me that one of the byes that were signaled was awarded to me as the call from Tom came far too late. I made 13, the third-highest score of the innings. Moreover, the 42 balls I faced were also the third-highest in the book. Nevertheless, I was very happy with how I batted, and I hope this confidence can be transferred to next season. I was also happy that I at least made some runs with the Kronus, which had a light pick up, which helped me against the seamers, no doubt.

It wasn’t long before the innings finally ended. When I emerged from our allocated dressing room as it was at the back of the building, I saw that Maxy had joined Dicko at the crease. Gary had got out having tried to repeat a shot against Forbes that went for six but instead was bowled. Dicko also fell, having compiled 26. Then Maxy was out LBW to Beames, and we were bowled out for 138. A clear 111 run defeat. A disappointing end to a season that promised a lot more if it wasn’t for the constant chopping and changing Maxy had to deal with every round.

It isn’t confirmed yet, but missing out on finals may not be a bad thing after all. While it wasn’t confirmed, there could be a possibility that the ATCA might scrap the fortnightly finals window with the CoronaVirus threat looming large. I personally would have been disappointed myself if we had qualified for finals but I would feel for the As, Bs and the LO1s if finals were to be indeed scrapped. At least Bs would have the consolation of being minor premiers having not lost a game all year.

Hope Valley vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at St Paul’s College (West Oval), February 22 & 29 2020

February 19, 2020

Tonight, I was heading to the Red Center to have another batting session with Trent. My mandate is simply to continue the late hinge and swing, which helped me to eke out two match-winning lower-order partnerships against Golden Grove that catapulted us into the third spot; about 4 points ahead of Fulham and about 7 points ahead of our next opponents in C1s, Hope Valley. It makes the last two matches very critical to our semi-final hopes. The upcoming game against Hope Valley is probably like a knockout match since both clubs are pushing towards qualification.

It was surprising for Trent when he heard about my mandate, given that I have been hitting the ball well in previous sessions. However, facing the bowling machine is different from facing actual bowlers. Nevertheless, I continued to play powerful drives aided with positive feet movement. Before my session, I was fortunate that Dan Mosey offered to bowl his left-arm seamers that allowed me to carry out my mandate successfully. Any ball he threw wide, I usually left alone, and whenever he dropped short, I was there cracking the pull shot (even though the angle does make a shot a bit risky). More importantly, I looked very comfortable facing Mose since he hardly beat the bat even though the surface within the indoor center we’re training in was straightforward to bat on. I also noticed this when bowling to Connor Craigie (since I hardly beat his edge), although I managed to extract a few false shots off my bowling through my late out-swing.

 

February 21, 2020

I am grateful that I was retained in C1s for our clash against Hope Valley when I was added to our team’s Facebook Messenger group despite being wicketless since resumption. I am hoping for another bowl to try to open my wicket tally for the second half of the season, given that our line-up is batting heavy. I would imagine Gavin Jones, Tom Welsby/Richard Hockney, Ed Thomas, Ben Lobban and, Harry Hockney occupy the top five batting slots. Then Lincoln Halton and Jacob Leak would follow at six and seven, respectively, followed by the remaining four who might form our primary attack: Max, Brabs, Brendon Francesca, and myself.

I am hoping to step up with the ball in hand again, given that we have neither Gary Branford nor Brad Coles this game, and my retention follows Maxy’s comments regarding my value to his side when they were made following our win against Fulham last month. When the teams were released on Facebook in the afternoon, Gary had been demoted to C2s while Brad was promoted to B1s. Indeed, my opportunity for the taking to be the guy that stands up as Luke told me last week.

Thankfully, I found some confidence with the ball at yesterday’s training when I ball to move appreciably both ways, which didn’t go amiss by Patty Sadlier, our D grade co-captain. I realized that I only got the ball to move when my bowling hand reaches my opposite hip. For me, it’s instant feedback and an immediate checkpoint whenever I’m unable to move the ball off the straight. 

And so, I worked on it in the nets for half-an-hour trying to ensure the bowling hand reaches the opposite hip. I experimented with two different bowling actions: the action I bowled at training this week as well as the action I had bowled with in the last match. Both actions are different through their pre-delivery jump. The first action has less exaggerated pre-delivery jump than the second, which actually allowed me to consistently finish with the bowling hand on the opposite hip, thereby also giving me more control and more momentum through the crease. Coincidentally it’s a similar action to what helped me get wickets in the first half of the season before I greedily chased for pace to no avail. Given that no hard I try to bowl fast, keepers will always want to stand up to the stumps like they would for medium pacers or spinners.

 

February 22, 2020

It’s game time, and I’m thinking of what Maxy should do when we win the toss. Given our heavy batting line-up, the easiest decision would be to bat first. Given that when we have a total on the board, we can defend it as we did against Athelstone and Golden Grove, last game. When we don’t post a total on the board as we did against Golden Grove (in Rd 2), Fulham (in Rd 3), and Goodwood, we obviously lose the match. 

In contrast, we are yet to lose bowling first where we have bowled Brighton out for 92 and Fulham for 110 on either side of the Christmas/New Year break and could have beaten Marion after bowling them out for 146 if the rain had not intervened. There might be some argument for bowling first, given our past performances. 

The critical factor though is the pitch. According to my work colleague Brendan Sims who plays for Hope Valley (our next opponents) in the higher grades, the pitch in the St Paul’s College is pretty slow with hardly any lateral movement on offer. Thereby, the easiest thing to do is to bat first and hope that our batting heavy line up bats out 72 overs and puts on another defendable total (hopefully 200+). 

When I rocked up to the ground, I learned that we were bowling, having lost the toss. The first ball of the match bowled by Maxy resulted in a leading-edge off Juneja’s bat but just short of Gavin Jones at mid-on. Next over bowled by Brabs resulted in boundaries off two long-hops: one four and one six. Thereafter, Maxy and Brabs kept it very tight which helped Maxy struck in the ninth over getting Juneja to play a delivery onto his stumps. We nearly had a wicket next over had Harry clung on to a low offering off Brabs’ bowling to dismiss Dani Llewellyn. Little did we know that prove costly throughout the day.

And so, we (specifically Maxy, Brabs, Brendon, and myself) continue to toil away for another breakthrough. I came to bowl at the start of the 16th over and proceeded to justify Maxy’s faith in me by producing another tidy spell. I bowled a seven-over spell for just nine runs and did not concede a single boundary. More importantly, I found appreciable away movement from the right-handers and was able to hit the splice. As a result, I induced two leading edges against Llewellyn, which fell short. One just in front of me which in hindsight I could have dived for having made a decent follow-through and the other over my head. Moreover, I induced an edge that just evaded Jacob Leak at gully. 

However, I wouldn’t be denied as I made the breakthrough at the start of my sixth over when Vandervlag clipped an attempted out-swinger straight to Brendan at a backward square leg. I finally broke through not just for the beginning of a new calendar year but also for the new decade as well. My first spell was down to Brabs’ who told me that I had to hit a fuller length. The captain, Murray strode out at the fall of that wicket wearing a sunhat. As per the new rules, all batsmen, close-in fielders and, wicketkeepers standing close to the stumps HAVE to wear a helmet. On the same token, the fielding team has the right to refuse if an opposition batsman doesn’t abide by these rules. So when Murray came out, we immediately told him to come out with a helmet. Well, his excuse for the first sunhat use was that he thought I was a spinner. I found that disrespectful. 

But he eventually came out with a helmet after much grumbling. After that, he became problematic for us since he looks like picking a fight. He asked Brendan whether he was ready to bowl even though he clearly was ready. Then as Brendan was about to bowl, Murray pulled away. He also got personal with Ed Thomas that fired up a few blokes, including Ed himself.

We kept him quiet for a while until he pulled one ball from Brabs for four before tea to leave them 2 for 66 after 36 overs. The offerings at tea comparatively weren’t up to the standards provided by Golden Grove and Fulham, according to the boys since they were mostly cupcakes, lamingtons and, brownies. Sweet tasty snacks but probably not appropriate for cricket. 

Upon resumption, I couldn’t quite get down low quickly enough to a chance offered by Murray before he smashed two boundaries off Brabs’ bowling. He appeared to get away much to our annoyance, but soon enough, Brabs got one to swing late past Murray’s bat and into the stumps. That started off a run of wickets for the former as he had Bradley Llewellyn caught behind by Harry and then had Weinhengst caught in close by Tom Welsby. 

We appeared to be on top at about 5 for 80 odd. Dani and Manraj Singh had a couple of mix-ups between the wickets, which I had on both occasions opportunities to run Manraj out at the non-striker’s end but failed. I failed because having seen the chance, I tried to throw the ball quickly, but instead, I sprayed it away from the stumps. 

They really made us (especially me) pay with an 80 odd stand for the sixth wicket. Manraj chanced his arm with some agricultural shots through the leg-side. I came on to bowl just before the next drinks and proceeded to bowl just another five overs. During this time, I induced leading edges off Manraj’s bat when he tried to hoick towards cow corner. However each time, they fell way short and wide of Maxy at mid-off.

Moreover, I beat Dani’s bat with an out-swinger,-swinger and he overbalanced to provide an opportunity for Harry to knock the bails off for a potential stumping that never materialized. Hence I finished with 12 overs, 1 for 29. Not a bad return to tidy bowling form.

Brendon eventually broke through the partnership with a pinpoint yorker that accounted for Manraj. But Dani and Christian Wishart ensured that Hope Valley batted out their 72 overs, which was the first time this season we fielded a whole day. They finished with 6/199 with Dani just six short of a hundred. As it transpired, he rode his luck, including an LBW shout that wasn’t rewarded after it hit him flush on the toe when he was on 15.

 

February 25, 2020

While it was disappointing to have to spend a whole day in the field and gave Hope Valley a defendable score, confidence was high as we thought that an exact target of 200 was achievable given our long batting line-up. All we need is several partnerships with at least one of our top-order going big. If we could conserve our wickets and be about 2 an over at tea, we will be on track. What we will need to do is to repeat the positivity that helped turn a potentially tricky chase against Fulham into a comprehensive position that allowed Maxy to gamble for an outright win. 

My focus today will be to get some batting before the light starts to fade. But instead, I batted right towards the end, and it wasn’t too bad. Leading up to today, I was going through the Batting Basics program I purchased from Cricket Mentoring which helped shape my grip and bat pick up in terms of where I should be bringing the bat down from (i.e. from first slip). As a result, I was able to hit around the ground, on both front and back foot. My best shots were the slog sweep off Josh Greber’s spin and the straight drive off Andrew Heitmann, not to mention getting a couple of pull shots away off Ed Thomas. More importantly, I was instinctively defending balls that required respect and punished the loose ones. I was again looking fluent, which didn’t go unnoticed by the likes of Ed and Jack Dent. 

 

February 27, 2020

Today’s training was different from Tuesday’s session. Most of the people who were present, myself included were distracted with the Twenty20 match close to our training quarters involving the Prince Alfred College students. It was just incredible to see one of the students go and ramp a quick bowler for four. Just imagine that they could be serious players when they’re older. Either for PAOC or within district cricket say for Kensington (the nearest club to PAC). 

Batting was more challenging today. I was facing a variety of Raj Gopal’s hand grenades a.k.a his slower balls to Brad Coles’ jarring length from his tall frame. It wasn’t pretty at times, but at least my stumps weren’t rattled. Towards the end of my batting session, I launched Colesy’s slower ball back over his head towards the sightscreen as payback for jarring my splice from time to time.

Throughout the week, I was bowling with the pink ball most of the time and finally got it to swing to my tunes. I indeed troubled several batsmen, including Josh Greber, Tom Taylor, Rory Husler and, Jacob Leak. Having hated bowling with the pink ball previously, I slowly began to love bowling with it.

As the running between the wickets drill, after my batting session took the wind out of my sails, I opted to bowl wrist spin to Brabs. When I landed them, I got a few to turn. My first ball hit the splice to probably where Point would have been, and then on my final delivery of the night, I bowled a slower, loopy leg break that Brabs tried to swing across the line and hit the top of off stump.

February 29, 2020

Our chase almost started disastrously when Gavin Jones edged Sam Llewellyn on the first ball of the match but it fell short of the wicket-keeper. Not long after that, Richard Hockney suffered one of those moments where everyone thinks it’s funny but it’s not if you’re the batsman getting hit. He got hit in the groin and there was a mark to show it on his pants.

But they both got over the initial setbacks to post a 35 run stand before Gavin shoveled a pull shot straight to mid-wicket for 20.  Richard kept going though with Ed Thomas for company. While it was slow going with Ed unable at times to beat the infield, they added 37 runs before Ed was tun out for 8 having been called through for a single by Richard.

That brought Harry Hockney to the crease to join his dad. Thankfully they got through to tea and were enjoying a solid partnership that saw Richard past his fifty. The third batsman to do so this season in C1s after myself and Charlie. They added 30 before Harry edged Vandervlag to the keeper. At 3 for 102, we should be at least set to hopefully complete the chase.

But we soon lost our way, Richard got out having run out of puff. Held out for 65. His wicket and that of Ben Lobban’s on either side of drinks stalled our momentum as the asking rate crept up to about a run-a-ball. That prompted Maxy to promote himself up the order when Brandon Francesca held out trying to catch up with the asking rate. When Jacob Leak fell trying to do the same, we needed about 50 in about 9 overs or so.

However, Lincoln Halton who previously showed his ability to smash the ball at the start of the season brought out that similar class in a critical partnership with Maxy that brought us right back into contention. At one point we needed just 17 from the last three overs. Lincoln then got out and I was in. I should in hindsight been out the first ball for a golden duck. Not so much for the LBW shout having missed the ball, but having batted out of my crease to hopefully reduce the likelihood of LBW, I was thrown out by the man fielding at Point having failed to return back to the crease. The only problem was Gavin was not looking and so didn’t get me out.

I understand that there were pissed off but honestly, there were like this throughout the day. It was of no surprise that they probably didn’t shake our hands or at least pop into our dressing rooms for a chat after the match, having later won it by 12 runs. Having got off the mark on the second delivery, I edged behind off Rio to the keeper trying to hit out. Brabs having not faced a ball in C1s so far this season got off the mark. After that, it was all over when Maxy was caught at cover.

We were all gutted knowing given how tight the ladder was in C1s. We needed to win this game to get some more breathing space from Hope Valley and Fulham. Instead, we plummeted from third to fifth. Eleven points behind Fulham and just under five points shy of Hope Valley who just beat us to move to fourth. There’s never a good time to lose a match especially with finals on the line. It really does hurt particularly having our four-match unbeaten broken as well.

Our only hope now is to for us to beat Gepps Cross and pray that Hope Valley loses to Athelstone. Maxy did say during the season that his motivation for taking up the C1 captaincy was to play finals. If we do enough (to hopefully sneak in via the finest of margins), then that dream of Maxy’s could well be materialized.

Golden Grove vs. Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Harpers Field, February 8 & 15 2020

January 21, 2020

With all five PAOC sides engaged in the Twenty20 knockouts, there was no club training. I initially thought that it might present an excellent opportunity to go and bowl at the West Torrens boys. However, I decided against it as I was hoping to regain my confidence and rhythm having gone wicketless with the ball for the first time in over 12 months, having failed to find a consistent line and length to trouble Fulham. Instead, I settled for a solo net session, trying to rediscover the lost rhythm as well as regaining my ability to swing the ball.

Even though I was battling my usual muscle soreness post weight training (for the record I was sore in my posterior deltoids/back shoulders, chest, glutes and hamstrings), I was still able to run in from my normal run-up and bowl the equivalent of nine overs trying to hit a fuller length and swinging the ball. In the process, I rediscovered the whippy nature of both my arms that allowed me to swing the ball without telegraphing the intent. Pretty much the same biomechanical breakdown of my bowling action that allowed me to take three wickets in a six-over spell against Golden Grove back in Round 2 of the C1 grade. My accuracy, movement, and confidence pretty much regained.

January 22, 2020

Earlier in the week, Maxy Clarke assured me that my place in C1s is secure, and that family comes first. His attitude to cricket is reminiscent of Chris Arcella from Ginninderra, which I’m very grateful for. I wished both Archie and Maxy have met each other as they would definitely have some common ground.

It was very selfless of Maxy for him to encourage me to go and play LO5s citing that I would benefit playing a full match where I (hopefully) bat higher up in the order and (more importantly) bowl rather than playing as a second-week substitute ahead of our crucial fixture against the top of the table Marion. Me personally, I’m okay with it because that’s what I wanted as well.  He said that he’ll have a chat with the LO5s skipper Raj Gopal about it.

Today was going to be another batting session run by Trent. Given that I’ll be away on the upcoming long weekend as well as the slight chance of rain tomorrow, I figured that I’d be better off working on my batting with Trent. I knew that I had an instinctive habit of playing the leg-glance for every delivery down the leg-side, which I don’t always make contact. I’m hoping though to instead practicing hitting straight through the leg-side, which I used to do with Nick in the off-season, but I’m yet to replicate the efforts in practice at least. It turned out to be a productive session as not only was I able to hit through the leg-side with a straight vertical bat, I was able to drive straight down the wicket as well through the off-side. It was good that the balls I was facing were of a variable line, which prevented me from premeditating the on-drive. Now, this excellent work needs to be brought into practice and then into matches.

In between the session with Trent, I managed to bowl another 54 deliveries with the emphasis of the whippy arms to generate the swing. I was happy with how they were coming out against the likes of Patty Sadlier, Steve Ottanelli, and Ed Thomas since the swing allowed me to either beat the bat or induce the edge. Moreover, I also tried my slower balls, namely both the back of the hand and the knuckleball with reasonable success. I only started to thoughtfully incorporate these skills, given that I’ll be playing a one day match. Honestly, I was more active before having a bat as opposed to after since I was cramping again in the left leg as it was indeed a bit humid inside the Red Centre. Overall, the two days have been significant progress, which left me upbeat. I hope to use the long weekend off to at least recover from the ongoing muscle soreness.

January 28, 2020

Today at training, our enthusiastic club chairman, Richard Hockney, observed that I was hinging the bat very high (with the toe at less than 90 degrees) and that I was not moving the front foot all that well. That observation was made after I struggled against the likes of Steve Ottanelli and Josh Greber as I missed a short ball, a yorker, and edged two good length deliveries. Having thought about it for a minute, he was spot on, and what he told me was the same issue Luke had observed back in December. My justification for the early hinge was to be prepared for any delivery (including the short ball), but the fact the toe of the bat not perpendicular from the ground was the reason the bat gets stuck when I try to bring it down.

All of these problems are from the fact that I’m hinging the bat far too early, another problem picked up by Luke (at the time of our catch up). I recall from my past indoor sessions that when I hinge the bat as Keegan or Trent feed the ball into the bowling machine, Not only I time the ball better, I also exhibit better footwork. Precisely the same advice Luke gave me when he suggested starting the hinge phase as the bowler is about to commence their ‘load’ phase before delivering the ball. Thereby, I need to imagine each bowler as a feeder to a bowling machine so that I can hinge my bat with the toe perpendicular to the ground. Obviously, this will be a massive habitual change but a necessary one if I was to fulfil my batting potential. Moving forward, I see no harm in getting a second pair of eyes to monitor my hinge regardless of whether it’s Trent, Richard, or someone else. Having seen me with batting potential, Richard’s keen to help. That’s a start.

Batting issues aside, my bowling continues to progress from the moment the very first ball I bowled resulted in an edge off Richard’s bat to where a second slip would have been. After that, I continued to beat the bat and clip edges with my outswing against the likes of Richard, Ed, Lincoln Halton, and Tom Welsby. Nothing else needs to be said except that with the regained pace, swing, and accuracy, hot only I hope to be back to my bowling best. I also hope that I can prosper without a keeper standing up to the stumps.

February 1, 2020

No cricket today because of the heavy overnight rain and with showers scheduled throughout the day. For once, I was happy with this outcome because yesterday, I hobbled around at work as my left Achilles was giving me grief. If the rains had cleared, I would have to forfeit my place to Venkat Lingampally in the LO5s clash against Gepps Cross. Thankfully, the injury improved, but the rains washed away any hopes of play, which meant shared points for all grades. I am grateful that now I have a week to recover ahead of a crucial 6 weeks for C1s.

The washout meant that in C1s, we managed to get shared points against the top of the table, Marion. They did pretty well though having bowled out Marion for 146 and needed just 100 runs to win with our in form batsman Lincoln Halton at the crease and with centurion Charlie Keeves to come. Maxy wasn’t pissed off with the washout that deprived them of a chance of victory. He’s even more pissed off that Fulham, whom we defeated last game, orchestrated a victory against Goodwood on 1st innings last weekend. That meant that our finals qualification continues to hang by a thread. As we exchanged messages yesterday, Maxy reckons we need to win at least two of our final three two-day clashes. Golden Grove awaits, and going by our earlier encounter against them, that will be a challenge to get points. Seemingly, our best chances are against Hope Valley and Gepps Cross, even though both clubs had underwhelming seasons themselves.

February 4, 2020

On the assumption that there was no training today as two of our Twenty20 sides progressed to the next stage of finals, I organized a training session with a friend of mine, Jeet Patel, to focus on grooving my hinge so that it starts as the bowler loads. Little I realize that PAOC was arranging club training, but having already arranged this session of my own, I decided to keep going with it.

Given that Jeet and his two other mates were to rock up at 6.30pm, I had a terrific opportunity to warm up and do some bowling of my own. I was trying to reduce my over-striding of my run-up, which would improve my rhythm and accuracy. It worked out pretty well before I fooled around by bowling leg-spin as I had naturally been developing the back of the hand slower ball. I was getting overspin, sidespin, topspin, and even managed to bowl a front of the hand slider.

Only when Jeet and his ex-Hectorville club mates, Reece and Paurush rocked up, I eventually returned to pace. I reckon I had been able to give both Jeet and Paurush the hurry-up with my pace and outswing, which resulted in a couple of ‘death rattles’ and edges. But they provided a similar contest as they were able to punish the loose deliveries when they arrived. Bowling continues to be progressing in the right direction. Now I have to see how I go on turf on Thursday.

For now, it was now a case of how I would go with the bat. As I mentioned earlier, the purpose was to groove the hinge. I was facing spin in the form of Reece and Jeet while Paurush was giving me throwdowns with the ‘dog thrower,’ which was as good as facing Josh Greber, Yogesh Thakur, or Steve Ottanelli. Over time, because I made a conscious effort not to hinge the bat too early, I hit some powerful shots and hardly missed the ball. I managed to hit the ball far against the spin while managing to hit some scoring shots against the ‘dog thrower’ in the form of defense, cuts, pulls, and drives. I felt that with a better hinge, I was able to move to the ball a lot better. But what probably worried me a little was my grip/stance as I was unable to consistently stick to a particular method. Moreover, my biggest enemy is overconfidence and indiscipline. Instead, I need self-control if I need to bat long periods.

Nevertheless, tonight was a great confidence booster. I hope to continue the excellent work on Thursday. The good thing is that Richard Hockney is available and eager to help.

February 6, 2020

Richard was indeed around to supervise my batting, and while I have made an effort to delay my hinge, I’m still hinging too much, which continues to be problematic. I edged a Dan Mosey in-swinger onto my stumps as well as nick off three consecutive deliveries off Antony Brabham. Otherwise, I manage to keep out Maxy and Yogi while playing the odd glance or drive. After my batting session, Richard suggested that I loosen the bottom hand so that at least the thumb and forefinger were still gripping the bat. If I need to tighten the bottom hand a fraction, I have the index finger as extra support. Moreover, Richard showed me how I should be using the wrists to swing the bat and thereby control my footwork better.

What these sessions with Richard to date have shown to expose my thought processes, especially against the short ball, which gave me these problems. I have simply forgotten about the good length delivery that is likely to get me out. I’ve started to practice what I was shown, and it felt good so far.

Speaking of the short ball, Harry Hockney bowled one which Cameron Pritchard, our B grade captain, top-edged onto the area below his right eye. Ouch, the same injury that ended Craig Kieswetter’s career. It looked nasty, but let’s hope for the best.

For bowling, while I hardly bowled a short ball, there were times I didn’t challenge the batters enough since I landed the ball at a fourth-fifth stump line for my stock out-swinger. However, I still remained a threat when I bowled tighter at the stumps and swung it both ways. My only victim for the day was club veteran Andy Olsson who edged my perfectly executed out-swinger on the first ball he faced off me to where the keeper would have been. I can certainly put my inconsistency down to my muscle soreness from the gym this week. However, I need a better mechanism to control this ahead of a crucial period for the club and me. Saying that I have hopes of an improved effort on game day since by then, the soreness would have significantly reduced.

The good thing was that, regardless of how I went, Maxy told me that I will be playing in C1s at Golden Grove as part of a four bowler attack with him, Brabs, and a new guy Gary. It seems that Yogi may be promoted to Bs based on his impressive form with the ball in hand. It seems to me as promised, I will be getting a decent amount of overs. I hope we bowl first on the weekend, but even then, I’m hopeful of a quick batting turn around as long as I get some throwdowns before my stint at the crease.

February 8, 2020

In the lead-up into today’s first day, without giving it much thought, I wanted Maxy to bowl first if we win the toss based on our last three matches where we were competitive after bowling sides out for less than 150 in the first innings. In hindsight, I didn’t take into account the fact that Charlie Keeves was only available today before he flies out to New Zealand for university.

When Maxy did win the toss, he did decide to bat. His assessment of the pitch was that it wasn’t a bowling wicket that prompted his decision. The new opening pairing of Gavin Jones and Tom Welsby, who both incidentally were returning to two-day cricket after recovering from finger injuries, helped justify Max’s decision. They batted out the first hour with Gavin showing the balance between attack and defense while Tom wasn’t fluent, but he fought it out. Their partnership eclipsed the score we made last time on this ground, 58. Then Gavin was bowled, trying to drive on the score on 61. His contribution was 43.

By then, I was out in the middle, umpiring each over at square leg. Now, umpiring is not really my cup of tea. If I have to help out while we’re batting, my strong preference is to score. I ended up umpiring only because Maxy asked me too. I wished he didn’t. There was a strong appeal for a run-out opportunity against Charlie Keeves, which I didn’t give out even though the fielding side was very adamant that he was OUT. My reasoning was since it all happened so fast, and I wasn’t too sure if Charlie was in. But Golden Grove were spewing and they let me have it. They started to accuse me of not doing my job correctly. At that point, I really wanted to say the same thing as Steve Waugh said to Curtly Ambrose in Trinidad in 1995. I wanted to go and tell them to get on with it with unsavoury language. However, I didn’t because I didn’t want to get into trouble with the ATCA and two; it would be better to get on with the game. Nevertheless, I was hurt by their attitude, and I was grateful that it was all over for me at tea.

During my stint, Tom was caught at mid-on, trying to heave one onto the leg-side and Charlie after my reprieve, smashed a six, which prompted a lengthy search for it, albeit in a lost cause. As it was taking a long time for no result, the Golden Grove captain took out another ball. During this search, Charlie casually told me that he thought he was short of his ground for that run-out appeal. In hindsight, I got it badly wrong, but at the moment, I wasn’t sure, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

At tea time, I was trying to deliberately ignore the opposition, but one thing is clear. Under no circumstance I will not go out to umpire. Resuming at 2/91 at tea, Charlie was beautifully caught at point for 17. His reprieve was only worth 13 runs. In the context of the match, it didn’t matter much. Thereby, it was very piss poor for me to be unnecessarily provoked for what seemed to be a mistake.

Eleven overs later, Lincoln got cramped up trying to pull and skied a catch that was taken by the wicketkeeper. Then we lost three wickets in about ten overs. Harry Hockney was bowled behind his legs by Jomartz for 25; Jacob Leak was adjudged LBW against the captain’s 15-year-old son. Then Connor Cragie also fell the same way. When I walked past him on the way to the wicket to go and bat at number 9, Connor was pissed. He said along the lines of “If you get hit on the pads, you’ll be given out.”

I didn’t give much thought to what he said as my heart was racing. At that moment, I felt I was enemy number one. However, I managed to get forward and play out the last four deliveries out. That helped. The 15 year old was replaced by the leggie. He bowled me a short wide delivery, and while I didn’t get it in the middle, I was able to hit it in the gap and get off the mark. Next over against Jomartz, I hit a quick single before Gary Branford swung a four-over to the leg-side boundary. A game plan was then formed, I would look to get a single to get Gary on strike to attack the bowling. It worked as we added 30 for the eighth wicket before Gary was bowled trying to hit over cow-corner, having made 20. Maxy came in with four a bit overs remaining. Knowing that he is also an attacking bat, I was going to stick with the same strategy. That worked as well since we added 27 unbeaten runs. However, I was utterly spent since Maxy wasn’t able to hit balls for boundaries. Instead, we ran so hard as we had to take advantage of the diminishing energy levels of the fielders. It was indeed some effort to survive to the last over, the 72nd. We finished with 8/188, which enabled us to bat out our overs for the first time this season. Incidentally, it was also our joint highest first innings total having made the same score, albeit all out in 67.1 overs against Athelstone.

The reason for my exhaustive state couldn’t probably come down to my heavy legs from cycling on the spin bike. Anyways, Maxy felt that it was good to run hard with somebody who hasn’t had a decent run out in the middle. He was also right with the fact that if we had to bat a bit longer, I would have been completely gone. Nevertheless, it was a great effort to be unbeaten on 12 and share two good partnerships in the lower order. All the discussions I had with Richard were paying off. More importantly, I at least finished the day on a positive note.

February 9, 2020

After thinking further about what happened yesterday, I wanted to file a report against Golden Grove. I was thinking of doing it straight to ATCA but thankfully instead decided to do it through the right channel, the club.

As it turned out, I learned from Matt Kildea, our ATCA representative, that Golden Grove has a history of displaying such, behavior and he will report this incident on my behalf. I have also told Maxy never to ask me to do square leg umpiring, which he had no problem with. Now, the best revenge, as Matt mentioned, was to beat these sore losers.

The truth is the sensitive man in me has to strike back. I should just run in and give 100% effort to my bowling hoping that the ball comes out quicker and if I get them out, I’ll just bring out the pent-up celebrations but short of the kind that Merv Hughes used to do in his day which involves celebrating right in the faces of the dismissed batsmen. To be honest, I felt like doing that but considering that these celebrations are now frowned upon and could lead to punishment. I can’t really afford to get out of line at all, especially with finals at stake.

February 11, 2020

Last night, former Australian fast bowler and assistant coach Craig McDermott was inducted in the Hall of Fame at the Australian Cricket Awards. In an article that announced this award before the event, it transpired that back in 1985-86 following the innings defeat to New Zealand in the 1st test at the Gabba in Brisbane, that McDermott received some advice from former fast bowler Ray Lindwall. The advice that Lindwall told McDermott to put his fingers on the paint as opposed to close together on the seam. For McDermott, it changed the way he swung the ball since it moved more consistently and later afterward. It is no wonder, it’s the same advice he was preaching himself in a swing bowling masterclass video for Cricket Australia about six summers ago.

For a swing bowler myself, I don’t see any harm why I can’t apply similar advice, having tried my very best to move the ball both ways. Hence, I decided to try this grip out at practice this week. Today at least, I was able to swing the ball and at least clean bowled Matt Kildea and Max Burford, but I was short of rhythm due to a left hip strain that reduced my momentum through the crease. That loss of momentum was noted by Tom Simpson, an A/B grade batsman who faced me when he noticed that I was dropping them short. However, he complimented me on my pace.

I only noticed the strain only in the afternoon when I found it uncomfortable to sit down and get up in the car. My initial thought was that I would pull through it during the session, but it hampered my ability to operate at full speed. I hope it recovers significantly ahead of Thursday’s session.

February 13, 2020

Today was personally much better session since the hip strain had subsided significantly for me to power through my action with the hips. I was generating late swing both ways more often on a fuller length. While I couldn’t get anyone out, I at least beat the bat more often than Tuesday. Moreover, I also had drawn a couple of edges that would have been held by point of which one of them was Lincoln Halton, whose impenetrable defense was the main reason behind our current three-match unbeaten streak. My run-up and action felt similar to a young Jason Gillespie. Comparisons aside, I was back to my best, which I hope to replicate the success come Saturday.

Bowling aside, my complaint about GG come to light in the latest club committee. I happened to know about this through Andrew Bennett, our regular nets manager, who asked me, “Is Golden Grove giving you trouble.” I explained what had happened on Saturday and he said it was all good. Nothing else said. We just have to go and bowl them out, which would be the perfect response.

February 16, 2020

We indeed achieve the win, but it was indeed hard work along the way. Gary started the proceedings by bouncing out Pinder, which resulted in an easy catch for Gavin Jones at first slip. After that, Golden Grove had two solid partnerships to be at 3 for 86 at tea. Hopper and GM Lynch added 40 for the second wicket before Hopper was bowled by an inside edge off an attempted drive of Brad Coles. Then GM Lynch and van Rooyen added 44 before GM Lynch edged behind to Harry off Maxy’s bowling at the stroke of tea.

I had my bowling opportunity in the half-an-hour before tea and couldn’t get the ball to shape away from the batters. Instead, the ball was consistently swinging in which made it easier for them to try and hit across the line. I was ineffective for four overs that cost 18 runs, but I wished a chance went to Brad Coles’ hand in my first over. That spell spoilt my mood, and it improved when I was taken out of the attack.

Gary started the post-tea process by getting van Rooyen to edge behind to Harry, but Jomartz and the GG captain Henderson steadied the ship with a 31 run partnership. Having been denied a few LBW close shouts till now, Brabs finally got a shout to go his way against an absolutely disappointed Henderson who claims he hit the ball. I must add that it wasn’t the first time this match that he showed his displeasure. Nevertheless, the crucial break was obtained on the stroke of drinks, and we simply ran through the tail.

Instead, Brabs and Brad did. Brabs had Jomartz caught by Tom at mid-on before hitting the stumps on the next ball to beat Stamato’s defense. Brabs was all of a sudden on a hat-trick. GA Lynch survived the critical delivery but was bowled in the next over by Brad. Brabs took his fourth wicket through an excellent low catch by Connor at short mid-wicket, and then Brad finished the job by bowling Ward. GG all out for 142, a first innings win by 46 runs.

That was our third win in four unbeaten matches, and we were in good health for finals with two rounds remaining. For me, though, the start of this calendar year has been terrible. Very few overs and no wickets, which certainly tested my confidence and resolve. I really want to bowl again this year, especially in the finals, but I really need overs under my belt to do a required job. Luke told me to keep going and not to lose hope. If there’s any consolation, I think my lower-order partnerships with Gary and Maxy were probably the difference, which I hope to believe that I again won a match with the bat.

Fulham vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Collins Reserve (Oval #2), January 11 & 18 2020

January 7, 2020

Given that PAOC were involved in the Twenty20s, I had thought about attending training with West Torrens to bowl to their players again on a helpful turf wicket. But it never materialized as I had to ease myself back into bowling having caught a cold during the Christmas/New year break. So I instead settled with a solo net session bowling about 6 overs of zippy pace despite carrying all body soreness from a weights session last night. I was trying to bowl with a newish ball, having slightly sprayed the ball around the place against Brighton when trying the in-swinger. Quite frankly, it is a lot easier to naturally swing the ball away from the right-handers, but it was worth the practice trying to move the ball back in.   

January 9, 2020

The news had come in yesterday that all of our five Twenty20 sides have proceeded to the finals. So it seems that all the Twenty20 focused training seemed to have paid off. If it works out to some trophies, even better. Let’s see. For now, that was indeed a great effort, but now it was back to two-day cricket today at training. Given it’s the school holidays until late January to early February, we are in the Back Oval until then.

It was hot, which made me skeptical, given that the weekend conditions are going to be much cooler than today. Having worked on my run-up extensively and given my history of cramp, I wondered how I would get along and whether I should be even going at full effort.

As a matter of fact, I got along pretty well in spite of the heat. I just ran in, jumped, and whipped my arms through. My out-swinger was indeed in perfect order that allowed me to beat Patty Sadlier’s bat and hit the top of off-stump as well as clipping Eddie Thomas’ edge to the keeper. While I couldn’t quite get the ball to move the other way since the ball is still reasonably new, I managed to develop another out-swinger from the snap of the wrist, which generates more bounce and movement. That ball later was a handful since the batters I was bowling to, couldn’t entirely lay bat on it at all.  I think I have found my own trusted variation that I can employ until the ball is scuffed up enough to bowl the in-swinger. Even if it doesn’t swing and hold it’s line, it should still be a lethal ball, especially if the batters are going to play for the non-existent swing and get themselves out.

Towards the end of the session, Andrew Bennett, our nets supervisor, threw me over to the far net against the A and B grade bowlers. I was facing James Risby, who bowled at half pace. Jack Dent, who bowled bouncy out-swingers and Will Van Diesel, continued to run in at full tilt. Even though they couldn’t get me out since I was protecting my stumps and leaving the wide ones alone, neither bowled me a bad ball. The only bowler that did so was Sam Vivian, who gave me opportunities to come down the wicket or wait for the half trackers for me to work them on their way behind square on the leg-side. Anyways, I seemed to have done enough to earn appreciation from Denty and VD.

As I learned today at the end of training, I was retained in C1s as part of a four-man pace attack featuring Maxy Clarke, Antony Brabham, and Yogesh Thakur, which got Maxy excited. Maxy was pumping my tires a bit, calling me the best “into the wind bowler” with the best economy rate in the club. I am hoping though to break through with the ball this season with a four-wicket bag at least, but I suppose I wouldn’t mind settling for a tidy spell as long as it leads to wickets against the more pacy wiles of Maxy and Yogi. Hopefully, we can reduce Fulham to no more than 150 this match, but anyways, the top-order needs to finally fire to give ourselves any chance.

January 11, 2020

Yesterday it rained from morning until lunchtime before it cleared off for the rest of the day. In spite of the rain, I was hopeful that we will still have a two-day match like in Round 2 against Golden Grove when it rained the previous day, but we still had a full game. Thankfully, when I arrived at Collins Reserve at 12.20pm, the pitch looked a terrific wicket and, more importantly, not damp. At the back of my mind, even though we had our best bowling attack in C1s to date, we were underdogs against Fulham, who not only are ahead of us in the ladder but had also comprehensively defeated us back in Round 3.

Fulham had won the toss and chose to bat, and the openers Ninnes and Ritchie proceeded to bat out the first hour and accumulate 31 runs as neither Yogi, Brabs, Maxy nor myself could not get a breakthrough. I had come on after Brabs bowled a testing spell against Ritchie, the left-handed opener, and started with a maiden. Typical of someone who had proved to be a run miser so far. But my next four overs ensured that I bowled my most expensive spell ever in C1s this season. My second over was mostly short and wide, and then Ritchie sliced a lofted drive but safe from the fielders.

After drinks, Maxy broke through by knocking Ninnes’ off-stump out of the ground, and we couldn’t get a breakthrough for a short while after that. I overpitched against Kerin, their no. 3 and another left-hander, but I had him missed twice by Josh Bean, who dropped an edge and missed a stumping down the leg side. So I finished with five wicketless overs for 16 runs. As I said, to date, my most expensive spell in C1s.

After that, we managed to dominate as we went into tea with our tails up. Ritchie tried to hoick Yogi over cow-corner but lost his off-stump. In came Paterson, their captain who made runs when we last faced Fulham back in Round 3. Yogi took care of him too with an off-stump yorker. At the other end, Tom Phillips, our finger spinner, induced an edge from Long, which deflected off Josh Bean’s thigh to Will Farminer at first slip before just at the stroke of tea, Yogi bowled Kerin with an ‘accidental’ slower ball courtesy of a misstep in his run-up. Fulham called for tea at that moment, 5/83.

After tea, it was a stalemate. We kept it tight, but Fulham was resolute. It had been almost eight overs without a breakthrough when Maxy motioned for me to warm up. I suppose that would have motivated Brabs to bowl a slower ball for Kenelly to slap it straight into Jacob Leak’s hands, which thereby dashing my hopes of a second spell. Anyways, this set the stage for Maxy to clean up the tail, which he did magnificently thus calling him ‘The Mop’ precisely the same moniker that Nathan Lyon called Mitchell Starc for precisely the same ability. Yeatman, Doraisamy-Caffasso, and Dignan (who claimed that he wasn’t ready) were all bowled with Davoli edging into Brabs’ hands at gully. From 5/95 to 110 all out. A lot better than the 150 I was hoping and even better than the 115 that Maxy wanted for at the most.

In what was a must-win game, we started well with the ball, now we just had to survive 17 overs with minimal damage. Suffice to say that we failed this task. Eddie Thomas missed a ball that hit the top of off-stump before Leaky edged his first ball to the keeper. Both wickets fell to Scambiterra on the last ball of his second over and the first ball of his third, respectively. Thereby Josh Bean was walking in to face the hat-trick ball. But he diffused that brilliantly with a deflection through vacant square leg for two. He initially looked busy, stable, and secure at the crease, but he then tried an expansive drive off Paterson and was caught at cover. 3/22 became 4/34 when Pat Singleton fell to Davoli as he tried to prioritize survival over run making.

Lincoln Halton came in to join Tom Phillips, who was looking good at the crease and ensured that we got through without further loss. I was aware that Tommy (who finished with 24) was going to be away next week, so it was interesting to know what happens next week. As I then learned, his replacement Charlie Keeves (who sadly busted a finger keeping up to me last game but should be fine nevertheless) will have to go out and bat immediately upon resumption. I was padded up to go in next if we had lost another wicket ahead of Will Farminer, who battled a runny tummy courtesy of an unfamiliar spicy curry from the Golden Boy Thai restaurant.  But I wasn’t required. I don’t know if I will still be the next man in or Will is next week, but I hope Will’s stomach gets cured in a good time.

As far as I know, I need to be batting at training next week, making sure that I was in a reasonable frame of mind. There is still an opportunity for me to be the leading run-scorer in our C1s side due to the ongoing poor performances of our top-order, which no doubt has become one source of frustration for Maxy. For that, I need a score of 11 or more to overtake Ed (but I obviously want more).

January 14, 2020

Today was critical in terms of getting some net practice ahead of the weekend. Quite critically, even though I survived the session without nicking off or having my stumps rattled for the second consecutive session, I was far from satisfied with how I batted today. This was because I couldn’t quite generate the fluency with the hands consistently enough, which was the cause of my fortunes against short-pitched bowling. Even though I pulled Connor Craigie away behind square, I was pinged right on the badge of the helmet by Yogi when trying to pull. Conscious of what just happened, I only managed to duck underneath another short ball from Connor. I was rattled, which left me with a slight headache. Yogi to his credit checked if I was okay and tried to cheer me up that he too got hit on the helmet. Clearly, there’s something wrong with my hands, but I’m hopeful of rectifying the fault come Thursday’s session, which will be crucial if I was to be confident ahead of Saturday.

January 16, 2020

Yesterday I managed to read through Seeing the Sunrise by Justin Langer, former Australian opener now coach. What I understood from reading the book is not to be distracted by the past (e.g., the blow to the helmet) or by the future (e.g., needing 11 runs to be C1s leading run-scorer or the 71 runs required for victory). Instead, your focus should be the present (the ball that is coming at you). More importantly, it is encouraging us not to be influenced by results (especially if going through a rough trot with the bat). Instead, our focus should be on the processes so that the good times will come sooner often than not. Even though I didn’t make much on my last innings, I at least withstood 10 overs of tight bowling under overcast conditions. Similarly, I should also take heart that I didn’t nick off or getting bowled or trapped LBW in my last two net sessions. Anyways, I should continue to play shots and leave balls, hoping that I hit balls away from fielders without even getting caught.

Which was pretty much I was able to do except I had to play at every delivery bowled to me today. I felt confident as I was able to get forward and back and play some attacking strokes while still defending my stumps. I did struggle against a tall bowler whose last name is Coles because I went back to every ball he bowled as I found it hard to get forward to him since he generated good bounce through his frame. Otherwise, I felt my attacking game was in order, which will at least allow me to attack when given a chance on Saturday. The word from Maxy is that we will just go and bat until we lose the last wicket as he is in no mood to chase outright if we go past Fulham’s 110. As Brabs mentioned twice this week, we just need two 30 run partnerships to get us home. I am in the best frame of mind for Saturday, given my latest practice hit as well as the freedom to bat all day from the captain. As long as I don’t get caught on the crease and be decisive in my shot making and movements, I think I’ll be in control regardless of the runs I score. It is also vital that I close my ears as Fulham will likely try to distract me if we need to complete the chase.

January 18, 2020

Despite all that mental and technical preparation, I was never required to bat as we enjoyed a rare dominating day with the bat. Fulham started with Paterson and Scambiterra, who were their best bowlers from last week, but after ten overs or so, they slowly began to give up when we were on the brink of a victory, which we achieved without losing a wicket. Lincoln soon realized that he forgot his ‘box’ (groin protector) and simply ran off the field to retrieve it. We were like “What?”. At that point, he was on 23, which was a great effort. It wasn’t so surprising that he fell not long afterward for 29, having guided the score to 125.

At that point, Charlie Keeves ensured that he was the second batsman to make fifty this season after me, and he simply kept going in what later became an unbeaten stand of 81 with Will Farminer. Not only he raised the highest individual score in our C1 side (beating my 67* against Athelstone), he also overtook Ed Thomas as our leading run-scorer as well when he reached 85 at the tea break. We were 5/178 with the partnership at 53 and Will on 18, having lost the fitness to run between the wickets. He simply ate a banana and nothing else while we stacked into variety offered by Fulham during the break.

Given our dominant position, Maxy announced that once Charlie got his hundred, we were declaring. So, it pretty much went to script when we declared on 5/206 with Charlie unbeaten on 102 and Will on 29. I was denied an opportunity to get some runs against a dispirited opposition, as Maxy believed that there might be time for a win.

As it turned out, we failed hopelessly as Fulham erased the deficit with only five wickets down as the game was called off early once Yeatman completed his fifty having taken Yogi, Maxy, and Brabs for boundaries. Initially, though, the door to victory was slightly ajar when Yogi dismissed the openers Ritchie and Ninnes early. Ritchie LBW even though Yogi was bowling around the wicket and Ninnes with a slower ball that was hit straight back to Yogi. Paterson and Kerin held out for a while, but they had their poles knocked out by Maxy. For Kerin, it was the off-stump, and for Paterson, it was middle. After that, we ran out of time to force the win.

I still managed a chance to roll my arm over, but once again, my consistency deserted me despite getting appreciable movement. Having been taken out of the attack after four wicketless overs for 11, it became the first game in over 12 months that I went wicketless. As I was guzzling down a can of Lemon-Lime Sprite after the match, Maxy approached from behind and started to massage my shoulders. While he acknowledged that I had very little to do, he encouraged me not to be disheartened, telling me that not only was I still an essential member of the side, my time to shine will come. Moreover, an enforced break due to the Australia Day Long weekend will undoubtedly provide an opportunity to reset and recharge with potentially 6-7 weeks of home, and away cricket remaining.