Ginninderra vs Weston Creek Molonglo at Aranda, November 5 2016

Again my preparations for the weekend were hampered as I only managed to attend training on Tuesday, which was, as a matter of fact, my birthday. I just turned 26 and enjoyed the wishes people gave me in person and on Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp). I bought two kinds of cakes. A Cherry Ripe Brownie cake from Dobinsons in the morning followed by my all-time favorite, the Coffee Pecan Torte from the Cheesecake shop.

I also had to pick up a parcel from the nearby delivery hub at Mitchell since Neethu and family had delivered a gift that turned out a watch with a big clock face. I was even contemplating if I should be attending training on my birthday, but my workmate Vishnu Chari reckon I should. Vishnu had till now was keeping tabs on my performance on turf, so I had some suspicion that he would be interested in playing, so he decided to turn up to training.

Training wasn’t a big turnout comparative to previous sessions I’ve attended. This was mainly because the Melbourne Cup was on, so most people would have been unable to train. I had learned Vishnu had opened before in district cricket in Melbourne, where he came from and was getting back into cricket. He seemed pretty solid in defense and also clipping the loose deliveries away. I think Matty Andrews, the club’s 3rd-grade captain, was just impressed with Vishnu, which was the feedback JP was telling me because he was wondering if Vishnu wanted to fill in as an opener in 4ths. I had remembered Vishnu telling me that he was still rusty and had a way to go before going back to his best form. I was looking through his stats on MyCricket and found out he averages in the 20s with a top score of 129. So he knows how to make good runs. He considers himself a two-day batter, but even in the one day format, patient openers like him can provide a reliable platform to enable the lower batters to take charge of the opposition. I told Vishnu that the club would like him to play 4ths this weekend, and they really liked your batting. He seemed quite happy that he was offered the position, and I wished him well.

Going back to my preparation, I felt on Saturday that I wasn’t “pumping the arms” a bit more such that they were around my eye-line, which will help my rhythm. It worked because I was beating the bat again through movement and bounce and otherwise keeping a very tight line and length, particularly to Matty Andrews. For good measure, I experimented with a slower ball whenever the batters tried to come down the wicket to my bowling, which later I felt became a very effective weapon. I was thrilled that my bowling is now coming together. I got a bit of a bat, but I was mostly facing spin, so it allowed me to practice advancing down the wicket to spin, which I managed to do well before I cramped up in my left leg towards the end of my batting stint. If that wasn’t all, I later hurt my left hand during fielding practice where the ball hit the outer part of the palm, which made it hard for me to grip anything, let alone clench it.

Basically, that ruled me out of any visit to the gym or to practice for the rest of the week, but I still managed to head to work. To make matters worse, I suffered a sore throat, which needed a couple of days to recover. I didn’t want to aggravate it, so I stayed at home for that reason too.

November 5, 2016

Thankfully my health was restored in time for the weekend. I was looking forward to bowling again, but this time, we were in Aranda. Our 4th-grade side had already played at the oval, and it was proving to be a bowlers paradise. They were able to defend 147 against Wests, but they couldn’t chase down 119. There have been stories that the ball keeps extremely low in patches. For example, I heard Jason Cooper and Chakra being undone by shooters, which were pitched short of a length. I mean, how do you play those people must be wondering.

For once, we had 12 people in our lineup. Sam Anavatti got promoted to 4ths, but we managed to get Sandeep and Govind, so hopefully, we will be able to put in a better performance in the field as we will have 11 fielders at all times. I was hopeful that Joe Laria would give me a chance to bat in the middle order like Adam O’Connor did last weekend, but it depends on the situation. It seems I may not be able to bat higher than six unless Joe thought otherwise.

When I later looked at the pitch, there were crumbling patches in places. Our groundsman who looked after the whole ground indicated that it will be a better batting wicket; hence we were hopeful that Aranda wouldn’t play its tricks.

Joe lost the toss, and we were batting. As it turned out, Weston Creek Molonglo is an excellent chasing side as they are genuinely strong in batting compared to bowling. We didn’t get off a good start as Coughlan dismissed Sammy Gautam for a duck and Umesh Patel for 1 to have us at 2 for 2.  Hence, it was up to Michael Ison and Sandeep Kumar to execute the rescue job. Once again, Michael put away filth and chanced his arm from time to time.

In contrast, Sandeep was conscious of the pitch playing low from time to time and played cautiously. He got off the mark after batting for 10 overs by then Michael was about 30. Thanks to them, we were 2 for 68 at drinks with Michael posting his half-century.

They continued to accumulate differently, but before they guided the score past 100, Sandeep hurt his left leg and was limping. We all thought he was going to come off, but he later retired an over later on 12. Michael kept going, but he held out to long-on off Loughlan for the devil’s number in 87. Ultimately, it was his dismissal that killed off any hopes of making at least 200. Blake Nitschke and Thomas Ison did their bit to stay in for about 20 balls each, but both had got out for four and nine, respectively, when they were going to cut loose. The only man to cut loose was Adam O’Connor, who continued where he left off last weekend by finishing with 30 not out from number six. Courtesy of him, we managed to finish with 4/165 from our full 45 overs. Govind Thiagarajan was also 6 not out. Weston Creek pacers towards the end were hard to get away, but based on the opinions of our guys, the pitched seemed to play its part.

I was quite confident about our boys’ chances. Yes, perhaps we could have made more, but we have runs on the board, and they have to get them. For the second game in the row, I took the first over. Somehow I felt anxious because I was up against Ben Campbell, who I knew who could strike big from my Last Man Stands experiences. I don’t know what happened next when I pitch the ball around the stumps, hoping for it to swing out, but the ball went right through him and hit the stumps. I don’t think he knew what had hit him, and I was immediately surprised myself. I simply couldn’t believe it, and no wonder I couldn’t get any more wickets within my 9 consecutive over spell, which was 1 for 30.

The Weston Creek Molonglo batters mostly took the risk of playing across the line, which was annoying, but it was later effective. The exception was their 15-year-old bat Owen Levings who came in at three and batted really well until he dragged on an off-drive to his stumps off the bowling of Thomas Ison. Courtesy of their approach, they chased down our target with about 12 overs to spare and seven wickets in hand (Joe Laria had the other opener, Jon Murphy, well caught by Adam).

During their innings, several of us ended up searching for the ball in the bushes for quite a while after Alex Barich smashed a loose ball from Govind towards deep midwicket, which just eluded Michael Ison’s head and went for four. Boy, it took a while to find the ball, and even the Weston Creek boys had to pitch in to help find that ball. It took a while to find the ball, and by luck, we managed to find the ball. In the midst of a poor over from Govind, from that moment, Weston Creek dominated the game.

We now lost 2 games in a row, having won our first two games. The boys felt we should have at least 175 on the board, given we only lost four wickets. The problem we have in our club as a whole is we don’t have many batters through the grades. Still, I think we must be patient with ourselves because it’s early in the season and we have plenty of time to improve our team performances particularly with the bat and the ball because we bowled several loose deliveries which they punished.

On another matter, I was delighted that Vishnu enjoyed his debut for Ginninderra. He made 13 with three boundaries, and he was happy with how it went. Given our weakness in batting as a club, having Vishnu was a big bonus, and I’m glad that I’ve done my bit inducting him in.

November 6, 2016

During a day-long road trip to Sydney, I was wondering if I could get better at my performances, and I honestly don’t think I can. It’s not as if I don’t really bowl badly in games. Far from it. After 4 games, I bowled 33 overs and took 4 for 100. That’s an average of 25 runs per wicket, an economy rate of 3.03 runs per over, and a strike rate of 49.5 balls per wicket. I have been getting the shot to swing and bounce, which triggered plays and misses, edges, and dropped catches as well as wickets.

Maybe I am too rash in my thinking. I’m doing everything right; it’s just that the results haven’t come my way yet. I remember the great Glenn McGrath believed in the process over results. He said, “If you get the processes right, then the results will take care of itself.” I shouldn’t be impatient and should continue to do what I do best with the ball and continue with strength and conditioning work.

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