Eastlake vs Ginninderra at Forestry Oval, November 19 2016

November 15, 2016

The focus for the training session for my bowling was to focus on a fourth-stump line to the right-handers consistently, but it had to wait for a moment when I attended training. We were straight onto the batting drills, which is precisely the same as what was done at pre-season training. I had felt good with batting again and was hitting them well with the Gray-Nicolls Training bat that I purchased during the off-season to improve my batting.

Mick Delaney the coach called everyone in after a short while to listen to his predecessor, Sam Gaskin who went on emphasizing the need for a routine for batting and bowling. This was something that my own coach Luke Wimbridge had drilled into me, so I knew what Sam was talking about. It is vital to have a routine whenever you’re going through a lousy trot or in supreme form. For me, I tend to focus more on the technical specifics than anything else as I do carry that frame of mind always.

One thing that Sam also mentioned which was quite evident was that we lose wickets in significant clusters and rather than try to play all the shots, it’s always good to stay with your three best scoring options at the start, and gradually you can expand further once you’re more accustomed to the bowling. Hence, we were all challenged to bat as long as we can in the nets. If you get out, you’re out, and your net session is finished. Similarly, if you fail to clear the marked boundary, you were also out. So it was about batting for long periods.

I dreaded that challenge. The last time I had a similar problem was in junior cricket, where I got out first ball to a delivery that spun and took my edge. Thankfully, the experience was better. I got on the front foot reasonably well as I was defending some and attacking the rest of the pitched up deliveries. I even managed to help myself to some short slow bowling until I played an uppish back foot cover drive, which would have carried to cover; hence I was given out. It would have been debatable if it would have carried to the fielder, but I was pleased to bat for a while. Pretty good for someone who hardly bats in 5th grade.

I initially struggled with the ball as the surface was very slippery to run in and bowl with fixed rubber studs. Thankfully, I had my spikes in my cricket kit, so I was able to change into those, and bowling became easier. I claimed three batters; two of them were ‘caught,’ and the other was bowled. However, there were times the ball came even slower unintentionally, so I had, at times, struggled for rhythm and pace. At the end of the session, several team-mates of mine had noticed that I inadvertently slowed down as I approached the bowling crease, which explained why the ball had times came slower than I ran in.

But there was a solution to the observation. I simply had to start with smaller steps and gradually build up to more significant strides as I hit the bowling crease. This is what I’ve picked up from cricket masterclass videos from people like Damien Fleming and my coach Luke. I ended staying back from training to work on this problem. While bowling to Dominic Tran, who needed extra batting practice, it felt the ball came out better with more and extra bounce but without my usual out-swinger. Nevertheless, this was excellent progress bowling wise and plenty to work with for the near future, including Thursday’s training.

On another note, I was grateful that Sagar, manager of the Malayalee Cricket team that plays on fortnightly Sundays, acknowledged that playing constant Saturdays and Sundays has become too much for me to handle. In the past, I fell sick and had hurt myself as a result of too much cricket, so I needed a break. Plus, with stuff to do at home, it felt an excellent choice to withdraw. To be honest, it wouldn’t be fair on the Malayalee team if I wasn’t playing at my best, and it would be better for those who cannot play on Saturdays to play in this team instead ahead of me. While there could be possibilities that I may need to play on Sundays for grade, it is still the right decision to cut back on the regular Sunday cricket.

November 17, 2016

Having made massive strides with my bowling on Tuesday, the onus on me to build on the excellent work today. Despite the run-up being perfect, it felt at times the bowl came too slowly. It was because I was trying to generate the extra bounce and swing through my shoulder rotation like the action of Alzarri Joseph, the current West Indian fast bowler from Antigua. Instead, I decided to replicate Allan Donald’s bowling action. The results were superb as the ball came out with a bit more energy and later on a bit more out-swing. I struggled with bowling at left-handers, but that was because I was bowling too straight. I knew I could start from outside off to the left-hander; I’ll be fine. It will continue to be a work in progress.

Nevertheless, towards the end of the net session, I felt I was in great rhythm when bowling to Amit Pardeshi, who played in my debut game for Ginninderra. I had run in quicker, and I was also getting decent out-swing, which was well noticed by Moeen Cheema, the 1st-grade all-rounder. I simply responded to his observations with a nod and a smile. Amit later, after training, commended me on my bowling and felt I was bowling quicker than Tuesday. I told him his feedback was instrumental in the improvement.

Batting in between the bowling was better. I was going to stick to my initial plan of defending anything on the stumps and score runs if it wasn’t pitched on the stumps. However, if the ball was short, I will try to go for it with the pull. That will be my strategy every time I go out to bat until I’m well set, or we need quick runs.

Then we finished with some fielding. My high-ball catching was hit and miss, but it’s still about getting into the right positions early to take the catch. Nevertheless, I felt my throwing was better. I usually unknowingly have elevation on my throws, which takes a while for the ball to get to the stumps, so I had worked on aiming directly to the top of the stumps, which was a better improvement. Now it was a case of replicating this out in a match.

The selections had been read out after we had a feed and a drink. Only the first four grades were confirmed for Saturday with the rest of the selections to be posted on the website. I knew I will continue in fifth grade with the likelihood of needing to step up in the absence of Adam O’Connor, who will be working this weekend. It will be a matter of whether I’ll be playing on Sunday, but I’m not too bothered if I don’t play because playing in fifth’s is fine for me as long as I bowl every week.

Sometime later, a couple of the boys Rhys Healy and John Prior, in particular, had told me that there were reading my online diary, which is good to hear. Rhys even asked me if I was still posting stuff, and I confirm I was. He seemed a little peeved that I mentioned I got him out in a net session in a previous entry, but I wanted to express how confident I was in my bowling at the time. Anyways, why would I stop writing stuff because I would like to write my life as a grade cricketer in Canberra? It was why, in the first place, I created this online diary.

With the light still around, I decided to return back to bowling practice. Once again, I ran in like Allan Donald and got the ball to swing out at a decent pace. All the work I did on the off-season till now to lose 8 kilos was taking shape. Unfortunately, I started to cramp up in the leg again after a long training session. So I tried to bowl within myself for a short while, which helped me to get swing and bounce before I called it quits after 15 minutes when the cramp was too much to handle.

All of a sudden, I had a spring in my step. I was much quicker than before, and I feel I’m a better bowler than I was at the start of the season. The obvious next step is consistency, which gets you an opportunity in the higher grades as I was told, but I’m not too fussed. All it matter is that I want to bowl every game I play in.

November 18, 2016

As it turned out, I’ll be just playing at Forestry in 5th grade. I will not be required on Sunday, which is fine because playing weekly Saturdays with the rare Sunday is better for me. As expected, Adam O’Connor will not be available as he’s working, so I have a big responsibility as the leader of the attack given our shortage of pace bowlers. When the captain Joe Laria called me, I was hoping of a possibility of a bat as I had been batting well at training, but it depends on how it goes on the day. He felt that I am getting better as a bowler. The rhythm is there, but not the results. This what I was thinking, and I told him that I have extra velocity up my sleeve now thanks to the work I put in at training.

I am relishing the added responsibility with the ball. Still, given the warm weather tomorrow with a maximum temperature of 30 degrees, I must hydrate before the match, especially if I’m going to run in with a more smoother run-up that generated extra pace ball after ball. Perhaps, I would need to for once put aside thoughts of bowling nine overs straight although I felt I could do it given the hard work I put into my fitness.

November 19,2016

Joe had lost the toss, and we were fielding. It was fine for us because we weren’t able to post defendable totals in the past two games. We were playing without the Isons, who were becoming invaluable contributors to our side. But we had Joel Suryawanshi, whom I knew from LMS as a big hitter and a handy pace bowler. I felt leading into the game that we would have fancied our chances against Eastlake, given that they weren’t a top-four team.

Due to the warm weather, both Joe and Martin Boland, the Eastlake captain agreed upon to have drinks after the 15th and 30th overs, which Cricket ACT would encourage as they are very concerned about the health and well-being of the players taking part in the ACT Premier Cricket competition.

I picked the closest end to the carpark only because Joe thought I could hit the patch that was on one side of the wicket. I managed to hit it once, and the ball didn’t bounce once. I was happy nevertheless that I bowled a lot better than the last few games. I was bowling a lot faster than before and got the ball to swing off the pitch and through my action. It immediately caught the attention of Chris Arcella, a.k.a Archie because I was much quicker than last week. Despite the heat, I managed to bowl nine consecutive overs and finish with 1 for 20. The wicket was courtesy of a superb low catch from Joe, which I don’t think anyone else myself included will be able to take.

Courtesy of my spell and with a wicket each from the Dominics Ross and Tran, Eastlake were 3 for 45, which was a much better bowling start than the last few games. Unfortunately, we were unable to sustain that momentum courtesy of sloppiness both with the ball and in the field (although Arcella’s leg side takes was one of the few exceptions). We bowled more full tosses and short balls combined than good deliveries. In particular, Eastlake’s number three bat, Ian Chattin, took advantage of. He rode his luck with a few mishits, dropped catches, missed runouts, and a stumping which went in his favor and finished with 101 not out much to Joe’s frustration. You got to give credit where it’s due, and he ensured they made 6/172 from their 45 overs. Archie felt it was a 200 plus wicket, and I thought we did well to starve Chattin of the strike towards the end, given that he was hitting them well compared to everyone else. Nevertheless, it felt that we missed both Adam O’Connor and Thomas Ison, who can undoubtedly show more control with the ball.

During their innings, though, there were numerous times the ball went into the deep bushes. One time, when a Dominic Tran epic loose ball disappeared out of the oval, several of the guys attempted a lost cause in retrieving the ball. Eventually, one of the Eastlake boys had some sort of replacement ball of about 20 overs old for us to continue with. We later learned that a few cricket balls had been previously lost in the bushes within Forestry Oval.

Now, we had to chase 173 to stop our mini-losing streak. As long as our top order fired for once, we will be set. For once, we didn’t lose our openers cheaply. Umesh Patel may have been bounced out, but Sammy Gautam batted, unlike a man who posted just two runs in his first three innings of the season. He ended up with 23. I suppose he idolizes Virender Sehwag because he was smoking them, particularly of Ahmed Dilraj, the Eastlake fast bowler who I thought had a similar action to the legendary Imran Khan. At the other end, Sandeep Kumar showed more intent, unlike his last two innings, which were to be fair against better teams. At drinks, we were 1 for 58. But we lost 3/7 soon after to David Mankey, who took 4/23 from his 9 overs.

But we were coming back into the contest again through Joel and Sandeep’s 47 run partnership, but we lost Joel then Govind Thiagarajan to be at 6/118 at the next drinks break. It felt that we were going to stare at 4 losses on the trot, but it didn’t seem that way thanks to Joe. It was the first time I’ve seen Joe bat for a while. Archie was telling me that once Joe faces a few deliveries, then he can have a big crack. That’s what exactly happened. Joe made 45 not out and won the game for us by 3 wickets within the 38th over. His striking power against the opening bowlers was out of this world (although he was using Govind’s bat – Sorry Joe if I stole your thunder). He even hooked Dilraj, who was quick for six and punished anything loose with power. He had excellent support from Sandeep, who made 49 and Archie who is yet to be dismissed this season.

We were back in winning ways, and we’re looking forward to our clash with ANU, which should be another win coming. Hopefully, with Adam and both the Isons coming back, it seems that we might have a dominant 5th-grade side in the future, but there’s a likelihood that someone will be going up to 4ths and above for the upcoming 2-day rounds.

Personally, my bowling is even better than when I first started the season. It was also excellent during the game that more people have been reading my diary with great interest and have been making observations and jokes about it.

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