Happy New Year for 2017. It was nice to have a break away from the game for at least a couple of weeks in Perth away from the cricket pitch. I had instead spent time in the gym, working on my strength in all my muscles. The ideas came from Cricket Strength and Cricket Mentoring Fitness from Instagram, which will help towards strengthening the muscles and thereby bowling faster.
It is something I had started to seriously dream about bowling fast. I’ve seen YouTube videos of Devon Malcolm, Michael Holding, Allan Donald, Malcolm Marshall, Duncan Spencer, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis as well as live footage of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Shoaib Akthar, Wahab Riaz, Shane Bond, Adam Milne, Lockie Ferguson, and Billy Stanlake. I, too, wanted to bowl fast, but the more I tried, the less accurate I would become. I also come to realize that bowling fast also puts heavy stress on the body, especially the back, so going for out and out pace isn’t always recommended.
I had basically shelved my pace ambitions for now and decided to focus on extracting swing and bounce given that what gets batsmen out on turf in Canberra. Nevertheless, I had been working in practice to improve my run-up and ensure that I follow through well. I’d also worked out if I contract the trunk as Dennis Lillee suggested in his autobiography Menace, then it can make a difference with pace as well as swing and bounce. So it’s something I’m focusing on during my weight training.
While all the words are about increasing my pace, there’s also a strong possibility that weight training can also help my batting routine, technique, and even my power. The expectation is that the added strength will help my consistent back-lift and bat swing along with the power in my shots that will allow me to hit the ball a bit harder than before. I was looking forward to a session to bat while in Perth because I wanted to practice watching the ball, but that session never materialized.
Nevertheless, it was good to go to Perth to catch up with some familiar faces while continuing the strength work. I also had a chance to relax in front of the TV, watching the Aussies steal a victory against Pakistan in the Boxing Day test despite time lost to poor weather. They had won the game because they always had believed that they can win while Pakistan was already thinking of a draw with a chance to level the series on a turner in Sydney. The one thing that I took away from that always believes we can win as long as we have a positive attitude. There was more cricket watching with the Big Bash League (BBL) already in full swing, and it’s no secret that I have enjoyed six-hitting and also when fast bowlers hit the stumps.
Speaking of the Big Bash, there were a couple of occasions that I saw BBL teams at the airport. Early last year, while flying home to Canberra from my India trip, I saw the Brisbane Heat squad (Ben Cutting, Daniel Vettori, Shane Bond) in Sydney, and earlier in the afternoon, I’ve seen the Sydney Sixers squad in Adelaide. There was Johan Botha, Joe Mennie, Jason Roy, Brad Haddin, Moses Henriques, Sean Abbott, and coach Greg Shipperd. I would have liked to had a chat with some of the guys, particularly Brad Haddin, to ask how his family is keeping given that was the main focus of his recently released autobiography, My Family’s Keeper. However, I was honestly too shy to approach any of them, and I had thought it would be best to leave them alone given they were trounced by the Strikers by 48 runs on New Year’s Eve. Not just that, but we also need to remember that each individual is also entitled to their own privacy.
Soon after arriving in Canberra, I was greeted with the news I was waiting for that my five-for was finally published in MyCricket, so a big thanks to Adam O’Connor, who tolerated my constant nagging to get the job done. 5/18 off 8.5 overs with 2 maidens were entered into the system. With that, I’ve become the highest wicket-taker for our 5th-grade side, the 3rd highest wicket-taker in the entire 5th-grade competition, and also propels me in the top 10 for the leading wicket-takers for Ginninderra for all grades (currently 9th spot).
It would be nice to finish the season within the top 10 wicket-takers for 5th grade (even the top 20 would be fine). On top of all that, I also gained a nickname, ‘Hurricane’ that was given to me by Chris Arcella, and already he and Andrew Loveday have started flouting the hashtag #whynothurricane. To be honest, I quite liked the nickname, and it probably suits me when I triggered a collapse by Wests-UC during my five-for when they crashed from 1 for 52 to 5/57 and perhaps when I took 2 quick wickets to derail ANU’s chase of 180 the week before.
The season is about to resume, but I would prefer to continue working on my strength work, given that there’s a strong likelihood of not playing 2-day cricket on the 7th of January. JP is more than happy it seems to allow me to continue my good form this season. I hope the Hurricane strikes big at least once from here.