Ginninderra had an outstanding season in which all grades were competitive. It was an expectation coach Mick Delaney had for the 1st-grade side at least, but at least the first four grades were into the semi-finals. Both the 1sts and 3rds took part in both the one-day and two-day semi-finals (1sts played across 3 days) while 2nds took part in the two-day semi-final and 4ths took part in the one-day semi-final.
The work which was done from the off-season in August has paid off in a big way. We focused on skills before being gradually challenged through the use of scenarios, which is essential; otherwise, how can we execute our skills in matches. More importantly, it wasn’t just the coach driving the sessions; the seniors in the higher grades pitched in, which meant an attitude of “we’re all in this together.” That would have certainly helped several of our guys when they were moving up and down the grades and had done reasonably well.
The club’s tag of being the most sociable cricket club in the ACT Premier Cricket competition was justified, which probably helped in our performances. To date this season, we had the iPod Shuffle Night and the Christmas Party with the end of season Presentation Night to come.
While the top 4 grades at least had semi-final action, it wasn’t the case with the 5th-grade side. We were on track at the start of December to continue our excellent work and head to the semi-finals, but we faded away like Rajasthan Royals (a currently defunct IPL side) done a few times. Apart from the weather (rain and scorching sun), we lost three games that we should have won. Tuggeranong beat us, having bowled us out for about 120. Eastlake then chased down 189, and then ANU put on a better all-round show than us.
I think Chris Arcella may have pinned the nail on the head a little too late after we lost to ANU. He indicated that we haven’t entirely played as a team. Although it’s a bit tricky with people coming in and out of the side, Archie felt it would be nice to have a few regulars in 5ths who can reinforce the need to play as a team. Celebrating individual successes while encouraging each other even if we stuff up. It’s essential in any outfit that we avoid the use of negative words like “don’t” because it brings anxiety to the person, and it triggers a negative mindset. Some of us had already done so throughout the season, but if we all do it as a team every game, then all of our opponents will be up against a team and will have to play really well to take us down.
Sandeep Kumar was our leading run-scorer having past 200 runs for the season where he could have got 50s against Eastlake but instead fell really close to those milestones. Sammy Gautam was consistent in making double-figure scores for us in his 1st season of grade after a nervous start with 2 runs in his first 3 hits. He indeed showed glimpses of Virender Sehwag in his approach, and while he wanted to bat longer, he shouldn’t lose his natural flair. Those two have been making runs consistently for us, as was Michael Ison whenever he was available for us. Michael was one of the only half-centurions for us this season, which probably explains our batting didn’t have any standouts.
The Bowling was undoubtedly our stronger suit throughout the season as we had three bowlers who were at some stage within the top 10 in wicket-taking in Adam O’Connor, Joe Laria, and myself. Both Adam and Joe were our joint leading wicket-takers with 20 as their hit the deck approach with their variety proved to be very useful. We had other bowlers supporting us through every week, and they either did a decent holding job or had taken wickets.
Our youngsters/Colts players have certainty tried to hold their own during the season with bat and ball and had undoubtedly contributed to a win or two. Vishal Suresh, Sam Anavatti, and Blake Nitschke have played some crucial knocks for us with the bat in hand, which was critical. On the bowling front, both Thomas Ison and Duncan Gammage have contributed significantly with the ball in hand, and they certainly have the know-how of what to bowl. They all have an opportunity to get better and go up the grades, which will be useful for us moving forward.
Ultimately, more will be discussed on how I went personally. Caleb Stevens had already asked me just recently on Facebook on how I thought I went in my first full season in Grade cricket. So here’s the quantitive and qualitative analysis of my season.
As I have mentioned numerous times, my long-term goal is to play 100 games, take 100 wickets and score 1000 runs in grade cricket by the age of 40 or so. Hence, I have about 10-15 years to achieve the three milestones. If we do the breakdown, then I need to (on average) play at 7-10 games, score 70-100 runs and take 7-10 wickets.
Let’s see how I’m progressing towards these targets:
- Play 7-10 games. Achieved (2 games in 4ths and 12 games in 5ths make 14 games)
- Score 70-100 runs. Did not achieve (15 runs in 4ths and 25 runs in 5ths gives 40 runs)
- Take 7-10 wickets. Achieved (1 wicket in 4ths and 14 wickets in 5ths gives 13 wickets)
So, I’ve met the target for both the games and the wickets but not the runs. I didn’t get much opportunity throughout the season to show my capabilities with the bat. Nevertheless, I had felt I had revealed what I could do with the bat, but there were a couple of times where I would have been disappointed not to make more runs. The two consecutive matches against Wests-UC were the only times I should have felt I should have made more runs, given that I had spent a good time at the wicket only to play loose shots and get out.
The bowling though, it’s on another plane. Considering this is my first full season ever in grade cricket, to achieve your goal of taking 10 wickets in the season is a significant achievement. Furthermore, at this stage, I had been at one point, the leading wicket-taker for our 5th-grade side with 12 and was third of the 5th-grade competition and within the top 10 wicket-takers for the club. Of course, I went down the pecking order of these wicket-takers list courtesy of the matches missed due to the weather, among other priorities.
These are my performances to date:
- 1/24 (6 overs) against Western Districts & University of Canberra (won)
- 2/14 (9) against Tuggerangong (won)
- 0/32 (9) against North Canberra Gungahlin (lost)
- 1/30 (9) against Weston Creek Molonglo (lost)
- 0/23 (6) against Queanbeyan (lost)
- 1/20 (9) against Eastlake (won)
- 2/36 (7) against ANU (won)
- 5/18 (8.5) against Western Districts & University of Canberra (won)
- 1/21 (4) against Western Districts & University of Canberra (lost)
- 1/18 (8) against Queanbeyan (lost)
- 1/19 (9) against ANU (lost)
- 0/32 (9) against North Canberra Gungahlin (lost)
Overall I’ve taken 15 wickets @ 19.13 with Econ 3.06 and SR 37.5. I’ve started well, but the wickets sadly dried out after my five-wicket haul. Nevertheless, I’ll be happy with these stats as it shows that I’m a genuine wicket-taker and can keep the runs down at the same time.
However, what if I then combine my performances in wins and losses
- 11 wickets @ 10.18 with Econ 2.81 and SR 21.72 in wins
- 4 wickets @ 43.75 with Econ 3.24 and SR 81.00 in losses
This does imply that the success of my team depends on me to a certain extent. When we win, I’m more penetrative and can keep the runs down. However, in defeats, I’ve managed to keep the batsman in check without dismissing them. I’m at least keeping it tight. Nevertheless, I felt I’ve haven’t bowled too badly in these situations when you provoke plays and misses and chances that don’t go your way.
I don’t think there’s much to say about the batting, to be honest, as I only batted four times all season. I’ve made scores of 9 (with 1 four) against ANU, 14 (1 four) & 6 against Wests-UC and 11 not out (1 four) against Norths to give me 40 runs @ 13.33 with 3 fours. For someone who hardly batted all season, I think I did all right. Nothing else needs to be said there.
I had mentioned numerous times throughout the season that the work I had been doing with Southern Cricket Academy in Perth in the past had played a significant part in my bowling success. The focus was on using the body to generate bouncy out-swingers, which certainly suited the wickets here in Canberra.
The fitness work I did since Easter in 2016 to help implement this technique had paid off big time. Losing about 10 kilos in time for the pre-season as well maintaining the weight throughout the season allowed me to bowl long spells in both nets and matches (where my spells lasted at least 5-6 overs). Whatever the pace I was bowling on those times, I was able to still beat the bat and keep it tight most of the time. In matches, I had managed to bowl my full quota of nine overs on five occasions in which I opened the bowling.
I am quite happy with how my first full season of grade cricket went. I’ve had experience in knowing what length to bowl on the turf wickets with a 4 piece ball. I had experience in bowling with the new and old, red, and white balls. So I no longer consider myself a novice/rookie. I’ve already won favor with a few captains who want me in my side, and several people have commented that I have the capability of playing at least 4th grade this season.
Am I capable enough of stepping up in the higher grades to consistently play one-day white ball and two-day red-ball cricket soon? Yes, I think so, and I think I would really like to play two-day cricket more so for my batting, which is generally more focused on batting for time than scoring runs. But I may need to think positively when scoring runs particularly against the spinners in matches as I had always been looking to use my feet. Basically, I need to overcome the fear of failure and just score runs. I would like to still take my time to get runs under my belt before teeing off (often at the captain’s request), which I’m confident I can pull off. Besides, my judgment of singles needs to be perfect. What happened in my last innings of the season was unfortunate, but perhaps I should make sure I can get the ball into a safe gap first. It would be difficult to practice this unless I play some social matches during the off-season. Hence I would need to use my bad experiences to get better at this aspect.
Throughout the season, I had been bowling to literally players across all grades at training. When I had got it right, I felt I had their number, particularly those batters who play in our first three grades. I had rattled their stumps, beat their edges, and even nicking them off at times whenever I could bowl the bouncy out-swingers. When I didn’t, I was easy pickings. However, there’s a lot to like about the good stuff because I believe I have the potential to succeed in higher grades as a bowler alone. I can decipher why I couldn’t do it consistently, and that was because I had been bowling with sore muscles courtesy of the weight-training I do as if it’s the off-season. I can’t do that. I have to instead focus on maintenance, which I will keep in mind when next season comes around.
Another aspect I do have to really continuously work on is my fielding. My ground fielding is my most substantial aspect, though, and had saved runs in the field on occasions that earned the praise of my 5th-grade skippers. But my catching had been woeful where I had dropped every single chance that came to me. I have been putting in the hard work at training with some help from our 3rd-grade skipper Matty Andrews, and it will have to continue for a while yet. I would have to compromise with my love for the ball to work on my catching, and it was something I would be willing to do.
Hopefully, if I do everything I could and keep up the excellent work in my fitness, then the higher grades may be calling. I would ideally like to bowl at least 5 overs in a one-day match and 10 overs in a 2-day game, but there could be some weeks that I may have to play as a batsman. That’s fine as long I bat reasonably high up the order. Otherwise, I will be happy playing the lower grades as a bowler who can bat a bit. But I think I should look to become a decent all-rounder.
Stats to date
15 matches, 8 innings, 4 not outs, 53 runs, highest score of 14, average of 13.25, hit 3 fours
15 matches, 13 innings, 587 balls, 304 runs, 15 wickets, best bowling of 5/18, average of 20.27, economy of 3.11, strike rate of 39.1, taken 1 five wicket haul.