October 31, 2017
I haven’t really thought about much regarding my role as a pace-bowling allrounder who can open the batting. But I could certainly play a similar position to what the late Eddie Barlow did for South Africa (he was an obdurate opening batsman and an aggressive medium pacer). Archie was hinting that he may be inclined to use me at any stage of the innings, which will be a tricky thing to manage if we are about to chase shortly.
My aim today at training was to try to steadily accelerate through my run-up, which can help generate a bit of extra pace. But first, I decided to brush up my close-in catching ability with Matty Andrews. I was trying to watch Matty at close range to check his positioning and how he’s taking the catches (mainly for ideas of how I could improve myself). When it came to my turn, I was pretty happy with how I caught them, although I had been advised not to premeditate your movements just in case the ball goes in a different direction than expected.
I continued to bowl from 12 paces (the run-up from Saturday), and I was able to generate some late movement most of the time. My late swing caught a few on the hop, notably Vasu Patel, Tom Carmody, Khurram Awan, Albab Masud, and, in particular, Dan Leggett, who I dismissed thrice. No wonder Brendos was telling me that I should show off a hit list of every single higher grade batter I dismissed in the nets. After all, if I can get them out, then the 6th graders probably have no hope against me (provided I get it right).
I had a chance to bat too. I was again pretty happy how I hit them. I was focusing on the top hand with minimal support from the bottom one (just two fingers on the handle). I found timing and power as well as finesse when gliding the spinners into the third-man region (need to be mindful though of the presence of any close infielders). I was pretty pleased, though, when I straight drove Kumar Jeyakkumar Jnr, which probably was the first time I played a straight drive in my life. This certainly will bode well for me because the grip will allow me to show intent. Hence it’s a matter of for me to remember the grip and check it after every single ball.
November 2, 2017
I intended to work on my grip and, of course, my bowling run-up today at training. However, I had to also pick Neethu up from Barton at around 6.45pm today which meant, I probably wouldn’t have much time to bat and bowl (considering the 20 min drive from home).
Instead, I managed to work on my bowling at the Franklin nets. Firstly on my own before a group of Indians (Telugu speaking I suspect) were going to be using the nets for their private practice. To their credit, they allowed me to stay on and bowl to them, which is good; otherwise, it would be a pity to leave after a short while. I will be grateful for their generosity because I bowled myself back into form.
First of all, I managed to get consistent out-swing and managed to beat the bat most of the time. I also occasionally tried some variation whenever I see that the batters were hitting big shots. I found it easier though to land my slower balls than my off-cutter, but in saying so, if I work on it later on in the season, then I can at least be able to confidently pitch it in the right area most of the time.
Later on, when I pulled the shoulders back before commencing my delivery stride, I found that I was able to bowl consistent heavy-balls that swung and bounce. The key, though is the right length. Probably on synthetic, the wickets are very bouncy, but batsmen are more likely to stand and deliver on the back-foot more often than now. But perhaps on turf, those heavy-balls would be at least potent as the wickets don’t usually bounce as much, but if they do, I would have to adjust to make the batsmen drive. But I’m pretty happy with what I saw because I probably haven’t bowled as well so far in the season and the only time I bowled such heavy balls was back in Southern Cricket.
Yesterday, it was my birthday, though. Pretty happy about the celebrations and the gift, although we will be spending Saturday night on the Foreshore with a few friends. If there was a wish, it would be to better my best, preferably with both and ball (hopefully even score at least a 50). Currently, my highest score was 14, and the best bowling is still 5/18 (both against Wests-UC at Keith Tournier Oval last season). I suppose, though, I’ll be happy if I achieve my best with the bat and still did reasonably well with the ball in hand.
November 4, 2017
I’ve arrived at the ground after 12pm since we have new furniture delivered for our new place in Harrison. The pitch was simply like the one we played on 2 weeks ago, and it would have been good for batting. Unfortunately, Archie lost the toss, and we were fielding. To make matters slightly worse, Sajid Khan pulled out due to personal reasons, and Khurram Awan also pulled out. So we only have ten. Hence, we had to be on our game again to win with limited resources.
The Northies openers Madnure and Hadman got them off to a flyer, but pressure bowling from Lindsay Thompson, Dom Ross, and Andy Brains resulted in Hardman nicking off to give the breakthrough to Andy. I came on from Lindsay’s end and immediately found some rhythm and out-swing and was finding the edge from time to time. In my third over, I found a top edge from Madnure, which was easily snaffled by Aqib Khan, and by the time drinks came round, I had 1/12 from 5 overs, and my follow-through was right up the batsmen after each delivery (much to everyone’s delight). Mind you, I don’t think I had ever followed through this much (I reckon Luke would have been pretty rapt when I tell him so). They were 2/73 on a belter of a pitch with a fast outfield. It means that we bowled pretty well, and it was vital that we continue that stranglehold.
We managed to do more than that. Straight away after drinks, my out-swinger hit the top of off to dismiss Ashrikandy, and then in my final over, I managed to claim a caught and bowled against Spencer, which was eventually given by square leg. I had bowed out with figures of 9-3-23-3 and had been able to beat the bat with my out-swing most of the time. I feel I bowled better than I did last week, and I certainly had put my previous bad experience at the ground to rest.
From 4 for 95 when I finished, we bowled out Northies for 138 in the 40th over. Andy Brains cleaned up the tail with 4/41 from his 9 overs, and Aqib chipped in with 2/17 from his 5. He could have had a wicket first ball, but he overstepped, but he managed to knock over their top scorer Ravi Shankar (not the famous musician) who made 72.
To keep them down to 138 on a flat wicket with a fast outfield was very impressive (considering Archie thought that this was a 220+ wicket). Now it was a matter of chasing down the runs. I opened as expected, but with no Kashif Khan who had work, I opened with Shen Stevens. Unfortunately, out fourth ball caught second slip by Ravi Shankar for a duck. Looking back, I probably failed to get my head over the ball, so I was disappointed to get out cheaply immediately. Shen was dismissed soon after, and we were quickly 2/9.
But we weren’t too worried. Both Aqib and Dan Stiller were in full flight as they were smoking their shots. Aqib on the ground and Dan in the air. They added 73, but Aqib was run out for 39. Aqib became a useful allrounder in this game and had proven his worth with both bat and ball. Dan later made his second fifty in three games and added 46 with Brandon Edgerton. However, both batters were dismissed on 128. Dan was caught out for 57, and Brandon was caught out for 18. Soon after, Lindsay smashed the winning runs, and we won by 5 wickets with 20 overs to spare.
There was little doubt that Archie was over the moon. He badly wanted to beat his former club, and he managed to do so. We now have three wins from four matches (the exception being a 1 run defeat), and we are off to a good start, but perhaps with our best cricket to come (once we inherit some talented cricketers).
I am personally disappointed not to be playing next week as I’ll be busy moving residence. But I also see a Catch-22 situation as such breaks can also allow niggling injuries (especially in the legs) to heal.