December 9, 2017
Today I was very confident that I would be back to my bowling best after the last game. In the lead up to today, I was bowling reasonably quickly after shortening my run to fifteen paces while getting the ball to swing and bounce when it all came together. I found it to be more productive then my previous run-up, which I felt wouldn’t be difficult to consistently replicate in unfavorable temperatures.
I was looking forward to another week with Archie and the mob so we can smash Northies and sing our team song once more. Unfortunately, this morning, JP messaged me advising me of the withdrawals in 5ths and asked if I wanted to go up since they were short of pace bowlers. I’ve had a chat with Archie about this and found out that he was the one who was pushing my case. He was more concerned that I may not have a crack with the ball against a weakened Northies side given the bowling quality he had in Andy Brains, Dom Ross, Lindsay Thompson, and Jasper Strudwick.
I took the opportunity since I love to bowl. After all, I was hoping this would lead closer to potential two-day cricket action later in the season (in hopefully 4th grade) as ever since I joined Ginninderra, I have been able to provide competition to our higher grade batters and even got them out. Given that I was to only play once every 2 weeks between now and January, I would have to continuously perform in all formats and hope for some withdrawals in the higher grades for my chance to come.
My return to 5ths didn’t get quite off to a good start as I was hopelessly late to the match for the first time. I had been spending time cleaning up my balconies since we have an upcoming inspection by the real estate agent this Tuesday. Hence I had advised Adam O’Connor, the 5th-grade skipper, that I was going to be late and hope to arrive just after 12. However, there was a massive traffic Jam on Gungahlin Drive, which left me with no choice but to seek an alternate route in getting to the game hopefully before the first ball was bowled. I did manage to do that, but I had to get changed and apply sunscreen before going out.
Yesterday I had purchased some new clothing, and fortunately, it was ready for me to use the new shirt and pants combo that the club will use for red-ball cricket. It felt really nice and fitting on me. I was immediately onto the field after the 1st over. Soon after, Simon Edmonson struck when he found the edge, and Chakra with the gloves took a good catch. He struck again, having trapped their no. 3 LBW and when Duncan Gammage induced the edge off Mananjay Singh’s bat, which was again held by Chakra, they were 3 for 5.
Duncan bowled his 6 overs very tidily, and I replaced him. I was a little short of a gallop, perhaps because I didn’t have my usual drink before leaving to play as I was in a rush to arrive at the ground. Rather than bowl at the pace I was at training, I consciously decided to gradually try to build up a rhythm while attempting to get the ball to swing.
I was able to do a job for Adam, which was to tie up an end. I even managed to beat the bat with swing quite a few times and nearly had a wicket when the ball just landed in front of Duncan at mid-off. But success was not far away. I had struck on the fourth ball of my fifth over. I bowled a yorker, the batter missed it thoroughly (perhaps trying to hoick me to cow corner), and I rattled the stumps. I broke through finally, and to everyone, I really deserved it. It felt good.
What was sweeter was that I managed to strike again on the last ball of my next over. Having been blocked out for the first five deliveries with drinks fast approaching, I decided to gamble with a slower ball to try to buy a wicket, which I did. The batsman went for a swipe (perhaps again to cow corner), and leg stump was tilted back. It was 6 for 44 at drinks, and I had 2 for 18 off six straight overs. I was back to my bowling best, albeit at a reduced pace.
Much to my disappointment, I was taken out of the attack since Adam wanted to give the likes of Aqib Khan, Kashif Khan, and Khurram Awan a go with the ball. I was hopeful that I would be back bowling later in the end, but it never worked out that way. It was initially thought that it was a good idea when Aqib again kept it tight and struck when he removed their no. 7 courtesy of another catch by Chakra but this time at short mid-wicket. Adam had been bowling his left-arm spin today as a result of his calf injury from two weeks ago. He was turning it, which never surprised me since I knew he could bowl a decent off-cutter at a quicker pace. I managed to at least reward him with a wicket when I took a slight easy catch to dismiss their other opener who was steading the innings.
All that practice at training recently when I caught almost everything came to fruition. I was fielding at a deepish wide mid-on when I had to run and move to my left to take the catch around my eyes. Adam was happy since I finally managed to catch one of his bowling, having dropped similar chances last season. Now it was just a matter of catching another two chances at least to fully make it up!
I was slightly disappointed that I never got the chance to complete my nine overs when Tuggeranong recovered well to post 7 for 139 off their 45 overs, but perhaps he may have done me a favor since he then asked me to open the innings with Chakra. I was instructed to bat through the innings but also while looking for singles. It was a simple game plan since I knew Chakra will tee off almost immediately from the first ball. All I have to do is take the singles and watch Chakra unload.
Again I was anxious when going out to bat. I had prodded the third over of the chase, and I was still on zero. However, I decided to start humming/whistling a song that I was going to sing in India for a function on the day before my brother’s wedding. I had recently was going through the Peak Performance Program run by former professional cricketers Tom Scollay and Simon Keen (from Cricket Mentoring), and they recommended this approach as it should be able to relax you when you’re batting or bowling.
It started to work when I was on strike in the next over. The first ball I tried the approach and I crunched a cover drive straight to the fielder. The next ball, the last of the over, I crunched a pull shot, again it went to the fielder, but it actually went through him to the boundary for four. I was off the mark in a confident matter. It felt good, and Chakra and I took 9 runs off the over.
But the approach perhaps left me unstuck. I again crunched a cover drive, but the next ball I skewed a square drive where point took a good tumbling catch. I was out cheaply for four much to my disappointment, and also for Adam too, thinking I might be able to bat through. I simply had no words. Little I know, though, we were in for a massive collapse.
We had crashed to 6 for 54. Chakra made 19, Srikanth Nelapatra 9, Aqib 15, and Kashif and Khurram for ducks. They were running riot, and they wanted to continue past drinks to try and finish the game as we had only nine players. But Adam and Duncan fought hard to defy them, and they added 37 before Duncan was bowled playing across the line for 15. Soon after, it was all over when Simon missed a straight one and was bowled for a duck. We were all out for 93 and lost by 46 runs. It was the second time that 5ths lost to Tuggeranong this season in Conder.
Adam was downbeat but calm in defeat. To his credit, he finished 18, not out with an already torn calf muscle. He knew we were struggling for numbers, having had a couple of pullouts at the last minute, and I really liked his level of understanding when I told him in advance that I was running late to play. He was grateful that I was able to come and play for him.
It would have been nice to come and play next week, but I will be off to India instead. I won’t be able to play until the 13th of January. Nevertheless, all I can do is check my Facebook from time to time to see how the boys are going with cricket.
I hope to be at my best when I can steam in like I did in practice and bowl in the match itself. I realize that the humming/whistling of a song will be a useful mental practice moving forward, which I should seriously practice in the nets and ensure that I could still make good decisions.
So far, I got a promotion to 5ths. Let’s hope it’s a positive step towards two-day action.