February 2, 2018
I finally did it. I managed to break through into the 4th-grade side, especially in 2-day cricket, which really suits my style of play. Also, it allows me the opportunity to assess myself against tougher opposition and attend to areas that will need further work.
It was merely a case of motivational too. I didn’t want to stagnate by just playing one-day cricket. I wanted to test myself out in 2-day cricket, having not played a single game in the format since my very first game of the club 2 years ago.
Although at training yesterday, I was able to bowl reasonably well and got the ball to move a bit, I was expending energy through my arms, which is actually causing me to slow down (or stay at the steady pace) instead of accelerating through the crease. This was caused by my poor running form since I was pumping the arms up and down from the hip. That could perhaps explain why I was struggling to run at 15 km/h on the treadmill on Tuesday evening across 4, then 3-minute intervals.
However, I went back to an old YouTube video from Southern Cricket to try and solve the problem. Their version of pumping the arms was basically brushing the arms against the side. So I decided to try it out in the nets tonight, and it just clicked. That approach helped me to run faster and deliver the ball with more pace without much energy loss. Furthermore, it made my stock out-swinger more potent with the extra bounce.
I just felt good all of a sudden, and it was perfect timing with the 2-dayer coming right up. For good measure, I managed to get a few in-swingers to go, but it seems to me that I should use it sparingly (the same will go for my slower deliveries too) more so depending on what the batsman is doing.
At this phase, I’m one of the six seamers available (the others being Duncan Gammage, Luke Snowie, Jared Mathie, Lachie Reid, and Harry Chittick). As it appeared, Luke Snowie will only be available on Saturday. For that particular reason and with Saturday going to be cooler than Sunday, it would be a good idea to win the toss and try to bowl out our cross-town rivals in Wests-UC.
Personally, I am not fazed by the challenge, as I wanted the opportunity for some time. I suppose missing out on the last 2-day fixture as I was unavailable on the Australia Day weekend thankfully did me no harm.
February 3, 2018
I couldn’t get much sleep last night. I woke up at 6.30, having slept at 11.30 last night. I’m too excited and can’t wait to get playing today, perform, and hopefully keep my spot for the rest of the season. I’m grateful for the opportunity as the better bowlers were absent for one reason or another. It helped that Neethu allowed me to spend the weekend playing this 2-dayer too; otherwise, the opportunity would never have come.
Although I woke up early, I managed to at least spend some time visualizing my all-round game. Starting with the bowling, I was thinking about my run-in, pumping the arms, my grip, and, of course, my variations and when I will be bowling them. Similarly, I was thinking about my batting: grip, stance, bent front elbow, backlift, when I start hinging the bat and deciding if a shot has to be played to the ball.
Having fueled myself up with a banana-coffee-chocolate smoothie with Muesli for breakfast, I was soon heading over to play at Kaleen. Upon arrival, the wicket had bouts of green patches, particularly a couple around a full of a length from one end. Again I was hoping we would field first since we only have Luke Snowie only for today.
In the meantime, president Griffo who was playing 4ths for us, was his commanding self as he got us to warm-up, stretch before we did some fielding while Joe went for the toss. It was good to warm up since there’s none of that sort from what I had experienced in 5ths and 6ths. Then again, the grades are different due to the standards. Unfortunately, we lost the toss, and we were batting.
Matty Bell perished in the third ball of the day before fifties from Dinesh Chovatiya, and Chris Mair settled us during the day even when the rains were settling in. Dinesh was his usually bulldozing self (and he got out that way. As people say, you live and die by the sword) while Chris relied on timing from his shots to score runs. Dinesh made 55, and Chris made 66, his first in 22 years (as he says).
Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep up the excellent work, and we were bundled out for 193 in 62 overs. I managed to bat last and hung around with Luke Snowie for 6 overs before missing an in-swinger and was out LBW. Going out there to bat, I again was aware of the set up from the lower grades. I was facing quicker bowlers, but I still managed to score when the opportunity presented itself. I made 6 and faced about 20 odd balls that didn’t go unnoticed by the likes of Joe and Chris Mair in a positive way.
Ideally, we would have liked to score at least 220, but we have 15 overs to bowl at the Wests, and I was personally hoping Luke Snowie would bowl half the overs considering his absence due to work tomorrow, which he managed to do. Before we went out to the field, the senior players encouraged us to put in a full effort and always keep chirping. Griffo was specifying the needs for the basics and hard work. If we put in the hard work, we will win. As most of the dismissals were bowled and LBW, Joe and Chris Mair asked us bowlers to attack the stumps on a good length.
While I was keen to get into the action, Joe asked me to stay off the field since we had 12. I didn’t mind it having batted last and was tired. I could have retreated to the change room, but I instead stayed on the boundary edge and tried to make my presence felt through my encouragement.
After six fruitless overs, Luke Snowie stuck twice in three balls. He clean-up Aaron Eardley before trapping Hollingsworth LBW. He finished with 2/16 off 8 overs to go with his unbeaten 32 from number 9. From the other end, Duncan Gammage struggled a little through his four overs as he was a bit short. He was soon replaced by Dinesh (our own Rangana Herath/Ravindra Jadeja), who struck in his second over trapping Shahnawaz Rasheed LBW.
So Wests-UC were 3/39 after those 15 overs, and we were back into the contest with possibly a winning opportunity tomorrow. I wasn’t too sure what was going on in the huddle out in the middle, but when the guys came in, Griffo acknowledged my support and chirp from the sidelines, which spurred him on in particular since the Wests-UC batsmen were taking easy cheap singles on his arm.
February 4, 2018
Yesterday Joe told me that I was to open the bowling tomorrow, which made the visualization process a lot easier this morning. My plan was simple. Try to make the batsmen play and use the variations sparingly depending on how the batsman’s going. Since I’m aware that we have plenty of bowling options, I knew that I would have four or five overs upfront to make an impact. Make it count, then Joe would be persuaded to keep me on for longer like he previously did when I managed to bowl 8-9 in one-stretch a few times last season.
I took the second over of the day as Lachie Reid took the first over and bowled a maiden. I was bowling to Allen Xu, who was not-out overnight. My first ball was way down leg-side, which would have been wide in one-day cricket. My second ball was again down the leg-side. Then, my next delivery was on the pads, only for Allen to flick it straight to Jared Mathie. Lachie bowled Whitelum in the next over, and soon, I knocked over Connor McFayden with an out-swinger that pitched middle and hit the top of off. It was 6 for 52.
While I was generating out-swing and some occasional bounce off a good length, I wasn’t able to take wickets since I was tiring, but I was keeping it tight and building pressure. I had bowled seven consecutive overs and had figures of 2 for 6 (with 4 maidens). Soon after, Dinesh ripped through the tail and finished with 5 for 22. Wests-UC were bowled out for 76, giving us an 117 run lead. So we decided to follow-on as they were short of the follow on mark, which was 83. To take 7 wickets on this pitch in a session was a great effort.
When we started our second innings effort to win outright, we had 30 minutes until tea. We were all in the field ready to go (including the openers Xu and Hollingsworth), but there was one problem. We had no cricket ball (we asked, “where’s the ball?”), and it was hilarious that our captain Joe forgot to bring it out to play. Unfortunately, that period wasn’t right for us, and they were 0/22 at tea.
Dinesh was brought on immediately after the resumption and struck quickly. Hollingsworth (who forgot his bat initially) dragged a drive onto his stumps. Harry Chittick came on next over and was off after 2 overs. He had cramp. Poor Harry, only three overs and now calf cramp to rub it in. Hopefully, the young lad is ok.
Dinesh bowled two overs and switched over to Harry’s end. So, Chris Mair was given a crack with his left-arm wrist-spin. He got a few to turn but was hit around and leaking runs, so I got another go. I didn’t start well either as I got pulled away by Whitelum for 2, but I was soon back to my restrictive best. Meanwhile, Dinesh struck again by trapping Shahnawaz Rasheed LBW for the 2nd time in the match. I soon had an LBW off my own on the fourth ball of my third over. Although I was reluctant to try it in the game, I decided to try to bowl an in-swinger. It did swing in, and it hit Whitelum on the boot on the full, and he was given out.
It was my only wicket in the second innings as I continued to keep it tight. I had bowled five consecutive overs and had figures of 1 for 4 (with 2 maidens). As it appeared, I never bowled again in the day. Wests-UC, after the initial setback through Dinesh and myself, they defied us for a while, which made us go flat. Joe and Dinesh struck soon after the stubborn resistance, but it was too little too late since Allen Xu batted through the innings to post 56 not out. They finished with 5 for 112 when Joe decided to finish 7 overs early.
We were disappointed that we were unable to win outright, but a win is a win, and we should be happy to beat our cross-town rivals. I am glad I played my part with the bat and ball and with the chat. I finished with the day’s figures of 12 overs, 6 maidens, 3 wickets for 10 runs. I was happy that I have performed in a higher grade, and while I hope I can retain my spot in 4ths moving forward, I am so glad that I have some exposure in the higher grades, which I could build on in the higher grades.