February 24, 2018
I felt good bowling the whole week at training as I was bowling faster than previous weeks while still generating out-swing and bounce. I managed to bowl to our selector Tom Carmody on Thursday night and gave him a good contest when he asked me to bowl a few overs at him at the end of the training session. Unfortunately, he got cleaned bowled off the last ball of the day not by me, but by our bearded wonder Matthew Boustow who having bowled a series of out-swingers to TC, he clean bowled him with an inducker that would have snuck through bat and pad to clip middle stump. Earlier in the week, he took the piss out of me when he used my last diary entry as a reason for dropping me into 5ths. I said to him later that I intended no malice against him and was just honest opinions. He took it light-heartedly and assured me that I’ll still be picked for 4ths. That’s how naive I can be, but even if TC was serious, I wouldn’t have minded being in 5ths for the rest of the season. Thankfully, a rare third consecutive 4th-grade appearance in 2-day cricket was very welcoming indeed.
The fact that I was able to run and bowl as fast as I could while trying to swing the ball all week was all down to a tweak in my running action with the arms which had been the case last week. I’m not trying to become a tearaway quick, but I am trying to add more potency to my ousting and bounce (and possibly so that I don’t have the keeper to stand up to me and of course, to try and beat the batsmen with pace). I think I bowled the equivalent of 15 overs over the two sessions, and I don’t think I was exhausted after each session.
Now it was time to back it up out in the center on Saturdays, but my opportunity would have to wait since Joe won the toss and elected to bat on a hot day. We didn’t get off to the best of starts. Umesh was trapped by a yorker first ball. Michael Galen-Mules, who started positively, tried to work one on the leg side only for the ball to hit the back off his bat and into the leg stump. TC, who received a jaffa first ball where the ball hit the glove which was dropped by second slip, was caught out at short mid-off. Matthew Bell played a needless swipe and was caught out at square leg. We were 4 for 31 after 10 overs, and Chakra, who could have been run-out trying to steal a bye, needed someone to stay with him.
Indeed, Chakra got support from Harry Chittick. They put on 69 for the fifth wicket by being positive in their run-scoring before Chakra was run-out on 48. However, Harry continued our resistance with an 80 run stand with Lachlan Reid. They both ran a lot of quick singles, 2s, and 3s, which brought our scoring rate to around 4 an over. I was told that we had to win outright to stay in the finals hunt, and this quick scoring was helping our cause. Harry eventually brought up his first grade fifty, but he fell on a tired stroke on 76. Lachy carried on until he got bowled for 38 when our score was 212. After a further two quick wickets, I was going out to bat at no. 11, considering the depth we have in our batting line-up in 4s.
I was facing Joel Armstrong, who picked up those two quick wickets with his off-spin. His first ball spun, and I worked it on the leg side and took a single to get off the mark. At the end of the same over, I played a cover-drive for two, which was risky as I was playing against the turn (considering Caleb Stevens was bowled trying to play a similar shot at the start of the over). In his next over, Armstrong bowled a long hop, and I smashed a pull shot away for four behind square before hitting a single in the same area on the next ball. I was on 8 and had been at the crease for a short while. Unfortunately, my eagerness to dominate Armstrong eventually got the better off me. He flighted his next ball to me, and I came down the wicket and got bowled. The instant feedback I got from Umesh was that I closed my face a little and could have played it straight, and I had also yorked myself. The intent was there, but the execution wasn’t yet. I already won a few fans in my own teammates who loved my cover drive and pull shot. I also was pretty pleased with the fact that I did better than some of my guys who batted higher than me, particularly Belly and TC, and people don’t really regard me as a serious batsman, haha.
We were bowled out for 239, having been 4 for 31. It was merely a case of Deja Vu for us like last weekend. A top-order collapse followed by a lower-order resistance.
As we were bowled out in the 61st over, we had 16 overs to bowl tonight with 3 overs lost for a changeover. I was hoping for a crack with the ball tonight, but Joe told me that I won’t be getting a chance. Caleb and groundsman Robbie McPherson opened up, and the Kippax 2 wicket was showing to be up and down in terms of bounce. Caleb was getting some to bounce at head height where one missed Wayne Lucerne’s nose, clipped Snowy’s gloves, and went for four byes. At the other end, Robbie was getting a few to shoot low. Probably the ball would have hit a few cracks on the wicket. I don’t really know.
Anyways, we got our only breakthrough for the day when Lucerne chopped on off Caleb’s bowling, and while Chakra and TC probed away with their finger spin, both Bilal Bhatti and Armstrong were defiant, and they finished with 1 for 37. We probably did well against the top-ranked team at the moment, but we need to firstly restrict them to under 139 and bowl them out quickly to give ourselves enough time to take another 10 wickets next weekend. At least we had a similar day to our 1st-grade side, who made 246. However, it wasn’t the case of the 2nds or 3rds. 2nds conceded 428 and had their captain Nick Owen go off the field momentarily due to a heat stroke.
To make matters worse. Jake Floros smashed an unbeaten 230 while former Southern Stars off-spinning allrounder Erin Osborne made 79. 3rds who were playing at Chisholm 2 (Eden Park according to TC) conceded 359 in 69 overs and are 2/68 in reply. In effect, it was a crazy day for the boys.
March 3, 2018
I had spent a whole week working on my bowling action since I was trying to generate pace to maximize my bounce and movement. I had spent most of my season at a medium pace, which probably resulted in keepers standing up to the stumps to prevent the batters from batting outside my crease. The disappointing thing was that while I was able to rediscover my Mojo on Wednesday and Friday, I wasn’t able to do so on Thursday since I was perhaps doing the wrong things in particular with my loading arm. Today, I wanted to make sure I was doing the right things with my action, so thankfully, I had some time to go to the nets to work on it for a short while before we got out to field.
Tuggeranong needed a further 203 runs with 9 wickets in hand to win, and while we still need to try and bowl out them twice to effect an outright win to keep our finals hopes alive. For that, we had to bowl them out by tea with at least a 100 run lead. Before we can do that, we observed a minute silence with the sad news regarding the passing of President Griffo’s mother, which I realized why we wore black armbands on the left sleeves of our shirts. It was great that Tuggeranong respected this sad moment by taking part in the minute silence with a couple of their players also wearing black armbands.
On the pitch, though, it was going to be tough going as the wicket was a road, and we had to bowl really well to win. We got off to a decent start with Harry and Caleb keeping it tight. Harry even took the first wicket of the day trapping Bilal Bhatti with a yorker with the score at 56. After that, we struggled to break through as Joel Armstrong, and Paul Ayers defiantly put on a century stand in almost 40 overs. Joel was the more attacking of the pair as he wasn’t afraid to hit over the top and through the field with such power. That partnership helped them avoid the follow on and effectively killed our chances of an outright. So we had to try and win the first innings instead.
After Harry and Caleb, Lachy Reid and Robbie had a go since the pitch actually had a bit of moisture, and the ball was still reasonably new. So I had to bide my time. At drinks, though, Joe asked me if I could come around the wicket to try and create some rough for Chakra to exploit for his off-spin, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea. So Joe comes on instead and tried to do that for three overs until I finally got my chance with an almost 40 overs old ball. While the ball was soft, it was still shiny on one side and rough at the other. After the first over, which went for 8, I had started to find my rhythm while generating some out-swing and bounce. I was pretty disappointed that I was taken off, but Joe assured me of a second spell sometime after tea. As it turned out, I never got the chance until the 80th over when the match was almost over.
I ended up having to bide my time as Chakra, Joe, Gary Stephenson, Caleb, and Matthew Bell had a crack with the ball in hand. Gary had broken the century stand, having Armstrong caught at long-on by Robbie before Caleb trapped Ayers LBW. They were about 4 for 180 odd, which brought us back in the game for a short time with two new batsmen at the crease but not for long as David O’Keefe and Ryan McCaughan took the team score past 200. Matty Bell ended up breaking that little partnership with a loopy full toss with missed Ryan McCaughan’s bat and hit the stumps. 5 for 205 at drinks.
I almost effected a run-out almost immediately when Sean McCaughan tucked around the corner, and I got a throw into Joe who was keeping as Snowy was going to bowl. Still, Joe took the bails off before the ball arrived and a chance to claim a second run-out which missed. I couldn’t believe it since O’Keefe was way out of his ground, and Joe didn’t realize that which was why he panicked in trying to remove the bails off quickly. Thankfully I managed to play a part in eliminating both batsmen soon after. I caught Sean McCaughan of Belly’s bowling. It was a simple chance with looped up to become a sitter, but with the ball slightly further away from me, I dived to take the catch. I had thought my chance of bowling was gone from the moment I took the catch, but thankfully, the game was still alive when I finally come back on.
By then, the ball had really lost its bite and became incredibly soft, but I was hoping I could still use my body to try and generate more bounce and movement, which I was able to do. My first ball to David O’Keefe swung in and hit him in front, but it was rightly given not out as the ball wasn’t going down leg but also O’Keefe got an inside edge. The next ball O’Keefe tried to pull, but the ball didn’t rise enough and was bowled. I finally got a wicket, my 17th for the season, and one that encouraged Joe to bring Caleb back for one last roll of the dice at the score of 7 for 234. But Caleb conceded a boundary of his previous ball when Richard Austin swung him away on the leg-side.
I was bowling with the scores level, but Sam Zaja swung me over the top to score the winning runs. So our season ended with a three-wicket defeat, but it could have been a lot worse for us.