November 5, 2018
I had spent a week off from cricket trying to regain the fitness that was lost due to illness. Lifting reasonably, heavy weights were not an issue, but running at 80% intensity was. I managed to keep up with the intensity, but I needed to catch my breath after each run. The annoying thing is that it would take some time to get over a severe illness from a couple of weeks ago, but there are some encouraging signs. I was raring to go to training today, but with my sister-in-law dropping down to exchange some food after work made me change my plans. Fortunately, my old coach Dr. Masud Rahman agreed to help me out at the local nets with my batting/bowling. In a way, it would have been good to spend some private time with a coach instead of attending club training as I would have ample opportunity to work on both my batting and bowling.
On the game front, there could be a strong possibility of having to play on Synthetic wickets in 5th grade, which is something that I’m not really fond of. This is because the usual 5th-grade Turf wickets are being used in higher grades. I like playing on Turf since the wickets can be unpredictable, and it rewards for proper cricket. There has been some talk about moving our club’s 5th-grade matches against both of the Eastlake teams so that we play on Turf on Sunday but nothing yet.
Anyways, back to Masud. We spent the evening working on my game plans against spin, trying to play as straight as possible while opening the face to in-front of square. It was tricky against the sharp turning spin, but as Masud says, I need more practice against it to keep getting better. Nevertheless, as long as I can judge the flight of the ball from the bowler’s hand, then it should be easy for me to be decisive. I need to regain the daringness of my play: think of last season when I came down the wicket to the left-arm spin of Martin from Queanbeyan immediately and even hit him over the top for two next ball or even when I charged both Albrecht and Armstrong and hit them for boundaries during my grade best of 47.
November 8, 2018
I eventually managed to get some bowling done before the sun was out after spending the whole of Monday batting. I started with the run-up from my last game of a fortnight ago and even tried to add a bit of speed to it. Pretty impressive of four paces. I spent four overs bowling from this run-up bowling to imaginary right and left-handed batsmen, ensuring that my front-arm effectively controls the direction of where I would pitch the ball to move. I even tried the three-card trick that Malcolm Marshall applied to dismiss Mark Waugh in a Benson and Hedges Semi-final match between Hampshire and Essex back in 1992 (reference in Mark Nicholas’ book on Cricket, A Beautiful Game) with decent success as long as I again put the ball in the right areas. Having successfully bowled reasonably fast from a four-step run-up, I moved to six as I was still feeling good and not tired. It took a bit of an adjustment of my length, but the results were always the same after two overs of bowling. Good signs. At the start of the season, I was coming off eight paces, but a combination of cramps and then illness eventually left to a shortened run-up till now. It will be useful to return back to 8 paces, but given that I can still sprint through of a shorter run-up and perhaps my past history of cramp, I might stick to six paces for the rest of the season. Especially if I need the energy to contribute with both the bat and in the field even after bowling a full allotment of overs in a one-day/Twenty-20 or a decent amount of overs in a 2-day match. If whatever reason I suffer cramp or lack of control in a game, I can always revert back to the four-step run-up given the success I had against ANU White two weeks ago. In saying so, there’s no harm trying to increase my run-up gradually during the season, preferably when training on my own or when I’m in an exclusive one-on-one duel with a batter.
Anyways, returning back to the bowling session, it later got so dark that I couldn’t even remember my starting position, so I figured after bowling six overs overall, I decided to pack up and head home. I gained a lot from that session. Bowling quick from a short run-up (the sprint sessions may have helped) while getting to swing the bowling and hit my productive areas was a significant takeaway.
November 9, 2018
As confirmed that I’ll be in 5s this weekend on synthetic, but there’s little else we can do as not all Turf grounds are available (perhaps partly because the Women’s competition moved to Saturdays this season). Aside from that, I will be reuniting with my good mate Chris Arcella (rather than possibly opening the bowling again under Vasu Patel’s captaincy). Archie told me with Dom Ross and Gurjiv being away, my bowling will come in handy to support Luke Snowie, Lindsay Thompson, and Andy Brains. Plus, with the batting performances not being up to scratch so far, I could very well provide some solidarity. I’m willing to open the batting. Go out there, knock it around and then take the spinners on before putting my feet up scoring before we go out to bowl (if we bat first that is). The Blue Demons from Eastlake will be a challenge for us considering how easily they chased down ANU Royal’s 200 at Deakin’s Synthetic pitch. Nevertheless, we will back ourselves to restrict them and get ourselves back into winning ways.
November 10, 2018
After driving around Ainsworth St, I managed to find the Phillip Synthetic Oval, which was next to the turf pitch. This oval itself was very skinny compared to a regular strip. For me, it was no issue trying to run through the crease close to the stumps, but if you consider somebody like Lindsay Thompson, who is a big bloke, he might struggle. Given how skinny the pitch was, it felt though that everything will be within every batter’s hitting zone. We lost the toss and had to bat, which is what Archie wanted to do anyway. Win-win. We started poorly, though. Zeeshan Aslam (our first new player) ran himself trying to go for a third; Jay Singh, having started brightly with a few boundaries, got a leading edge off Garth Davis’ off-cutters to slip. Then Dom Tran went for a single that was never on. At the other end, there was me witnessing the early carnage. I would have gone early, too, on four occasions. I attempted a pull off Nick Unger only to just sail over Davis’ head for a single. I then got dropped by the keeper Frost off Davis’ bowling before nearly becoming another run-out victim on two occasions. I was very subdued in the batting, especially against the left-arm spin off Fox. The old me would have shown some intent towards him, but there were three reasons for not showing that. First of all, the pitch had bounce, which I felt was suitable for more back foot play. Secondly, I haven’t had a proper bat all season apart from Monday, and also, the situation of the game dictated that we needed a partnership. If I lost my wicket trying to show intent and I got bowled, stumped, or caught, then it would have lead to disaster. Eventually, I caught down the leg-side off my glove as I tried to pull. I only made 12, and when I got out at the 11th over, we were 4 for 45. As it appeared, Andy Brains didn’t show up, but we managed to grab a couple of mates to help make up the numbers.
At drinks, our score moved to 7 for 103. Luke Snowie was smoking them until he got a jaffa from Declan Robinson on 41. Pitched middle, hit off, which would definitely made Dale Steyn proud. Shahnawaz Rasheed, our other import smoked one big six off Fox that landed in the next door oval. Massive hit that following a series of pushes and nudged. Tuk, Tuk, then Boom. Boy, even Misbah-Ul-Haq, would also be proud. Shah smashed another six as well together with two fours before he succumbed to both cramps and Robinson for 25. He never played a part in the game after that. But he at least helped get the floundering innings back on track allowing for Lindsay Thompson to take center stage. Thommo, having been twice dropped at cow-corner, went on to make a priceless 64, which lead us to a very good 202. Pity though we didn’t bat our full allocation of overs. It’s always a crime not to do that as we would be missing some valuable runs in those left-over deliveries.
The plan at the break was simple. Dot them up, build pressure, and let the wickets flow. Luke Snowie started following the script with a maiden. But we were soon in for a shock from the moment Swan top-edged a leg-side hoick for two as he soon started middling those hoicks to the leg-side. Both Snowie and Thommo (who dismissed Arthur caught behind by Archie) suffered his wrath. Hence, Archie tried Dom Tran. It nearly worked, but Jay Singh had the sun in his eyes and dropped a skier. That hurt because Dom soon suffered more punishment.
I soon had my turn at Snowie’s end in the 11th over. Given the pitch, I abandoned the six-step run-up and went on four steps. Swan tried attacking me too. My first ball was an inside edge past the stumps for two before his next hoick went to deep square leg to Dom Tran. Ok, easy single, but it went through his legs for four. I was fuming because he should have stopped that. After the game, Archie felt Dom did the right things, but it was just bad luck it went through. Swan got to his fifty. He tried another hoick though on the leg-side, but Snowie took a good catch at long-on. Out for 52 off 28. The damage he did was massive and left us with fewer runs to play with. Time to switch-on and fast.
Next over, I trapped Frost lbw. He went back rather than forward, and the ball was going to clip middle and leg. Two wickets in two overs. Doesn’t it get any better? I kept it tight and no further success as I got the bowl to move away appreciably, especially from Martin Boland. Unfortunately, I even dropped a flat ball hit by Fox off Jay’s bowling. I tried taking it to my right reverse cup, but in hindsight, I could have either got my face in the way (which may not be wise given what had happened in pre-season) or perhaps taken the ball like a high slips catch by pivoting to my right. They were ahead of the rate at drinks with the score on 3/126. The Swan assault was indeed massive, and they only need 77 runs.
I bowled out after drinks as Fox was in a smashing mood showing the form from the 71 ball 102 he made last weekend. He even smashed a straight six over my head, but I soon had the last laugh. Smashed a ball straight to ball to short cover and departed for 48. I eventually finished with 3 for 35 off my full allocation of eight overs. Good, come back after missing last week. Although Thommo dismissed both P Hillian (courtesy of a great catch by Michael Weston) and Frost, the Blue Demons chased down the runs in the 32 over. That hurt. We batted well, but we couldn’t defend it with the ball and in the field. No wonder Arch was disappointed, but there was progress.
Archie messaged me later that he was impressed with how much I progressed. Having pressed him to explain further, he told me that in the past, I was overthinking things and appeared hesitant with ball in hand. But today, he noticed that I seemed to be confident and had backed myself. It was also the case with the batting, as he felt I showed intent and intelligence at the same time. Earlier, he was far from impressed with me when I was fielding as he had his game face on. But he mellowed down and appreciated me. At least, I was back in his good books. He was hoping that I could play a crucial part in his team since he thinks I could do a job in the middle overs like I did today.