November 19, 2018
Even on Saturday, I was losing energy and coughing from time to time. My illness much to my annoyance has been troublesome for that last month, but I still gambled and played three matches during this time and had reasonable success except for Saturday. As my energy had been compromised due to the illness, I had been avoiding training worried that the intense fielding circuit would have got me in serious trouble and perhaps sideline me for much of the season, which isn’t what I wanted.
Having a week off from cricket since I’m off to Melbourne to watch the Indians perhaps expecting to roll the Aussies will probably allow me to hope again regain my fitness with the hope the illness finally goes away. It will not trouble me again for some time this season.
I had thought about my bowling since a rare bad day on Saturday and did come to the conclusion that my loading hand before delivery was a bit low, which was why I had been overpitching a bit and conceded boundaries. I had to get it higher, and while I’m at, I better off looking at increasing my run-up and developing a proper rhythm that allows me to gradually increase my pace.
Today was a great day to get some bowling done, but I need to find a net before it gets taken. Armed with two new 4-piece cricket balls donated by a good friend of mine, I managed to find a spare net in Franklin. I had decided for now to abandon my desire for pace and focus on hitting my lengths after my performance on Saturday. I again started with a small run-up of 6 meters (4 paces) to focus on moving the ball of the seam and hitting the lengths which proved to be successful but only after I gave my self cues so that I can bowl my stock ball around the same spot again and again. I was generous since my lines were inconsistent, but there were outside the off stump. I had read across a couple of books that the late Richie Benaud had passed down advice to Shane Warne on the lines of “Bowl 6 leg-breaks on the same spot, it will take you three years”. The legend tells that it took Warney two years of achieving that, but a point had been made.
To hit the ball in the same spot for each ball in a single over requires endless practice. For me, it is all about getting both arms to work in sync together with my wrist position.
November 20 2018
Having revised my running technique, I attempted to get some more bowling done after work since the weather was perfect for a quick session. The emphasis was on the running technique and the cues to ensure that I can bowl the delivery in the same spot every ball in an over. It did not quite work out as I hope since I realize that I was bowling half-volleys despite landing the ball in the line of off-stump. Although I have been able to move the ball, I just realized that how I hold the ball will dictate the length, I would be bowling. It was indeed advice that I picked up before on a bowling tutorial by the late Clive Rice (who played alongside Richard Hadlee in Nottinghamshire between 1978 to 1987 and was part of Transvaal’s mean machine in the 80s before being instrumental in setting up Kevin Pietersen’s career while coaching Nottinghamshire). Based on that advice, I pushed the ball a little back further into my hand, which helped to successfully pull the length back slightly while hitting the same lines. Very good self-feedback, which helps to understand what I should be looking to correct if I miss my length.
November 26 2018
Having the weekend off enjoying the Melbourne journey by road, I returned to practice for the first time since my recovery from the ongoing illness. I arrived rather pretty early at about 4.40pm and immediately got bowling to TC, who is intending to make a comeback. Once again, we both had a decent battle, but it’s safe to say that neither of us won it given TC played some excellent shots, and I bowled some proper deliveries, which would have created half chances.
Before I could contemplate a session against the bowling machine, it was time to field. Again, we had to do the 30 catches before we ventured into the fielding session. First of all, we were split into two teams for the best of three, with the winning team deciding the punishment for the losers. First of all, the focus was more on clean pick up and throws to the person hitting them. Each team earned a point for each clean pick-up and throw, and a set is won once a team reaches 10 points first. My group lost the first but won the second. Then it moved to catches. Drop a catch; lose a point. Take a catch to earn a point. Unlike the first two sets, this one was more competitive since there were drops and catches galore. It was very tight at one stage at 8-8 or so, and then the hitters were conspiring together to perhaps make matters hard. They even deliberately hit catches in opposite directions when it between BT and the current club captain Rhys Healy but neither of them got around. But we were getting closer at 9-8 when it was soon my turn, and my opponent was Dylan Faram (quickly known as Clark Kent since he started wearing glasses). Again there was the conspiracy between Mick and Hatts who were hitting the catches before the critical chance. Mick hit me a sitter, which I accepted, but because Dylan got a chance that bounced, we had to go again. My next opportunity was a little harder, but I took it over my head while Dylan missed his. We won the best of three, having lost the first set. So the losers had to run a lap around the oval before we resumed more fielding drills before nets.
When I think about it further after training, the key for taking catches is keeping your eye on the ball. Sounds simple, doesn’t it, but that be the reason why my catching has ranged from hot to cold.
When we resumed nets, I was able to develop some good swing and bounce, unlike earlier since I didn’t really realize that the ball was reversing in the opposite direction to what I intended to do. It was why it took a while to get the ball to move in the intended direction once I worked the direction of the rough/shiny sides.
Mind you, it’s a lot easier to bowl to proper batsmen rather than those who continuously employ the leg-side hoick of constant frequency like Josh Benny. Bowling to him was a nightmare, but I realized if I take the pace off, I will fancy getting him out. I had been experimenting with the knuckle-ball, but I realized I need to disguise it better. I got lucky that day, but proper bats will notice any apparent changes and set up accordingly to negate me.
November 28, 2018
Although it was wet, I went for a bowl to perhaps make my run-up more efficient, having lost energy on Monday, and indeed the results were there. However, I had to still avoid twisting my back, which would have caused massive counter-rotations, but the truth was that the positions of my arms were the culprits since there is that obsession in trying to bowl straight and to get the ball to move away. What I find is that if my arms move straight while brushing my sides, I can at least avoid the back issues, which made it essential for my non-bowling hand to lead the way in hitting the areas. I couldn’t quite hit the same spot as I intended to do, but I, at least, as usual, kept it around the offside. The ball was coming out with more energy, and I had felt during the session I had regained my pace that was lost due to illness. I had announced to my captain in particular on Facebook that I’ve restored my wheels as Lovey likes to put it and am pumped for the weekend. Lovey asked if it meant he didn’t have to keep up the stumps. The answer was in the affirmative, but I mentioned that if he isn’t scared of losing some teeth, he is welcome to continue keeping up.
December 1, 2018
We lost the toss and had to bowl first. The ANU White openers started steadily against Luke Snowie and Dom Ross before laying into me when I came on first change. I was trying to bowl too quick, and I wasn’t able to hit the lengths as I like. To make matters worse, I missed a simple return from Luke Snowie in amongst a mix-up. I freaked out under pressure courtesy of Archie’s shout from behind, “Take it.” It reminded me of Phil Tufnell’s similar mishap back in 1990-91. It was funny seeing his stuff up, but it wasn’t when I was one stuffing up. I did manage to get the breakthrough. I got one to swing a leg-middle line and knocked out the middle stump as Lang tried to hit across the line. I should have dismissed the other opener in Whitehead as he skied a full toss only for me to miss the catch and hit my leg.
That hurt because Whitehead went on to make 118 out of a total of 6/181 at the end. I did come back a bit after that getting Burke to edge an out-swinger to Darren Walker at gully, and I finished with 2/40 off my full allocation of 8 overs. Given our usual sloppiness, we should have been chasing 200+, but Luke Snowie’s 4/17 at the end ensured we only had to chase 182 instead. He eventually dismissed Whitehead with Dom Tran taking an excellent running catch at long-on and in amongst his wickets; he even knocked over all three stumps in dismissing Boyce. That was a picture of destruction, and it’s not very often you see all three stumps knocked out the ground. I suppose though on synthetic wickets where the wickets are held together on sand that can be very dry at times, its likely to happen.
Archie was disappointed. If the catch was taken, we could have been chasing a much easier target than 182. But we had to bat well and bat the full 40 overs. Lovey and Cam Whitty gave us a much needed solid start. 76 in 17 overs before Whitty’s lofted drive landed at cover, and he was gone for 17. Just before the drinks break, Darren Walker tried a lofted shot as well and gifted a caught and bowled to Albrecht. We were 2/88 at drinks, and with Lovey having raised a maiden fifty for Ginninderra, we were well set with a long batting line-up.
Lovey was rolling along after drinks. Taking Albrecht for 20 off his over but he fell to the same bowler attempting to sweep, and the bottom edge was taken by Lang. Lovey out for 73, and we were 3 for 108. Jared Mathie and Duncan Gammage developed a partnership themselves by adding 34 for the fourth wicket, but both batsmen fell (as did Daniel Heinrich with a slightly twisted ankle) as the run-rate started to rise. Brenton Furze tried a lofted shot and hit it to cover. 7 for 154. 28 needed off 5 overs. We still got this.
Our hopes rested on Luke Snowie, who, by far, is our best batsmen. He bats like Glenn Maxwell but without the funk. We were hoping if he stays in with Archie, we can see it home. It even got tight once the equation become 15 off 2 overs. Archie started well by hitting Ganesan for four before taking a single. It was now at a run a ball. But soon it was a disaster. Snowie lofted Ganesan to long-on, and Dom Ross was bowled off a full-toss trying to slog. 9 for 173 with the last pair of Archie and Dom Tran to go for the last over. I wasn’t going to bat after all since the hitters we required. In saying so, I did suggest to Archie at the start that let us get off to a flyer and demote me for later. At the time, I was going to bat 8 or 9, but the increasing run-rate ensured it never materialized.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work either. We couldn’t get the runs, and to make matters worse, Dom Tran wandered out of his crease and got stumped. All out for 177.
That really hurt because we laid the platform at the start. But in Archie’s post-mortem, we played out too many dot-balls, which put the pressure on the tail to see us home. In saying so, we didn’t take our chances in the field, and we chased too many. The perfect performance is still yet to come, and a turn-around is required. The derby between the two Ginninderra sides is next, and a season of hell is likely if we don’t win that.
In more positive news, our current 1st-grade captain (and chop king) Rhys Healy pulled a miracle out of nowhere. Against Queanbeyan’s imposing 330 odd, he single handedly defied a poor start to see his side over the line with a superb unbeaten double-hundred. He finished with 202 not out, and with Dylan Faram’s 97, the final score was 5 for 358. It will not be a surprise if he comes into contention for ACT selection and possibly beyond.
December 2, 2018
I just wondered whether I should carry on. I am missing regulation chances in matches where it should have been pretty easy, but it isn’t. I can certainly point the finger at what had happened in pre-season when I was fortunate to get away with just a cut below the left eye.
I can take x number of catches at training, but is it worth playing if I can’t take the simplest of chances in the field. I just need to be encouraged to go for it without worrying too much.
Playing cricket requires mental skills, then anything else since confidence is a massive factor. It’s unfortunate that having taken some good catches last season, I’m unable to hold on to simple catches. I have to own up and recover, but I need help.