Golden Grove vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Harpers Field, October 19 & 26 2019

October 15, 2019

It was raining today on my way home from work. I did wonder if we were going to train, but in the club’s private Facebook group, training was on even if we had to spend the session fielding. I then wondered, despite that If I should still go. I don’t know how it occurred, but I had a slightly stiff neck, which pains more when I move my head to my right. However, considering it didn’t affect my ability to lift weights yesterday, especially when doing back squats with 85kg, I should be ok.

I eventually turned up to training, immediately ran a lap around the oval, stretched, and then engaged in warm-ups by trying to hit the stumps, which I achieved on the sixth attempt. This week, we were back at the front oval with the turf nets as the new school term had commenced. It meant that we could at least have proper preparation on wickets we’re likely to encounter during the season.

Today’s focus with the ball in hand was trying to run-in quicker and hit the deck harder by pulling the left-arm with extra force. Even though I was back to my usual inconsistent usual self, I managed to get a bit more out of the wicket in terms of pace and movement. Since I was bowling with “well kept” ball with one side rough and the other side shiny, I was able to swing the ball both ways despite this inconsistency due to perhaps an occasional poor hip alignment when it occurs whenever my legs/arms are not straight. The solution to that is to pull the shoulders back before running into bowl.

October 18, 2019

Yesterday I couldn’t attend training since I finished work later than usual, which resulted in me arriving home at 6pm. So I decided it would have been better if I spend time in the gym instead. Moreover, I had been battling with a pain (perhaps tightness) around the right rear deltoid, which provided some discomfort when lifting the shoulder. Thereby, I didn’t see any point trying to train while the pain/tightness was there.

As the pain slightly decreased, I tried bowling with it. I managed to move the ball, but the length was mostly back of a length, which I wondered if was the right length for turf wickets here that would be generally slow and low like in Canberra.

That aside, I was pleasantly surprised that I was promoted into the C1 grade for the two-day starting tomorrow rather than facing my old club, Adelaide University, in C2s. I was looking forward to meeting some of the guys, knowing that some barbs that could come my way as well as going in with some plans against some of their players whom I know well. Later in the season, I might have another crack at them if I play in C2s. Irrespective of this, I’ll be making a return to two-day cricket, having not played the format since over 18 months ago. I remember indicating to the club when I wanted to join them initially that this format suits my conservative game well and also that several of the committee members telling me that I’m likely to play in the higher grades. I’m confident, but as long as the pain/tightness subsides in time before we go out to field.

October 19, 2019

The good thing was that the pain/tightness had subsided by the time I arrived at Harpers Field, the venue for the next two Saturdays. As it was a footy field, the ground looks very big, but it has a fast outfield as the grass had been very well-cut. The strange thing was that the pavilion was further away from the ground, but then again, it was closer to the other football oval at the venue. I was there with Dan “Mose” Mosey, Mitch Larsson, Rory Hustler, and Jacob “Leaky” Leak. We were all wondering where the rest of our team? So we five made the walk to the ground and saw Antony ‘Brabs’ Brabham, our captain for the day. He already won the toss and decided to bat in spite of him not looking at the wicket. His reasoning was, “Let us get a total on the board and take it from there.”

When he did look at the wicket eventually, it was rock hard, so perhaps it was a good toss to win. Eddie Thomas and Leaky opened for us, and both had a few nervous moments. Eddie was dropped twice while Leaky played and missed a few while nearly spooning a pull shot to mid-wicket. Nevertheless, slowly but steadily, almost got us through the first hour until Leaky guided a short ball straight to Gully.

From 0/25, the rot started to settle in much like what had happened last weekend when the C1s lost 9/45. Mitch having got off the mark with a confident push through the covers for two, mishit a short ball to midwicket. Matt Dickinson and Angus Lange had their castles rattled. Eddie, having held the innings together with our only double-digit score in the innings, clipped a low catch to midwicket. Next ball, Lincoln Halton was trapped LBW. Rory was run out, trying to take a quick single. Sohil Jayaprakash, having played a few leg-side shots, chased at one and edged behind. Mose also chased at one was caught in the gully. Next ball (of the next over), I was adjudged LBW when the ball hit my left toe. But I should have known better knowing that the ball has been mainly coming into me. Despite playing a few drives, I was unable to make my first run in Adelaide, thereby making my long walk back to the pavilion (literally). We were bowled out for 58. A collapse of 10/33.

The Golden Grove openers got off to a flyer but punishing anything loose from Brabs and Mose. It eventually helped them to win on the first innings by stumps, but not before Lincoln made his mark in the field. He took a flying catch to his left to help Brabs dismiss the first opener. Then he took a caught and bowled off the other opener and then cleaned up their number four left-handed bat via an inside-edge. Meanwhile, I only managed a couple of overs in which I wasn’t too bad; I could have done better. While I at times managed to beat the bat with pace and movement, my lengths and lines were inconsistent (particularly when faced with a left-right combination). Regardless, I was disappointed when a catching chance just fell short of Mose at mid-on, which would have been some consolation. I would be more disappointed next weekend if I didn’t have the opportunity to add on to my figures of 2-1-3-0 next Saturday.

October 22, 2019

Today was a warm day to be practicing. It was about 33 degrees when I rocked up to practice. But I was physically okay. After a jog around the oval and some theraband stretching, I got bowling immediately. I commenced considerations of whipping my right arm through, which would allow me to disguise my seam position better than before. I had some success as I have been able to swing the ball both ways at pace. This resulted in me hitting the deck harder and beat the bat from time to time. To be honest, though, I was better before batting practice than after as the running between wickets exercise left me to the brink of exhaustion.

That will be a problem if I have to bowl immediately after batting in matches. If necessary, I would need to ‘wing it’ and cut down my run-up length.

Speaking of batting, I knew before the session that my stance had let me down on Saturday, and I managed to correct it today. If my hands are around my waist and after lifting the bat, I have a more significant, fluent swing that allows me to be decisive as to whether to play or leave it alone. As a result, this allowed me to bully the finger-spin delivered by both Will Farminer and Don Kieu by either going down the wicket, going right back in the crease, or slog sweeping from the crease. I hope though to be facing more pace on Thursday, considering that Golden Grove didn’t need a spinner to bowl us out on the 1st day.

October 25, 2019

Soreness in the chest from Tuesday’s bowling (perhaps muscles that were not previously used) was my “excuse” for my absence from training yesterday. I reasoned that the soreness would prevent me from training at my best, which would dampen the confidence leading into the weekend.  While the soreness did minimize, unfortunately, I hit my right forearm by accident on the door while getting out of the toilets. While it was an impact injury, it didn’t stop me from holding dumbbells in the gym nor practicing shadow bowling.

October 26, 2019

After all, in spite of the rains, we are playing. That was good; otherwise, I would have been disappointed that I didn’t get an opportunity to turn my performance around. I relaxed by accepting “failure” in terms of making a pair with the bat or possibly not bowling at all or getting smashed around the park. Moreover, it also helped to know that I wasn’t going to be playing for a couple of weeks, so I just go out, relax, and have fun.

Brabs told us before we started that the ball is likely to stick into the surface and motioned for us bowlers to pitch it up. He started off proceedings with Mitch by only conceding just 15 runs off the first 12 overs of the day. The result of that pressure was the wicket of Woods, one of the overnight batsmen caught (just) by Rory at mid-off on the second attempt. While Brabs continued bowling, Mose replaced Mitch, and after a couple of inconsistent overs, he pitched one on the stumps and castled Innes. Five down for about 90 at drinks, Brabs brought me into the attack.

I was trying to concentrate at the batsman’s pads to help me hit the excellent length, and gradually having shortened my run, I was able to get the ball to swing away from the right-hander without having to telegraph it to the batters. The last ball I bowled in the over had clipped the outside edge of the other overnight batter van Rooyen, which was held by Josh Bean, who came in today in place of Lincoln. The umpire didn’t give it out, but the batter walked. Some relief that I finally got on the board. In my next over, Ward tried to lift me over the top, but it only got as far as mid-on where Brabs took an easy high-ball catch. 7 down for 103.

Next over, I should have had Henderson out twice in the same over. Rory got a fingertip to a lofted drive, which still went to the boundary, and then Angus did not get close to a high ball at point. However, Eddie knocked him over with a quicker ball that rattled his castle.

But I add another wicket soon after nevertheless. After Fairington left a couple of out-swingers, I went wider of the crease and bowled an in-ducker that was kept out. However, I went back to my regular running line and bowled another out-swinger, which he tried to hit over the top but only to Rory at mid-off who took it cleanly. I now had 3 wickets. First such haul in two-day cricket for me, and I nearly had a fourth if Dicko had taken a skier at Cover. I was taken out of the attack, but a haul of 3/15 off 8 overs is indeed a good day’s work.

Eventually, Mitch returned and cleaned up Marks around his legs to finish Golden Grove’s innings at 130. Within the two hours, we took 7/70 and thereby only trailed by 72 runs.  As it was just past 3pm, we jointly agreed to have tea. Suddenly there was tension between the two teams. Most of our guys thought we did enough to prevent a 2nd innings, but the Golden Grove captain was insistent in bowling the 36 overs remaining for outright.

It was then just a case in not losing too many wickets in the first hour. Eddie was badly dropped off Ward in the first over by Innes before he scored but gradually was resolute throughout the first hour. Josh Bean opened with him and survived for seven overs before he was plumb LBW off Ward playing back.

Mitch came in, and after playing and missing, he toyed with the bowling in a manner like Viv Richards would do whenever he came in at no. 3. He played some drives and cuts and also dominated Woods’ leg-spin by coming down the wicket and hitting over the top as well as smashing a long-hop for six. Through his onslaught, we were 1 for 63 at drinks when both captains decided to end the match when it became clear that an outright result would be impossible. Perhaps that call would have been harsh on Mitch, who was just four shy of a first half-century for the club, but Brabs wasn’t aware of it. Oh well.

In the end, last week’s performance really killed us despite our fightback, but we should be proud nevertheless. I had a good bowling day, and I was able to use the ball to swing the ball both ways without telegraphing my intent to the batters. All the recent work I did with Luke in April indeed paid off.

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