Pre-season Training, September 2020

August 18, 2020

Training is about to start for the coming season. Although it must be said in different circumstances due to COVID-19. For that reason, Gyms were closed between March and June which meant I was confined to just home workouts only which sucked. I was happy when they reopened, and I wasted little time to do some strength training and treadmill running. When the weather cleared off, I started to bowl a bit more in the nets and managed to gradually find my bowling rhythm while hitting ideal lines and lengths together with swinging the ball.

I was considering that this season was involve district cricket with West Torrens. For that reason, I had purchased couple of White coloured 4-piece cricket balls to bowl within anticipation of playing coloured-clothing one-day cricket. However, I started getting anxiety attacks regarding whether I will be able to not only get selected but to get a bowl in these matches despite my former batting coach Nick Maegrith’s previous assurances. I even wondered whether if it would be worth spending Sundays at pre-season training (if that was the case) as opposed to with my family.

The clincher was the tentative ATCA fixtures which will have some Twenty20 matches in amongst the regular one- and two-day matches. Knowing that Twenty20s isn’t really my game, I would be readily sitting out these matches. Instead, I can spend more time doing housework and other things on those Saturdays whilst also keeping myself fresh for the regular matches.

I don’t regret giving up on the district cricket dream as it requires both commitment and a strong mind as I was told that it’s a cut-throat environment out there. Moreover, I would have been needing to step into another unfamiliar environment. Instead, I can surround myself around a fantastic team environment at Prince Alfred Old Collegians.

Speaking of them, we got a new head coach. As a matter of fact, our A grade captain Jack Latchford will be taking the mantle. To me it was no surprise. It was just a matter of time. And I say that because Latchy has been leading our training sessions for most of the season even while his predecessor Trent English was present. I am hopeful that he will do a good job regardless of the end results for the club. Having a player as a coach is a very good thing as I have found in Ginninderra under Mick Delaney as well as Naveen Vinod both captain and coach of the Flinders University club. Both registering premierships during their stint.

It remains to be seen what kind of success Latchy could potentially taste this season, but it would be wise to keep expectations low.

August 19, 2020

Pre-season training was going to be different due to COVID-19. First of all, the use of hand-sanitizer, signing in each training session for the purpose of contact tracing in the event of a positive case as well as the non-sharing of water balls and equipment.

Instead of warming up with throwing and catching which would sharing of cricket balls which is discouraged in the current environment, the warmup was a game of soccer. For me, I don’t any playing other sport other than cricket as I am no good in that sport. But I had no choice. I did get a few touches on the ball while eventually ended up on a winning side.

When it came to the cricket practice, I was average in both batting and bowling. Bowling wise, my consistency leading up to tonight deserted me. I bowled short and full, wide and straight. I was trying to recreate the swing I obtained of late, but I only got some balls to swing. In hindsight, as I couldn’t coordinate both my arms in time to swing the ball on an ideal line and length, I probably might have to use more of my non-bowling arm to ensure that I can get through my action in time.

Batting was average too. I had forgotten how to hold a bat even though I played a good pull shot off Connor Craigie, a cracking square drive off Gary Branford and a down the wicket inside out shot over cover off Sam Knight’s spin. I couldn’t remember how I held the bat against Gepps Cross where I looked in control except for a few deliveries (including the one that got me out LBW). I am reaching out to Luke for what he helped me with back then but I kind of have to continuously tinker the technique and perhaps switch between my bats until I reach the perfect rhythm.

August 26, 2020

I managed to achieve better batting rhythm today. Having managed to tweak my batting technique with Luke’s help while reconciling his advice back in March, I looked like a different batter. I was decisive when leaving or playing, front or back, attack or defence. A complete contrast to my nervy self. The only adjustment I might need to make to ensure that my Vs are straight down the splice is to modify the direction of my downswing, like from the middle-off line instead of middle-leg which was initially making my grip uncomfortable.

Regardless, it was pleasing that I got a few pull shots away both in-front and behind square on the leg-side. I even pulled the only short-ball I faced from Connor Craigie, my net-practice nemesis. Even though I top-edged the pull over the keeper’s head, it was a more confidence movement as opposed to the default ‘duck under every short-ball’ tactic I had been adopting against him until now. I hope it will remain that way for this season at least.

Bowling though, continues to be a concern as I continue finding the ideal rhythm, line and length. Sometimes I fell short of a length, sometimes just length with rare occurrences of the full length that might get wickets. As a result, I felt discouraged with the results and let out my frustrations to both Jacob Leak and our newly appointed assistant coach, Jack Dent told me not to be too upset. ‘Denty’ in particular noted that indoor nets are never the best place for full run-ups and thereby suggested on hitting a line moving forward. This advice came after I told them that when I bowl outdoors, I bowl much better as opposed to indoors.

September 2, 2020

In the lead up for tonight’s session, I was very dispirited with how I bowled outside on Monday given that hitting the fuller length was proving to be difficult on a consistent basis. I find it easier to hit a normal length, sometimes short of a length on a more consistent basis which was how I was able to dry the runs up in Cs last season. I then turned to my captains of last season, Maxy Clarke in Cs and Patty Sadlier in Ds for advice. I asked them if I was going to be playing for them this season knowing the competitiveness for selections, how should I bowl.

Both Maxy and Patty suggested that I should settle on keeping in tight. Maxy said not to worry about bowling full as he’ll bowl that full length while Patty suggested I should try to throw the odd full ball in. Both of them also pointed to my batting potential and suggested to work on it further. For me, I cannot disagree on this fact. I would like to be a bit more consistent with the bat. I can’t really say how many runs or how long I intend to bat for, but I should aim to have a partnership every time I bat (as long as there’s enough time).

I then thought perhaps if I do play in LO5 this season, I should potentially put my hand up to potentially open the batting, as long as we bat first. I am saying this given my past history of cramp having gone into bat having bowled a decent number of overs in the first innings. Otherwise batting in the lower order would suffice. I did mention to Patty that in the event that I’m unlikely going to bowl much in matches, I would like to go up the order but not at the expense of those who are unlikely to bowl at all. He has noted that point.

Speaking of batting, while I was able to continue making good judgment with regards to when and what to play, the execution wasn’t quite up to scratch at times. I only realise after my batting session that I was feeling tense when I keep my arms at waist level that explains what had happened. I had theorised that if I could potentially lower my hands a little so that it touches both my inner thighs, I hope to at least swing the bat more fluently, leading to better timing and execution.

With my frustrations having reached boiling point leading up to tonight, I managed to find a fuller length more than my last two sessions even though I couldn’t quite get the bowl to swing. This was because that I couldn’t coordinate the pushing of my left hand that would allow me to bring my bowling hand around to swing the ball. That had come about having tried to bring my left arm up for my pre-delivery jump to help my accuracy which came about due to a sore upper body from gym sessions the previous day.

September 9, 2020

It was time to go back to the bowling drawing board. The aim is to pull my bowling hand to the hip during my pre-delivery jump, which will allow me to push the left hand and swing the ball like I had used to in the past. Thankfully, the level of soreness in the upper body isn’t there having had my weights session on Monday evening as opposed to last night. Moreover, it also had to do with the change of method of doing incline bench rows.

Despite all of that, I was unable to get the ball to swing while hitting the same length as last training session. I thought initially that the condition of the ball was hampering my ability to extract movement. Even though I later switched to a pink ball to hopefully rediscover my swing, it was to no avail. It probably transpired that my sore legs where throwing my rhythm out of sync with the ball in hand. Nevertheless, more tinkering will be required in order to rediscover the rhythm with a few more weeks to go. I also have to develop the habit of following through as detected by Antony Brabham. My sudden momentum halt in my follow through could likely lead to injury and I should also, take the fear of getting hit out of the equation. Having suffered an eye injury two years ago is holding me back.  I would love to chat to Denty about this at some stage.

As more people wanted a hit, I was shunted to bat against all the available bowlers as the very last batsman. Thankfully, I protected my wicket and held my own. While the likes of Nick Clayfield and Riley Robinson were tough to pick up, I found it easier nevertheless once I get my hinge timing right.

Out of the blue, Leaky threw me a challenge. I had to score 20 off my last eight deliveries where each bowler will bowl me one delivery. While I struggled against the fast, short pitched bowling, I remarkably managed to complete the challenge which included hitting Denty back over his head and swatting the last ball for six even if it was delivered by Leaky. The latest correction towards my hinge seemed to work but I felt that the starting position of the toe of my bat could be a bit higher at times.

Overall, I am considering whether I should train in isolation until I rediscover my swing. It will eventually come down to the weather forecast and perhaps the availability of the nets. It is a strong option given that my batting is on the upswing. It’s my bowling that needs work and it’s something I’m desperate to hold onto as I strongly believe it’s my primary strength.

September 16, 2020

The weather forecast dissuaded me from training in isolation today with seemingly a likelihood of showers. Over the week, I realised that if I pull to the hip while push my front arm prior to back foot contact, I might be able to pull that front arm, which will then enable me to snap through my action. It would then require me combine that thinking together with the band-aid approach I took the session before last to hopefully move the ball while hitting the right areas. Expectation would be then that it would click just before the season started (although it must be said for me that I am unlikely to play until October 17th).

Even though, my batting seemed to be on an upswing especially after conquering a challenging net session last week. It must be said thought that if I could potentially bring my hands up a bit to bring the toe of the bat a bit more off the ground (as long as my hands continue to touch the insides of both thighs), it could help the hinging process greatly especially with my reactions against quicker bowlers. 

The expectation as usual was different to reality. While I was able to snap through my action as expected, it was on occasions due to the indoor surface which makes it difficult to develop good rhythm. When it clicks, I become a handful. I clipped the edges of Ed Thomas and Andrew Olsson. Then I bowled a bouncer then yorker to Don Kieu before beating Matt Kildea’s edge on consecutive deliveries with length. I got the ball to swing at times, but the seam had been flattened after overs and overs of bowling during pre-season. That aside, crucially, I started to follow through a bit more unlike last week, even though at times, I abruptly stop after delivery.

September 23, 2020

The weather forecast for the week ahead again dissuaded me from going outdoors to practice on my own with the harder white balls. I wouldn’t have been able to bowl with them in the indoor nets given that I run in from the white wall which would have made it difficult for batsmen to see it.

On that note, I was strongly considering skipping practice this week to work on my fitness with the opportunity to return to practice when outdoor training commences. I am at present unlikely to attend next week as I want to get two weight training sessions in before I go out of town on holiday.

Having made the decision to attend practice, I was contemplating whether to expose my new red ball in order to me to give me the feel-good factor from getting the ball to move prodigiously. However, seeing how much my current ball has been flattened and worn out over the past few sessions is making me think twice.

My focus then would be to just run in and bowl and perhaps practice using my angles around the crease as a form of deception. Which is what I tried to do with the snap through my action today. But I bowled short of a length and wide which fed the cut shot initially. From a bowling action, inspired by Shane Bond, my action became similar to that of Shaun Pollock which resulted in late movement with a bit of bounce.

As a result, I bowled better. I got a few edges, beat the bat a few times especially when I pumped my arms harder through the crease. I had fallen in a trap trying to be a wannabe fast bowler in the 2nd half of the season, which proved detrimental to my performances. Now, I’ve got something to work with just in time before the season started. If keepers started keeping up to me, I should let it go from an ego perspective as it probably might help me hit my lengths better whilst daring the batters to charge me with the risk of being stumped.

Having been the last person to arrive at practice, I was due to bat last. I ended up facing the A and B grade bowlers which were genuinely sharp. It was horrible initially. I struggled against Gary Branford’s leg spin and got rapped on my left glove by Riley Robinson (a former Northern District Jets cricketer)’s short ball which I failed to pick up. As a result, I became more conscious of my hinge which allowed me to deal with everything else there forth. I was comfortable blocking, leaving and playing the occasional drive which was mostly served up to me thereafter.  Henceforth, I need to hinge early but slowly to develop the rhythm on the downswing.

September 26, 2020

Pre-season is over for me. Unlike last season, I am in a much better frame of mind with respect to my all-round game. Although, it must be said that I should be starting to spend more time fielding. Now given that it’s mandatory to have no more than 4-5 bowlers in a net at one time, fielding is an aspect that I could dedicate some time to every session which might hold me in good stead. I found it very helpful to work on my throwing before the last game of last season against Gepps Cross which lead to an improved showing in the field where I threw nice and straight.

Generally, if there’s something you don’t quite have a strong preference for, you would look to get it out of the way. In this case for me it’s fielding. Spend some time practising throwing nice and straight along with some catching practice at the start of training before getting into bowling and batting. Doing fielding would be a good way to warm up to keep the body loose for bowling. So, my goal during training is to spend time fielding every session.

As Maxy and Patty had told me, my batting is useful. Maxy is hoping that I become more consistent with the bat given the overall struggles in the batting department last season which costed us a top four finish. Thereby, I shall aim to make double figures every time I go out to bat as long as I am at the crease for at least 30-45 minutes. That is my match-by-match goal.

My season goal which proved later to be my measurable goal as well (an initiative by Latchy) is to concede no more than 3.50 runs per over across both one- and two-day matches. Ok, perhaps I dropped my standards considering that I only went above 2 runs per over but it must be said that I played more two day cricket. Now, with selections going to be competitive, I face the likelihood of spending more time in LO6s. Hence, I am likely to concede more runs in a one day match as opposed to a two day one. The onus would be to ensure that I am focused towards generating the late swing and bounce on a length through my action as opposed to chasing for pace. The action I have from Wednesday’s training will help me in good stead irrespective of the conditions. Bring on the season.

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