Prince Alfred Old Collegians vs Adelaide Lions at Prince Alfred College (Back Oval), November 7, 2020

November 3, 2020

Even though I had taken a catch over the weekend, I had done it with a juggle which wasn’t very pleasing to me. It must be noted that this particular technique gets me into trouble at the same time. As a result, I messaged our team coach Latchy if he could help me fix my catching technique. He said no problem.

So, I rocked up to training, did my warm-up run around the oval and a few stretches with Vivek before approaching Latchy. Unfortunately, I caught him when he was going to pad up and bat. Thereby, he suggested that I could wait for him to finish before seeking his helping. However, as VD was about to start a fielding session with a couple of others, Latchy suggested that I could go and work with VD instead.

This turned out to be the right call as VD helped us a lot with our catching. He had noticed that by default, I was attempting to take every high ball catch with my palms down which looks ungainly when the ball is from shoulder height onwards. He suggested that for these kinds of high balls, I should look to take them palms up which soon became easier to adjust and adapt to. He also had worked on our slips catching too, making sure that we started from a low enough position for us to take any sort of catch especially those below our ankles.

While bowling was promising as I get a few deliveries to swing, I felt I had a good net session with the bat. Carrying on from Saturday in terms of both tactically and technically, I drove with conviction and defended the deliveries that was going to hit my stumps. While I mis hit a couple of pull-shots, I managed to middle one from the middle of the bat off Tom Taylor’s bowling. All of this was good enough to impress Sads.

November 6, 2020

As expected, Vivek and I were selected in LO6s since I was going to be free tomorrow and not next week. After the selections were released last night, I got in touch with the captain, BA about my selection and said that I was hoping to get a trundle despite last week’s effort. BA assured me of bowling opportunities since Jemmett, Brabs, Raj and Hugh were going to play 2-day cricket in Cs and Ds. That meant, I have a good opportunity to perform a similar role like the late Eddy Barlow for South Africa and the recently retired Shane Watson for Australia did in international cricket. Opening the batting while being part of the bowling attack.

Looking at the lineup, our bowling lineup seemed rich on seamers. Apart from BA and myself, there is Vivek and Brent Hillier. The question being who will open the bowling with Jemett and Brabs returning to 2-day action. I had told BA about my intentions to take the new ball but it’s ultimately his decision come tomorrow. He had already encouraged me to open the batting again. I suppose why not. Not just based on my results but also the fact that we’re playing at the back oval of the college. That meant, good batting pitch, fast outfield and small boundaries.

Last time I batted there, I made the only score past 50 in a two-dayer in Cs against Athelstone, 67 not out off 113 balls with 10 fours and a six from number 8, taking the score from 6 for 72 to 188 all out, which proved to be a match-winning performance. A return to familiar territory which had been just about 12 months ago. Could this be the opportunity to redevelop a batting consistency I had a few years ago? Time will tell although I am vary about our opponents, Adelaide Lions. I should focus on batting for time, if I score runs, then that’s a bonus.

Even though I was feeling sore in the upper back courtesy of the Overhead Dead Ball Slams together with the Bench Pulls exercise, I went for some bowling while sporting the posture band. After several deliveries, I managed to find my rhythm that allowed me to pump my arms at chest level before pulling my right arm prior to releasing the ball. It resulted in outswing and while I was able to get inswing to go, I usually sprayed the ball way down the legside. This is exactly what had happened last weekend when I tried the same delivery which led to my downfall in the two over spell.

Having bowled the equivalent of six overs, I was called upon by a couple of guys at the neighbouring net for a bowl. I obliged, as it would give me adequate practice ahead of tomorrow’s encounter. Even though the batter was standing slightly outside his crease, I induced a few leading edges through late bounce and movement before slipping in a full outswinger that slid underneath him, pitched on middle and hit the off stump. He was stunned. As far as tactics go, I should keep it simple by sticking to my stock ball, the outswinger until I can accurately pitch the inswinger. Depending on the day, a slower ball or two may be required.

November 7, 2020

By the time I had arrived right on 12.30, we were going to bowl first. Before stepping out to the field, we had a bit of a ceremony as this week was NAIDOC week. It was simply about respecting the traditional owners of the land, the aboriginals, through a statement read out by BA. We soon started play. BA and Brent Hillier opened up despite having offered to open the bowling yesterday. BA started to pull his calf muscle having just started his third over, which meant I was due to bowl soon, but then asked me to give him one more over as he tried to bowl off three paces. It was later effective as he was able to bowl out his 9 overs on the trot, only giving away 21 runs despite conceding two boundaries in his first while having Seneviratne bowled around his legs in his final over.

I instead took over Brent’s end which was after he had Hennayake caught off an airy square drive by Clement Ting at a deepish point, a result of the funky fields BA had set keeping in mind the short boundaries at the back oval. I nearly had a wicket in my first over as Seneviratne chipped a leading edge back down the pitch which I managed to fling myself towards courtesy of my follow through, but I couldn’t hang on. Sharp chance gone begging.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t to be denied. Gunasinghe played across an inswinger and was given LBW. I got a wicket, and I didn’t celebrate like I normally would. I had decided to tone it down having been inspired by the no-celebration celebration by Pakistani left-armer Ruman Raees. I bowled a maiden next over to Papadimas where I managed to finally get my outswinger to go before going to drinks unscathed after six overs. Not quite though. I busted at the bottom of my bowling hand trying to take an impossible reflex catch to a very hardly hit ball back at me. It remained painful for the rest of the match.

Adelaide Lions were 3 for 54 at drinks, but when BA decided against me bowling later as he wanted to give others a chance, they went Twenty20 mode and quadrupled their score at drinks as the batters teed off. Vivek replaced me and managed to bowl a couple of overs, but he was not spared and was replaced by Scott Greber. Nelson Ellis bowling his uncomplicated Jeff Thomson like action, got his first wicket for the club. Ali Raza miscued a pull shot straight towards me which I was able to hold on despite a little bobble courtesy of the busted hand. It was the same delivery that got me into trouble at practice on Tuesday which in a way retribution for me. He bowled reasonably well in his six over spell.

Meanwhile Papadimas and Nipuma teed off as they reached a century stand in about 12 overs as nobody was spared including me who come on to bowl at the death to complete my last three overs. I had gone for 17 as well as getting a ball lodged into the roof which prompted BA to take out last week’s ball. Eventually, I went for 12 an over in my last three, ensuring a personally difficult ask to concede 3.5 runs per over for the rest of the season. I tried an assortment of slower balls and full deliveries, but the batters got some help with the short boundaries. I managed to get Nipuma LBW with a slower ball, but I was smashed over my head for six the next ball by the new batsman. The Lions finished with 5 for 221 from their 40 overs, a tough ask.

Having bowled at the death, I needed a break knowing my history of cramp from the past. Instead, Paddy England and Johnny Coop opened the batting, which provided a solid start with little urgency as they batted 18 overs for 32 runs. However, we typically suffered a massive batting collapse. Paddy having compiled 21 decent runs, held out to Seneviratne at mid-off off Gunasinghe before the bowler swung through the gate to dismiss Damien Heath four balls later. We went to drinks at 2 for 33 with Clement getting off the mark on his first ball.

First ball after drinks, Clement pulled a short ball straight to midwicket and having smashed a similar ball for a flat six, Johnny was given out LBW despite getting a clear inside edge. Nelson who played some impressive shots to the boundary was bowled trying to go for it. It was 5 for 63 and I was in. I had wondered even before the match whether to ditch the helmet today knowing that there’s no mandatory requirement to wear a helmet, a decision taken by the ATCA prior to the season commencement. Which meant, opportunities to bat like the Antiguan greats of Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Richie Richardson was still possible, in terms of the headgear. Thereby, I strode out with a floppy hat like Sir Richie which could backfire on me if I got an injury on my face, but I was lucky in many ways at least from the injury perspective. More on that later.

Scott, father of Josh and Liam (who plays 1st grade for Adelaide Uni) held out despite making a pact with me to play risk free cricket for the remaining 14 overs of the innings. In came BA who told me to ease off on the quick singles. Too easy. He hit a boundary and took a couple from a bottom edge before was out LBW trying to sweep a full ball. Brent also was out LBW, having been hit on the toe. Vivek came in and survived for a little while, in the process scoring his first run for the club. But he also fell LBW.

It was 9 for 82 and in strode Venkat Lingampally. Earlier, I had played a late cut off Sooriyabandara to get off the mark with a boundary and later managed a clip on the leg side for a single. I nearly got out to him, failing to get over a drive on the up only for the man at cover to drop a relatively simple chance. However, that failed to deter me to drive him through cover-point for another boundary.

Back to Venkat. He suggested that I protected him for the last six overs where I tried to hit boundaries before pinching a single off the last ball of the over. After a bit of grumbling from the sidelines having refused a second run which would have got Venkat on strike, I had to tell Venkat that he should back himself and that he should try to score as much as we could. It worked, Venkat played straight and scored his runs through deflections through the vacant third-man region, even for a couple of boundaries.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to finish matters off, they brought back their opening bowler Weerasinghe but I dispatched him for a couple of boundaries only after appearing to edge one off him that just fell short of the keeper Papadimas. One was a pull shot through wide mid-on, the other was a clip through backward square leg. I managed one other boundary which was a thick edge through the slip for four in the last over of the innings before pushing the last ball of the match for a single.

I had finished unbeaten on 24 off 43 balls, again topping the scores for the second time of the innings. More importantly, I made another double figure score unlike previously where I followed a decent score with a single digit one. Progress is being made in this regard. They were surprised as to why I was batting so low which I had to explain that I needed a rest having bowled at the end of their innings.

Nevertheless, Venkat and I put on 29 for the final wicket in those six overs, which was easily the second highest stand of the sorry innings. I was telling Venkat that he needed to believe in his batting considering he was there at the end against Blue Brigade Sports Club in a low scoring thriller.

Despite the disappointing team performance, I take solace in my own all-round performance. I took a catch, took the most wickets (2) and scored the most runs (24 not out) which shows that I am in a good cricketing space even though I am off to Canberra next week to see my niece for the very first time.

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