Adelaide Warriors vs Adelaide Lutheran at LJ Lewis, October 23, 2021

October 2, 2021

As I have learned from various people including my former captain Chris Arcella, match practice is the best form of practice. This is because you can gain experience from playing out in the middle which can be used in subsequent games. Adelaide Warriors were initially planning to schedule a practice match between the LO1 and LO4 sides but in the lead-up to today, which was when the match was scheduled for, the LO4 squad members will not be able to spare a full afternoon. Given that it is a long weekend, it made sense from a family point of view. Luckily for me, my family had no plans as such for today which made it easier for me to put my hand up. However, in the lead-up to today, I was battling with that thigh niggle from last weekend’s practice. Hence, I was wrapping myself in cotton wool by avoiding intense cardio while rubbing the affected area with Voltaren at least three times a day.

Initially, I felt I was fit and ready to go for the practice match, which was to be against Blue Brigade Sports Club. However, the niggle reappeared while I was batting which left me battling throughout the match. The captain, Mandeep Singh had wanted to look at my batting and had asked me to bat at three. I completely struggled against the extra pace where I was dropped before scoring. However, I managed to hang around for 32 balls for nine runs before I held out at the deep as I had become a liability. My innings contrasted with several other guys who smashed boundaries at will which helped us to 174 even though we were bowled out before we used our allocated 35 overs.

I only disclosed the niggle to my captain and vice-captain after completing an over with the ball from a short run-up. Apart from conceding a boundary on my second ball and the last ball of my three-over spell, I didn’t bowl badly. I had a decent shout for an LBW and had induced a top edge which was dropped. Despite my handicap, we won comfortably courtesy of a six-wicket haul to Suresh Wadala whose variations had Blue Brigade in a spin. For me, though the best ball of the match went to the 2nd vice-captain Shubhang Shah who struck first ball when the batter padded up which I suspect was a googly as Shubhang was a leg-spinning bowler.

Despite the win, there were concerns in our all-round game as pointed out by our captain. One of those concerns was the fitness of several of our potential regular bowlers, me included. The feedback was fair, and this fact will become a major motivating factor ahead of the season opener in two weeks’ time. The biggest announcement that came was that the prime focus is to ensure that the squad has enough eligible players to come to the finals where the minimum criteria is eight games. This implies that people will be rotated depending on who is available. That itself is personally a good thing as I can spend time with family without having to grumble over missing a match. After all, I need to ensure that I play at least eight matches as opposed to aiming for every single match.

October 10, 2021

The focus this week, was to regain my fitness so that I can go and bowl at practice again. I was still rubbing my thigh with Voltaren three times a day, but I was able to push myself with the running. On Wednesday, I ran at 15 km/h on the treadmill and initially didn’t feel any niggle afterward which was a positive sign. Then on Friday, I ran at 20 km/h again on the treadmill and again, did not feel anything whatsoever. I had immediately declared to Vikram, that I was fit and ready to go even though I was unavailable for the upcoming practice match.

Even though I had regained my fitness, I needed to get myself back into the cricketing groove. At this point, in our private WhatsApp group, I had proposed to meet for training this Tuesday as no showers are currently forecasted with the rest of the week under a rainy cloud. At the time of writing, no one has responded to it, implying that I may have to resort to bowling on my own at Salisbury North Oval. Moreover, even though I had indicated my availability for the season opener against MSCC, there is no guarantee that I’ll get a game which will be the case when there are more than 11 availabilities.

October 12, 2021

Training was on as four others have indicated that they will attend which itself is good enough for me. I needed practice with both batting and bowling to help myself prepare for the weekend should I play. If it wasn’t the case, I would have commenced a trend that I wouldn’t hesitate to do even if it cost me valuable game time, which was to withdraw from selection. I was willing to take that stance as going into a match without any practice could spell disaster to both myself and the team.

Today was a good opportunity to correct a few mistakes with the bat especially towards checking the grip, stance, and backlift which deprived me of fluency with shotmaking in that practice match against Blue Brigade. In that match, I didn’t adopt the back and across method that was inspired from watching the likes of Alec Stewart, Greg Chappell, Mark Waugh, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne bat, which was partly successful in practice but didn’t proceed with it was costing me time to get forward to the pitched-up delivery. It is time to experiment today to see if it helps my footwork.

Moreover, it is a good opportunity to start monitoring my bowling workloads as over bowling on my very first training session of the season led to my niggle which took a while to overcome. Given that we as a club are only playing one-day matches, it would make sense not to bowl any more than 54 balls (equivalent to nine overs, the maximum allocation in ATCA 40 over matches).

However, practice did not go to plan but there are some positives to take back. The back and across movement was very helpful against the dog thrower but my tendency to slog the slower bowlers to the leg side was due to my grip. From what I remember, the tips of the two fingers and the thumb on the bottom hand were supposed to pinch the bat handle. I didn’t remember it while I was batting. As for the bowling, my stiff upper body muscles prevented me from getting through my action quickly, and ended up banging the ball in through my muscular strength, depriving me of swinging the ball both ways. It forced me to think by resorting to changes of pace especially when bowling to the big-hitting duo of Suresh Wadala and Imran Soni. This experience was good if I have a bowl against big hitters throughout the season.

October 13, 2021

As a result of me banging the ball in, I was getting slight lower back pain while the stiff upper body muscles were still there. I did manage to find a YouTube video that can alleviate the pain which now I’ll have to do. Even though I was able to fit heavy weights for my lats, biceps, and back, I wasn’t confident in going for a run on the treadmill for the fear of aggravating my back. As for the bowling, I managed to stumble on a YouTube video on the 4 tent-peg theory presented by former first-class cricketer and bowling coach Ian Pont which will have to be a reference point moving forward. Perhaps, I may have to take a step back to practice this theory from the crease bowling extending to my usual run-up. Just to avoid any suspicions, I will have to communicate this across to all the batsmen I’ll be bowling to in practice. If I want to avoid that, I must consider coming to practice at least 30 mins before practicing on my own before going to my usual run-up.

That aside, I had just made a difficult decision to withdraw my availability for the week. It was partly due to the excessive availabilities (which will be the case throughout the season) but more importantly, I must attend a cultural event which starts at 6pm sharp. I could have negotiated my way to leave early but based on my experience, the club will not agree to it (which may impact my selection moving forward). Had I been picked for the season opener, which was in the Tea Tree Gully area, I would have to leave by around 4.30-5pm to come home, freshen up and get dressed to get to the event on time. If there are any positives from my sacrifice, it would be that firstly, any rain leading into the match might cause the match to be abandoned if the pitch was not covered.  Secondly, I will have another training session to find my feet before going into the deep end in a home game against Adelaide Lutheran.

October 19, 2021

I didn’t really miss much as Round 1 was abandoned well before a ball was bowled. ATCA had made this decision considering the continuous rain during the week. It was a surprise decision for us considering that LJ Lewis which was to be the home game for LO4 had covers put in place. Nevertheless, it was quick thinking within the club to arrange a LO1 vs LO4 interclub match which was a high scoring game where a superb hundred by Boree Kieng meant that LO1 had to chase 237 in 40 overs which they managed to do, courtesy of fifties from Vikram and Rahul Rana and a cameo from Surjeet Parmar, a.k.a Fanta for his bubbly personality which probably reflects his batting. I wonder though, would I have made much difference? Maybe, maybe not. I would have been smashed around like I was at practice or came out with respectable figures. Who knows?

I did everything at today’s training session. I started off with fielding having arrived late to practice. I caught every high-ball chance that came to me by tracking the ball and running towards where I perceived the ball may hand to give myself enough time to steady myself under the ball. After that, I was requested to bowl. As I was about to grab my cricket ball, my captain Mandeep Singh said to me along the lines of “Take it easy”. He knew that I suffered a niggle earlier this month after too much bowling at practice last month. From memory, I bowled the equivalent of six overs where I applied the four-tent peg theory. It wasn’t until towards the end of my bowling stint that I rediscovered my rhythm through my run-up (enabling me to swing the ball both ways and get my off-cutter to grip the pitch) as earlier I was running in too fast. Towards the end of the session, I got a bat. Even though I finally figured out the pinch grip, I was still struggling for fluency with my batswing which resulted in me hitting mostly to leg. It was then I realized that if I started swinging the bat as early as I could (given that my hand-eye coordinator and reflexes are not the greatest), then I can get into better positions with my feet, which is what had happened. As a result, I started hitting the ball better and was able to use my feet to Suresh Wadala’s spin. Again, it all has to do with rhythm this time with the bat. This was the session I finally got to really know my techniques which I can use as a checklist whenever I go and play. It was indeed a massive confidence-boosting session.

October 22, 2021

I have been selected for tomorrow’s clash with Adelaide Lutheran at our home ground LJ Lewis. During the off-season, the club managed to get a pavilion erected at the ground. Rather than getting changed in the open, we can do it indoors. I haven’t yet checked out the new change rooms. Tomorrow will be the first time I’ll be using it. As for the actual match, I was contemplating whether to request an extra net session to continue practicing my rhythmical bat-swing but in the end, it wasn’t necessary. I am going to back myself to remember it come game time. If needed, I can request throwdowns before going out to bat.

One doubt I had was the length of my run-up. After a brief session on the power climber at the gym, I went to the Mawson Lakes cricket nets to fix up my run-up. As it turned out, my rhythmical run-up needs 16 steps from the popping crease. On Tuesday, I had estimated 13 steps which made me suspect that I had been unknowingly overstepping the popping crease and over pitching the ball half the time. Hence, while that aspect has now been fixed, I probably need to do a test run tomorrow so that I don’t overstep the crease tomorrow.

October 23, 2021

Today was a forgettable day which left me questioning myself again whether I should really commit myself to cricket at all. I had dropped a hot chance at long-on off Fanta’s bowling. I had initially gone for a reverse cup, but it brushed my fingers and went for four. While I was able to realize that I could have taken on my side like a slip fielder’s catch, that drop brought me down yet again. It became a distraction as I mucked up a throw to the bowler as well as nearly running myself on the first legal delivery I faced. I found it hard to overcome the disappointment of letting people down thereby questioning myself. I would be happy to spend more time at home as opposed to going through the motions on the weekends whenever I’ve dropped a catch. However, If I could crack this mentality through self-motivation then it will do me a lot of good.

My contribution was very quiet. I bowled one over, got hit for four yet got my outswinger going but I had been doing a lot of chasing and retrieving in the lead up to my solitary over, which was why I was short of a gallop. I was hoping then that I might get another opportunity later which never came. I have no idea why I only got one over, but I do not want to question my captain’s call publicly. His decisions need to be respected. Chasing 208, I was hoping that at least I might have been given a greater opportunity with the bat. Instead, I strode out at no. 9 which we needed over a run a ball. I managed to hang around for a little bit with the early hinge of the bat that had helped me. But I got out playing across the line rather than playing straight. In the end, we lost by 51 runs.

While it is earlier in the season, I felt out of my depth. But this is my team and I want to be a part of it. This is because the leadership team has already demonstrated the true value of the club which was to build a family-friendly atmosphere. The only thing I need to do was to self-motivate myself back into a positive mindset. As for the limited opportunities, I need to grasp them to make myself be counted.

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