Goodwood vs Gepps Cross at Cabra Dominican West Oval, November 5 2022

October 17, 2022

As I am quite new to the club, I am grateful that our secretary, Danica McMillan, put me in touch with the LO coordinator Mick Schooley, with whom I could get in touch regarding selections and availabilities. Unfortunately, now I have rehearsals before a music concert on November 26, it would be difficult for me to attend team training. Thankfully, Mick advised me that my selections would not be in doubt as I had a valid reason to miss training.

With seemingly no time for team training, the only choice is self-training, which is bowling by myself at a nearby net. Back in 2018-19, that tactic did me no harm as I had then embarked on a superb purple patch with the ball for Ginninderra 5th Grade, taking 17 wickets from 7 matches before my work transfer took me to Adelaide. The only downside will be the lack of batting and fielding practice, but I trust my fundamentals and any game-day practice to be prepared.

Anyways, after a warmup consisting of a run around a dilapidated tennis court and dynamic full-body stretching exercises taken from my current weight-training drills, it was time to finally bowl with a cricket ball. Today’s aim was to visualise bowling over the wicket to both left and right-handers. As I was able to do in previous drills, I could swing the ball both ways against the left and right-handers from over the wicket. Even if the occasional delivery went down the leg side. Yet, most of my deliveries were at least around the off-stump line (and maybe around the fourth or fifth-stump line). To the right-hander, not all deliveries moved sideways appreciably. Some deliveries kicked from a length, and some held their line (perhaps due to the concrete surface I was bowling on in Mawson Lakes rather than my ability). Nevertheless, today was a successful exercise as I could bowl with control most of the time, courtesy of the twelve-pace runup I settled upon during my drills.

However, after bowling the equivalent of six overs, I had to cut my bowling practice short as I felt a pinch on my lower back and slight hamstring tightness (perhaps considering it had been almost twelve months since I had last held a cricket ball). As a warm-down, I ran one lap of Mawson Lakes oval and walked the other to finish up before it was time to go and freshen up ahead of music practice.

October 23, 2022

Last night I learned from Mick that Justin tore his Achilles Heel during the heavy defeat to Ingle Farm, which meant that a stand-in captain would be required for the time being. It will be good if he can take over as he’s currently the LO coordinator, but I am sure he will put in a word for me to the eventual stand-in captain, if it is somebody else, regarding my bowling abilities.

I am targeting a return to the pitch on the coming weekend. However, a potential early evening event and rain throughout the afternoon are strong indicators for me not to make myself available. As I would need to make a call by Wednesday/Thursday, I will need to monitor the forecast on a daily basis. The weather will be a big indicator of when I can go for another round of outdoor bowling practice. For now, Friday afternoon seems to be the best time for that.

It was not a surprise to see Australia go down to the Kiwis in last night’s Super 12 curtain-raiser. It all went pear-shaped when Aaron Finch tossed the coin and chose to field first. To be honest, I do not see them defending their crown, let alone qualifying for the semi-finals, as history is against them. No team has won a home World Twenty20 nor defended their crown. It will be the 1992 50-over World Cup all over again, just as last year’s Twenty20 campaign mirrored the 1987 50-over World Cup. While my opinion may be unpopular, I would be very happy if Australia proved me wrong by defending their crown on home soil. I am trying to keep my expectations very low. I am hoping England, New Zealand, India and Pakistan will be my semi-finalists.

October 28, 2022

Throughout the week, I realised that if I just pitched the ball around the good length area, I can get the ball to move both ways. Whenever I bowl half-volleys or almost yorker length, the ball doesn’t move. The secret to bowling the ideal length lies in my front arm. When it is at 90 degrees, the ball will pitch around the good length area. If it is less, I will bowl fuller and short if it is more than 90 degrees.

Until yesterday, my deliveries were kissing the wicket as I sought to swing both ways, meaning that my deliveries lacked pace. Hence I made a considerable effort to pull that front arm up, down and harder. This resulted in me generating more zip and bounce, which I hope holds me in good stead this season.

My debut for Gepps Cross will have to wait for another week as my evening program took preference. Still, today’s weather would be a good opportunity to put in one last bowling effort before next weekend, with wet weather set to dominate the whole working week (in a way it is not too bad as it will keep me fresh from bowling).

Like last week, I visualise bowling to the left and right-handers when trying to bowl a good line and length. Aside from the few deliveries I bowled down the leg side, I felt I was in control, and I was in a good rhythm. In addition, I found that if I pump my arms while maintaining the ‘loading’ position on my bowling hand, I can move the ball after it hits the pitch. Thereby, I felt I was bowling at a good pace (perhaps not express but hopefully enough to cause problems for the batters). There were times that I had lost momentum in my run-up, but I soon regained the momentum once I fixed my run-up by adding an extra stride or two (I suppose, though, that it will depend on the surface I bowl on, which makes it important for me to measure it on Saturdays).

I also worked on some slower balls, which is vital in a one-day match. In the past, I used to premediate my grips for slower balls as I run into bowl, which make it easy for batters to decipher. This time, I tried to add some deception by altering my grips at the last minute. I can say it worked as well as showing my grips in my run-up. Two things remain, though. First is deciding when exactly it will be time to bowl (i.e. how is the batter playing? and will I need to bowl one at all?), and second is whether my slower balls will be deceptive at all or not.

More remarkable was that I was bowling with an overworked right rear delt, which could result in over-bowling throughout the whole working week. Upon reflection, it has, on occasions, done me more harm than good because when it comes to bowling, I am a perfectionist, meaning that I would continue until I am satisfied. Right now, I am in a happy space and will trust my fundamentals come game day if I don’t bowl again next week. I must realise that I am now playing the game for fun.

Moving to the Twenty20 world cup. With England’s shock loss to Ireland and the washout against the Aussies, the host nation yet could still prove me wrong. After beating Sri Lanka handsomely, they need to do likewise against Afghanistan and Ireland. Moreover, they must hope the Kiwis top their group undefeated while Sri Lanka loses to England. Any opposite result will ensure that it will be a reprise of the 1992 50-over world cup. Australia’s death bowling needs to get up to speed while hoping that captain Aaron Finch hits good form with the bat.

November 4, 2022

As the weather improved, I continued to bowl more overs throughout the week. Again I felt I had a good rhythm as I continued to hit the pitch hard. However, as I was mainly hitting a full length, I realised that I will need protection not just down the ground but also around the deep mid-wicket/cow corner region. This will depend if the game is in the balance or the batters are on top. Yet, should we be on top, I could afford to be a bit more attacking (perhaps have a second slip if I am moving the ball away from the bat).

Yesterday, I was going to make my Gepps Cross debut in LO6s. However, this afternoon I was told that I was bumped up to LO3s. Instead of driving to Kidman Park, I have to drive to Cumberland Park, near Cabra Dominican College (the alma mater of former Aussie quick Jason Gillespie). As it was difficult to really identify the ground on Google Maps, I will have to arrive really early just to make sure I am at the right place. That is the only thing it is making me nervous. Given I was told that LO3s is a pretty strong side, I am hoping not only do I get a bowling opportunity, but I also don’t want to embarrass myself (especially in the field). Mick assured me that I will be ok as there will be some good guys within that side that will look after me. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

November 5, 2022

I tried to make sense of my surprise promotion to LO3s as I did not want to ask why I got promoted despite not attending a single training session. One of the theories I came up with was that I would play with the club president Shane McMillan who is coincidently captain for today. Let us leave it at that. It was a relief to find the ground in the first place, where thankfully, I noticed some guys wearing Gepps Cross Merchandise. The oval is a typical school oval where the boundaries are pretty short. In other words, mishits can go for six, leaving no margin for bowler error. It was no surprise that I had noticed that last week’s match was a 250 vs 219 game, thereby coming to the conclusion that we would need to bowl really well.

Macca won the toss and chose to bat. Doc Tansell and Tricky Summers got us off to a solid start before Doc held out for 19 to end a 36 run partnership. The wicket proved to be slow and low, at times two-paced. As the ball got older, so did the run scoring. Thereby it was no surprise that we collapsed pretty badly. Aside from Tricky, who made 27, Gaurang Chauhan, who made 32 and Gurleen Singh, who made 21, no one else made a score of note, myself included. As the pitch was slow and low, I knew I had to apply the forward press. Despite this, I couldn’t quite hit it off the square, and when I finally played a serious cut shot, it instead took the edge and carried to slip. I didn’t trouble the scorers as I did when I first batted in Adelaide three years earlier. If anything, my backlift was the issue, which I only realised after returning from the cricket.

Defending just 127, we needed early wickets. However, Goodwood’s start mirrored ours until Smit Patel caught the edge of one of the opener’s bat to Macca at first slip. After that, the symmetry continued. Liam Beames bowled the left-handed opener before Andy Leonard’s offices claimed two LBWs dismissals. Sadly for Andy, he was hit for four consecutive sixes around the deep mid-wicket/cow corner region, the shortest side of the boundaries, and he was soon out of the attack. Smit Patel bowled that batter who hit the sixes, and then Macca took the sixth wicket with just twelve needed to win. By the time he finished his over, Goodwood needed eight to win. He was planning to give me an over, but a bizarre sequence of events paid plan to that. Smit was hit for four through cover, then conceded one before a delivery missed the batter, stumps and Doc who was keeping which crashed into the helmet, resulting in five penalty runs. The match was over.

I had no regrets because I had a good time running around and was well-appreciated, especially by Macca. Not only was he impressed with my ability to stick around, but also my safe ground fielding (surprising, to be honest, because I thought I was average). Macca initially assumed that I wanted to play two-day cricket, but I advised Danica and Mick that I am only available for one-day matches only. He had hinted that he would try to get me into LO3s, but I wanted to at least try playing in LO6s first. Regarding my fielding, there was one time when that batter who hit Andy for four consecutive sixes was on strike to Beamesy, and he hit a ball through backward square leg. I was fielding at deep forward square leg, so I ran desperately to try and stop the boundary. In desperation, I tried to stick my right hand out to palm it away from the boundary. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective as I kept the ball away and saved three runs, much to the appreciation of the whole team. I wished we had enough runs on the board where I could have at least gotten a bowl.

As family and music commitments may result in me missing a fair chunk of the season, I really hope that this club will become fourth-time lucky as they are truly a family-friendly club with people who are very understanding of my situation and are willing to support me whenever I could. I hope I can get out to training where possible and at least get a chance to bowl in matches. Having done a lot of bowling in the lead-up to this match, perhaps there is no harm in keeping myself fresh for the coming weekend, given I have other commitments during the week.

T20 Cricket watch. As anticipated, Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign was a dead ringer with their 1992 50 over World Cup campaign as they crashed out following England’s victory over Sri Lanka and their sloppy cricket even in victories against Ireland and Afghanistan, which prevented them from improving their net run-rate following their thumping defeat to the Kiwis. Australia needs to start planning for the 2024 campaign in the West Indies and the US by identifying some quality young batters and keepers like Josh Inglis, Josh Phillipe, and Ben McDermott and death bowlers like Nathan Ellis. New Zealand and England are through while it is up in the air as to who else will join them in the semi-finals.

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