Presentation Night, April 1 2017

Just before Presentation Night, I posted in our closed group thanking the club for making my first year of grade enjoyable and had singled out both Mick Delaney, our coach, and our president Chris Griffin. I had stated that I will be back for the Tigers at least for next season and possibly beyond.

Just when I was posting this message, I also had wondered whether I could become a mentor for the younger players moving forward. When I mean mentor, I said to try to help cricketers to unlock their potential and ensure they are positive and enjoying the game. Should the opportunity come up, I would like to take players 15 years and above under my wing if they need someone. For now, though, I am quite happy with conversing with Jeet Patel, whose cricket got better only after our chance meeting during my short Adelaide trip around Australia Day. He made some runs, but more importantly, he started being positive and enjoying the game. It would be a real shame for someone who is technically very good later give up due to a lack of enjoyment. It was kind of why I wanted to take Jeet under my wing. The results slowly improved from not making any runs to nearly carrying his bat in the last game of the season. Jeet opened the batting and survived for at least 50 overs in making 19. He was ninth man out, but Hectorville was soon all out in the same over for 82. I really just hope Hectorville Cricket Club has noticed some improvement in him in the second half of this season and encourage him moving forward. On a personal level, I just hope Jeet can buy a new bat, which will undoubtedly give himself added confidence knowing he’s going to score runs with his own blade.

The feedback I got from my season review was mainly from Matty Andrews, the 3rd-grade skipper. He felt my run targets were shallow and would have thought I could score at least 200-300 runs given my abilities from what he saw in the matches. I was using maths to derive run targets as I wanted to score 1000 runs within 10-15 years of grade cricket. Maybe I am capable of achieving such goals, but then again, the opportunities need to be presented for me to take advantage of. Matty told me I can bat in the top order and still bowl, perhaps emulating Jacques Kallis and Imran Khan, who has delivered with aplomb. Even Vishnu believes I should go up the order and could do better than the incumbents.

Leading up to the Presentation Night, Griffo won the best administrator, and Luke Ryan was named in the ACT’s first grade XI following his stellar all-round performances this season. It was a remarkable season for Luke despite being injured in the second half of the season. Hopefully, he will be representing ACT in the Futures League matches alongside our incumbent representative Cameron Suidgeest. Every year, there is the Charles Wood Medal for the best 1st-grade cricketer of the season through a 3-2-1 process like the Allan Border Medal. Given Luke’s stellar season, I already believed he would be the Charles Wood medallist for this season, and although I’m not usually a gambler, I would have certainly put decent money on him.

Arriving in the Belconnen Premier Inn for the Presentation Night tonight has undoubtedly made me felt this was going to be a better presentation night than what I have experienced in my previous two cricket clubs. Upon arrival, Lawrence Atkin, the 2nd grade towering quick, was the photographer for the night and immediately took a couple of pics of me. Immediately I was around meeting the guys and girls again since the season had ended last month. Soon after 7, we were heading upstairs for the actual proceedings.

I sat next to Dinesh Chovatiya, who is considered the best finger spinner in the club. He took 8 for 52 to usher a tight outright victory against Tuggeranong Valley. It was considered the best individual figures for this season, and I had asked him about the time he was interviewed by Cricket ACT for being the ACT Premier Cricketer of the week. The interview he told me was at the Manuka Oval, and apparently, Channel Nine (WIN in NSW/ACT) was also present, and they also interviewed Dinesh. Dinesh showed me a clip which was on Channel Nine, although it didn’t have the audio. I had jokingly said to him, he’s become famous.

Apart from that, it was a good night, although it took about four and a half hours. There were a lot of awards to give out. There were awards for each of the five grades, club based awards for the best performances along, and awards like the most improved player and the rookie of the year. We also were treated to the presence of a former Ginninderra cricketer in David Dawson who previously played first-class cricket with Tasmania and New South Wales. I was contemplating asking him if he could come back to Ginninderra either as a player in a coaching capacity. However, Jak Wilcox beat me to it, and the response from David seemed favorable for the club.

More importantly, there was the Charles Wood Medal. I heard Paras Sachdeva was the recipient last year, which was remarkable as it was his first year for the club then. During one of the breaks, I said to Luke you will win, but he thought Mick may pip him for the post. As it turned out, despite his injury-ravaged second half, he won the medal. I was proven right, and it was undoubtedly due reward after being listed in the ACT 1st Grade XI not long before. I said to him on the lines of before I left home. “I told you so, I believed in you.”

Just before I finally made my way home, Andrew Loveday pulled me aside and admitted to me that I could have easily batted at number three instead of him as I had shown proper technique. He then said it would be nice if I showed intent on scoring a bit more. This was the feedback I got from Chris Arcella, given that in one day cricket, we need at least 200 on the board to give ourselves a chance to win every time. I believe it’s a confidence thing, but I just think I have to just go out and score rather than try to grab as much batting practice in the games, especially when the matches are long gone. If I had failed, I just learn from the experiences and be better for it. I don’t have to play big shots to score quickly. I just need to turn the strike over a bit more, and still, I can perhaps bat for time. For now, I should look to hone my technique further during the off-season when I can.

2016-17 Season Review, March 16 2017


Ginninderra had an outstanding season in which all grades were competitive. It was an expectation coach Mick Delaney had for the 1st-grade side at least, but at least the first four grades were into the semi-finals. Both the 1sts and 3rds took part in both the one-day and two-day semi-finals (1sts played across 3 days) while 2nds took part in the two-day semi-final and 4ths took part in the one-day semi-final.

The work which was done from the off-season in August has paid off in a big way. We focused on skills before being gradually challenged through the use of scenarios, which is essential; otherwise, how can we execute our skills in matches. More importantly, it wasn’t just the coach driving the sessions; the seniors in the higher grades pitched in, which meant an attitude of “we’re all in this together.” That would have certainly helped several of our guys when they were moving up and down the grades and had done reasonably well.

The club’s tag of being the most sociable cricket club in the ACT Premier Cricket competition was justified, which probably helped in our performances. To date this season, we had the iPod Shuffle Night and the Christmas Party with the end of season Presentation Night to come.

5th grade

While the top 4 grades at least had semi-final action, it wasn’t the case with the 5th-grade side. We were on track at the start of December to continue our excellent work and head to the semi-finals, but we faded away like Rajasthan Royals (a currently defunct IPL side) done a few times. Apart from the weather (rain and scorching sun), we lost three games that we should have won. Tuggeranong beat us, having bowled us out for about 120. Eastlake then chased down 189, and then ANU put on a better all-round show than us.

I think Chris Arcella may have pinned the nail on the head a little too late after we lost to ANU. He indicated that we haven’t entirely played as a team. Although it’s a bit tricky with people coming in and out of the side, Archie felt it would be nice to have a few regulars in 5ths who can reinforce the need to play as a team. Celebrating individual successes while encouraging each other even if we stuff up. It’s essential in any outfit that we avoid the use of negative words like “don’t” because it brings anxiety to the person, and it triggers a negative mindset. Some of us had already done so throughout the season, but if we all do it as a team every game, then all of our opponents will be up against a team and will have to play really well to take us down.

Sandeep Kumar was our leading run-scorer having past 200 runs for the season where he could have got 50s against Eastlake but instead fell really close to those milestones. Sammy Gautam was consistent in making double-figure scores for us in his 1st season of grade after a nervous start with 2 runs in his first 3 hits.  He indeed showed glimpses of Virender Sehwag in his approach, and while he wanted to bat longer, he shouldn’t lose his natural flair. Those two have been making runs consistently for us, as was Michael Ison whenever he was available for us. Michael was one of the only half-centurions for us this season, which probably explains our batting didn’t have any standouts.

The Bowling was undoubtedly our stronger suit throughout the season as we had three bowlers who were at some stage within the top 10 in wicket-taking in Adam O’Connor, Joe Laria, and myself. Both Adam and Joe were our joint leading wicket-takers with 20 as their hit the deck approach with their variety proved to be very useful. We had other bowlers supporting us through every week, and they either did a decent holding job or had taken wickets.

Our youngsters/Colts players have certainty tried to hold their own during the season with bat and ball and had undoubtedly contributed to a win or two. Vishal Suresh, Sam Anavatti, and Blake Nitschke have played some crucial knocks for us with the bat in hand, which was critical. On the bowling front, both Thomas Ison and Duncan Gammage have contributed significantly with the ball in hand, and they certainly have the know-how of what to bowl. They all have an opportunity to get better and go up the grades, which will be useful for us moving forward.


Ultimately, more will be discussed on how I went personally. Caleb Stevens had already asked me just recently on Facebook on how I thought I went in my first full season in Grade cricket. So here’s the quantitive and qualitative analysis of my season.

As I have mentioned numerous times, my long-term goal is to play 100 games, take 100 wickets and score 1000 runs in grade cricket by the age of 40 or so. Hence, I have about 10-15 years to achieve the three milestones. If we do the breakdown, then I need to (on average) play at 7-10 games, score 70-100 runs and take 7-10 wickets.

Let’s see how I’m progressing towards these targets:

  • Play 7-10 games. Achieved (2 games in 4ths and 12 games in 5ths make 14 games)
  • Score 70-100 runs. Did not achieve (15 runs in 4ths and 25 runs in 5ths gives 40 runs)
  • Take 7-10 wickets. Achieved (1 wicket in 4ths and 14 wickets in 5ths gives 13 wickets)

So, I’ve met the target for both the games and the wickets but not the runs. I didn’t get much opportunity throughout the season to show my capabilities with the bat. Nevertheless, I had felt I had revealed what I could do with the bat, but there were a couple of times where I would have been disappointed not to make more runs. The two consecutive matches against Wests-UC were the only times I should have felt I should have made more runs, given that I had spent a good time at the wicket only to play loose shots and get out. 

The bowling though, it’s on another plane. Considering this is my first full season ever in grade cricket, to achieve your goal of taking 10 wickets in the season is a significant achievement. Furthermore, at this stage, I had been at one point, the leading wicket-taker for our 5th-grade side with 12 and was third of the 5th-grade competition and within the top 10 wicket-takers for the club. Of course, I went down the pecking order of these wicket-takers list courtesy of the matches missed due to the weather, among other priorities. 

These are my performances to date:

  1.  1/24 (6 overs) against Western Districts & University of Canberra (won)
  2. 2/14 (9) against Tuggerangong (won)
  3. 0/32 (9) against North Canberra Gungahlin (lost)
  4. 1/30 (9) against Weston Creek Molonglo (lost)
  5. 0/23 (6) against Queanbeyan (lost)
  6. 1/20 (9) against Eastlake (won)
  7. 2/36 (7) against ANU (won)
  8. 5/18 (8.5) against Western Districts & University of Canberra (won)
  9. 1/21 (4) against Western Districts & University of Canberra (lost)
  10. 1/18 (8) against Queanbeyan (lost)
  11. 1/19 (9) against ANU (lost)
  12. 0/32 (9) against North Canberra Gungahlin (lost)

Overall I’ve taken 15 wickets @ 19.13 with Econ 3.06 and SR 37.5. I’ve started well, but the wickets sadly dried out after my five-wicket haul. Nevertheless, I’ll be happy with these stats as it shows that I’m a genuine wicket-taker and can keep the runs down at the same time.  

However,  what if I then combine my performances in wins and losses

  • 11 wickets @ 10.18 with Econ 2.81 and SR 21.72 in wins
  • 4 wickets @ 43.75 with Econ 3.24 and SR 81.00 in losses

This does imply that the success of my team depends on me to a certain extent. When we win, I’m more penetrative and can keep the runs down. However, in defeats, I’ve managed to keep the batsman in check without dismissing them. I’m at least keeping it tight.  Nevertheless, I felt I’ve haven’t bowled too badly in these situations when you provoke plays and misses and chances that don’t go your way. 

I don’t think there’s much to say about the batting, to be honest, as I only batted four times all season. I’ve made scores of 9 (with 1 four) against ANU, 14 (1 four) & 6 against Wests-UC and 11 not out (1 four) against Norths to give me 40 runs @ 13.33 with 3 fours. For someone who hardly batted all season, I think I did all right. Nothing else needs to be said there.  

What worked?

I had mentioned numerous times throughout the season that the work I had been doing with Southern Cricket Academy in Perth in the past had played a significant part in my bowling success. The focus was on using the body to generate bouncy out-swingers, which certainly suited the wickets here in Canberra. 

The fitness work I did since Easter in 2016 to help implement this technique had paid off big time. Losing about 10 kilos in time for the pre-season as well maintaining the weight throughout the season allowed me to bowl long spells in both nets and matches (where my spells lasted at least 5-6 overs). Whatever the pace I was bowling on those times, I was able to still beat the bat and keep it tight most of the time. In matches, I had managed to bowl my full quota of nine overs on five occasions in which I opened the bowling.

What next?

I am quite happy with how my first full season of grade cricket went. I’ve had experience in knowing what length to bowl on the turf wickets with a 4 piece ball. I had experience in bowling with the new and old, red, and white balls. So I no longer consider myself a novice/rookie. I’ve already won favor with a few captains who want me in my side, and several people have commented that I have the capability of playing at least 4th grade this season. 

Am I capable enough of stepping up in the higher grades to consistently play one-day white ball and two-day red-ball cricket soon? Yes, I think so, and I think I would really like to play two-day cricket more so for my batting, which is generally more focused on batting for time than scoring runs. But I may need to think positively when scoring runs particularly against the spinners in matches as I had always been looking to use my feet. Basically, I need to overcome the fear of failure and just score runs. I would like to still take my time to get runs under my belt before teeing off (often at the captain’s request), which I’m confident I can pull off. Besides, my judgment of singles needs to be perfect. What happened in my last innings of the season was unfortunate, but perhaps I should make sure I can get the ball into a safe gap first. It would be difficult to practice this unless I play some social matches during the off-season. Hence I would need to use my bad experiences to get better at this aspect. 

Throughout the season, I had been bowling to literally players across all grades at training. When I had got it right, I felt I had their number, particularly those batters who play in our first three grades. I had rattled their stumps, beat their edges, and even nicking them off at times whenever I could bowl the bouncy out-swingers. When I didn’t, I was easy pickings. However, there’s a lot to like about the good stuff because I believe I have the potential to succeed in higher grades as a bowler alone. I can decipher why I couldn’t do it consistently, and that was because I had been bowling with sore muscles courtesy of the weight-training I do as if it’s the off-season. I can’t do that. I have to instead focus on maintenance, which I will keep in mind when next season comes around.

Another aspect I do have to really continuously work on is my fielding. My ground fielding is my most substantial aspect, though, and had saved runs in the field on occasions that earned the praise of my 5th-grade skippers. But my catching had been woeful where I had dropped every single chance that came to me. I have been putting in the hard work at training with some help from our 3rd-grade skipper Matty Andrews, and it will have to continue for a while yet. I would have to compromise with my love for the ball to work on my catching, and it was something I would be willing to do.

Hopefully, if I do everything I could and keep up the excellent work in my fitness, then the higher grades may be calling. I would ideally like to bowl at least 5 overs in a one-day match and 10 overs in a 2-day game, but there could be some weeks that I may have to play as a batsman. That’s fine as long I bat reasonably high up the order. Otherwise, I will be happy playing the lower grades as a bowler who can bat a bit. But I think I should look to become a decent all-rounder. 

 Stats to date


15 matches, 8 innings, 4 not outs, 53 runs, highest score of 14, average of 13.25, hit 3 fours


15 matches, 13 innings, 587 balls, 304 runs, 15 wickets, best bowling of 5/18, average of 20.27, economy of 3.11, strike rate of 39.1, taken 1 five wicket haul. 


March 4, 2017

February 28

It was business as usual at training today. Just bowling and batting was all I did, and I was able to make some progress with my bowling as practice went on. I was initially was bowling too straight and short at times, which make me cannon fodder to batters like Dominic Ross, who kept smoking them out of the middle. Although I managed to get him out with a short ball that he under-edged to the keeper, I was perplexed that he’s not able to replicate this confidence and form in the matches. I wonder why? He had his chances with the bat during this season, but I feel he hasn’t quite grasped those opportunities, or he’s just likes batting on astroturf.  At least he tried to bat like he did last weekend only to cream a catch straight to silly mid-off. Some progress there, I hope.

Anyways, back to the bowling, I realized that my front arm was the main culprit for my bad bowling as it was closer to my bowling and pointed down towards the batsman. I made an adjustment by keeping my front arm away from my body and pointing upwards. As a result, I was able to reproduce my bouncing out-swingers, which allowed me to bowl well against John Prior and Matthew Bell (who later nicked off twice against my bowling). I cannot go further without discussing who I was able to square up Matty Bell and take the edge of the shoulder of his bat without disappointing Isaac Deeker.

Batting was okay, but the bouncy nature of the pitches in the nets has made it harder to find my fluency with the timing of my batting strokes as the ball tends to hurry on, especially against the quicker bowlers. That’s why I occasionally like facing spinners or slower bowlers at practice. But batting in the nets hadn’t harmed my batting in matches yet as the wickets are slow, which does help with my fluency in playing shots and keeping out good balls. During practice (including my batting session), Isaac was bowling spin to me (yes, you read it right!) as he was apparently carrying an injury from bowling fast over the weekend. With a quick arm action, Isaac was able to impart significant spin without much flight, which will undoubtedly make it hard to advance down the wicket to him but perhaps easier to paddle sweep if he strayed down leg. I thought after training if he can’t bowl fast ever again one day, he could turn to spin because I would think he has potential even if the wickets are slow because of his pace and spin.

March 4, 

Leading up to the game, I wonder if I should really play as I had actually caught a cold on Thursday, which certainly had sucked the life out of me by the afternoons. It was why I ditched training (the rainy weather also played a part as I didn’t want to aggravate it) on Thursday. I had thought it’s only the last game of the season for us might as well play because I won’t be playing with these people until next season. On the other hand, I was risking worsening my current all-round stats, particularly with the ball as Weston Creek Molonglo has some powerful batters in their line-up.

Overnight rain plus rain in the mornings eventually caused the pitch in Mawson to be unsuitable for play as it was covered in mud, and Chris Arcella thought we may need a canoe to get by for the game. Hence our last game was canceled, and our season came to an end. Some I would imagine be disappointed in not playing, but I was glad for once the cricket was canceled since I didn’t have to risk my health to play one last game for now.

I had pretty much decided to stay at home all day because I wanted to fully recover since I was heading to Melbourne for the long weekend to spend time with Neethu and her parents. More importantly, I didn’t want to get other people sick since several of our guys will be playing semi-finals next weekend. Further washouts ensured that our 2nd and 3rd grades were off to the semis.

Later on, our 1st-grade side did too after chasing down 169 with 2 wickets in hand. As it turned out, it was the first time in 24 years, Ginninderra has had a 1st grade side in the ACT Premier Cricket competition, which is a tremendous achievement. As our coach, Mick Delaney, said, “There’s more work to be done.”




North Canberra Gungahlin vs Ginninderra at Keith Tournier Oval, February 25 2017

February 21

Today appeared a little different from usual. All the 1st/2nd graders were out practicing on the center wicket while everyone else was in the nets. Pretty much three batsmen get padded up together and switch between nets, so all bowlers bowl at everyone. As usual, like last week, I had been able to find my rhythm and hurry the batsmen with my bouncy out-swingers. I had the likes of Chris Griffin and Matthew Hogan (both who play 2nd grade) playing and missing at times. I managed to clean up Kris Oliver by getting the ball to come back into him as he tried to defend.

Furthermore, I even knocked over our tall, lean, mean 1st grade quick Jak Wilcox. The first in-swinger I bowled to him (as he’s a left-handed bat), he left it, but luckily, it was bouncing over the stumps. So he tried to leave my next delivery, which crashed into the stumps (some people think it hit middle while I had felt it hit off stump) much to the delight of onlookers behind me. Tom Carmody called it a Glenn Maxwell moment named after the batsman who left a Ryan Duffield in-swinger two years ago that crashed into his middle stump.

That’s probably how good it got because I was taken to the attack soon after. I suppose I could be rattled in the nets or possibly a game if a batter plays shots against my decent bowling, but I’ll continue to run in and try to get the batsmen out. I wanted to possess the determination that the great Dennis Lillee had.

February 22

It was extremely unusual for me to wake up with a sore left leg this morning. Maybe it couldn’t tolerate the stress I was putting it under while bowling (perhaps I was trying to run-in quickly through my delivery stride). Thankfully I could focus more on core strength at the gym this evening, but it looks like I need to take the foam roller out and use it over the legs before attending training tomorrow. Not only will I need to continue to bowl at the nets, but I will also need to be sharp for fielding practice.

This afternoon was spent at the Southern Cross Cricket Shop in Fyshwick as I had learned of an end of season sale of cricket bats, including my beloved Gray-Nicolls. So initially, I had shortlisted four bats that I wanted to consider.  I managed to pick one, the Oblivion e41, that’s about a 2 pound 9 oz bat with some advice from the owner Vinesh Bennett (Australian Indoor cricketer and a former allrounder with Queanbeyan and Wests-UC). I quite liked the Obvilion e41 and wanted to purchase it immediately. But Vinesh was trying to lead me towards other bats and immediately took me to the Southern Cross Cricket range. He showed me one of the bats from the Tyrant range, which I found as good a pick up as the other bat. I remember picking up a similar bat during the preseason, and the power on the bat was immense. It was Lukey Ryan’s bat, the SCC Assassin, but Vinesh candidly confessed that Lukey’s bat was a Tyrant, but he wanted the Assassin bat stickers. The Tyrant actually had a good weight, although it may feel a little heavier compared to the other bats that Vinesh referred to as those with a ‘concave’ face. So I decided to part with the Gray-Nicolls and purchased the Tyrant, which would have saved me $20 had I bought the other bat. All is required is for Vinesh to prepare the bat for use (including adding a toe shield, extracted and tape to protect the edges), which I expect will be ready by Friday. It may not be used for the rest of the season, but I do intend to bring it out in practice and also whenever I go out with a hit with friends. I suppose best to get a new bat at a discount sooner rather than later.

February 23

There wasn’t going to be any training today at the club as it is the junior/senior day. This is where members from the senior club mingle with their junior counterparts so knowledge can be passed on for future generations (especially those who graduate in the senior ranks). It was why the club stresses this so much every year and was imploring all of us senior cricketers to get on board. Those days have reminded me of the times I used to coach junior cricketers back in Perth when I wasn’t actually playing. Maybe I should have gone, helped out, and pass on some advice.

On the other hand, though, I was keen for some more bowling as I wanted to keep up the good work despite the ongoing soreness of my left leg. So I went to the nets at Reid Oval, where I caught up with a few others who have a semi-final for PM&C/Finance against Treasury on a turf pitch at Deakin Oval on Sunday. I thought I bowled all right like I had been doing recently despite the unevenness of the run-ups, which made it hard to get my rhythm right. Nevertheless, I managed to surprise the captain Gurjiv Singh Khehra amongst a few others with my out-swingers. I managed to beat every single batsman I bowled to, but I suppose Shahnawaz Rasheed probably hated it the most since he was consistently beaten.

I think I also batted quite well, although I still have a bit of work to do against the short ball at times as it is a delivery that I hardly expect because most of the time, the bowlers will be pitching it up. But it shouldn’t be much of a worry as the short ball is of powder puff variety on turf as it sits up for the batsmen to cut or pull. Anyways, at least I didn’t get out and felt my footwork against Gurjiv’s spin was good when it was decisive. I also was happy the way I played on the front foot, particularly my drives and glances against Khurram Shehzad and Shah while keeping out their good balls and leaving most of the wide deliveries alone.

I felt my preparation is pretty good for the upcoming weekend. I thought of being available for the Public Service League semi-final for them on Sunday should they need players. After all, I have this feeling that I’ll never play with these guys again after this season as my marriage is ever approaching closer.

February 24

That left leg soreness never seems to go away, but I wonder now if it’s a strained muscle. If I was to play back to back matches this weekend, I would need to give the leg as much rest as I can in between games, which means my usual pre/post-match gym sessions will need to be put aside.

Tonight most of us 5th graders along with Umesh and Vishnu (who are going to play in 4ths) caught up at Adam’s place for a BBQ as well as watching Australia vs. India test match. I was initially going to skip the catch up since I was going to Vishnu’s to watch the cricket and eat pizza. However, it was a smart suggestion from the others to bring Vishnu along and come since Adam also had Foxtel at his place.

I was grateful for the food since I had hardly eaten since lunch. I managed to stuff plenty of garlic bread and sausages (with medium chili sauce that I brought) as well as two pieces of Caramel Mud Cake that Jess brought. All part of what experts called carb-loading but probably not what they would expect. Overall it was a good night a lot of banter between players, which pretty much was targeted more towards Dominic Ross and Jess. I also had hinted to Chris Arcella (‘Archie’) that I will be willing to open if we bat first. But I wouldn’t mind if I didn’t. We will just have to wait and see. Archie had been right earlier that we would be watching Australia bat tonight, although I had rebuked him earlier in the day, thinking India might grind the Aussies to dust. However, I was astonished that India did collapse against Stephen O’Keefe’s bowling, losing 7 for 11 in the process of being bowled out for just 105.

February 25

Thankfully today, when I checked the weather forecast that it wasn’t going to rain. It is good because not only will we finally be able to play today, we also have to win to keep our semi-final hopes alive (that is provided ANU, who’s currently ahead of us loses to Queanbeyan). It was going to be cloudy all day, so I was hopeful that it would be a good day for bowling regardless of how the pitch at Keith Tournier Oval was going to be like. In the past two games, we played on this season, the teams who batted first have comprehensively won games. We were on the receiving end the first time against North Canberra Gungahlin after we barely reached their 224. Then we were on the favorable side against our cross-town rivals Wests-UC after posting 212 in our 45 overs before bowling them out for 132 courtesy of my maiden five-for (which I’ve on occasions kept on talking about).

Basically, get plenty of runs on the board and apply pressure is pretty much the go on this ground provided the bowling and fielding are in top order. Before I left for the ground, I learned that I wasn’t in the playing 12 for the Public Service League semi-final. It was ok, no big deal because I can at least chill on Sunday. I got to the ground, and the pitch looked really green, which meant that we were considering bowling first if we win the toss. According to what others had said, batting first on this deck means that the likes of David Hohnke would be licking his lips upon the sight of this wicket, hoping he would tear us apart.

This what we did. Archie was the toss and decided to field first. Although Adam and I were able to extract some movement off the pitch, the North’s openers, captain Coughlan and John Hohnke raced away to 125 at drinks. It wasn’t so pretty, and Archie reminded us about it in a hard manner, saying that we were flat, and we needed to tell everyone in the competition that we were here to play regardless of win, loss, or draw. To make matters worse, Vasu Patel pulled up with a hamstring strain and was ruled out for the rest of the match.

We did well to bounce back in the second half of the innings. Dom Ross had John Hohnke caught behind by Archie in his second over after drinks. Then Jason Cooper clean bowled Sam Holland by hitting the top of off stump. He then run out Coughlan, and then Dom Tran took a good catch on the boundary off Jess’s bowling to dismiss David Hohnke. To finish up, Adam clean bowled both Riazuddin and Harendra Kumar as Norths finished on 6 for 241 from there 45 overs. Once again, on Keith Tournier Oval against Norths, I couldn’t quite get on the scorebook and finished with 9 wicketless overs for 33. Same story as last time. Economical considering the overall run-rate of under five and a half runs per over.

From there, it was going to be a struggle when Dan Millane had Sandeep Kumar caught and bowled and Andrew (a.k.a Ginninderra Mouthpiece, according to Stephen ‘Clarrie’ Grimmett) lbw in his second over. Sammy Gautam shone briefly until he was bowled by Harendra as he tried an ugly hock across the line for 18. Apparently, Harendra had accidentally beaten him through a change of pace only because his thumb got stuck into his pocket.

I was soon in once Jason was bowled by Hohnke for 14, and Sam Anavatti was caught attempting a hoick of Clarrie. I went out to bat with my newly acquired SCC Tyrant despite not having practiced with it. It did help me to defy David Hohnke initially, and on the fifth delivery off his over, I managed to clip his natural in-swing into a leg-side gap and thought I could quickly get off the mark, which is why I called yes. But I didn’t foresee the disastrous result when Adam set off pretty late and was run-out. Dom Tran chipped a full toss into the hands of Riazuddin at a short mid-wicket. We were soon 7 for 55, but Jess and I managed to settle down to the drinks break (for me only just since I nearly chopped on a John Hohnke googly that I didn’t pick from the hand).

I managed to get away a beamer from Riazuddin over the keeper’s head via a top edge to get my first boundary for my innings. But I had unfortunately soon after called for a quick single after a misfield by the close-in fielder at short-midwicket only for Jess to be run-our having set off late. I was feeling crap having run-out two of our batters (although I would maintain my innocence in saying that they should have said no immediately if they didn’t think they could have made the run).

Archie came out to bat with a sore left shoulder from keeping in the first innings where he was hit from a vicious delivery from Adam and tried to get me to relax by forgetting about the run-outs. He said we should enjoy batting as it is the first time we’ve batted together in grade. The sore left shoulder only limited him to three shots he could hit with his bottom hand. He managed to smoke Riazuddin over a vacant mid-off to get off the mark with a boundary, but he was soon out bowled behind his legs in the next over. Dom Ross came out and told me he was going to try and swing, given his stuffed ankle from bowling. He slogged a boundary on the leg side to get off the mark, but he was out in the next over to Riazuddin (who changed from spin to medium pace to try to finish the game off) caught by Harendra at short mid-off. We were bowled out for 88, our worst batting performance for the season. I finished on 11 not out, but I wasn’t too happy not only because I run-out two batters, but we were also out of semi-finals contention.

Archie spoke again at the end of the game to all of us. He admitted that there wasn’t much seam movement as he would have thought. But given the wicket flattened out at the end of their innings, it would have seemed a good toss to win. It would have been harsh to make it one of the worse calls since Nasser Hussain sent the Aussies into bat in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba in 2002-03, who then proceeded to smash 2 for 364 at the end of the day. The thing is that Archie had backed his judgment, but it just didn’t work out for us.

I was back to my gloomy self until Archie told me to move on and not dwell on those mistakes for long. He started talking about some issues like his ideal team should he captain next season, and immediately, I was recognized as one of his core players in his side. It shows that both of us have mutual respect for each other, which is good. Given the opportunity next season, I would like to play under Archie’s captaincy, but he hinted to me that if I need to go up the grades, I go up the grades. It is something I could flag with the selectors next season, but I’m happy to play anywhere as long it’s for my strong bowling and my useful batting. Archie had highlighted that we would bring in some new blokes to play for our club next season, and we (including myself) can guide any upcoming talent that comes through our sides through some issues like how to face cunning older bowlers or bowling to a plan and field against particular batsmen.

Driving home, I had wondered if I could have batted a lot differently from what I did. Maybe I could have warned my partners a bit more regarding my desire for quick singles every over. Given that I was facing spin for the most of my innings, I could have used my feet to get to the pitch of the ball and hit it into the gaps, or I could have employed the sweep on balls that were drifting on the leg-side. So many theories, but I wanted to bat time unless I was told to get a move on. Only then could I have shown the work I was doing in the nets against spin, but I wasn’t that confident of trying it as I was using a new bat of mine for the very first time.

Some food for thought moving forward, perhaps I should bring out the new bat at practice next week just to get used to it.

I was amazed to see the Aussies win for the first time in India for 4502 days (their last win was in 2004 in Nagpur) on a pitch that was supposed to hurt them and help the Indians. Steve O’Keefe bowled himself to the best test match figures by an Australian (and the second-best overall) with 12 for 70. Miracles do happen, but the work the Australian team did in Dubai (as well as the lessons learned in Sri Lanka) leading up to this test match seems to be paying off. Australia is 1-0 up in the series. If they can win in Bangalore, then they have the Border Gavaskar Trophy in their grasp.

Two frustrating weekends without cricket, February 18 2017

February 9

For once, I arrived at practice before the scheduled start at 5pm. I arrived from work via the car dealers since I was looking for a brand new car to replace my current Hyundai i20, which is not only small but doesn’t have the latest technology compared to the latest cars like my brother’s i30. I was interested in Mazda 3 since it had blind-spot monitoring, but the purchase didn’t quite materialize since the trade-in cost was lower than I expected.

Anyways, we started training with the usual batting drills. For the first time in a while, I brought out my Gray-Nicolls Training Bat since I wanted to ensure that I was able to hit the middle of the bat. Matty Andrews, the 3rd-grade captain, was curious about the blade when he saw it because I was able to time the ball very well during the drills. That was why I had bought the training bat at the start of pre-season, so I can hit the ball right in the sweet spot nine times out of ten.

After fielding in which we continuously stuffed up the drill that we learned during pre-season, we were back in the nets for the rest of the season. It was stinking hot, which was not overlooked by our coach, Mick Delaney. Despite that, he wanted everyone to maintain the high intensity at net practice and that we would finish training early rather than close to sunset.   

Despite the heat, I (as well as others) felt that I was in good rhythm regarding my bowling. The run-up and the mechanics in bowling the ball clicked most of the time, which meant I delivered bouncing out-swingers at a good pace. I felt my action was quite like the right-arm version of Mitchell Johnson without the ferocious pace and mustache (even if I was running on sore legs courtesy of leg day at the gym yesterday). Nevertheless, I felt I was a handful against all our batters, mainly our PNG imports Kipling Doriga and Hiri Hiri Patana, when I get it on the right spot.

I felt good after training as a result, and I was looking forward to unleashing my rockets at our cross-town rivals, Wests-UC, on Saturday.

February 11

Usually today, we would be playing cricket, but yesterday, Cricket ACT announced that they were canceling all grade games due to the extreme heat as the temperatures were 42 degrees. Understandably, most people in our club were pissed off about the news because they were looking forward to the weekend. I’d too would have liked to play given that I was in excellent bowling form at training (not to mention the whole season). Also, I had been through two weekends back in Perth at similar temperatures, and I had bowled pretty well (in Jan 2013, I bowled 21 overs, took 4 for 92. Then in Jan 2014, I took 3 for 46 in 12 overs). Not to mention, even the Australian cricketers have played in such extreme heat, mainly in the UAE.

On the other hand, though, I had read in ESPN Cricinfo that the Sydney grade cricket games today were also canceled due to the heat.  I learned that the Cricket Australia Doctor, John Orchard was saying that in amateur competitions like Sydney grade cricket, there isn’t enough personnel to monitor players’ health in extreme conditions, unlike in the more professional levels.  So I could understand Cricket ACT’s reason for the cancellation, and it would undoubtedly be exceedingly terrible if people get seriously ill or die due to a heat stroke.

It now makes next weekend a desperate one to keep our semi-finals alive. We need to win every single game from here rather than lose one of them and hope other results go our way. What seemed a possibility is beginning to slip away from our grasp. It seemed that we will lose the grip of the semis unless we win three on the trot starting next weekend.

Despite the cancellation of the cricket, I was able to redeem myself with a purchase of a new Hyundai Elantra, which has the updated technology and more prominent space than my current one. I’m hoping that I could pick it up on Friday afternoon and start driving it to the upcoming game.

February 16

I couldn’t attend training since it was Valentine’s day and Neethu was in town due to work. But I managed to participate in today’s training session, which started off for me with a fielding drill that involved every player.

Yesterday was the coach’s birthday, and he celebrated by playing in the curtain-raiser between an ACT XI and a Papua New Guinea side. He did go reasonably ok by taking a wicket and scoring 11 not out in the end. He later appreciated the support he got from some players of the club, which made him look ten feet taller. But he was in no mood to hand out the presents as he continuously demanded full effort in our fielding.

It was then straight to the nets where I was requested to immediately pad up to bat with Dominic Tran in one net. I ended up facing mostly spin from Sam Anavatti and Vishal Suresh, although Umesh Patel was there to bowl some medium pace. I felt really good with the bat again, mainly when I use my feet to get to the pitch of the ball, which was an improvement to my old approach, which was to play from the crease. I think for me moving forward, the key is not to get too over-confident that you either miss a ball and get stumped or slice one, which could present a catching opportunity. I am hopeful of a batting promotion this weekend as Joe had promised me of a batting opportunity having to sit out a few times, especially when we were chasing.

The focus for me was whether I could produce the bouncing out-swingers from last week. The answer was yes, and although I could be targeted by anyone taking a free swing like Dominic Ross or could be negated by Umesh and Prasad Karlapur, I still managed to beat the bat with those out-swingers most of the time. I had a good rhythm like I did last week, although the pace remained the same despite carrying fresh legs (courtesy of the use of the foam roller after gym workouts). It was certainly contrary to my expectations, but it showed that I can still bowl at a decent pace if I carry some soreness in the body. Leg soreness is okay, but the pain in the shoulder is not.

February 17

I was already on cloud nine when I finally drove home my new Hyundai Elantra and already had grown to like it, especially with the leather interiors and, more importantly, it’s power when driving on 80+ km/h roads. Getting the new car came in handy, especially when I actually will be driving down south to Conder instead of Kippax 1, which is deemed unfit for use. I was looking forward to playing at the club headquarters on the primary ground, but all season, I was aware that a drainage system was being applied in time for the upcoming AFL season. What a shame, particularly for the 1st and 2nd-grade cricketers. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to returning back to Conder. After all, my first three wickets in grade cricket came from there, and I bowled reasonably well there in winning games.

Selections had come out while I was waiting for my car to be ready for driving away. Joe Laria had been promoted to 4ths for the weekend, which meant the captaincy went to Chris ‘Archie’ Arcella. To be honest, it’s good he got the captaincy because he has excellent ideas for the game and a grand vision. He was the one who drove the candid chat a couple of weeks ago after the defeat to ANU. So he seemed the right choice for the role. Chatting with Archie after his appointment, he told me that he would work out his batting order tonight. I hinted to him that I’ve been batting well in the nets and hadn’t had much of a go with the blade. To him, he’s concerned with winning the game, which is fine because all I got to do is turn up and hopefully bowl nine accurate overs.

As it turned out, both Sammy and Umesh are playing for us, which meant our successful opening partnership is back. Hopefully, Sammy can continue making double-digit scores for us no matter how quickly the runs come off his bat. We got a decent batting line-up, so if Archie was kind, he could bat me around 7-8, but I’ll have to wait and see what will be his final batting order.

Archie was kind enough to invite me over for a BBQ at Adam O’Connor’s place, but I had turned it down as I was feeling a little exhausted. Then Andrew ‘Lovey’ Loveday messaged me asking to keep saying he dislocated his thumb and wanted me to take the gloves. I declined given my inexperience with the gloves and the desire to ball more. It’s only because that such a big move on my part will deprive Archie of one his strike weapons with the ball in hand. So I told Archie that Lovey wanted me to keep, and I refused for the same reasons I gave. I then realize that both Archie and Lovey decided to stitch me up, but Archie said not to worry as it was all a joke. I’m like Dennis Lillee during his playing days since I’m naive, gullible, and prone to a practical joke. Sometimes I just don’t get it.

Phew, at least I can bowl my bouncing out-swingers tomorrow rather than take the gloves. Someone will have to do the job if Lovey can’t.

February 18

I was very conscious of the weather this morning when it rained, and my mood didn’t improve when showers were forecasted around the time we were supposed to play. Although right now the sun is shining, there could be some likelihood of abandonment or at best a delayed start, which I still believe in since showers aren’t forecasted in the second half of the afternoon game (so a twenty20 may be on the cards).

Even if they called the game off, I wouldn’t have minded so much because I could go shopping instead and have a more relaxing Sunday in front of the couch playing Don Bradman Cricket 14 most of the day. That’s what happened eventually. Both Archie and the opposition skipper called off the match, and I managed to complete my shopping. So I will have a more relaxing Sunday ahead tomorrow.

But admittedly, the decision to abandon the game was made with a bit of reluctance on our part since we want to go out to win to keep our semi-finals alive. The wicket at Conder was very green, and I would have relished in bowling on the wicket. The only issue was the rain, which started again as I approached the ground, and it got heavier as the afternoon went on. Archie was in a bit of a fix whether to play or not, given it’s a must-win situation. Hence he was asking the other bowlers and me whether I’ll be ok to bowl on this track. He received a mixed response, but I was keen to bowl despite the wet outfield. I wanted to go out, and bowl liked I’ve been doing at training. Ultimately at 1pm, the match was abandoned, leaving us needing to win our last two games with results needing to go our way, including ANU losing their previous two games (provided they didn’t beat Weston Creek Molonglo).

The only highlight of the afternoon was the thunderstorm, which scared the crap out of Jason Cooper. It was funny, but I could sympathize with him for being shaken up because the thunder was so loud.

Ginninderra vs ANU at O’Connor Oval, February 4 2017

I was really looking forward to playing this weekend as I really enjoyed the progress in both my bowling and batting during the week at club training.

Firstly the batting. For quite a while, I’ve been batting outside my crease to negate the swing and avoid being LBW. However, at training, there were times that I was caught out for pace as the ball was, therefore, coming quicker. I remember Chris Lynn in one of his YouTube videos was explaining that batting outside your crease is a great way to speed up your reflexes, particularly against pace bowling. However, given that the ball doesn’t come on well to the bat on turf wickets, I’d decided to go back to basics and bat with my feet either side of the crease. The result was remarkable as I was able to let the ball come on to my bat with good timing. The shot I really liked was the back-foot punch through the off-side of Joe Laria’s bowling, which earned his approval as I was able to get back and across instinctively to get on top of the bounce and play the shot. Similarly, I was able to drive on the up against the medium pace of Dominic Ross and Jess Howard by getting my head towards the ball.

Then, more importantly, bowling. I continued the ‘Early not late’ mantra from before and combined that with a focus towards an acceleration in my run-up before delivery, I had decided to try to let it rip and see how my body can cope. On Tuesday, I had a sore right hamstring and a sore left foot. But on Thursday, I didn’t feel any pain. I was quite happy with how my stock delivery was coming out of the hand at times. Although the odd delivery maybe of powder puff variety, I felt that the ball coming out of my hand had a bit more energy than before, which was evident every time I beat the right-handers at training with the ball occasionally getting a ‘kick’ off a right length. People like Tom Carmody and Sean Burgess were wondering if I wasn’t copying Hilfy’s (Ben Hilfenhaus) action anymore, and I confirmed that by explaining that I had gotten stronger over time and decided to emulate Brett Lee’s action. It didn’t quite come out like Brett Lee, but I was copying his method of loading up before delivery, which helped him bowl fast and swing the ball. During this week, though, it felt that I had my own action, which was based on the action honed at Southern Cricket.

So I was ready for the weekend with my game in order having found extra pace through my run-up and action. I will never be a tearaway, but I’m confident that I had enough pace and movement to trouble any batsmen as long as I hit my areas very well. Nevertheless, I will have a big part to play, given that we don’t have much frontline options as before, although Adam O’Connor, Joe, and Caleb Stevens were playing. It’s pretty much up to me and those three to strike or to keep a leash on the ANU batters. While we don’t have the Patels, Umesh and Vasu alongside Sammy Gautam who all went up to 4ths this weekend, we still have a decent batting line up with Sandeep Kumar, Joe, Govind, Vishal Suresh, Andrew Loveday, Chris ‘Archie’ Arcella, Blake Nitschke and Sam Anavatti.

It’s really nice that people appreciate it when people go up the grades and sent their best wishes. That was the case when Matthew Hogan went up from 2nds to play 1sts and when Jess went from 5ths to 3rds. This is what the club is all about appreciation for other people’s achievements, which implies the strong chemistry we all have. Hopefully, these people won’t be overawed by a slightly more robust experience, but they can come back better cricketers.

As I was coming by car, raindrops were falling, so I thought although Adam was to go for the 2nd innings only, is it worth taking a gamble in bowling first so we could extract any moisture that might be left courtesy of the rain. When I arrived to play, Joe had indeed decided to bowl first. Not for the same reasons I had, though. He thought the current overcast conditions might help us in prising out some early wickets. Caleb, as it turned out, got shifted to 4ths and later took 5 wickets. So we got Duncan Gammage, which is a bonus given he took 5 wickets in his last game for us.

Both of us were to opening the bowling, so Duncan took me to the pitch after warm-ups (where he suggested that banging the ball into the grass is the best way to warm-up before bowling). The pitch had one side with 2 almost adjacent grass patches that Duncan would like to take advantage of. It then left me with the other side, which is full of cracks that Duncan believes I would be okay with as I would pitch the ball up more. As it turned out, the side with the green patches made the ball swing too much, which made it very hard to control it at times. Nevertheless, Duncan’s first spell was a beaut. He beat both openers Josh Butson and Sandeep Gangal and had Sandeep squared up at times. Sandeep was dropped in the slips in Duncan’s 2nd over. He later finished with 2 for 15 off his 9 overs.

Meanwhile, I was struggling for rhythm when I couldn’t land the ball on the 4th stump line and swing it out. It took me 2 overs to realize that my run-up was stuffed, so I remarked it again and had better rhythm as my spell went on. I managed to get an edge of Butson’s bat that just didn’t carry to Joe at gully then a leading-edge off Sandeep’s bat just fell short of our debutant, Brandon Edgerton at square leg. I was able to regain my out-swing soon after making a slight adjustment in my angle when I went slightly wider of the crease

I finally had a wicket in the 7th over. I had beaten Butson with two out-swingers, and I was attempting another out-swinger, and Butson would have thought that too. So he left it except the ball hit the top of off-stump. TIMBERRRRRR!!!!!!

I was extremely overjoyed when I finally broke through, and after a few hi-5s, I celebrated with another dab. Archie thinks I set him up beautifully with two-outswingers and a cutter. But I told him that it happened by accident as I was trying another out-swinger. The ball was probably angled in from wide of the crease, so that’s probably done for Butson. I suppose I was due some luck, which I managed to get. I would have had a second wicket having trapped Kalyan Chakravarthy in front of the stumps in which he got the benefit of the doubt. So I finished up with 9 consecutive overs, 2 maidens, 1 for 19. Once again, keeping the bowling tight like I did in my last match 2 weeks ago.

Joe (who finished with 3 for 27 off his 9 overs) trapped his opposite number Sandeep LBW before a terrible mix up between Kalyan and his young partner led the latter to be runout by Sandeep with help from Govind (to knock the bails) after I shouted ‘Bowler.’ John Piechowski was out handling the ball, and ANU was 4/86 after 30 overs when we took drinks. ANU managed somehow to get to 157 in the end despite an excellent low catch by Sam in short mid-wicket of Joe’s bowling. I was filthy in myself when I fluffed a tough chance at short mid-wicket while trying to catch a pull shot off Brandon’s bowling. I was filthy because not only I denied Brandon a maiden wicket, but I was a regulation catch having worked on my catching at training in the past. I managed though to redeem myself with a run-out by taking the bails off from a throw from Archie to run-out Vedant Gupta, who made 29.

That was going to be my last contribution for the day as I decided not to bat. It would have been hard to bat given that Brandon was to have a crack at opening in addition to our talented batting line-up that I’ve mentioned before. To be honest, my preferred position would be to bat in the top 7, given that I’m more of a batsman who’s more capable of staying around than scoring quickly. So, I would not bat and probably wait until an opportunity came by. At the moment, I’m happy to just bowl at least my 6 overs for the game and help out umpiring and scoring where necessary.  I believe Joe told me he’ll give me an opportunity later in the season, but I’ll have to wait and see about that and continue to bat well in the nets for now.

Even I had to bat, I wouldn’t have been able to deal with another top-order collapse we had when we were 5 for 58 at drinks with Brandon, Andrew, Adam, Blake, and Sam all in the pavilion. Nevertheless, we had a remote chance once Vishal and Govind were at the crease constructing a crucial partnership of 33, but both batsmen were out for 25 and 17, respectively. There was faint hope that Sandeep, Archie, and Joe could guide us home, but ultimately, the task was too high for us. We were bowled out for 124, and we lost by 33 runs.

We now lost 3 in a row and now have to win almost all our games to qualify for the semi-finals. Thankfully we still have a favorable draw with Wests-UC and Tuggerangong in our next two games while ANU has it tough against Weston Creek, Norths, and Queanbeyan. Unless we improve even Wests and Tuggerangong can still beat us. It was good that Joe and Archie had a serious talk about our current situation and what we need to do from here. Joe was encouraging us to attend training more so we can work on our fielding on Tuesday and then running between wickets on Thursday, which was the areas that are failing us time and time again. Archie spoke a lot about mateship and the importance of playing as a team every weekend by being supportive of our teammates, especially when one makes a mistake out on the field. The idea is to send a message across to the opposition that although they won, they can say that they were beaten by an energetic close-knit team rather than a bunch of youngsters with some seniors.

So we know where we stand and what we need to do to get better for the rest of the season. On a personal note, Joe appreciated my work in our honest chat that despite me bowling 9 overs, I was putting in the effort in the field in stopping runs, nearly taking a tough chance and being involved in a run-out.  So I am getting into Joe’s good books for reasons other than my bowling.

My new mate Jeet Patel was continuing to bat for time. He might have made 6 runs and batted for about 8 overs, but the right thing was that he was starting to enjoy batting again and being positive. Having made ducks and the start of the season, he’s slowly getting better. After all, he’s going to be 20 soon, and if he continues to work hard, he can be an outstanding batsman (as long he buys a new bat).   

Australia Day Long Weekend: A trip to Adelaide, January 29 2017

January 25

I am heading off to Adelaide to spend time with Neethu and her parents as their anniversary was tomorrow. However, Neethu’s dad will be joining us on Friday as he’s working in Melbourne. This was planned a couple of months ago, and I managed to use up my flex leave for Friday without touching my annual leave. The intention was to stay until Friday morning, so I could fly back in time to play against Eastlake as we continued our push towards semi-finals. Now with my brother and his friend coming to Adelaide on Friday, those plans had to be shelved, which meant another week of cricket lost.

I anyways would expect the team to beat Eastlake given our steady improvements across bat and ball, particularly against Weston Creek Molonglo and Queanbeyan, where we competed and won the former but not the latter.  I am looking forward to possibly spending a now free Friday with indoor cricket, then gym as Neethu will be busy with her work the whole day. It would allow me to practice the ‘Early not late’ mantra that Luke was telling me through our past sessions with bowling that will allow me to rotate the trunk efficiently, generating pace, bounce, and swing. These were the things that weren’t coming out in past games were I probably was at best military medium pace. The inspiration came from an old YouTube video from Luke, but I was focused on where his subject, Cody Butler, was loading up before delivery stride. Cody was on the Top Gun Pace Bowling competition in Perth back in the 2012-13 season, where he was clocked in the 130s. Thereby he was a great example to learn from. I had been shadow bowling a few times and found I was going through my action a lot quicker than before, but I really need to actually try with the ball in hand. 

As I was leaving the airport, it was going to be the last time I will see my parents in Canberra before they fly back tomorrow evening. It’s always emotionally gut-wrenching when they leave you after they stay 1-2 weeks with you and do a lot for you in terms of cooking and cleaning. To be honest, I broke down a few times in 2015 when they departed Canberra after staying with me. But the good thing is, they are always at the other end of the line, and they do visit now and then whenever feasible.

On the flight, I continued my travel routine in reading cricket related literature. I had Mark Nicholas’ A Beautiful Game then I had Allan Border’s Cricket as I see it and Adam Gilchrist’s autobiography True Colors. I always like to read these kinds of documents as I always look for ideas that could improve my game. It may be little rich adopting ideas from those who played top-level (domestic and international) cricket. Still, these cricketers were also playing club cricket on turf like me and many others who are currently playing. Reading a chapter on Fast Bowling from A Beautiful Game gave me inspiration when there was talk of short skinny cricketers bowling fast and making an impacting particularly Late Malcolm Marshall who became the greatest West Indian quick (and one of the greatest quicks) of all time who also spent over a decade under Nicholas’ captaincy in Hampshire. I’m no different from Malcolm as I’m under six feet and weigh under 80 kg yet became stronger through the gym. 

I reached Adelaide after 8pm and Akhil Menon, whom I met on Neethu’s birthday, fetched me to took me home. It was good as we can discuss what we could possibly do on Friday as I was keen to practice my bowling as I will not have any other cricket engagements this week. It’s perfect that he sincerely wants to get back into playing club cricket like he used to until a few years ago. While he indicated his interest in wicket-keeping, I suggested to him to work on all aspects of cricket – batting, bowling, and keeping. Having a versatile player will be really good, particularly in lower grade cricket. Not just that, Akhil used to bowl, and it will be useful to rediscover his love for bowling.

January 26

Today’s Australia Day and Indian Republic Day. It’s a dual treat for all Indians living in Australia, including my own. There’s always cricket action for both the Australian and Indian cricket teams every year on this date, and today’s no different. Last year these teams played a T20 match at the Adelaide Oval as preparations for the World T20. This year, India is hosting England in a T20 game in Kanpur while Australia is back at the Adelaide Oval against Pakistan.

Despite the cricket being on TV, it’s good to see on our club’s private Facebook group that the 5th-grade captain Joe Laria has initiated a net session to get some of the 5th graders to train ahead of the match against Eastlake this weekend. I think Joe has been talking about this moment for a while, so he’ll be happy that people have become receptive to his initiative. It has been hard to get all, let alone most the 5th graders to practice, but this is a start if we want to peak leading into the semi-finals.

I usually watch cricket when I’m not playing nor training. But today was not the case. Instead, I’m watching back-to-back  Bollywood movies in Tea Tree Plaza. It is the first time I’m doing this as I only come to watch just one film and go. However, the lure of watching two excellent movies that released simultaneously was too good to pass up.

I actually quite enjoyed watching Kaabil and Raees, which were both released the previous day and indeed won the hearts of the critics. Hritik Roshan was superb in his portrayal of a blind man seeking revenge against those who raped his equally blind wife. I honestly thought the corrupt cops who helped cover up the rape weren’t pursued, but I understood the ones who committed the horrendous crime were punished through the law of karma. It was amusing that the cop who tried to get our hero arrested failed as the STD booth owner was also blind. Nevertheless, justice was served because it was undoubtedly a very cowardly act to attack a helpless woman and push her to suicide. So I’m glad that our blind hero went away scot-free.

Raees was equally a perfect watch. Shahrukh Khan showed his thrills and emotions like his previous movies as he, in his avatar of Raees, battles the authorities while dealing with his liquor business and caring for the innocent in his colony in Gujarat. I also liked the performance of Nawazuddin Siddiqui (a well-known character actor) who tries to rein in King Khan successfully by killing him in the end. It was contrary to my expectations, which was that Raees would serve his time in jail and then released in the end as he surrendered for the sake of his people.

It was a perfect day watching these good movies. I was quite stunned about Australia’s batting, which was too good for Pakistan in a high scoring fixture. David Warner again continued his superb one day form from 2016 with 170 off 128 balls while it was good to see Travis Head make triple figures for the first time during his 128 in front of his home crowd. Despite the high scoring encounter, Mitchell Starc took wickets and kept the runs down too much like Hasan Ali did in his maiden five-for in Sydney. It shows that there’s always hope for bowlers in a batter centric environment in cricket if they execute their skills and plans under pressure.

January 27

As usual, I posted my thoughts of both Raees and Kaabil on Facebook. This has started since last year and has continued on.  Amit Pardeshi commented on my Kaabil review that as I write so well, I should consider a career in writing. Ha! Do a Chetan Bhagat who sacrificed his banking career to pursue a similar career? I don’t think so. I can’t leave my day job, which I really like, especially being in public service.

Furthermore writing is like cricket for me. Both are passions and interests which will remain that way.  Perhaps he was just joking, but that’s me. I occasionally cannot decipher things that were really jokes. Anyways, no harm intended.

Today I’m looking forward to spending a day that wouldn’t be out of place for top-level cricketers. I am on my day off from work, so I have plenty of time to spare as Neethu’s working today. I spent three hours with Akhil and his friends playing cricket in Glenauga in the nets behind their school. There were two turf grounds when we arrived, but we were practicing in the nets. I had the opportunity to use the four-piece balls that Akhil’s friend Jeet Patel provided for the use which was good as I had a white ball in my hand which I was able to get it to swing it considerably but not always consistent due to my constant desire for pace that results in drainage of energy. The consistency came in later in the session when I go for the 3 point movement – right knee left foot kick, right knee combined with the ‘Early not late’ mantra with my hands.

Batting I felt was a bit of a gain once I changed my grip on my bat while following prior advice with my bat swing. I batted all right when I defend my stumps and play shots. I was savage on Jeet whenever he flighted the ball, so I could come down the wicket and hit him over his head. Nevertheless, I was committing the same mistake that international batsmen make, which was to play for the turn but get beaten by one that doesn’t. He had the arm-ball and encouraged him to attempt the cross-seam variation, which was effectively used by wicket-to-wicket finger spinners like Rangana Herath and Ravindra Jadeja to get balls to spin and some to skid with the arm. I also challenged him to bowl in a situation like last two overs against an aggressive batsman like me to help him mentally prepared for scenarios that involve him deciding and manipulating his field. He didn’t do too bad. He got me out in the 12th delivery while conceding just 12 runs.

As it turns out, Jeet also plays turf cricket like I do but more of a batting all-rounder who bowls finger-spin. He had been in a rough trot with the bat, but the way he batted and bowled against me showed he had talent. He just needed to be prepared mentally to succeed. The late Richie Benaud said that cricket is 90% mental and 10% skill, but don’t try it with 10%.  I suggested to him to give himself time at the wicket to build his innings for the first 10-15 balls then rotate the strike before playing expansively. He’s only 19, so he’s got time to shine. But he has the knowledge to pass on to Akhil to help him bat and keeping.

By the time we finished and ate lunch at Hungry Jacks, it was about 4pm when we arrived back home. I decided to head to the nearby gym to get some much-needed gym time after a few days’ absence from Monday. I spent about 1.5 hours in the gym. So basically, I spent almost my full day in physical activity, which was quite rare. I saw the line up for tomorrow’s fixture against Eastlake. Obviously, I was out, and so was Ben (who’s on a cruise) and Govind (due to family reasons). Coming in is Vishal Suresh and the Isons, Michael, and Thomas. On paper, we have an excellent batting line-up, but can we deliver. Despite my absence, we have a decent bowling attack led by Adam O’Connor and Joe Laria with Thomas, Jess Howard, and Sam Anavatti as support. I think we should win, but we must be cautious since Eastlake pushed us to the finish last time, and we were beaten by a bottom four team that was in the last place. I wish not to be disrespectful towards Eastlake, but I back the team to win.

Sachit and his friend arrived in Adelaide after Neethu’s dad arrived from Melbourne. I had an opportunity to drive the family’s Toyota Kluger, which needed care while going around bends and turning as it’s a much bigger car than all the ones I’d driven. I had further experience with it earlier in the day with the anticipation of driving it tomorrow. To finish off the day, all of us watched the semi-final in the Australian Open between Nadal and Dimitrov. Only Sachit, Neethu’s dad, and I stayed right towards the end, which becomes a five-set match that lasted nearly five hours. I compared this to the 2010 World Twenty20 semi-final between Australia vs. Pakistan. After so many twists and turns, Nadal prevailed through which will be between two greats in the final between Nadal and Federer on Sunday evening.

January 28

Today was spent going on a drive to a couple of wineries in Barossa Valley, and the Whispering Wall, followed by dinner at Arya’s. It was a typical stinking hot day, but I didn’t think the weather in Canberra was any different. On the cricketing front, it was a good day for Ginninderra with 3 wins in the five grades. 3rd and 4ths won on the first innings, so did 1sts only to register what was their 11th outright victory ever in 340 games since the 2003-04 season (if the facts are to be correct). Remarkably, the big boys fought back from a setback when I read in the Canberra Times that James Coate who bats in the top-order left-handed and bowls spin was ruled out for the rest of the season courtesy of a freakish injury to his finger which was damaged when the roller shutter of the canteen at Kippax Oval slammed down at a faster pace than he expected. I would have felt that it was a big blow given that it was James’ first season in 6 years (he was making a comeback), and he played a part in mentoring the younger spinners during pre-season. Nevertheless, true character has been on display with this outright victory courtesy of Luke Ryan, who continues to have a superb season with the ball in hand with 6/69.

It’s good to hear that the 4ths finally broke through in 2-day cricket despite being a precarious position last weekend at 8/79 chasing 127. After a strong bowling effort in the first weekend led by Caleb Stevens and captain Chakra Ravinuthala, Amit Pardeshi, I heard made 52 to help win on first innings. At one point, they needed to score 158 in 25 overs, and they were off to a decent start at 0/55 after 9. But had fallen short despite Chakra’s 50. Good game it was and thankfully 4th-grade were the beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, my mates in 5ths couldn’t quite pull through losing by 4 wickets having made 188. Once again, Ian Chattin, who made an unbeaten century against us last time, rode his luck on his way to 95. As the case throughout the season, the catching let us down, which would have helped us seize these kinds of moments. It was the second time we lost to a last-place time this season. It just shows any team can win on any day. It happened for us when we lost against Eastlake and Tuggeranong and when we even defeated Weston Creek Molonglo, who were previously unbeaten. Not to worry, there’s still time to turn it around with five games to go. We only played one perfect game against Wests-UC when I took my five-for, thereby we are yet to play another classic match since. These last five games will allow us to execute at least one classic match.

On another front, I was happy to hear that Jeet has started becoming positive, and he felt good when batting today. He batted for 10 overs and scored about 10 although they intended to save their 2-day match. In that situation, it was good he was positive. Even in any position, scoring 10 runs and batting for 10 overs is a reasonable rate, which means he’s spending time at the crease to score his runs. I am pleased my advice has rubbed off on him, and he appreciated that. Jeet’s only 19; thereby he can make mistakes and learn from them now rather than he’s in his mid to late 20s. I want to be an excellent sounding board to Jeet without interfering with his game. I hope moving forward this innings will be a turning point for him, and consistency will be part of his game like it has been for me on synthetic wickets from late 2014 to early 2016 with the bat and also throughout this season with the ball.

A Confession, January 24 2017

I have a confession to make that is related to playing grade. During late 2013-14, I was working in an IT consultancy firm, Visagio when I got a placement for the WA Health Graduate Program in 2014 which I was part of the recruitment before joining Visagio one month later. Although I spoke to a few key people including my Dad, I decided to continue in Visagio and decline the graduate program position as my current job was paying a lot better than the other despite the uncertainty of job security that WA Health (being in the public service) can offer.

It was costly when I was laid off from Visagio soon after. Three months later, I joined a national garage doors enterprise, Centurion Garage Doors to look after the nationwide IT-related systems until I attended an interview for a placement for the Australian Taxation Office graduate program in 2015. This time, it was too good to pass up after what previously happened but I was skeptical since I was leaving the home comforts to take on a crucial job interstate in Canberra.

At the time of the move, I was playing in the lower grades of the South Metropolitan Cricket Association competition in Perth for Riverton-Rostrata. Sometimes I played as a bowler, sometimes as a batsman and sometimes as an all-rounder. I had played 65 games, took 62 wickets and scored 413 runs. Having moved to Canberra, I then joined Canberra Workers Redbacks and played 17 games, took 12 wickets and scored 221 runs. It was in my final season with the Redbacks that I decided to give grade cricket a go and I haven’t looked back since.

Put it this way. Had I accepted the WA Health position, I would be in Perth for pretty much a very long time as the public service guarantees job security more than the private sector. Furthermore, I would have continued playing in lower grade cricket for Riverton-Rostrata and possibly played 100+ games, took 100+ wickets and scored 1000+ runs. So Grade cricket wouldn’t have happened at all since the WACA Premier Cricket competition was very competitive including selections.

Even if I had moved to Canberra after my career mishaps, had I not known about the ACT Premier Cricket competition through my own network, I would have been playing for the Redbacks and possibly played 100+ games, took 100+ wickets and scored 1000+ runs.

Now it doesn’t matter. Here I am taking part in Ginninderra in Grade and I have taken my first ever five-wicket haul and learned some valuable lessons in all facets of my game from my coach and senior players. Of course, I had that facility in Riverton-Rostrata which partly was why I joined an organized set-up in grade cricket only after realizing that synthetic wicket cricket in Canberra wasn’t to my liking.

Although I do regret what happened in my personal career, I’m grateful for what happened afterward with my job and cricket, both of which are going quite well.



The Comeback Match a.k.a Ginninderra vs Queanbeyan at Brad Haddin Oval (Queanbeyan Town Park), January 21 2017

January 10

I had felt quite rusty throughout the training session today, but these kinds of feelings have occurred frequently during the season. Today was a hot day. It was 34 when I arrived at training and when training finished around 7.30, it was slightly cooler, but it was 32 degrees. My bowling was a bit of struggle when I failed to hit a consistent line and length, but that’s typical given the differences between the practice synthetic wickets and the actual turf wickets. I later had realized, though, that I found it hard to replicate my current bowling action that is based on Ben Hilfenhaus as I had noticeably got stronger during the holiday period. I would need to make a tweak in my bowling action and focus on generating bounce and swing and use my shoulder to generate pace, much like Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stonis, or Hilton Cartwright.

With that, I will need to develop some change-ups that may be in pace or length but will require constant practice before I take it out to the games. It’s essential; otherwise, I’ll be predictable to good opposition batsmen. In other words, I need to outsmart the batsmen like Dennis Lillee, and Glenn McGrath used to do. While listening to the commentary during a Big Bash League game, I heard Ricky Ponting saying that variation should come in the middle of the over rather than at the start or in the end. What he implies was that it’s essential to start and finish an over well, and we should try to keep it simple at those times. At the moment, I have variations, but I need to suss out when and what to use. It’s essential to check the intentions of the opposition and bowl accordingly.

That was one of the lessons I had learned today. Earlier, I got a useful tip from Lochlan Christian (In my view, Ginninderra’s pin-up boy of nearly 2m who’s built like a big unit) while we were going through some batting drills.  He says that I have a chance to push at the ball with the low back-lift or hit the cover of the ball with a high back-lift. He found that I was trying to load up and hit the ball in one motion, which threw out my timing. Pushing at the ball isn’t my style, and it was discouraged by the coaching squad at Southern Cricket. Hence, I went for the latter approach, which outlines my desire to hit the ball and be positive in defense and attack. I might be suspectable to the occasional yorker, but I’m up for the challenge. I don’t think I couldn’t be attacking as my Gray-Nicolls Kaboom became very light. Still, I was able to play some attacking shots against the spin of Sam Anavatiti and the seam of Jess Howard (who bowled with an ankle that was bombarded courtesy of a Joe Laria yorker).   

That was lesson number two. In between the batting and bowling, I did some slips catching with Matty Andrews, the 3rd-grade captain. The catching had improved since I started working with Matty a couple of months ago. He noticed how well I was able to move either side to catch balls around my stomach, but he felt I’m missing the low-down catches due to the weight being back and not forward and had given me a couple of useful pointers on how I can overcome that issue. I hadn’t been tested much on the catches above shoulder height, but it’s all about watching the ball right through to the hands. Hopefully, it’s something I can translate into the outfield catches that could happen on Thursday. When I told Joe about my fielding work, he said that the catching is all in the mind and suggested that I adopt the attitude of wanting to take the catch rather than thinking, “Oh crap, it’s coming to me” before dropping it. Nevertheless, as indicated before, I’m ready to adopt a positive attitude to my fielding.

Thankfully during training, I was able to keep a low profile regarding Diary of a Grade cricketer. Mick Delaney, our coach, warned me to stay grounded, although I’ve gained a lot of attention through the massive increase of likes. When I arrived at training, I found out that Chris ‘Griffo’ Griffin had promoted my diary through the club’s public Facebook page. Basically, the word continues to go out, and it remains to be seen how popular this diary can get overtime. On to training for Thursday, although I am quite concerned about the weather leading up to match on Saturday. I certainly wouldn’t want to see another match washed out.

January 12

It was a really really hot day today, with temperatures in the mid to high 30s throughout the day. As a matter of fact, it was in the mid-30s between the time I finished work and when I went to training after 5pm. Unfortunately, I was ruled out of selection for this week as Dad asked me to attend house inspections on Saturday afternoons, which was clashing with the game against the unbeaten Weston Creek Molonglo. It is tough to say no to Dad, especially with house hunting, as more important than a match as I need to find an excellent place to rent for at least 12 months. I figured though given that I was going to miss a game around the Australia Day long weekend this month, it was ok to miss this weekend, and the next besides, I hope a place gets found before the end of this month.

Bowling continues to be in progress as I have been able to extract swing regardless of the pace I was bowling at (I was occasionally trying to bowl with a fast whippy action). With that, I was able to hit the edges of the batters and beat their bats in the nets, but the length wasn’t that consistent. I was looking through my previous footage from what I did with Southern cricket so I can keep a note of the components that will help generate consistent bounce and movement.  My batting was somewhat ok. It didn’t start well when I realized that I was playing away from my body, but once my elbow was right on my stomach, it allowed me to play closer to my body, which brought more fluid shots, particularly while facing spin.

I had decided, though, that given there’s a likelihood of me not playing any grade games this month, I can continue to still attend training to continually hone my bowling action and batting technique so that I’ll be up and running to play for the rest of the season. Although it would have been nice to play every game, especially against the best, it allows me to build confidence in my own bowling action.

January 15

Yesterday, it was such fantastic news for the 5th grade to upset the previously undefeated Weston Creek Molonglo at Reid Oval. Last time we faced off, they defeated us by 7 wickets chasing down our 4/166 in Aranda. The scores were very similar. Weston Creek was bowled out for 163 in over 25 overs, and we tracked it down by about 15 overs to spare despite having only 10 men for the game. When I saw that Weston Creek was 6/104 after 13 overs, I was wondering whether they were playing a Twenty20 game or a standard 45 over one. But it was a reasonable effort from the team to dismiss the best batting team in the 5th game. It was good we sent them in as they were a perfect chasing side. So I suppose asking them to set the pace may have worked in our favor when Joe Laria, our captain, took 5 wickets, making him the 3rd player in our side to take a haul in 5th grade. Not to mention being our leading wicket-taker and perhaps within the top 5 for the grade (displacing me). Although not having me around was a bit of a bummer, Joe’s performance shows that we have great bowling options in Joe, myself, Adam (who took 3 wickets in that game), and Will not to mention Dom Ross who took a five-for last season. Having such a bowling depth will be useful if any of us has a bad day with the ball. Ironically, I’m writing this because Joe was telling me that he never had such a seam-bowling depth at the same time last season.

We managed to chase the runs down courtesy of Farhan Qureshi (a.k.a Faz), who usually plays in the higher grades as a fast-bowling all-rounder. He was playing as a batsman due to an injury that prevents him from bowling. He finished unbeaten on 60, and he got assistance from Umesh Patel, who batted through the innings to make 49 not out (deserved a fifty). It was heartening to hear Umesh make runs after a tough start for the season. He’s proven to be very adhesive and hard to get out at the crease from the moment he joined us from the 3rd game in 5ths. Thereby It was good that his hard work has finally paid off in a significant way. It’s all about trusting your processes and technique and believe that a substantial contribution was around the corner. That feeling happened for me this season until I got my five-for, and it’s happening for Umesh. Hearing Umesh getting runs will be a big confidence booster for us, with the season winding down. Having Umesh and Sammy Gautam (continued his consistency with 17) making runs at the top hopefully can provide us with good starts at the top of the order, and already, both these batters have developed a good friendship on and off the field which will significantly help.

Today to get some match practice, I accepted an invitation from Umair Yousaf to play in a Public Service League game in Kaleen against the Australian Bureau of Statistics in a 40 over match. It turned out to be a very close low scoring contest in which we lost by 2 wickets defending just 92 with 10 players. I made 2 not out batting last by ensuring I kept my elbow close to my body so that I don’t chase deliveries wide of me unless I move my feet. I would have made more if my partner Khurram Shehzad had responded quickly to my call for a gettable single to a deepish point in which he was run out.

We managed to lose by just two wickets was courtesy of a very late burst from Shahnawaz Rasheed, who took 4 quick wickets after drinks, but that doesn’t cover from the fact we didn’t make enough runs. Had we batted the full 40 overs, we could have won. I opened the bowling as I expected because Umair had previously given me the new ball twice last season. I didn’t bowl too badly, but I felt at times I couldn’t generate swing and length consistently as I occasionally bowled a little short. I wasn’t helped with sore triceps, which make it hard to consistently bowl the ideal delivery.

Nevertheless, I am happy with 5 straight overs for 11 runs with a wicket that I described as an unplanned slower ball as I was trying to find my rhythm in my 2nd over. That ‘slower ball’ dipped on the batsman that played across it and missed when the ball took out middle stump. I was stunned because it wasn’t an excellent delivery, but it pleased my teammates. I suppose rubbish takes wickets some times, especially after you bowled well most of the time. Now I have something to work one leading into the coming week at training while there’s continued uncertainty whether I will be playing next weekend.

During the game, I told Umair if he knew that several of the people he knew, like Shalan Ahmed, Tim Pigot, Gurjiv Singh Khera, and Paul Moger, had left North Canberra Gungahlin to play for Woden Wanderers. He mentioned that there weren’t going to be multiple 5th-grade sides this season, unlike last season. So there was a massive surplus of players with 5th grade having one side per club which disadvantages clubs like North Canberra Gungahlin. I guess it’s a shame that 5th grade this season will not cater to multiple teams for some clubs, but that’s how it is, and we must respect the rules and regulations set by the Cricket ACT. It also implies that I’m incredibly fortunate to play grade cricket in Australia, let alone in ACT for Ginninderra. It means I took my opportunity at the right time with a club that had made me welcome as a guest last season. Look at me. I had prospered so far this season. However, I really feel for these guys that won’t get the chance because I would have been in their situation if I joined that club as it was close to home for me.

January 17

Today was an absolute scorcher of a day. When I reached training after 5.30, the temperature was in the mid to high 30s, and two hours later, my car’s radar was showing 41 degrees, although it then dropped to 32 upon reaching home. I’d certainly felt that I got a lot from training on a hot day. Focusing on the mechanics of my bowling action, including the steady acceleration of the run-up to the co-ordination of my body parts, helped me to gain considerable out-swing away from the right-hander and in-swing to the left-hander. As a result, I was able to stand my ground against the higher-grade batters when I induced plays and misses and the occasional edge. I quite enjoyed bowling to them, mainly our PNG imports Kipling Doriga and Hiri Hiri Patana, who appreciated the amount of out-swing I was getting. On that subject, it’s always good on a personal note to watch them from a close distance regarding their training routines, and I marveled upon their fitness standards at times whenever they do sprints or bodyweight exercises. From that, you can always think there’s something you can take away from these guys and incorporate that into your own methods.

Going back to the bowling, I felt that my bowling against left-handers was also a considerable improvement when I use variations of movement, which gave me delight whenever the left-hander plays for the swing and gets beaten all ends up.  If I could work on my accuracy a bit more while delivering those change-ups to the right-handers, then I would become a more potent bowler over time.

Fielding towards the end was a good learning experience, although I cramped up and saw the strap of my watch fall off while I took a catch. I don’t know what happened, but it was the second time the strap fell off in cricket during fielding. I should have put it away after the first time, but I didn’t. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be an issue getting it fixed up when I go to India in May. What I learned though from Sam Gaskin, who was running training, was to get really low to assist with a good pick up and throw if you need to effect a run-out. Furthermore, he and Mick Delaney advised us to be ready to back up the bowler or keeper regardless of where the ball eventually goes. It makes you be switched on every ball, which in turn prevents avoidable overthrows, which are free runs.

January 19

Today was, fortunately, a much better day for cricket as it was a lot cooler than Tuesday and so I was looking forward to bowling today. Although I would have the opportunity to bowl immediately upon arrival, I decided to work on my catching with Daniel Leggett. Keeping in mind the tips Matty Andrews suggested to me last time, I was able to catch deliveries below my knees as I was able to have my weight on the balls of my feet rather than the toes. After warming up, I went straight to bowling, and I felt that my whole left arm was failing me throughout the afternoon, although I was able to beat the batsmen with my outswinger at times. People have asked me if I’m bowling leg cutters, which weren’t the case. The ball was simply hitting the seam and just going away from the right-handers. As it appeared, the left-arm pain came from a sore left rear deltoid, for which I cannot recall how it happened.

Batting was a bit of a positive, although I got out twice to spin bowled off an inside edge. I was following Lochlan Christian’s advice he gave me some time ago, which would help my timing. It worked well whenever I hit the ball legside, although I was later hampered when my old and trusted bat, the Gray-Nicolls e41 that I purchased after the 2012-13 season, had a big crack on one of the edges. It had only come to my attention when Prasad Karlapur told me he heard a crack just after I worked his delivery onto the leg side. Now the bat was truly gone as it already had a crack below the toe, so I will have to discard it sooner rather than later.

January 20

I really felt that I made a mistake in sitting out tomorrow’s clash against Queanbeyan when I realize that I wasn’t going to move into a house nor attend any afternoon house inspections tomorrow. I was devastated when playing 12 was named, and I wasn’t on the list. I had given up any hope of a last-minute recall, so I was hoping that the game gets called off as it had rained during the day. However, I was in 5th grade once Joe called me, and John Prior messaged me on Facebook Messenger to tell me I was playing. Joe offered me to play 4ths as both Thomas and Michael Ison withdrew, but I told Joe I wanted to play under his captaincy, which pleased him very much. In saying so, I do not mean to criticize anyone else’s leadership. Still, as I specified before, Joe has played a big part in my strong performances with the ball so far, having backed me and given me responsibility by bowling at least 6 overs a game. With the Isons dropping out, Dom Ross went up a grade that opened up for my comeback for my first game since the 4th-grade one-day semi-final. Joe was happy for my inclusion for another reason: with Vasu Patel also dropping out and Adam O’Connor returning, he had a pretty impressive bowling armory in me, Joe himself, Adam, Jess Howard, and Ben Peel. As we were chatting over the phone, he was hoping with this arsenal, we could bowl them out for a reasonable score and win like we did last week against Weston Creek, which should secure our semi-finals spot and put everyone on notice. Now we got to hope the pitch dries out for us to go and play. There’s a strong likelihood of us playing a shortened match like we did against the same opposition earlier in the competition. Still, it depends whether both the pitch and the outfield being dry enough to start playing. Otherwise, we can walk away with a draw, which will be good for us as we stay in the top four.

January 21

Thankfully the pitch was kind enough to start a full 45 over game as they weren’t any rain since 6pm last night. Upon sighting me, Andrew Loveday and Chris Arcella began calling me ‘Hurricane,’ my nickname that they gave me. Furthermore, they had given Adam O’Connor the nickname of ‘Squirtle,’ after the Pokemon, which Adam clearly hates. Honestly, I don’t understand why Adam’s called Squirtle, but that’s how it is. Joe won the toss and elected to field as he is banking on our strong bowling attack to restrict Queanbeyan. But the Queanbeyan openers got off to a good start much helped by Ben Peel’s inability to control the ball as he bowled some filthy full tosses and a dropped catch off Jess Howard’s bowling by Sandeep Kumar. They put on 43 for the first wicket until Adam struck with a caught and bowled to dismiss Aaron Thorn for 22. Before I came onto bowl, I joined Archie and Andrew in the slips cordon, and I was dumbfounded that they still continue talking about the so-called Italian cricket team that they were going to register for the Olympics especially how they were planning to recruit both Dominic Ross and Jess into their squad. Apparently, they told me that there were going on about this for years, but I think it’s all trash. No offense, but I’ll be happy to actually be proven wrong by these blokes one day.  I came on to bowl second change after Jess completed six overs at the start. I struck on the third ball off my fourth over when Govind Thiagarajan caught a Tony Askins mishit. I celebrated with a dab, which I thought was cool when I saw Carlos Braithwaite celebrated with it every time he took a wicket. Ben soon yorked Graeme Alexander to have him LBW, and Sam Anavatti had the other opener lbw as he played back rather than forward. They were 4 for 85 in the 29th over at the 2nd drinks break due to the warm weather. Queanbeyan fought hard, but we bowled them out for 158 in the 43rd over. Sam took another two wickets after drinks to finish with 3/32 off his 6 overs. Joe chipped in one for himself via a caught and bowled before Adam O’Connor clean bowled the tail like he had been doing all season to finish with 4/16 off 7.4 overs, which were his best figures for the season.

The wicket was slow and low, which meant changes in pace for the quicks; in addition, the spinners could benefit from it. That’s why Sam got his rewards as did Adam, although his rewards were through aiming at the stumps like he does at the tail end of a bowling innings. With his 4 wickets, he becomes our leading wicket-taker for the season with 17 wickets.

I was happy with my comeback game on this deck. I was able to bowl tidily and occasionally used my changes of pace only when I heard murmurs of the likes of Ben and Joe suggesting to bring the spinners in. Nevertheless, I was happy the way I used my slower balls, off-cutter, and the occasional in-swinger, and I only went for one boundary, and that was in my 2nd over.  The result was 8 overs, 2 maidens, 1 for 18. The Hurricane’s comeback was a success. I wasn’t at my best pace, but I was still able to keep the runs down throughout my spell. I was filthy that I didn’t get a chance to bowl out, but sooner or later, Joe wanted to turn to spin, so I understood where he came from. At least, my figures won’t be spoilt, so the bowling figures look pretty good.

As we had 12 players, I decided that I wasn’t going to bat today. I would be satisfied with just turning up and bowling as I actually had been feeling unwell again over the past few days. Despite my absence from the batting order, unfortunately, our batting fell to pieces. We lost wickets at regular intervals, and once again, the Queanbeyan bowlers squeezed us like a sponge as they bowled us out for 116 after 40.5 overs. Sammy Gautam continued to make double figures again with 13. Andrew Loveday looked like coming good before he was LBW trying to hit to cow corner. Out for 13. When he got out, we had a chance to get close through Ben, Joe, and Adam being capable, quick scorers. They certainly gave us hope of springing a comeback, but it wasn’t for the case when Ben (made 9), Joe (12), and Adam (21) were all bowled. Jason Cooper indeed held the innings together with 30, which I presume was his best innings this season, but the start of our chase just killed us. The father and son team John and Michael Fern played a part in our demise with 6 wickets between them. John got the ball running for them in a straight-through spell of 9 overs, 3 maidens 3 for 14. Then Michael cleaned up the tail with 3/22 off his 3.5 overs. The remarkable thing was that none of our batsmen were out caught as seven of our batsmen were out bowled, and the other 3 being LBW. It’s probably the benefits of bowling wicket to wicket on this pitch and targeting the stumps. It was an approach that worked for them exceptionally well this season; that’s why they’re in the top 2 in the competition. I don’t think we disgraced ourselves in defeat given we were in the contest with bat and ball, but like last time, the first 10 overs of both bat and ball killed us. We do have a chance to go back into winning ways, but the good thing is we could breathe a little easy for a little while as we face Eastlake, ANU, Wests-UC, and Tuggeranong over the next 4 games. They are no means weak opposition, but we have beaten them before this season, which should give us confidence ahead of these clashes. Hopefully, we will be able to seal our semi-final position before March. Unfortunately, I won’t be around next weekend against Eastlake, but it was still lovely to go out there and play.   

January 7, 2017

No cricket for the week

I had actually decided early in the week that I wanted a week off away from training and playing and instead focus more on my strength training as I wasn’t going to play today. I know some people who won’t like what I did but it gave me time to think about my mental approach towards it. I’ve always had a technical approach for my cricket which will always be with me as I will know what I did wrong and how I can correct it.

I think I had always had a fear of failure from the time I started playing cricket in the 2003-04 season and it’s still there when it comes to fielding. It’s still there for batting especially if I have to hit out immediately when I come to the crease and fielding when I occasionally hope a ball doesn’t come my way after I drop a catch. Perhaps as the great Shane Warne says, we need to keep it simple. From now on then, I just hit the ball while looking to score, bowl the ball and hit the deck and catch and field everything that comes my way. At the moment, I’m in a very good club with very good people, I just need to change the mindset and be positive. Everyone knows including myself I have potential but mental games are what we have to master to unlock the potential.

Basically, come next week, I’ll look to be positive and forget about the fear of failure and see where it takes me for the rest of the season. I am a little bit confident then I was on the new year with a new Albion lid being delivered from The Cricket Warehouse in Melbourne. On the subject of the lids (the term for helmets), I’ve been infatuated with Albion since I purchased my first helmet in 2004-05 and they were well known. My last helmet was an Albion Club that I bought in 2012-13 season but I decided to replace it having copped a few knocks on the head during practice and in the game between then and now.

Thankfully, I’m grateful for Cricket ACT not to enforce the helmet regulations set by Cricket Australia for their first-class and international cricketers. I would be disappointed to part with my new Albion helmet if it was the case given I had recently bought it on New Year’s Day. However, keeping in tradition for my all Gray-Nicolls gear, the Gray-Nicolls helmet worn by David Warner and Shaun Marsh seemed a good one to buy in the future should we be forced to follow the mandatory helmet guidelines.

Last night before watching the Big Bash League fixture between Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes, Vishnu Chari showed me his bats including his newly bought Kookaburra Kahuna. To him, these bats were of the right size for him, but when I picked each of those bats and was able to lift and swing them, they seemed too light. It was the case when I lifted each of my Gray-Nicolls bats a few hours earlier. Perhaps I’m indeed getting stronger which means I have to make slight adjustments to my batting technique at practice next week so I can just hit the ball with timing and power. It may have augured well for my bowling since I could try to bowl a little quicker than before while giving priority to bounce and movement.

On another no

Increase of Popularity of Diary of a Grade Cricketer

The popularity of the Facebook page of the same name as this site has gone through the roof since the new year. It was around 50 likes during this time but currently, it has crossed 600. I’d couldn’t believe it but I knew Chris ‘Archie’ Arcella and Andrew Loveday played their part by promoting my online diary. I was exclaiming to Archie that I couldn’t believe these state of events. He said that I’m a great author that provides a great insight into a level of cricket that not many people know about. He also likes the fact what I write is real and reliable. It is also something people can picture of a guy trying his best which makes it a well-written story that everyone likes to read. On that note, that was the aim of this online diary, to detail every single moment of my grade cricket career and tell it as it is immediately rather than compile one huge autobiography like international cricketers do which occasionally brings out skeletons from the closet and break several friendships.

With these well-written stories, Archie also mentioned that he and Andrew certainly felt they made the right decision to join Ginninderra and they thought I was one of the main guys that made it an enjoyable experience for both of them. I too enjoyed having around because they’re awesome guys who bring a fair amount of chat and humor which helps us to relax and to unsettle the opposition. I think Andrew has now addressed me as Hurricane know instead of my first name so that nickname has certainly stuck.

Yesterday, I had made a comment on ESPN Cricinfo for the New Years test match between Australia and Pakistan when I said that Australia should enforce the follow on and if they have to bat again, so be it because they need to get use to batting last for their upcoming India Trip. The ESPN Cricinfo commentator for the test, Nikhil Kairo said that the delayed start (and subsequent washout of the first session) could possibly force Australia to enforce the follow on. What happened next what I thought was plain ridiculous when my club president Chris ‘Griffo’ Griffin posted on Facebook that I was on Cricinfo. I thought what’s the big deal because I made my own comment and not that of Diary of a Grade cricketer. I mean everyone posts their opinions on that site so what’s the point until I realized that Griffo was trying to make me look famous. It was all a good laugh.

Going back to the increase of popularity from 50 to 600, I jokingly thought that if I was paid for every Facebook like and view and visit my online WordPress site, then it would pay off my rent for a year or my HECS/HELP debt in one hit. But I obviously don’t write stuff for money, I simply write because I want to express my thoughts to the public much like current and former international cricketers do but without burning bridges (i.e destroying friendships) and creating controversy.

Still thinking of that five-for

I just can’t seem to get the five-for I took against Wests-UC in December which remains my first ever haul in all forms of cricket. I nearly took a five-for in Perth in their South Metropolitan Cricket Association competition for Riverton Rostrata against SJ Blues on a hot Australia Day. I finished with 4 for 92 off 21 overs in a 2-day match in 7th grade and had a truckload of catches missed off my bowling.  My captain at the time Andrew Taya remarked in his end of year write up that I was destined for an 8-for had those catches been taken. I had thought of the time it was my only chance of what’s considered equivalent to a batsman’s century. Thankfully, that five-for has come on the Turf wicket at Keith Tournier Oval in Ainslie on what was a batting paradise.

The interesting point about this was leading up to the match against Wests-UC, people like Govind Thiagarajan and Sammy Gautam said something like, “Come on Rohit, you’re going to get five wickets today” and yet I didn’t but on that game I did. I think that five-for justified my decision to move to Turf away from Synthetic because turf wickets give you a chance especially if there are grass patches or cracks on the wicket. Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to showcase your skills like reverse swing that you wouldn’t do on Synthetic pitches. Immediately Andrew told me he had a suspicion that I would take 5 wickets in our next game but I wonder if the stars will align for that to happen.