New Years Day 2017

Happy New Year for 2017. It was nice to have a break away from the game for at least a couple of weeks in Perth away from the cricket pitch. I had instead spent time in the gym, working on my strength in all my muscles. The ideas came from Cricket Strength and Cricket Mentoring Fitness from Instagram, which will help towards strengthening the muscles and thereby bowling faster.

It is something I had started to seriously dream about bowling fast. I’ve seen YouTube videos of Devon Malcolm, Michael Holding, Allan Donald, Malcolm Marshall, Duncan Spencer, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis as well as live footage of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Shoaib Akthar, Wahab Riaz, Shane Bond, Adam Milne, Lockie Ferguson, and Billy Stanlake. I, too, wanted to bowl fast, but the more I tried, the less accurate I would become. I also come to realize that bowling fast also puts heavy stress on the body, especially the back, so going for out and out pace isn’t always recommended.

I had basically shelved my pace ambitions for now and decided to focus on extracting swing and bounce given that what gets batsmen out on turf in Canberra. Nevertheless, I had been working in practice to improve my run-up and ensure that I follow through well. I’d also worked out if I contract the trunk as Dennis Lillee suggested in his autobiography Menace, then it can make a difference with pace as well as swing and bounce. So it’s something I’m focusing on during my weight training.

While all the words are about increasing my pace, there’s also a strong possibility that weight training can also help my batting routine, technique, and even my power. The expectation is that the added strength will help my consistent back-lift and bat swing along with the power in my shots that will allow me to hit the ball a bit harder than before. I was looking forward to a session to bat while in Perth because I wanted to practice watching the ball, but that session never materialized.

Nevertheless, it was good to go to Perth to catch up with some familiar faces while continuing the strength work. I also had a chance to relax in front of the TV, watching the Aussies steal a victory against Pakistan in the Boxing Day test despite time lost to poor weather. They had won the game because they always had believed that they can win while Pakistan was already thinking of a draw with a chance to level the series on a turner in Sydney. The one thing that I took away from that always believes we can win as long as we have a positive attitude. There was more cricket watching with the Big Bash League (BBL) already in full swing, and it’s no secret that I have enjoyed six-hitting and also when fast bowlers hit the stumps.

Speaking of the Big Bash, there were a couple of occasions that I saw BBL teams at the airport. Early last year, while flying home to Canberra from my India trip, I saw the Brisbane Heat squad (Ben Cutting, Daniel Vettori, Shane Bond) in Sydney, and earlier in the afternoon, I’ve seen the Sydney Sixers squad in Adelaide. There was Johan Botha, Joe Mennie, Jason Roy, Brad Haddin, Moses Henriques, Sean Abbott, and coach Greg Shipperd. I would have liked to had a chat with some of the guys, particularly Brad Haddin, to ask how his family is keeping given that was the main focus of his recently released autobiography, My Family’s Keeper. However, I was honestly too shy to approach any of them, and I had thought it would be best to leave them alone given they were trounced by the Strikers by 48 runs on New Year’s Eve. Not just that, but we also need to remember that each individual is also entitled to their own privacy.

Soon after arriving in Canberra, I was greeted with the news I was waiting for that my five-for was finally published in MyCricket, so a big thanks to Adam O’Connor, who tolerated my constant nagging to get the job done. 5/18 off 8.5 overs with 2 maidens were entered into the system. With that, I’ve become the highest wicket-taker for our 5th-grade side, the 3rd highest wicket-taker in the entire 5th-grade competition, and also propels me in the top 10 for the leading wicket-takers for Ginninderra for all grades (currently 9th spot).

It would be nice to finish the season within the top 10 wicket-takers for 5th grade (even the top 20 would be fine). On top of all that, I also gained a nickname, ‘Hurricane’ that was given to me by Chris Arcella, and already he and Andrew Loveday have started flouting the hashtag #whynothurricane. To be honest, I quite liked the nickname, and it probably suits me when I triggered a collapse by Wests-UC during my five-for when they crashed from 1 for 52 to 5/57 and perhaps when I took 2 quick wickets to derail ANU’s chase of 180 the week before.

The season is about to resume, but I would prefer to continue working on my strength work, given that there’s a strong likelihood of not playing 2-day cricket on the 7th of January. JP is more than happy it seems to allow me to continue my good form this season. I hope the Hurricane strikes big at least once from here.

 

Mid-season Review, 2016-17

With the Christmas/New Year break approaching, it is now time to review the performances of Ginninderra, the 5th-grade side, and my own performance. 

Ginninderra

I don’t think anyone would give us a chance of competing, let alone get into finals this season in at least one of the grades. During the off-season, our current coach Mick Delaney wanted us particularly our 1st-grade side to be competitive across all formats of the game.

The Twenty20 segment of the season wasn’t successful, but at least 3rd grade got into the semi-finals because they were knocked out. Twenty20s, to be honest, is more luck than anything else. So, no-one should be critical of how it went.

The white-ball one-dayers was a big success with 1st, 3rds, and 4ths reaching the semis. This was in massive contrast with just the 2nds reaching the one-day semis last season. It is of no wonder that the club was delighted with these results regardless of how we went into the semis. 1st grade, as I was told yesterday at the Christmas Party, just snuck in with their 1 run victory over Queanbeyan. It may have gone the other way with 4 runs needed off the final over with 2 wickets in hand. Thankfully, 1st grade held their nerve.

The two-day cricket matches have started well with the top three grades with a win under their belt. The practice of batting for long periods in the nets when the policy of “If you’re out, you’re out” would have part a significant part with the batting. Particularly with 1sts and 2nds posting 300 plus against Norths recently. I wouldn’t want to forget the 1st-grade first innings victory over the cross-town rivals in Wests by 5 runs defending 208. This was because Luke Ryan bowled the team to victory despite the passing of his grandfather. This was in the Canberra Times, and it’s certainly was an inspiring story to read. I admired his courage and determination to win despite losing an extremely close member of your family. The level of support Luke was given justifies the supportive culture of the club. 

So far, judging by these results, the club’s in a perfect space and Mick certainly deserves credit for what he did by starting pre-season earlier than usual and encourage each other to continually improve. I don’t know what was different because this is my first full season in Ginninderra, but I feel positive vibes immediately with the higher grade guys at training.  What I know, though, is that more emphasis is being placed on reliable batsmen going up the grades, perhaps that may have triggered the improved performances.

5th Grade

I never expected our 5th-grade side to be among the top-four leading into the season, given that the top four grades gets first picks of the better cricketers. But that’s what happened. We’re in the top four having won 5 games, lost 4, and saw one game abandoned without a ball being bowled. It helped that the 5th-grade competition had one side per club this season as last season saw some clubs (including Ginninderra) put out at least 2 teams. 

I’m happy that we’re in a reasonable space, but it could have been a lot different if Tuggeranong didn’t beat us recently. Honestly, we were complacent, and they took advantage of our complacency. At the same time, we’ve managed to compete with our fellow top four teams in Queanbeyan, Weston Creek Molonglo, and North Canberra Gungahlin, but they had pulled away with the points.  Nevertheless, we will be playing these clubs at least once more in the season, and we should give ourselves a chance of winning, provided it’s a collective effort. 

Our fielding continues to be a work in progress as the outcomes haven’t gone our way, but everyone is putting in the effort to improve whenever they can, including me. Nevertheless, though, our batting and bowling are coming along. 

Firstly with the batting. Sandeep Kumar is undoubtedly our leading run-scorer with nearly 150 runs. He has been instrumental to our victories so far with match-winning knocks of 49 (against Eastlake), 37 (against ANU), and 34 (against Wests). Our captain, Joe Laria, also has played some crucial knocks for us with 45 not out (against Eastlake), 26 not out (against Wests), and 29 (against Tuggeranong). Not to mention his match-winning 51 not out against Weston Creek Molonglo in 4th grade to pull the team into the one-day semi-finals in which he made 14 not out. Adam O’Connor has played a couple of essential knocks in the middle order (29 against North Canberra Gungahlin and 30 not out against Weston Creek Molonglo), and Sammy Gautam has played his part with consistent, quick starts at the top of the order (23 against Eastlake, 17 against ANU, 36 against Wests and 15 against Tuggerangong) having started the season with 2 runs in 3 innings.  Michael Ison has also played his part with an unbeaten 35 against Tuggeranong and then 87 against Weston Creek Molonglo. Since then, he has been playing in 3rd grade.
The bowling so far has been impressive, I believe. Joe had told me that he didn’t have any decent pace bowlers in his team, but he’ll be happy that he has an adequate supply of them this season. So far, the stand-outs have been me, Adam and Joe, with all three of us taken at least 10 wickets this season. Adam, at times, had bowled without luck, particularly in our three consecutive defeats with edges and catches not going to hand and plays and misses from the batsmen. It is to his credit that he has bowled well with 2/14 against Wests in the first game of the season; 4/26 against ANU and 3/17 against Tuggeranong.

Similarly, Joe has bowled well this season, particularly with pace whenever his back doesn’t play up. So far, we’ve encountered some roads in Forestry and Keith Tournier Oval. Still, Joe has prospered, given that he’s a hit the deck bowler, and he took 3/35 against North Canberra Gungahlin, 2/27 against Eastlake and 3/21 against Tuggeranong. 

Other people have played their part in taking wickets or keeping the runs down, but us three have been the chief destroyers. 

Myself

I haven’t discussed myself much in the 5th-grade review, but the focus in the upcoming review is more on my goals and performances this season. 

As mentioned before, 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 8 games in 5ths means 10 games so far)
  • Score 70-100 runs. Not yet reached (15 runs in 4ths and 14 runs in 5ths gives 29 runs)
  • Take 7-10 wickets. Achieved (1 wicket in 4ths and 12 wickets in 5ths gives 13 wickets)

So, I’ve met the target for both the games and the wickets but not the runs at this stage. I need at least 41 runs in the next 2 months after the break, but it depends whether I’ll get any batting opportunity during this time. If I do, I’ll back myself to score runs and bat time because I’m no mug with the bat. 

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’m the leading wicket-taker for our 5th-grade side with 12 (and I would be third of the 5th-grade competition and within the top 10 wicket-takers for the club only if my five-for had been updated on MyCricket. I’m still waiting for that to happen Adam!!). 

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)

Overall I’ve taken 13 wickets @ 16.77 with Econ 3.21 and SR 31.3. So far, it’s pretty impressive figures to date. 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
  • 2 wickets @ 53 with Econ 3.79 and SR 84.00 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 have gone for a few runs and look second rate. On the other hand, though, 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. 

This means I should continue to hit the right areas, swing the ball and extract bounce like I’ve been doing so far. The truth behind my success this season is because of Joe, my 5th-grade captain. He’s given me the opportunities to bowl long spells as he’s seeing that I’ve been developing great rhythm in my bowling, and as a result, the rewards came. When you get such backing from your captain, it personally motivates you to perform and also lifts your team. The chairman of selectors, John Prior, deserves credit for my impression season also because he put me into a side that can get the best out of me. 

Furthermore, as touched upon before, the work Luke Wimbridge and the other coaches at Southern Cricket did with me since the end of the 2012-13 season with my bowling has paid off. They’ve helped me to hone my bowling, which I later realized was beneficial to the wickets here in the ACT. The good thing is that Luke is always a Facebook message away if I need any cricket related advice. 

I am also profoundly grateful for my coach in ACT, Dr. Masud Rahman. He encouraged me to believe that I was good enough for grade, and I’m happy that I followed his advice once I got sick with City & Suburban as it wasn’t that serious to my own liking. I’m made the right choice, and I’m happy that I’ve put in the hard work in the off-season with both my skills and fitness, which has played a significant part in my success to date. 

So far this season, I’ve bowled with both the new and old ball using both the red and white ball. I’ve managed to swing the ball every game I’ve played. Sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot. The last game I’ve played, the 4th-grade one-day semi-final, I’ve also learned the art of reverse-swing while bowling with a 30 over old white ball.  These are the skills that have helped me take wickets.

What next?

I remembered at the Christmas Party last night that Mick has asked us to think about how we can get better. Right now, it will be my catching because I’ve dropped every single chance that has come my way. I’m still working on it, and I hope to keep working on it with encouragement from the club. Given that I’ve recently suffered a bruised left shin, I would like to refine my ground fielding techniques without experiencing similar pain again for a while. 

On the bowling front, I would like to hone my in-swinger without compromising my natural out-swing. Furthermore, I would like to practice reverse-swing with an old red ball which will be beneficial in 2-day cricket or in the latter stages of a one day match. 

With no cricket, for now, I should look to work on my strength and power at the gym and possibly catch up with Luke while I’m in Perth. 

So far, a good season considering it’s my first ever season in grade cricket. More to come, but I should aim to take more wickets and enjoy the pleasant moments with the ball while it lasts. 

Ginninderra Christmas Party, December 17, 2016

I was still suffering from my bruised left shin from the 4th-grade semi-final that we lost. I found it challenging to walk pain-free, and attempting to run was out of the question. Thus, my preparation for the weekend was deeply affected. I could perhaps practice my sharp catching, but given that I cannot bowl or attempt to take high catches or practice ground fielding since there’s running involved, I decided to rest on Tuesday rather than attend training.

The weather leading up to the weekend was extremely wet, and thus Thursday training was canceled. Sadly, the wet weather continued on Friday, and ultimately most of the matches were called off. In turf, if it rains and the wickets are not covered enough from the rains, then the weekend’s play gets called off. Even if the wicket is dry from the rains, I needed to be told that the outfield will need to be reasonably dry. That’s what I had learned from other people and from my prior experience against Queanbeyan last month.

I suspect most of the guys in our club will be disappointed that there’s no cricket, particularly Chris ‘Archie’ Arcella, who was going to line up against his former club, North Canberra Gungahlin, in the hope that we could smash them in 5th grade. Anyways, I was hopeful that we may see our game rescheduled, but as Ben Healy told me, it will be challenging to find a free weekend. So at least we walk away with our first points against a fellow top-four team for once.

With all the grades except 2nds being abandoned before the start despite bright and sunny weather, I ended up at Vishnu Chari’s residence to watch the Australia v Pakistan and India v England test matches. As the afternoon went on, both Vishnu and I learned that 2nds won by 1st innings defending 300 and were 1 wicket into their mission for outright victory through a Facebook post in our group. We both decided to head out to Kippax early to cheer the guys on.

Unfortunately, when I arrived, there was no cricket. As it turned out, both Norths and Ginninderra decided to close proceeding early that started only at 1pm. So 2nds are off the mark with a win in 2-day cricket.

Then came the Christmas party at ‘The Nest’ which is what Kippax 1 is referred to. It was the first time I was stepping on this ground ever. It is a multipurpose ground as cricket and football are being played there. I immediately had thought that it will be great to go out and play at The Nest one day.

Nevertheless, it was great seeing plenty of familiar faces. Quite interestingly enough, I only knew a few people from the club during pre-season. By now, I knew almost everyone who turned up at the Christmas party, but I was hanging out more with Vishnu and a few guys from 5th grade, mainly Archie and Andrew Loveday. Nevertheless, whenever I said hello to a few people, those guys (they know who they are) mentioned that they’ve been reading my entries and enjoyed reading them.

While the positive publicity was there, I never was prepared for feedback from our club president, Chris ‘Griffo’ Griffin. I was initially puzzled when Griffo wanted me to pull me aside. Anyways initially, I couldn’t hear what Griffo was telling me, so I managed to get hold of him while we were at the finish line for a footrace between the fastest guys in the club. Griffo mentioned that I wrote something publicly regarding my view on selections on a previous entry, which caught his eye through John Prior, the chairman of selectors and Mick Delaney, the head coach. Believe it or not, what I wrote matched their views, and they were astonished by what was written. Griffo himself acknowledged and commended me for writing such stuff, which meant that he, too, was also enjoying what I’ve written. Furthermore, he was appreciative of the fact that I lost 10 kilos since the end of last season when he checked it out on Facebook.

I was welcoming constructive criticism for everything I write in my entries, but Griffo’s positive feedback tonight was the icing on the cake. It helped to enjoy a great Christmas party that was filled with good food and activities. I quite enjoyed all you can eat BBQ and the deserts, particularly the Black Forest Cake and the Caramel Cheesecake. I also enjoyed Jess Howard bagging Archie for costing her a maiden 50 last weekend against Tuggeranong when she was stranded on 15 not out. But I refused to believe Archie and Andrew when they think that they can send across an Italian Cricket team for the 2024 Olympics. I love their optimism, but it’s honestly all trash talk, much like Archie believing I was good enough for a Big Bash League contract for Hobart Hurricanes.

Overall, a good night out with everyone enjoying each other’s company. That’s Ginninderra for you given as mentioned before; they’re one of the most sociable cricket clubs in ACT Premier Cricket. It helps strengthen the club chemistry, which in turn enhances the chemistry during practice and in the games.

Western Districts & University of Canberra vs Ginninderra at Kippax 2 Oval, December 11 2016

December 9, 2016

The euphoria following my maiden five for continued since last Saturday. Chris ‘Archie’ Arcella had tagged me on a Facebook post regarding Hobart Hurricane’s search for the final spot in their Big Bash League roster. I found it hilarious yet flattering; hence I indicated that I should be playing in 1st grade to being called up for something like this. The well-wishes for the five-for were coming from the Ginninderra players, and one of my ex-coaches, Luke Wimbridge, was coming in on Facebook.

To top it all off, nothing beats praise from a higher grade cricketer being said face to face. That’s what happened recently at training when Jak Wilcox, the tall left-arm quick who plays in our 1st-grade side, gave me a warm handshake and a few words to congratulate me on receiving a five-for against our cross-town rivals. This kind of appreciation is one of the reasons why I joined Ginninderra. Everyone’s out there to support each other on and off the field, plus people from all grades are being treated equally. If someone scores a 50, 100, or takes five wickets or hat-trick, there will be congratulations all round. No factions. No grudges. No junior/senior divide. Nothing.

Before training on Thursday (which was the only training session with the Tuesday session canceled due to Australia vs. New Zealand game at Manuka Oval), I was going through Youtube videos on reverse-swing and the techniques on how it can be executed. I was contemplating adding a few more skills to my armor, especially with a much older ball on certain pitches.  Furthermore, I was also shadow practicing my wrist position for the in-swinger, given that I would like to add a variation to my bowling, especially with the new ball. I managed to try it with some success on Thursday, but the training was hampered due to showers pouring down at around 6pm.

As it seemed, that would have been my only cricket activity all week given that I wasn’t going to play over the weekend with Neethu, my fiancée coming down from Adelaide, and I wasn’t going to initially play on Sunday given that I wasn’t selected in the higher grade semi-finals. So I was entirely down and had resigned myself for no cricket during the weekend.

However, later today, after picking Neethu up from the airport, the 4th-grade captain (and secretary of Ginninderra) Chakra Ravinuthala asked me if I could play on Sunday when Sidu Macal withdrew. I took the opportunity on and told Chakra that I will see him at Kippax 2. As a matter of fact, given that I had managed to take wickets as he expected, including the five-for last weekend, it was kind of him to consider me for selections in the semi-final. Actually, he asked me to keep Sunday free which is what I did. I am incredibly grateful for Chakra for presenting me with the opportunity for the following three reasons:

  1. The semi-final was against our cross-town rivals, Wests-UC
  2. We were playing on the club headquarters where we usually train at Kippax Oval no. 2
  3. Exposure to the white ball.

I haven’t had an opportunity to bowl with the white ball yet, but I knew that it presented a chance to use my honed technique to extract movement from my body. I would love to get my hands on the white ball and bowl with it even if it’s a few overs but I will have to wait and see. I only bowled a few balls with an old white ball at training during the preseason, but this is a different experience altogether.

December 10, 2016

I had fun yesterday with Neethu. We went to Lennox Gardens to have our pizza lunch before going to Max Brenner’s Chocolate Cafe (I had a waffle with banana, strawberries, and chocolate ice cream) and then to AMF Bowling Center in Belconnen. In AMF, I was bowling with a bowling ball, not a 4 piece cricket ball. For once, I was obsessed with speed. I was in the mid 20s km/hr with occasional forays in the 30s. Still, I manage to average approximately 100 points per game.

We later had dinner at Bollywood Masala in Kingston (close to our accommodation for the weekend in East Hotel), and the dinner was excellent as well as the service was quick. It helped when we came at a less busy time. It was during the dinner that I was greeted with the shocking news that our 5th grade lost to Tuggeranong by 2 wickets defending 121. I would have thought things would go pear-shaped for Joe Laria, our captain. Mostly, my absence was significant as was Will Thomson’s when he got promoted to 4ths for the 2-day clash against Norths.

Furthermore, Dominic Tran pulled out at the last minute. So fielding with 10 people was going to be tough this time around. So Tuggeranong proved me wrong by beating Wests than us, so I admit it wasn’t nice to call them the whipping boys of 5th grade, and I do apologize for that statement. I also acknowledge that I was insensitive to Dominic’s absence, thinking he was supposed to play, so I also apologize for the insensitivity.

December 11, 2016

It’s game time, and I’m about to check out of the East Hotel to drop Neethu off at the airport and then get ready for the semi-final clash that I’m still incredibly grateful for. Given there’s no Ben Peel, Sidu Macal, or Adam O’Connor, I would hope to take advantage of a newer one-day white ball and seek to swing it immediately by opening the bowling. Still, it will be Chakra’s call later on either when we bowl first or second.

We eventually lost the toss, and we were to bowl first on a wicket that Vishnu Chari described it as slow, low, and flat. We managed to break through early when Natarajan held out to Prasad Karlapur at Mid-off in the second over of the innings off Jess Howard’s bowling. But Allan Xu and Damien Whitelum were hard to dislodge despite the tidy efforts of Jess, Prasad, Cody Linsday, and Tom Parr. Quite the contrary from Vishnu’s assessment, the wicket started to misbehave from both ends when balls started rearing up from a length during the Wests’ innings.

I later managed to get a go bowling in the 30th over, given the tidy start with the ball we had. I would have like to take advantage of a newer ball earlier on, but I had the white ball that was heavily scuffed up on one end and shiny on the other. I finally got a chance with the white ball ever (apart from a few balls at preseason training) to bowl with. I was trying to bowl out-swing, but in my first over, it swung in instead. It was probably how I was able to clean bowl Whitelum after he made 55 when the ball hit the top of the middle stump. I broke through in my third delivery with the white ball, and I felt I was away.

Soon after, Chakra had Yorke brilliantly caught by Joe and then trapped Ewart lbw in the following over. It was interesting that the umpire gave it out not only after a prolonged appeal, but he appeared to shake his head before that. That’s how everyone saw it, but I shouldn’t discuss further as umpiring decisions for discussion is taboo, especially on Social Media.  So we were in the game.

I should have at least had Xu caught behind when the ball swung out instead of swinging in, given that the rough side was on the right side except the chance was missed. Regardless, I was able to reverse the white ball. All the talk about the white ball being like a dog’s breakfast after the first 10 overs or so yet I was able to extract bounce and swing with the white ball. Once again, all the work I did with Southern Cricket came into the fore, although I developed experience with reverse swing in my short four-over spell that went for 21. Basically, 1/21 off my 4 overs, which gave me my 13th wicket for the season with one more weekend before Christmas/New Year break. I would have liked to bowl more, but thankfully, Chakra pulled me out at the right time; otherwise, my confidence would have been entirely shot.

Anyways, Amit took over from me and effected a middle-order wobble. He bowled Xu through the gate to end his innings on 36, which lasted for about 40 overs. He soon trapped Josh Rowland lbw to a ball that kept low when he went back. He made 47. Then he had Singh stumped on his first ball, which left Singh in disbelief and took 2-3 minutes to get off the pitch. Amit soon took his 4th when bowled Wilson, who kept out Amit’s hat-trick ball.

Cody later got the wicket of Toby Chugg, and he executed his yorkers well in the last over of the innings. He should have got a second wicket, but I dropped a catch having run in from deep mid-wicket and instead hit me right on the outer palm on the left-hand. It was the same place where I hurt myself while training on my birthday in our fielding sessions. I was also dealing with a bruised left shin having stopped a drive off Chakra’s bowling earlier, but it was no excuse for dropping the chance having done the hard work in getting to the ball in the first place.

Wests finished with 9/195 off their 45 overs, and we needed to make 196 to advance to the final. Rob, the Ginninderra groundsman who prepared the Aranda wicket in our game against Weston Creek last month, was giving us iced orange Gatorade, which was good given that it was warm and most of the team was tired from yesterday’s effort. Tom was supposed to open for us but he had to leave at 4pm for his work that was starting at 5. So Chakra and Vishnu opened. Vishnu was resolute while Chakra was trying to give us a fast start. They added nearly 40 in 7 overs before Vishnu was bowled for 9 by one that cut back into him. That was the start of the precession we had that killed our chase. Chakra was out for 30 when the fielder spilled a catch at cover before he caught it on the rebound much to our disbelief. Amit was clean bowled. Jason Cooper gloved a ball to the keeper. Then Sumanth Purelli, Vijay Selvarathnam, and Prasad were caught at slip off Yorke’s bowling when they edged deliveries that spun and bounced. Cody was clean bowled through the gate. Then Jess and I were outdone by balls that hardly bounced. I edged mine to the keeper before Jess was trapped LBW.

I nearly perished on my first ball when I got a ball from Yorke that spun and bounced, which created a leading edge. I realized I was playing with hard hands, so I loosened my bottom hand and the next ball, I got off the mark with a couple. I was looking good batting with Joe, and I was determined to keep batting till the end, and hopefully, we could keep the chase intact. But I got out for 6 caught behind as discussed and Joe finished with 14 not out. He was stranded and batted quite well. Although he’s a back-foot player, he showed an ability to adapt and get forward. That’s why he was not out in the end.

Anyways, we got smashed. Wests were through to the one day final next Sunday, December 18th, to play either Norths or Queanbeyan. Joe and I ended up discussing cricket as I was driving him to his parents’ house in Kaleen. As I touched upon before, Joe is a cricket nuffy and has excellent ideas for the game like I do. We were discussing certain things about what will happen for us and the lower grades after the Christmas/New Year break. I’ve told Joe that I wouldn’t mind going up the grades if they need a bowler that was consistently performing like myself. As I had touched on before, Joe was the main reason for the consistent performance since I had been bowling at least 6 overs a game.

I later learned in the loss against Tuggeranong that we were about 7/40 before being dismissed for 121 courtesy of Archie and Joe making 29 each, and then Jess made her personal best of 15 not out. Then Adam and Joe were amongst the wickets but not enough to dislodge me from being the team’s leading wicket-taker in 5th grade for now. Apparently, I was complementing Archie’s batting through Facebook Messenger when he said that the team missed me. I assured him that I will be back for the next game against Archie’s former club, Norths, on his old turf in Harrison. I suppose we may have a strong team to choose from, and I hope I will be amongst the playing 12 for next weekend. I think Joe was telling me that I may need to open the bowling again, although I’ve taken wickets with the older ball in the past two weeks.

Unfortunately, the bruised left-shin was later to be showing some swelling when I tried to compare my two legs. It was yet another injury to add to my collection that has happened from playing cricket. I would have thought it was unfortunate given the circumstances of how it happened, but perhaps I thought I should have gone back to basics by using the long barrier technique even if the ball was hit quite hard. I want to show commitment, but now getting hurt will be in the back of your mind since it happened previously.

It does have an effect mentally when you hurt yourself like this, and it will undoubtedly come back to haunt you when we attempt half-chances at training in the future. I want to improve my fielding for sure, but I need to do it in a way, so these things don’t happen much.

Western Districts & University of Canberra vs Ginninderra at Keith Tournier Oval, December 3 2016.

November 28, 2016

Yesterday, I was thrilled that I was in the top 10 wicket-takers in 5th grade alongside Joe Laria and Adam O’Connor despite not taking any more than 2 wickets a game. Later today, once all the scores were in, we were within the top 20, but several of us were on 7 wickets apiece. I felt that it was the first time I had been consistent with ball in hand since the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons that were on synthetic wickets. Last season, it took me about 10 bowling innings to take 7 wickets, and after the first 7 games, I had only taken 5 wickets and would have gone for plenty more than 3.25 that I’ve conceded so far.

It just reinforces the focus on the process of hitting the right length and generating swing and bounce most of the time. The performance on Saturday in my previous diary entry showed that I wasn’t just a new ball bowler. I can only bowl with an older ball. Apart from training with an older ball this season, I had been honing my bowling swing and bounce at Southern Cricket with very old cricket balls. This was similar to how Sir Curtly Ambrose, the West Indian fast bowler, prepared before an international game using a very old cricket ball, which helped him take wickets and starve opposition batsmen of runs.

I realized that I don’t have to bowl all my nine overs at the start. Instead, I can bowl some overs with the new ball and some with the older ball, preferably before the slog overs. That approach will allow Joe to rotate his bowlers a bit more than before. Even in a 2-day game, I can bowl short spells at different times of an innings because I can generate swing and bounce with both the new and the old ball.

Given that the top 4 grades were still locked in 2-day action, my thoughts were switched over to selection for our upcoming fixture against Wests. Adam was to be unavailable for the next two weeks, at least. So that will leave us with 11 to choose from. However, if Govind Thiagarajan, Chris Arcella, Samrudh Anavatti, and Blake Nitschke return, then JP will have his work cut out to select a squad of 12 out of possibly, 15 available players.

Hence several people will have to make way, but the question will be who. One thing is for sure, I would like to play and improve on my last outing against Wests. I believe I warrant selection given that I’ve bowled reasonably well this season, but that remains to be seen.

November 29, 2016

I was very much surprised that I found out that Wests lost to Tuggeranong over the weekend by 6 wickets, having only made 99. Tuggeranong, by that stage, had not won a game and were undoubtedly the whipping boys in 5th grade. It was why Joe had thought about experimenting against Tuggerangong like me coming on 1st change and possibly a batting promotion. I would think twice before we do this at all after this result.

Tuggerangong’s victory over Wests I felt gives us the confidence to continue our domination against our cross-town rivals, given that we’re comfortably in the top four even if we lose over the weekend. But it will be dangerous to write them off yet given that Damien Whitelum, their regular captain, had scored 80 odd and a 120 odd since the last time we played them. That’s provided he plays this weekend. As it showed last time, getting him out before he could inflict severe damage was one of the reasons why we managed to sneak home in a low scoring thriller.

On another note, there had been talk in the past about this diary given that people from the club had been reading it. Dominic Tran was even suggesting that it could be turned into a Ginninderra blog. That’s a fair point Dom I thought, but this is more to discuss a bit more about my own insights and preparations for cricket than anything else. Secondly, what if I, for some reason, move clubs or even leave Canberra, then the diary will no longer by just mine. Hence, let people contribute their pieces or possibly start a blog for the club. Nevertheless, it’s adorable to hear people talk well regarding the content I’ve written.

Going to training, it was an ok session. I continued the good work with the bat last week, but I had unfortunately dragged a pull shot back into my stumps. Bowling was ok. I beat the bat a few times, but I then struggled throughout the afternoon with my length. It was frustrating because I was able to get results on turf. Still, on practice wickets, which are obviously much bouncer, it makes it easier for batters, notably in the higher grades, to get comfortable off the back foot.

Nevertheless, I have been able to not just generate swing off the seam and off the air but also through my trunk rotation later in the day until it got dark. While I don’t want to give much away if opposition players read my diary, but I could play a round of different kinds of swing generation in the hope of catching a batsman’s wicket. For once in a while, I was looking forward to fielding because I wanted to practice watching the ball all the way through to the hands, which could explain why I tend to drop more catches then taking them. I was reasonably happy with my throwing at least and later on my catching when we were trying to go for half chances rather than bailout at the last minute.

Later on, after training, I felt that I needed some subtle changes to my run-up that will allow me to hit my lengths better with my unplayable swing and bounce. I would really like to have another crack at bowling at training to regain my confidence ahead for the weekend.

November 30, 2016

I was still trying to decipher the reasons why I bowled short, but as Vishnu told me since the Turf pitches aren’t as bouncy as the practice nets, it’s just the right length to bowl. Nevertheless, I was contemplating another change of bowling action. In the last few weeks, I was focusing too much on pace and thought to stick my focus on rhythm, swing, and bounce and fix the run-up that will give me speed to support these attributes.

Furthermore, I was experiencing left foot pain all day despite taking a couple of painkillers in the morning. I think the jumping and landing from bowling over the last few weeks may have started to take its toll. And I think it’s slowly becoming harder to consistently generating the swing and bounce I always crave. Hence, I was experimenting with another different bowling action to minimize the jump and the landing effect. I really liked it because my left foot doesn’t experience pain at all, and I have been able to incorporate the little technicalities that Luke that talked out in the bowling to trouble all kinds of batsmen on various surfaces.

Now it will be a matter of trying this out at training tomorrow. But I’m hopeful this will be an action that will stay with me for at least this season.

December 1, 2016

As it turned out, I went back to my other action when I couldn’t find any rhythm with my new one. I wasn’t that threatening as before. I figured that if I knew where I was going to land, I could easily coordinate my action better to hep generate the swing and bounce. It was one of the reasons why I have bowled reasonably well in the matches this season. I think I was more confident with my current action only after practicing bowling by myself. Using my body, I felt I can get the bowl to move more, but the key for me is to get my lines right. Swing bowling is considered by coaches as ‘risk and reward.’ If the ball swings, batters will struggle. If it doesn’t, then the bowler will be struggling.

As I indicated earlier, I was a little confused regarding the lengths I should bowl at training. I got a bit of encouragement from our chief selector JP who told me to bowl the lengths I bowl in matches. I mean, you can try to get the ball a little fuller in practice, but the problem is that on turf, the batters can just get underneath the ball quickly.

Before heading to training, I packed the Gray-Nicolls e41 bat that I stored away after last season instead of my Gray-Nicolls Kaboom bat, which has become a little light for me. I had initially put the e41 bat away, given I wanted to stick to my newer bats on turf. But, my increased strength had changed my intentions when the Kaboom became a little light. I used the e41 with mixed results, although I had my usual power when playing spin. Thankfully I didn’t get out, and neither did my batting partner Dominic Tran. If either of us gets out, then we have to run five, which is as bad as seeing your innings terminated when you get out.

Before batting, which was at the start of training, everyone did fielding. It made sense because all top four grades will be in the field at least this weekend; hence we need to work on it. It was also suitable for several of us 5th graders to continue working on our fielding given it has been a constant let down. My catching technique was frowned upon by Matty Andrews, the 3rd-grade skipper (who also was impressed with how I mentioned him previously in my online diary). Hence, he spent time with me developing soft hands and correcting my position to take any catch left or right, high or low. It wasn’t too bad when I caught most of the balls that came to me. It was more towards letting the ball come to you than anything else.

My thoughts immediately returned to selections. Now Adam and Dominic were unavailable. So with Govind and Archie coming into our side, we have 12 players regardless of whether Samrudh or Blake are available. For once, it seems I may not be needed to bat, but you never know.

December 2, 2016

As it turned out, I was in playing 12 when the teams came out on Facebook. Govind and Archie were playing in place of Adam and Dominic Tran. So, we have a solid batting line up. As I said earlier, I was anticipating not being required to bat. I told Vishnu this over MOC at work this afternoon, and he immediately thought differently.

He had been chatting with Joe during the week, and he thinks I’m a worthy 6, 7, or 8 as I have demonstrated my ability to know where my off stump is my defensive technique and my ability to score runs. Furthermore, Vishnu wants me to change my attitude when it comes to batting. He says I cannot go around and say I’m just a bowler because it can count against you for selections in the higher grades. I consider myself a bowling all-rounder and would welcome opportunities to bat provided. I have support from my captain even if I fail. To be honest, it doesn’t matter which grade I play in as long as I get a bowl, which is my primary preference. Playing as just a batsman doesn’t sit well with me, as I indicated when I played in the Twenty20 early this year.

I’ve had a chat with Joe regarding my chances to bat. He was considering a batting reshuffle this weekend and beyond to give other guys a go. It’s a gutsy move with the season still up for grabs, but at the same time, the experimentation can work really well for us when the finals come round. I’ve told Joe that I would prefer batting around five or six, given that I would like to play myself in before teeing off in the last 5 overs. That’s usually my style because people will be asking too much if I have to score immediately off the first ball.

Looking at the opposition line up for tomorrow, Joe told me that Wests only have a couple of good bowlers, which meant the backup bowlers tend to leak runs a bit more. Perhaps, it may not be a bad idea to have a crack with the bat tomorrow, if possible. I also found out that their regular skipper Damien Whitelum who twice made big scores in this season, wasn’t playing. Given that they have struggled without him (especially against Tuggeranong who beat them), we should still win.

I’m hoping we can bat first and put on a good total on the board, but it depends on the pitch. Last time we play at Keith Tournier Oval against Norths, they made 225, and it was a perfect track to bat on. One of the reasons why I’m hoping we should bat first was because I found out that Will can only be available to play from 4pm onwards, and hence, he’ll be available for just the 2nd innings. He can just turn up and bowl when we bat first; otherwise, we will be down a bowler if we have to bowl first.

I’ve told Joe that if Will’s opening, I would like to come on first change from his end if the wind is blowing sideways given that we’re similar bowlers. If Will’s unavailable, then it seems that I have to open the bowling, which is fine by me, given that I’ll have the end of my choice, plus I’ll be bowling the first over. Plenty of food for thought for our skipper, but I will have to wait and see how we go.

December 3, 2016

The wicket was similar to the game against Norths. It was perfect for batting.  The good news was that we had first use of the wicket when we won the toss and chose to bat. I managed to negotiate my way to bat up the order this time, and I’m batting at six. Will was pleased when I told him that we’re batting.

For the time being, it was the Sammy Gautam show. He was confident having made runs in the last two weeks, and he continued to channel his inner Sehwag. He swung hard, and that helped when edges flew over the slips cordon. This was indeed a stark contrast to the batter who made 2 runs in 3 innings. It was a testimony that the presence of Umesh Patel has helped him to start scoring decent runs. We were 2 for 81 after 15 overs at drinks, thanks to Sammy. He put on 25 with Umesh for the first wicket before adding 50 with Andrew Loveday, who threatened to perform but didn’t when he fell for 14.

We soon crashed to 4 for 96 after drinks. Sammy’s fairytale ended on 36 when he poked a catch to slip before Vasu Patel was stumped off Neil Hathaway for 2. That meant I was in. I had plenty of time to bat so I can play my natural game of batting for time before teeing off later. It worked when I put on a partnership with Vishal Suresh when we were 4 for 124 after 30 overs when we took drinks. Darab Fateh (who took 2/28 off 9 overs) and Neil Hathaway (who took 2/22 off 9 overs) was hard to get away, so we tried to go after Will Sackett and Brad McDowell. As a matter of fact, Sackett bowled a wide delivery outside off stump for me to square drive him for four.

Joe at drinks requested me to keep going but show a bit more intent. Vishal and I continued to take quick singles. A facet of my game that I believe I had improved immensely over the last 10 years. But both of us were soon out in consecutive overs. Vishal was run out trying to run two but was undone by a good throw and not running the first one hard. Me, having been bowled the short ball to pull, I failed to keep the shot down and hit a catch straight to square leg. Both of us made 14 apiece, but I was annoyed that I threw away a good chance of a long innings. Archie felt the pull shot lacked conviction, which costed my wicket while Vishnu later after the game thought I was rusty, given my limited batting opportunity.

Nevertheless, Archie really liked the way I batted my loud calls, mainly. They were loud and clear, and it even silenced the opposition. Sammy was telling me that he should learn batting from me, particularly on the calling side.

If we look at the bright side, my dismissal allowed Joe Laria and Sandeep Kumar to bludgeon the bowling in the last few overs to help us finish with 9/212. Sandeep made 34, and Joe was 26, not out. Wests were heard saying that they were into the tail, but as it proved that we don’t have any tail. Wests had to blame themselves for not bowling accurately and being disciplined enough. They conceded 48 wides and 6 no balls on the way to concede a total of 62 extras.

Will immediately arrived from his work at Manuka Oval to take the new ball with Dominic Ross. Although Will struck in his first over bowling Justin Keats, Wests were cruising at 1 for 52 after 10 overs. Dominic Ross had taken for a bit of tap, especially when he bowled too full and was driven through the offside for boundaries. I ended up replacing him, and we soon had Wests 5 for 57 at drinks after 14.1 overs.

My first wicket was an LBW to dismiss David Galeano, which I believe was pad first despite Galeano indicating otherwise. It was a while since I claimed a wicket in this manner. I was trying to swing the ball out, but it went straight on and hit him in front of the stumps. Will claimed the other opener, Toby Chugg, in the next over courtesy of a low catch by Vishal at mid-on who caught it with his fingertips. There was plenty of chat between Will and Chugg. I had heard that Chugg was having a go at me by telling me to shut up, but I honestly didn’t understand a thing.

My next over brought me a second wicket when I bowled Jack Dobson with a ball that came back in as opposed to moving away as I hoped. It might have hit a crack. I nearly had a third wicket when I spilled a return catch off Surojit Samanta’s bat (who averaged 0.40 with 2 runs in 5 innings). I couldn’t believe it and had lost my cool entirely. I usually in the past have taken caught and bowleds, but this chance should have been taken.

I eventually got Surojit bowled as he tried to drive and out-swinger that shaved the off stump. Unfortunately, tempers flew when Surojit was given a send-off, and he was pissed off with us, saying that we were unfriendly. It was at that moment that Adam, who came down to watch us play, gave us a spray for such childish behavior. He says we can provide chat to encourage our bowlers, but it shouldn’t go overboard. I took equal responsibility for our behavior and had decided to mellow down for the rest of the game.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any more wickets in a 6 over spell, but I should have had a fourth when Darab Fateh edged a ball in the slip cordon, and Archie spilled a catch when he dived in front of Umesh at first slip. I had figures of 3 for 7, at the time my best ever figures in grade cricket for Ginninderra, and immediately went off the field. It was at that moment Joe gave Andrew Loveday, Govind Thiagarajan, and Sandeep Kumar a bowl, and all claimed a wicket. Andrew removed Josh Rowland courtesy of a good catch by Govind. Govind dismissed Neil Hathaway courtesy of a good catch off a thick edge by Vasu. Sandeep then bowled James Lockley. It was 8 for 110 after 30 odd overs. We could have taken drinks, but instead, Will then Dominic came back on to bowl with no success from one end.

I went back on the field on Joe’s request and immediately took the ball from the other end, replacing Sammy Gautam, who bowled his only wicketless over. I had three overs left, and I had a chance of achieving something special. In my 7th over, my first over back, I had Fateh LBW to a straight ball that didn’t swing. Now I had 4/7. One more wicket to go to achieve something special.

I couldn’t get a wicket in my 8th over. I had figures of 4/14 at this point. Thankfully neither Will and Dominic took the final wicket, which was a relief because I now have one last over to achieve a special milestone. But I nearly had it taken away when Joe told me to rest, but he later retracted as he was just joking and immediately handed me the ball.

Although the wise thing will be to keeping doing what I was doing, I eventually decided to mix it up. I was bowling to Alexander Szabo. The first ball was my stock out-swinger, play, and miss.  The second ball, I attempted an inswinger it back in using an out-swinger grip but with the shiny side on the left side, which Szabo dug out. Third ball was an attempted wobble ball with a wide grip. Overpitched and driven by Szabo for four. I tried cross seam for the next two deliveries. The first one, the fourth in the over, played out by Szabo. Then came the crowning glory; the second cross-seam delivery was hit in the air by Szabo, and knowing I was heading for a special moment, Sammy took a good chest mark catch, his first for the club.

I’ve done it. Five wickets in the innings. The first time ever, I’ve achieved it in cricket, and I’ve done it on turf on one of the most batting friendly wickets in the ACT. 5/18 off 8.5 overs, and I was extremely pleased with that effort. Wests all out for 132, and we won by 80 runs. Last time I played on Keith Tournier Oval, I bowled too full and too wide most of the time. Bowling wicket to wicket while trying to swing the ball brought terrific rewards.

December 4, 2016

People have asked me what it is like to take five wickets, and I will say it’s a great achievement. All the coaching I received from Luke and Masud has paid off. Luke had obviously played a significant role in honing my bowling, which has become extremely useful on these wickets. I later realized he was right when he told me that I may have found my bowling role in 5th grade. I had opened the bowling for the first 6 games of the season and only taken 5 wickets while keeping the runs down. Since relinquishing the opening role, I had taken 7 wickets in the last two games. I would have actually opened the bowling yesterday if Will didn’t show up in time for the 2nd innings, which could imply that I may or may not be able to take 5 wickets in an innings.

Masud should be given equal credit for my success. Had he not encouraged me to play grade on turf, then I would be languishing in City & Suburban and possibly being taken to the cleaners on synthetic wickets. Now, having given turf a crack, I have taken 12 wickets in 8 games and have become Ginninderra’s leading wicket-taker in 5th grade this season. Hopefully, I will be amongst the top 10 wicket-takers after round 8 during the upcoming week.

I am also grateful that both JP and Vishnu during the week encouraged me to not change my bowling much and not worry about the end result in the nets. Furthermore, JP deserves more credit for selecting me in 5ths that allowed me to get overs under my belt every game. I don’t think my achievements would have occurred anywhere else.

I almost forgot another reason why I got five wickets was because of Joe Laria’s belief in my bowling. He had bowled me in every game I’ve played in 5th grade, and he always thought highly of my bowling from the very first game. He should start to believe that we can beat anyone on any day, given that we have an extremely long batting line up and a decent pace bowling trio of myself, Will, and Adam. So far, the trio had played two victorious games this season, and I hope we continue to play together and dominate the opposition, especially against Norths, Weston Creek, and Queanbeyan, whom we’re yet to beat.

Over the coming week, I’ll look to continue my catching practice with Matty Andrews, having spilled a caught and bowled yesterday. Apart from that drop and the missed dolly off Govind’s bowling, our catching was much better than the last few weeks. It’s essential against stronger teams that we continue this intensity.

I have bad news for my team-mates and readers. I will not be playing the coming weekend with my fiancee being in town. Hence, there will be no entry for next weekend. As a matter of fact, it will be a good game to miss given we’re up against Tuggeranong (as I said, they’re like the whipping boys of 5th grade). I nevertheless expect the boys to win without me. I’m not disappointed to miss the game, but I’m sort of disappointed not to be batting because I could fill my boots against them.

Anyways, unless Joe or Adam takes 6 wickets against Tuggeranong, I’ll still be comfortably our leading wicket-taker until I return for the last game before Christmas against Norths back in Keith Tournier Oval.

Ginninderra vs ANU at O’Connor, November 26 2016.

November 20, 2016

Yesterday I wondered whether I should bother with training because it was going to rain. As it turned out, the forecast was for showers late at night, so it would be worth turning up to practice after all. When I left the office at around 3:30pm, it was 33 degrees, and it was going to be a warm afternoon at practice. It did slightly cool down a little, but it was still warm.

During the nets session, we were all pulled aside by our president Chris “Griffo” Griffin asking us to keep the playing grounds and facilities tidy after each match. This was all contributing towards changing the outside views of our club, which included wearing the club polos to games. Griffo has a fair point, I thought because since we’re using the facilities of each of the turf grounds weekly, we should be looking after it too. I remember that in City & Suburban, individual clubs were fined by ACT Sportgrounds for not keeping the hard wicket grounds tidy after each match.

Back to training, we were still adopting the “if you’re out, you’re out” mentality at practice. It made sense, given that the 2-day matches were starting this weekend. Hence, everyone must try to bat as long as they can. For the bowlers, including myself, it’s about training to bowl aggressive maidens, which make the batsmen play but also make it hard for them to score off you.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t bowl like Allan Donald and ended up back to bowling like Ben Hilfenhaus, which was fine because I would like to continue swinging the ball and generate bounce to complement my much-improved run-up. I felt I bowled well. I bowled testing lines and lengths and got the ball to swing away from the right-handers at times without bowling a single half-tracker.

Then it was my turn to bat. I didn’t start well when I failed to stop a vicious in-swinger from Tariq Khan from hitting my pad despite batting outside my crease. Given, the LBWs cannot be given out in the nets, I continued to bat on; otherwise, it would have been an absolute shocker to be dismissed first ball in the nets. Thankfully, I made slight technical adjustments with my stance and continued my game plan from last week. Maybe I could have tried to advance to the spinners a bit more when they flighted the ball slightly, but this wasn’t the situation to try new things. It was a bit of distraction, though, while batting when flies were buzzing around you while being warm, but I managed to get through. I didn’t bat on the right towards the end or so because Matty Andrews, the 3rd-grade captain, needed bowlers to bowl too.

Sensing that the bowlers in my net were heading to Matty’s net, I decided to ‘retire’ and stop batting. It was also because I love to bowl a lot more than batting due to the stronger mental side. With the bat, it takes one mistake, and your innings is over. With the bowl, if you mess up your bowling a little, then there’s that likelihood of regrouping and finishing well. I wanted to bowl at Vishnu Chari so I can practice my lines against left-handed batsmen. I couldn’t quite bend the ball back into him, but I managed to bowl around the off-stump line to him most of the time and almost had him caught in two minds where he was close to edging a ball as he was trying to leave. I wasn’t actually bowling at full pace as the grass that I was running on was quite wet, but I still managed to keep it tight.

Once Kris Oliver got out, all the 1st-grade bowlers came to our net with the possibility of trying to get Vishnu out before sunset.  But Vishnu seemed immovable much like Dominic Ross was until he played an uncharacteristic shot to get out. Vishnu, in particular, looked comfortable against the spinners when leaving or playing shots. Finally, Vishnu chased a wide ball of mine and edged to where a second slip would have been. Nothing ball, nothing shot, remarkable result.

It was past 7.30 when Vishnu got out, and many people had gone home except for a few of us. My shirt was drenched with sweat all around, but I still managed a lap around the oval to finish up. It was a great session because I was indeed the last man standing (but it would have been a different matter had I not retired to bowl at the end). I had indicated before training that I will be available for 2-day cricket if they’re experiencing a bowler shortage, but I will have to wait and see.

November 22, 2016

I would really like to play 2-day cricket because it suits my natural defensive game where I could bat for hours and hours if given a chance. I had previous 2-day cricket experience not just on my Ginninderra debut last season but also having played 2-day cricket in Perth, albeit on synthetic wickets. I remember really well that for two weeks in a row in 2013-14, I was at least able to bat till tea time (and a little bit beyond it) having come into bat within the first 10 overs of the innings on those occasions.

Yesterday Chakra, the 4th-grade captain, casually asked me how I was doing. I told him that I haven’t been getting the results, but I’m at least keeping the runs down. The stats can back me up. I’ve played 6 games, taken 5 wickets at an average of 28.60 (strike rate of 57.6 balls per wicket), and have conceded at 2.98 runs per over. I further added that I’ve also been unlucky, given that the chances had fallen short or been dropped by fielders. Even though I still had an attacking field in matches, I had been short of luck. But I further mentioned to him that I’ll keep going what I’ve been doing and the results will come.

I had been thinking about 2-day cricket selections and would have been nice if I played alongside my friend Vishnu Chari one day. Given that several people aren’t likely to be available both weeks, I might be a chance. Still, Vishnu told me not to consume my mental energy about such things because selections are a tough job and should focus on enjoying the game and having fun. He was right about the fun and enjoyment aspect, and I should appreciate the fact that I’ve been given the opportunities to open the bowling in each of the six games so far and have successfully offered control.

Selections are indeed a tough activity. I’ve been there myself when I was previously a captain in my old clubs, so I should appreciate what I’ve got. As long as I keeping building pressure and taking wickets when it comes while maintaining my diet and fitness, I’m sure I’ll get opportunities as a bowler in 2-day cricket this season. For now, it’s training time.

Training worked out, ok. The bowling certainly was left to be desired against the right-handed batsmen since they were able to leave balls quite comfortably. But I felt I got better as the session went on. I had swing and bounce, but the accuracy was something I had to focus on at match time. I bowled better to the left-handers, though. I couldn’t quite swing the ball as I could against the right-handers, but I managed to land the ball around the 4th stump line a bit more, which became much more natural line to leave the ball.

Nevertheless, the biggest gain of the session was my batting. As suggested by Sam Gaskin from last week, I reverted to the process that helped me score runs last season in City & Suburban, where I was even hooking the ball in front of square off the pace bowlers. I may have got a bit carried away at times with the bat, but I felt a bit more decisive with more intent. My footwork against spin was more forceful than previously, which allowed me to either go back or forward. It was the same against the pace bowlers, and I really liked the lofted pull shot I played off my captain Joe Laria. I thought to myself, pretty good for someone who bats last in 5th grade. Nevertheless, I will back myself when my batting chance eventually comes. Even if I’m playing two-day cricket, I should play like I did today because I can put pressure on the opposition through my power while keeping to my basic plan, which I was doing today.

Tomorrow afternoon is when the selections will be emailed out, so I will only know then whether I’ll play 2-day cricket sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, I’m currently happy with my role in 5ths despite my lack of batting opportunity.

November 26, 2016

I initially wasn’t going to play due to a family emergency that happened at lunchtime yesterday while I was out eating at Papparich. At that time, Cricket took a backward step, and hence I’d immediately withdrew my availability. So I wasn’t picked to play any of the games. It was pretty full-on with all sides having 12 players.

As the afternoon had turned into night, the family emergency had subsided, and I would be available to play. Still, there’s a possibility of me going a weekend without cricket, and I felt disappointed. Then I realized that Archie couldn’t play, and JP asked me to play for 5ths. It felt good to be back.

However, it will remain to be seen whether I’ll be opening the bowling. I learned that Will Thomson is making a comeback into 5ths, and when I began with him in the first game of the season, he bowled tidily and took wickets while I went for a few runs despite taking a wicket. It didn’t work out because we are similar bowlers, and hence we want to bowl from the same end. To me, either of us will have to open the bowling, and I was okay with coming on first change when I spoke with Joe later that night. Joe said he will coordinate a discussion with him, me, Will, Adam, and Dominic Ross on who should open the bowling.

I didn’t realize I forgot my usual fruit and carbs that I usually consume every Saturday until I was close to the ground. I felt I could just get by with a big feast in the morning, but it would remain to be seen. The wicket seemed good for batting, but ANU sent us into bat. Sammy Gautam continued where he left off last weekend. One shot that got all of us wonderstruck was his lofted off side slash, which was certainly reminiscent of his idol Virender Sehwag. Sadly, he perished for 17, which helped us to give our best opening partnership of the season. Umesh Patel did his bit to provide us with a platform while making his highest score for the season, 16. Umesh later told us that the pitch was tough to bat on being an up and down wicket, and the pre-existing cracks were widening up. Their performances allowed Sandeep Kumar, Vishal Suresh, and Vasu Patel to cash in and help us to 8 for 180 in our 45 overs. Sandeep made 37 off 63 balls, Vishal made 32 off 43, and Vasu made 21 off 19.

During training on Thursday, Dominic Tran was talking up Vishal being a junior Virat Kohli. To me, the comparison seems legit. Same helmet and bat as well as the mannerisms and the batting approach and routine. He was a little shaky at the start but looked fluid. It would have been nice to see him make more runs, but he did his bit.

It was a bit of a different bowling approach than in any of the earlier games. Will, Adam, and I all wanted the same end. Which meant Dominic Ross opened the bowling with Will. The ANU openers got off to a steady start adding 30 odd within 12 overs. There were plays and misses and edges through the slips. Not to mention, we screwed up two easy run-out opportunities, particularly one where both batsmen were stranded, but Sammy tried to throw to the keeper quickly, but he was way off target. This infuriated Joe, and he said that accuracy over speed should prevail in run-out opportunities. The start left Will frustrated particularly with Josh Butson during an impressive 7 over spell. It took another mix up to give us the first wicket to dismiss Butson.

Adam soon after dismissed the dangerous Zahid Mumtaz caught by Vishal as he tried to hit over the top. We were told he’s a six-hitter, but he failed. We were right in it at drinks when they were 2 for 57, but we were sloppy in the field afterwards. Ground fielding and catching were unsatisfactory, and I contributed to the effort by dropping a chance of Tom Harrison. I was disgusted not only because the catch was coming straight to me, but it was also the third chance in a row I spilled off Adam O’Connor.

I was feeling down, as usual, having dropped a catch, and I was immediately was replacing Adam in the 29th over where they were 2 for about 90 odd. This situation was very different as I had been opening the bowling every game so far. However, I’ve been practicing generating swing and bounce with an older ball at training for some time. So I was confident that I will be able to perform in a different role later in the season. My first over went only for one run. Then the first ball of my next over, I took an edge of the Luke Magyar only to fall short of Umesh at first slip.

Nevertheless, I knocked him over with a ball that came into him and knocked his middle stump. I told Masud Rahman, my former cricket coach, who officiated this match that the ball has started to reverse, given that I was trying to bowl my stock out-swinger. However, Masud thought that the ball hit the crack. Anyways, I let out a big roar having claimed the wicket because I wanted to release my stress from last night’s family emergency.

I claimed Oliver Reynolds, who came down from 4th grade by bowling him with a full in-swinger. Apparently, I had broken the middle stump, and it was later thoughtfully replaced by one of the ANU players. However, I bowled without luck after that as chances from the left-handed opening bat were shelled, particularly in the slips, which took a decent dent on my overall figures. I finished with 2 for 36 off 7 straight overs, but it could have been better. I went off the field as I was tired and felt that fresh legs in Dominic Ross, who replaced me in the field will help us in the last few overs.

Just before I went off, Joe gave Dominic Tran the ball with the equation, 43 in the last 6 overs. It didn’t finish well having been hit for two fours, but he got the wicket of the captain Sandeep Gangal LBW (which was the only LBW decision in the game). When I finished my spell and went off, the equation was a run a ball in the last 4 overs, but they had 5 wickets in hand. It was going to go down to the wire. However, we had both Will and Adam up their sleeves, with both of them having 2 remaining overs each.

Adam claimed a wicket of John Piechowski in the 42nd over courtesy of a good catch by Vasu Patel in the deep. It was 6/161. Will claim two wickets in the next over, the 43rd. The first was a skier which was well held by Joe to dismiss Daynon O’Rourke before Lachlan Robertson was clean bowled. It was 8/163. 18 needed off 12. It was tense, but Tom Harrison was still there. But sadly, there was no fairytale for him when Adam clean bowled him for 79 and the no 11, David Lyons on the next ball, the final ball of the penultimate over, the 44th. ANU all out for 167, and we won by 13 runs. Will finished with 2/15 off 8 overs and Adam, 4 for 26 in his full 9 overs. Adam certainly deserved his wickets after a tough last three games for him without no reward.

We just won our second game in a row, and we are now within the top four with December approaching. It will be nice to continue our winning ways, but fielding continues to be an area of improvement for us. We sang the club song again, and I was presented with the broken stump as a reward. I was certainly pleased that I posted on Instagram about it. One comment till now from the 3rd-grade captain Matty Andrews which read “Pace. Real Pace”. I was undoubtedly grinning about that, but actually, I wasn’t that quick because I was just trying to swing the ball and generate bounce than pace. It was quite funny that our keeper for the match, Andrew Loveday, was trying to scare the captain Sandeep Gangal because I broke a stump. The stump is now in my room and perhaps going to be a piece for keeping sake for a long while.

Thankfully, not having the fruit and carbs did not affect my performance, but I had enough energy to go for a run around the entire O’Connor oval before heading home. The stats look a little better now after today. 7 games, 7 wickets at an average of 25.58 per wicket, a strike rate of 47.1 balls per wicket, and an economy rate of 3.25 runs per over. Bowling with an older ball helped my luck, although I needed to control my accuracy a little, particularly against the left-handers. It’s a role I may have to do for some time. So far, encouraging start with room for improvement.

Eastlake vs Ginninderra at Forestry Oval, November 19 2016

November 15, 2016

The focus for the training session for my bowling was to focus on a fourth-stump line to the right-handers consistently, but it had to wait for a moment when I attended training. We were straight onto the batting drills, which is precisely the same as what was done at pre-season training. I had felt good with batting again and was hitting them well with the Gray-Nicolls Training bat that I purchased during the off-season to improve my batting.

Mick Delaney the coach called everyone in after a short while to listen to his predecessor, Sam Gaskin who went on emphasizing the need for a routine for batting and bowling. This was something that my own coach Luke Wimbridge had drilled into me, so I knew what Sam was talking about. It is vital to have a routine whenever you’re going through a lousy trot or in supreme form. For me, I tend to focus more on the technical specifics than anything else as I do carry that frame of mind always.

One thing that Sam also mentioned which was quite evident was that we lose wickets in significant clusters and rather than try to play all the shots, it’s always good to stay with your three best scoring options at the start, and gradually you can expand further once you’re more accustomed to the bowling. Hence, we were all challenged to bat as long as we can in the nets. If you get out, you’re out, and your net session is finished. Similarly, if you fail to clear the marked boundary, you were also out. So it was about batting for long periods.

I dreaded that challenge. The last time I had a similar problem was in junior cricket, where I got out first ball to a delivery that spun and took my edge. Thankfully, the experience was better. I got on the front foot reasonably well as I was defending some and attacking the rest of the pitched up deliveries. I even managed to help myself to some short slow bowling until I played an uppish back foot cover drive, which would have carried to cover; hence I was given out. It would have been debatable if it would have carried to the fielder, but I was pleased to bat for a while. Pretty good for someone who hardly bats in 5th grade.

I initially struggled with the ball as the surface was very slippery to run in and bowl with fixed rubber studs. Thankfully, I had my spikes in my cricket kit, so I was able to change into those, and bowling became easier. I claimed three batters; two of them were ‘caught,’ and the other was bowled. However, there were times the ball came even slower unintentionally, so I had, at times, struggled for rhythm and pace. At the end of the session, several team-mates of mine had noticed that I inadvertently slowed down as I approached the bowling crease, which explained why the ball had times came slower than I ran in.

But there was a solution to the observation. I simply had to start with smaller steps and gradually build up to more significant strides as I hit the bowling crease. This is what I’ve picked up from cricket masterclass videos from people like Damien Fleming and my coach Luke. I ended staying back from training to work on this problem. While bowling to Dominic Tran, who needed extra batting practice, it felt the ball came out better with more and extra bounce but without my usual out-swinger. Nevertheless, this was excellent progress bowling wise and plenty to work with for the near future, including Thursday’s training.

On another note, I was grateful that Sagar, manager of the Malayalee Cricket team that plays on fortnightly Sundays, acknowledged that playing constant Saturdays and Sundays has become too much for me to handle. In the past, I fell sick and had hurt myself as a result of too much cricket, so I needed a break. Plus, with stuff to do at home, it felt an excellent choice to withdraw. To be honest, it wouldn’t be fair on the Malayalee team if I wasn’t playing at my best, and it would be better for those who cannot play on Saturdays to play in this team instead ahead of me. While there could be possibilities that I may need to play on Sundays for grade, it is still the right decision to cut back on the regular Sunday cricket.

November 17, 2016

Having made massive strides with my bowling on Tuesday, the onus on me to build on the excellent work today. Despite the run-up being perfect, it felt at times the bowl came too slowly. It was because I was trying to generate the extra bounce and swing through my shoulder rotation like the action of Alzarri Joseph, the current West Indian fast bowler from Antigua. Instead, I decided to replicate Allan Donald’s bowling action. The results were superb as the ball came out with a bit more energy and later on a bit more out-swing. I struggled with bowling at left-handers, but that was because I was bowling too straight. I knew I could start from outside off to the left-hander; I’ll be fine. It will continue to be a work in progress.

Nevertheless, towards the end of the net session, I felt I was in great rhythm when bowling to Amit Pardeshi, who played in my debut game for Ginninderra. I had run in quicker, and I was also getting decent out-swing, which was well noticed by Moeen Cheema, the 1st-grade all-rounder. I simply responded to his observations with a nod and a smile. Amit later, after training, commended me on my bowling and felt I was bowling quicker than Tuesday. I told him his feedback was instrumental in the improvement.

Batting in between the bowling was better. I was going to stick to my initial plan of defending anything on the stumps and score runs if it wasn’t pitched on the stumps. However, if the ball was short, I will try to go for it with the pull. That will be my strategy every time I go out to bat until I’m well set, or we need quick runs.

Then we finished with some fielding. My high-ball catching was hit and miss, but it’s still about getting into the right positions early to take the catch. Nevertheless, I felt my throwing was better. I usually unknowingly have elevation on my throws, which takes a while for the ball to get to the stumps, so I had worked on aiming directly to the top of the stumps, which was a better improvement. Now it was a case of replicating this out in a match.

The selections had been read out after we had a feed and a drink. Only the first four grades were confirmed for Saturday with the rest of the selections to be posted on the website. I knew I will continue in fifth grade with the likelihood of needing to step up in the absence of Adam O’Connor, who will be working this weekend. It will be a matter of whether I’ll be playing on Sunday, but I’m not too bothered if I don’t play because playing in fifth’s is fine for me as long as I bowl every week.

Sometime later, a couple of the boys Rhys Healy and John Prior, in particular, had told me that there were reading my online diary, which is good to hear. Rhys even asked me if I was still posting stuff, and I confirm I was. He seemed a little peeved that I mentioned I got him out in a net session in a previous entry, but I wanted to express how confident I was in my bowling at the time. Anyways, why would I stop writing stuff because I would like to write my life as a grade cricketer in Canberra? It was why, in the first place, I created this online diary.

With the light still around, I decided to return back to bowling practice. Once again, I ran in like Allan Donald and got the ball to swing out at a decent pace. All the work I did on the off-season till now to lose 8 kilos was taking shape. Unfortunately, I started to cramp up in the leg again after a long training session. So I tried to bowl within myself for a short while, which helped me to get swing and bounce before I called it quits after 15 minutes when the cramp was too much to handle.

All of a sudden, I had a spring in my step. I was much quicker than before, and I feel I’m a better bowler than I was at the start of the season. The obvious next step is consistency, which gets you an opportunity in the higher grades as I was told, but I’m not too fussed. All it matter is that I want to bowl every game I play in.

November 18, 2016

As it turned out, I’ll be just playing at Forestry in 5th grade. I will not be required on Sunday, which is fine because playing weekly Saturdays with the rare Sunday is better for me. As expected, Adam O’Connor will not be available as he’s working, so I have a big responsibility as the leader of the attack given our shortage of pace bowlers. When the captain Joe Laria called me, I was hoping of a possibility of a bat as I had been batting well at training, but it depends on how it goes on the day. He felt that I am getting better as a bowler. The rhythm is there, but not the results. This what I was thinking, and I told him that I have extra velocity up my sleeve now thanks to the work I put in at training.

I am relishing the added responsibility with the ball. Still, given the warm weather tomorrow with a maximum temperature of 30 degrees, I must hydrate before the match, especially if I’m going to run in with a more smoother run-up that generated extra pace ball after ball. Perhaps, I would need to for once put aside thoughts of bowling nine overs straight although I felt I could do it given the hard work I put into my fitness.

November 19,2016

Joe had lost the toss, and we were fielding. It was fine for us because we weren’t able to post defendable totals in the past two games. We were playing without the Isons, who were becoming invaluable contributors to our side. But we had Joel Suryawanshi, whom I knew from LMS as a big hitter and a handy pace bowler. I felt leading into the game that we would have fancied our chances against Eastlake, given that they weren’t a top-four team.

Due to the warm weather, both Joe and Martin Boland, the Eastlake captain agreed upon to have drinks after the 15th and 30th overs, which Cricket ACT would encourage as they are very concerned about the health and well-being of the players taking part in the ACT Premier Cricket competition.

I picked the closest end to the carpark only because Joe thought I could hit the patch that was on one side of the wicket. I managed to hit it once, and the ball didn’t bounce once. I was happy nevertheless that I bowled a lot better than the last few games. I was bowling a lot faster than before and got the ball to swing off the pitch and through my action. It immediately caught the attention of Chris Arcella, a.k.a Archie because I was much quicker than last week. Despite the heat, I managed to bowl nine consecutive overs and finish with 1 for 20. The wicket was courtesy of a superb low catch from Joe, which I don’t think anyone else myself included will be able to take.

Courtesy of my spell and with a wicket each from the Dominics Ross and Tran, Eastlake were 3 for 45, which was a much better bowling start than the last few games. Unfortunately, we were unable to sustain that momentum courtesy of sloppiness both with the ball and in the field (although Arcella’s leg side takes was one of the few exceptions). We bowled more full tosses and short balls combined than good deliveries. In particular, Eastlake’s number three bat, Ian Chattin, took advantage of. He rode his luck with a few mishits, dropped catches, missed runouts, and a stumping which went in his favor and finished with 101 not out much to Joe’s frustration. You got to give credit where it’s due, and he ensured they made 6/172 from their 45 overs. Archie felt it was a 200 plus wicket, and I thought we did well to starve Chattin of the strike towards the end, given that he was hitting them well compared to everyone else. Nevertheless, it felt that we missed both Adam O’Connor and Thomas Ison, who can undoubtedly show more control with the ball.

During their innings, though, there were numerous times the ball went into the deep bushes. One time, when a Dominic Tran epic loose ball disappeared out of the oval, several of the guys attempted a lost cause in retrieving the ball. Eventually, one of the Eastlake boys had some sort of replacement ball of about 20 overs old for us to continue with. We later learned that a few cricket balls had been previously lost in the bushes within Forestry Oval.

Now, we had to chase 173 to stop our mini-losing streak. As long as our top order fired for once, we will be set. For once, we didn’t lose our openers cheaply. Umesh Patel may have been bounced out, but Sammy Gautam batted, unlike a man who posted just two runs in his first three innings of the season. He ended up with 23. I suppose he idolizes Virender Sehwag because he was smoking them, particularly of Ahmed Dilraj, the Eastlake fast bowler who I thought had a similar action to the legendary Imran Khan. At the other end, Sandeep Kumar showed more intent, unlike his last two innings, which were to be fair against better teams. At drinks, we were 1 for 58. But we lost 3/7 soon after to David Mankey, who took 4/23 from his 9 overs.

But we were coming back into the contest again through Joel and Sandeep’s 47 run partnership, but we lost Joel then Govind Thiagarajan to be at 6/118 at the next drinks break. It felt that we were going to stare at 4 losses on the trot, but it didn’t seem that way thanks to Joe. It was the first time I’ve seen Joe bat for a while. Archie was telling me that once Joe faces a few deliveries, then he can have a big crack. That’s what exactly happened. Joe made 45 not out and won the game for us by 3 wickets within the 38th over. His striking power against the opening bowlers was out of this world (although he was using Govind’s bat – Sorry Joe if I stole your thunder). He even hooked Dilraj, who was quick for six and punished anything loose with power. He had excellent support from Sandeep, who made 49 and Archie who is yet to be dismissed this season.

We were back in winning ways, and we’re looking forward to our clash with ANU, which should be another win coming. Hopefully, with Adam and both the Isons coming back, it seems that we might have a dominant 5th-grade side in the future, but there’s a likelihood that someone will be going up to 4ths and above for the upcoming 2-day rounds.

Personally, my bowling is even better than when I first started the season. It was also excellent during the game that more people have been reading my diary with great interest and have been making observations and jokes about it.

Queanbeyan vs Ginninderra at Brad Haddin Oval, November 12 2016

November 8, 2016

Thankfully the weather stayed away today for training as it allowed me to hone my run-up for bowling. I have been able to bowl reasonably quickly at the start, but the problem was that I was a bit lazy with my knee drive, which would have made life even extra difficult for the batters. It was because I went flat out for pace, which is quite the opposite of what I should be doing.

Hence, I slowed down my run as I focused more on building acceleration of my run-up, which will help my knee-drive, and the results were better, although, at times, my bowling arm was coming through enough. So there was work to do in that aspect.

Batting was a little different at training since we were given a maximum of ten balls to bat a time before you exchange with your batting partner. If you get out within your turn, then you had to turn it over. Thankfully I didn’t get out, but I felt I couldn’t have been better at getting my head over the ball, which was something that Luke had also instilled in me since our days together.

Overall I got a lot out of the training session with the ball in hand, and I didn’t get tired courtesy of the extra energy. It is a testament to the fitness work I’ve done since the off-season, and long may the good work continue.

November 10, 2016

This morning I woke up with a sore back and legs. I usually work out my back and legs whenever I don’t have cricket because it will be critical for my bowling in particular. For the whole day, I had pain in these areas, but it wasn’t going to stop me from training because I wanted to continue bowling.

I added some minor tweaks to my delivery action, which later helped me to be back to my unplayable best. I had quite enjoyed the contest with my 5th-grade captain Joe Laria. I was beating him with out-swing and bounce before he edged a delivery into the slips. It was later good to get his positive feedback from him, and he had suggested what field settings I could do for certain situations for my bowling. It’s really nice to have a captain that thinks a lot about cricket like I do.

November 12, 2016

I was hopeful of a match today once the rain from overnight had cleared. It would have been disappointing to drive for 30 minutes to Queanbeyan and then having to go back home as the pitch would not be dried in time. That’s what happened to our 4th-grade side who had their game abandoned in Chisholm, Tuggeranong, without a toss. It was because there were no covers to protect the pitch from the rain. Instead, with some of our players from the initial starting line-up having withdrawn before the match, we managed to get two players from 4ths, Jess Howard and Jason Cooper.

We were at Brad Haddin Oval (formerly Queanbeyan Town Park) which for cricket nuffies is named after former Australian and NSW Wicket-keeper Brad Haddin whom was involved in two victorious World Cup squads for Australia in 2007 and 2015 and was the main hero with the bat in the victorious Ashes whitewash in 2013-14. Anyways, back to the real cricket. The curator for this oval had told us that although the pitch looked ready, the adjacent square was still damp to be played on. Hence, it was advised that we had to inspect the ground at 2pm with the hope of a 2.30 start.

That left us with at least an hour to kill. I would have loved to go to the nearby Anytime Fitness for a short gym session to warm up my muscles, but I didn’t have my gym gear (I usually carry it in my car, but it was with my parents who need to get around with it for the day). Instead, I went for a significant feed of Subway in the Riverside Plaza shopping center, followed by some Honey Soy and Tandoori chicken wings from Kingsley’s.  By the time I returned, the stumps were already in place, so I thought we’re going to have a game, albeit a reduced one.

Joe lost the toss, and we batted in overcast skies. It was a 37 overs a side game due to the delayed start with 2 bowlers can bowl 8 overs max while the others can bowl a maximum of 7 overs. Quite frankly, our batting continued our usual struggle. Queanbeyan to their credit got the ball to move considerably, and the keeper stood up to their bowlers for the whole innings, which meant that batting outside the crease had been taken away from us. We could only manage 7 for 91 in our allocated overs. I felt the turning point was the freakish catch to dismiss Michael Ison, who looked good again. If the ball was traveling a wee bit higher, then it would have been a safe shot. Govind Thiagarajan’s new personal best of 24 and Chris Arcella unbeaten 23 (despite the fact he felt he wasn’t batting that great) ensured we batted our overs, but Arcella a.k.a Archie thought we should have been proactive against such bowling.

From there, Queanbeyan ran away from the game and consigned us to a hattrick of defeats as they won by 8 wickets. Adam O’Connor and I bowled all right, although we conceded a few boundaries between ourselves. I got the ball to swing, but the line was too straight to my liking, which is why the Queanbeyan openers got me away for a few boundaries. Whenever I bowled outside off, I managed to keep the runs down there. As a result, I finished with 6 wicketless overs for 23. Although it was a slightly forgettable outing, I remember the sledge from the Queanbeyan opening bowler John Fern who was standing as square-leg umpire. Adam had bowled a short ball that hit their captain, who was batting at the time as he tried to pull. John simply said along the lines of “Jeez, his missus has given him a better hook than that,” and I was cracking up laughing.

Although we lost by 8 wickets, we at least managed to push the game till the 31st over courtesy of tight bowling from Jess Howard, who should have got a wicket and Thomas Ison, who got both the openers out in an impressive five-over spell which included a hat-trick of maidens. To be honest, our bowling isn’t too bad. It’s just that our batting and fielding need more improvement, and we can work on it no problem.

Regarding me, I should have bowled around outside-off like I did at training, which was disappointing. I have to go back to basics again, given that after a decent start with the ball in hand in the season, I’ve only taken one wicket in 24 overs across three games. I’ve been keeping it tight, but I need to make subtle changes, particularly for various conditions.

Ginninderra vs Weston Creek Molonglo at Aranda, November 5 2016

Again my preparations for the weekend were hampered as I only managed to attend training on Tuesday, which was, as a matter of fact, my birthday. I just turned 26 and enjoyed the wishes people gave me in person and on Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp). I bought two kinds of cakes. A Cherry Ripe Brownie cake from Dobinsons in the morning followed by my all-time favorite, the Coffee Pecan Torte from the Cheesecake shop.

I also had to pick up a parcel from the nearby delivery hub at Mitchell since Neethu and family had delivered a gift that turned out a watch with a big clock face. I was even contemplating if I should be attending training on my birthday, but my workmate Vishnu Chari reckon I should. Vishnu had till now was keeping tabs on my performance on turf, so I had some suspicion that he would be interested in playing, so he decided to turn up to training.

Training wasn’t a big turnout comparative to previous sessions I’ve attended. This was mainly because the Melbourne Cup was on, so most people would have been unable to train. I had learned Vishnu had opened before in district cricket in Melbourne, where he came from and was getting back into cricket. He seemed pretty solid in defense and also clipping the loose deliveries away. I think Matty Andrews, the club’s 3rd-grade captain, was just impressed with Vishnu, which was the feedback JP was telling me because he was wondering if Vishnu wanted to fill in as an opener in 4ths. I had remembered Vishnu telling me that he was still rusty and had a way to go before going back to his best form. I was looking through his stats on MyCricket and found out he averages in the 20s with a top score of 129. So he knows how to make good runs. He considers himself a two-day batter, but even in the one day format, patient openers like him can provide a reliable platform to enable the lower batters to take charge of the opposition. I told Vishnu that the club would like him to play 4ths this weekend, and they really liked your batting. He seemed quite happy that he was offered the position, and I wished him well.

Going back to my preparation, I felt on Saturday that I wasn’t “pumping the arms” a bit more such that they were around my eye-line, which will help my rhythm. It worked because I was beating the bat again through movement and bounce and otherwise keeping a very tight line and length, particularly to Matty Andrews. For good measure, I experimented with a slower ball whenever the batters tried to come down the wicket to my bowling, which later I felt became a very effective weapon. I was thrilled that my bowling is now coming together. I got a bit of a bat, but I was mostly facing spin, so it allowed me to practice advancing down the wicket to spin, which I managed to do well before I cramped up in my left leg towards the end of my batting stint. If that wasn’t all, I later hurt my left hand during fielding practice where the ball hit the outer part of the palm, which made it hard for me to grip anything, let alone clench it.

Basically, that ruled me out of any visit to the gym or to practice for the rest of the week, but I still managed to head to work. To make matters worse, I suffered a sore throat, which needed a couple of days to recover. I didn’t want to aggravate it, so I stayed at home for that reason too.

November 5, 2016

Thankfully my health was restored in time for the weekend. I was looking forward to bowling again, but this time, we were in Aranda. Our 4th-grade side had already played at the oval, and it was proving to be a bowlers paradise. They were able to defend 147 against Wests, but they couldn’t chase down 119. There have been stories that the ball keeps extremely low in patches. For example, I heard Jason Cooper and Chakra being undone by shooters, which were pitched short of a length. I mean, how do you play those people must be wondering.

For once, we had 12 people in our lineup. Sam Anavatti got promoted to 4ths, but we managed to get Sandeep and Govind, so hopefully, we will be able to put in a better performance in the field as we will have 11 fielders at all times. I was hopeful that Joe Laria would give me a chance to bat in the middle order like Adam O’Connor did last weekend, but it depends on the situation. It seems I may not be able to bat higher than six unless Joe thought otherwise.

When I later looked at the pitch, there were crumbling patches in places. Our groundsman who looked after the whole ground indicated that it will be a better batting wicket; hence we were hopeful that Aranda wouldn’t play its tricks.

Joe lost the toss, and we were batting. As it turned out, Weston Creek Molonglo is an excellent chasing side as they are genuinely strong in batting compared to bowling. We didn’t get off a good start as Coughlan dismissed Sammy Gautam for a duck and Umesh Patel for 1 to have us at 2 for 2.  Hence, it was up to Michael Ison and Sandeep Kumar to execute the rescue job. Once again, Michael put away filth and chanced his arm from time to time.

In contrast, Sandeep was conscious of the pitch playing low from time to time and played cautiously. He got off the mark after batting for 10 overs by then Michael was about 30. Thanks to them, we were 2 for 68 at drinks with Michael posting his half-century.

They continued to accumulate differently, but before they guided the score past 100, Sandeep hurt his left leg and was limping. We all thought he was going to come off, but he later retired an over later on 12. Michael kept going, but he held out to long-on off Loughlan for the devil’s number in 87. Ultimately, it was his dismissal that killed off any hopes of making at least 200. Blake Nitschke and Thomas Ison did their bit to stay in for about 20 balls each, but both had got out for four and nine, respectively, when they were going to cut loose. The only man to cut loose was Adam O’Connor, who continued where he left off last weekend by finishing with 30 not out from number six. Courtesy of him, we managed to finish with 4/165 from our full 45 overs. Govind Thiagarajan was also 6 not out. Weston Creek pacers towards the end were hard to get away, but based on the opinions of our guys, the pitched seemed to play its part.

I was quite confident about our boys’ chances. Yes, perhaps we could have made more, but we have runs on the board, and they have to get them. For the second game in the row, I took the first over. Somehow I felt anxious because I was up against Ben Campbell, who I knew who could strike big from my Last Man Stands experiences. I don’t know what happened next when I pitch the ball around the stumps, hoping for it to swing out, but the ball went right through him and hit the stumps. I don’t think he knew what had hit him, and I was immediately surprised myself. I simply couldn’t believe it, and no wonder I couldn’t get any more wickets within my 9 consecutive over spell, which was 1 for 30.

The Weston Creek Molonglo batters mostly took the risk of playing across the line, which was annoying, but it was later effective. The exception was their 15-year-old bat Owen Levings who came in at three and batted really well until he dragged on an off-drive to his stumps off the bowling of Thomas Ison. Courtesy of their approach, they chased down our target with about 12 overs to spare and seven wickets in hand (Joe Laria had the other opener, Jon Murphy, well caught by Adam).

During their innings, several of us ended up searching for the ball in the bushes for quite a while after Alex Barich smashed a loose ball from Govind towards deep midwicket, which just eluded Michael Ison’s head and went for four. Boy, it took a while to find the ball, and even the Weston Creek boys had to pitch in to help find that ball. It took a while to find the ball, and by luck, we managed to find the ball. In the midst of a poor over from Govind, from that moment, Weston Creek dominated the game.

We now lost 2 games in a row, having won our first two games. The boys felt we should have at least 175 on the board, given we only lost four wickets. The problem we have in our club as a whole is we don’t have many batters through the grades. Still, I think we must be patient with ourselves because it’s early in the season and we have plenty of time to improve our team performances particularly with the bat and the ball because we bowled several loose deliveries which they punished.

On another matter, I was delighted that Vishnu enjoyed his debut for Ginninderra. He made 13 with three boundaries, and he was happy with how it went. Given our weakness in batting as a club, having Vishnu was a big bonus, and I’m glad that I’ve done my bit inducting him in.

November 6, 2016

During a day-long road trip to Sydney, I was wondering if I could get better at my performances, and I honestly don’t think I can. It’s not as if I don’t really bowl badly in games. Far from it. After 4 games, I bowled 33 overs and took 4 for 100. That’s an average of 25 runs per wicket, an economy rate of 3.03 runs per over, and a strike rate of 49.5 balls per wicket. I have been getting the shot to swing and bounce, which triggered plays and misses, edges, and dropped catches as well as wickets.

Maybe I am too rash in my thinking. I’m doing everything right; it’s just that the results haven’t come my way yet. I remember the great Glenn McGrath believed in the process over results. He said, “If you get the processes right, then the results will take care of itself.” I shouldn’t be impatient and should continue to do what I do best with the ball and continue with strength and conditioning work.

North Canberra Gungahlin vs Ginninderra at Keith Tournier Memorial Oval, October 29 2016

My preparations for the coming weekend were extremely hampered. On Monday, as I was finishing my usual weight-training session at the gym, I felt a little dizzy. Furthermore, I had been waking up a bit tired in the recent past. Then on Tuesday, I thought I had a bit of a fever and decided to ditch training.

I managed to see the doctor, and he diagnosed me to have a viral infection and put me on medication. It got so bad on Thursday that I couldn’t attend work nor training, but I assured JP that I will be able to play on the weekend. With assistance from taking antibiotics, I was able to take the field this weekend as we strived to start the season with a hat-trick of victories.

When I saw the pitch, it was a crumbling wicket, which I thought would be suitable for bowling, but most of the players from both sides reckon it was a good batting wicket. It was no wonder why Joe was a little disappointed not to win and toss and bat. I managed to start off with a maiden by getting some deliveries to move away, but then I made a mess of a catch running from short fine-leg. As a result, the openers put on at least a 50 run partnership despite me beating the bat from time to time. I bowled out with nine wicketless overs for 32 runs. I didn’t think I bowled really well in comparison to last week.

We managed to fight back briefly to have Norths on 3/82 at drinks. Joe took a wicket as a third change. Thomas Ison took a wicket after coming on after me. Then we got a direct hit. When Sam Anavatti took the fourth wicket soon after, we were right back into the contest.  Or so we thought. Stephen “Clarrie’ Grimmett, who I knew from the Last Man Stands cricket came in at number six and rode his luck on his way to an unbeaten 75. He used his feet well to Sam and also hit straight to score his runs. Thanks to him, Norths finished with 9/224 in their 45 overs, so we failed to bowl a team out for once. We fielded really poorly although we were handicapped with ten players at the start and then nine in the last 15 overs since Sam had to go somewhere. It was about 30-40 runs too many, according to Joe.

All we had to do was to see out the new ball and then cash in as it was an excellent batting wicket. But we didn’t get off to the best of starts as we were in trouble at 4 for 27. Sammy Gautam was caught at point of a thick edge. Michael Ison and Umesh Patel were adjudged LBW, and Dominic Ross played a terrible slog across the line, trying to score another boundary. That start effectively killed our run chase as we had to settle in batting out our overs. Blake Nitschke made 32 at number 4. Adam O’Connor batted well for 29 at number 6 before getting a rough LBW decision with the ball was pitched outside leg. Then Sam Anavatti and Thomas Ison were not out with 21 and 12, respectively. Sam even took a blow on the helmet courtesy of a beamer from Josh Barmby, which would have shaken Sam, but he seemed a little unfazed. We finished with 7 for 144, which meant we fell short by 80 runs.

During the innings, Joe had already locked down his three, four and five in the batting order for the games ahead which were Michael Ison, Blake and Sam and he reckon that we will make good progress while he believes Norths won’t make much progress by the time we meet again later in the season.

Although I was a little disappointed in my bowling performance, some of the Norths’ players thought I bowled really well. My mate at work Vishnu Chari thought I also bowled well and was relatively tidy, given that the overall scoring rate was about five runs per over while I conceded under four runs per over.