End of Season Review, April 21, 2018

Looking back, this season was a successful one for me personally. Although I didn’t play in both the semi-final and the final, I at least played my part in securing the club’s first premiership for 14 years when 6th grade won by a wicket against ANU White. I initially wanted to spend my entire season in 6th Grade since I cared about enjoying my cricket, particularly when it comes to bowling. As the season went on, that all changed when opportunities in 5ths and then 4ths soon presented itself when the first-choice players weren’t available, particularly bowlers. I am just grateful that I managed to play some two day matches for the first time since my Ginninderra Debut 2 years ago. During the season, I thought it would be good to play at least one two day match mainly to see how my cricket is going and where I could possibly improve. As it turned out, I did pretty well in the two-day games this season.

At the start of the season, I wanted to achieve a double of 200 runs and 20 wickets. Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve it at all, let alone reach the double of 150 runs and 15 wickets. The biggest disappointment was the batting. I had started the season with the bat well with 67 runs from 4 innings, which included a knock of 47 against ANU White. Unfortunately, that proved to be a false dawn for me as I soon registered single-digit scores. Those 67 runs were made in 6th grade, and so these single-digit scores occurred as I went up to 5ths and then 4ths. I’m not really looking for excuses for my batting which is why I felt that it was disappointed that I couldn’t push on to at least double figures for the rest of the season has shown some promise either by playing some good shots or by occupying the crease for a brief time. It wasn’t the first time I experienced a ‘slump’ after a decent score. I suffered two such slumps exactly four seasons ago, having made scores of 37 and 39, but I was able to gradually bounce back with a decent score or two. I think the key to starting the next season well with the bat is to understand my game plan through my strengths and weaknesses and developing a mental approach at the crease to help me relax.     

While my batting went backward, my bowling was pretty consistent all the way through even as I went up the grades. I managed to bowl in 11 of the 12 games I was listed for (one game was a washout), and I only went wicketless twice (those two games resulted in 11 overs for 66 runs against ANU White).

My figures in each grade were as follows:

  1. 6th Grade: 2/11 (5.1 overs), 0/50 (9), 1/22 (9), 3/23 (9), 0/16 (2) – 6 wickets @ 20.33
  2. 5th Grade: 2/18 (6), 2/36 (8), 1/13 (6) – 5 wickets @ 13.2
  3. 4th Grade: 2/6 (7), 1/4 (5), 2/32 (9) and 1/16 (5.4) – 6 wickets @ 9.67

Looking at it, that’s 17 wickets with an average around 14.5, which was an improvement in both aggregate and average from last season where I took 15 wickets @ 19.20. It’s hard to tell exactly why I had more success this season, but the stats show that I got better as I went up the grades. Perhaps the higher the grades I go, the more motivation I can gain since you want to do well. It also had helped for the last 2 seasons that I have been bowling to batters in the higher grades, which played a major mental part in my preparation.

Apart from all that, I managed to contribute in the field as well. I started the season with a run-out in 6ths and finished the season with 4 catches (including a catch in my final match of the season), which featured 2 caught & bowled dismissals. I think the significant difference from last season with the fielding from last season was indeed the mindset. Last season I wasn’t expecting any catches my way, and I ended up dropping all my catches, especially when the balls were hit up in the air. This season I ensured that I had a change of mindset as I was saying things like “hit it to me,” which did help.

Overall a season haul of 91 runs, 17 wickets, 4 catches, and a run-out definitely made it a good season because I contributed in all aspects of the game. If I can continue with a positive mindset, I can have a much better season.

Moving forward

I still believe I’m on track for the treble of 100 games, 1000 runs, and 100 wickets with the hope of achieving it within 10-15 years. However, it doesn’t seem to be necessary since the overall aim of playing grade cricket is to improve my game as a whole in an organized environment and making use of my abilities before age and reality take over. Even if I don’t get the treble within my desired timeframe, that’s not the end of the world. I do have the option of playing in my 50s and 60s like some of the existing players from the likes of Eastlake, Norths, and Queanbeyan. Even the great Dennis Keith Lillee was bowling outswingers of a long run in his 50s against the touring Pakistan side at Lilac Hill in the 1999-2000 season (where his first 6 overs yielded 3 for 8).

Having played some more two-day cricket and performed reasonably well with the ball in hand this season, the next goal is to learn how to swing the white ball, which will be a critical skill, especially on good pitches. If I can swing the white ball, then it would also help when swinging the red ball (which generally moves more laterally and frequently compared to the white).  That’s my focus moving forward, and so I am targeting a place in 4th grade at least (hopefully Joe will captain again because of our mutual respect to each other). However, both Kumar and Matt Hogan positively believe that I will be playing in 3rd grade. It would be great though if it happens but if I do all the right things, who knows.

Presentation Night at Belconnen Premier Inn, March 24 2018

We had won a premiership last weekend when our 6th-grade side won a 1 wicket thriller against ANU White at the Nest. I wish I was there to witness it even as a player, considering I had played half my games in 6s. Nevertheless, my contributions to the path of glory were already acknowledged by Archie when I had told him that I was going to be unavailable for finals, so I was therefore happy that I actually played my part.

Apparently, it was the club’s first trophy in 14 years, and there was no doubt the jubilation was felt when everyone sang the team song on that night itself. I suppose it’s all right timing with the presentation night coming around tonight. I was intending not to go with family being around, but I had changed my mind when I wondered if I won something, and I wasn’t around to get it. That something was probably going to be the Most improved considering that I had progressed from 6s to 4s by taking the opportunities that presented itself through the unavailabilities of other bowlers. I wasn’t thinking that I was going to win it as I felt that Austin D’Alessandro was going to be the frontrunner anyway. He had progressed from 5s to 2s in a single season with the bat, which wasn’t surprising to some people who thought he was a very decent bat. Dominic Tran would also be an outside chance, particularly after hitting his first six for the club before hitting the winning runs that took 6s to the premiership. If I eventually got it, Great! I was there to claim it. Otherwise, never mind it was a long shot, but I will be there at least to catch up with my mates before disappearing away from the field for at least 5 months.

I remember a piece of advice that I received in Perth from Mark Charman at the Riverton Rostrata Cricket Club. He told me that awards shouldn’t be the sole focus of playing cricket. It should be for fun and to enjoy ourselves with our mates. My motivations were partly that, but I’m anyways here to play cricket on turf and try to improve as much as I could before it gets too late. On that front, I felt I’ve gained some new skills since joining Ginninderra, and I think that I can still get better. If I get some recognition via awards, then great. Otherwise, never mind. I really do care about an environment that gives me opportunities, and so far, I felt I made the right choice because the club has been great to me.

Given the official presentation was to be at 7pm, I decided to rock up closer to the time since I was spending time with family by showing them around Canberra. Like I was able to correctly predict last year’s Charles Wood Medallist was to be Lukey Ryan, I will predict that this year’s medallist is our 1st-grade vice-captain Rhys Healy who finished as the 1s leading run-scorer,. Still, he might have some competition against the reigning champion who was the joint leading wicket-taker for 1s as well as making some useful lower-order runs. Last year I was seated with Archie and Andy Loveday, but this year, they were at their own table with most of the premiership-winning side. Despite the table list at the bar was different from the one near the door, I would be sitting in Table 8 with the likes of Kumar, Kris Oliver, and JP.

Although I eventually didn’t win anything, I still had an excellent relaxing time without any incident. Not quite, but there were minor incidents. First of all, I had a plate of garden salad, and when I left to grab a tall glass of soft drink, I had the whole bowl of salad on my side of the table. I had suspected someone like JP would have done this, but I didn’t care so much. Secondly, there was duck on the menu for tonight, and I was served that for dinner. Next to me, Kumar was served Lamb, so thankfully, he switched dishes over with me. I thought being served duck was a bad omen because I believe the next time I’ll bat, I score a duck or even worse get the duck trophy, which is something I do not want. Speaking of the duck trophy, I got a special mention by Darren Walker, the club’s assistant coach and MC for the night because I made a mention about our defending duck champion BT recently mainly because of our past duals in the nets and my desire to get him out which I did. Anyways, BT passed on his ‘crown’ to Fernsy, who actually knew that he was going to get it because he had a speech in mind.

On the night, they gave away trophies for every player who took a 5-for or scored a hundred during the season. I was feeling a little bitter since they didn’t have this award last season when I took my five-for against Wests, but it made me determined to take more hauls in the future so I can get one myself. Never mind that, but I could console myself with the fact that I correctly predicted the Charles Wood Medalist again, which did go to Rhys Healy, but he was a joint winner with Jak Wilcox. Both had excellent seasons with bat and ball, respectively, and Griffo pointed out that both were living proof of the junior-senior linkage within the club and how important it is to maintain the bond so that more juniors can be easily integrated into the senior league and perform. It’s probably why Griffo will be pushing for more senior participation in such things.

Ginninderra vs Tuggeranong at Kippax No. 2 Oval, February 24 & March 2 2018

February 24, 2018

I felt good bowling the whole week at training as I was bowling faster than previous weeks while still generating out-swing and bounce. I managed to bowl to our selector Tom Carmody on Thursday night and gave him a good contest when he asked me to bowl a few overs at him at the end of the training session. Unfortunately, he got cleaned bowled off the last ball of the day not by me, but by our bearded wonder Matthew Boustow who having bowled a series of out-swingers to TC, he clean bowled him with an inducker that would have snuck through bat and pad to clip middle stump. Earlier in the week, he took the piss out of me when he used my last diary entry as a reason for dropping me into 5ths. I said to him later that I intended no malice against him and was just honest opinions. He took it light-heartedly and assured me that I’ll still be picked for 4ths. That’s how naive I can be, but even if TC was serious, I wouldn’t have minded being in 5ths for the rest of the season. Thankfully, a rare third consecutive 4th-grade appearance in 2-day cricket was very welcoming indeed.

The fact that I was able to run and bowl as fast as I could while trying to swing the ball all week was all down to a tweak in my running action with the arms which had been the case last week. I’m not trying to become a tearaway quick, but I am trying to add more potency to my ousting and bounce (and possibly so that I don’t have the keeper to stand up to me and of course, to try and beat the batsmen with pace). I think I bowled the equivalent of 15 overs over the two sessions, and I don’t think I was exhausted after each session.

Now it was time to back it up out in the center on Saturdays, but my opportunity would have to wait since Joe won the toss and elected to bat on a hot day. We didn’t get off to the best of starts. Umesh was trapped by a yorker first ball. Michael Galen-Mules, who started positively, tried to work one on the leg side only for the ball to hit the back off his bat and into the leg stump. TC, who received a jaffa first ball where the ball hit the glove which was dropped by second slip, was caught out at short mid-off. Matthew Bell played a needless swipe and was caught out at square leg. We were 4 for 31 after 10 overs, and Chakra, who could have been run-out trying to steal a bye, needed someone to stay with him.

Indeed, Chakra got support from Harry Chittick. They put on 69 for the fifth wicket by being positive in their run-scoring before Chakra was run-out on 48. However, Harry continued our resistance with an 80 run stand with Lachlan Reid. They both ran a lot of quick singles, 2s, and 3s, which brought our scoring rate to around 4 an over. I was told that we had to win outright to stay in the finals hunt, and this quick scoring was helping our cause. Harry eventually brought up his first grade fifty, but he fell on a tired stroke on 76. Lachy carried on until he got bowled for 38 when our score was 212. After a further two quick wickets, I was going out to bat at no. 11, considering the depth we have in our batting line-up in 4s.

I was facing Joel Armstrong, who picked up those two quick wickets with his off-spin. His first ball spun, and I worked it on the leg side and took a single to get off the mark. At the end of the same over, I played a cover-drive for two, which was risky as I was playing against the turn (considering Caleb Stevens was bowled trying to play a similar shot at the start of the over). In his next over, Armstrong bowled a long hop, and I smashed a pull shot away for four behind square before hitting a single in the same area on the next ball. I was on 8 and had been at the crease for a short while. Unfortunately, my eagerness to dominate Armstrong eventually got the better off me. He flighted his next ball to me, and I came down the wicket and got bowled. The instant feedback I got from Umesh was that I closed my face a little and could have played it straight, and I had also yorked myself. The intent was there, but the execution wasn’t yet. I already won a few fans in my own teammates who loved my cover drive and pull shot. I also was pretty pleased with the fact that I did better than some of my guys who batted higher than me, particularly Belly and TC, and people don’t really regard me as a serious batsman, haha.

We were bowled out for 239, having been 4 for 31. It was merely a case of Deja Vu for us like last weekend. A top-order collapse followed by a lower-order resistance.

As we were bowled out in the 61st over, we had 16 overs to bowl tonight with 3 overs lost for a changeover. I was hoping for a crack with the ball tonight, but Joe told me that I won’t be getting a chance. Caleb and groundsman Robbie McPherson opened up, and the Kippax 2 wicket was showing to be up and down in terms of bounce. Caleb was getting some to bounce at head height where one missed Wayne Lucerne’s nose, clipped Snowy’s gloves, and went for four byes. At the other end, Robbie was getting a few to shoot low. Probably the ball would have hit a few cracks on the wicket. I don’t really know.

Anyways, we got our only breakthrough for the day when Lucerne chopped on off Caleb’s bowling, and while Chakra and TC probed away with their finger spin, both Bilal Bhatti and Armstrong were defiant, and they finished with 1 for 37. We probably did well against the top-ranked team at the moment, but we need to firstly restrict them to under 139 and bowl them out quickly to give ourselves enough time to take another 10 wickets next weekend. At least we had a similar day to our 1st-grade side, who made 246. However, it wasn’t the case of the 2nds or 3rds. 2nds conceded 428 and had their captain Nick Owen go off the field momentarily due to a heat stroke.

To make matters worse. Jake Floros smashed an unbeaten 230 while former Southern Stars off-spinning allrounder Erin Osborne made 79. 3rds who were playing at Chisholm 2 (Eden Park according to TC) conceded 359 in 69 overs and are 2/68 in reply. In effect, it was a crazy day for the boys.

March 3, 2018

I had spent a whole week working on my bowling action since I was trying to generate pace to maximize my bounce and movement. I had spent most of my season at a medium pace, which probably resulted in keepers standing up to the stumps to prevent the batters from batting outside my crease. The disappointing thing was that while I was able to rediscover my Mojo on Wednesday and Friday, I wasn’t able to do so on Thursday since I was perhaps doing the wrong things in particular with my loading arm. Today, I wanted to make sure I was doing the right things with my action, so thankfully, I had some time to go to the nets to work on it for a short while before we got out to field.

Tuggeranong needed a further 203 runs with 9 wickets in hand to win, and while we still need to try and bowl out them twice to effect an outright win to keep our finals hopes alive. For that, we had to bowl them out by tea with at least a 100 run lead. Before we can do that, we observed a minute silence with the sad news regarding the passing of President Griffo’s mother, which I realized why we wore black armbands on the left sleeves of our shirts. It was great that Tuggeranong respected this sad moment by taking part in the minute silence with a couple of their players also wearing black armbands.

On the pitch, though, it was going to be tough going as the wicket was a road, and we had to bowl really well to win. We got off to a decent start with Harry and Caleb keeping it tight. Harry even took the first wicket of the day trapping Bilal Bhatti with a yorker with the score at 56. After that, we struggled to break through as Joel Armstrong, and Paul Ayers defiantly put on a century stand in almost 40 overs. Joel was the more attacking of the pair as he wasn’t afraid to hit over the top and through the field with such power. That partnership helped them avoid the follow on and effectively killed our chances of an outright. So we had to try and win the first innings instead.

After Harry and Caleb, Lachy Reid and Robbie had a go since the pitch actually had a bit of moisture, and the ball was still reasonably new. So I had to bide my time. At drinks, though, Joe asked me if I could come around the wicket to try and create some rough for Chakra to exploit for his off-spin, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea. So Joe comes on instead and tried to do that for three overs until I finally got my chance with an almost 40 overs old ball. While the ball was soft, it was still shiny on one side and rough at the other. After the first over, which went for 8, I had started to find my rhythm while generating some out-swing and bounce. I was pretty disappointed that I was taken off, but Joe assured me of a second spell sometime after tea. As it turned out, I never got the chance until the 80th over when the match was almost over.

I ended up having to bide my time as Chakra, Joe, Gary Stephenson, Caleb, and Matthew Bell had a crack with the ball in hand. Gary had broken the century stand, having Armstrong caught at long-on by Robbie before Caleb trapped Ayers LBW. They were about 4 for 180 odd, which brought us back in the game for a short time with two new batsmen at the crease but not for long as David O’Keefe and Ryan McCaughan took the team score past 200. Matty Bell ended up breaking that little partnership with a loopy full toss with missed Ryan McCaughan’s bat and hit the stumps. 5 for 205 at drinks.

I almost effected a run-out almost immediately when Sean McCaughan tucked around the corner, and I got a throw into Joe who was keeping as Snowy was going to bowl. Still, Joe took the bails off before the ball arrived and a chance to claim a second run-out which missed. I couldn’t believe it since O’Keefe was way out of his ground, and Joe didn’t realize that which was why he panicked in trying to remove the bails off quickly. Thankfully I managed to play a part in eliminating both batsmen soon after. I caught Sean McCaughan of Belly’s bowling. It was a simple chance with looped up to become a sitter, but with the ball slightly further away from me, I dived to take the catch. I had thought my chance of bowling was gone from the moment I took the catch, but thankfully, the game was still alive when I finally come back on.

By then, the ball had really lost its bite and became incredibly soft, but I was hoping I could still use my body to try and generate more bounce and movement, which I was able to do. My first ball to David O’Keefe swung in and hit him in front, but it was rightly given not out as the ball wasn’t going down leg but also O’Keefe got an inside edge. The next ball O’Keefe tried to pull, but the ball didn’t rise enough and was bowled. I finally got a wicket, my 17th for the season, and one that encouraged Joe to bring Caleb back for one last roll of the dice at the score of 7 for 234. But Caleb conceded a boundary of his previous ball when Richard Austin swung him away on the leg-side.

I was bowling with the scores level, but Sam Zaja swung me over the top to score the winning runs. So our season ended with a three-wicket defeat, but it could have been a lot worse for us.


Eastlake vs Ginnindera at Deakin West Oval, February 10 & 17 2018

February 9, 2018

I am grateful to be provided with another opportunity in 4ths after an impressive display last weekend with the ball. It also helped that some of our top players weren’t available, which gave me another chance to impress. This week at training, I was able to bowl the ball at a good pace while getting the ball to swing and bounce a little. I also managed to get my in-swinger to work from time to time, but I’m still trying to land them in the right line. I managed to pick up a noticeable scalp in Bradley Thomas (our incumbent duck champion from last season) on Thursday when we miscued a drive to where Point would have been at a catchable height.

Apart from that, the biggest gain from the week was my batting. On Tuesday, I had caught the attention of our assistant Coach Darren Walker who was impressed with my reliable technique, but he suggested that I should wait for the ball to come on against the spinners and try to hit the ball with the middle of the bat. I ended up facing Brendo, our 1st-grade skipper, who wanted to get me out. He was getting the ball to swing and had taken a few scalps himself, and so he wanted his moment of fame by getting me out. He did everything right, but he couldn’t dislodge me even though my last ball against him was a peach that missed my straight bat.

I had also picked up a few warm-up techniques from the Fitness for Cricket site, which should relieve any tightness in the muscles and possibly increase my pace, which it did at training this week.

February 10, 2018

It was a warm day today, and so I was hoping of batting first and piling on the runs. However, there was a slight issue with the pitch being very green. The expectation would be of some seam and swing movement. So the hope is that we bowl first, given the possible help in the wicket.

That’s what Joe did. He won the toss and sent Eastlake into bat. It indeed went to plan. Caleb’s first ball of the match climbed off a length, took the edge, and Joe took an easy catch at slip. Josh Carpenter, at the other end, got into the act, having had an underwhelming opening 2 overs. He had the other opener bowled off an inside edge before snaffling Kerum Koralge with a caught and bowled having bowled a slower ball the previous delivery. We were on top with 3 wickets down for less than 30 on the board.

Then came their fightback. There was some resistance during the fourth wicket stand of 35 between Anujaya and Leeshan before a fifth-wicket stand of 168 between Leeshan and Chamina really hurt us badly and had set them up for a dash later in the day. To be honest, we were on top in the first hour and a bit of the day before we allowed them to get back into the contest with sloppy fielding (through missed chances and poor ground fielding. That includes a missed run-out of my bowling, which I failed to get back to the stumps for although there was no guarantee that I would have collected Josh’s throw knock it into the stumps) and bowling (as we bowled too wide). As a result, we were really flat, and they took a full toll of it. Leeshan made 73, and Chamina made a counterattacking 109. It allowed for a quick dash to get us into bat as they finished with 8 for 279 declared.

I got my chance to bowl after drinks. I initially had struggled with a newish and shiny ball as I had struggled to get the ball to swing. After a couple of overs, I thought about changing ends, but I soon got the ball to move away from the right-handers as I hoped. I had Leeshan dropped by Michael Galen-Mules, and he probably missed a few stumpings down the leg-side since he was keeping up to the stumps, but it was my fault for bowling down leg-side though. So I ended up bowling a seven-over spell and had struck with the fourth ball of my fourth over. Anujaya, who was batting well on 30, tried to drive me through the off-side only to get a thick edge for Caleb to take an easy catch. By the time I completed my seven-over spell, I was starting to lose my line by bowling too short or too full. So it was the right decision by Joe to take me out of the attack. Nevertheless, Joe told me at tea that I’ll get a second spell today since I bowled well earlier.

I eventually got my second chance, but it was only for two overs. I had come on when Eastlake was going for the quick runs, and when I finally broke the partnership of 168 with Leeshan miscuing a shot to Harry Chittick at Mid-off with my slower ball, I decided against a third over for the sake of protecting my figures. It might have been selfish of me to do that, but I felt I didn’t quite bowl quite my best on this wicket. I couldn’t find the perfect line and length on this wicket, and it would be better if I finished for the day. I wasn’t done, though. Joe asked me to open the batting when Joe was frustrated that the people he wanted to do it couldn’t because they were tired. I jumped at the chance since it was for just 11 overs and thinking I might be able to get through. But I couldn’t. I got cleaned up for 1 in the sixth over.

Nevertheless, Joe was happy with my contribution and thought I bowled well. He also said that I was his ‘ideal’ player, given that I was giving 100% effort no matter what and would like me in his team for the future. I hope it would be the case for the last two-day game starting in two weeks against Tuggeranong.

Despite a tough day, we managed to get one laugh when Kris Oliver hit Irantha Rajapaksha in the groin. KrisO can be quite tough to get away (I’ve experienced it in the nets) since he swings it and gets bounce through his height. It’s always funny when somebody gets hit in the groin, but it’s never amusing if you’re at the receiving end.

February 17, 2018

I was reasonably happy with how my cricket progressed with bat and ball on Tuesday. Having gone through past video analysis of my bowling as well as those of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, I made some tweaks to my run-up and load so that I can get the ball to swing and bounce of a length again. It was a pleasing feeling to cause a bit of trouble to President Griffo. He inside-edged onto his stumps before beating his drive with a perfectly pitched out-swinger. I couldn’t get him out after that, but I was in the right direction. The pleasing factor was that those tweaks allowed me to bowl sixty deliveries in a stretch without any proper rest, and I hardly bowled a loose delivery either. I had my chance to bat towards the end. I made a slight tweak to my stance, which certainly got me into trouble last weekend, and I felt I was mostly untroubled as I felt comfortable facing mostly spin.

On Wednesday I had some time to myself at the Franklin nets to keep working on my bowling, and I was able to work on some Yorker bowling which came about via trial and error in some tweaks to my bowling action which was based on the advice I had picked up from a youtube video from the late Clive Rice as well as from Ian Pont’s fast bowling book I had bought from Kindle. Through these pieces of advice, I was able to land the yorkers more consistently, but like any other variation, it should be used sparingly and according to the situation.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to testing my current skills while bowling to the guys before they go out to bat. There’s a likelihood of myself not doing anything directly to the team cause having been dismissed late last week. The only hope of contributing further in the match is that Eastlake bowl us out and possibly either deciding to push for the outright by bowling again or deciding to bat. I would like to have another crack with the batting, having ironed out my issue with my stance over the coming week, and I was confident that it would withstand the pressure against the Eastlake bowlers again.

As it appeared, I was restricted to just giving Joe and Umesh some bowling as well as scoring for the whole day as the boys really made a fist of the chase. We had two ACT umpires for a change after two weeks of the batting team providing umpires. We didn’t start too well in the pursuit, though. Umesh was out LBW but only after 10 seconds of an apparent ’not-out’ decision. We were all befuddled by the chain of events, but there’s nothing you (or anyone) can do once the final decision has been made. Michael Galen-Mules chipped a drive to silly mid-off, and Kris Oliver played an uppish flick straight to silly mid-on. We were 4 for 54 and up against it. In amongst the carnage, our captain Joe Laria was doing his best in leading from the front. He finally found support with Karan Patel. Karan looked excellent out there as he showcased his timing and power. No wonder Julian Mules rates him highly. They added 57 for the fifth wicket before both of them got out pretty quickly. Karan made 31 and was out trying to hit over cover, and Joe, having made his second fifty for Ginninderra, chipped a flick to short square leg for 55. We were now 6 for 119.

The follow on target was 180 since Eastlake had to claim a 100 run lead at least to try to push for outright if they wish. Nevertheless, we continued to fight through the lower order. President Griffo made 34, Jared Mathie made 10, and Matthew Bell made 48 from no. 9. Alas, we fell short. All out for 218 in the 72nd over. Eastlake was the comfortable winners in the first innings by 61 runs, but it could have been a different story if we fielded well last week as well as showed a bit more fight with the bat thought the top order. Nevertheless, we made Eastlake (they’re a top-four side) fight for the win, and Joe was pleased with our efforts.

I am hoping for another crack in 4ths against Tuggeranong, and Joe had once again indicated his wish to have me in his side since I do everything that he wants me to do, and I put in 100% effort. Let’s see what happens, but I would need to bug TC again to keep me in 4ths.

Western Districts & University vs Ginninderra at Kaleen Oval, February 3-4 2018

February 2, 2018

I finally did it. I managed to break through into the 4th-grade side, especially in 2-day cricket, which really suits my style of play. Also, it allows me the opportunity to assess myself against tougher opposition and attend to areas that will need further work.

It was merely a case of motivational too. I didn’t want to stagnate by just playing one-day cricket. I wanted to test myself out in 2-day cricket, having not played a single game in the format since my very first game of the club 2 years ago.

Although at training yesterday, I was able to bowl reasonably well and got the ball to move a bit, I was expending energy through my arms, which is actually causing me to slow down (or stay at the steady pace) instead of accelerating through the crease. This was caused by my poor running form since I was pumping the arms up and down from the hip. That could perhaps explain why I was struggling to run at 15 km/h on the treadmill on Tuesday evening across 4, then 3-minute intervals.

However, I went back to an old YouTube video from Southern Cricket to try and solve the problem. Their version of pumping the arms was basically brushing the arms against the side. So I decided to try it out in the nets tonight, and it just clicked. That approach helped me to run faster and deliver the ball with more pace without much energy loss. Furthermore, it made my stock out-swinger more potent with the extra bounce.

I just felt good all of a sudden, and it was perfect timing with the 2-dayer coming right up. For good measure, I managed to get a few in-swingers to go, but it seems to me that I should use it sparingly (the same will go for my slower deliveries too) more so depending on what the batsman is doing.

At this phase, I’m one of the six seamers available (the others being Duncan Gammage, Luke Snowie, Jared Mathie, Lachie Reid, and Harry Chittick). As it appeared, Luke Snowie will only be available on Saturday. For that particular reason and with Saturday going to be cooler than Sunday, it would be a good idea to win the toss and try to bowl out our cross-town rivals in Wests-UC.

Personally, I am not fazed by the challenge, as I wanted the opportunity for some time. I suppose missing out on the last 2-day fixture as I was unavailable on the Australia Day weekend thankfully did me no harm.

February 3, 2018

I couldn’t get much sleep last night. I woke up at 6.30, having slept at 11.30 last night. I’m too excited and can’t wait to get playing today, perform, and hopefully keep my spot for the rest of the season. I’m grateful for the opportunity as the better bowlers were absent for one reason or another. It helped that Neethu allowed me to spend the weekend playing this 2-dayer too; otherwise, the opportunity would never have come.

Although I woke up early, I managed to at least spend some time visualizing my all-round game. Starting with the bowling, I was thinking about my run-in, pumping the arms, my grip, and, of course, my variations and when I will be bowling them. Similarly, I was thinking about my batting: grip, stance, bent front elbow, backlift, when I start hinging the bat and deciding if a shot has to be played to the ball.

Having fueled myself up with a banana-coffee-chocolate smoothie with Muesli for breakfast, I was soon heading over to play at Kaleen. Upon arrival, the wicket had bouts of green patches, particularly a couple around a full of a length from one end. Again I was hoping we would field first since we only have Luke Snowie only for today.

In the meantime, president Griffo who was playing 4ths for us, was his commanding self as he got us to warm-up, stretch before we did some fielding while Joe went for the toss. It was good to warm up since there’s none of that sort from what I had experienced in 5ths and 6ths. Then again, the grades are different due to the standards. Unfortunately, we lost the toss, and we were batting.

Matty Bell perished in the third ball of the day before fifties from Dinesh Chovatiya, and Chris Mair settled us during the day even when the rains were settling in. Dinesh was his usually bulldozing self (and he got out that way. As people say, you live and die by the sword) while Chris relied on timing from his shots to score runs. Dinesh made 55, and Chris made 66, his first in 22 years (as he says).

Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep up the excellent work, and we were bundled out for 193 in 62 overs. I managed to bat last and hung around with Luke Snowie for 6 overs before missing an in-swinger and was out LBW. Going out there to bat, I again was aware of the set up from the lower grades. I was facing quicker bowlers, but I still managed to score when the opportunity presented itself. I made 6 and faced about 20 odd balls that didn’t go unnoticed by the likes of Joe and Chris Mair in a positive way.

Ideally, we would have liked to score at least 220, but we have 15 overs to bowl at the Wests, and I was personally hoping Luke Snowie would bowl half the overs considering his absence due to work tomorrow, which he managed to do. Before we went out to the field, the senior players encouraged us to put in a full effort and always keep chirping. Griffo was specifying the needs for the basics and hard work. If we put in the hard work, we will win. As most of the dismissals were bowled and LBW, Joe and Chris Mair asked us bowlers to attack the stumps on a good length.

While I was keen to get into the action, Joe asked me to stay off the field since we had 12. I didn’t mind it having batted last and was tired. I could have retreated to the change room, but I instead stayed on the boundary edge and tried to make my presence felt through my encouragement.

After six fruitless overs, Luke Snowie stuck twice in three balls. He clean-up Aaron Eardley before trapping Hollingsworth LBW. He finished with 2/16 off 8 overs to go with his unbeaten 32 from number 9. From the other end, Duncan Gammage struggled a little through his four overs as he was a bit short. He was soon replaced by Dinesh (our own Rangana Herath/Ravindra Jadeja), who struck in his second over trapping Shahnawaz Rasheed LBW.

So Wests-UC were 3/39 after those 15 overs, and we were back into the contest with possibly a winning opportunity tomorrow. I wasn’t too sure what was going on in the huddle out in the middle, but when the guys came in, Griffo acknowledged my support and chirp from the sidelines, which spurred him on in particular since the Wests-UC batsmen were taking easy cheap singles on his arm.

February 4, 2018

Yesterday Joe told me that I was to open the bowling tomorrow, which made the visualization process a lot easier this morning. My plan was simple. Try to make the batsmen play and use the variations sparingly depending on how the batsman’s going. Since I’m aware that we have plenty of bowling options, I knew that I would have four or five overs upfront to make an impact. Make it count, then Joe would be persuaded to keep me on for longer like he previously did when I managed to bowl 8-9 in one-stretch a few times last season.

I took the second over of the day as Lachie Reid took the first over and bowled a maiden. I was bowling to Allen Xu, who was not-out overnight. My first ball was way down leg-side, which would have been wide in one-day cricket. My second ball was again down the leg-side. Then, my next delivery was on the pads, only for Allen to flick it straight to Jared Mathie. Lachie bowled Whitelum in the next over, and soon, I knocked over Connor McFayden with an out-swinger that pitched middle and hit the top of off. It was 6 for 52.

While I was generating out-swing and some occasional bounce off a good length, I wasn’t able to take wickets since I was tiring, but I was keeping it tight and building pressure. I had bowled seven consecutive overs and had figures of 2 for 6 (with 4 maidens). Soon after, Dinesh ripped through the tail and finished with 5 for 22. Wests-UC were bowled out for 76, giving us an 117 run lead. So we decided to follow-on as they were short of the follow on mark, which was 83. To take 7 wickets on this pitch in a session was a great effort.

When we started our second innings effort to win outright, we had 30 minutes until tea. We were all in the field ready to go (including the openers Xu and Hollingsworth), but there was one problem. We had no cricket ball (we asked, “where’s the ball?”), and it was hilarious that our captain Joe forgot to bring it out to play.  Unfortunately, that period wasn’t right for us, and they were 0/22 at tea.

Dinesh was brought on immediately after the resumption and struck quickly. Hollingsworth (who forgot his bat initially) dragged a drive onto his stumps. Harry Chittick came on next over and was off after 2 overs. He had cramp. Poor Harry, only three overs and now calf cramp to rub it in. Hopefully, the young lad is ok.

Dinesh bowled two overs and switched over to Harry’s end. So, Chris Mair was given a crack with his left-arm wrist-spin. He got a few to turn but was hit around and leaking runs, so I got another go. I didn’t start well either as I got pulled away by Whitelum for 2, but I was soon back to my restrictive best. Meanwhile, Dinesh struck again by trapping Shahnawaz Rasheed LBW for the 2nd time in the match. I soon had an LBW off my own on the fourth ball of my third over. Although I was reluctant to try it in the game, I decided to try to bowl an in-swinger. It did swing in, and it hit Whitelum on the boot on the full, and he was given out.

It was my only wicket in the second innings as I continued to keep it tight. I had bowled five consecutive overs and had figures of 1 for 4 (with 2 maidens). As it appeared, I never bowled again in the day. Wests-UC, after the initial setback through Dinesh and myself, they defied us for a while, which made us go flat. Joe and Dinesh struck soon after the stubborn resistance, but it was too little too late since Allen Xu batted through the innings to post 56 not out. They finished with 5 for 112 when Joe decided to finish 7 overs early.

We were disappointed that we were unable to win outright, but a win is a win, and we should be happy to beat our cross-town rivals. I am glad I played my part with the bat and ball and with the chat. I finished with the day’s figures of 12 overs, 6 maidens, 3 wickets for 10 runs. I was happy that I have performed in a higher grade, and while I hope I can retain my spot in 4ths moving forward, I am so glad that I have some exposure in the higher grades, which I could build on in the higher grades.

Queanbeyan vs Ginninderra at Brad Haddin Oval, January 20, 2018

January 16, 2018

Started with fielding upon a usual late arrival at training. We were doing some slips catching. I took some excellent catches (including one down low to my left) but dropped one. As part of a group, we were aiming to catch ten on the trot, but it took a since there was a dropped catch from somebody. So once we managed the sequence for the fifth time, we were all pumped, and we decided to head to the nets.

However, Kris Oliver decided that since fielding is our weakest point (he meant 3rd grade, but it still applies to everyone), we went out and did some more out ground fielding and catching work as we saw that the 1st/2nd grade boys were still out fielding. I don’t think I did too badly. I managed to juggle a catch, but I also had overrun a ball while trying to field it.

It wasn’t long before we moved to the nets. For the batsmen, it was a case of “If you’re out, you’re out” mentality. This meant that guys had an opportunity to bat for as long as they like without being dismissed. I didn’t do too badly as I made sure I played with a bent front elbow, which allowed me to time the ball against both pace and spin. I did get out eventually (instead gave myself out) when I skewed a square drive in the direction of Point.

I had initially struggled with the 15-meter run-up that I had worked on in the past, so I decided to extend my run-up to add some rhythm to it and to get some swing and bounce like previously. As a result of that adjustment, I managed to give President Griffo a run for his money (although he was technically outstanding), and I also managed to trap Joe Laria LBW. I suppose if I wanted to play two-day cricket this season, getting the captain out probably would have done me some good.

January 17, 2018

I had a personal feeling that I was to become a better bowler; I would need to learn out to properly swing the ball both ways. Instead of going to the gym, I decided to spend some time perfecting my in-swinger. I had previously tried to swing it in with suggestions from Wasim Akram via YouTube, but that didn’t really work for me. So I decided to try a grip that I remembered from watching a Bob Woolmer coaching video on YouTube. The result was promising, although it took a few goes to firstly getting the ball to move in, and secondly, in sorting out my line to land it in the right spot. At the same time, I also practiced my stock out-swinger to ensure that I could still bowl it.

During my practice, Archie messaged me. As I learned that the selections have been left to the captains now, he wanted to know my intentions for this season. I told him that I will be unavailable for the finals as I’ll be with family and so he can plan for his finals preparations without me. Before I was going to tell Adam with the same news, Archie also had passed on the message to him.  I also told Archie that it will be useful to play some 2-day cricket, especially in 4th grade. For the first time this season (I think), I’ve heard him speak so positively about my chances. He believes that once I’m in good rhythm, I’ll be able to bowl longer spells and pretty much bat for a very long time. Another good thing for him is that he acknowledges the part I have played for him to help 6th grade get into the finals.

January 18, 2018

I don’t usually attend two trainings in the same week, but I thought of going anyway so that I can practice my in-swinger. Which I managed to do, but I wasn’t able to land it where I wanted all the time. When I did land it, I at least played with the batsman’s mind after bowling a few out-swingers.

I also later learned that my front arm was an issue in my bowling, so over time, I was able to correct that and get back my swing and bounce, although I wasn’t able to pose much of a trouble to our batters this time round. At least I was able to self-diagnose and correct myself.

I managed to get a bit of a bat today. Although I nicked Josh Carpenter to the keeper, I felt that my game was in good order. I was playing some good drives and using my feet well to the spinners. For good fun, I was hitting Tom Carmody out of the net a few times and was pretty much playing a shot a ball to him. When he moved to pace, I was more defensive, but I at least managed to brag a little that he still couldn’t get me out.

Tonight, I had messaged Archie, asking him whether I’ll be playing with him. The short answer was No, but the longer answer was that I would have been with him in 6ths only for the ANU White team to forfeit the match since most of their players were on university holidays. He confirmed that I would be playing in 5ths.

He asked me if I was going to be 100% unavailable next weekend and I told him while I’ll be in town, I’ve said to him that I’ve got family over for the long weekend. He broke the news that if I was available for both weeks, I was going to be picked in 4ths, which was a bummer for me (since I wanted to play 2-day cricket) and also for Joe. Hopefully, Joe still needs me from February onwards because I want to have at least one crack at 2-day cricket before the season finishes.

January 20, 2018

We started at 11am instead of the usual 12.30 due to the extreme heat forecasted in the afternoon as the temperatures are expected to reach about 39 degrees today. We were encouraged to take multiple drinks breaks were possible. As it turned out, both teams took the drinks breaks every quarter of each innings.

Queanbeyan had nine players at the start, yet they decided to field first. I was hoping we would field first since we could at least field in the morning where the heat may not be that bad. As it turned out, it was still hot even at the start. Yet they rolled us for 76 with Dan Stiller topping the scores with 29. Most of our batsmen were bowled or LBW, which concerned Adam very much when he rocked up just as our innings was about to finish. He just arrived back from Brisbane an hour later than planned. He was there watching cricket which was played last night. Adam thought most of the guys got out playing across the line (which was partly true) and not straight (absolutely right).

My contribution to our innings was 3 not out batting at 10. But I was happy about my change of mindset in that innings. When I came in, I was facing John Martin, their left-arm spinner who flights it and lands it on the spot. On my second ball, I decided to try and charge him and hit it straight, but it went to mid-off on the ground. Next ball, I came down the wicket again and went over the top of a vacant mid-on for two as it didn’t quite get to the rope. In my view, I courageously got off the mark as I generally not that proactive against spin. Once John bowled his next delivery short, I went back to cut, but the ball went straight to the fielder. Nevertheless, I continue to gain confidence when being proactive against spin, which started when I made that 47 last month.

So Queanbeyan needed 77 to beat us, and they probably might do it in a canter. There were reasonably comfortable at 1/39 at drinks (after 12 overs and Adam took the wicket opening with left-arm spin), and I had bowled one over for four runs and had two fingers in my left-hand ringing in pain after attempting to stop a drive in my follow-through. So probably it was a matter of time for them to finish this reasonably quickly. But it was going to be a canter for them.

Instead, Dom Ross and I exhibited panic for Queanbeyan as we both orchestrated a collapse. I kept it tight at one end while Dom continued his wicket-taking habits. He got rid of the Ferns by clean bowling John and trapping Michael LBW. He also had a batsman caught at mid-on by Mark Wilson as well as another batsman LBW. He finished with 4/15 after 6 overs, and I was hoping he would continue after drinks to try and get another five-for, but it wasn’t to be for him.

It was amazing that I was able to keep it tight because I was probably a little over the place with my run-up initially. Vasu Patel at least recognized that I’m landing way behind the popping crease, which made me correct my run-up so that I land just behind the popping crease. It helped me to land the ball and get the ball to swing initially, but I was still bowling a little full to my liking. Nevertheless, I managed to dismiss the left-handed Haskins with a slower ball, which the batsman dished up a lollipop of a catch for me to gobble. It was my only wicket for the day, and the second time, I dismissed a batsman caught and bowled this season (and my third catch for the season too). It was only in my sixth and last over that I finally managed to get some deliveries to swing and bounce a little, which had Couch defending a little uncomfortably from the crease. I had realized up to that point that my load wasn’t high enough as it should be at head-height at an acute angle to my body. Overall, I finished with 1/13 off 6 overs and made sure with Dom’s help that the game could still be won.

After drinks, I went off the field, and Jared Mathie came on to bowl. He got the wicket of Couch caught by Adam, but they soon finished the chase off in the 27th over. They won by three wickets, and it was the tightest of contests so far. Adam was pleased with the bowling and fielding effort and thought if we could have at least made another 30 runs or so, we could have possibly won this game. Instead, we had to contend with a tight loss (and a fourth consecutive defeat).

Although I wasn’t going to play next weekend, I was hoping on going to practice on Tuesday to continuously work on my in-swinger and my bowling fundamentals. Making sure I land closer to the popping crease and loading the ball reasonably well, allowing me to generate some swing and bounce. I later realized that our club was playing a t20 game against the Hong Kong cricketers. So I would have to practice on my own in Franklin unless there will be a few guys going to do some practice during the Twenty20 match.

Off the field, I would need to convince Neethu to allow me to spend the first weekend in February playing a two-day match, but I do have time for that.

Eastlake vs Ginninderra at Forestry Oval, January 13 2018

January 11, 2018

I had learned that we were going to get a couple of cricketers from Hong Kong for the rest of the season. One of them was Nadeem Ahmed, who famously spun them to victory in a World T20 match against the hosts, Bangladesh, back in 2014. As far as I know, he already had slotted nicely into 1st Grade with a disciplined 3/54 off 31 overs. I believe it couldn’t have come for our top side, which probably lacked a specialist spinner.

So I was hoping at training I would at least observe them from close quarters, but they didn’t come today. It was bloody hot, and as usual, I didn’t bowl as well as I liked, but I later realized at the end of the session that my arm upon load up was too high for my action. I had remembered from my previous footage that I was able to get movement if my wrist was at the shoulder level. At the end of the session, I was able to rediscover the movement with a few deliveries, but given as I was tired, I had stopped bowling.

Earlier on, I had tried on the new Techshot Batting Trainer that I recently purchased with the hope that it would iron out any technical issues with my technique and also allow me to watch the ball and play it late. While it appeared to be very tight on me, I was able to remember the bent front elbow and fixed up my stance so that the bat will come down from the direction of the first slip rather than dead straight.

January 13, 2018

It was game day, and we had a bit of rain at about 11am, but thankfully, it dried out, and we were able to start on time. Adam won the toss and decided to field. I would have thought that any moisture from the early morning rain could have dictated the toss. I opened the bowling with Thomas Ison. Thomas bowled a reasonably tidy spell upfront while I struggled.

Although I was able to generate some movement, I basically struggled while bowling into the wind, and Ian Chattin took me apart for a couple of sixes. After four overs, I was rightly taken off, but it was hinted that I would return given we only had five bowling options.

Sidu Macal came on and bowled his full quota and removing both Chattin (bowled off an inside edge) and Kerum Koralage courtesy of a chest mark like catch from Caleb Stevens. Thanks to him, we fought back to have them about 3/89 after drinks, but they motored along to 133 with 15 overs to go. At that point, I had got a fingertip to a drive from Marty Boland off Thomas’ bowling and had switched places with Caleb in Thomas’ next over. However, we all pulled it back, and they only managed 9/188 after their 45 overs. So we inflicted a collapse of 6/55 to ensure that we didn’t have to chase over 200.

Thankfully I managed to play my part during the day as my second four-over spell was much better. I had come back on the 37th over after Adam bowled through his full quota, and I managed to bowl reasonably well in the ‘death’ overs. I managed to land a couple of yorkers, but I was trusting my own slower balls to slow the scoring down and possibly take a couple of wickets. Which I managed to do as Sudheer Bandara holed out to Sidu at deep mid-wicket, and Harvey chipped a slower ball to Michael Ison on the ring at Cover. I finished with 2/36 off my 8 overs, which was a reasonable comeback for me.

We had to chase 189, but Adam believed it can be done since the wicket wasn’t doing much, then it was at the start of the match. Although Sidu and Michael Galen-Mules got us to a good steady start, we were in trouble at 4/49. However, we still tried to fight our way back into the contest courtesy of Michael Ison (who made 42). He put on 37 with Justin Murray, but then the run rate began to rise sharply, so we had to tee off immediately.

When I came in to bat at no. 11, we needed about 34 off 17 balls. I managed to get off the mark off my third delivery, but Thomas couldn’t pierce the gaps. So that left us 33 off the last two overs. I managed to get off strike for the first ball of the over, but after two dots, Thomas went for a drive and was snaffled at slip. Eastlake had beaten us by 32 runs, and I finished with 2 not out.




Mid Season Review at Kuala Lumpur, December 16 2017

Here I am on the way to India for my brother’s wedding, which is in 5 days reflecting on the season so far. To date, this season, I thought, has gone reasonably well for both myself and the club. I’ve played 6 games so far, and we’ve only lost two. Basically, we’ve won more games than we lost (won 4, lost 2 so win/loss ratio is 2.00) compared to last season at the same time where the win/loss ratio was around 1.00. Last season, it was noted that I take more wickets in wins than losses, but there doesn’t seem to be any different this time around (my recent game netted two wickets in a loss).

I’ve only played 6 games as I had missed two weeks of cricket, including a week of cricket, which is happening today. The other week was missed as I had moved residence. In saying so, there were also two additional weeks that I missed courtesy of the continuous rain on the 18th of November and the 2nd of December, which can be very frustrating. Still, it’s nothing much you can do given that time is required for pitch preparation.

Within those 6 games, I had scored 71 runs, took 8 wickets, 2 catches, and effected one run out. On reflection, this has been a good start for me personally as an allrounder. My ultimate goal is to achieve the treble of 100 games, 1000 runs, and 100 wickets within 10-15 years. So, I would need to make, on average, 7-10 games, 70-100 runs, and 7-10 wickets a season. Basically, I’ve managed to achieve the minimum target with runs and wickets, and it would be easy to meet the minimum matches played mark after the season resumption. I had been told that my goals were too basic. Still, with the weather and other life events potentially occurring, I felt these targets would be ok. However, I was encouraged to aim higher, which was why I thought if I could achieve the double of 200 runs and 20 wickets, then it would be a successful season for me.

After the break, we have two months of cricket (plus finals if I’m selected). Realistically, I will be back in the country only on the night of 6th January, which meant one week will be gone. Plus, with my parents coming down to Canberra for a visit for the Australia Day Long weekend, another week will be lost there. So, in the regular season, there will be seven weeks of cricket left for me. It will be given that I’ll play three one-day matches in either 5ths or 6ths between January 13th and February 4th. After that, I’m currently available for four consecutive weeks of cricket in which there will be two-day cricket action, which I hope I would get a chance if consistently perform with bat and ball, and there are bowling vacancies. The quality we have through the grades in the club has made it difficult for me to break through and go up the ranks.

Nevertheless, within the regular season, I could play seven one day matches, 5 one day matches, and one two day match or 3 one day matches and 2 two day matches. Basically, in this period, I’ll have 5-7 games left in the regular season, and to achieve the double, I need to score 129 runs and take 12 wickets. I’m technically capable of making the double, but mentally, if I relax and follow my routines, there’s no reason why I can’t achieve the double. I’ve started to apply some relaxation techniques when between balls in my recent game, and if I stick to that in the games and also in practice, then it would be a significant breakthrough. Interestingly enough, I remember while in the field at a deepish mid-on, I was saying “hit the ball to me,” and the next minute, the batsman hit the ball in the air for me to take the straightforward catch.

I feel the mental side of my game was missing having in everyone’s view that I’m generally good technically. I just need to be strong mentally to succeed. Let’s hope I remember to continue my relaxation methods once I resume my cricket.

In terms of being on track to achieving the treble, I should have played at least 14-20 games, scored 140-200 runs, and taken 14-20 wickets after what’s currently my second season of grade cricket. Now, I’ve played 21 games, scored 124 runs, and taken 23 wickets. So I’m also firming on track for the treble.

Tuggeranong vs Ginninderra at Conder Oval, December 9 2017

December 9, 2017

Today I was very confident that I would be back to my bowling best after the last game. In the lead up to today, I was bowling reasonably quickly after shortening my run to fifteen paces while getting the ball to swing and bounce when it all came together. I found it to be more productive then my previous run-up, which I felt wouldn’t be difficult to consistently replicate in unfavorable temperatures.

I was looking forward to another week with Archie and the mob so we can smash Northies and sing our team song once more. Unfortunately, this morning, JP messaged me advising me of the withdrawals in 5ths and asked if I wanted to go up since they were short of pace bowlers. I’ve had a chat with Archie about this and found out that he was the one who was pushing my case. He was more concerned that I may not have a crack with the ball against a weakened Northies side given the bowling quality he had in Andy Brains, Dom Ross, Lindsay Thompson, and Jasper Strudwick.

I took the opportunity since I love to bowl. After all, I was hoping this would lead closer to potential two-day cricket action later in the season (in hopefully 4th grade) as ever since I joined Ginninderra, I have been able to provide competition to our higher grade batters and even got them out. Given that I was to only play once every 2 weeks between now and January, I would have to continuously perform in all formats and hope for some withdrawals in the higher grades for my chance to come.

My return to 5ths didn’t get quite off to a good start as I was hopelessly late to the match for the first time. I had been spending time cleaning up my balconies since we have an upcoming inspection by the real estate agent this Tuesday. Hence I had advised Adam O’Connor, the 5th-grade skipper, that I was going to be late and hope to arrive just after 12. However, there was a massive traffic Jam on Gungahlin Drive, which left me with no choice but to seek an alternate route in getting to the game hopefully before the first ball was bowled. I did manage to do that, but I had to get changed and apply sunscreen before going out.

Yesterday I had purchased some new clothing, and fortunately, it was ready for me to use the new shirt and pants combo that the club will use for red-ball cricket. It felt really nice and fitting on me. I was immediately onto the field after the 1st over. Soon after, Simon Edmonson struck when he found the edge, and Chakra with the gloves took a good catch. He struck again, having trapped their no. 3 LBW and when Duncan Gammage induced the edge off Mananjay Singh’s bat, which was again held by Chakra, they were 3 for 5.

Duncan bowled his 6 overs very tidily, and I replaced him. I was a little short of a gallop, perhaps because I didn’t have my usual drink before leaving to play as I was in a rush to arrive at the ground. Rather than bowl at the pace I was at training, I consciously decided to gradually try to build up a rhythm while attempting to get the ball to swing.

I was able to do a job for Adam, which was to tie up an end. I even managed to beat the bat with swing quite a few times and nearly had a wicket when the ball just landed in front of Duncan at mid-off. But success was not far away. I had struck on the fourth ball of my fifth over. I bowled a yorker, the batter missed it thoroughly (perhaps trying to hoick me to cow corner), and I rattled the stumps. I broke through finally, and to everyone, I really deserved it. It felt good.

What was sweeter was that I managed to strike again on the last ball of my next over. Having been blocked out for the first five deliveries with drinks fast approaching, I decided to gamble with a slower ball to try to buy a wicket, which I did. The batsman went for a swipe (perhaps again to cow corner), and leg stump was tilted back. It was 6 for 44 at drinks, and I had 2 for 18 off six straight overs. I was back to my bowling best, albeit at a reduced pace.

Much to my disappointment, I was taken out of the attack since Adam wanted to give the likes of Aqib Khan, Kashif Khan, and Khurram Awan a go with the ball. I was hopeful that I would be back bowling later in the end, but it never worked out that way. It was initially thought that it was a good idea when Aqib again kept it tight and struck when he removed their no. 7 courtesy of another catch by Chakra but this time at short mid-wicket. Adam had been bowling his left-arm spin today as a result of his calf injury from two weeks ago. He was turning it, which never surprised me since I knew he could bowl a decent off-cutter at a quicker pace. I managed to at least reward him with a wicket when I took a slight easy catch to dismiss their other opener who was steading the innings.

All that practice at training recently when I caught almost everything came to fruition. I was fielding at a deepish wide mid-on when I had to run and move to my left to take the catch around my eyes. Adam was happy since I finally managed to catch one of his bowling, having dropped similar chances last season. Now it was just a matter of catching another two chances at least to fully make it up!

I was slightly disappointed that I never got the chance to complete my nine overs when Tuggeranong recovered well to post 7 for 139 off their 45 overs, but perhaps he may have done me a favor since he then asked me to open the innings with Chakra. I was instructed to bat through the innings but also while looking for singles. It was a simple game plan since I knew Chakra will tee off almost immediately from the first ball. All I have to do is take the singles and watch Chakra unload.

Again I was anxious when going out to bat. I had prodded the third over of the chase, and I was still on zero. However, I decided to start humming/whistling a song that I was going to sing in India for a function on the day before my brother’s wedding. I had recently was going through the Peak Performance Program run by former professional cricketers Tom Scollay and Simon Keen (from Cricket Mentoring), and they recommended this approach as it should be able to relax you when you’re batting or bowling.

It started to work when I was on strike in the next over. The first ball I tried the approach and I crunched a cover drive straight to the fielder. The next ball, the last of the over, I crunched a pull shot, again it went to the fielder, but it actually went through him to the boundary for four. I was off the mark in a confident matter. It felt good, and Chakra and I took 9 runs off the over.

But the approach perhaps left me unstuck. I again crunched a cover drive, but the next ball I skewed a square drive where point took a good tumbling catch. I was out cheaply for four much to my disappointment, and also for Adam too, thinking I might be able to bat through. I simply had no words. Little I know, though, we were in for a massive collapse.

We had crashed to 6 for 54. Chakra made 19, Srikanth Nelapatra 9, Aqib 15, and Kashif and Khurram for ducks. They were running riot, and they wanted to continue past drinks to try and finish the game as we had only nine players. But Adam and Duncan fought hard to defy them, and they added 37 before Duncan was bowled playing across the line for 15. Soon after, it was all over when Simon missed a straight one and was bowled for a duck. We were all out for 93 and lost by 46 runs. It was the second time that 5ths lost to Tuggeranong this season in Conder.

Adam was downbeat but calm in defeat. To his credit, he finished 18, not out with an already torn calf muscle. He knew we were struggling for numbers, having had a couple of pullouts at the last minute, and I really liked his level of understanding when I told him in advance that I was running late to play. He was grateful that I was able to come and play for him.

It would have been nice to come and play next week, but I will be off to India instead. I won’t be able to play until the 13th of January. Nevertheless, all I can do is check my Facebook from time to time to see how the boys are going with cricket.

I hope to be at my best when I can steam in like I did in practice and bowl in the match itself. I realize that the humming/whistling of a song will be a useful mental practice moving forward, which I should seriously practice in the nets and ensure that I could still make good decisions.

So far, I got a promotion to 5ths. Let’s hope it’s a positive step towards two-day action.


ANU White vs Ginninderra at Mawson Oval, November 25, 2017

November 9, 2017

When I was looking at some invaluable footage from last weekend’s match, I had been running into bowl with my knees up, which slows me down. I did it in the first place as my right knee lift was crucial for my bowling load, but I always forgot to do it.  The next step was to work on my run-up so I could accelerate through the crease.

So I went to the Franklin nets on Thursday, and once again, the group of Telugu speaking Indians was there as well. Apparently, I later learned that this group plays for the Telugu Mates team in the City & Suburban competition in Canberra, and some of them actually had played for Ginninderra in the past too. Again, I spent time only bowling to them.

I continued to beat the bat quite often and force edges of the bat like last week. So far, the emphasis on the run-up hadn’t done me any harm. Previously, it was about 12 meters with all the knee lift. Now, I’ve been able to bowl from 16-20 meters without it, and it did not impact my swing and bounce. However, later on, I start to experience back pain, which I then found out that I was running in wider of the crease and had been twisting my body a bit more than expected. In bowling terms, there are plenty of counter rotations caused on my back, which left me in a bit of pain at the end of the day.

November 10, 2017

I was in considerable pain this morning, but thankfully, the pain subsided, having rubbed Voltaren gel on my lower back and consumed a pair of Voltaren tablets. I was going to move house today and was hoping I would have some time at least to get some more bowling under my belt. Throughout the week, I was reading some books regarding the Psychology of cricket, and I found it useful to have some cues to help you focus on your processes.

It was what I needed, and thankfully, I have the time to implement this as I will not be playing tomorrow. The movers were supposed to come first thing in the morning, but I realized that they won’t be in until 11. So I thought, “why don’t I go out to bowl?”.

That’s what I ended up doing. I went to the Franklin nets again with a 4-piece ball and some cones. Given that I had back trouble yesterday as a result from running from wide of the crease, I was going to use the cones to create a barrier so that I can run in straight and therefore minimize the counter rotations. I decided to mark out my run of 20 meters, which would help me steadily increase my momentum through the crease.

Mind you, it took me one over to sort out a process with some cues to fall on:

  1. Prepare: Run on the spot to engage the hips which would create a slight lean with my back
  2. 1-2-3-4: Run in and pump the arms in at a steady pace
  3. One-Two-Three-Four: Increase the run and pump of the arms
  4. ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR: Increase the run and the pump of the arms again, so I’m at my quickest before release
  5. Load: lift both the right elbow at shoulder height and right knee
  6. Deliver: bring the right arm around and lift the right knee.

I found this process to be very useful to me that I haven’t lost my pace, bounce, and movement as a result. I felt my action was similar to that of younger Dennis Lillee, albeit with a front-on action, which I was able to repeat it over by over (although I took a 5-minute break each over to drink water). I had moved on from marking the channel of my run-up to marking a good line and length zone so I can hit the right areas for my swing. From past experiences, the turf pitches are not as wide as the practice and the Astroturf center wickets. So what would be a legitimate delivery on these Astro wickets would be deemed an off-side wide on turf? Thereby, the margin for error is minimal. This was why I created this new marking so I can hit the zone more consistently with my new run-up and action, which later to be a success.

The hope is that I can become another potent strike bowler for Archie rather than a steady medium-pacer (although I have been taking wickets this season). A new challenge will be to get through nine straight overs like I have been doing all season and last season.

November 12, 2017

Finally, the new place is mostly set up, and it feels like a home, unlike my previous address. It was worth to miss a game of cricket not for that reason but also the 6th-grade side managed to thrash Weston Creek Molonglo without me by seven wickets (before the rains came down). We bowled them out for 94 by the 43rd over. Dom Ross took 3/14 (off 9 overs), Duncan took 2/20 (9), Archie, Dean, and Brandon, one each with two run-outs (they would have had 10 players). Not to mention, Aqib going for just 11 runs in his nine wicketless overs. Then Dan Stiller continued his excellent form with 38 not out. At least he made runs after a fifty in the previous innings. This makes it a hat-trick of wins for us, which holds us in good stead for the next few weeks before Christmas.

November 14, 2017

I was looking forward to bowling at the nets in Club practice today, having sorted out my bowling last week. I thought it worked out pretty well as I was bowl reasonably well against the higher grade batters, albeit dismissing them. Sometime later, I had my turn with the bat, but it didn’t quite go well as I like it since my right wrist was in pain. This meant playing shots was difficult at times.

Later on, the pain subsided after I batted, but I was laid down with a painful ankle courtesy off an inside edge while trying to drive Ben Peel. Basically, my potency sort out went out the window a bit as a result, but I was still able to pose a few questions to all the other batters I bowled to.

Sometimes I wonder bowling in the nets is counterproductive since we play on Turf every weekend. Still, on the other hand, it provides me an opportunity to practice my bowling routines (as outlined above) to the higher grade batters. The success I’m enjoying so far in my short grade career to date would probably be the result of bowling to these bats. If I’m bowling well to these guys, then opposition in both 5th and 6th grade perhaps have no chance against me.

November 21, 2017

Unfortunately, the match over the weekend got called off due to the persistent rain this morning and yesterday. I would have to have opened the bowling with Lindsay Thompson as there was no Sajid Khan, Andy Brains, Duncan, and Dom Ross.

I was looking forward to playing and continuing our winning run, but it seems we will look to continue our winning habit hopefully next weekend against ANU White at Mawson.

For now, I was to continue practicing my bowling in the nets at training today. Thankfully it was good weather for it. Usually, on Tuesdays, I would rock up and warm-up before rolling the arm over. Today it was different. I put on my sun hat and joined the boys out for fielding practice (more like catching).

Rhys Healy, the 1st-grade vice-captain, was hitting the catches. The first opportunity I had was simply out of reach (somewhat over my head). However, every single opportunity provided to me, I managed to take it. I was pretty impressed although I had a bit of luck given that I don’t quite possess a safe pair of hands (But I suppose the fact I watched the ball right into my hands probably helped). Nevertheless, I remembered a piece of advice that I received from Mick Delaney, which was to try to sprint to the ball so that you can quickly settle underneath it to take the catch.

Now, it was time to have a bowl. I was going to have a crack at the higher grade batters as usual. Go and have a break at them because you will learn more about bowling to them rather than to weaker batters. I was short to Matt Hogan, and as he’s a short player, he was playing on the back foot quite comfortably. After that, I was getting better (only when I run in with my hands at about shoulder height), which became noticeable by Michael Dentrinos, who commented that I was finding a better rhythm and regarded me as express, which was nice. Soon enough, I was again posing questions to the bigger boys by hitting the right lengths and getting the ball to nibble around off the seam. I suppose, once again, if I’m bowling well to these blokes, then the lower grade batters over the weekend probably have no chance.

I probably am not expecting a call up for the two-dayers that will be starting this weekend, but I thought I probably did my chances no harm since JP was present to check out how I was going, and he was fairly impressed with how I was bowling. Nevertheless, I feel that if my bowling goes to plan, then the ANU boys will be quaking in their boots over the next two weeks.

November 22, 2017

Today was a better day. While I was waiting to pick Neethu up since we had to head to Coombs, I managed to get some time to practice more bowling at the nearby Reid Oval. It wasn’t a good start, though. I stuffed up my run-up, and while I was able to get some movement, I wasn’t able to put it in my ideal spot. It was because I’m unable to bring my arm around my left hip.

After properly marking out my run, I ran in for my next ball, and in my delivery phase, I attempted to whip my arm through to my left hip in a quicker motion, which helped my accuracy, swing, and bounce quite a fair bit. I was able to focus on that as part of my existing routine, which later became natural to me as I was able to land the ball precisely in the area where I want to pitch.

Over the last two days, I was able to get some seam variation such that the ball goes straight on after pitching rather than in or out. I used to be so obsessed with bowling my stock out-swinger ball by ball over by over. However, if the ball does something different from what I expected, although I managed to land the ball on the same spot, then so be it.

November 25, 2017

First thing today, I read that we have 8 for the game, but upon arrival, we managed to fork out a full team. When I had a look at the wicket, I felt it was the same Mawson wicket we’ve encountered in the past. I was convinced that we should bat first.  Archie thought differently when he checked (as he wanted to bowl first). But somehow, we managed him to talk him around to batting first (which we did after winning the toss).

I was opening the batting with Brenton Furze, and we managed to somehow get through the first 10 overs. I was struggling for the onset as the deliveries were popping out of the surface, which made it difficult for me to get the ball of the square (although I managed to play a cracking pull shot for four). Brenton got out soon after (trying to heave Lyons) for 16, and at drinks (15 overs due to the heat), we were 1/38. I managed to bunt a full-toss away for a couple, but it was a struggle.

ANU White soon brought on a leg spinner who flights it, which I used to my advantage by coming down the wicket and hitting him over the top for four to take me into double figures. Whenever he flighted the ball, I went down the wicket to him to knock it on the leg-side for singles.

By that stage, I was getting comfortable and had hit a cut for two runs to take me past my highest score of 14 (that I made against Wests-UC last season). Unfortunately, while fielding for that two, James Culvenor tore his left hamstring and was ruled out for the rest of the match. The ANU White side only had 10 players and so that injury left them with only nine on the field.

However, they were still able to rally through as Aqib Khan, Brandon, and Jarrad Mathey all fell for single figures. I was joined by Mark Wilson, who promptly told me to stay till drinks (which I did when we took them after 30 overs), and we were 4/84. I was probably by then already 30 odd not out when I hit the last ball for four over cover against their off-spinner.

Archie had advised me to have a crack, but Mark told me that everyone else will go for it while I should bat through the innings. I was getting conflicting advice at that point, but I realized that given I will be needed to bowl later, I would have to swing, which is what I did. I got into the 40s, but I ended up playing a tired shot and edged behind off Josh Butson for 47. I didn’t get forward enough, and I would be ruining that fact. We were 5/105 in the 33rd over, but there was some filthy bowling and some sublime hitting from Mark and Lindsay Thompson (both made fifties) as they piled on 82 in quick time. Lindsay fell for 56, and Mark soon followed for 51. But the damage had been done by then. Although they bowled us out in the 44th over, we had piled on 227.

We had runs on the board and had the belief that we will win from here. We did bowl tight at the start, but they should have shown intent if they were keen to seriously chase it down. In the end, it worked in our favor very well. After Lindsay and Dom Ross, Archie brought on Khurram and Aqib in trying to get through the overs before the rain strikes. Aqib again got through his quota with minimal damage and managed a wicket. So they were 2/34 at drinks (Khurram took an excellent catch to dismiss Butson off Dom Ross).

Aqib soon effected a direct hit run-out (although Archie believes that it deflected off his gloves). Jarrad comes on, and his first wicket came about via some comedy. We appealed for the LBW, but David Lyons, who was umpiring at the time, was appearing like he didn’t know much about the rules. He was asking questions like, Can you still be struck in-line if the ball pitched outside off? In which we were answering in the affirmative. Later on, he gave the other opener Luke Ford out LBW, and he was spewing. It was little wonder; we were happily discussing this story back at the clubhouse. Jarrad soon had a second wicket when Brenton held a thick edge to dismiss Gorson-Lai.

They were five down, and after Aqib finished his spell, Archie, instead of giving me the ball, decided to hand the ball back to Lindsay to try and clean up the tail (which he didn’t). So I finally got my chance in the 31st over. By then, Dom Ross was on a hat-trick having had Borgo caught by Brenton and cleaned up Lyons first ball to bowl him.

Albrecht smashed me for 3 fours in my first over, although I managed to get some good swing and pace.  To everyone else, that didn’t matter at the time because Dom Ross had a chance for a hat-trick. I managed to do the team thing in everyone’s eyes. But unfortunately, he didn’t get the hat-trick and was later got smashed for four.

I got smashed for four as well in my second over, but I was able to beat the bat a few times. Although I was able to show some encouraging signs, I only managed to bowl just two overs when Dom Ross took the final wicket. We bowled them out for 117 to record a crucial win, which brings us to the top of the table.

Archie and I at least returned to the clubhouse together, and we chatted a lot about our side and how well we were shaping up for the season. Archie was happy that I batted well on a tricky wicket, but he was pretty pissed off when I was hitting full-tosses straight to fielders (he was hoping to apply some technical fixes so that I can smash those full-tosses away). We also spoke a lot about how Northies will be stronger in their 6th-grade side with the Hohnke father and son combo returning, which meant we should expect a fierce battle against them.

We went to the clubhouse for burgers and drinks, and we learned that 5ths pulled off a miraculous 5 run victory defending just 85 against Northies, and the 4th-grade side recovered significantly from 6/130 at tea to 286 all out courtesy of Kumar Jeyakkumar Jnr’s unbeaten 102.  Also, we learned that the 1sts had an attritional day in the field (although they bowled out Northies for 213 in the 91st over).

After all, it was a great day. Nice to be back after a couple of weeks. I would have liked to have a bigger crack with the ball in hand, but I was happy to spend some perfect time at the crease. Pity I couldn’t get through to a fifty, but I’m hoping I can put together an all-round performance sometime this season.