Blue Demons vs Ginninderra Black at Phillip 203, November 10 2018

November 5, 2018

I had spent a week off from cricket trying to regain the fitness that was lost due to illness. Lifting reasonably, heavy weights were not an issue, but running at 80% intensity was. I managed to keep up with the intensity, but I needed to catch my breath after each run. The annoying thing is that it would take some time to get over a severe illness from a couple of weeks ago, but there are some encouraging signs. I was raring to go to training today, but with my sister-in-law dropping down to exchange some food after work made me change my plans. Fortunately, my old coach Dr. Masud Rahman agreed to help me out at the local nets with my batting/bowling. In a way, it would have been good to spend some private time with a coach instead of attending club training as I would have ample opportunity to work on both my batting and bowling.   

On the game front, there could be a strong possibility of having to play on Synthetic wickets in 5th grade, which is something that I’m not really fond of. This is because the usual 5th-grade Turf wickets are being used in higher grades. I like playing on Turf since the wickets can be unpredictable, and it rewards for proper cricket. There has been some talk about moving our club’s 5th-grade matches against both of the Eastlake teams so that we play on Turf on Sunday but nothing yet.

Anyways, back to Masud. We spent the evening working on my game plans against spin, trying to play as straight as possible while opening the face to in-front of square. It was tricky against the sharp turning spin, but as Masud says, I need more practice against it to keep getting better. Nevertheless, as long as I can judge the flight of the ball from the bowler’s hand, then it should be easy for me to be decisive. I need to regain the daringness of my play: think of last season when I came down the wicket to the left-arm spin of Martin from Queanbeyan immediately and even hit him over the top for two next ball or even when I charged both Albrecht and Armstrong and hit them for boundaries during my grade best of 47.

November 8, 2018

I eventually managed to get some bowling done before the sun was out after spending the whole of Monday batting. I started with the run-up from my last game of a fortnight ago and even tried to add a bit of speed to it. Pretty impressive of four paces. I spent four overs bowling from this run-up bowling to imaginary right and left-handed batsmen, ensuring that my front-arm effectively controls the direction of where I would pitch the ball to move. I even tried the three-card trick that Malcolm Marshall applied to dismiss Mark Waugh in a Benson and Hedges Semi-final match between Hampshire and Essex back in 1992 (reference in Mark Nicholas’ book on Cricket, A Beautiful Game) with decent success as long as I again put the ball in the right areas. Having successfully bowled reasonably fast from a four-step run-up, I moved to six as I was still feeling good and not tired. It took a bit of an adjustment of my length, but the results were always the same after two overs of bowling.  Good signs. At the start of the season, I was coming off eight paces, but a combination of cramps and then illness eventually left to a shortened run-up till now. It will be useful to return back to 8 paces, but given that I can still sprint through of a shorter run-up and perhaps my past history of cramp, I might stick to six paces for the rest of the season. Especially if I need the energy to contribute with both the bat and in the field even after bowling a full allotment of overs in a one-day/Twenty-20 or a decent amount of overs in a 2-day match. If whatever reason I suffer cramp or lack of control in a game, I can always revert back to the four-step run-up given the success I had against ANU White two weeks ago. In saying so, there’s no harm trying to increase my run-up gradually during the season, preferably when training on my own or when I’m in an exclusive one-on-one duel with a batter.

Anyways, returning back to the bowling session, it later got so dark that I couldn’t even remember my starting position, so I figured after bowling six overs overall, I decided to pack up and head home. I gained a lot from that session. Bowling quick from a short run-up (the sprint sessions may have helped) while getting to swing the bowling and hit my productive areas was a significant takeaway.   

November 9, 2018

As confirmed that I’ll be in 5s this weekend on synthetic, but there’s little else we can do as not all Turf grounds are available (perhaps partly because the Women’s competition moved to Saturdays this season).  Aside from that, I will be reuniting with my good mate Chris Arcella (rather than possibly opening the bowling again under Vasu Patel’s captaincy). Archie told me with Dom Ross and Gurjiv being away, my bowling will come in handy to support Luke Snowie, Lindsay Thompson, and Andy Brains. Plus, with the batting performances not being up to scratch so far, I could very well provide some solidarity. I’m willing to open the batting. Go out there, knock it around and then take the spinners on before putting my feet up scoring before we go out to bowl (if we bat first that is). The Blue Demons from Eastlake will be a challenge for us considering how easily they chased down ANU Royal’s 200 at Deakin’s Synthetic pitch. Nevertheless, we will back ourselves to restrict them and get ourselves back into winning ways.     

November 10, 2018

After driving around Ainsworth St, I managed to find the Phillip Synthetic Oval, which was next to the turf pitch. This oval itself was very skinny compared to a regular strip. For me, it was no issue trying to run through the crease close to the stumps, but if you consider somebody like Lindsay Thompson, who is a big bloke, he might struggle. Given how skinny the pitch was, it felt though that everything will be within every batter’s hitting zone. We lost the toss and had to bat, which is what Archie wanted to do anyway. Win-win. We started poorly, though. Zeeshan Aslam (our first new player) ran himself trying to go for a third; Jay Singh, having started brightly with a few boundaries, got a leading edge off Garth Davis’ off-cutters to slip. Then Dom Tran went for a single that was never on. At the other end, there was me witnessing the early carnage. I would have gone early, too, on four occasions. I attempted a pull off Nick Unger only to just sail over Davis’ head for a single. I then got dropped by the keeper Frost off Davis’ bowling before nearly becoming another run-out victim on two occasions. I was very subdued in the batting, especially against the left-arm spin off Fox. The old me would have shown some intent towards him, but there were three reasons for not showing that. First of all, the pitch had bounce, which I felt was suitable for more back foot play. Secondly, I haven’t had a proper bat all season apart from Monday, and also, the situation of the game dictated that we needed a partnership. If I lost my wicket trying to show intent and I got bowled, stumped, or caught, then it would have lead to disaster. Eventually, I caught down the leg-side off my glove as I tried to pull. I only made 12, and when I got out at the 11th over, we were 4 for 45. As it appeared, Andy Brains didn’t show up, but we managed to grab a couple of mates to help make up the numbers.

At drinks, our score moved to 7 for 103.  Luke Snowie was smoking them until he got a jaffa from Declan Robinson on 41. Pitched middle, hit off, which would definitely made Dale Steyn proud. Shahnawaz Rasheed, our other import smoked one big six off Fox that landed in the next door oval. Massive hit that following a series of pushes and nudged. Tuk, Tuk, then Boom. Boy, even Misbah-Ul-Haq, would also be proud. Shah smashed another six as well together with two fours before he succumbed to both cramps and Robinson for 25. He never played a part in the game after that. But he at least helped get the floundering innings back on track allowing for Lindsay Thompson to take center stage. Thommo, having been twice dropped at cow-corner, went on to make a priceless 64, which lead us to a very good 202. Pity though we didn’t bat our full allocation of overs. It’s always a crime not to do that as we would be missing some valuable runs in those left-over deliveries.

The plan at the break was simple. Dot them up, build pressure, and let the wickets flow. Luke Snowie started following the script with a maiden. But we were soon in for a shock from the moment Swan top-edged a leg-side hoick for two as he soon started middling those hoicks to the leg-side. Both Snowie and Thommo (who dismissed Arthur caught behind by Archie) suffered his wrath. Hence, Archie tried Dom Tran. It nearly worked, but Jay Singh had the sun in his eyes and dropped a skier. That hurt because Dom soon suffered more punishment.

I soon had my turn at Snowie’s end in the 11th over. Given the pitch, I abandoned the six-step run-up and went on four steps. Swan tried attacking me too. My first ball was an inside edge past the stumps for two before his next hoick went to deep square leg to Dom Tran. Ok, easy single, but it went through his legs for four. I was fuming because he should have stopped that. After the game, Archie felt Dom did the right things, but it was just bad luck it went through. Swan got to his fifty. He tried another hoick though on the leg-side, but Snowie took a good catch at long-on. Out for 52 off 28. The damage he did was massive and left us with fewer runs to play with. Time to switch-on and fast.

Next over, I trapped Frost lbw. He went back rather than forward, and the ball was going to clip middle and leg.  Two wickets in two overs. Doesn’t it get any better?  I kept it tight and no further success as I got the bowl to move away appreciably, especially from Martin Boland.  Unfortunately, I even dropped a flat ball hit by Fox off Jay’s bowling. I tried taking it to my right reverse cup, but in hindsight, I could have either got my face in the way (which may not be wise given what had happened in pre-season) or perhaps taken the ball like a high slips catch by pivoting to my right. They were ahead of the rate at drinks with the score on 3/126. The Swan assault was indeed massive, and they only need 77 runs.

I bowled out after drinks as Fox was in a smashing mood showing the form from the 71 ball 102 he made last weekend. He even smashed a straight six over my head, but I soon had the last laugh. Smashed a ball straight to ball to short cover and departed for 48. I eventually finished with 3 for 35 off my full allocation of eight overs. Good, come back after missing last week. Although Thommo dismissed both P Hillian (courtesy of a great catch by Michael Weston) and Frost, the Blue Demons chased down the runs in the 32 over. That hurt. We batted well, but we couldn’t defend it with the ball and in the field. No wonder Arch was disappointed, but there was progress.

Archie messaged me later that he was impressed with how much I progressed. Having pressed him to explain further, he told me that in the past, I was overthinking things and appeared hesitant with ball in hand. But today, he noticed that I seemed to be confident and had backed myself. It was also the case with the batting, as he felt I showed intent and intelligence at the same time. Earlier, he was far from impressed with me when I was fielding as he had his game face on. But he mellowed down and appreciated me. At least, I was back in his good books. He was hoping that I could play a crucial part in his team since he thinks I could do a job in the middle overs like I did today.


Ginninderra Black vs ANU White at O’Connor Oval, October 27 2018

October 8, 2018

I was conscious of the weather. If it was going to rain, I wouldn’t bother attending practice like I have been doing in the past. However, when I checked before heading out, it was going to be clear skies. Hence, I’m off to practice. Since I finished work late than expected, I ended up arriving practice after it started.  I did my catches; 10 short, 10 medium, 10 long, and just before I was about to head to the nets, Mick Delaney, our coach decided to call everyone in and sent us on a fielding circuit that was started in pre-season. Rather than doing it pairs, we were doing it in groups of four. I got some considerable help again from Lukey Ryan during slips catching with the Catch It ramps since he noticed I was not relaxed in the hands since I had a tendency to reach out to the ball with the hands, which explains why the ball pops out of the hand. So he suggested two things: One, to be relaxed and allow the ball to come into the hands and Two, to use my body rather than my hands to go to the ball. It worked….. part of the time, but I was still showing the same habits which the catching continues to be a lottery. Later on, when doing slips catches with BT, I had better luck despite being closer to the bat, so the advice did me no harm at all. During the fielding circuit, I was doing high ball catching. Despite my fingers being pointed occasionally to the sky, which isn’t quite a good idea, I was able to still catch any high tennis balls that came my way because I was trying to get to the ball to get into a steady position to take the catch.  Given that my success rate was pretty good on that day, it was a great confidence booster after the pre-season mishap.

After the fielding circuit, it was time for the nets. I ended up spending the whole time bowling simply that I was more focused on fixing up my run-up, which can also help in fixing my accuracy together with my running technique. I was bowling well as I was beating the bat with either length or with movement. Mick Dentrinos who started giving me crap because I played for his club’s enemy Riverton Rostrata (he used to play for SJ Blues in the SMCA competition in Perth) was kind enough to notice that I was slowing down before delivery (I was worried about the front foot no-ball) and suggested that I tried to breath to pump oxygen into my muscles to help me power through the crease (perhaps it might also help me to relax a bit since I might be a little tense).  I started incorporating the suggestion, but I will probably have to try over a more extended period and see if I can maintain energy on the ball for a full spell of bowling or not.

Overall, it was the right decision to attend practice today even though I will not be playing this weekend. Had I not gone, I wouldn’t have received such invaluable advice from senior players and perhaps would continue to struggle for a little longer (especially given how I bowled over the weekend).

October 10, 2018

I was starting to get a bit obsessed with my running technique. Especially my set up position and stride lengths in particular. Rather than hit the treadmill today, I decided to focus on my running routine at the gym but in the functional rooms. Jock Campbell, the former Australian fitness coach, calls it the Running ‘As’ in the BowlFit app that I use (co-initiated with Mitchell Johnson). From the repeated efforts of these ‘As,’ I was able to work out a decent bowling run-up so that I can gradually increase my speed before delivery. I still need to practice this continuously, but as long as I run on the balls of my feet, then the technique itself would be efficient. My only regret was why didn’t I work this out during the off-season or even pre-season. Only because it never really occurred to me. Still, I was happy with what I came up with, but I need to try it out in the nets soon.

October 11, 2018

Today would have been club practice, but I was under the impression that it would be a hard session, as Mick Delaney would have told me. I interpreted as if practices would be similar to how we would play in a match. For me, it’s probably no good for two reasons. One, I’ll be away from action this weekend, and Two, I’m not mentally ready as I’m still trying to get my bowling right. Hence, I ended up practicing on my own after work rather than go to Kippax to practice.

I started off by focusing on the running technique working on the drills from yesterday before gradually moving to bowl with the same technique. I was trying to sprint through the crease, but I slowing down in momentum with my rhythm going astray. Gradually, I worked up a happy medium in terms of my running speed that will allow me to maintain my technique and momentum. I was bowling a bit full and wide, but the pace was there. Not extreme pace but enough to maybe beat the bat. But I had to be careful since I soon realized that I was twisting a bit, which could give me back trouble. So I adjusted myself that can get closer to the stumps and altered my running technique slightly so that my hands are brushing my sides. My lines suddenly improved as I bowling a lot straighter, and I didn’t feel any back pain at all. My front arm is going to be the key in terms of where the ball will land. I still am trying to hit the right length, but if I don’t give too much room that I might be okay. Later on, I realize if I can get that front arm higher, than I might be able to hit the right lengths. Significant progress has been made, and I’m ready for training next Monday.

So, training on my own proved to be the right decision.

October 20, 2018

Unfortunately, I did not do any sort of cricket activity outdoors for the whole week as I was really sick, which lead to me taking time off from work as well. The doctor did advise me to rest instead of undertaking physical activity for a week. So I ended up being stuck at home instead of going out to the gym, training, or even going out to play. Missing out on game time wasn’t a big deal, given that the club had full availability across all teams that weekend. I told JP that I was disappointed to miss out because of my sickness, but he told me to rest up and assured me that there will be opportunities later on since it’s only the start of the season. Today, because it rained so bad around mid-morning, I was doing a rain-dance, which helped me feel better with regards to missing this week. As it turned out, most of the matches were washed out.

October 21, 2018

On the way back from a short gym work-out, I thought I might try to roll my arm over at the Franklin nets, having had the week off from physical activity.  I was experimenting a bit more regarding my load up technique before delivery, which allows me to rotate my bowling shoulder a bit quicker. That involved angling the loading hand a bit so that I can also swing the ball. When I tried this approach, I was able to swing the ball a lot better at an extra pace. Then, an old colleague of my brother’s Ashok (who now works for APVMA) came down to practice. As he recognized me from previously, he asked me to give him a few balls to face. I immediately obliged. I was bowling a bit short, which was reflected when Ashok was backing away and hitting strong uppercuts. When I pitched up a bit more, he was going after me still. Then I realized that I was giving him width, which made him free the arms regardless of the length. I tried to focus on bowling straighter, wicket to wicket, which provided immediate results. I was beating his bat more often than not with my out-swing, even knocking his poles out once as well as hurrying him with a short ball that would have grazed his elbow. Today was a success in terms of fixing my running technique and my bowling arm. If I can maintain it for a more extended period, then I could well be too hot to handle.

October 22, 2018

Given that I was still on the recovery trail after a week off cricket due to illness, I decided to go for another short session of bowling instead of practice. I wasn’t quite at my peak health either, and it showed in my bowling. After the equivalent of 2-3 overs of bowling at full tilt, I was out of breath. I did try cutting down my successful intensity, but I felt that I would be more potent if I can recreate the efforts from yesterday. Perhaps it was a right call not to attend practice today, given that we now have the fielding circuit in place, which is at full intensity. I could have fallen even sicker and miss another week of cricket, which would have been a disaster. Nevertheless, despite the minor setback today, I finally felt at peace with my run-up, having managed to video record my bowling to find that I had been able to land my front foot in the middle of the popping crease.

October 27, 2018

So I managed to get picked for today, but in the 2nd 5th-grade side, that will play ANU White. Last week I would have been selected there since they didn’t have many bowlers compared to the other 5s side lead by Archie only for my illness to prevent me from playing. Today, I wasn’t really that great as I was coughing and sniffling, but I keen to have a crack regardless because I won’t be able to play next weekend.

When I got there, the wicket looked green (similar to the wicket I saw in Kippax three weeks ago; hence I thought it would deteriorate slightly) but looked good to bat on. I shadow practiced bowling of a shorter run due to my slightly improving health. I knew it was the opposite of bowling off the long run, but at least I can try to get through as many overs as I can.

We lost the toss and were bowling first. Simon Edmonson and I were primary out-swing bowlers, so we had to compromise on who gets the end with the breeze. In the end, I gave in, allowing Simon to bowl with the breeze blowing away. Simon immediately bowled a maiden, and I had my chance soon after. The first ball went down the leg side, but instead of being penalized for a wide, I got away with it and also proceeded to bowl a maiden. Simon then conceded two runs (albeit of an edge that fell short and bounced over our keeper Dan Heinrich’s head). Three overs, 0/2. I bowled another maiden but after bowling two wide and loose deliveries (one full and one short) that were not punished. Again 0/2, which stayed that way after another maiden from Simon. Both of us were keeping it tight. Pretty good start on a batting wicket.

However, I was getting a few deliveries to jump and keep low at times, and despite the breeze blowing into the right-handers, I was able to generate my out-swing movement, which explained why I had yet to concede a run so far. It stayed that way for my third over, but I had a wicket on the 2nd delivery. I over-pitched, Lang tried to drive, but Malik Prasad took an excellent low catch to his right at short cover. I got a wicket on return with a bit of luck, but it was created by all the pressure that was created.

Considering the situation there were in (6 overs, 1/2), the other opener Whitehead chanced his arm against Simon and I and picked up a couple of boundaries. Their run-rate improved (for the record, I finally conceded a run in my fourth over, eventually going for just three) slightly. Before my fifth over, Vasu Patel, our captain, told me it was my last over since he was saving me up for the end. Fair enough, but it would have been nice to bowl out. For that reason, I gambled with a slower ball (the only one I bowled all day), which was a full toss hit for four by Whitehead, but I got a ball to keep low, which the breeze helped it to pitch on the stumps. After a prolonged appeal (by then, I was on the ground after a slip), the umpire gave it out. I finished my spell with a wicket and had both openers dismissed. They were 2/18 after 10 for which my analysis was 5-3-7-2.

Adam O’Connor replaced me with his left-arm spin and prized out two for himself.  Bell caught well at slip by Simon before having Giddens lob up an easy catch to Sumanth Purelli at slip.  They were 4/49 at drinks after 20 overs, and we were over them.

ANU White improved their run-rate by the end of the innings, but we still ensured that we restricted them to a straightforward total. In the process, Brandon Edgerton had a wicket with Simon taking a good catch at deep-mid wicket to dismiss Ford after Vasu Patel bowled a tidy but wicketless four-over spell. During his spell, Vasu went over for me for advice. He was telling me that with the shiny side on the left, it should swing into the right-hander. Technically that’s correct, but I suggested that he angled his wrist though since swing was also from the wrist. I thought he got a few to swing back after the chat from the way the batsmen were defending him rather than letting him go.

Adam O’Connor replaced Vasu and got the wicket of Blackman, who hit a full toss straight to Malik at cover. Knowing that they were going after the bowling, I suggested Malik to stand back, and thankfully, he was able to catch it since it came at chest height. Adam apparently told me that he tried a front of the hand variation, which didn’t quite come out, but it prized out a wicket nevertheless. He finished with 3/22 from his 8 overs. Simon and I soon came back on to close out both the innings and our allocations of 8 overs maximum. Simon kept it tight as he did earlier in the day and finished with the wicket of Connor Boyce (who anchored the innings with 28) LBW as he tried to hit across the line. His figures were 1/17.

At the other end, I leaked two boundaries to the wily old fox in Peter Foley. I firstly over-pitched, which he cleared Malik before swinging me over mid-wicket for two boundaries. But I came back. I nearly had Foley holding out at long-on, but Dan Heinrich (who passed the gloves to Sumanth at drinks) couldn’t quite get around it, and it went for four. Apart from that, I kept it really tight and only conceded nine from my last two overs. I finished with 2/24, pretty good return despite not being at my best health.

ANU White, therefore, finished with 7/119. If they perhaps batted a bit smarter with intent, we could have been chasing at least 150 if not 180. But we have no complaints as it is just a matter of batting sensibly to get the runs (simple maths, exactly 3 runs an over).

We didn’t quite get off to a good start. Malik tried to drive but hit a catch to mid-off in the first over. But Rahul Desai and Sumanth guided the chase, but they soon departed to leave us on 3/53. When Simon got out, we were 4/70. We were slightly shaky, but we just needed one partnership to guide us home. Aditya Dwivedi ensured that the chase went smoothly as he punished anything loose to the boundary as he compiled an unbeaten 58, his first fifty for the club. At the other end, Vasu supported him initially, but he soon perished. He nearly got run out. He pushed a ball to the off-side, called for a run, which Aditya denied before he tried to scramble back. He dropped his bat mid-way, but the ball missed both the keeper and the stumps by which it allowed Vasu to return to safety. Nevertheless, it triggered a series of discussions on how not to run out the captain on the sidelines. I overheard Simon telling us that he had run out the captain once, and he ended up fielding at fine-leg and not bowling for three games. Ouch!

Vasu eventually perished when he tried to sweep a ball away on the leg-side but was bowled when the ball hit the back-end of the bat and onto the stumps. It was 5/103, but it was soon all over just before drinks as Aditya continued his merry way.

We had won by 5 wickets and continue our unbeaten start to the season courtesy of an all-round performance, and we ensured that we sung the team song with full gusto. I went over to the Keith Tournier Memorial Oval to see how our other 5s side was going. But by the time I arrived, I heard the team song chanted nice and loud, so that meant they won too. It was great catching up with the guys I played with last season.       

Ginninderra vs Queanbeyan at Kippax Fields (Oval 2), October 6 2018

October 2, 2018

Cricket season was really ‘round the corner, especially when JP started asking for availabilities. JP regained the central selector role having taken a break from it in the middle of last season when he stood down to look after his knee. Having made myself available, I quizzed him further about the existence of a 5th-grade side this season. He had summed it up that things have been a little disorganized and that the 5th-grade season will commence only next week, so it meant that we will have at least one 5th grade side this season (although Archie told me there could be two). Immediately alarm bells started to ring in my head because I knew that I will be away for the next 1-2 weeks after this Saturday. So I told JP, because of my unavailability soon after, I would really like to play although I did tell him some time ago that I would play anywhere as long as I am treated as a serious bowling option. I know to some it might sound selfish, but I love having the ball in my hand, and that’s usually when I enjoy my cricket.

Perhaps I might be going a little cold going into the season with no practice, but the truth is that everyone except the eleven guys who played against Wests yesterday maybe going without touching a bat or ball this week. In saying so, the fact that most of us attended pre-season training probably should hold us in good stead.

Going in slightly cold may not be a wise idea, particularly against Queanbeyan, who is one of the best clubs going around in the competition, and to top it off, my stats against them aren’t that flash at all. In four games (across a 2-day match and 3 one day matches), I average 15 with the bat but 35.50 with the ball, although my last two outings against them were pretty promising (1/19 off 8 overs and 1/13 off 6). However,  having worked on my bowling previous month alone with some help from Luke Wimbridge via Facebook, I have some confidence leading into the season opener (as long as I get picked). During this time, I at least sussed out my own bowling dynamics, having viewed past footage of my bowling together with the advice I received from Luke in the past. Although I haven’t really bowled much of late, I am still confident leading into the weekend.

It will be helpful to get some bowling though if I am to play, but the next two days are indeed going to rain.

October 5, 2018

Yesterday evening I was resigned to the fact that I may not be able to play this weekend with the possibility of starting my season late this month as I’ll be away after this weekend. So I messaged Peely, the 4th-grade captain and wished him well for his captaincy debut but then, he replied back that I was picked in his team and also learned that due to the sunset still being around 6pm, the match will start at 12pm (not 1pm). From what I am aware, it will also be a 40 over match instead of 45 overs. I can only speculate that because in lower grades, there’s the tendency to leak more extras (particularly wides), which means that extra deliveries need to be re-bowled; hence matches finish later than scheduled. With the early start and the change of overs, Peely wants us to arrive by 11am so that we can do some warm-ups before the match. I told him I hope I get the opportunity to bowl and will want to give it my all since I’ll be away, which seemed to impress him. So far, a good start in getting into his good books but hope he can give me the ball, though.

I managed to get some bowling done after work today. Across the 7 overs I bowled today, my pace was up, and I got the ball to swing away from the right-hander, but I did have a tendency to drop short. Immediately it got me thinking that I should have some protection on the leg-side. Especially a deep fine-leg and deep midwicket just in case I spray the ball leg.

October 6, 2018

I arrived almost at 10.40am this morning since all of us had to come at 11am so we can do warm-ups. The wicket looked green, but it was grass clippings, and the wicket might deteriorate over time, according to Peely. Once we all got changed in our one-day strip (black with yellow), Peely took us through warm-ups before finishing up with a series of stretches before we practiced some catching. He later won the toss and chose to bat.

Before a ball was bowled, it appeared that Chakra Ravinuthala (our club secretary as well) only had walked out with one pad. Queanbeyan team recognized it, and we all had a laugh too. That was the highlight of the day before Queanbeyan started to strangle us again.

Brenton Furze chipped a catch to mid-off; Aditya Dwivedi ran himself out, thinking there was a single before Chakra was adjudged LBW when the ball hit his back-leg. We were 3 for 14 in the 10th, but Harry Chittick, our top scorer from the Tuggeranong game last season, steadied us with 21 and had support from Chakra’s son Kris and Peely. Once again, Queanbeyan wasn’t to be denied; they bowled us out in the 39th over for 114. The lower order, including myself, had to go for it, and we got bowled out in trying to hit out.

Sporting my new black colored Gray-Nicolls pads, I came in the 36th over with Peely still at the crease. At that time, I had to get him on strike since he was smoking them. I got off the mark against Kyle Ditton. I just played a forward defense, and despite a mid-way stutter, I made it for a quick single to get off the mark. It was almost suicide, but my quickness got me through. Facing Will Graham the next over, I played a forward defense on the first, a back-foot punch to cover on the second before edging the next delivery as I was a bit lazy getting forward. It went through the vacant slip cordon (as the field had spread) for three. That was the last ball I faced since Peely, Jared Mathie, and Aiden Gunning all fell trying to score. I finished with four not out off four balls. First time I reached a 100% strike rate ever in official cricket.

So we had to defend 114 in 40 overs. Peely’s team talk was positive. The wicket wasn’t going to get any better, and he thought we might have a chance if we bowl full and straight. Initially, he was to open the bowling with Jared, but instead, he promoted me to open as he felt the pitch wasn’t suitable to his bowling style. It was good to get the opportunity to bowl with the white ball and that too being a brand new one as well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite hit my lengths. I mostly bowled too short, but at the same time, I suffered an attack of cramps across both calves from my second over onwards. It was disappointing to finish after a maiden over, but having batted and immediately went to bowling at full tilt caused the cramp. In hindsight, a combination of lack of pre and during game hydration together with the unexpected opportunity were the reasons behind it. Once I came off the field and consumed water, I felt better when I went on the field after drinks as I was able to run almost at full pace when chasing the ball.

Despite all of this, I managed to swing the white ball both ways and troubled their openers with short deliveries. Their left-handed opener, in particular, copped a short-ball from round the wicket and nearly chopped it onto the stumps, which showed I had a bit of pace, but these short balls were accidental.

I was soon replaced by debutant Pravin Bhatt (who I think is a doppelganger for Bollywood actor Ali Fazal). He took a bit of stick, but he bowled unchanged for a full eight over spell and took three wickets. One bowled, another lbw, and another caught by Ben Peel at slip. An impressive start and he might be in at least 4ths for some time this season. His efforts, as well as two early wickets to Jared, kept us in the game at drinks at 5 for 79, but it wasn’t to be. Queanbeyan’s sixth-wicket stand guided them home by the 29th over. They’re on the board with a five-wicket win. They kept us down to a below-par total and chased it down a sentiment shared by Peely as he appreciated the bowler’s efforts and signaled out both Pravin and Jared.

A disappointing start to both the club and myself, but I gained the ability to bowl bouncers and swing the new white ball both ways. I also realized that I need to monitor my hydration levels, which can help my performance to the full tilt with minimal cramping. Furthermore, as I will not be playing next weekend, I have some time at least to work on my running technique and all my skills during practice, particularly trying to get the ball on a decent length.

Pre-season, September 28 2018

I was hoping to attend the whole of pre-season training this season, but I only managed two Sunday morning sessions. A shoulder complaint plus catch-ups with family and friends were the main reasons for my limited attendance. Nevertheless, I at least managed to get value in the limited opportunities I got.

This pre-season was different from what I was accustomed to under our coach Mick Delaney. He had stressed that our fielding standards had to improve throughout the grades, and he had a desire of us, hopefully becoming the best fielding club in the ACT. Thereby he had announced that each player must take 30 catches (10 short, 10 medium, 10 long) before they hit the nets, and it seems that we have to work in pairs so that both players can meet the minimum requirement.

August 12, 2018

My fielding partner was Austin D’Alessandro, the best rookie from last season who progressed from 5th grade to 2nd grade in an entire season on the strength of his batting. The fielding session had started smoothly as we both completed the short and medium distance catches. The long-distance catches were a challenge to us, especially for Austin, who was battling against Canberra’s cold weather. As it got too much for him, he ‘threw in the towel,’ and soon it was my turn. It wasn’t too bad of a start for me until a passage of time that shook my confidence. First of all, while trying to take one high ball. I slipped, landed on my back, and hit my head on the ground with a bit of force, which resulted in me missing the ball. Then the worst moment, I tried taking another high ball; it clipped my finger before landing on my plastic sports glasses, which were then shattered to pieces. I immediately realized that I broke a fingernail, which let out a stream of blood. The worst was to follow upon arriving home. A bruise and a cut underneath the left eye, which my wife later discovered much to her annoyance.

But I was to carry on. We were then to continue in our pairs and take on the fielding circuit that was put together by Mick. We had four minutes at each station before we move to the next one. Although there were my positive comments regarding my body type and the fact that I’m a gym junkie, I was tested but not quite at the level of exhaustion. Nevertheless, the fielding sessions were fun and engaging. The ‘cricket’ version of squash where people have to throw the cricket balls at the net. If one person’s throw hits the net, then the other person has to try and catch the rebound even if you have to get in the way of the other person. But I found the catching the high tennis balls as they were hit from the racquet more challenging. Although the tennis ball will not pain as much as the cricket one given its weight and material, it proved to be a significant challenge, especially if the wind causes the ball to change direction horizontally or vertically. I was able to catch some balls, and I guess after the earlier mishap, it was a welcome morale booster. What I found was that if I tried to get into position early enough, I could allow the ball to settle into my hands. It was a handy piece I had previously received from Mick, and it was absolutely helpful yet again.

Following the fielding circuit, we then move to batting drills. This time, I partnered Dominic Tran, and despite his limited ability, he can provide the odd comment or two, which would be helpful to the other person. Sometimes he used to remind me of myself when I was coaching Under 15s players as a teenager despite my own modest performance at the junior level. It was an excellent time to knock in the brand new Gray-Nicolls Kronus I bought recently. Without much strength required, I was able to hit the ball with some power, which was to be expected from the bat itself when I initially checked it out.

Just to finish up, I did some bowling practice. Since the two-day 4th grade match against Tuggeranong (which was back in early March), I had not bowled a single ball. Still, I had spent the time theorizing about my own bowling run-up, mainly where I should commence my pre-delivery jump so that I can land the ball and swing it. It was no surprise that I was pushing the ball down the leg side most of the time. Still, I managed to get some useful advice in the form of our newly appointed 2nd-grade captain, Albab Masud (apparently he played one List A game in Bangladesh, but I can’t remember when or who he played for and against). Albab, known more as “Bobby,” suggested some technical adjustments, and it was refreshing to hear how these suggestions will help and why. I was told that too many coaches say “Don’t do this” or “Don’t do that,” but they’re unable to suggest anything to remediate the issue. Anyways, Bobby suggested that I run in with my chest up so I can stand taller all the way through and together with the other suggestion of driving the non-bowling arm (as a right armer, it will be my left) through as it usually is responsible for the direction of my delivery, I was able to hit a better line. It was indeed an improvement as I got the ball to bounce and swing, but Bobby felt that I was bowling a foot shorter. So he said that next time, I should try to get the ball up a bit more.

August 19, 2018

Leading up to the session, I was bereft of confidence after last weekend’s near disaster. The fact my left eye got away with minimal damage was a blessing in itself, but it was clear that my high ball catching methods needed reviewing. More on that later.

After a quick warm-up around the oval, we again had to go through 30 catches before we commenced another round of the fielding circuit. This time, I was partnered with Daniel Leggett, the club’s most improved player from last season. Definitely going through the fielding circuit with him was absolutely hard work, but I was able to keep up with him since he was going full tilt (although he was still kind enough to give me time to breathe). The fact that I was able to keep up with ‘Leggs’ shows how much work I had put into my fitness during the off-season.

That aside, I got a bit of help from our new 1st-grade captain Luke Ryan regarding my high ball catching (obviously Mick would have briefed him). He still wanted me to attempt the Reverse Cup method but form a triangle vision so that I can track where the ball is going to land and meet it accordingly. Given my shocker from last weekend, it was a mixed result but still managed to take a couple of high balls under his supervision. It’s a matter of adapting this into practice this season.

Later on, Leggs and I worked on our throwing by attempting to hit a single stump. My focus was on my throwing technique since it has known to a bit weak, especially when trying to throw from the outfield. Rather than throwing front-on with a horizontal arm, which will put pressure on the shoulder and increase the likelihood of injury, I tried throwing side-on with a vertical arm, and I appeared to be more accurate. The key is to twist the body as you throw while using your non-throwing arm for direction. It needed a few goes before the improvement started settling in. Over time, I managed a lot of near misses with a couple of direct hits. Doing it then is one thing, but it’s now a case of remembering what you did right so that you can repeat again and again.
From a fielding perspective, it was very encouraging. I learned a few techniques along the way and had subsequently improved both in mind and in results. Moving forward, it will be useful to test out my throwing technique from the outfield at practice during the season.

Thoughts for the 2018-19 Season, August 8 2018

The 2018-19 Season is about to start in 2 months, and pre-season training is underway. I recently bought a new stick, the Gray-Nicolls Kronus (worth $149 only would you believe it?), and got it knocked in. It just needs several sessions of batting either against throw downs or against older balls before it can be used in a match. I’m expecting that this bat will replace the SCC Tyrant I used last season as the new bat has a lighter pick up, which should allow me to react to the ball quicker than before while still expecting good value for shots.

There were some changes during the off-season. I tweaked my own diet so that I eat more fruits during the day, but one thing that does fail to stop is my love for desserts, sweets, and savories. If I can at least keep that to the minimum throughout the season, I’ll be pretty pleased, considering I’ve always had to battle against my weight for quite a while.  Furthermore, flexibility is becoming more critical in my routines as I had learned that it will help injury prevention and increased mobility, which should help both batting and bowling. These days I do it after each gym workout, which means I spend time on it at least 3 times a week. The next step is to make sure I do it after each cricket training session.

This off-season also allowed me to understand where my priorities lie, and definitely, it’s with my family. For the last two seasons, I had expected to be available for every single game of the season. Still, I had to miss matches to spend time with family (as a result left me disappointed in missing some games of cricket since I had paid full fees). This season I know I’ll be missing matches throughout the season to be with family and friends, and with the possibility of me paying fees after each game instead, this will allow me to put in my full effort on the field while enjoying myself off the field.

On a long term basis, I also do realize that I may not be able to play forever, especially once kids come into the picture (previously I was hoping to play until my 50s or 60s). Therefore, I have ruled out the grade cricket treble of 1000 runs, 100 wickets, and 100 games as it’s likely to be out of my reach.  If I get it, then great otherwise it doesn’t really matter.

A quick glance at my overall MyCricket stats shows 112 games, 786 runs with a highest score of 48, and 110 wickets with best figures of 5/18. Basically, I already took 100 wickets and have played 100 games since 2009-10. So it seems to me that the MyCricket treble is in reach if I can score the remaining 214 runs and that now is my long term goal. I am hoping out of those 214 runs, I can compose my maiden official half-century (my 60 not out in a 2015-16 Sunday Social semi-final does not count). That is my second long-term goal. My third long-term goal is to learn how to swing and control the white-ball. Ideally, I want to achieve this in matches (which I will need to play at least 4th grade), but I just realized that I can at least achieve it by practicing with the white-ball at training.

My season goal would have been to play 3rd grade (which a couple of teammates believed to be achievable when they told me at presentation night), but that doesn’t really matter for me now. If I get consumed in the goal, then my performances get affected. It was a lesson that was learned the hard way but the likes of Kurtis Patterson and Mike Hussey. Instead, I should focus on my attitudes, routines, fitness, and diet. If I do that, then performance and selections will take care of itself. This includes practice with a relaxed mindset, which should improve decision making out in the middle as well as attending training even if I’m not playing on a given week (fitness and weather permitting).