2019-20 Season Review, April 3, 2020

The season has come to an end……albeit two weeks ago courtesy of you know what, The Corona Virus.  With the Sheffield Shield canceling the season with one more round remaining before the finals, it was within Cricket Australia’s wisdom to request that all local competitions also come to a halt.

Given that C1s missed out on the top four having lost the last two matches, we don’t feel bad after all. In the normal circumstances, we would naturally be very disappointed considering it was not long ago that we were sitting in the third spot on the ladder. On the other hand, the boys who were part of the As and Bs and the LO1 sides that qualified, they would have been hard done by. The As (having finished second courtesy of a defeat to Marion in a reduced match at the front oval of PAC as well) as LO1s (who had defeated the minor premiers Flinders Uni captained and coached by Naveen Vinod) will undoubtedly be more disappointed compared to the Bs who finished minor premiers without dropping a single match.

From a club perspective, the fact that they’re able to field six teams every weekend itself an achievement, ensuring that the decision to register one more side at the start of the season paid off. To top it off, the club also fielded five T20s teams of all made it to the semi-finals with the side full of the PAOC football club members coming up trumps. So two premierships make a successful season, I suppose.

From a personal perspective, it also makes my decision to switch to this club from Adelaide University a perfect one. I was surrounded by outstanding people who backed me to give my best even when I felt I got conflicting advice with regards to my game (for the record, I’m not having a go at anyone. They have perfect intentions by advising me to help me). In the end, I have to accept what they say and see whether that will work for me moving forward. Only one’s self can understand their own game better than anyone.

I actually can’t summarise how I really went this season. At times, I was doing reasonably well, sometimes it hasn’t worked out so well. All I could say is that when the opportunity really presented itself to contribute with bat or ball, I managed to do so from time to time.

Before the Christmas/New Year break, I have been getting wickets every game only to manage a solitary scalp after that. I put it down to getting more overs, especially in the two-day matches where I was able to dry up the runs, which allowed Maxy to run through the batting line-ups in a flash.  It was no wonder he finished with 35 wickets at an average of just below 12. My performances included with season-best figures of 3/15 off 8 overs against Golden Grove, 2/7 off 11 overs against Brighton. I was back to my restrictive best in the last two matches, but I started to have second spell syndrome when I was up against well-set batters. That aside, 12 wickets isn’t really a bad season with the ball considering I only went for about 2.45 runs per over. Perhaps my tidiest season ever.

With regards to the batting, I wished (perhaps a bit far-fetched) to come good. But even though I was batting within the lower order, I managed to contribute where I could. In the second half of the season, I managed to reach double figures and share some useful partnerships. Against Golden Grove, I made 12 not out and shared two critical partnerships that proved to be the difference between them and us. I had added 30 with Gary Branford before adding an unbeaten 27 with Maxy. Both helped us to bat 72 overs and post a match-winning score. Then I had shared the highest partnership of our forgettable Performance against Gepps Cross as I added 37 with Matt Dickson, contributing 13 but felt in control until I was out LBW after being hit on the toe.

Those performances aside, they do not overshadow my most excellent match ever against Athelstone, which I shall look back with relish in the future. Let me summarise what had happened. I came in at 6/72 and looked comfortable, having made the conscious decision to bat outside my crease to help me get forward. I had moved to 18 or so when we lost our 8th wicket on Nelson (111). Then I added 70 odd runs with Daniel Mosey on either side of me going off for cramps.

As a result, I finished unbeaten on 67, having faced 113 balls and resisted for about two hours, hitting ten fours and a six. Reading Maxy’s match report later in the season, his piece included a comment about my knock Class, poise, and dexterity summed up his innings.” Without that kind of innings, we would have been in the shits. Instead, we posted 188. Game on.

The following week, Athelstone had added 61 before Maxy’s five-wicket bag ensured a win for us even if it took a bit longer than we expected. I also chipped in with two vital wickets while only going for exactly two an over throughout my 17 over spell. Firstly, Rocco Canino, who fell for the three-card trick (outswinger, outswinger, inswinger) that the likes of Malcolm Marshall and Martin Bicknell have pulled off. The ball went behind Rocco’s legs to hit his middle stump.  Then I bowled a slower ball that trapped Lovely Mittal LBW just as he was about to get going following a couple of early blows to the fence.

Basically, 67 not out and 2/34 from 17 overs against Athelstone was no doubt my best Performance of the summer and perhaps my best ever. Nothing might be able to top that ever.

In a way, progress has been made with both bat and ball. I just need to trust the techniques that I’d developed over time while also making sure I strengthen my retractable shoulders that will improve my ‘preparation’ phase, whether it’s lifting the bat or bowling/throwing the ball. I also should be giving focus to my fielding where I can. Mainly making sure my footwork is right to take a catch or to throw the ball. In saying that, taking three high-ball catches during the season is a massive improvement compared to my nightmare that started last year’s pre-season.

Moving forward, it’s just a matter of working on my fitness ahead of the next pre-season. Now made it harder with the gym closed as we try to stop the spread of the virus. Instead, I’m confined to bodyweight training at home and weather permitting, cycling/running. I’ve managed to start a couple of programs created by Garrick Morgan and Rob Chipchase (a former teammate of mine) from AP3X Performance. So far, I’ve found them to be very useful, which could improve my weight lifting ability once the gym reopens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gepps Cross vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Duncan Fraser Reserve, March 7 & 14 2020

March 5, 2020

On Tuesday, PAOC won a trophy in Division 3 Twenty20 competition with a team full of players from the PAOC football club. I supposed though all the work Trent English enforced with Twenty20 dedicated training on Tuesdays has paid off in spades. Not only it resulted in a trophy, but it resulted in an all PAOCCC showdown in the semi-final, which was unfortunate. Personally, I would have had the showdown in the final so that cricket would have been a winner for the whole club. It doesn’t matter now as the club has a trophy this year. Hopefully, more to come this season with both As and Bs likely for semis while Cs are still in touching distance but honestly up against it as they’re behind Hope Valley (4th) by 5 points and Goodwood (5th) by 4 points. LO1s are also likely for semis with 2 games remaining. Thereby the last two weeks are now critical regarding preparation. As the coach and senior club figures had stressed, the more people attend, the better it is.

Assuming that I retain my C1 position, we have to beat Gepps Cross and pray that both Hope Valley and Goodwood lose their final match. So all three factors need to go in our favor. Stranger things have happened in cricket. I just hope this is also another instance. 

Today was a bit of a struggle as my left shoulder was paining, having had a pre-travel vaccination injected there. But I still managed to play some good shots, got some balls to swing away from the right-handers, as well as throw straight while fielding. For once, I spent a bit of extra time fielding since we had a lot of bowlers in every net. Most of my fielding time was spent trying to throw straight, having botched two run-outs in our defeat to Hope Valley. Along the way, Maxy Clarke was there to assist by rolling balls to me as I threw ball after ball. I just realized during practice that while there’s always a rush in getting the ball into the right end ASAP, I really need to slow it down to give myself the best chance of an accurate throw. I need to trust myself in this regard, moving forward.

March 7, 2020

No matter how hard I try to stay upbeat, this game is likely to be a dead rubber for us unless the Cricket Gods decide to intervene. However, another critical moment perhaps could have re-motivated ourselves to win this game. Yesterday, I learned that Ben Lobban, the club secretary who helped me transfer from Adelaide University, is about to play his 200th match for PAOCCC, which is itself a massive moment considering it will also be his birthday weekend as well.  What better way to celebrate this milestone with a win. 

I also managed to smoothen out my bowling action last night, which had allowed me to swing the ball away from the right-handers when I wanted to. Besides, the balls that I didn’t want to swing also behaved to my command. To be honest, after trying some actions that I have used to this point, I only got a slight subtle seam movement. When I changed to my past bowling action that was inspired by Ben Hilfenhaus, that was when the ball started to behave in the manner I wanted it to (as described before). Moreover, as long as my eyes are focused on the knee roll of the batsman’s pads, I’ll be able to hit the full length that Antony Brabham has been encouraging me to target since the game against Hope Valley.

It was always a good thing to have fixed, and it helped that the left shoulder pain has reduced significantly, which meant I should be able to use my front arm to pull towards my target more frequently.   

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind bowling first if we win the toss as I have rediscovered my rhythm. Moreover, if Maxy firmly wants to chase an outright victory, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to send Gepps Cross in to try to bowl them out cheaply and hopefully get ahead of their total or at least get close by stumps. On the same token, I wouldn’t mind having a bat either even though given our line-up, I’m likely to come in at 8 or 9. Let’s see.

As it turned out, we lost the toss and had to bowl, which pretty much Maxy wanted to do anyways as he was going to chase after an outright victory. Maxy and Brabs did not start very well as they drifted down the leg side, which meant a lot of chasing for me at Backward square leg. By the third over, I was immediately fed up despite my best efforts, which included more accurate throws (as I was giving myself a bit more time before throwing the ball). I was now literally praying for some respite, knowing that I might have a bit of bowling to do as we only had three specialist bowlers.

Gradually Maxy and Brabs kept it tight, and the latter struck with the first blow trapping Grantham LBW, which was down to Charles Aust (promoted up from C2s) keeping up to him to keep the batters within the crease. Courtesy of that wicket, Brabs was able to settle into a good ten over spell. During his spell, the wicket started to misbehave as some deliveries rose sharply and some kept low. It reminded me of the track in the Neil Bulger Oval as well as the Aranda tracks of old in 2016. For this particular reason, Maxy switched ends once Brabs completed his spell and promptly had Hynes caught at gully by Tom Welsby. 

After dropping a tough chance during Brabs’ spell that would have sent Hynes back to the pavilion before drinks, I got my chance a few overs afterward replacing Tom Welsby. While I got the ball to move both ways, I could not reproduce the same length that I have begun to produce with more regularity. While I wasn’t bowling loose deliveries, I was instead just hitting a length. While I was keeping it tight when I requested quick feedback from Ben, our milestone man, the consensus was such that wickets were in the order of the day. Thereby I had to risk going for runs in the hope wickets will come.

I completed a five-over spell, which only went for just two runs and featured four maidens. The accuracy that had helped me be one of the most economical bowlers in our C1 side at the start of the season. Those two runs came off a sliced heave by Dhruv Gajjar as he just cleared Matt Dickson at Mid-off. Like earlier in the season, my thriftiness accounted for two more wickets to Maxy before the tea break. Bhutak was clean bowled, and Gajjar was beautifully caught by Charles diving to his left. Gepps Cross was 4 for 70 at the break.

Having bowled that five-over spell, Maxy took me off to give Brabs another spell hoping to go for the kill. But he did tell me that another spell will be required of me after the tea break. 

First of all, we have to enjoy the afternoon tea that Gepps Cross put across. There was Watermelon, Oranges, Pizza, Spring Rolls together with an assortment of sandwiches. A far cry of the variety offered by Hope Valley last game. In that game, we were looking forward to Gepps Cross, putting out a better afternoon tea. Well, they didn’t disappoint today.

Upon resumption, Maxy and Brabs continued to bowl for about ten overs, which allowed us to move into complete ascendency. Brabs claimed another LBW shout to dismiss Clark while Maxy found himself on a hat-trick when he castled both Loader and Patel on consecutive deliveries. While he was unable to produce the killer blow, we were on top at 7 for 94, with a substantial opportunity to push our case for finals.

How wrong could we be? As it turned out, the tables completely turned against us for the rest of the day. Forbes started to tee off against both bowlers, and soon enough, the eighth wicket stand between him and Jensen had past fifty. My opportunity for a second spell finally came but precisely in hindsight at the wrong time. Not for the first time this season, I was unable to reproduce the efforts of my first spell. When Forbes launched me for six over cow corner, I had to take pace off to slow him down. It worked for some time until he launched me for two sixes in my ninth over.  It wasn’t all that bad for me since I was able to attempt to swing the ball and keep it reasonably tight against Jensen. Unfortunately, not for the first time, I failed to get a wicket. An overall analysis of nine wicketless overs for 24 runs could have been a lot better, but it seems that all the luck I had in the first half of the season has indeed deserted me upon resumption.

Meanwhile, Maxy began to look desperate as he resorted to very defensive fields (against Forbes in particular) and giving bowling opportunities to Rory Husler, Ed Thomas, and Lincoln Halton to break this partnership that certainly had taken the game away from us. Eventually, it needed Maxy himself to end the stand that was worth 130. He did so by yorking Forbes for 94. But the damage had already been done. On the other hand, Jensen did well to stay unbeaten to the end and getting his fifty. Towards the end, we managed a late run-out through Ed Thomas. Having spilled a high ball, the batsmen were running for two, which prompted Ed to throw the ball to Maxy, who knocked the bails off to have Barratt run-out. But it was yet another long day in the field for us as they finished on 9 for 247 from their 72 overs.  

While he was no doubt disappointed in how the day eventually panned out, Maxy was gracious in acknowledging that everyone tried their very best, which seemed to matter to him the most. More importantly, while it might seem a tall order, the boys remained upbeat, citing that both the wicket and the outfield have given them hope in chasing this target down (together with the inclusion of Gary Branford, who some people hope that he could tonk a ton). 

For me, the writing was on the wall. Unless we pull a rabbit out of the hat, our season might as well be coming to an end. The day itself wasn’t really that bad for us since both the C2s and the LO5s endured much worse days. C2s conceded 4/403 from their 72 overs while LO5s were trounced by 10 wickets after only posting 102 all out. Perth awaits me for a week where I hope a session with Luke can set me up moving forward, especially next weekend, as I may need to bat depending on how we go.

 

March 13, 2020

I managed to get a session with Luke today before lunch. I took away some invaluable lessons for the season ahead (assuming that the season is likely to finish tomorrow for me). I had told Luke what Richard Hockney had been trying to do with me as I had a tendency to get my bat stuck before I hit the ball, which is a real problem against bowlers who bowl at least 100 km/h. Luke, to his credit, understood why I was told to hinge the bat as late as possible as it was the same advice the professionals would have given. He then suggested that I refocus on hinging the bat early but at least slow that process down to ensure a smooth swing of the bat afterward. Something that Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith have been doing very well of late. My memo to Richard (as well as Jack Latchford who also helped me out), “I really appreciate the efforts you both have put in to help my batting, but having been with my coach for a much longer time, I’ve just been accustomed to his methods for a while now. So it’s all more natural. Please don’t feel bad.”

The good thing was that soon after that adjustment, I was making more concise decisions regarding shot selection as I have more time due to the hinge. I just need to pay attention moving forward so that I time this to perfection while maintaining a high front elbow as possible. If all this particular work paid off tomorrow out in the middle, then it’s great. Otherwise, there’s always a case of the off-season to be firmly accustomed to it.

Luke made minor changes to my bowling by raising my arms at the level of my pectoral muscles to allow for the early shoulder rotation. As an exercise, he suggested that both of my hands should finish at my left hip to ensure maximum trunk rotation even though he had been impressed with my improvement in this regard. 

Nevertheless, the biggest takeaway I got from today was the exercises that will help strengthen the back of the shoulders that will help me either when hinging the bat or loading the ball before bowling or throwing it. Moreover, it is supposed to also improve my overall posture. This was all something I have heard before. Now I’ve got something to play with during the off-season to keep me occupied before I restart my BowlFit workouts. 

 

March 14, 2020

In light of the current CoronaVirus outbreak, all clubs were advised to at least not use sweat or saliva to shine the ball, shake hands and maintain at least 1-meter distance between players to prevent any potential spread of the virus. As a result, the likelihood of the ball not being shined might give us a chance to chase down the runs we need to at least keep our finals’ hopes alive. However, we realized during our chase that Hope Valley had an excellent week last week by bowling Athelstone for 74 before being 1/17 in reply. It is likely though that they’ll win and solidify their top-four spot.

At the start of the day, Maxy announced the batting order with Gary Branford and Tom Welsby to open. However, I suppose neither of us knew that Gary wasn’t going to be available from the start. In the end, it needed Charlie Aust to go and fetch him, and the two of them arrived just before tea. Gary’s absence meant that Ed had to open instead of going at number three. Maxy also had advised that the batting trophy was on the cards if they can surpass Charlie Keeves’ aggregate of 126 runs. At this stage, Ed, Maxy, Lincoln Halton, and I had a possible chance of getting a bat. As it turned out, neither of us succeeded in dethroning Keevesy. 

Gepps Cross opened up with their batting heroes in Jensen and Forbes. They did an excellent job of ensuring that we ended the first hour on 3/47. Ed was caught and bowled by Jensen as he tried to hit leg-side only to close on the face of his bat early. Charles Aust having whacked a hat-trick of boundaries was clean bowled by Forbes. Then Ben Lobban, in his 200th match sadly, got bounced out by Jensen as the ball was held by one of the members in the slip cordon who slipped but caught the ball in his left hand. That was a surprise, but it wasn’t so given that he had struggled to pick the ball up from Jensen’s hand.

If we were looking for any respite from the back-up bowlers, we didn’t get any as Barratt and Patel definitely backed up the initial efforts. Lincoln edged Patel in the slip cordon before the same bowler castled Will Farminer’s stumps. Tom Welsby, who only managed to offer significant resistance in the top order, also got bowled but by the left-armer Barratt, who seemingly would have got one to swing back into Tom. Tom was disappointed not to have passed 50, but he played well for his 47 off 100 balls. 

Because Gary hadn’t arrived yet, I had to come in at 6/83 with our innings in shambles. With nothing to lose, I brought out my Gray-Nicolls Kronus, which I haven’t used in a match since Round 2 back in October. I was batting with Matt Dickson, who urged me to get to the tea interval. Even though I played and missed a couple, I was at least decisive in what and what not to play even if I was to go to tea without getting off the mark. Dicko at least finished the first half of the day in style by pulling Barratt to the boundary.

Once again, Gepps Cross’ afternoon tea did not disappoint as the same variety was there. During this time, Tom asked me how I was seeing them. I told him that even though I chased one, I felt I was okay. After all, I’ve got a lot of time remaining to score. It wasn’t the first time he asked me this particular question as I remember him asking me back in our recent game at Golden Grove. 

I immediately felt good upon resumption. I was showing intent to score where possible and managed to get off the mark with the push into the covers for a single. In the next over, another push this time to the left of mid-off give me another run. When I drove again through the covers for a couple and then pinched a quick single. Soon enough, Dicko and I started to accumulate. Dicko was hitting the ball hard, which helped him gain a few boundaries, and all of a sudden, he was feeling good. We batted together for 12 overs and added 37 runs. It was later to be the highest partnership of the innings.

I started to feel confident. Not only was I looking to score, but I also continued to be selected in terms of picking balls to defend. The work Luke did with me is slowly beginning to reap the rewards. I even nailed a few cut shots and managed to hit one behind point to the longest side of the boundary. With our partnership beginning to frustrate them, Forbes returned. I spooned a ball behind square but managed to get it in a gap for a couple before pushing a single to cover who was quite deep.

Even though I continued to confidently hit the ball, I was disappointed to be out LBW having been hit on the toe. I felt that either my head or hands would have fallen to the off-side. It was indeed a good ball, but I thought that I should have done better at least to keep it out with the bat. I don’t know. Anyways, I at least made double figures, 12 to be precise. As a matter of fact, Will told me that one of the byes that were signaled was awarded to me as the call from Tom came far too late. I made 13, the third-highest score of the innings. Moreover, the 42 balls I faced were also the third-highest in the book. Nevertheless, I was very happy with how I batted, and I hope this confidence can be transferred to next season. I was also happy that I at least made some runs with the Kronus, which had a light pick up, which helped me against the seamers, no doubt.

It wasn’t long before the innings finally ended. When I emerged from our allocated dressing room as it was at the back of the building, I saw that Maxy had joined Dicko at the crease. Gary had got out having tried to repeat a shot against Forbes that went for six but instead was bowled. Dicko also fell, having compiled 26. Then Maxy was out LBW to Beames, and we were bowled out for 138. A clear 111 run defeat. A disappointing end to a season that promised a lot more if it wasn’t for the constant chopping and changing Maxy had to deal with every round.

It isn’t confirmed yet, but missing out on finals may not be a bad thing after all. While it wasn’t confirmed, there could be a possibility that the ATCA might scrap the fortnightly finals window with the CoronaVirus threat looming large. I personally would have been disappointed myself if we had qualified for finals but I would feel for the As, Bs and the LO1s if finals were to be indeed scrapped. At least Bs would have the consolation of being minor premiers having not lost a game all year.

Hope Valley vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at St Paul’s College (West Oval), February 22 & 29 2020

February 19, 2020

Tonight, I was heading to the Red Center to have another batting session with Trent. My mandate is simply to continue the late hinge and swing, which helped me to eke out two match-winning lower-order partnerships against Golden Grove that catapulted us into the third spot; about 4 points ahead of Fulham and about 7 points ahead of our next opponents in C1s, Hope Valley. It makes the last two matches very critical to our semi-final hopes. The upcoming game against Hope Valley is probably like a knockout match since both clubs are pushing towards qualification.

It was surprising for Trent when he heard about my mandate, given that I have been hitting the ball well in previous sessions. However, facing the bowling machine is different from facing actual bowlers. Nevertheless, I continued to play powerful drives aided with positive feet movement. Before my session, I was fortunate that Dan Mosey offered to bowl his left-arm seamers that allowed me to carry out my mandate successfully. Any ball he threw wide, I usually left alone, and whenever he dropped short, I was there cracking the pull shot (even though the angle does make a shot a bit risky). More importantly, I looked very comfortable facing Mose since he hardly beat the bat even though the surface within the indoor center we’re training in was straightforward to bat on. I also noticed this when bowling to Connor Craigie (since I hardly beat his edge), although I managed to extract a few false shots off my bowling through my late out-swing.

 

February 21, 2020

I am grateful that I was retained in C1s for our clash against Hope Valley when I was added to our team’s Facebook Messenger group despite being wicketless since resumption. I am hoping for another bowl to try to open my wicket tally for the second half of the season, given that our line-up is batting heavy. I would imagine Gavin Jones, Tom Welsby/Richard Hockney, Ed Thomas, Ben Lobban and, Harry Hockney occupy the top five batting slots. Then Lincoln Halton and Jacob Leak would follow at six and seven, respectively, followed by the remaining four who might form our primary attack: Max, Brabs, Brendon Francesca, and myself.

I am hoping to step up with the ball in hand again, given that we have neither Gary Branford nor Brad Coles this game, and my retention follows Maxy’s comments regarding my value to his side when they were made following our win against Fulham last month. When the teams were released on Facebook in the afternoon, Gary had been demoted to C2s while Brad was promoted to B1s. Indeed, my opportunity for the taking to be the guy that stands up as Luke told me last week.

Thankfully, I found some confidence with the ball at yesterday’s training when I ball to move appreciably both ways, which didn’t go amiss by Patty Sadlier, our D grade co-captain. I realized that I only got the ball to move when my bowling hand reaches my opposite hip. For me, it’s instant feedback and an immediate checkpoint whenever I’m unable to move the ball off the straight. 

And so, I worked on it in the nets for half-an-hour trying to ensure the bowling hand reaches the opposite hip. I experimented with two different bowling actions: the action I bowled at training this week as well as the action I had bowled with in the last match. Both actions are different through their pre-delivery jump. The first action has less exaggerated pre-delivery jump than the second, which actually allowed me to consistently finish with the bowling hand on the opposite hip, thereby also giving me more control and more momentum through the crease. Coincidentally it’s a similar action to what helped me get wickets in the first half of the season before I greedily chased for pace to no avail. Given that no hard I try to bowl fast, keepers will always want to stand up to the stumps like they would for medium pacers or spinners.

 

February 22, 2020

It’s game time, and I’m thinking of what Maxy should do when we win the toss. Given our heavy batting line-up, the easiest decision would be to bat first. Given that when we have a total on the board, we can defend it as we did against Athelstone and Golden Grove, last game. When we don’t post a total on the board as we did against Golden Grove (in Rd 2), Fulham (in Rd 3), and Goodwood, we obviously lose the match. 

In contrast, we are yet to lose bowling first where we have bowled Brighton out for 92 and Fulham for 110 on either side of the Christmas/New Year break and could have beaten Marion after bowling them out for 146 if the rain had not intervened. There might be some argument for bowling first, given our past performances. 

The critical factor though is the pitch. According to my work colleague Brendan Sims who plays for Hope Valley (our next opponents) in the higher grades, the pitch in the St Paul’s College is pretty slow with hardly any lateral movement on offer. Thereby, the easiest thing to do is to bat first and hope that our batting heavy line up bats out 72 overs and puts on another defendable total (hopefully 200+). 

When I rocked up to the ground, I learned that we were bowling, having lost the toss. The first ball of the match bowled by Maxy resulted in a leading-edge off Juneja’s bat but just short of Gavin Jones at mid-on. Next over bowled by Brabs resulted in boundaries off two long-hops: one four and one six. Thereafter, Maxy and Brabs kept it very tight which helped Maxy struck in the ninth over getting Juneja to play a delivery onto his stumps. We nearly had a wicket next over had Harry clung on to a low offering off Brabs’ bowling to dismiss Dani Llewellyn. Little did we know that prove costly throughout the day.

And so, we (specifically Maxy, Brabs, Brendon, and myself) continue to toil away for another breakthrough. I came to bowl at the start of the 16th over and proceeded to justify Maxy’s faith in me by producing another tidy spell. I bowled a seven-over spell for just nine runs and did not concede a single boundary. More importantly, I found appreciable away movement from the right-handers and was able to hit the splice. As a result, I induced two leading edges against Llewellyn, which fell short. One just in front of me which in hindsight I could have dived for having made a decent follow-through and the other over my head. Moreover, I induced an edge that just evaded Jacob Leak at gully. 

However, I wouldn’t be denied as I made the breakthrough at the start of my sixth over when Vandervlag clipped an attempted out-swinger straight to Brendan at a backward square leg. I finally broke through not just for the beginning of a new calendar year but also for the new decade as well. My first spell was down to Brabs’ who told me that I had to hit a fuller length. The captain, Murray strode out at the fall of that wicket wearing a sunhat. As per the new rules, all batsmen, close-in fielders and, wicketkeepers standing close to the stumps HAVE to wear a helmet. On the same token, the fielding team has the right to refuse if an opposition batsman doesn’t abide by these rules. So when Murray came out, we immediately told him to come out with a helmet. Well, his excuse for the first sunhat use was that he thought I was a spinner. I found that disrespectful. 

But he eventually came out with a helmet after much grumbling. After that, he became problematic for us since he looks like picking a fight. He asked Brendan whether he was ready to bowl even though he clearly was ready. Then as Brendan was about to bowl, Murray pulled away. He also got personal with Ed Thomas that fired up a few blokes, including Ed himself.

We kept him quiet for a while until he pulled one ball from Brabs for four before tea to leave them 2 for 66 after 36 overs. The offerings at tea comparatively weren’t up to the standards provided by Golden Grove and Fulham, according to the boys since they were mostly cupcakes, lamingtons and, brownies. Sweet tasty snacks but probably not appropriate for cricket. 

Upon resumption, I couldn’t quite get down low quickly enough to a chance offered by Murray before he smashed two boundaries off Brabs’ bowling. He appeared to get away much to our annoyance, but soon enough, Brabs got one to swing late past Murray’s bat and into the stumps. That started off a run of wickets for the former as he had Bradley Llewellyn caught behind by Harry and then had Weinhengst caught in close by Tom Welsby. 

We appeared to be on top at about 5 for 80 odd. Dani and Manraj Singh had a couple of mix-ups between the wickets, which I had on both occasions opportunities to run Manraj out at the non-striker’s end but failed. I failed because having seen the chance, I tried to throw the ball quickly, but instead, I sprayed it away from the stumps. 

They really made us (especially me) pay with an 80 odd stand for the sixth wicket. Manraj chanced his arm with some agricultural shots through the leg-side. I came on to bowl just before the next drinks and proceeded to bowl just another five overs. During this time, I induced leading edges off Manraj’s bat when he tried to hoick towards cow corner. However each time, they fell way short and wide of Maxy at mid-off.

Moreover, I beat Dani’s bat with an out-swinger,-swinger and he overbalanced to provide an opportunity for Harry to knock the bails off for a potential stumping that never materialized. Hence I finished with 12 overs, 1 for 29. Not a bad return to tidy bowling form.

Brendon eventually broke through the partnership with a pinpoint yorker that accounted for Manraj. But Dani and Christian Wishart ensured that Hope Valley batted out their 72 overs, which was the first time this season we fielded a whole day. They finished with 6/199 with Dani just six short of a hundred. As it transpired, he rode his luck, including an LBW shout that wasn’t rewarded after it hit him flush on the toe when he was on 15.

 

February 25, 2020

While it was disappointing to have to spend a whole day in the field and gave Hope Valley a defendable score, confidence was high as we thought that an exact target of 200 was achievable given our long batting line-up. All we need is several partnerships with at least one of our top-order going big. If we could conserve our wickets and be about 2 an over at tea, we will be on track. What we will need to do is to repeat the positivity that helped turn a potentially tricky chase against Fulham into a comprehensive position that allowed Maxy to gamble for an outright win. 

My focus today will be to get some batting before the light starts to fade. But instead, I batted right towards the end, and it wasn’t too bad. Leading up to today, I was going through the Batting Basics program I purchased from Cricket Mentoring which helped shape my grip and bat pick up in terms of where I should be bringing the bat down from (i.e. from first slip). As a result, I was able to hit around the ground, on both front and back foot. My best shots were the slog sweep off Josh Greber’s spin and the straight drive off Andrew Heitmann, not to mention getting a couple of pull shots away off Ed Thomas. More importantly, I was instinctively defending balls that required respect and punished the loose ones. I was again looking fluent, which didn’t go unnoticed by the likes of Ed and Jack Dent. 

 

February 27, 2020

Today’s training was different from Tuesday’s session. Most of the people who were present, myself included were distracted with the Twenty20 match close to our training quarters involving the Prince Alfred College students. It was just incredible to see one of the students go and ramp a quick bowler for four. Just imagine that they could be serious players when they’re older. Either for PAOC or within district cricket say for Kensington (the nearest club to PAC). 

Batting was more challenging today. I was facing a variety of Raj Gopal’s hand grenades a.k.a his slower balls to Brad Coles’ jarring length from his tall frame. It wasn’t pretty at times, but at least my stumps weren’t rattled. Towards the end of my batting session, I launched Colesy’s slower ball back over his head towards the sightscreen as payback for jarring my splice from time to time.

Throughout the week, I was bowling with the pink ball most of the time and finally got it to swing to my tunes. I indeed troubled several batsmen, including Josh Greber, Tom Taylor, Rory Husler and, Jacob Leak. Having hated bowling with the pink ball previously, I slowly began to love bowling with it.

As the running between the wickets drill, after my batting session took the wind out of my sails, I opted to bowl wrist spin to Brabs. When I landed them, I got a few to turn. My first ball hit the splice to probably where Point would have been, and then on my final delivery of the night, I bowled a slower, loopy leg break that Brabs tried to swing across the line and hit the top of off stump.

February 29, 2020

Our chase almost started disastrously when Gavin Jones edged Sam Llewellyn on the first ball of the match but it fell short of the wicket-keeper. Not long after that, Richard Hockney suffered one of those moments where everyone thinks it’s funny but it’s not if you’re the batsman getting hit. He got hit in the groin and there was a mark to show it on his pants.

But they both got over the initial setbacks to post a 35 run stand before Gavin shoveled a pull shot straight to mid-wicket for 20.  Richard kept going though with Ed Thomas for company. While it was slow going with Ed unable at times to beat the infield, they added 37 runs before Ed was tun out for 8 having been called through for a single by Richard.

That brought Harry Hockney to the crease to join his dad. Thankfully they got through to tea and were enjoying a solid partnership that saw Richard past his fifty. The third batsman to do so this season in C1s after myself and Charlie. They added 30 before Harry edged Vandervlag to the keeper. At 3 for 102, we should be at least set to hopefully complete the chase.

But we soon lost our way, Richard got out having run out of puff. Held out for 65. His wicket and that of Ben Lobban’s on either side of drinks stalled our momentum as the asking rate crept up to about a run-a-ball. That prompted Maxy to promote himself up the order when Brandon Francesca held out trying to catch up with the asking rate. When Jacob Leak fell trying to do the same, we needed about 50 in about 9 overs or so.

However, Lincoln Halton who previously showed his ability to smash the ball at the start of the season brought out that similar class in a critical partnership with Maxy that brought us right back into contention. At one point we needed just 17 from the last three overs. Lincoln then got out and I was in. I should in hindsight been out the first ball for a golden duck. Not so much for the LBW shout having missed the ball, but having batted out of my crease to hopefully reduce the likelihood of LBW, I was thrown out by the man fielding at Point having failed to return back to the crease. The only problem was Gavin was not looking and so didn’t get me out.

I understand that there were pissed off but honestly, there were like this throughout the day. It was of no surprise that they probably didn’t shake our hands or at least pop into our dressing rooms for a chat after the match, having later won it by 12 runs. Having got off the mark on the second delivery, I edged behind off Rio to the keeper trying to hit out. Brabs having not faced a ball in C1s so far this season got off the mark. After that, it was all over when Maxy was caught at cover.

We were all gutted knowing given how tight the ladder was in C1s. We needed to win this game to get some more breathing space from Hope Valley and Fulham. Instead, we plummeted from third to fifth. Eleven points behind Fulham and just under five points shy of Hope Valley who just beat us to move to fourth. There’s never a good time to lose a match especially with finals on the line. It really does hurt particularly having our four-match unbeaten broken as well.

Our only hope now is to for us to beat Gepps Cross and pray that Hope Valley loses to Athelstone. Maxy did say during the season that his motivation for taking up the C1 captaincy was to play finals. If we do enough (to hopefully sneak in via the finest of margins), then that dream of Maxy’s could well be materialized.

Golden Grove vs. Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Harpers Field, February 8 & 15 2020

January 21, 2020

With all five PAOC sides engaged in the Twenty20 knockouts, there was no club training. I initially thought that it might present an excellent opportunity to go and bowl at the West Torrens boys. However, I decided against it as I was hoping to regain my confidence and rhythm having gone wicketless with the ball for the first time in over 12 months, having failed to find a consistent line and length to trouble Fulham. Instead, I settled for a solo net session, trying to rediscover the lost rhythm as well as regaining my ability to swing the ball.

Even though I was battling my usual muscle soreness post weight training (for the record I was sore in my posterior deltoids/back shoulders, chest, glutes and hamstrings), I was still able to run in from my normal run-up and bowl the equivalent of nine overs trying to hit a fuller length and swinging the ball. In the process, I rediscovered the whippy nature of both my arms that allowed me to swing the ball without telegraphing the intent. Pretty much the same biomechanical breakdown of my bowling action that allowed me to take three wickets in a six-over spell against Golden Grove back in Round 2 of the C1 grade. My accuracy, movement, and confidence pretty much regained.

January 22, 2020

Earlier in the week, Maxy Clarke assured me that my place in C1s is secure, and that family comes first. His attitude to cricket is reminiscent of Chris Arcella from Ginninderra, which I’m very grateful for. I wished both Archie and Maxy have met each other as they would definitely have some common ground.

It was very selfless of Maxy for him to encourage me to go and play LO5s citing that I would benefit playing a full match where I (hopefully) bat higher up in the order and (more importantly) bowl rather than playing as a second-week substitute ahead of our crucial fixture against the top of the table Marion. Me personally, I’m okay with it because that’s what I wanted as well.  He said that he’ll have a chat with the LO5s skipper Raj Gopal about it.

Today was going to be another batting session run by Trent. Given that I’ll be away on the upcoming long weekend as well as the slight chance of rain tomorrow, I figured that I’d be better off working on my batting with Trent. I knew that I had an instinctive habit of playing the leg-glance for every delivery down the leg-side, which I don’t always make contact. I’m hoping though to instead practicing hitting straight through the leg-side, which I used to do with Nick in the off-season, but I’m yet to replicate the efforts in practice at least. It turned out to be a productive session as not only was I able to hit through the leg-side with a straight vertical bat, I was able to drive straight down the wicket as well through the off-side. It was good that the balls I was facing were of a variable line, which prevented me from premeditating the on-drive. Now, this excellent work needs to be brought into practice and then into matches.

In between the session with Trent, I managed to bowl another 54 deliveries with the emphasis of the whippy arms to generate the swing. I was happy with how they were coming out against the likes of Patty Sadlier, Steve Ottanelli, and Ed Thomas since the swing allowed me to either beat the bat or induce the edge. Moreover, I also tried my slower balls, namely both the back of the hand and the knuckleball with reasonable success. I only started to thoughtfully incorporate these skills, given that I’ll be playing a one day match. Honestly, I was more active before having a bat as opposed to after since I was cramping again in the left leg as it was indeed a bit humid inside the Red Centre. Overall, the two days have been significant progress, which left me upbeat. I hope to use the long weekend off to at least recover from the ongoing muscle soreness.

January 28, 2020

Today at training, our enthusiastic club chairman, Richard Hockney, observed that I was hinging the bat very high (with the toe at less than 90 degrees) and that I was not moving the front foot all that well. That observation was made after I struggled against the likes of Steve Ottanelli and Josh Greber as I missed a short ball, a yorker, and edged two good length deliveries. Having thought about it for a minute, he was spot on, and what he told me was the same issue Luke had observed back in December. My justification for the early hinge was to be prepared for any delivery (including the short ball), but the fact the toe of the bat not perpendicular from the ground was the reason the bat gets stuck when I try to bring it down.

All of these problems are from the fact that I’m hinging the bat far too early, another problem picked up by Luke (at the time of our catch up). I recall from my past indoor sessions that when I hinge the bat as Keegan or Trent feed the ball into the bowling machine, Not only I time the ball better, I also exhibit better footwork. Precisely the same advice Luke gave me when he suggested starting the hinge phase as the bowler is about to commence their ‘load’ phase before delivering the ball. Thereby, I need to imagine each bowler as a feeder to a bowling machine so that I can hinge my bat with the toe perpendicular to the ground. Obviously, this will be a massive habitual change but a necessary one if I was to fulfil my batting potential. Moving forward, I see no harm in getting a second pair of eyes to monitor my hinge regardless of whether it’s Trent, Richard, or someone else. Having seen me with batting potential, Richard’s keen to help. That’s a start.

Batting issues aside, my bowling continues to progress from the moment the very first ball I bowled resulted in an edge off Richard’s bat to where a second slip would have been. After that, I continued to beat the bat and clip edges with my outswing against the likes of Richard, Ed, Lincoln Halton, and Tom Welsby. Nothing else needs to be said except that with the regained pace, swing, and accuracy, hot only I hope to be back to my bowling best. I also hope that I can prosper without a keeper standing up to the stumps.

February 1, 2020

No cricket today because of the heavy overnight rain and with showers scheduled throughout the day. For once, I was happy with this outcome because yesterday, I hobbled around at work as my left Achilles was giving me grief. If the rains had cleared, I would have to forfeit my place to Venkat Lingampally in the LO5s clash against Gepps Cross. Thankfully, the injury improved, but the rains washed away any hopes of play, which meant shared points for all grades. I am grateful that now I have a week to recover ahead of a crucial 6 weeks for C1s.

The washout meant that in C1s, we managed to get shared points against the top of the table, Marion. They did pretty well though having bowled out Marion for 146 and needed just 100 runs to win with our in form batsman Lincoln Halton at the crease and with centurion Charlie Keeves to come. Maxy wasn’t pissed off with the washout that deprived them of a chance of victory. He’s even more pissed off that Fulham, whom we defeated last game, orchestrated a victory against Goodwood on 1st innings last weekend. That meant that our finals qualification continues to hang by a thread. As we exchanged messages yesterday, Maxy reckons we need to win at least two of our final three two-day clashes. Golden Grove awaits, and going by our earlier encounter against them, that will be a challenge to get points. Seemingly, our best chances are against Hope Valley and Gepps Cross, even though both clubs had underwhelming seasons themselves.

February 4, 2020

On the assumption that there was no training today as two of our Twenty20 sides progressed to the next stage of finals, I organized a training session with a friend of mine, Jeet Patel, to focus on grooving my hinge so that it starts as the bowler loads. Little I realize that PAOC was arranging club training, but having already arranged this session of my own, I decided to keep going with it.

Given that Jeet and his two other mates were to rock up at 6.30pm, I had a terrific opportunity to warm up and do some bowling of my own. I was trying to reduce my over-striding of my run-up, which would improve my rhythm and accuracy. It worked out pretty well before I fooled around by bowling leg-spin as I had naturally been developing the back of the hand slower ball. I was getting overspin, sidespin, topspin, and even managed to bowl a front of the hand slider.

Only when Jeet and his ex-Hectorville club mates, Reece and Paurush rocked up, I eventually returned to pace. I reckon I had been able to give both Jeet and Paurush the hurry-up with my pace and outswing, which resulted in a couple of ‘death rattles’ and edges. But they provided a similar contest as they were able to punish the loose deliveries when they arrived. Bowling continues to be progressing in the right direction. Now I have to see how I go on turf on Thursday.

For now, it was now a case of how I would go with the bat. As I mentioned earlier, the purpose was to groove the hinge. I was facing spin in the form of Reece and Jeet while Paurush was giving me throwdowns with the ‘dog thrower,’ which was as good as facing Josh Greber, Yogesh Thakur, or Steve Ottanelli. Over time, because I made a conscious effort not to hinge the bat too early, I hit some powerful shots and hardly missed the ball. I managed to hit the ball far against the spin while managing to hit some scoring shots against the ‘dog thrower’ in the form of defense, cuts, pulls, and drives. I felt that with a better hinge, I was able to move to the ball a lot better. But what probably worried me a little was my grip/stance as I was unable to consistently stick to a particular method. Moreover, my biggest enemy is overconfidence and indiscipline. Instead, I need self-control if I need to bat long periods.

Nevertheless, tonight was a great confidence booster. I hope to continue the excellent work on Thursday. The good thing is that Richard Hockney is available and eager to help.

February 6, 2020

Richard was indeed around to supervise my batting, and while I have made an effort to delay my hinge, I’m still hinging too much, which continues to be problematic. I edged a Dan Mosey in-swinger onto my stumps as well as nick off three consecutive deliveries off Antony Brabham. Otherwise, I manage to keep out Maxy and Yogi while playing the odd glance or drive. After my batting session, Richard suggested that I loosen the bottom hand so that at least the thumb and forefinger were still gripping the bat. If I need to tighten the bottom hand a fraction, I have the index finger as extra support. Moreover, Richard showed me how I should be using the wrists to swing the bat and thereby control my footwork better.

What these sessions with Richard to date have shown to expose my thought processes, especially against the short ball, which gave me these problems. I have simply forgotten about the good length delivery that is likely to get me out. I’ve started to practice what I was shown, and it felt good so far.

Speaking of the short ball, Harry Hockney bowled one which Cameron Pritchard, our B grade captain, top-edged onto the area below his right eye. Ouch, the same injury that ended Craig Kieswetter’s career. It looked nasty, but let’s hope for the best.

For bowling, while I hardly bowled a short ball, there were times I didn’t challenge the batters enough since I landed the ball at a fourth-fifth stump line for my stock out-swinger. However, I still remained a threat when I bowled tighter at the stumps and swung it both ways. My only victim for the day was club veteran Andy Olsson who edged my perfectly executed out-swinger on the first ball he faced off me to where the keeper would have been. I can certainly put my inconsistency down to my muscle soreness from the gym this week. However, I need a better mechanism to control this ahead of a crucial period for the club and me. Saying that I have hopes of an improved effort on game day since by then, the soreness would have significantly reduced.

The good thing was that, regardless of how I went, Maxy told me that I will be playing in C1s at Golden Grove as part of a four bowler attack with him, Brabs, and a new guy Gary. It seems that Yogi may be promoted to Bs based on his impressive form with the ball in hand. It seems to me as promised, I will be getting a decent amount of overs. I hope we bowl first on the weekend, but even then, I’m hopeful of a quick batting turn around as long as I get some throwdowns before my stint at the crease.

February 8, 2020

In the lead-up into today’s first day, without giving it much thought, I wanted Maxy to bowl first if we win the toss based on our last three matches where we were competitive after bowling sides out for less than 150 in the first innings. In hindsight, I didn’t take into account the fact that Charlie Keeves was only available today before he flies out to New Zealand for university.

When Maxy did win the toss, he did decide to bat. His assessment of the pitch was that it wasn’t a bowling wicket that prompted his decision. The new opening pairing of Gavin Jones and Tom Welsby, who both incidentally were returning to two-day cricket after recovering from finger injuries, helped justify Max’s decision. They batted out the first hour with Gavin showing the balance between attack and defense while Tom wasn’t fluent, but he fought it out. Their partnership eclipsed the score we made last time on this ground, 58. Then Gavin was bowled, trying to drive on the score on 61. His contribution was 43.

By then, I was out in the middle, umpiring each over at square leg. Now, umpiring is not really my cup of tea. If I have to help out while we’re batting, my strong preference is to score. I ended up umpiring only because Maxy asked me too. I wished he didn’t. There was a strong appeal for a run-out opportunity against Charlie Keeves, which I didn’t give out even though the fielding side was very adamant that he was OUT. My reasoning was since it all happened so fast, and I wasn’t too sure if Charlie was in. But Golden Grove were spewing and they let me have it. They started to accuse me of not doing my job correctly. At that point, I really wanted to say the same thing as Steve Waugh said to Curtly Ambrose in Trinidad in 1995. I wanted to go and tell them to get on with it with unsavoury language. However, I didn’t because I didn’t want to get into trouble with the ATCA and two; it would be better to get on with the game. Nevertheless, I was hurt by their attitude, and I was grateful that it was all over for me at tea.

During my stint, Tom was caught at mid-on, trying to heave one onto the leg-side and Charlie after my reprieve, smashed a six, which prompted a lengthy search for it, albeit in a lost cause. As it was taking a long time for no result, the Golden Grove captain took out another ball. During this search, Charlie casually told me that he thought he was short of his ground for that run-out appeal. In hindsight, I got it badly wrong, but at the moment, I wasn’t sure, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

At tea time, I was trying to deliberately ignore the opposition, but one thing is clear. Under no circumstance I will not go out to umpire. Resuming at 2/91 at tea, Charlie was beautifully caught at point for 17. His reprieve was only worth 13 runs. In the context of the match, it didn’t matter much. Thereby, it was very piss poor for me to be unnecessarily provoked for what seemed to be a mistake.

Eleven overs later, Lincoln got cramped up trying to pull and skied a catch that was taken by the wicketkeeper. Then we lost three wickets in about ten overs. Harry Hockney was bowled behind his legs by Jomartz for 25; Jacob Leak was adjudged LBW against the captain’s 15-year-old son. Then Connor Cragie also fell the same way. When I walked past him on the way to the wicket to go and bat at number 9, Connor was pissed. He said along the lines of “If you get hit on the pads, you’ll be given out.”

I didn’t give much thought to what he said as my heart was racing. At that moment, I felt I was enemy number one. However, I managed to get forward and play out the last four deliveries out. That helped. The 15 year old was replaced by the leggie. He bowled me a short wide delivery, and while I didn’t get it in the middle, I was able to hit it in the gap and get off the mark. Next over against Jomartz, I hit a quick single before Gary Branford swung a four-over to the leg-side boundary. A game plan was then formed, I would look to get a single to get Gary on strike to attack the bowling. It worked as we added 30 for the eighth wicket before Gary was bowled trying to hit over cow-corner, having made 20. Maxy came in with four a bit overs remaining. Knowing that he is also an attacking bat, I was going to stick with the same strategy. That worked as well since we added 27 unbeaten runs. However, I was utterly spent since Maxy wasn’t able to hit balls for boundaries. Instead, we ran so hard as we had to take advantage of the diminishing energy levels of the fielders. It was indeed some effort to survive to the last over, the 72nd. We finished with 8/188, which enabled us to bat out our overs for the first time this season. Incidentally, it was also our joint highest first innings total having made the same score, albeit all out in 67.1 overs against Athelstone.

The reason for my exhaustive state couldn’t probably come down to my heavy legs from cycling on the spin bike. Anyways, Maxy felt that it was good to run hard with somebody who hasn’t had a decent run out in the middle. He was also right with the fact that if we had to bat a bit longer, I would have been completely gone. Nevertheless, it was a great effort to be unbeaten on 12 and share two good partnerships in the lower order. All the discussions I had with Richard were paying off. More importantly, I at least finished the day on a positive note.

February 9, 2020

After thinking further about what happened yesterday, I wanted to file a report against Golden Grove. I was thinking of doing it straight to ATCA but thankfully instead decided to do it through the right channel, the club.

As it turned out, I learned from Matt Kildea, our ATCA representative, that Golden Grove has a history of displaying such, behavior and he will report this incident on my behalf. I have also told Maxy never to ask me to do square leg umpiring, which he had no problem with. Now, the best revenge, as Matt mentioned, was to beat these sore losers.

The truth is the sensitive man in me has to strike back. I should just run in and give 100% effort to my bowling hoping that the ball comes out quicker and if I get them out, I’ll just bring out the pent-up celebrations but short of the kind that Merv Hughes used to do in his day which involves celebrating right in the faces of the dismissed batsmen. To be honest, I felt like doing that but considering that these celebrations are now frowned upon and could lead to punishment. I can’t really afford to get out of line at all, especially with finals at stake.

February 11, 2020

Last night, former Australian fast bowler and assistant coach Craig McDermott was inducted in the Hall of Fame at the Australian Cricket Awards. In an article that announced this award before the event, it transpired that back in 1985-86 following the innings defeat to New Zealand in the 1st test at the Gabba in Brisbane, that McDermott received some advice from former fast bowler Ray Lindwall. The advice that Lindwall told McDermott to put his fingers on the paint as opposed to close together on the seam. For McDermott, it changed the way he swung the ball since it moved more consistently and later afterward. It is no wonder, it’s the same advice he was preaching himself in a swing bowling masterclass video for Cricket Australia about six summers ago.

For a swing bowler myself, I don’t see any harm why I can’t apply similar advice, having tried my very best to move the ball both ways. Hence, I decided to try this grip out at practice this week. Today at least, I was able to swing the ball and at least clean bowled Matt Kildea and Max Burford, but I was short of rhythm due to a left hip strain that reduced my momentum through the crease. That loss of momentum was noted by Tom Simpson, an A/B grade batsman who faced me when he noticed that I was dropping them short. However, he complimented me on my pace.

I only noticed the strain only in the afternoon when I found it uncomfortable to sit down and get up in the car. My initial thought was that I would pull through it during the session, but it hampered my ability to operate at full speed. I hope it recovers significantly ahead of Thursday’s session.

February 13, 2020

Today was personally much better session since the hip strain had subsided significantly for me to power through my action with the hips. I was generating late swing both ways more often on a fuller length. While I couldn’t get anyone out, I at least beat the bat more often than Tuesday. Moreover, I also had drawn a couple of edges that would have been held by point of which one of them was Lincoln Halton, whose impenetrable defense was the main reason behind our current three-match unbeaten streak. My run-up and action felt similar to a young Jason Gillespie. Comparisons aside, I was back to my best, which I hope to replicate the success come Saturday.

Bowling aside, my complaint about GG come to light in the latest club committee. I happened to know about this through Andrew Bennett, our regular nets manager, who asked me, “Is Golden Grove giving you trouble.” I explained what had happened on Saturday and he said it was all good. Nothing else said. We just have to go and bowl them out, which would be the perfect response.

February 16, 2020

We indeed achieve the win, but it was indeed hard work along the way. Gary started the proceedings by bouncing out Pinder, which resulted in an easy catch for Gavin Jones at first slip. After that, Golden Grove had two solid partnerships to be at 3 for 86 at tea. Hopper and GM Lynch added 40 for the second wicket before Hopper was bowled by an inside edge off an attempted drive of Brad Coles. Then GM Lynch and van Rooyen added 44 before GM Lynch edged behind to Harry off Maxy’s bowling at the stroke of tea.

I had my bowling opportunity in the half-an-hour before tea and couldn’t get the ball to shape away from the batters. Instead, the ball was consistently swinging in which made it easier for them to try and hit across the line. I was ineffective for four overs that cost 18 runs, but I wished a chance went to Brad Coles’ hand in my first over. That spell spoilt my mood, and it improved when I was taken out of the attack.

Gary started the post-tea process by getting van Rooyen to edge behind to Harry, but Jomartz and the GG captain Henderson steadied the ship with a 31 run partnership. Having been denied a few LBW close shouts till now, Brabs finally got a shout to go his way against an absolutely disappointed Henderson who claims he hit the ball. I must add that it wasn’t the first time this match that he showed his displeasure. Nevertheless, the crucial break was obtained on the stroke of drinks, and we simply ran through the tail.

Instead, Brabs and Brad did. Brabs had Jomartz caught by Tom at mid-on before hitting the stumps on the next ball to beat Stamato’s defense. Brabs was all of a sudden on a hat-trick. GA Lynch survived the critical delivery but was bowled in the next over by Brad. Brabs took his fourth wicket through an excellent low catch by Connor at short mid-wicket, and then Brad finished the job by bowling Ward. GG all out for 142, a first innings win by 46 runs.

That was our third win in four unbeaten matches, and we were in good health for finals with two rounds remaining. For me, though, the start of this calendar year has been terrible. Very few overs and no wickets, which certainly tested my confidence and resolve. I really want to bowl again this year, especially in the finals, but I really need overs under my belt to do a required job. Luke told me to keep going and not to lose hope. If there’s any consolation, I think my lower-order partnerships with Gary and Maxy were probably the difference, which I hope to believe that I again won a match with the bat.

Fulham vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Collins Reserve (Oval #2), January 11 & 18 2020

January 7, 2020

Given that PAOC were involved in the Twenty20s, I had thought about attending training with West Torrens to bowl to their players again on a helpful turf wicket. But it never materialized as I had to ease myself back into bowling having caught a cold during the Christmas/New year break. So I instead settled with a solo net session bowling about 6 overs of zippy pace despite carrying all body soreness from a weights session last night. I was trying to bowl with a newish ball, having slightly sprayed the ball around the place against Brighton when trying the in-swinger. Quite frankly, it is a lot easier to naturally swing the ball away from the right-handers, but it was worth the practice trying to move the ball back in.   

January 9, 2020

The news had come in yesterday that all of our five Twenty20 sides have proceeded to the finals. So it seems that all the Twenty20 focused training seemed to have paid off. If it works out to some trophies, even better. Let’s see. For now, that was indeed a great effort, but now it was back to two-day cricket today at training. Given it’s the school holidays until late January to early February, we are in the Back Oval until then.

It was hot, which made me skeptical, given that the weekend conditions are going to be much cooler than today. Having worked on my run-up extensively and given my history of cramp, I wondered how I would get along and whether I should be even going at full effort.

As a matter of fact, I got along pretty well in spite of the heat. I just ran in, jumped, and whipped my arms through. My out-swinger was indeed in perfect order that allowed me to beat Patty Sadlier’s bat and hit the top of off-stump as well as clipping Eddie Thomas’ edge to the keeper. While I couldn’t quite get the ball to move the other way since the ball is still reasonably new, I managed to develop another out-swinger from the snap of the wrist, which generates more bounce and movement. That ball later was a handful since the batters I was bowling to, couldn’t entirely lay bat on it at all.  I think I have found my own trusted variation that I can employ until the ball is scuffed up enough to bowl the in-swinger. Even if it doesn’t swing and hold it’s line, it should still be a lethal ball, especially if the batters are going to play for the non-existent swing and get themselves out.

Towards the end of the session, Andrew Bennett, our nets supervisor, threw me over to the far net against the A and B grade bowlers. I was facing James Risby, who bowled at half pace. Jack Dent, who bowled bouncy out-swingers and Will Van Diesel, continued to run in at full tilt. Even though they couldn’t get me out since I was protecting my stumps and leaving the wide ones alone, neither bowled me a bad ball. The only bowler that did so was Sam Vivian, who gave me opportunities to come down the wicket or wait for the half trackers for me to work them on their way behind square on the leg-side. Anyways, I seemed to have done enough to earn appreciation from Denty and VD.

As I learned today at the end of training, I was retained in C1s as part of a four-man pace attack featuring Maxy Clarke, Antony Brabham, and Yogesh Thakur, which got Maxy excited. Maxy was pumping my tires a bit, calling me the best “into the wind bowler” with the best economy rate in the club. I am hoping though to break through with the ball this season with a four-wicket bag at least, but I suppose I wouldn’t mind settling for a tidy spell as long as it leads to wickets against the more pacy wiles of Maxy and Yogi. Hopefully, we can reduce Fulham to no more than 150 this match, but anyways, the top-order needs to finally fire to give ourselves any chance.

January 11, 2020

Yesterday it rained from morning until lunchtime before it cleared off for the rest of the day. In spite of the rain, I was hopeful that we will still have a two-day match like in Round 2 against Golden Grove when it rained the previous day, but we still had a full game. Thankfully, when I arrived at Collins Reserve at 12.20pm, the pitch looked a terrific wicket and, more importantly, not damp. At the back of my mind, even though we had our best bowling attack in C1s to date, we were underdogs against Fulham, who not only are ahead of us in the ladder but had also comprehensively defeated us back in Round 3.

Fulham had won the toss and chose to bat, and the openers Ninnes and Ritchie proceeded to bat out the first hour and accumulate 31 runs as neither Yogi, Brabs, Maxy nor myself could not get a breakthrough. I had come on after Brabs bowled a testing spell against Ritchie, the left-handed opener, and started with a maiden. Typical of someone who had proved to be a run miser so far. But my next four overs ensured that I bowled my most expensive spell ever in C1s this season. My second over was mostly short and wide, and then Ritchie sliced a lofted drive but safe from the fielders.

After drinks, Maxy broke through by knocking Ninnes’ off-stump out of the ground, and we couldn’t get a breakthrough for a short while after that. I overpitched against Kerin, their no. 3 and another left-hander, but I had him missed twice by Josh Bean, who dropped an edge and missed a stumping down the leg side. So I finished with five wicketless overs for 16 runs. As I said, to date, my most expensive spell in C1s.

After that, we managed to dominate as we went into tea with our tails up. Ritchie tried to hoick Yogi over cow-corner but lost his off-stump. In came Paterson, their captain who made runs when we last faced Fulham back in Round 3. Yogi took care of him too with an off-stump yorker. At the other end, Tom Phillips, our finger spinner, induced an edge from Long, which deflected off Josh Bean’s thigh to Will Farminer at first slip before just at the stroke of tea, Yogi bowled Kerin with an ‘accidental’ slower ball courtesy of a misstep in his run-up. Fulham called for tea at that moment, 5/83.

After tea, it was a stalemate. We kept it tight, but Fulham was resolute. It had been almost eight overs without a breakthrough when Maxy motioned for me to warm up. I suppose that would have motivated Brabs to bowl a slower ball for Kenelly to slap it straight into Jacob Leak’s hands, which thereby dashing my hopes of a second spell. Anyways, this set the stage for Maxy to clean up the tail, which he did magnificently thus calling him ‘The Mop’ precisely the same moniker that Nathan Lyon called Mitchell Starc for precisely the same ability. Yeatman, Doraisamy-Caffasso, and Dignan (who claimed that he wasn’t ready) were all bowled with Davoli edging into Brabs’ hands at gully. From 5/95 to 110 all out. A lot better than the 150 I was hoping and even better than the 115 that Maxy wanted for at the most.

In what was a must-win game, we started well with the ball, now we just had to survive 17 overs with minimal damage. Suffice to say that we failed this task. Eddie Thomas missed a ball that hit the top of off-stump before Leaky edged his first ball to the keeper. Both wickets fell to Scambiterra on the last ball of his second over and the first ball of his third, respectively. Thereby Josh Bean was walking in to face the hat-trick ball. But he diffused that brilliantly with a deflection through vacant square leg for two. He initially looked busy, stable, and secure at the crease, but he then tried an expansive drive off Paterson and was caught at cover. 3/22 became 4/34 when Pat Singleton fell to Davoli as he tried to prioritize survival over run making.

Lincoln Halton came in to join Tom Phillips, who was looking good at the crease and ensured that we got through without further loss. I was aware that Tommy (who finished with 24) was going to be away next week, so it was interesting to know what happens next week. As I then learned, his replacement Charlie Keeves (who sadly busted a finger keeping up to me last game but should be fine nevertheless) will have to go out and bat immediately upon resumption. I was padded up to go in next if we had lost another wicket ahead of Will Farminer, who battled a runny tummy courtesy of an unfamiliar spicy curry from the Golden Boy Thai restaurant.  But I wasn’t required. I don’t know if I will still be the next man in or Will is next week, but I hope Will’s stomach gets cured in a good time.

As far as I know, I need to be batting at training next week, making sure that I was in a reasonable frame of mind. There is still an opportunity for me to be the leading run-scorer in our C1s side due to the ongoing poor performances of our top-order, which no doubt has become one source of frustration for Maxy. For that, I need a score of 11 or more to overtake Ed (but I obviously want more).

January 14, 2020

Today was critical in terms of getting some net practice ahead of the weekend. Quite critically, even though I survived the session without nicking off or having my stumps rattled for the second consecutive session, I was far from satisfied with how I batted today. This was because I couldn’t quite generate the fluency with the hands consistently enough, which was the cause of my fortunes against short-pitched bowling. Even though I pulled Connor Craigie away behind square, I was pinged right on the badge of the helmet by Yogi when trying to pull. Conscious of what just happened, I only managed to duck underneath another short ball from Connor. I was rattled, which left me with a slight headache. Yogi to his credit checked if I was okay and tried to cheer me up that he too got hit on the helmet. Clearly, there’s something wrong with my hands, but I’m hopeful of rectifying the fault come Thursday’s session, which will be crucial if I was to be confident ahead of Saturday.

January 16, 2020

Yesterday I managed to read through Seeing the Sunrise by Justin Langer, former Australian opener now coach. What I understood from reading the book is not to be distracted by the past (e.g., the blow to the helmet) or by the future (e.g., needing 11 runs to be C1s leading run-scorer or the 71 runs required for victory). Instead, your focus should be the present (the ball that is coming at you). More importantly, it is encouraging us not to be influenced by results (especially if going through a rough trot with the bat). Instead, our focus should be on the processes so that the good times will come sooner often than not. Even though I didn’t make much on my last innings, I at least withstood 10 overs of tight bowling under overcast conditions. Similarly, I should also take heart that I didn’t nick off or getting bowled or trapped LBW in my last two net sessions. Anyways, I should continue to play shots and leave balls, hoping that I hit balls away from fielders without even getting caught.

Which was pretty much I was able to do except I had to play at every delivery bowled to me today. I felt confident as I was able to get forward and back and play some attacking strokes while still defending my stumps. I did struggle against a tall bowler whose last name is Coles because I went back to every ball he bowled as I found it hard to get forward to him since he generated good bounce through his frame. Otherwise, I felt my attacking game was in order, which will at least allow me to attack when given a chance on Saturday. The word from Maxy is that we will just go and bat until we lose the last wicket as he is in no mood to chase outright if we go past Fulham’s 110. As Brabs mentioned twice this week, we just need two 30 run partnerships to get us home. I am in the best frame of mind for Saturday, given my latest practice hit as well as the freedom to bat all day from the captain. As long as I don’t get caught on the crease and be decisive in my shot making and movements, I think I’ll be in control regardless of the runs I score. It is also vital that I close my ears as Fulham will likely try to distract me if we need to complete the chase.

January 18, 2020

Despite all that mental and technical preparation, I was never required to bat as we enjoyed a rare dominating day with the bat. Fulham started with Paterson and Scambiterra, who were their best bowlers from last week, but after ten overs or so, they slowly began to give up when we were on the brink of a victory, which we achieved without losing a wicket. Lincoln soon realized that he forgot his ‘box’ (groin protector) and simply ran off the field to retrieve it. We were like “What?”. At that point, he was on 23, which was a great effort. It wasn’t so surprising that he fell not long afterward for 29, having guided the score to 125.

At that point, Charlie Keeves ensured that he was the second batsman to make fifty this season after me, and he simply kept going in what later became an unbeaten stand of 81 with Will Farminer. Not only he raised the highest individual score in our C1 side (beating my 67* against Athelstone), he also overtook Ed Thomas as our leading run-scorer as well when he reached 85 at the tea break. We were 5/178 with the partnership at 53 and Will on 18, having lost the fitness to run between the wickets. He simply ate a banana and nothing else while we stacked into variety offered by Fulham during the break.

Given our dominant position, Maxy announced that once Charlie got his hundred, we were declaring. So, it pretty much went to script when we declared on 5/206 with Charlie unbeaten on 102 and Will on 29. I was denied an opportunity to get some runs against a dispirited opposition, as Maxy believed that there might be time for a win.

As it turned out, we failed hopelessly as Fulham erased the deficit with only five wickets down as the game was called off early once Yeatman completed his fifty having taken Yogi, Maxy, and Brabs for boundaries. Initially, though, the door to victory was slightly ajar when Yogi dismissed the openers Ritchie and Ninnes early. Ritchie LBW even though Yogi was bowling around the wicket and Ninnes with a slower ball that was hit straight back to Yogi. Paterson and Kerin held out for a while, but they had their poles knocked out by Maxy. For Kerin, it was the off-stump, and for Paterson, it was middle. After that, we ran out of time to force the win.

I still managed a chance to roll my arm over, but once again, my consistency deserted me despite getting appreciable movement. Having been taken out of the attack after four wicketless overs for 11, it became the first game in over 12 months that I went wicketless. As I was guzzling down a can of Lemon-Lime Sprite after the match, Maxy approached from behind and started to massage my shoulders. While he acknowledged that I had very little to do, he encouraged me not to be disheartened, telling me that not only was I still an essential member of the side, my time to shine will come. Moreover, an enforced break due to the Australia Day Long weekend will undoubtedly provide an opportunity to reset and recharge with potentially 6-7 weeks of home, and away cricket remaining.

Mid-season Review, December 22 2019

Halfway through the season, the decision to transfer from Adelaide University to Prince Alfred Old Collegians has so far turned out to be a masterstroke. Not only I’m getting consistent games of cricket, but (more importantly), I am also getting a decent bowl in every single one of them. Six matches, 72 runs, 11 wickets, and 3 catches are decent stats.

My batting report can only be summarised with just one beautiful day, which was a blur. Even though I made a solitary run recently, I batted for about 10 overs against good Brighton bowling on a helpful pitch and overcast conditions. They didn’t give much away, but I didn’t look uncomfortable and was dismissed by some smart captaincy to put in a short leg. Given our poor batting performances and the chopping and changing of our grade alone, my 72 runs is second to Ed Thomas’ 76, while my 67* against Athelstone not only is the only individual score past 50; it’s currently the highest score as well.

Bowling wise, it has been more reliable than spectacular as I continue chipping in with a wicket or two. As a matter of fact, it has been about 15 matches ago that I went wicketless, and before that, I took wickets in each of the six games I played. I would have loved for the half-chances that I’ve been creating to go to hand, but I’ve at least kept it tight, especially in C1s. In that grade alone, my combined figures are 45 overs, 19 overs, 70 runs, and 9 wickets. Average 7.78, Economy 1.56, and Strike Rate 30.0. Maxy has been pretty happy with the control I’m giving him, which is why I get to bowl a lot of overs, which leads to him getting the wickets. It’s no surprise that he’s our leading wicket-taker, which is 7 more than me in second place. I should continue what I’m doing, but it will be good if I work on swinging the new ball into the right-handers as well continue refining my run-up so that I can continue bowling heat like I did against Brighton.

I’ve been lucky fielding wise as I’ve been doing much fielding practice at training than I should have, but I’ve been able to take the three relatively easy chances that I was presented with. I can’t remember how many I’ve dropped so far, but I do remember getting one hand to a sliced drive off Dan Mosey that traveled quickly against Goodwood. It feels though that the ghosts of last year’s pre-season might have finally been extinguished.

So far, it has been an excellent season to date. I shouldn’t really be chasing results and instead just continue trusting my technique and routines as well as shifting my focus to facing or bowling more balls and keep being patient because once I do all of that, I’ll be able to cash in when everything is in my favor.

My overall figures would have been in contention for PAOC’s rookie of the year if there’s one, but there are other rookies that are also having great starts here as well. Lincoln Halton is one as he’s making some useful scores as well as being a gun in the field. Then there’s Yogesh Thakur, who already is taking bags of wickets. Yesterday, he took 6/17 in Limited Overs Division 1 to take him to 13 wickets in 3 games. Regardless, I think the club will be quite happy the future is in good hands so far.

 

Brighton vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Brighton Oval #2, December 14 & 21 2019

December 9, 2019

I had thought about the differences of my last two innings and why the results were very different from each other. Last innings, I was very nervous which I never got over it and didn’t make any runs. The innings before that, I was nervous but less so, and I went on to play my most excellent innings ever with the bat. The difference was in the mental approach and the batting position. When I made my 67*, I started padding up when we were 4 down and then went in quickly as Rory Husler and Angus Lange were dismissed for ducks. So I didn’t wait around much to go out and bat on an even playing wicket. In contrast in the next innings, I made the mistake of padding up immediately as I was due to come in at no. 5 and saw a few deliveries bounce a bit more against Goodwood’s quicker bowlers (on a more helpful bowling wicket) which I think contributed to my nerves which didn’t allow me to settle as I waited to bat for almost an hour.

I would like to think that I need to improve my mental approach so that every innings, I appear calm and confident. I probably need to look at being disengaged. Reading a non-cricket book, listening to music, or listening to comedy, which the former West Indian batsman Alvin Kallicharan revealed in his autobiography “Colourblind” in the form of Charlie Chaplin videos. I, for instance, started to become interested in the comedy of Russell Peters, a Canadian born Anglo-Indian.

But I also think I need technical assistance, especially against quicker bowlers, which were the main reason for each of my three dismissals this season. I am hoping a session with Luke this Friday would expect to find and correct faults in my grip, stance, and backlift so that I can resist against all bowlers regardless of the conditions. Thereby as most guys say, “controlling the controllables.”

December 11, 2019

I just finished having a chat over Facebook Messenger with Nick Maegrith, my off-season batting coach, and the West Torrens 2nd Grade spinner. On the evidence of what I saw at last weekend’s training, I already made up my mind to join the club as I seek to make district cricket a reality. So, first impressions do count.

West Torrens also invited me to train on Tuesdays, which does mean a lot. Aside from East Torrens, this club was very kind to invite me over to train even though it’s unlikely that I’ll be playing a game for them this season. Given the attitude they showed in their written correspondence, they appeared to be welcoming while also being honest about my chances. Which is perfectly fine because I can at least fully commit to PAOC and make my mark in my maiden season there.

From the conversation I had with Nick, I’ve learned that West Torrens are pretty accommodating, especially if you have family or work commitments that prevent you from attending pre-season, practice matches, or regular training. This is no different from PAOC or Ginninderra, which I like to immediately think I’m at the right place. It soon became apparent that as long as I hit the right notes at practice, the opportunity will present itself. Given that my intention will also be registered with PAOC (thereby dual registration), I have nothing to lose, everything to gain. The kind of positive attitude Nick was glad to read, which he contributed as a result.

But it will be useful to have a chat with the coaches in-depth. I had already contacted the club coaching director, Brenton Woolford, to request a conversation over the phone. The aim here is to understand the role of the coaches and how I, as a player, will be able to fit into their scheme of things.

December 13, 2019

I am still waiting on the chat with Brenton, but it’s likely not going to happen today. I am hoping he at least manages to find some time next week before the Christmas break, but I might have to look at emailing him instead, explaining that I wanted to get the questions of my chest. However, considering that if he does call me, then it implies that he’s taking time away from his busy schedule to at least have the conversation. So I should appreciate that rather than being impatient.

There seems to be a bit of chaos regarding playing availabilities especially close to the Christmas break. In spite of that, I’ll retain my spot in C1s and having a chat with Max; I’m likely to bowl a lot of overs and have been promised to bat down the order after last weekend’s debacle. Now I need some practice, and thankfully, I have my session with Luke in mid-morning.

The session itself was excellent. Luke didn’t really change my techniques too much. Before the meeting, I had discovered that placing the top hand at the top of the handle, which is curved compared to the rest of the handle, was hindering my batswing. Having made that correction as well as getting my grip corrected by Luke to ensure the Vs. are going down the straight the back of the bat, my downswing became accelerated, which allowed me to hinge the bat early and swing it down. Luke told me that as long as my bat and arm combined is at 90 degrees, I should be able to adapt to anything.

Moving to bowling, I have told Luke that the effort ball he taught me previously was quickly becoming of the “hit me” variety. I had said to him that loading with my hand at shoulder height allowed me to swing the ball and land the ball in good areas consistently. When we discussed, He explains that it’s all happening this way due to the vertical jump I had.  He measured my bowling speed actually, and it turned out to be just 93 km/h. This was an improvement since he started measuring a while back, which he recalled being about 79 km/h. A fourteen-point increase in several years. Not bad. While he allowed me to continue how it is since I’m bowling quite well, he spent a bit more time working on my run-up so that I can develop momentum at the first meter, which will allow me to bring my nose forward and take my heels off the ground. Considering that I had developed a habit of overstriding, which might have previously contributed to cramp, it was hard work. But, the point was made. I had to drive the shoulders hard after creating this momentum. I just hope that once we bat first tomorrow, I have another week to go and work on my bowling. But I have to “wing it” if it doesn’t go to plan.

Nevertheless, we’ve always had batted first in C1s this season whenever we’ve won the toss. I’m backing Max to continue to trend.

December 14, 2019

I got off to the worst possible start. I woke up late, had to be woken up by the missus at 10.30am before being stuck in traffic on the way to Brighton, which meant I just got to the ground at the start. But I missed the first two overs while I was getting changed. Quite rightly, Max was unimpressed as it has been consecutive weeks that I’ve arrived late to matches. If I was in C2s, I would have been heavily fined since I had no valid reason. If I do want to play district moving forward, I need to be consistently punctual by arriving on time.

We were fielding first for the first time this season, and we overall made a reasonable effort in the field. Maxy started off by bowling Phillips’ off-stump, then Michael Hackman had Hill caught in Johnny’s Coop behind the stumps. It was 2/19. I came on in the 14th over at Dan Mosey’s end after his luckless spell in which Hackers should have caught the other opener Bruijn off the pull. In spite of minimal, last-minute preparation, I gambled with the new run-up Luke had worked on yesterday, which in the end worked a treat. I struck twice before drinks to leave them 4/22. I hit Joshi’s leg-stump when the ball didn’t swing away as normal before getting a ball to climb and took the edge of Lynch, which was well taken by Tyson Smith in slip. Apparently, I was told it was his first two day game for a while, and he made an impact off my bowling.

Unfortunately, I bowled without any luck for the rest of my seven-over spell, which was 2/5. I should have had a third when Bruijn edged a ball into Connor Craigie’s breadbasket only for Connor to spill the catch. Oh sigh, I continue to suffer worst luck on the field. I was taken off, and Mose returned and continued bowling without success when Johnny couldn’t add another victim to his Coop. He never bowled again today, finishing ten wicketless overs for 19 runs. For him, today was a better bowling performance than last weekend when he bowled short most of the time. Hopefully, luck and consistency go hand in hand this season.

At the other end, Maxy continued to run through them on either side of tea. He had the left-handed Bennett well caught by Will Farminer at second slip before dismissing both Sekhons. H was trapped LBW, and R was clean bowled. They were 7/68 at tea as a result. I returned after tea while Maxy kept bowling and took another two wickets. Hinkley was cleaned up, and then Mitchell was trapped LBW for the most plumb LBW ever Maxy had to appeal for. He finished with 6/16 off 16 overs. Five wicket hauls in consecutive two-day matches for the captain. He’s clearly the leading wicket-taker for this grade, and already, he has the bowling trophy sown up. At the other end, I bowled without luck for four overs and had Ash, the number 11 dropped twice. Once by Connor who dropped another regulation catch at square leg and then by Tyson who to be fair, it was a tough one-handed chance to his left (may not be his natural side). Then I was replaced by Sohill Jayaprakash. I finished with 2/7 off 11 overs. I’ve lost count of the dropped catches this season. Had them be taken, I would have more than 11 wickets this season.

Courtesy of those misses, the last wicket was worth 23 runs, and it ended with Hackers inducing an edge from Bruijn into my hands in point. Catches in consecutive matches, but this time, I threw down the ball on the ground as I was deeply frustrated with the missed opportunities off my bowling. Brighton all out for 92. Still a good score as a fielding side, but we had to get them. We didn’t have Eddie Thomas nor Jacob Leak, our regular openers who were injured.

At the end of the day, we were 4/58. Connor and Tyson were bowled by Mitchell for 1 and 7, respectively. Then Ash knocked over Will and Matt Dickson, the two men who made double figures at this point. Will made 11, Dicko, who was looking good after hitting some good shots, had his castle rattled for 25. But it was nice that Sohill finished the day with a boundary off H Sekhon’s bowling to give us some momentum to play with next week.

I will have to be prepared to bat next week, given the current state of the game. However, I’m feeling confident

and not nervous, having had my batting technique fixed yesterday. I don’t know when I’ll be batting, but if I’m coming in at 7 or 8, knowing I’ll have to pad up immediately, I need to bring in my mechanism for nerve control before batting. As the coming week is going to be really warm, I am hoping there’s an indoor session or two that I can take advantage of. Having checked with Trent English, our coach, one will be coming up. Good for me, and I reckon Sohill can benefit as well, considering his studies is done for the year.

December 18, 2019

With regular outdoor training canceled for the week due to the heat, we had been offered the consolation of an indoor batting session at the Red Centre. Having recently got my grip tweaked by Luke, and with the likelihood of batting this Saturday, I need this session very much. I know at least I’ll get some time with the bowling machine operated by Trent. In the lead up to this session, I managed to convince Sohill to come. I had explained that by coming to practice, he would at least give himself a good chance of performing well with the bat, which would benefit himself and the team. To his credit, he listened to my point of view and then agreed enthusiastically that he would indeed benefit from the practice knowing that a win this weekend will help our playoff chances.

I also asked him if he could bowl me his off-spinners, and I would return the favor by bowling some seam-up. Thankfully he agreed on the deal, which I think will help my preparation further given that H Sekhon from Brighton had bowled an over finger spin, thereby gaining like for like preparation with my tweaked grip. Besides, I would have a chance to fine-tune my bowling run-up just in case we bowl again in the 2nd innings, which is likely to happen.

Even though facing Sohill’s spin never materialized, it was still a good session for both of us. I, at least, continued working on my run-up while I bowled to Sohill, who showed impressive ability to hit both sides of the wicket but tends to struggle with the yorker lengths. He still smoked me around, but at times, I at least induced some defensive shots and plays and misses. It was good that Trent was there to make sure that Sohill had solid basics when facing the bowling machine where he looked unstoppable. I’m hoping the session did him all good, and if he makes a match-winning score, I’ll be proud like a caring older brother.

Today I only could face two buckets on the bowling machine as there was a higher demand for it, which was perfectly fine. I had an excellent opportunity to develop a habit of checking my grip and stance before facing each delivery, which helped me to at least play some good drives and pulls, which impressed Trent. The tweak done by Luke on Friday is starting to pay off, and it did my confidence a lot of good. I have told Max that I am now ready for Saturday, which prompted him to say to me that I was next in at no. 7 as we’re already four down. The key is to now contain my nerves. Maybe a good time to start watching Russell Peters’ YouTube videos while I wait to bat.

December 21, 2019

In the lead up of the weekend, I happen to see Archive Footage of the 4th Innings of the one-off test match held in Jamaica back in 2000 between West Indies and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe only needed 99 to register a remarkable upset win over the hosts but instead lost 7/16 to lose the test match. Considering we were in a similar position in our current game, it made me determined to go and complete what looks like a small chase.

I still felt confident from Wednesday and still look forward to bat even though I’m in the next man in. For me, I need to trust my preparation and routine while reminding myself that it wasn’t long ago that I had my beautiful day with the bat in hand. If I stay in long enough, then I’ll least be able to make double figures, which not only I’ll be back in form with the bat but make me the leading run-scorer in our C1s. As a result of the chopping and changing of our sides this season to date together with our continuous misfiring with the bat in hand, I’m only just 9 runs behind Eddie Thomas despite scoring two ducks with the 67 against Athelstone (which currently remains our highest individual score).

Given the strong level of confidence from the coaches (including Luke), there’s no reason why I can’t back myself to occupy the crease. As long as I don’t drag my head and front pad across the stumps, I should be fine. Having been late for the last two weeks, I left reasonably early so that I can arrive by 12.30 in spite of the traffic.

When I arrived, I just learned that Mose had suffered food poisoning last night and was too crook to come. So we had 10 men. Later on, we also found out that Brighton was also fielding with 10 men as well. So it wasn’t that bad.

I put on my gloves and grabbed my bat so that I can shadow practice my routines (adjust my grip and play some imaginary shot before practicing my deep breathing and saying ‘next ball’) to allow me to settle, considering I was the next man in. As I was satisfied, I commenced changing into whites and padding up. Afterwards, I started listening to Russell Peters’ videos on YouTube as a means to control the nerves.

Sohill and Lincoln, our overnight batsmen, went out to the middle. Four byes down the leg side and a boundary for Sohill restarted our chase, but Sohill edged Max Mitchell to the keeper which needs Hackers to let me know as I was in as I had headphones in my ears.

I at least looked in control by defending the good length balls on the body as well as leaving the wide ones alone until a couple plays and misses in a row on the 14th and 15th deliveries that I faced. At the other end, Lincoln was dropped at mid-off by R Sekhon, which ended up going for four. I managed to finally get off the mark on the 16th delivery with a front-foot push to mid-off’s left, which at least calmed me down.

While it was slow going, we occupied the crease for a while for about 10 overs until a piece of smart captaincy proved to my undoing when I inside-edged an inswinger from Finn Bennett to the short leg, and I departed with a visible crack in the splice of the bat. We were 6/80. For the second innings in a row, I was undone by some excellent bowling, which I couldn’t do much. I just need to focus on bowling now.

Thankfully we past Brighton’s score, but we lost wickets in consecutive overs after the first drinks break. Hackers slapped an uppish drive to mid-off before Charlie Keeves, sub for Johnny Coop, who opened up with a similar shot, but over the fielder for four was adjudged LBW in spite of an inside edge. We were 8/105, but Lincoln (who was wearing Maxy’s helmet) and Maxy (who was wearing my helmet and using Will’s bat) put on 45 runs for the last wicket in spite of the overcast conditions. I was willing Lincoln on to get to 50, hoping he will be the second batsman in our grade to reach the milestone, but it wasn’t to be. He made 41, and Maxy was unbeaten on 27. Bowled out for 150 with a 58 run lead. Now we need 9 wickets to win outright in about 40 overs remaining.

Brighton flipped the batting order, and that worked for them as they managed to hold out for 22 overs before Maxy decided to call it off. By then, Connor had cleaned up Max Mitchell with a well-disguised slower ball before giving him a gestured send-off having exacted revenge when Max bowled Connor last week. I managed to get a bowl and bowled four overs for four maidens. Not bad, huh…..except I sprayed two attempted in swingers for byes after the deflection of Charlie’s gloves. It was brave of him to stand up to me, and these deflections were very hard for his fingers. I hope it’s not broken, but it was kind of him to admit that I was generating some heat. I suppose Luke’s tweaks are showing some benefit, albeit for the wrong reasons.

Anyways good to get a win on the board. Three from six isn’t lousy reading, but it isn’t going to get any easier after the break.

Prince Alfred Old Collegians vs Goodwood at Webb Oval, December 7 2019

December 3, 2019

After a week off, it is back to cricket. The past week was just gym work. Strength and Power exercises with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells as well as my own bodyweight. It was from a new package that I bought online that is supposed to improve the speed, which I hope would improve my all-round game, hoping it could add a yard of pace or two but realistically ain’t going to happen this soon.

Anyways it was good to not touch the bat and the ball that allowed me to reflect on what was a dream game with bat and ball in a winning cause. If anything it allowed me to reset as we return to action this weekend. Today though, I’m training at West Torrens District cricket club whose coaches invited me to train as I continue to experience what district cricket is like. Leading up to the season they were great. They went out of their way to organise for me to come down. I suppose having a contact in Nick Maegraith (who plays for 2nds and also had assisted my batting during the off-season with great success) made them enthusiastic about my interest which was opposite to Tea Tree Gully (who asked me to come in preseason next year) or Adelaide (who reluctantly agreed for me to join in when I clarified that I wasn’t looking for a game). I had a deep feeling that they would be willing to give me a game if it worked out pretty well but I would rather be happy if they y got me selected next season.

West Torrens are currently coached by former left-arm quick for the Repacks, Mark Harrity who gathered us around prior to nets. He said, for instance, there’s no point getting throwdowns for the sake of throwdowns, which to me, meant the ‘train smarter not harder’ principle. He seems to be one that likes to foster team spirit when he mentioned that the club’s A grade keeper has just been ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury and encouraged everyone to get around them. That meant a lot.

Nick introduced me to Manning McInerney, the club’s assistant coach who plays in 3s and 4s. Apparently, he was also at Prospect, a former club of my ex-Ginninderra coach Mick Delaney. But I never asked Manning if he knew Mick. There was no time since he had to bat. He asked me to get amongst it at training.

I eventually had a good session bowling on wickets that offered both sideways movement and variable bounce, which meant that I was asking batters questions and testing their patience. I was surprised with the amount of help I got from the wicket as I had been loading up with my hand at shoulder height which never changed since the last game I played. The only change was my pumping of the arms being naturally more free-flowing, which perhaps contributed to the constant output. I would like to think if I’m able to test district level cricketers, then I suppose the ATCA folk may not have much chance of scoring against my bowling.

Moreover, I had been able to repeatedly run in and bowl heavy balls without breaking much sweat or having to catch much breath. Even though the conditions were indeed bowling friendly with the temperatures not very high, I had just endless energy, which I also put down to a change of diet by adding nuts. Thereby I believe that my improved fitness has allowed me to dream to unlock my full potential.

I expressed my gratitude to West Torrens for allowing me to bowl in friendly conditions, and I learned from Nick that the wickets tend to a bit on Tuesday trainings. Interesting, I thought. Perhaps one day I should come on a Thursday but only if they’re keen to welcome me again. I don’t want to rock up uninvited.

December 4, 2019

My current assessment is that my bowling is in great order while my batting, in spite of the dream knock last match, will need some work. I still need to be comfortable with a grip and stance combination that allows me to freely swing the bat and deal with anything that comes my way. Thankfully, I learnt that tonight’s session was created to be a batting session only. This will allow me to hopefully decide and stick with a technique ahead of Saturday’s match where it could be possible (if picked in C1s) that a batting promotion will be on the cards. I probably felt after tonight, I can keep myself in cotton wool until Saturday so that I can bowl the kind of heavy balls I delivered on Tuesday.

Only Rory Hustler, Don Kieu, and I attended the session where each of us got 20 minutes with Trent English coaching us and feeding the balls into the bowling machine. While I was able to sort out my grip and stance that allowed me to deal with both the good length and the pitched up deliveries, I needed a back and across movement to deal with the short stuff. So I tried to premeditate this movement while facing Don, who bowled mediums and offies with mixed results. While I was talking to Trent at the end of the session regarding my last innings, I realized that while I had batted out of my crease with the intent to get forward, it also helped me to attack the short pitch bowling. Moving forward, my setup would involve me batting outside my crease with quicker bowlers. Obviously, if the keeper stands up to the stumps, I’ll have to retreat.

After batting, I bowled to Don and again bowled the same deliveries like I did yesterday except obviously training indoors meant more vertical bounce. I did wonder though if I was bowling too short but when I measured the length after bowling later, It was about 5-6m which was technically still good length. Despite the end result, I still was able to run in and bowl the same delivery again and again in spite of being a little tired as I had already batted.

I am grateful that both my batting and bowling are in excellent order ahead of a crucial weekend. There had been some talk of me moving up to 2nd XI following my heroics, but I am confident that Max Clarke would make sure that I was in his side.

December 7 2019

I was to play in C1s and arrived late, having had to pick up my phone from Coles, having left it behind earlier in the day for shopping. By the time we arrived, we had won the toss and batted. Seeing my name in the book to go in at Number 5 meant that I’ll have to pad up, which I did. While waiting to bat, I suffered from the attack of the nerves, which prompted multiple toilet breaks, and I never recovered when I went in to bat at 3 for 26 on a very helpful bowling wicket. I initially took guard outside my crease. But I was up against both Ben Slimming and Giles Hogben, who beat me for pace. I played and missed a few deliveries and got dropped but couldn’t score a run.

I then decided to try to camp back in my crease and started feeling a bit more relaxed, but I then played on to my stumps via the glove. I have gone from hero to zero in one innings. I was disappointed.

The innings fell away very quickly. Lachlan Faull couldn’t respond in time for a quick single; Jacob Leak was also caught and bowled by Slimming and then Charlie Keeves was caught trying to work a ball on the leg side. We were 7 for 40 and Slimming finished with 5/13 off his 9 overs. We were ultimately all out for 69 in the 35th over despite the efforts of Yogesh Thakur, who top-scored with 14 at number 9 and Sam Knight, who watched wickets fall around him before he was (controversially) caught off a massive full toss about chest height for 12.

Max was obviously disappointed but wanted us to try to make the chase as difficult as possible. Yogesh got us to a perfect start bowling James Sutter and Adhyanth Rajesh. After a few overs in which he rapped the pads countless times but with no luck, he bowled a long hop at Jason Scroop who slapped a catch straight to Lachlan at point. Then Bikram Passi who earlier whipped a full ball off Max for six, was also cleaned up by Yogesh. They were 4 for 37. Game on. Yogesh sadly couldn’t get the elusive five-wicket bag and finished with 4/26 off his 9 overs. Considering, on debut two weeks ago (last week was the test match so no cricket), he took 3/8 off 8 overs. Immediately this guy has made an impact and could well be on track to win the Best Rookie award (if there was one). So he should. He went from LO5s to C1s and now he might be within touching distance of B1s.

However, the efforts of Harshil Shah and Hugh Varrell sniffed out any faints hopes of a win for us with a partnership of 65. They had already eclipsed our 69, but we had to play on. Apparently, in the two-day grades, every run and wicket counts, which may be the deciding factor for playoff qualification if multiple teams are tied on points. This was no different from what I experienced in Perth. If it wasn’t for that rule, I wouldn’t have been able to come on and bowl just before drinks.

I had bowled a maiden, and two overs later, I broke that partnership. I got a ball to slightly swinging into Varrell, who chipped a catch straight to Michael Hackman at cover. I felt a bit better; I got a wicket, continuing a streak of 14 matches since I went wicketless. Max trapped Shah LBW without any further addition to the score before Hards tried to whip a ball that pitched outside leg to the leg side (as it should), but I might have swung away from a touch, which was why it hung high in the air. Thankfully Yogesh, who earlier spilled a skier off Hackers, this time took the catch. I had my second even better and finished with figures of 5-1-14-2. Max asked me to take a break to bring me back on at the end.

It never happened. Dan Mosey came on and took the last three wickets. Slimming, out LBW as he walked across to a yorker. Zachary Robey (who apparently played for Adelaide District Cricket Club and bowled well earlier today) chipped a catch at Eddie fielding a mid-off two balls later. In came Jasmine Earl, a rare female participant in the Mens competition (but also plays in Sturt’s 1st grade Women’s team) came in and tried to work Mose across the line and chipped a dolly of a catch to me. Having bowled crap earlier, Mose finished with 3/30 off 5.5 overs. He firmly believes that he’s on a hat-trick next game. While it’s not uncommon to be on hat-trick across two innings of the same two-day match, technically there’s no such thing as being on a hat-trick across games. So he’s dreaming.

Goodwood was bowled out for 115, which meant we only lost by 47 runs. We were entirely out of our depth with the bat and lost the game with it as a result, and it was of no surprise that some of us (myself included) were immediately looking forward to the two-day match starting next weekend. After an impressive batting effort, I was disappointed not to make runs and needed some work to prevent another batting slump. I’ve just ended one last game. I don’t want to go through this again. I need help, and thankfully, I’m meeting Luke very soon on Friday. I hope he might be able to find faults in my technique so that it can be corrected.

Nevertheless, I was happy to finish the game off well with a catch and two wickets. My bowling is going really well for some time. Now I need to fix my batting so that I enjoy a similar consistency.

Prince Alfred Old Collegians vs Athelstone at Prince Alfred College (Back Oval), November 16 & 23 2019

November 12, 2019

In spite of a low turnout, we were in Twenty20 training mode after the usual jog around the oval and target practice, hitting the stump (which I managed to do twice). Trent took the batters to focus on the conventional and reverse sweep while Jack Dent who plays in A grade, took the bowlers to work on variations. To be honest, there were not many bowlers but we (including me obviously), took in every word Denty said to us. He pretty much got us focusing on yorkers as well as both good length and short slower balls. While my slower ball bouncer remains a considerable work in progress, I was able to hit my yorkers and my good length slower balls after some encouragement from Denty to get that front arm.

Denty later became very easy to approach at the end of training when I had questions regarding the in-close fielding drill he conducted. I usually try to incorporate the walk-in and split-step routine in my fielding drills. Whilst Denty agreed that the approach was indeed the right way generally, all he wanted to me to do in the drill was to ‘get on the bike’ so that I can attack the ball. I’ll remember this for next time.

After Denty’s drill, I was with Jack Latchford, the A grade skipper. He guided us to practice “cutting down the angles.” In other words, running at the ball in which the intent is to save runs and perhaps effect a run-out. I remember Steve Waugh in his autobiography “Out of my Comfort Zone,” discussing this as the Aussie’s fielding strategy, which incidentally was a factor that won them the 1987 Cricket World Cup.

He also got us to try to pick it up one hand and throw much like Glenn Maxwell and David Warner were able to in the past. I certainly thought I was able to pick this up very quickly and while it was demanding, I felt good.

November 16, 2019

We won the toss and chose to bat. It was nice to be playing at the school as our home ground, and indeed, it was picturesque. I’d never played on school premises with a turf wicket ever. Thereby making it a fresh experience. Our opponents, Athelstone, haven’t had much game time except in Round 1, so I was hoping we would catch them on the hop. But they started well. Jacob Leak, against was undone by the short ball this time caught at fine-leg. Ben Lobban played some excellent shots until he was caught at short cover for 24. Josh Bean spooned a catch to cover, which much pissed him off as he threw his helmet and gear in anger. For that dummy split alone, he would have qualified for the “Captain Serious” award in C2s. Josh Clarke, having played some eye-catching shots, only lasted seven balls for 15. Rory Husler edged a drive before Angus Lange missed a straight one and was bowled. Both men fell for ducks.

So we were 6 for 72 when I came out to the wicket to join Eddie Thomas, who not for the first time was holding the fort. He was willing me on to at least get to tea. I was relieved to have got off the mark on the 11th delivery and started to relax a bit but knocking the ball around for singles. So I did manage to tea, taking the score to 6 for 82. I asked Max Clarke, our captain, about the game plan telling him that I would be willing to come down the wicket to Karan Sharma every time he flights the ball, but Max said to rein it in for a few overs before going for it.

After tea, I was facing Prakash Budhwar, and I initially struggled playing on the crease against him. Having just got a bat on the ball that was pitched up even though I was on the back foot, I decided to make a conscious effort in getting forward. As a matter of fact, for the rest of the innings against the seamers with the keeper standing back, I decided to bat outside my crease. That at least got me to double figures for the first time in two day cricket since my debut in official Grade/Turf cricket back in February 2016.

For the time being, though, wickets continued to crumble. Eddie, after his hard work, was undone by Karan’s flight and was stumped for 28. Connor Craigie came in, and I encouraged him to be positive, which he was. He drove Prakash and pulled Karan for boundaries. But the pull eventually cost him his wicket slapping it straight to Square Leg.

So we would have by now gone past 100, but we needed to bat on, and I was facing Lovely Mittal, who already had four wickets, and he kept bowling until he got five. I accepted that I would be his “victim,” but I was going to take him on. He hit the pitch hard has a good slower ball and occasionally has a winding arm action like the character Goli from Lagaan, which can be off-putting, but he hardly bowled it much once I had his “number.” I knocked him around for boundaries, although behind square. He also a few times caught me off guard by running into bowl while I was clearly ready. While I managed by being prepared before he started running in, I had a quiet word to some of the guys who umpired like Josh Clarke and Max Clarke about it.

These boundaries took me past 30, which meant a mention on social media and in the emails for my efforts, this time with the bat after my three-wicket bag against Golden Grove last month. However, I started to cramp up in my right calf at drinks. Not even a drink could stem it and first ball after drinks; it got so bad after running a single that I couldn’t run. While our boys believed that I was allowed a runner, it was denied by Athelstone and so Max came out and survived long enough for me to stretch and eat an orange or two before he flipped a catch to deep square leg.

With only one wicket in hand, I decided to chance my arm knowing that I head off at 5pm so that I can get to Chris and Akrati’s engagement on time at 6pm so that I can then attend a Gala Dinner at 7pm. I nearly got out off Tyson Lorenz’s bowling on 40, but I was badly dropped a square leg having tried to play an uppish flick.  Another edge off Karan brought me two, and then a short ball which I pulled behind square for four got me to 47, my current highest score in official Grade/Turf cricket that I first made back in 2017-18, albeit in 6th Grade.

Prakash came back on and a clipped another ball behind square which I was hoping it would go for four but instead it stopped before the boundary and completed just two. On 49 not out, I had to stay calm which I did.

From the moment I clipped another ball behind square, I had my milestone and celebrated it was I completed my first run, but it went for four. I did, first fifty in official Grade/Turf. It was a vital knock not so much for the precarious situation I entered, but it was in a higher grade too. Up to now, I struggled with the bat, but know I had the belief that I can bat against better bowlers. The celebrations were indeed over the top, considering I celebrated as if I made a hundred. Still, this milestone was something I badly wanted to achieve before I quit cricket for good.

I didn’t just settle on fifty; I kept going trying to at least bat till 5pm so that we didn’t have to bowl with ten men. After pulling Prakash for four through vacant square leg, they brought on a part-time spinner Amir Mufti. They were desperate and wanted this to end. Leaky told me that it was already past 5pm and suggested that I play some shots. Good idea. I proceed to launch Amir for six over cow corner for my first six in my official Grade/Turf career before celebrating this with a cut for four.

In amongst all the talk about my fifty, Dan Mosey almost played a crucial role too. He kept me company but also played some delightful off-side drives and pull shots, and on either side of me retiring hurt with cramp, we added over fifty runs. Unfortunately, our fun had to come to an end when Prakash returned and trapped Mose LBW. He made 27, and we managed 188. While I was at the crease, I was counting my score, and I finished with 67 not out with 10 fours and a six. It was a beautiful day, and Trent, our club coach, was there to witness it. It was very gracious of the Athelstone players to shake my hand and congratulate me after rubbing them into the dirt and denying an opportunity to dominate. I had some sympathy for Lovely, who bowled well, but not only he couldn’t quite get to that five-wicket bag, his bowling figures look a little bad because of me.

The last thing I can do was thanking my private coaches. Luke Wimbridge from Perth, Masud Rahman in Canberra and Nick. Luke had helped me with my batting fundamentals. Masud helped me with technical work, and Nick helped me grooved my technique to allow me to play all around the wicket. It is vital for me now that I ensure this innings isn’t a fluke by going on a prolonged run drought that I just ended. In saying so, I need to take the good bits from this innings and apply them to every future occurrence with the bat.

Anyways, we at least got a more than defendable total on the board, and Max wants us to crush the opposition like ants next week.

November 18, 2019

I only just realized this, but without any intentions to brag about it to anyone, I am indeed the first person in our C1 grade to make a half-century with the bat this season. Which obviously makes it the highest individual score in the grade as well beating Mitch Larsson’s unbeaten 46 against Golden Grove. Within two innings as well, I shot myself up to second in the run charts behind Eddie Thomas, who leads me by four runs and has batted an extra two times. I am hoping that my latest feat will at least inspire others to make at least a fifty in C1s, and definitely, I hope somebody makes more than my 67 this season. Moreover, it was remarkable to have resisted for precisely 113 deliveries, which probably has been the longest I’ve batted in Grade/Turf cricket.

That aside, I am the first person in C1s to enter the hall of fame for both batting and bowling. The qualifications is at least 2 wickets in an innings for bowling and at least 30 runs for batting. I had already taken a three-wicket haul against Golden Grove, but I achieved the distinction just recently. Raj Gopal also recently made the distinction in the Limited Overs division 5 side he captains.

Well, it gives me an incentive to try and build from this dream innings of mine and fulfill the hidden batting potential that very few people knew that they would expect from me. In a way, I played a similar rescue act to what Sam Curran did a few times against India in 2018. Batting at eight and at least give the team something to bowl at. Now, I need to take wickets like him.

November 19, 2019

For some time, the thought of playing district cricket here in South Australia had been on my mind just recently as I thought about the credentials of the people who coached me during the off-season. I had put in emails to several clubs asking if I could join a few training sessions to evaluate where my game is currently and what more I need to do to get a game in the lower grades as a bowler alone.

By chance, I got in touch with Steve Stubbings, who had coached me once during the off-season, and he invited me to train with him and the East Torrens boys this evening. Considering that we’re likely to be in Twenty20 mode today and with very little chance of playing the format, I decided to embrace the opportunity despite carrying sore inner thighs and triceps.

After a two and half hour session, I learned about resilience, both physically and mentally, in harsh conditions. It was warm, and I bowled about 15 overs, stopping about every three overs for a drink after bowling six overs. The more I bowled, though, I lacked consistency, particularly to left-handers. Aside from that, I bowled reasonably well, testing the batsmen and bringing out the loose shots. I put it down to a change of diet that gave me the required nutrition to supplement the weekly heavy exercise that I got from a program I recently bought.

I also managed a bat, and batting was tough as the ball was coming off the pitch at a quicker pace than what I had accustomed to in the ATCA. But I thought I managed well to deflect a few short balls behind the wicket, play a few drives, leave some deliveries alone, and, more importantly, not getting out.

Basically, district cricket is at a much higher level for me, and I have some way to go before I reckon I’m a good chance of regular selection in the future. For now, I am seeking some feedback from Stubbo.

November 21, 2019

Yesterday by chance, I got in touch with other district clubs asking to train to see how I go like I did with East Torrens on Tuesday. Adelaide said yes only after I clarified that I wasn’t looking for a game at their club. Still, while I was courteous with the person I engaged with via Facebook Messenger, I got the impression that they allowed me to come with reluctance. West Torrens were, in contrast, accommodating. The guy whom I also contacted on Facebook Messenger was Kent Sendy, the club’s president, and he kindly emailed the club’s assistant coach that I was keen to get involved and see whether district cricket was for my liking.

I had emailed Nick Macgraith, my off-season batting coach, who plays for the club. He was stoked to hear that I got runs and got the team out of a big hole. He had also chatted with Kent and commented that I would be fine in the lower grades but wasn’t too sure how mid-season transfers work.

In my mind, I had no intention to move clubs since I know that PAOC was giving me excellent playing opportunities. Still, if West Torrens do want to select me, then I might have to ask Ben Lobban to sign off a Dual Registration form, but that would have to be for the following season.

For now, my focus is on PAOC and, in particular, our defense of 188, and I need to refine my bowling after Tuesday’s effort. Which I managed to do today. Before we went for the team warm-up, I bowled a few deliveries with my right palm at shoulder height, which allowed me to swing the ball and hit the in-between length. I instantly realized that I was trying to bowl the effort ball very often, which landed short of a length, which gradually isn’t that threatening. The slight technical change has lead to improved outcomes. I started to beat the bat and occasionally getting the ball to swing late, which made me a threat. I also hit the edge of Matthew Kildea’s bat twice and also rapped Jacob Leak on the pads. I felt in a better rhythm, and while the conditions were cooler than Tuesday, I wasn’t that tired. I am ready to bowl, and I hope Max Clarke does throw me the ball even though it’s likely I won’t be opening as I reckon Max and Mose would be using the new ball first up.

November 23, 2019

I was confident of our chances today. In fact, very confident. I was hoping that Athelstone would be demoralized and so we might be able to win outright, but Leaky pegged me back, saying that we should at least take 10 wickets. Fair call.

As expected, I was to come on either the first or second change after Max and Mose. Rocco Canino and Venkat Subramaniam got off to a steady start, and I come on first change in the 12th over, taking over Mose while Connor come on from Max’s end at the 13th. Inspite of these changes, Rocco and Venkat still were together at drinks after the 18th over. We had kept it tight nevertheless, and Max encouraged us not to lose hope as there’s a likelihood of a collapse in grades like ours.

He couldn’t be far off from the truth as he led from the front. He trapped Venkat LBW, Skiba beautifully caught by Angus at Point, and also had Tyson LBW. And I chipped in with a wicket after nine probing overs (four before drinks and five after drinks). I had been trying to swing the ball both ways and had elicited some loose uppish drives from Rocco, who took on anything wide and hit it for boundaries. After bowling a series of outswingers, I went wider and bowled an inswinger to hopefully keep Rocco honest. I did more than that. Rocco shuffled across to meet the ball, but it darted back sharply to bowl him behind his legs and hit the middle stump. He later couldn’t believe it and complemented the delivery later at tea. Anyways, I got the big fish, and I was pumped.

The bowling partnership of Max and I had bowled us back into the match, and Athelstone was 4 for 83 at tea. I bowled one more over and nearly had a second when an uppish drive from Skinner just evaded Eddie, and I was done after ten consecutive overs for only 18 runs.

I didn’t bowl until 4.15pm. By then, Mose had Prakash neatly stumped by Josh Bean, and then Connor had Amir caught by Rory and mid-on, and Lovely had pumped his first scoring shot for four. He didn’t spare me either. Smashed me over my head for six when I returned for my next over, I tried to do something different. I decided to try to cramp him up for room in attempting to swing the ball in. He then clipped me for four. Not only I had to stop Lovely, who was keen to inflict some payback from last week, I was also battling cramp (again). I had tried to drastically reduce my run-up to counter it. It had some success, next ball, I bowled it slower, and it struck Lovely high on his right leg. I chanced an LBW shout and was given.

Key wicket indeed, and now we were right on top. Now it was Rohit 2, Lovely 0. It was great to dominate over him with bat and ball in the match, and we’re in the driver’s seat at 7/119. In the end, even though I bowled tidily, I couldn’t quite nail another breakthrough although I got close except that Skinner got dropped at midwicket by Lobs, which later resulted in a badly bruised finger. I was disappointed in missing a three-wicket haul, but it was a reasonable effort by Lobs to at least try and catch it.

Meanwhile, Max returned and completed a five-wicket haul (later finished with 5/48 off 23 overs) by clean bowling Karan Sharma and Sunny Singh for ducks. It was 9/128, and it was initially Max and I that tried to finish proceedings. Max nearly had his sixth but Skinner and dropped by Mose at mid-on and then took some tap from Jamie McDonald. They passed 150. I just realized that had they didn’t drop me on 40, they wouldn’t have chased 150 and so would have won the match just now, but they still need to get just under 40.

Eddie was given the ball, and on the third ball of his third over, Jamie cut a ball to the left of Mose at Point and had completed one. However, he tried to come back for two, and Mose chased down and returned a throw to Josh Bean, who collected the throw and knocked the stumps down. We appealed, and Jamie was runout. We won by 34 runs. In the end, my partnership with Mose last weekend had turned to be a massive difference.

Anyways, I was indeed satisfied that I was able to put in an all-round performance that led to victory. Even though I missed out on a third wicket, I would have at least made it to the bowling hall of fame with my analysis of 17 overs, 7 maidens, 2 for 34. Making me the only player in C1s so far to make it to the hall of fame in the same match. While I’m thrilled that my bowling feats, especially my initial 10 over spell, my fitness still sort of has some way to go having cramped up in the second spell. I need a better cramp prevention strategy, especially if I am to be the all-round contributor. Anyways, we have a bye due to the day-night test match here in Adelaide, which gives me time to work on minimizing cramp.

Marion vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Waite Oval, November 9 2019

October 29, 2019

Today was a good practice session. I bowled with the pink-ball to start, but after swinging the first two deliveries, I bowled; I struggled to swing the ball away from the right-hander. Instead, I bowled short of a length with a little swing, which lessened my threat. After a while, I went for a bat. I looked solid again, which impressed Patty Sadlier. I was decisive against the spin of Rory Hustler and Will Farminer either going back, coming down the wicket, or playing from the crease.

After batting practice, I returned to bowl against Stephen Ottanelli, but this time with my old ball. Immediately, I hit a better length and got the ball to move away. It is becoming clear that I am an old ball bowler as long as there a rough and shiny side on the ball. Thereby there was no surprise that captains of late have used me as a change bowler. But I should be equally adept in swinging a newish ball or a ball that there’s no defined rough and shiny side.

I spoke to Trent English, our coach, who’s also the chairman of selectors. I had discussed with him that I would prefer to be available for a full match so that I can contribute and be accountable for the result, especially with the ball. Given that I am likely to be occasionally unavailable for a full two-day match, I would prefer to play the occasional game in the Limited Overs divisions, which thankfully was agreed with Trent. That sense, people who are available for two-day cricket should be going to play in the relevant grades rather than trying to organize subs to cover people who are either away on Week 1 or Week 2.

November 2, 2019

As it turned out in spite of our conversation, I was picked in C1s as a substitute for Harry Greenslade, who will only be available for Day 1. When I asked Trent, I was told that the club was struggling for numbers. While I understood that bit, It would have irritated me that I may end up going on the second day having to just bat and not bowl. However, today is washed out courtesy of the heavy overnight rain, which forced most games to be abandoned. Courtesy of an “act of God,” I will be able to get a bowl after all.

November 5, 2019

Then again, having had a chat with a colleague who also plays Turf in Adelaide, I learned that there could be a likelihood of another washout with rain being forecasted for the next three days. One thing I do know is that Thursday’s training is likely not to be on turf, so it’s essential that I at least trained today.

Which I did. After a warm-up run and stretch, a frisbee game was undertaken between the youngsters and the oldies. Given that I recently turned 29, I would have classified as an oldie despite being a club rookie. But I was in good company as I had the likes of Jack Latchford, Keegan English, Patty Sadlier, James Risby, and Sean Bean in my team. What could go wrong? Well, the youngsters got 2-0 ahead, but we rallied back. I pulled it back to 2-1, and then we managed to level the scores at 2-2. Then Trent announced that the next point will be the winner, which was eventually clinched by Simon Bean. The oldies got one over the youngsters. As punishment for losing, the youngsters had to run around the cricket pitch and back.

In preparation for the weekend, which was to be a one-day match, I started bowling with the pink ball since I need to practice with a newer ball. This time, every time I tried to swing the ball out, it curved in the opposite direction much to my frustration. Having run out of patience, I reverted back to my oldish well kept ball and proceeded to swing the ball both ways like I did in the last match. I felt that the ball had a higher velocity as I ran in harder and tried to whip through my arms.

Once again, I looked solid with the bat even if I was facing an all-seam lineup as I defended, drove, and flicked most of the balls in my zone. I felt that no-one was going to get me out, which was the case. Similarly, with the fielding, I thought I was in a better space mentally as well, while Trent was feeding me short/long catches.

After all, it was a good day for training, but next Tuesday would be different as the Twenty20 matches are approaching.

November 7, 2019

In spite of the morning rain, there was training on the turf pitches. After a run and a few stretches, I joined in with Josh Bean with some fielding practice where we were trying to throw and hit at the lone stump. As we incidentally were part of one of the two groups, Trent announced a “first to five” competition. The punishment for the losing team, as we all found out, was ten pushups. Our group lost the first round but won the other two, and my direct hit clinched the decider, which was well noticed by the B grade keeper and skipper, Cameron Pritchard.

Then it was time for some bowling. I made a pre-delivery tweak in making my back straight as I was just about to release the ball, which should allow me to bowl at least a good length if not fuller. As I result, I got the ball to swing as usual both ways, which made me more menacing. I also got a wicket as well as “Ollie” Olssen, bottom edged a cut onto his stumps.

Like on Tuesday, my batting continued to be reliable as I mostly played drives, although the pace of Connor Craigie continues to bother me when it pitched short. So much so that I ducked into a short ball that just missed my head, which probably left my batting to be desired a bit more regarding my backlift.  But I was impressed with how I did in the running between the wickets exercise because when I got really low but ready to push off, I took off. I was fatigued as usual, but it was the most efficient I ever ran between wickets.

After training, I learned that I was picked in C2s after the re-selections for all grades except B grade, who already commenced their fixture. Patty “Sads” Sadlier hinted this to me as his side would be light on specialist bowlers and so I would be expected to hopefully bowl nine overs.

November 9, 2019

In spite of the weather over the last two days, we’ll be playing today. I was warned by a colleague who also plays in the same competition as me, albeit in a different team that the 2nd Waite Oval, our venue for the day, would have short boundaries. As a matter of fact, one side of the boundary was just 25 meters long. Absolutely Ridiculous. I was hoping though that Marion would show some common sense on the day to rectify this to ensure a level playing field.

When I arrived at the venue, the Marion guys applied their common sense by lengthening the boundaries so that it’s at least 40 meters all around. But it was definitely hampered by the central Waite Oval. However, it was at least better than I would have imagined earlier. Sads won the toss and elected to bat on the basis that we hadn’t entirely assembled a full team yet. We managed to get the entire team within the first few overs, but by then, Sads and Rory were dismissed with just 17 runs on the board. Sam Knight, Charlie Aust, and Lincoln Halton at least guided us to a respectable score of 3/101. It was a treat to see Charlie and Lincoln bashing boundaries as well as the running between wickets between Sam and Lincoln, who both run well between the wickets. But once they all fell, we fell too, stumbling our way to 146 all out, dismissed on the penultimate delivery of the innings.

Coming in at 8, I looked comfortable at the wicket. The Marion team was impressed with my solidarity with their slip fielder, asking me along the lines of “Why are you batting so low if you have such a great technique.” I got off the mark not just on the sixth delivery I faced but in Adelaide itself. It was my first run in the city in my second innings. I eventually made four before top-edging a pull to fine-leg waiting on the shortish boundary of the ground.

Despite our batting collapse, we had a total on the board. Andy “Heito” Heitmann trapped Bailey LBW before Rory (bowling mediums instead of spin), bowled Ullah with a yorker, and then having Woodberry caught well by Charlie standing up to the stumps. At 3 for 24, we were on top. Jenner and Mallia (who apparently plays SACA Premier Cricket for Southern Districts) fought back with a 52 run stand before Jenner was adjudged LBW off Rory.

Mallia was still there, and Marion needed 55 off the last 10 overs. I had been bowling since drinks had figures of 5-1-15-0. I had kept it tight and unlucky that I clipped the edges of both Mallia and Burdon, which didn’t get to hand and also had Mallia dropped by Heito. Nevertheless, in hindsight, I should have used my changeups a bit more than trying to swing the ball both ways like I did earlier. In my sixth over, I was inaccurate where I conceded a boundary second ball and five wides down the leg-side, but I at least managed to breakthrough, getting Burdon to chip a catch to Liam Rippon at square leg.

From there, we got ourselves back in front. Heito had Harmer caught well by Sam at slip before having Sapkota well caught by Alex Mckenzie, who before caught Mallia off his own bowling. And when Lincoln engineered a direct hit to dismiss Streng (courtesy of Trent who made throwing practice mandatory before nets), we were on top at 9/118 with four overs to go. However, from the moment when Sads dropped a tough chance off Heito, we were in for a rude shock, mainly me. Pearson (who earlier took three wickets in our innings) smashed me over my head for six before hitting a boundary. That brought the target down to 5 an over from the last three, and they got it in the end in the penultimate over. As the match was initially a two-day match, we kept going to the last ball, and they got ahead by 10 runs.

In the end, it was a painful loss, and I felt I was responsible since my last two overs were very costly because I didn’t use changeups like I did in the past. With Twenty20 training going to start on Tuesday, it will be an excellent time to practice bowling changeups a bit more, which will definitely make me a more effective limited-overs bowler.