Gepps Cross vs Marion at Roma Mitchell Secondary College, December 17 2022

November 6, 2022

Joining New Zealand and England in the semi-finals are India and Pakistan. This was after the Dutch unexpectedly killed the Proteas’ chances by beating them by 13 runs, followed by the virtual quarter-final between Pakistan and Bangladesh, where the winner would qualify for the semis. It was to be Pakistan who scrapped home by 5 wickets, chasing just 127 to victory. Except for New Zealand, all other nations have a great opportunity to join the West Indies in becoming dual winners of the World Twenty20. Interestingly, it has been over a decade since either of these three teams won the title. Although I would like India to win (as it is my family’s mother country hence why I also support them), I also hope that New Zealand finally wins a World Cup trophy after recent years of heartbreak.

My chances of playing on the coming Saturday look bleak, with showers, forecast for the whole afternoon, but you never know. This season, whenever a washout was predicted, the weather turned out to be the opposite. Fingers crossed, as it will be my only game for a while due to family and music commitments ahead (not to mention one weekend of cricket lost to the day-night test match at Adelaide Oval between Australia and the West Indies).

November 11, 2022

Selections had come out last night, and my name wasn’t there. That was because I apparently was called into mandatory music practice on Saturday afternoon ahead of the concert, which will occur in a fortnight. It was a good thing, as the Saturday forecast did not budge. It is likely to be rained off at some stage during the day. My next game will likely be after I return from Singapore for a conference. Hence, I have more time to get my bowling right. However, I did practice some bowling this week, emphasising building a good rhythm, hitting the deck and moving the ball after pitching. My epiphany had come from watching clips of Sir Richard Hadlee that I felt I was wasting too much energy in my runup, denying me the opportunity to properly rotate my bowling arm to move the ball consistently. Hence, on the two occasions I practised, I focused on developing an economical run to the wicket. Not only did it not hamper my ability to hit the deck and move the ball, but I was also able to conserve my energy. Moreover, I soon became curious about biomechanics (like what if I kicked my left foot before landing, which resulted in some extra bounce with the movement).

Hopefully, once my concert is over on the 26th, I can make an effort to train where I felt I could potentially also work on my batting backlift and rhythm, which enabled me to make 33, 24 not out and 26 not out in my only chances at the batting crease in 2020. Nevertheless, the idea of making an appearance in training is to show Gepps Cross my bowling skills which could lead to bowling opportunities on the weekends, given that playing opportunities will be in abundance (according to Mick) on either side of the break.

December 10, 2022

Music Concert over, my attention was towards club training. But unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to training last week, nor was there training on Thursday with the day-night test match already commenced. By then, the T20 world cup was also over, with Pakistan unable to repeat the events of 1992 as England became the first team to hold both World Cup trophies.

Nevertheless, I still managed to get some bowling done over the week. I was very rusty on Monday, having not bowled for at least two weeks. However, the results were there on the other end. The ball wasn’t moving much at a gentle pace, and my line and length were all over the place. However, on Tuesday morning, I thought, what if I could try to pull down my front arm. Hence, I tried that for the rest of the week and lo and behold, I was moving the ball both ways after pitching while hitting the pitch hard. Due to time constraints on Tuesday and Wednesday, I only bowled two overs each evening, but I was getting instant results. I didn’t bowl on Thursday due to a slight thigh/groin stain; Friday was my scheduled leg day. I did bowl on Friday, but I only bowled one over due to chest soreness.

Despite the limited number of overs, I felt my bowling was on the upswing. I feel that hitting the pitch hard while moving the ball both ways should hold me in good stead for a very limited summer. The key, though, is to keep me fresh for bowling. Doing major chest exercises, such as the Bench Press the day before training or matches, isn’t a good idea, as I found out the hard way yesterday. I hope, though, on the coming Thursday that I can not only show the club what I’m capable of with the ball but also make sure I get some batting practice done, having figured out the stance and backlift which helped me two summers ago.

December 15, 2022

Even though I had arrived that morning from Singapore, I made an effort to attend club training for the first time since joining Gepps Cross, having managed an extra couple of hours of sleep in the early afternoon. At the start, all of us present were doing fielding conducted by the coach Daniel March. We were initially divided into four groups where Marchy would hit the ball in the air or on the ground. Someone will have to field the ball, get it to the guy standing over the stump (or rather hit it), and then throw it to the keeper. Whenever there was a bad throw, everyone had to do five pushups. It wasn’t too bad on both fronts, particularly on the punishment scale (better than being punished for dropping a catch). Like I did in a match last month, I didn’t get any catching opportunities, but I at least managed to field the ball cleanly and get a straight throw into the keeper.

Then it was time for some net practice. I had taken out my new 4-piece Kookaburra Senator cricket ball but struggled for control. Yet, I managed to move the new ball both ways on some occasions and on a couple of occasions, I got some bounce. Truth be told, I struggled for rhythm, but I was happy with what I saw as I was mainly pitching the ball up. The biggest takeaway was the batting. I recalled the stance and backlift from two summers ago and made a slight adjustment with my hands which enabled me to drive, cut and pull while also being aggressive against spin by coming down the wicket whenever the ball was flighted. However, I had struggled against the slow-medium bowling as I was playing the ball far too early, resulting in hearing the death rattle twice. So, I had to not swing the ball too early or come down the wicket to make my own pace.

Now I felt ready for the weekend. The selections were released an hour after training, which finished at 7pm. Unfortunately, my wish to play LO6s wasn’t granted as they failed to field a side with a minimum of seven players. Rather, I was selected to play in LO3s for the second time in six weeks. As I recalled my conversation with Macca back then, he may have played some part in my selection. Even though he is not the captain, I hope to get an opportunity to contribute this weekend with the ball in hand. If I can score some runs, that will be a bonus.

December 17, 2022

Since moving to Adelaide in early 2019, I have played on turf wickets at two secondary colleges: St Paul’s and Prince Alfred College. Today, I will play in a third secondary college, Roma Mitchell Secondary College, more infamously known for a COVID cluster last year. From what I heard, the wicket within Roma Mitchell had been curated by a SACA curator, former SA and WA quick Trent Kelly, which I heard was going to be a good cricket wicket. However, ‘Tricky’ Summers advised me that a couple of weeks ago, the wicket was slow and low. Remains to be seen how it will play today, though.

The captain, Adam Antrobus, won the toss and elected to bat, despite Marion not having the minimum number of players to constitute a team (seven). Tricky and Adam Drew gave us a solid start adding 45; Tricky played a few shots upfront while Drewy held the fort. After Tricky fell for a solid 30, Drewy and Ash Mac continued with a 61 run stand for the second wicket, where Drewy attempted to up the ante with Ash Mac as support. During his innings, However, during Drewy tried to work a delivery behind square on the leg side, he usually picked out Sam Streng, who fielded either at Square Leg or Short Fine Leg. Not so surprisingly, Drewy picked him out again, this time caught trying to glance down the leg side on 46. From 1 for 106, we lost wickets regularly as we tried to pick up the pace, but in the end, we managed 7 for 163 from our 40 overs. As for Ash Mac, he managed to get to 50 off just 60 balls, in a manner no different to how Pakistan’s Shan Masood had played in the recent T20 world cup.

Hence, we had a total on the board, but we noticed that Marion had usually tried to bowl at the stumps with the fielders providing strong support. These were the two things we needed to get right to come out on top. Nevertheless, we managed to do that with some help from Marion’s opening bat Josiah Woodberry, who carried his bat for 38 off 119 balls, an innings similar to Sunil Gavaskar’s in the 1975 Cricket World Cup against England. During the bowling innings, we deliberatively defended against Josiah but attacked the other batters to get him out. This strategy, dictated by our captain, paid off, and Marion only managed 7 for 134 in reply. Josiah and Ben Capper provided a similar solid start to us, with a 55 run stand before our captain broke that partnership. Thereafter, his tactics, as described earlier, bore fruit, where Marion lost a further 6 for 39 against the bowling of Adam, Macca, Craig Loader and Jono Makai. Even though Josiah and Sam Streng added 40 runs at the end, it was too late. Hence, we won by 29 runs.

As for my contribution, I didn’t bat nor bowl but ended up fielding the entire run chase. Yet, I was again appreciated by Macca for my intensity, given that I was seen hustling around the field and ensuring that I didn’t midfield the ball while saving some crucial runs in the process. However, a few hours later, I started to wonder, even though my fielding was appreciated, when will I get an opportunity to show the new club my all-round skills, especially with the ball in hand. It started to eat away at me as I was twice listed to bat at 9 and had not yet bowled a single delivery this season. The best thing to do for now is to sleep on it during the Christmas/New Year break and raise the matter before the season restarts on January 7.

Goodwood vs Gepps Cross at Cabra Dominican West Oval, November 5 2022

October 17, 2022

As I am quite new to the club, I am grateful that our secretary, Danica McMillan, put me in touch with the LO coordinator Mick Schooley, with whom I could get in touch regarding selections and availabilities. Unfortunately, now I have rehearsals before a music concert on November 26, it would be difficult for me to attend team training. Thankfully, Mick advised me that my selections would not be in doubt as I had a valid reason to miss training.

With seemingly no time for team training, the only choice is self-training, which is bowling by myself at a nearby net. Back in 2018-19, that tactic did me no harm as I had then embarked on a superb purple patch with the ball for Ginninderra 5th Grade, taking 17 wickets from 7 matches before my work transfer took me to Adelaide. The only downside will be the lack of batting and fielding practice, but I trust my fundamentals and any game-day practice to be prepared.

Anyways, after a warmup consisting of a run around a dilapidated tennis court and dynamic full-body stretching exercises taken from my current weight-training drills, it was time to finally bowl with a cricket ball. Today’s aim was to visualise bowling over the wicket to both left and right-handers. As I was able to do in previous drills, I could swing the ball both ways against the left and right-handers from over the wicket. Even if the occasional delivery went down the leg side. Yet, most of my deliveries were at least around the off-stump line (and maybe around the fourth or fifth-stump line). To the right-hander, not all deliveries moved sideways appreciably. Some deliveries kicked from a length, and some held their line (perhaps due to the concrete surface I was bowling on in Mawson Lakes rather than my ability). Nevertheless, today was a successful exercise as I could bowl with control most of the time, courtesy of the twelve-pace runup I settled upon during my drills.

However, after bowling the equivalent of six overs, I had to cut my bowling practice short as I felt a pinch on my lower back and slight hamstring tightness (perhaps considering it had been almost twelve months since I had last held a cricket ball). As a warm-down, I ran one lap of Mawson Lakes oval and walked the other to finish up before it was time to go and freshen up ahead of music practice.

October 23, 2022

Last night I learned from Mick that Justin tore his Achilles Heel during the heavy defeat to Ingle Farm, which meant that a stand-in captain would be required for the time being. It will be good if he can take over as he’s currently the LO coordinator, but I am sure he will put in a word for me to the eventual stand-in captain, if it is somebody else, regarding my bowling abilities.

I am targeting a return to the pitch on the coming weekend. However, a potential early evening event and rain throughout the afternoon are strong indicators for me not to make myself available. As I would need to make a call by Wednesday/Thursday, I will need to monitor the forecast on a daily basis. The weather will be a big indicator of when I can go for another round of outdoor bowling practice. For now, Friday afternoon seems to be the best time for that.

It was not a surprise to see Australia go down to the Kiwis in last night’s Super 12 curtain-raiser. It all went pear-shaped when Aaron Finch tossed the coin and chose to field first. To be honest, I do not see them defending their crown, let alone qualifying for the semi-finals, as history is against them. No team has won a home World Twenty20 nor defended their crown. It will be the 1992 50-over World Cup all over again, just as last year’s Twenty20 campaign mirrored the 1987 50-over World Cup. While my opinion may be unpopular, I would be very happy if Australia proved me wrong by defending their crown on home soil. I am trying to keep my expectations very low. I am hoping England, New Zealand, India and Pakistan will be my semi-finalists.

October 28, 2022

Throughout the week, I realised that if I just pitched the ball around the good length area, I can get the ball to move both ways. Whenever I bowl half-volleys or almost yorker length, the ball doesn’t move. The secret to bowling the ideal length lies in my front arm. When it is at 90 degrees, the ball will pitch around the good length area. If it is less, I will bowl fuller and short if it is more than 90 degrees.

Until yesterday, my deliveries were kissing the wicket as I sought to swing both ways, meaning that my deliveries lacked pace. Hence I made a considerable effort to pull that front arm up, down and harder. This resulted in me generating more zip and bounce, which I hope holds me in good stead this season.

My debut for Gepps Cross will have to wait for another week as my evening program took preference. Still, today’s weather would be a good opportunity to put in one last bowling effort before next weekend, with wet weather set to dominate the whole working week (in a way it is not too bad as it will keep me fresh from bowling).

Like last week, I visualise bowling to the left and right-handers when trying to bowl a good line and length. Aside from the few deliveries I bowled down the leg side, I felt I was in control, and I was in a good rhythm. In addition, I found that if I pump my arms while maintaining the ‘loading’ position on my bowling hand, I can move the ball after it hits the pitch. Thereby, I felt I was bowling at a good pace (perhaps not express but hopefully enough to cause problems for the batters). There were times that I had lost momentum in my run-up, but I soon regained the momentum once I fixed my run-up by adding an extra stride or two (I suppose, though, that it will depend on the surface I bowl on, which makes it important for me to measure it on Saturdays).

I also worked on some slower balls, which is vital in a one-day match. In the past, I used to premediate my grips for slower balls as I run into bowl, which make it easy for batters to decipher. This time, I tried to add some deception by altering my grips at the last minute. I can say it worked as well as showing my grips in my run-up. Two things remain, though. First is deciding when exactly it will be time to bowl (i.e. how is the batter playing? and will I need to bowl one at all?), and second is whether my slower balls will be deceptive at all or not.

More remarkable was that I was bowling with an overworked right rear delt, which could result in over-bowling throughout the whole working week. Upon reflection, it has, on occasions, done me more harm than good because when it comes to bowling, I am a perfectionist, meaning that I would continue until I am satisfied. Right now, I am in a happy space and will trust my fundamentals come game day if I don’t bowl again next week. I must realise that I am now playing the game for fun.

Moving to the Twenty20 world cup. With England’s shock loss to Ireland and the washout against the Aussies, the host nation yet could still prove me wrong. After beating Sri Lanka handsomely, they need to do likewise against Afghanistan and Ireland. Moreover, they must hope the Kiwis top their group undefeated while Sri Lanka loses to England. Any opposite result will ensure that it will be a reprise of the 1992 50-over world cup. Australia’s death bowling needs to get up to speed while hoping that captain Aaron Finch hits good form with the bat.

November 4, 2022

As the weather improved, I continued to bowl more overs throughout the week. Again I felt I had a good rhythm as I continued to hit the pitch hard. However, as I was mainly hitting a full length, I realised that I will need protection not just down the ground but also around the deep mid-wicket/cow corner region. This will depend if the game is in the balance or the batters are on top. Yet, should we be on top, I could afford to be a bit more attacking (perhaps have a second slip if I am moving the ball away from the bat).

Yesterday, I was going to make my Gepps Cross debut in LO6s. However, this afternoon I was told that I was bumped up to LO3s. Instead of driving to Kidman Park, I have to drive to Cumberland Park, near Cabra Dominican College (the alma mater of former Aussie quick Jason Gillespie). As it was difficult to really identify the ground on Google Maps, I will have to arrive really early just to make sure I am at the right place. That is the only thing it is making me nervous. Given I was told that LO3s is a pretty strong side, I am hoping not only do I get a bowling opportunity, but I also don’t want to embarrass myself (especially in the field). Mick assured me that I will be ok as there will be some good guys within that side that will look after me. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

November 5, 2022

I tried to make sense of my surprise promotion to LO3s as I did not want to ask why I got promoted despite not attending a single training session. One of the theories I came up with was that I would play with the club president Shane McMillan who is coincidently captain for today. Let us leave it at that. It was a relief to find the ground in the first place, where thankfully, I noticed some guys wearing Gepps Cross Merchandise. The oval is a typical school oval where the boundaries are pretty short. In other words, mishits can go for six, leaving no margin for bowler error. It was no surprise that I had noticed that last week’s match was a 250 vs 219 game, thereby coming to the conclusion that we would need to bowl really well.

Macca won the toss and chose to bat. Doc Tansell and Tricky Summers got us off to a solid start before Doc held out for 19 to end a 36 run partnership. The wicket proved to be slow and low, at times two-paced. As the ball got older, so did the run scoring. Thereby it was no surprise that we collapsed pretty badly. Aside from Tricky, who made 27, Gaurang Chauhan, who made 32 and Gurleen Singh, who made 21, no one else made a score of note, myself included. As the pitch was slow and low, I knew I had to apply the forward press. Despite this, I couldn’t quite hit it off the square, and when I finally played a serious cut shot, it instead took the edge and carried to slip. I didn’t trouble the scorers as I did when I first batted in Adelaide three years earlier. If anything, my backlift was the issue, which I only realised after returning from the cricket.

Defending just 127, we needed early wickets. However, Goodwood’s start mirrored ours until Smit Patel caught the edge of one of the opener’s bat to Macca at first slip. After that, the symmetry continued. Liam Beames bowled the left-handed opener before Andy Leonard’s offices claimed two LBWs dismissals. Sadly for Andy, he was hit for four consecutive sixes around the deep mid-wicket/cow corner region, the shortest side of the boundaries, and he was soon out of the attack. Smit Patel bowled that batter who hit the sixes, and then Macca took the sixth wicket with just twelve needed to win. By the time he finished his over, Goodwood needed eight to win. He was planning to give me an over, but a bizarre sequence of events paid plan to that. Smit was hit for four through cover, then conceded one before a delivery missed the batter, stumps and Doc who was keeping which crashed into the helmet, resulting in five penalty runs. The match was over.

I had no regrets because I had a good time running around and was well-appreciated, especially by Macca. Not only was he impressed with my ability to stick around, but also my safe ground fielding (surprising, to be honest, because I thought I was average). Macca initially assumed that I wanted to play two-day cricket, but I advised Danica and Mick that I am only available for one-day matches only. He had hinted that he would try to get me into LO3s, but I wanted to at least try playing in LO6s first. Regarding my fielding, there was one time when that batter who hit Andy for four consecutive sixes was on strike to Beamesy, and he hit a ball through backward square leg. I was fielding at deep forward square leg, so I ran desperately to try and stop the boundary. In desperation, I tried to stick my right hand out to palm it away from the boundary. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective as I kept the ball away and saved three runs, much to the appreciation of the whole team. I wished we had enough runs on the board where I could have at least gotten a bowl.

As family and music commitments may result in me missing a fair chunk of the season, I really hope that this club will become fourth-time lucky as they are truly a family-friendly club with people who are very understanding of my situation and are willing to support me whenever I could. I hope I can get out to training where possible and at least get a chance to bowl in matches. Having done a lot of bowling in the lead-up to this match, perhaps there is no harm in keeping myself fresh for the coming weekend, given I have other commitments during the week.

T20 Cricket watch. As anticipated, Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign was a dead ringer with their 1992 50 over World Cup campaign as they crashed out following England’s victory over Sri Lanka and their sloppy cricket even in victories against Ireland and Afghanistan, which prevented them from improving their net run-rate following their thumping defeat to the Kiwis. Australia needs to start planning for the 2024 campaign in the West Indies and the US by identifying some quality young batters and keepers like Josh Inglis, Josh Phillipe, and Ben McDermott and death bowlers like Nathan Ellis. New Zealand and England are through while it is up in the air as to who else will join them in the semi-finals.

October 4, 2022

A new season beckons. It will start in four days when teams within the ATCA two-day competition will kick off the season with a one-day match. As for me, both work and family commitments have and will prevent me from attending training and making myself available for selection. As it stands, I am targeting a return to cricket later this month.

Yet, it will be with a new club. My season with Adelaide Warriors was very forgettable. Lack of opportunity combined with lack of faith by captains and teammates alike resulted in me getting shuffled around the field every time I dropped a catch while only bowling fifteen overs all season. It wasn’t like I wasn’t trying (I wasn’t bowling too badly either), but it seemed that the club was very result oriented despite the warmth I had felt from the players. The feedback I got during that season was that I had to put myself available for selection more, but that’s really out of my control.

Thereby I had decided to switch to Gepps Cross, a decision that I had decided towards the end of last season. The secretary Danica MacMillan, was very helpful in actioining my clearance which only came through last week. Thankfully, no one from Adelaide Warriors contacted me about my request to move clubs. They probably know why. Let’s leave it at that.

I had joined Gepps Cross as they were going to field an LO6 side, which is the kind of my preferred standard based on my current priorities. Yes, this club may have some two-day sides, but there is no way (this time), I would be swayed to play two-day cricket. Not so much for my uncertainin availabilities, but after some retrospective, I felt that I was in the side for my adhesive batting more, as opposed to my bowling whenever we have decent bowling depth. Which I felt was the case, most of the time, ever since I started playing two-day cricket ten summers ago. I had finally come to peace, that one day cricket will be my calling. I can bat for sure, but I prefer to bowl, which has always been my strength.

Speaking of bowling. Despite my disrupted build-up, I managed to work on some drills indoors regarding my bowling action. First of all, I worked on the fundamentals of my bowling action, so that I can move the ball both ways without giving early clues to the batters as to how I intend to swing the ball. Secondly, I managed to work on my run-up, whenever I had the space to do so. I had come to the conclusion that I can maintain my rhythm with twelve paces (as opposed to fourteen) after three weeks of drills. It must be noted though that I am yet to bowl a single bowl to a single batter. That is something I would want to rectify as soon as my commitments will allow.