October 8, 2018
I was conscious of the weather. If it was going to rain, I wouldn’t bother attending practice like I have been doing in the past. However, when I checked before heading out, it was going to be clear skies. Hence, I’m off to practice. Since I finished work late than expected, I ended up arriving practice after it started. I did my catches; 10 short, 10 medium, 10 long, and just before I was about to head to the nets, Mick Delaney, our coach decided to call everyone in and sent us on a fielding circuit that was started in pre-season. Rather than doing it pairs, we were doing it in groups of four. I got some considerable help again from Lukey Ryan during slips catching with the Catch It ramps since he noticed I was not relaxed in the hands since I had a tendency to reach out to the ball with the hands, which explains why the ball pops out of the hand. So he suggested two things: One, to be relaxed and allow the ball to come into the hands and Two, to use my body rather than my hands to go to the ball. It worked….. part of the time, but I was still showing the same habits which the catching continues to be a lottery. Later on, when doing slips catches with BT, I had better luck despite being closer to the bat, so the advice did me no harm at all. During the fielding circuit, I was doing high ball catching. Despite my fingers being pointed occasionally to the sky, which isn’t quite a good idea, I was able to still catch any high tennis balls that came my way because I was trying to get to the ball to get into a steady position to take the catch. Given that my success rate was pretty good on that day, it was a great confidence booster after the pre-season mishap.
After the fielding circuit, it was time for the nets. I ended up spending the whole time bowling simply that I was more focused on fixing up my run-up, which can also help in fixing my accuracy together with my running technique. I was bowling well as I was beating the bat with either length or with movement. Mick Dentrinos who started giving me crap because I played for his club’s enemy Riverton Rostrata (he used to play for SJ Blues in the SMCA competition in Perth) was kind enough to notice that I was slowing down before delivery (I was worried about the front foot no-ball) and suggested that I tried to breath to pump oxygen into my muscles to help me power through the crease (perhaps it might also help me to relax a bit since I might be a little tense). I started incorporating the suggestion, but I will probably have to try over a more extended period and see if I can maintain energy on the ball for a full spell of bowling or not.
Overall, it was the right decision to attend practice today even though I will not be playing this weekend. Had I not gone, I wouldn’t have received such invaluable advice from senior players and perhaps would continue to struggle for a little longer (especially given how I bowled over the weekend).
October 10, 2018
I was starting to get a bit obsessed with my running technique. Especially my set up position and stride lengths in particular. Rather than hit the treadmill today, I decided to focus on my running routine at the gym but in the functional rooms. Jock Campbell, the former Australian fitness coach, calls it the Running ‘As’ in the BowlFit app that I use (co-initiated with Mitchell Johnson). From the repeated efforts of these ‘As,’ I was able to work out a decent bowling run-up so that I can gradually increase my speed before delivery. I still need to practice this continuously, but as long as I run on the balls of my feet, then the technique itself would be efficient. My only regret was why didn’t I work this out during the off-season or even pre-season. Only because it never really occurred to me. Still, I was happy with what I came up with, but I need to try it out in the nets soon.
October 11, 2018
Today would have been club practice, but I was under the impression that it would be a hard session, as Mick Delaney would have told me. I interpreted as if practices would be similar to how we would play in a match. For me, it’s probably no good for two reasons. One, I’ll be away from action this weekend, and Two, I’m not mentally ready as I’m still trying to get my bowling right. Hence, I ended up practicing on my own after work rather than go to Kippax to practice.
I started off by focusing on the running technique working on the drills from yesterday before gradually moving to bowl with the same technique. I was trying to sprint through the crease, but I slowing down in momentum with my rhythm going astray. Gradually, I worked up a happy medium in terms of my running speed that will allow me to maintain my technique and momentum. I was bowling a bit full and wide, but the pace was there. Not extreme pace but enough to maybe beat the bat. But I had to be careful since I soon realized that I was twisting a bit, which could give me back trouble. So I adjusted myself that can get closer to the stumps and altered my running technique slightly so that my hands are brushing my sides. My lines suddenly improved as I bowling a lot straighter, and I didn’t feel any back pain at all. My front arm is going to be the key in terms of where the ball will land. I still am trying to hit the right length, but if I don’t give too much room that I might be okay. Later on, I realize if I can get that front arm higher, than I might be able to hit the right lengths. Significant progress has been made, and I’m ready for training next Monday.
So, training on my own proved to be the right decision.
October 20, 2018
Unfortunately, I did not do any sort of cricket activity outdoors for the whole week as I was really sick, which lead to me taking time off from work as well. The doctor did advise me to rest instead of undertaking physical activity for a week. So I ended up being stuck at home instead of going out to the gym, training, or even going out to play. Missing out on game time wasn’t a big deal, given that the club had full availability across all teams that weekend. I told JP that I was disappointed to miss out because of my sickness, but he told me to rest up and assured me that there will be opportunities later on since it’s only the start of the season. Today, because it rained so bad around mid-morning, I was doing a rain-dance, which helped me feel better with regards to missing this week. As it turned out, most of the matches were washed out.
October 21, 2018
On the way back from a short gym work-out, I thought I might try to roll my arm over at the Franklin nets, having had the week off from physical activity. I was experimenting a bit more regarding my load up technique before delivery, which allows me to rotate my bowling shoulder a bit quicker. That involved angling the loading hand a bit so that I can also swing the ball. When I tried this approach, I was able to swing the ball a lot better at an extra pace. Then, an old colleague of my brother’s Ashok (who now works for APVMA) came down to practice. As he recognized me from previously, he asked me to give him a few balls to face. I immediately obliged. I was bowling a bit short, which was reflected when Ashok was backing away and hitting strong uppercuts. When I pitched up a bit more, he was going after me still. Then I realized that I was giving him width, which made him free the arms regardless of the length. I tried to focus on bowling straighter, wicket to wicket, which provided immediate results. I was beating his bat more often than not with my out-swing, even knocking his poles out once as well as hurrying him with a short ball that would have grazed his elbow. Today was a success in terms of fixing my running technique and my bowling arm. If I can maintain it for a more extended period, then I could well be too hot to handle.
October 22, 2018
Given that I was still on the recovery trail after a week off cricket due to illness, I decided to go for another short session of bowling instead of practice. I wasn’t quite at my peak health either, and it showed in my bowling. After the equivalent of 2-3 overs of bowling at full tilt, I was out of breath. I did try cutting down my successful intensity, but I felt that I would be more potent if I can recreate the efforts from yesterday. Perhaps it was a right call not to attend practice today, given that we now have the fielding circuit in place, which is at full intensity. I could have fallen even sicker and miss another week of cricket, which would have been a disaster. Nevertheless, despite the minor setback today, I finally felt at peace with my run-up, having managed to video record my bowling to find that I had been able to land my front foot in the middle of the popping crease.
October 27, 2018
So I managed to get picked for today, but in the 2nd 5th-grade side, that will play ANU White. Last week I would have been selected there since they didn’t have many bowlers compared to the other 5s side lead by Archie only for my illness to prevent me from playing. Today, I wasn’t really that great as I was coughing and sniffling, but I keen to have a crack regardless because I won’t be able to play next weekend.
When I got there, the wicket looked green (similar to the wicket I saw in Kippax three weeks ago; hence I thought it would deteriorate slightly) but looked good to bat on. I shadow practiced bowling of a shorter run due to my slightly improving health. I knew it was the opposite of bowling off the long run, but at least I can try to get through as many overs as I can.
We lost the toss and were bowling first. Simon Edmonson and I were primary out-swing bowlers, so we had to compromise on who gets the end with the breeze. In the end, I gave in, allowing Simon to bowl with the breeze blowing away. Simon immediately bowled a maiden, and I had my chance soon after. The first ball went down the leg side, but instead of being penalized for a wide, I got away with it and also proceeded to bowl a maiden. Simon then conceded two runs (albeit of an edge that fell short and bounced over our keeper Dan Heinrich’s head). Three overs, 0/2. I bowled another maiden but after bowling two wide and loose deliveries (one full and one short) that were not punished. Again 0/2, which stayed that way after another maiden from Simon. Both of us were keeping it tight. Pretty good start on a batting wicket.
However, I was getting a few deliveries to jump and keep low at times, and despite the breeze blowing into the right-handers, I was able to generate my out-swing movement, which explained why I had yet to concede a run so far. It stayed that way for my third over, but I had a wicket on the 2nd delivery. I over-pitched, Lang tried to drive, but Malik Prasad took an excellent low catch to his right at short cover. I got a wicket on return with a bit of luck, but it was created by all the pressure that was created.
Considering the situation there were in (6 overs, 1/2), the other opener Whitehead chanced his arm against Simon and I and picked up a couple of boundaries. Their run-rate improved (for the record, I finally conceded a run in my fourth over, eventually going for just three) slightly. Before my fifth over, Vasu Patel, our captain, told me it was my last over since he was saving me up for the end. Fair enough, but it would have been nice to bowl out. For that reason, I gambled with a slower ball (the only one I bowled all day), which was a full toss hit for four by Whitehead, but I got a ball to keep low, which the breeze helped it to pitch on the stumps. After a prolonged appeal (by then, I was on the ground after a slip), the umpire gave it out. I finished my spell with a wicket and had both openers dismissed. They were 2/18 after 10 for which my analysis was 5-3-7-2.
Adam O’Connor replaced me with his left-arm spin and prized out two for himself. Bell caught well at slip by Simon before having Giddens lob up an easy catch to Sumanth Purelli at slip. They were 4/49 at drinks after 20 overs, and we were over them.
ANU White improved their run-rate by the end of the innings, but we still ensured that we restricted them to a straightforward total. In the process, Brandon Edgerton had a wicket with Simon taking a good catch at deep-mid wicket to dismiss Ford after Vasu Patel bowled a tidy but wicketless four-over spell. During his spell, Vasu went over for me for advice. He was telling me that with the shiny side on the left, it should swing into the right-hander. Technically that’s correct, but I suggested that he angled his wrist though since swing was also from the wrist. I thought he got a few to swing back after the chat from the way the batsmen were defending him rather than letting him go.
Adam O’Connor replaced Vasu and got the wicket of Blackman, who hit a full toss straight to Malik at cover. Knowing that they were going after the bowling, I suggested Malik to stand back, and thankfully, he was able to catch it since it came at chest height. Adam apparently told me that he tried a front of the hand variation, which didn’t quite come out, but it prized out a wicket nevertheless. He finished with 3/22 from his 8 overs. Simon and I soon came back on to close out both the innings and our allocations of 8 overs maximum. Simon kept it tight as he did earlier in the day and finished with the wicket of Connor Boyce (who anchored the innings with 28) LBW as he tried to hit across the line. His figures were 1/17.
At the other end, I leaked two boundaries to the wily old fox in Peter Foley. I firstly over-pitched, which he cleared Malik before swinging me over mid-wicket for two boundaries. But I came back. I nearly had Foley holding out at long-on, but Dan Heinrich (who passed the gloves to Sumanth at drinks) couldn’t quite get around it, and it went for four. Apart from that, I kept it really tight and only conceded nine from my last two overs. I finished with 2/24, pretty good return despite not being at my best health.
ANU White, therefore, finished with 7/119. If they perhaps batted a bit smarter with intent, we could have been chasing at least 150 if not 180. But we have no complaints as it is just a matter of batting sensibly to get the runs (simple maths, exactly 3 runs an over).
We didn’t quite get off to a good start. Malik tried to drive but hit a catch to mid-off in the first over. But Rahul Desai and Sumanth guided the chase, but they soon departed to leave us on 3/53. When Simon got out, we were 4/70. We were slightly shaky, but we just needed one partnership to guide us home. Aditya Dwivedi ensured that the chase went smoothly as he punished anything loose to the boundary as he compiled an unbeaten 58, his first fifty for the club. At the other end, Vasu supported him initially, but he soon perished. He nearly got run out. He pushed a ball to the off-side, called for a run, which Aditya denied before he tried to scramble back. He dropped his bat mid-way, but the ball missed both the keeper and the stumps by which it allowed Vasu to return to safety. Nevertheless, it triggered a series of discussions on how not to run out the captain on the sidelines. I overheard Simon telling us that he had run out the captain once, and he ended up fielding at fine-leg and not bowling for three games. Ouch!
Vasu eventually perished when he tried to sweep a ball away on the leg-side but was bowled when the ball hit the back-end of the bat and onto the stumps. It was 5/103, but it was soon all over just before drinks as Aditya continued his merry way.
We had won by 5 wickets and continue our unbeaten start to the season courtesy of an all-round performance, and we ensured that we sung the team song with full gusto. I went over to the Keith Tournier Memorial Oval to see how our other 5s side was going. But by the time I arrived, I heard the team song chanted nice and loud, so that meant they won too. It was great catching up with the guys I played with last season.