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.

Golden Grove vs Prince Alfred Old Collegians at Harpers Field, October 19 & 26 2019

October 15, 2019

It was raining today on my way home from work. I did wonder if we were going to train, but in the club’s private Facebook group, training was on even if we had to spend the session fielding. I then wondered, despite that If I should still go. I don’t know how it occurred, but I had a slightly stiff neck, which pains more when I move my head to my right. However, considering it didn’t affect my ability to lift weights yesterday, especially when doing back squats with 85kg, I should be ok.

I eventually turned up to training, immediately ran a lap around the oval, stretched, and then engaged in warm-ups by trying to hit the stumps, which I achieved on the sixth attempt. This week, we were back at the front oval with the turf nets as the new school term had commenced. It meant that we could at least have proper preparation on wickets we’re likely to encounter during the season.

Today’s focus with the ball in hand was trying to run-in quicker and hit the deck harder by pulling the left-arm with extra force. Even though I was back to my usual inconsistent usual self, I managed to get a bit more out of the wicket in terms of pace and movement. Since I was bowling with “well kept” ball with one side rough and the other side shiny, I was able to swing the ball both ways despite this inconsistency due to perhaps an occasional poor hip alignment when it occurs whenever my legs/arms are not straight. The solution to that is to pull the shoulders back before running into bowl.

October 18, 2019

Yesterday I couldn’t attend training since I finished work later than usual, which resulted in me arriving home at 6pm. So I decided it would have been better if I spend time in the gym instead. Moreover, I had been battling with a pain (perhaps tightness) around the right rear deltoid, which provided some discomfort when lifting the shoulder. Thereby, I didn’t see any point trying to train while the pain/tightness was there.

As the pain slightly decreased, I tried bowling with it. I managed to move the ball, but the length was mostly back of a length, which I wondered if was the right length for turf wickets here that would be generally slow and low like in Canberra.

That aside, I was pleasantly surprised that I was promoted into the C1 grade for the two-day starting tomorrow rather than facing my old club, Adelaide University, in C2s. I was looking forward to meeting some of the guys, knowing that some barbs that could come my way as well as going in with some plans against some of their players whom I know well. Later in the season, I might have another crack at them if I play in C2s. Irrespective of this, I’ll be making a return to two-day cricket, having not played the format since over 18 months ago. I remember indicating to the club when I wanted to join them initially that this format suits my conservative game well and also that several of the committee members telling me that I’m likely to play in the higher grades. I’m confident, but as long as the pain/tightness subsides in time before we go out to field.

October 19, 2019

The good thing was that the pain/tightness had subsided by the time I arrived at Harpers Field, the venue for the next two Saturdays. As it was a footy field, the ground looks very big, but it has a fast outfield as the grass had been very well-cut. The strange thing was that the pavilion was further away from the ground, but then again, it was closer to the other football oval at the venue. I was there with Dan “Mose” Mosey, Mitch Larsson, Rory Hustler, and Jacob “Leaky” Leak. We were all wondering where the rest of our team? So we five made the walk to the ground and saw Antony ‘Brabs’ Brabham, our captain for the day. He already won the toss and decided to bat in spite of him not looking at the wicket. His reasoning was, “Let us get a total on the board and take it from there.”

When he did look at the wicket eventually, it was rock hard, so perhaps it was a good toss to win. Eddie Thomas and Leaky opened for us, and both had a few nervous moments. Eddie was dropped twice while Leaky played and missed a few while nearly spooning a pull shot to mid-wicket. Nevertheless, slowly but steadily, almost got us through the first hour until Leaky guided a short ball straight to Gully.

From 0/25, the rot started to settle in much like what had happened last weekend when the C1s lost 9/45. Mitch having got off the mark with a confident push through the covers for two, mishit a short ball to midwicket. Matt Dickinson and Angus Lange had their castles rattled. Eddie, having held the innings together with our only double-digit score in the innings, clipped a low catch to midwicket. Next ball, Lincoln Halton was trapped LBW. Rory was run out, trying to take a quick single. Sohil Jayaprakash, having played a few leg-side shots, chased at one and edged behind. Mose also chased at one was caught in the gully. Next ball (of the next over), I was adjudged LBW when the ball hit my left toe. But I should have known better knowing that the ball has been mainly coming into me. Despite playing a few drives, I was unable to make my first run in Adelaide, thereby making my long walk back to the pavilion (literally). We were bowled out for 58. A collapse of 10/33.

The Golden Grove openers got off to a flyer but punishing anything loose from Brabs and Mose. It eventually helped them to win on the first innings by stumps, but not before Lincoln made his mark in the field. He took a flying catch to his left to help Brabs dismiss the first opener. Then he took a caught and bowled off the other opener and then cleaned up their number four left-handed bat via an inside-edge. Meanwhile, I only managed a couple of overs in which I wasn’t too bad; I could have done better. While I at times managed to beat the bat with pace and movement, my lengths and lines were inconsistent (particularly when faced with a left-right combination). Regardless, I was disappointed when a catching chance just fell short of Mose at mid-on, which would have been some consolation. I would be more disappointed next weekend if I didn’t have the opportunity to add on to my figures of 2-1-3-0 next Saturday.

October 22, 2019

Today was a warm day to be practicing. It was about 33 degrees when I rocked up to practice. But I was physically okay. After a jog around the oval and some theraband stretching, I got bowling immediately. I commenced considerations of whipping my right arm through, which would allow me to disguise my seam position better than before. I had some success as I have been able to swing the ball both ways at pace. This resulted in me hitting the deck harder and beat the bat from time to time. To be honest, though, I was better before batting practice than after as the running between wickets exercise left me to the brink of exhaustion.

That will be a problem if I have to bowl immediately after batting in matches. If necessary, I would need to ‘wing it’ and cut down my run-up length.

Speaking of batting, I knew before the session that my stance had let me down on Saturday, and I managed to correct it today. If my hands are around my waist and after lifting the bat, I have a more significant, fluent swing that allows me to be decisive as to whether to play or leave it alone. As a result, this allowed me to bully the finger-spin delivered by both Will Farminer and Don Kieu by either going down the wicket, going right back in the crease, or slog sweeping from the crease. I hope though to be facing more pace on Thursday, considering that Golden Grove didn’t need a spinner to bowl us out on the 1st day.

October 25, 2019

Soreness in the chest from Tuesday’s bowling (perhaps muscles that were not previously used) was my “excuse” for my absence from training yesterday. I reasoned that the soreness would prevent me from training at my best, which would dampen the confidence leading into the weekend.  While the soreness did minimize, unfortunately, I hit my right forearm by accident on the door while getting out of the toilets. While it was an impact injury, it didn’t stop me from holding dumbbells in the gym nor practicing shadow bowling.

October 26, 2019

After all, in spite of the rains, we are playing. That was good; otherwise, I would have been disappointed that I didn’t get an opportunity to turn my performance around. I relaxed by accepting “failure” in terms of making a pair with the bat or possibly not bowling at all or getting smashed around the park. Moreover, it also helped to know that I wasn’t going to be playing for a couple of weeks, so I just go out, relax, and have fun.

Brabs told us before we started that the ball is likely to stick into the surface and motioned for us bowlers to pitch it up. He started off proceedings with Mitch by only conceding just 15 runs off the first 12 overs of the day. The result of that pressure was the wicket of Woods, one of the overnight batsmen caught (just) by Rory at mid-off on the second attempt. While Brabs continued bowling, Mose replaced Mitch, and after a couple of inconsistent overs, he pitched one on the stumps and castled Innes. Five down for about 90 at drinks, Brabs brought me into the attack.

I was trying to concentrate at the batsman’s pads to help me hit the excellent length, and gradually having shortened my run, I was able to get the ball to swing away from the right-hander without having to telegraph it to the batters. The last ball I bowled in the over had clipped the outside edge of the other overnight batter van Rooyen, which was held by Josh Bean, who came in today in place of Lincoln. The umpire didn’t give it out, but the batter walked. Some relief that I finally got on the board. In my next over, Ward tried to lift me over the top, but it only got as far as mid-on where Brabs took an easy high-ball catch. 7 down for 103.

Next over, I should have had Henderson out twice in the same over. Rory got a fingertip to a lofted drive, which still went to the boundary, and then Angus did not get close to a high ball at point. However, Eddie knocked him over with a quicker ball that rattled his castle.

But I add another wicket soon after nevertheless. After Fairington left a couple of out-swingers, I went wider of the crease and bowled an in-ducker that was kept out. However, I went back to my regular running line and bowled another out-swinger, which he tried to hit over the top but only to Rory at mid-off who took it cleanly. I now had 3 wickets. First such haul in two-day cricket for me, and I nearly had a fourth if Dicko had taken a skier at Cover. I was taken out of the attack, but a haul of 3/15 off 8 overs is indeed a good day’s work.

Eventually, Mitch returned and cleaned up Marks around his legs to finish Golden Grove’s innings at 130. Within the two hours, we took 7/70 and thereby only trailed by 72 runs.  As it was just past 3pm, we jointly agreed to have tea. Suddenly there was tension between the two teams. Most of our guys thought we did enough to prevent a 2nd innings, but the Golden Grove captain was insistent in bowling the 36 overs remaining for outright.

It was then just a case in not losing too many wickets in the first hour. Eddie was badly dropped off Ward in the first over by Innes before he scored but gradually was resolute throughout the first hour. Josh Bean opened with him and survived for seven overs before he was plumb LBW off Ward playing back.

Mitch came in, and after playing and missing, he toyed with the bowling in a manner like Viv Richards would do whenever he came in at no. 3. He played some drives and cuts and also dominated Woods’ leg-spin by coming down the wicket and hitting over the top as well as smashing a long-hop for six. Through his onslaught, we were 1 for 63 at drinks when both captains decided to end the match when it became clear that an outright result would be impossible. Perhaps that call would have been harsh on Mitch, who was just four shy of a first half-century for the club, but Brabs wasn’t aware of it. Oh well.

In the end, last week’s performance really killed us despite our fightback, but we should be proud nevertheless. I had a good bowling day, and I was able to use the ball to swing the ball both ways without telegraphing my intent to the batters. All the recent work I did with Luke in April indeed paid off.

Prince Alfred Old Collegians vs Brahma Lodge at Park 15, October 12 2019

October 10, 2019

Today was a good session, as I have felt that I am at reasonable space skills-wise. For once, my bowling improved in consistency, occasionally straying in line or length. Not only was my run-up smoother, but I was also able to land a ball on a length bowling wicket to wicket and sometimes getting the ball to swing away from the right-handers. This was the line of attack I attempted with some success last week. But today, I was making life hard for a few batters by either hitting their edge or beating it. In particular, I gave Patty Sadlier, the C2 grade/4th XI captain, a tough work over. I suppose that might be one way to get selected.

The only downside was the surface that we were training on due to the school holidays. The outfield, in particular, was very sandy, which I noticed while I was warming up by throwing at a single stump. While it wasn’t affecting my run-up, the sandy surface didn’t allow me to accelerate my run-up. Moreover, it was tricky running on the sand during catching practice after having a hit with the bat. Catching, in particular of the high-ball kind, was tricky, but some advice, particularly from the higher grade players, allowed me to finish my fielding stint on a high note. The information I got was to set up a stable base by attempting to sprint to where the ball could possibly land. It was the same advice that Mick Delaney gave me at the time while I was in Ginninderra. But it seems the lesson had been forgotten.

So as I said, it was a good day, but it remains to be seen where I’ll be playing this weekend.

October 11, 2019

As it turned out, my spell to Patty Sadlier did my selection no harm as I was picked to play in his side in C2s. I found out through a Facebook post made by the club, which indicated that four people were making their debuts for the club. Surprisingly I wasn’t one of them. Thereby, I politely commented that it was my first game as well. They probably overlooked it, but you cannot blame them for thinking that they felt I was around for a lot longer than since the preseason. Nevertheless, the overall mutual feeling between myself and the club is pretty awesome, ensuring that the decision to switch to this club was extremely justifiable.

October 12, 2019

We were bowling first today against Brahma Lodge, and I was scheduled to come on as a change bowler behind Dan Mosey and Andy Heitmann. Before we step out to the field, we had to sign a ‘contract’ to ensure that we will uphold the spirit of cricket this season. To further add to that, the “Captain Serious” initiative was brought in whenever we show dissent as the intent is to make sure we respect the umpire’s decision. As it was wrapped, we don’t know what it was, but from the way it was described, it doesn’t sound that great at all. Might as well; just accept the umpire’s decision and move on.

Andy ensured we got off a good start by rattling Clark’s stumps off the fourth ball on the innings. But he should have a second wicket within his initial four-over spell when our appeal for caught behind against Dodds was turned down. I came on after Dan completed a wicketless five-over spell for nine runs (including three wides before he bowled his first-ever legal delivery). I tried to bring the ball back into the left-handed Craig Fry, which turned out to be a half-tracker, but…. it didn’t rise striking him in front of middle and off when he tried to pull. So I appealed, and he was given out. As people say, “Shit takes wickets.” It cannot be any more accurate.

As it turned out, it was to be my only success for the day, but I should have at least finished better than figures of 1/13 off my four overs courtesy of some misfields. Nevertheless, Patty was pretty happy with my spell. Eddie Thomas had Ryan bowled off an inside edge, which prompted early drinks to break. We were then slightly frustrated in spite of keeping the run rate in check, but from 3/56, Brahma Lodge collapsed to 7/65.

Cam Fry tried to chance his arm at Don Kieu by hitting into the mid-on region where I was lurking at wide mid-on. So it went to me, and I took it after an initial juggle. I, at least, remembered to steady myself to take the chance, making sure all the efforts on Thursday paid off. I have taken both a wicket and a catch on my debut, which was precisely the same sequence in my (then) appearance for Adelaide University last season.

Eddie then outshone me with his own catch. Dodds had tried to loft Andy down the ground, but it wasn’t well-timed. The ball was coming in Eddie’s direction, but as it couldn’t get two hands, he tried with taking it with one, his left, and it stuck, much to everyone’s surprise.

Don then trapped McCappin LBW before Andy cleaned up Manton.  Both finished with 2/19 off 8 overs and 3/11 off 9 overs, respectively. It was then left for Jack Emmett to clean up the tail and ensure that Brahma Lodge failed to bat their 40 overs. The last three wickets of Blight, O’Loughlin, and New were all bowled to help Jack finish with figures of 3/13 off 7.5 overs.

Now we had to chase 102 to start on a winning note. Eddie and Connor Craigie got us to a steady start by resisting for 10 overs and accumulating 29 runs before Connor slashed at one that popped up in the air for a catch. Charlie Austin came and went when he tried to take a quick single when Eddie clipped one straight to short fine-leg and was run out. When Will Farminer was bowled trying to drive, we were wobbling at 3/40, but slowly, surely, we were regaining control of the chase.

Eddie continued to accumulate until he clipped a catch to Square leg after making 23, which turned out to be our top score. With the assistance of ‘wides,’ Lincoln Halton and Patty guided us over the finish line with a 40 run stand to ensure that we chase the runs down with at least 12 overs remaining. This ensured that Lincoln and I made a winning start at the club.

I enjoyed my first game. Thinking about it know I could not only improve my wrist position, which might help at least try to recreate the results from Thursday, I could also perhaps ditch the knee pads I’ve been wearing as a prevention measure against knee injuries which could at least improve my acceleration in my run-up. Considering I’ll be running on grass in training and in matches, I don’t think I’ll have any issues.

It seems to me that having performed well in the game, I might be around in C2 for some time, particularly with two-day cricket about to get started next weekend. I would like to be involved in that since my recent form within this format has been impressive for Ginninderra. I just have to wait and see, but I should continue to train, especially with my bowling.

October 3, 2019

Preseason has finally come to an end. I am happy where my game is at the moment, and based on Ben’s feedback from last week, the club is too. My bowling finally clicked the previous night after diagnosing the problem to be my run-up. While the consistency is still in progress, I managed to at least make the batters play by going wicket to wicket and occasionally trying to get a ball to curve to hopefully force a rash shot.

The good thing, though is that from next week, I’ll be paired up with someone else who will investigate my ‘pitch map’. This was an initiative by our coach Trent English which is designed to make us more match ready. I’m looking forward to it as it hopefully could guide me to become more consistent.

After the session with Keegan with the bat last Monday, my batting has become a bit more confident. More so on the front-foot, while I’m hoping to become a bit more aggressive with the fast short deliveries. At the moment, I’ve resorted to ducking underneath them, but whenever it’s well-directed at my body, the ball pops up after I hit it tamely. I’m hoping some fine-tuning with my backlift can assist in that regard especially when we’ll be training on the hard wicket nets next week and more importantly if I am going to bat in either the C1 or C2 grade on October 12 (as the limited-overs only sides have the bye).

Basically, I am at a functional headspace with bat and ball and with catching. Last night, I decided to join in the slips cordon drill and caught all but about 2-3 chances that came my way. I try to get my head over my toes so that it helps my reactions, but I need to be careful that my hands don’t follow suit. This is because, ideally, the hands should be giving with the ball to develop soft hands.

Saturday, September 28 2019

Even though there’s still a week to go, pre-season is about to come to an end. While I was hoping to have hit the ground running with Prince Alfred, unfortunately, it hasn’t entirely gone to my expected plan. My bowling, which I still consider my stronger suit, hasn’t wholly produced the consistency I was after while my batting had lacked fluency, which did bring my confidence down.  It was so bad that I wanted a session with just the bowling machine alone, which I managed to do on Monday with the assistant coach Keegan English feeding balls into the machine.

Before that session, I actually revised my batting routine, mainly how I lift the bat. When I went out to face the machine, I remembered exactly what I needed to do, which then not only allowed me to time the ball but also to hit it with some power. Keegan having wanted to analyze me to find faults with my technique, simply said that he couldn’t find anything. In the end, I told him that I had a routine and wanted to make sure I followed it, which I did. After that, even though I was facing slower bowlers, I felt more confident also though I should avoid trying to play across the line against the spinners.

I am more disappointed though my bowling hasn’t entirely developed as I liked due to the inconsistency of the line and length that could be brutally exposed. But a chat with Ben Lobban certainly has raised my spirits. He reckons that after facing me, he would have thought that I would be a convenient addition to his side’s bowling stocks. Having asked him further where he usually plays, he told me its B grade. While I started thinking that it would be a dream to play 1st/2nd XI cricket for a club, he quickly advised me that I’ll probably start in C grade which is fine as long as I can get some overs in every game I play (which he thinks will be a given).

Anyways, I shouldn’t be worrying too much how I’m going right now because Ben reckons that I am doing really well, and others had mentioned this as well.

The moral of the story then…… Quit worrying and start believing. Who knows what happens next?

September 4 2019

The fixtures for the coming season are out. Prince Alfred will be fielding four 2-day teams (A1, B2, C1, and C2) alongside two one-day sides (LO1 and LO5). Looking at the fixtures, C1 has a bye on November 2 and 9 with the one-days teams having a bye on October 12 and January 11. Regardless, it seems that it’s likely that I’ll be able to get a game every week, which would make the annual fees of $315 excellent value for money.

Moving on to training, Trent English apparently threw up around himself and did not rock up to practice. So his assistant, Keegan English, took over proceedings. Due to the numbers, training finished earlier than the scheduled time of 7.30pm. Immediately, I got bowling. Last week, I felt I was often bowling short rather than the length. Having reviewed my bowling footage at the time, I had changed my bowling approach so that I can not only hit a fuller length but also get the ball to move away.

Initially, I continued hitting the shorter length, but after small adjustments like my head position, I finally managed to start bowling at a fuller length with movement. Even though I wasn’t consistently getting the ball to move, I was at least testing the defense of the batters. The next step is to deliver the ball in a fluid motion so that the ball I can deliver the ball I intend to bowl all the time. What I find is that if I pull my left-arm slowly yet in a rhythmical manner, my bowling arm will be able to come around and finish on my left hip. Perhaps I could model my action on Mitchell Starc.

Unfortunately, my batting hasn’t progressed in a similar way to my bowling. Even though I managed to sort out my bottom hand grip in between training, I still continue to have issues with it only because I forgot the change I made. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from guarding my wicket while wearing the British Compliant Gray-Nicolls helmet I purchased recently.

Two weeks in, I have managed to make some progress with my game. But again, more work needs to be done. Mainly on my bowling if I want to be considered among the first-choice attack in any grade. The key is consistency in line, length, and movement. I just need to get the mechanics right.

 

August 28 2019

“Welcome to Prince Alfred,” I thought moments after coping a tennis ball at the back of my head during a warm-up exercise. It was indeed a little unsettling, but that subsided by the time we hit the nets at the Red Center, a recreation and leisure center right next to Prince Alfred College.

After that, there was a significant announcement that the head coach Trent English was to double up as the chairman of selectors. An excellent opportunity to impress with attitude and commitment to all aspects will not do me any harm in terms of getting a game, especially in 2-day cricket. Moreover, he was going to give a bit more focus to Twenty20 as well, which could definitely benefit the longer formats, much like what we had seen on the international stage.

When we went to the nets, everyone who batted (me included) was wearing helmets. Just recently, the ATCA had announced that they were applying the mandatory helmet usage rule enforced by Cricket Australia. I also had found that from Griffo, Cricket ACT was to follow suit. The helmet, though had to be a compliant one (perhaps only because it would also need space for the neck guards to be attached at a later stage). Unanimously, it didn’t sit well with the club, and to make matters worse, it could be likely that the fielding team might have the right to refuse bowling to a helmet-less batter.

There is some validity in the fact that why is it necessary for a competition like the ATCA, which isn’t at the same level as any District Level competition in the nation to enforce such rules. Then again, if we look at things from the other side, it is all about player safety when they get hit. From the administrative perspective, it is all about tragedy prevention (within community cricket in particular).

Anyways, back to the nets session. Having had a month off away from cricket, I was a little rusty. I am still trying to correct the bottom hand so that it doesn’t tightly grip the bat. Nevertheless, there was a sign that the work in the off-season had paid off as my head wasn’t falling over to the off-side while dealing with the ball pitched into my pads.

With the bowling, though, it will continue to remain a work in progress as I had been banging the ball in as opposed to getting it on a length consistently. When I hit the length, edges were being induced. More attention will need to paid to both my release point and my non-bowling arm.

In any event, the cobwebs have started to blow out. There’s one month to go before the season begins to get my routines clicking into gear.