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.