Right, it’s blog time. The sun is shining, and wind is rustling the trees, the sea crashes on the beach across the road and I’m happy to be alive. Life is good, and no flying for a few days!
I’ll tell you also why life is good. Our training yesterday was in the afternoon, leaving the morning free for whatever you wanted. I had a late call from Dan the night before asking if I wanted to play golf. It was a 6.30am leave, but I knew where we were playing, and there was no way I was going to miss this round. 8am tee off at Cape Kidnappers Golf Club. That place is amazing. Look it up and check out the quality of the place. Unbelievable views, amazing scenery and a brilliant, yet really tough, course. It’s fair to say it cost me a bit, especially as Baz and I, who were partners playing against Dan and Jeets, lost the round and had to pay for the other two, including balls, carts, clubs, lunch and whatever else those two could add to the bill. But it was all worth it, I’d pay double to go back and play again; although it’s 2-minute noodles for tea for the next week as I can’t afford anything else!
Back to the hotel for about 1pm, a leave for training at 1.50 so a bit of time to sit down, relax and prepare. As you may remember I wrote that I wasn’t happy with my bowling in the last test and I needed to do some work. This training was the day, as it was the first time since Dunedin that we’ve had the weather to bowl. We always get real good training wickets up here in Napier; they are across the road on Nelson Park, a club ground with decks that most First Class grounds would be proud of.
I was scheduled in to bowl six overs today in a four and a two over spells. My first four overs I wasn’t happy with, the ball wasn’t coming out right. I was working through my checklist of the key points to my action that I practice. Things still were not happening. I could actually feel the ball ‘roll’ out of my bowling hand, rather than being ‘flicked’ out with energy and intensity. I could see by how the batters were playing me that it didn’t have the pace or bounce that I would usually generate. Something was missing. I thought back to the last spell that where I had good pace and bounce, a spell back at the Gabba was the one that came to me, I remembered that I discovered something about my action there; that I couldn’t just rely on my front arm to generate pace but also had to ‘muscle’ it from by bowling arms shoulder too. I know it sounds obvious but I hadn’t had to think about this in the past. The last couple of balls of my first spell I concentrated on pulling that arm through harder with the pec and front shoulder muscles and it worked, almost straight away. My spell finished and I then had a little wait for my bat and second spell.
I then knew, after bowling those last couple of balls, that I was ‘back’! That’s all it can take sometimes, one bad spell and the confidence goes, and then just a couple of balls where it all feels great and the turn around and quality difference is huge. My next two overs were handy, not great, but better. Something I took a lot of confidence from and was looking forward to getting back into the nets today for training.
So that was Wednesday, a lazy night for me after golf and a long hard training.
Thursday now, the day before, and I’ve done my training, back at the hotel and am getting this started early so that I can catch up with a mate tonight. Training today was really good, I had the ‘feel’ from ball one, hit the areas I wanted to and got the feedback from the batter that I wanted. Not a ask questions verbally feedback, but I can see how they are playing me type feedback. The areas were improved, the pace was quicker and the bounce was steeper. Those things combined make batters lives harder than and they respect it in a way that was different to yesterday. They know they’re in a battle and react accordingly. Good feeling!
So this afternoon will be pretty lazy, although the sun is out and the beach is just across the road I’ll be spending most of it inside, out of the heat saving energy for what is going to be a hard, tough Test match on what looks like an ‘Adelaide’ type wicket. I’ll drink plenty of water and get on board as much ‘good’ food as I can. I’ll have a massage this afternoon and then the Cap Presentation and Captains Meeting tonight and then, hopefully, catch up with a school mate tonight for a meal.
My job for this ‘tour’ is tickets. We all get given a job to do while away. Jobs like; looking after the flag before and after the match; same with the scorebook; organise the rental vans; head count to make sure everyone’s there; physio’s assistant; music box; fines and time keeper; autographs...
I am on the allocation of the complimentary tickets around the team. Dunedin was easy and there was quite a few left over after dishing out whatever guys wanted, this match in Napier is going to be different. As Napier is such a nice place for a weekend away and there are a few Central Districts boys in the team, everyone wants their share of the tickets and more. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to please everybody! We’ll see.....
And that’ll do it for today, it’s going to be a great Test match on a great deck; we’re going to have to work hard for five days to get this result.