And there lies Day Two of this Test match. A day I will never forget. A day I don’t want to forget. I have never felt like that in a Test match before. I had bowled 16 overs the previous day and woke this morning feeling a lot better than I would do normally. I’m not saying I feel that tired and stiff after 16 overs, I just felt real good. I had done my hot cold the previous night, had a really good massage and hit the sack after writing this. A good sleep, a chat to my wife this morning, breakfast and down to the ground early to get my feet strapped up for today’s play. For those that are interested, the big toe is a lot better. It was still a bit ‘weapy’ this morning, but wasn’t throbbing or painful to pressure. Good job that is otherwise the physio, who was ‘oh so very keen’ to get the paperclip in there, would have had some explaining to do!!
I wore my compression tights to bed last night, these aid in recovery, and I wore them out onto the field to play in too. It just keeps the muscles warm and ready to go. Warmed up well, felt strong and had a good rhythm to my warm up delivers before the start of play.
Dan told me, early, that I was going to be starting up and asked me which end. I wasn’t really bothered; whatever fitted in with the other guy the best is how I usually approach this subject. Maybe I should be a little more demanding in future, as I got the end I really wanted as Dan was going to bowl in a short bit from the other end. Tail wind and coming over my right shoulder, I couldn’t ask for a better breeze.
The plan this morning was the same as it was the previous night, to keep it tight, don’t try to much and be patient. I started with three maidens and had some rhythm that I’d been searching for, for quite a while. My 4th over of the morning I had another maiden and two wickets to my name. Oh, that does feel good. Went from 2-59 over night to 4-59, at this time that was my best bowling figures in Test matches and I was feeling great in my action.
During this spell Dan and I spoke quite a bit, not anything you’ll pick up on the footage, but just in between balls, sometimes, he’ll suggest a ball to bowl or I’ll put a suggestion to him. Today, this was really working. Powell came in and had been there for a couple of overs, Dan suggested that it was time to ‘give him one’, that means a bouncer. One of the better bouncers I’ve bowled, helmet badge height, and flew right past him through to Baz. Right then, I’m going to bowl a few more of these. Next one, top edge down to the fine leg boundary, we caught each other’s eyes and he said “I won’t be ducking any of them.” And that was fine with me. Back to bowling a length ball, he baseballs it to mid on, hard. Millsy may have dropped it (no drams there), but he did stop the four. I did though have a real horrible feeling that maybe, just maybe, that was my chance of a 5fa gone. And after the next ball, Millsy asked me if I was thinking that same thing, this was though while we were celebrating my first 5fa in Test cricket. Powell gloved the next ball, a short one, through to Baz.
Mum and Dad had come up to watch today, it had been a while since they’ve been able watch me play for NZ live. It felt so good to do well, to perform, to have success in front of them. I gave them a ‘wave’ (not a real one, but they knew what it was) on my way through to Baz to celebrate with him and the team.
Nine down and my pal Fidel is in. Oh, did I want to bowl to him. Another chat to Dan on the way back to my mark, “mate, what are you going to bowl to him?” I replied, “I want to hit him, but I’m going to bowl length.” And a smile came across Dan’s face, which was what he wanted to hear. I had two play and misses and the over was done.
Shiv, who is just amazing, was still there. He is fantastic. So much patience and then when he wants to turn it on, he does so. Both Dan I were trying to manipulate the batter towards the end of the over so that we could both bowl to Fidel. Shiv was to good, and we pretty much only got to bowl to him.
I finally got a chance to; I had one ball left in my over. Since Dunedin I had been thinking about what to bowl him as a surprise. A bouncer was just too obvious and a yorker the same. I can bowl a loopy slower ball that, when I get it right, lands pretty much on the crease. And I got it right, from nowhere it droped onto Fidel’s toe and I’ve got six. The wicket I wanted, the four wickets we needed for the day were done, and, wow, I had all four. Sure I would have loved to have added Shiv to that tally, but I’ll take whatever I can get! I celebrated, maybe a little over the top, but at the time, I didn’t care; I was on top of the world. When I looked back at the replay, I felt like a bit of an idiot. I do, do some dumb things out there.
Off the park, my feet out of the boots; oh thank God for that. Toe didn’t give me any problems but the blisters were still sore. I went straight out to watch the Howza and Timmy Mac bat through to lunch. I did my hot colds at lunch; it’s time like this that you don’t mind doing the extra work to make yourself better for the next day. It’s almost a pleasure to get in that tub of ice, a sick man I must be. Sitting watching the boys bat this afternoon was a pleasure, real old school Test cricket. Two down at the close of play and the mood in the camp is very good. A very good morning, and cumulated into a very good day of Test cricket.
I had press to do tonight, a radio interview and the ‘print’ media to do a press conference for. I am starting to enjoy these. And they/you are reading this, so hi boys!
Had the pleasure of having tea with Mum and Dad tonight, really good to spend time with them. Now, it’s bed time. I’ll sleep well, if this buzz wears off that is!