Test matches, I just love them. I am really excited heading into this series. We’ve had a couple of good days here in Hamilton building into this first one, training hard out on the park with our fielding drills and then into the nets going hard to prepare for the change from white ball back to red. It’s not the just ball that changes but the whole attitude. There is a different atmosphere in the nets, a little more relaxed; probably because there aren’t as many balls pinging around like when we’re training for One Dayers and T20’s. And testament to that was during a net session for the 4th ODI, our new manager, David Curry, learnt a valuable lesson; never turn your back on the nets. He wore a tracer from the middle of Guppy’s bat in the back. Ouch!
The Different skills needed for Test cricket have been practiced hard; the temperament, the control and the ability to resist temptations both by batters and bowlers and from what I’ve felt and seen I have a good feel about heading into today.
A long training on Monday in the nets making sure that everyone got in what they wanted, everything they needed to be in the best space. I bowled about seven overs in the nets and worked on a slightly new grip on the ball which should help me swing it more than I have done in the past, or at least give me a better chance to swing it, and it felt pretty good, my areas were good, lengths good and the energy at the crease good. It’s was a nice day to bowl, not to hot, but warm enough to keep warm in between bowling times. I had a long bat on Monday too. I have been putting in a lot of effort in making myself a better batter to the point where I was one of the last to leave the nets. I faced a couple of very handy net bowlers and then got the bowling machine cranked up for some short stuff. Unfortunately the surface wasn’t the best for what I was trying to do; from the same length it was bouncing from my hip to over my head, just to bigger difference to be comfortable with. So I went and grabbed the tennis racquet and some hard tennis balls and got our fitness trainer to serve me up some bouncers. Good stupid fun trying to duck, dive and play these balls. They still hurt when they hit you, but they’re not going to break a bone or cause to bigger injuries if they hit; although I do have a nice bruise on my right hip from one of the bowling machine balls....
Yesterdays training, the day before the Test starts, is a little lower key. It’s about making sure you have done what you have to, to be at your best going into this match. You do whatever you feel you need to do. We did some fielding first and then I headed over to the nets to get a bat in before the batters turned up and kicked me out. I had Jeets (Patel), a good young leggie (Jono Hickey) and one other quickie who I asked to bounce me every ball; he was quite awkward to play, really good for me in decision making! It was a good net and I got what I wanted out of it.
Batting gear off and got ready to bowl. I got through three overs in the net and then headed out to the middle to bowl three balls from each end on a practice wicket, next to the strip, just to get the feel of the ground again. I felt really good; pace, bounce and a little swing and kiss and I was back to the shed to put the feet up and rest.
There is a feeling going into this match that both teams could be doing some time out in the field, or grazing, as we call it. Both bowling attacks haven’t been as good as the other teams batting line up and so far it has, very much, been a bat dominated series. The only hope is that the decks we get have some bounce and pace in them. We’re not looking for green seamers, but just something that we’ll be able to run in, bowl hard and get the returns that you sometimes don’t get from One Day wickets.
So sit back and enjoy the action, I just can’t wait to get out there!