with Barnes, the first pre-season session


A blog by the one and only jrod

I finally made my way down to Barnes at 10am on a Sunday morning. It wasn’t easy, but once I worked out the trip was only going to take 33 minutes, I realised I could make it for one morning. Unfortunately, I picked the morning of the working bee, when I arrived, not long after ten, there were only 2 others there, and there was plenty of work to be done.

The work was plugging all the wholes in the nets. The nets were made of material, and were left out over the winter, and the foxes get caught in them and then eat their way out. Apparently. I mentioned that Australian nets are generally made of metal, which is harder for foxes to eat into. Someone else wondered why the nets weren’t rolled up over winter. But mostly we just fixed the holes in the nets, there were a lot, we used some sort of string typed thing.

To get one net to a usable standard it took about an hour with two of us patching the holes, and one taking the weeds out.

The minute I picked up a ball I knew this wasn’t going to be a big spinning day. I felt like I was bowling basketballs down there. As usual my flight, line and length saved me. I am hard to get too, true. And in pre season nets, when batsman aren’t used to using their feet, I dominate.

This day was no different, the first two batsmen were classy performers, and almost every time they attacked me it was scooped up. Every seemed excited by my bowling, but was that my bowling, or my accent combined with legspin?

It doesn’t matter. I bowled well, without any savage spin, but I did mostly move the ball off the pitch. My wrong un, my back up wrong un, generally hit the pitch, but it is even easier to pick than it used to be. IT is now 2% harder to pick than if I just came in and bowled an off spinner. Must discard it, and work on my better wrong un.

There was one moment though, one moment of pure class mixed in with a lot of stock balls. I was bowling to the captain of the ones, and decided to bowl my Kumble ball. It is where as I approach the crease I jump out as wide as I can just before my delivery and bowl a quicker ball that should straighten a touch. Because of the angle it can by a tough one to play. I don’t know if it was the fact he hadn’t batted much, or my deception, but it pitched on leg and hit middle. It was a masturbation fantasy ball.

The batting was interesting. There was like 4 net bowling spinners, and one medium pacer. I faced a couple from the spinners, and generally hit them, but the real test was from the medium pacer.

Not because he was a great bowler, but because I just could not pick him up. My first shot to him as a defensive prod to a half volley, and to be fair, I don’t know how I hit it.

The next one was a shortish ball that should have resulted in me getting in behind it and defending it off my hip, except I didn’t see it, at all. I backed away. In my first net session I backed away to a medium pacer, they must think they have a batting prodigy on their hands. It was fucking embarrassing. Like I usually do in that situation, I tried to just get back and across from then on in.

The one problem with me going back and across is that I am pants when I move before the ball comes in. Shortly after I got bowled playing an off balance drive on the move. This was not going well.

After I got bowled I went back to my stiller stance, and fuck me, I started seeing the ball. The medium pacer was swinging it, something I hadn’t noticed at all earlier. When he pitched one up I gave it all mighty slap, and I creamed it. He even looked back in shock to say top shot.

That is the moment I knew this bat was for me. The power I had just generated was scary. I am sure a commentator would have mentioned my bat speed on that one. Later on he dropped short again, probably seeing if I was afraid of the short ball after my earlier shitting myself episode.

This time I stood tall and smashed a pull shot through mid on, I probably should have hit it squarer, but was still in indoor cricket mode. Another medium pacer was on, and he greeted me with a proper bouncer, I swivelled on it beautifully and hooked it along the ground to backward square leg. I felt like Ricky Ponting, even if it looked more like the hook shots Damien Fleming used to play.

I finished off with two crashing straight drives, and was more than happy with the results of the net session, early crisis of faith averted.

The bat just worked. It felt great in my hands, when I middled something it flew, and I felt like this was the bat for me. You can’t ask for more than that. It still isn’t knocked in, but it feels like my bat. Thank you Charlie French, here is another free plug then.

From there I spent the next few hours bowling. I started off well, but an hour into my second spell, especially as I spent most of the time bowling with only one other person, I was rat shit. I couldn’t for the life of me get my left arm up, and I resorted to bowling off spin.

All in all I bowled for 2 and a half hours, which is a fair stint by anyone’s standards, but most importantly my shoulder stayed on. I was a bit sore the next day, and that afternoon I died 3 times, but I survived.

Can’t ask for more than that.

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