Since arriving in Sydney I have experienced some great moments, including watching a first-class cricket match, enjoying a great grand final weekend, winning our first cricket match and seeing my first Aussie snake!
Having joined Mt Prichard Southern Districts CC I was keen to get off to a good start and contribute to the team as much as I could. So far the training sessions have been good fun and helped me get used to the different styles of players and pitches I will experience over here. In the future, when the clocks change, we will be training outside, which I think will further improve my game, as I face quicker pace bowlers and better spinners.
In terms of our first game, we had a great start and won pretty convincingly. After the first Saturday we had scored 256, and in reply Lane Cove were 30-1. Unfortunately not getting as good a start as I hoped, I scored a mere 6 runs, when I came in at number 6 in the batting order. However, this only made me more keen to do well when we were fielding and with the ball when bowling. With the match very much in the balance everyone was up for it the following Saturday and despite a storm Friday evening, the game resumed on time Saturday morning. After one batsman drove at ball which was not quite their to drive, I managed to hang on to an ankle height catch at short cover. With an early break through, we were in prime position to exert further pressure on the Lane Cove middle order, yet their batsmen were up to the task and after reaching 100-2 at the first drinks break MPSDCC heads began to drop. At drinks we regrouped and picked up our heads. Realising 150 runs to win, was still plenty, leaving us a great chance of winning despite the strong partnership between the batsmen. After drinks the whole team picked up their game, which was brilliant to see. After a number of good stops in the in field from various people including a couple boundary saving stops from myself as well as those fielding at gully and point the pressure had dramatically increased. With 4 maidens being bowled in a row and signs of chances coming, before long we had the break through. The following batsman were unable to stick around and hold a partnership with the number 4 Lane Cove batsman who top scored with 82. As wickets kept falling I was aware that the chance of getting a bowl was also diminishing. I was slightly disappointed that I wasn't given a bowl, however I was pleased with my strong fielding performance at short cover which including a catch and numerous boundary stopping dives. Obviously the win has to come first and as we were the only grade team out of the 4 MPSDCC teams to win, we went out for celebrations that night.
Between the two Saturdays, I was asked to play in a game on the Sunday. Although the standard was considerably lower than that of the 2 grade, I was pleased to show a good all round performance, with 7 not out, 2 wickets and a catch at cover.
Other than playing cricket, I have also been watching it! Tim, John and I were able to go and watch 2 days of the first class 4 day game between New South Wales and Tasmania. Having heard a number of international players were back playing first class cricket I was excited to see them in action. Once there, we counted 13 out of the 22 players who had or still do play in the Australian team. We managed to watch Henriques score his 150, Cosgrove score past 80, Bollinger take a few wickets, Pointing get a direct hit run out and much more. On the third day of play, Ricky Pointing came down from the pavilion to sign some autographs, so I walked over to get a picture with the old-timer.. awesome!
During the rest of my first two weeks here, I have been out a number of times with some of the cricket guys, who all are very welcoming and great fun. Although still yet to go out in the city properly, I've enjoyed some great nights out and feeds at various clubs and bars. My most recent weekend here was a bank holiday weekend, as it was grand final weekend, where the final of the AFL and rugby league was played on the same weekend, while also lower rugby league divisions had their final too. The Sydney Swans won the AFL title, albeit a very close affair and a game which went right to the last minute, and the Melbourne Storm won the Rugby League final, after outplaying the Bulldogs. I enjoyed a great BBQ with Tim, Diane, Mark and various other family members, as the 12 or so of us cheered on and watched the footy - which reminded me of similar family gatherings that we often have at home.
The final talking point - seeing my first Australian snake! While watching Tim and Stringer play a round of golf (and also giving some very wise advice about their game every now and then) we spotted a Red-Belly Black on the green we had just finished. As the group behind us played their balls on to the green, they had to pause play while they tried to encourage the red-belly to move. It slithered off into the lake, where it glided through the water with ease and at some pace. Meanwhile, some brave ducks and swans chased it and tried to peck it!
In the next week or so I will continue to look for some part-time employment, while also starting a fitness schedule that I will endure through the week, finally I will continue to enjoy the warm Spring weather!