The 50 over matches commence.
Poona Sports Club
This morning's 7am alarm was a slight shock to the system after yesterday's much-needed lie-in. We had the first of our 50 over matches, and after our imperious T20 performance, the team was naturally high in spirits.
Skipper Gruijters lost the toss, and his announcement that we were to field first brought about a chorus of sighs from the ICC European Academy dressing room, for which spending the next 3 or so hours under the sun was not the most exciting of prospects. Despite the Dutchman's efforts to explain that this would mean avoiding fielding during the hottest part of the day, it fell upon deaf ears. But he was not wrong, and a cool breeze blew during the majority of the opposition's batting innings.
There were early breakthroughs thanks to Graeme “G-Mac” McCarter, Di Giglio and Aman “AB” Bailwal, who, under the watchful eye of Geoff Lawson, all slaved away tirelessly on a wicket that offered little for the seamers. They continued to make an impact throughout the innings, except Di Giglio, who left the field citing a poorly toe. The wicket was much flatter than yesterday's, and although the likes of Latin, Tewarie and Wylie bowled well, they came away with little reward. Having conceded more than a few runs earlier in the innings, I managed to burgle three tail-end wickets and we bowled them out for 178.
Despite having plenty of overs in which to tackle the total, the Bludgeoner Leask and Gruijters came out all guns blazing, getting the Academy coaching team off to a promising start. After Leask departed, Thompson and the skipper dealt more blows until the latter was unfortunately run out at the non-striker's end. Irishman James Shannon and I enjoyed a partnership in the middle of the innings against the gentle spin bowling, but Shannon's intentions to finish the job off were halted by a questionable LBW decision. Some late losses of wickets caused a few jitters, but eventually we reached their total with overs to spare. Another good win for the ever-improving ECCCC boys.
Unfortunately, Gordon Lord had to return to England this afternoon, leaving behind a wealth of knowledge on aspects of the game that the players have undoubtedly valued enormously. Such is his passion for ‘profiling', he was often seen on the boundary ropes today conducting tests on bemused locals.
After two back-to-back victories, we were aptly rewarded with an all-important extra couple of hours in bed, leading the majority of us to opt out of breakfast. Di Giglio and I, basking in the glory of our hotel room's air-con, sprung out of bed at the sudden realization that we had a Pilates session in mere minutes.
The class was run by the Global Cricket School scholar-come-physio, Iain Latin, who works as a physiotherapist in his native Gibraltar. Despite the less-than-ideal marble floor on which we had to do the exercises, the session proved to be an unequivocal success amongst the players, who all managed to remove any stiffness that had come about over the last few days. As fitness expert Nashy explained with the appropriate example of Welsh international footballer Ryan Giggs, the importance of flexibility can't be stressed enough when it comes to maintaining a long career. Giggs' focus on looking after his body has allowed him to play into his late thirties.
Another quite significant addition to our session was the Australian Women's cricketer, Lisa Sthalekar, who joined the European Academy for the day. As with Geoff Lawson, it's an amazing experience when such professionals are around, as so much can be learnt from the way their carry themselves and their approach to cricket as a whole.
The afternoon was spent in the nets, focussing on match-type scenarios like powerplays and the death. Coach Chris' intentions of a fast-paced, competitive net were halted slightly by the cricketing passion of Geoff Lawson, who couldn't help but stop to impart his knowledge on the bowlers who were meant to be bowling! Meanwhile in the next-door net, Lisa, kitted in full Australian regalia, oozed class against the might of the local spin bowlers.
So after a very informative net session lead by the coaching trio of Phil Hudson, Chris Taylor and Mark Nash, we headed back to the hotel and parked ourselves in front of the buffet - except Di Giglio, who after expressing his discontent once more at the spiciness of the food, had a Domino's pizza ordered for him.