Trent Copeland

Australian Test & NSW SpeedBlitz Blues Cricketer

Welcome to Pre-Season...

For those of you who have missed the NSW SpeedBlitz Blues boys in the Off-Season, missed the sarcastic hashtagging and banter amongst most of us on twitter and the video updates at www.cricketnsw.com.au. Here is your chance to catch up on things from our end.

So much to talk about, and with the squad all back together this past few weeks I thought it was a great opportunity to give a little insight into what is ‘Off Season’ and more relevantly, what is ‘Pre-Season’ for us. Also a few thoughts on where we have been, what we’re up to and a little interview with the smiling assassin himself – our Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coach Paul Chapman.

The ‘Off Season’ is a loose term in professional cricket these days, and for the most part rightly so. We are paid full-time; therefore it is not a seasonal sport anymore. We have around 4 weeks to ourselves, but we are expected to maintain a level of fitness and wellbeing throughout the whole break. Some of us ship of to county cricket in the UK (ie. Moises, Usman, Kato, Jaquesy, Starcy and Hughesy), some up to the Centre of Excellence and Australia A Tours (Patty Cummins, Nic Maddinson, Kurtis Patterson), some playing Internationally (Timm Van Der Gugten – Netherlands) and some don’t have a break at all – being the Aussie players in IPL, West Indies and England tours. Busy busy.

The rest of us however take some well earned rest, mentally and physically from cricket and spend time doing things with family and loved ones. For me this time has been spent particularly watching my fiancé Kim playing netball and going to the State of Origin Game Two (pictured) where the Blues got up! Go the blues! With Queensland winning the Sheffield Shield and the past six or seven Origin’s, it’s about time we got the wood over them. Hopefully this season in cricket also!

Another thing taking up quite a lot of my time has been the fast approaching day in my life which I will long remember. Our Wedding Day! Plans have all been sorted (Thanks largely to Kim I am sure she will attest to) and a lot of nitty gritties to take care of between now and August! Exciting times all around.

Pre-season for the NSW squad this year started Tuesday 12th June straight after the long weekend. The most pleasing thing and a really great sign heading in to this year is that long before that date, many of the boys including myself were in most days training with Chappo and really looking mustard to get into pre season!

Our first move as a squad when returning was a session facilitated by the great man – Australian, NSW Origin and Balmain NRL Legend Wayne ‘Junior’ Pearce. Not only does the man inspire you with vision of his career, but he is rightly renowned for his intelligence throughout his playing days which has translated into a successful speaking business with over 500 businesses and sporting teams. The day was simple. Got the best out of us. Established clear goals. And most importantly for the playing group, coaching staff and all fans of Cricket in NSW… a clear mantra and set of goals to work towards this season and beyond. One of the most inspiring days I have had in recent memory and hopefully the kick start we need to push on for both domestic titles this season.

So onto Pre-Season we came, and boy did the smiling assassin see us coming. Paul Chapman, for those of you who don’t know is our S&C coach, a slightly built man with glasses and a seriously well functioning brain to boot. As you will see in the interview below, there is theory behind every piece of running, gym, skill work that we do and we are very lucky at NSW to have him as such a great resource.

 

1.     So Chappo, firstly how was your ‘Off-Season’ and what did that entail?

Off-season was great mate, spending a lot of time with my family and my favourite pastime of running around with my two boys.

 

2.     You’ve been dubbed by many of the boys in the squad the ‘Smiling Assassin’. Is this with good reason, or the boys just whinging?

Probably fair, I’m sure there are also other terms used! My job is to take players out of their comfort zone in the process of gaining improvements and I love the work I do, that’s why I do it all with a smile on my face.  

 

3.     What have your plans been for pre-season? Maybe give a little insight to the fans out there the method behind the madness if you like…

From my perspective this phase of the year is an opportunity to address the physical attributes of every player to maximise their performance in the season ahead. The programming is very individualised and will depend on the players’ objectives, training history, injury history, position, current level of fitness etc. as to our approach. At the end of the day, we are looking for improvements in all players in readiness for a demanding season ahead.   

 

4.     Who has impressed you the most since returning to training this pre-season (Aside from me of course…)?

To be honest, I have been impressed across the board with everyone on return this year including you Copes. After all, the players are professional sportsman and they take their career and preparation seriously and to be successful and perform during the year they can’t afford to start from behind.

 

5.     One more genuine question for all of the people out there wearing the parent, coach, trainer and dietician hats all at once - Pre-Season compared to Competition phase… What changes in terms of training/gym/cardio? 

Typically our pre-season will be higher in volume than the competition phase as I have more opportunity and access with players than while they are playing during the year. From a strength perspective at this level, we will focus upon further maximal strength development and ways in which to rapidly develop this force and transfer this to their individual skills. Our conditioning will focus upon improving aerobic power, speed, speed endurance and repeated sprint ability. To be a bit of a science nerd we will look to develop multiple athletic qualities through the use of an undulating periodization model. For those parents and coaches out there looking for some more information about preparation, nutrition and recovery the CNSW Sports Science and Medicine Handbook which is located on the Cricket NSW website can provide some more valuable information.  

 

6.     And finally, you obviously have a great bond with our physio Murray Ryan, is it great to have such caring people in the office at Cricket NSW every day to make life fun? 

Yes, Murray is a great asset to the organisation and also to me as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, as a great Physio can make my role a lot more effective. All the support staff (Stuey, Hatu, Muz, Benny) all get along well and it is a great environment with plenty of laughs.   

 

Sessions named ‘VVO2’, ‘Yo-Yo’, ‘Speed Endurance’ etc are sometimes our worst nightmare, but really do train all our energy systems to enable us to perform come game day. These running sessions have not always been fun, but as skipper SOK says “Find your Dark place” and push through the pain! A common sight after one of Chappo’s sessions is shown below in the picture – “AHHHHHHHHH” is what we’re thinking!

Not only are we training our energy systems, but ticking boxes in other areas too. Yoga has just begun (Pictured) and for those less flexible people out there who will know what I am talking about, it is tough work but helping our bodies be the best we can be. I like the pose in the picture! That one is easy!!

 

Some of the things aside from running and gym work this pre-season are focused on us becoming closer as a group and really encompassing team culture. Paintball. This was our first of four ‘Fantasy Fridays’ in pre-season to finish off the week and have a bit of fun as an entire squad.

One thank you I would like to make is to the ACA Players Association. Often un-noticed and forgotten, Paul Marsh and his team are forever looking after the players – past, present and future. So thanks Marshy and the team from all the Blues Boys. We wouldn’t be where we are without you, and the support of Cricket NSW.

One thing I will attempt to finish on in my blogs this year is a quote of the week. This one goes to Doug Bollinger in a slips catching drill where we had a target of 50 catches in a row. SOK mentioned we had caught 33, and Doug replied “Only 18 to go boys!” In Doug’s defense, he caught everything that came his way! One to look out for in the slips this season.

Until next time, I’m off to find an Ice Pack and rest these skinny legs of mine before tomorrows session!

Copes

Posted 109 weeks ago

The Blues are BACK!

The Blues are Back in town, and fittingly it is SIX big weeks of cricket that we need to be utilizing to get into finals in both the Ryobi Cup and Sheffield Shield Competitions.

SIX being the operative word because the BBL is over and the Sydney Sixers have lived up to their Glamour status coming up trumps in a great final at the WACA. My NSW and St. George teammate Moises Henriques on fire in the final with 70 off 41 balls to win MOM.

Best performed players of the BBL by way of runs / wickets from our NSW squad were…

Nic Maddinson (Sydney 6’ers) 275 runs at 30.55

Phil Jaques (Hobart Hurricanes) 234 runs at 33.42

Moises Henriques (Sydney 6’ers) 232 runs at 29.00

Steve Smith (Sydney 6’ers) 166 runs at 23.71 & 6 wickets at 21.00

Mitchell Starc (Sydney 6’ers) 13 wickets at 13.53

Scott Coyte (Sydney Thunder) 8 wickets at 19.87

Brett Lee (Sydney 6’ers) 8 wickets at 27.00

Stuart MacGill (Sydney 6’ers) 7 wickets at 23. 71

Sean Abbott (Sydney Thunder) 7 wickets at 25.57

Dave Warner (Sydney Thunder) in his one game also deserves a mention with 102* from 51 balls his only innings. Fair to say he carried that form into the test series against India, particularly at the WACA. Keep up the good work Bull.

A large portion of our NSW squad were part of that Sixers team and hopefully we can use that momentum to our advantage against Tasmania this coming week with white and red ball.

Another member of our NSW squad who recently made his debut in Blue colors Timm Van Der Gugten has also been turning heads in the cricket circles, not only for his ridiculous Barbados tan, but for his recent success with the Netherlands in a T20 tournament in the West Indies.

VanDer Gaga as we call him took 5/21 off four overs on debut against Sussex and went on to take 6 wickets at 16.5 in the tournament. He did also mention he got out on a Hat-Trick ball, but insisted he didn’t know it was one so we should let him off this time. A great prospect not only for NSW in the future but also the Netherlands at the T20 World Cup later this year.

So how do we all merge back in together after 7 weeks break scattered all across the country?

For those of us who weren’t involved in the BBL finals, we travelled to Canberra last week for a Three-Day and a One-Day match against the ACT. Fielding a very strong outfit for the first match with the likes of Captain Khawaja, Hauritz, Abbott, Cruikshank etc asserting our dominance early and really getting that match practice we needed. Usman scoring 134 and young Tristen McDonald with 88* on debut. Sean Abbott starred with the ball with 5 wickets on a flat wicket.

The fourth day of the tour was a One-Day match in which I am very honored to have been given the opportunity to be Captain. Captaincy is something I very much enjoy doing and luckily we came up trumps bowling ACT out for 145 and chasing the runs 2 down in 26 overs. A very productive four days and hopefully not the last time I have the captaincy! To all the players who had to put up with captain grumpy… Well done!

This week everyone has been back on deck and no better way to start the week than with two legends of not only NSW and Australian cricket, but our sport in general - Greg Matthews and Mike Whitney to come and address the group about the passion and pride that is the ‘Baggy Blue’. After some very heartfelt words and some tears of pride, the message was across. To be a Blue, is among the most prestigious clubs in the world. The strongest cricketing state, province or territory in the world. And it is our job to uphold that reputation for the rest of this season and for years to come.

A big week of nets, centre wicket scenarios and fielding sessions await, and We are off to Tasmania for our first game back on Saturday, with the Sheffield Shield match starting on Monday. Get behind us, I’m sure theres some big results coming in the next six weeks.

Until next time, go the blues!

Copes

Posted 130 weeks ago

All that is cricket in NSW... There's a lot to talk about!


So after a little hiatus after returning from South Africa, I am back with another blog. This time more my reflections on the recent New Zealand Test Series and some thoughts and predictions for the coming months of the Australian Summer. 

The Aussie team has gone through some changes the last month since returning from South Africa and my most recent test tour. Mickey Arthur the most notable inclusion and a man who brings with him international credentials and hopefully the right foresight to get Australia back to where we belong at the top of the Test Rankings. 

The first real test for the new selection panel and head coach was the two-match (why we play two-match series I will never know) New Zealand series. The squad was announced with injuries to five of our main assets all on the sidelines, but still a very formidable line up. New inclusions were David Warner and Mitchell Starc my NSW teammates, James Pattinson and Ben Cutting who has performed very well this season for Qld in all formats. Stoked for Davey and Starcy as I have played a lot of cricket with both, most recently the Australia A series in Zimbabwe, and they both deserve their opportunity. 

New Zealand provided a good fight in the first test but after some great bowling by Sids and Gazza Lyon in the first innings, it was left to Patto to really break the back of the Kiwis. A spell of bowling which clearly states his prospects not only for the future as people mention, but as Pat Cummins did in Johannesburg last month… A star right now! At one stage Patto had 5-10 and went within a hair off my skinny legs of taking a hat trick on debut. 

Notably Patto was the 3rd straight bowling debutant for Australia to take 5 wickets on debut. Pat Cummins, and Nathan Lyon before him. Unfortunately I couldn’t continue the trend!

So a win in the first test and it was down to Hobart and the newly dubbed ‘Blundstone Arena’ for the second test. I recall a journo claiming the day before the match that Hughesy was standing on.. “a wicket that looked like washing detergent it was that green!” So it would prove to be a challenge for all batsmen but also for the bowlers. It is often the bowlers themselves that put too much mental pressure on to take wickets because the wicket is green and they are expected to roll the opposition for 100. Luckily Patto was at it again ably supported by Sids, Starcy and the great man Mike Hussey bending them around corners as he does. 

Some amazing achievements to come out of this test were again Patto taking a bag full of wickets, but Dave Warner in only his second test was incredible carrying his bat in what was his maiden test century, guiding Australia to what would have been a great chase on day 4. Unfortunately it was to be Doug Bracewell and NZ’s day. Boooo. Don’t like seeing the kiwis get one up on us that’s for sure. 

Now to the fun stuff. I want to say that the wickets that we have had for test cricket in the past three or four tests - including South Africa have been great visually and no doubt a great test for both bat and ball. I don’t know about other people but a match that is ebbing and flowing throughout and not 3/600dec plays 4/390 after 4 days etc. Plaudits must go to the groundsmen for that. 

Ultimately there is pressure on the likes of Phil Hughes, Ricky Ponting etc in the media, both are champion players and Ricky in particular is so infectious and positive around the group, for that alone he needs to stay and I hope selectors and more prominently the media don’t forget the importance of both of these guys in crunch situations in the last month. Maybe not centuries, but scores of 60+ when it matters most. Just saying!

I must say it was disappointing to not be selected for the series against New Zealand but it is “Chin up” and go back to domestic cricket for NSW and take wickets every chance I get. Thankfully it was that week upon my return I was able to join the NSW squad for Sheffield Shield and Ryobi Cup matches against WA at the SCG. My first 5fa in One Day cricket was a timely performance and one that will hopefully springboard the rest of my, and NSW’s season. 

Unfortunately I was then injured in our last Sheffield Shield match of the year before the Big Bash League break. A minor shoulder injury which ruled me out of the Chairman’s XI match and availability for the first two tests against India. Rehab has been going well with a few other boys like Pat Cummins and Benny Rohrer floating around. We should all be back on deck soon, I am going to be bowling again this week and ready for selection early January.

NSW first half of the season has been… How can I best describe it?? Disrupted with signs of promise I think sums it up. We’ve had debutants!
Kurtis Patterson scoring 157 on debut as an 18 year old, 
Tim Cruikshank become a regular member of both formats, and most notably getting his kit off for Cosmo magazine - the boys certainly let him know about it too.
Josh Lalor make his debut in both formats, taking 5fa in our last Sheffield Shield match before Xmas against Tasmania, and selection in Chairman’s XI,
Luke Doran take 2 and 4 wickets in his first two Ryobi Cup games,
Scotty Henry, Timm Vander Gugten also making their debuts. 

Whilst we have shown promise in most matches, and dominated some, our points tally in both competitions is not where we would like to be. Unfortunately two ‘home’ matches at Bankstown and Canberra produced the wrong results in the Sheffield Shield. The return to fitness of Josh Hazlewood and the consistency of our star gloveman Peter Nevill not only behind the stumps and with bat in hand, but also with his kit and rating of team dinner venues will no doubt keep driving us forward though when the season starts back up again on February 4th against Tasmania!

Cards has also been a big dressing room and on tour hit, with 500 the game of choice and the Rohrer/Hauritz combination proving tough to beat. I’m sure they’ve developed some form of language or hand signal to win. Either that or I’m just really bad at reading them!

I will have another blog up soon with my thoughts on the KFC Big Bash League but something to leave you with… 

Johan Botha and Glenn Maxwell to be the all rounders to watch and the Sydney Thunder to be the dark horses.

Until next time,

Copes

For some more of the banter amongst the boys, follow us on twitter…
@uz_khawaja @rohrs99 @mstarc56 @davidwarner31 @pmnevill @mozzie21 @maddo53 @13DSmith @Stevenokeefe72 @stevesmith49 @timdcruikshank @brettlee_58 @scoot_henry @joshualalor @CricketNSWBlues , our awesome musical genius of a video analyst on @benromalis1 … and me on @copes9 .

Also, don’t forget to use the hashtag #gotheblues when talking anything cricket.

Ok this time I’m really out of here, have yourselves a very Merry Xmas!

Posted 135 weeks ago

Back in OZ, so many things happening.. New blog soon!

My new blog will be up soon talking about things like:

- The Australian Team & Performance
- The process of being dropped
- NSW updates
- My thoughts on Big Bash and prediction of the winner/star performers
- My progress with minor injury and what I will be up to in the coming months

Stay tuned for all of this and more at my website, and here on Tumblr.

www.trentcopeland.com.au
http://copes9.tumblr.com

Until then, Merry Christmas everyone!

Copes

Posted 135 weeks ago

Nothing like a bit of Aussie spirit!

Johannesburg and the beautiful Wanderers Stadium is the setting, as we bid to level the test series 1-1.

We arrived at the Sandton Sun, one of the worlds finest hotels which is atop a Westfields like shopping complex named Sandton City (Google it, the place is massive!). Beautiful restaurants in Mandela Square, designer stores, good coffee and for a few boys – a nice hair salon. The boys do like to look fresh for a test match, Huss and Hadds in particular. No Table Tennis or FIFA at this hotel though, so the final rankings are as they were in the previous blog. Well done to Usman, undisputed champion.

The build up to this test match within our tightly knit group was focused solely on proving how we could bounce back from last weeks loss and in particular the second innings batting and bowling. A lot has been said, particularly in the media about how we are struggling but I can assure you this team is not far away from winning consistently. Pup has a real drive and determination for us all getting better every day, and I must say following the loss in Cape Town I really did learn a lot (even though I didn’t play) about how in tune our Australian Captain is with his goal of captaining the best One-Day and Test Team in the world. Pup spoke of things like learning from losses like this, using this as motivation for working harder in the coming weeks, learning how each and every one of us individually copes under pressure, and most of all – how can we help our mates out if they are struggling. 

Training this week has been intense as always, Craig ‘Billy’ McDermott running all the quicks through our paces and also meeting ‘Hoolio’ as he called one of our net bowlers. This bloke was in a women’s size 8 singlet and tight white shorts and most notably, bowled reasonably quick and was happy to bowl bouncers at our boys! We did hear he had been dragged from bowling at the proteas due to bowling 5 bouncers in a row to Jaques Kallis – I think we would have been happy for him to keep going… Another memorable net bowler along the way.

Shaun Marsh had gone home early in the week to be replaced by the Ashton Kutcher of the side (I’ll explain later) - Usman Khawaja in the team. With Ryan Harris unfortunately missing out through injury this test, that left myself and the youngster Pat Cummins to fight for a spot. Unfortunately for me, I missed out again. Tough to be on tour and not be able to contribute on the field, but as I mentioned in my last blog there are many things I can do to contribute off the field. The youngster was raring to go and no doubt is a superstar of the future!

Superstar of the future? Hmmm. How about Superstar right now! Debutant Pat Cummins became the youngest ever Australian to take 5 wickets on debut. Yes, that’s right… EVER. Pretty proud of the 18 year old from the Blue Mountains in NSW, he is no doubt going to set the Australian summer alight.

The Wanderers aka ‘Bull Ring” was a beautiful setting with a fast bouncy wicket for Cummo to make his debut. All the bowlers did a good job to bowl South Africa out on day one, Sids taking 3 wickets was particularly patient and got rewards late in the day.

After bowling South Africa out on day one, our two openers Watto and Hughesy formed one of those memorable partnerships that both of them will be very proud of, as will Justin Langer our batting coach who has worked tirelessly to help the batters get past last week and push on backing themselves. This stand of over 150 is one that no doubt shows the character of these two, and will be the first of many big partnerships.

A little collapse at the end of the day meant we had a lead of 30 going into the second innings minus Watto bowling wise with a slight tear in his hamstring.

The crowd at the wanderers was growing each day, the third day being Saturday which was not only a great day of cricket, but also recognised Breast Cancer Awareness in South Africa teaming up with the McGrath Foundation of Australia to raise funds and “Paint the Wanderers PINK!” – much like the Sydney Test each year. A great cause and one that the whole crowd and all players from both teams got behind, with the proceeds being split evenly between the two organisations. Well done to all involved.

With the extra numbers in the crowd came a few jeers and sometimes VERY loud heckling of our boys. All in good fun and something that Dave Warner and I sitting in the dugouts on the edge of the ground were loving, as I am sure were you through the television microphones. The other thing that I really enjoyed this week in the dugout was the chance to sit with people like Allan Donald, Mike Young and Paul Harris and talk to them about their opinions on just about everything from cricket, to golf, to peanut butter and jam on toast. Yes there is a lot of time killing in between running gloves and drinks.

It seems though Davey and I were not the only ones with time on their hands. After day three’s play had finished, Usman Khawaja – for those of you who don’t know Uz, he is a prankster, always taking the mickey out of people – pulled one of his Ashton Kutcher like ‘Punk’d’ moments on poor old me! Playing a video that he aptly named a ‘Khawaji Production’ in front of all in the change room to which I had no response. Clearly too much time. Well it is here that I say well played Usman, but I suggest you sleep with one eye open as I am on the case to get you back! All in good fun and an essential part of a good team environment, ahem, maybe not picking on me the whole time though.

Day four and this is where the main man, or should I say young man, Pat Cummins stood up and showed the cricket world that he is here to stay. The spell hitting Kallis in the head and then having him edge to pup at first slip is a true sign of how special this kid is. 6 wickets later, a superstar is born and Australia require just over 300 to win the Test match and level the series. Nathan Lyon, on his 24th birthday took two wickets and was well supported at the other end by Johno and Sids. Johno swung the ball most of the day and has been working very hard will Billy in the nets on his arm path and run-up. I have no doubt the rewards are not far around the corner.

After discussions with Pup and coaching staff, Davey Warner and I were on a plane that night to get home to Australia to give ourselves the best preparation – The Aussie A game for Davey, and I will be playing in the Sheffield Shield match starting Friday at the SCG against WA in order to get some bowling in a match before hopefully being a part of the squad in Brisbane for the First Test Match against New Zealand on December 1. Very common sense approach and will hopefully help me get back into the Test Team. I can’t wait to pull on the Baggy Blue again.


Unfortunately that did mean that I had 23 hours on a plane with Davey Warner via Dubai back to Sydney. Only kidding, it was unfortunate because we would be in the air while the last days play was on!!! Ahhhh. Luckily, I was able to get regular updates from my Fiancé Kim at home through the Emirates SMS in the air, and headlines from BBC sport (as the photo shows) this was how Davey and I found out that we won!

What a win! Two wickets to spare and exactly what we needed after last weeks loss and a lot of criticism. Pup and the whole group will be over the moon and I wish I could’ve been there to see it. Congrats to all the boys, Usman on his maiden Test half-century, Punter with 62 showing his true class and hopefully that will take the pressure off the man who is one of the greats and is infectiously positive around the group. Well done to the boys at the end, Hadds, Mitch and Patty Cummins for getting us over the line also, standing up in pressure situations is what we need in order to get back to number one in the world. This is a great start!

One other shout out must go to Troy Cooley as interim coach for this tour, a tough job to be thrust into, but a very switched on relaxed character who definitely helped getting the best out of the boys. The new head coach being named today – Mickey Arthur, very exciting times ahead! A well decorated coach internationally, and one who all of the playing group are looking forward to working with.

So it is home for the Australian Summer, New Zealand and India awaits! I am very glad that I am getting home to see Kim for the first time in 8 weeks. Kim has recently won the Holden International Player of the Year for the Aussie Diamonds Netball team following their World Champs and Test series win over New Zealand and England. Yes I am a little proud. Just a little!

Good luck to the Aussie A boys this coming week against the Kiwis. No doubt some young players looking to push for higher honours throughout the Test and One Day series.

Well, that is it for my blogging from South Africa, we are about two hours away from touching down in Sydney. I hope you have enjoyed the read. I will be blogging throughout the home summer also, so keep an eye out for that on cricket.com.au , cricketnsw.com.au or at trentcopeland.com.au .

Until next time,

Copes

Posted 140 weeks ago

Cape Town, 23 wickets in One Day. And a Day in the life of the "Twelfthy".

The past week in Cape Town has been one that will be forever remembered as the Test Match over in 2 and a half days, 23 wickets falling in one day and unfortunately… Australia all out for 47 and on the wrong end of the result.

We flew in to Cape Town and arrived at the Southern Sun Waterfront hotel, some of us not for the first time, but the scenery is amazing no matter how many times you have seen it. For the first timers the initial glimpses of Table Mountain literally towering over the CBD were taken in - young Patty Cummins likening it to a “Rich man’s Hobart”. Camps Bay - a beautiful restaurant strip at the beachfront and foot of the mountains was a favourite for dinner this week.

This was only the beginning, as the photo above shows, the view from the ground at Newlands is even more incredible. Think of the best ground you have watched or played cricket at… Then throw some of the most breathtaking mountain formations in the background and you have Newlands. Wow.

Aside from the views and serenity of the place that is Cape Town, the business side of things fast approached. Nets and gym facilities were great and all 15 players were training seriously hard to get better every session, and to ultimately make that final XI for the first Test Match against the Proteas.

Unfortunately for me that wasn’t to be the case and I was named 12th man. One of those things in cricket which is disappointing initially but when you realise there is strength in depth and competition for places, it means this current Australian team will be leaving no stone unturned and the four of us (Beer, Cummins, Khawaja and myself missing out) are doing everything possible to work harder and push for selection in next match. More immediately though, our job is to help every player in the team with anything they need. I think this is something that is not necessarily understood by the general public so I thought I would give an insight in to a day in the life of the “twelfthy” and what our job is.

Match Day – The first thing on the agenda is the warm up, prepare as if we are playing in the match because until that team sheet is handed over and the first ball is bowled… Anything can happen! As there are four of us not playing there are plenty of hands on deck – along with the support staff to get things done. 

We go through our warm up as normal with Karps our S & C trainer. Catching balls for the bowlers warming up out in the middle. Then to the nets to throw balls to the top 6 or 7 batters so they feel prepared. This is taking us until about toss time and 25 – 30 mins prior to start of play. In this test we lost the toss and were sent in to bat by Graeme Smith. We now pack up all the kits with S & C equipment, cricket balls, catching mits etc and take them back up to the change rooms.

Now for the real preparation stuff. Going around the change rooms to all batters and getting a drink for them and anything else they may need – some common things like blistex for lips, spare gloves for hopefully a long stint in the middle or chewing gum etc.

The four of us and Karps then prepare several esky’s full of Hydralyte and water (We go through approx 60 full bottles of 600ml Water each day) to have with us down on the boundary for whenever a drink is called or wicket is lost. 

It is my job as the official 12th man to have my whites and joggers on at all times, but we share the duties and that is why you would see all four of us in our whites sitting on the fence. Play begins and our job basically is to be reactive to any signalling from the batters, when a wicket falls or DRS review is taken you will always see us sprinting out to the not out batsman with a towel, drink, lollies and banana if required.

Lunchtime comes around and this is the part you may not know. Whilst the players are at lunch, and the Richie Benaud’s of this world are analysing the game we have our bowling, batting, fitness and strength sessions to do. Obviously not all on day one, but filtered across the 5 days all of these would be done in order to simulate us actually playing in the match workload wise. So day one for me was a running session with Patty Cummins – Vvo2 was the type of session (which is code for HARD WORK x 2!). Bowling sessions would comprise of between 6 to 10 overs at full intensity, and batting is for around 30mins or more. 

Finishing running with 5 mins before resumption of play and its up for a shower and the whites back on to sit on the fence and so on and so forth.

The only difference when fielding is we have to be extremely switched on at all times, have spikes on ready to field in case a bowler needs to come off quickly – which as it turns out with Shaun Marsh injuring himself whilst batting I was required to field the whole match. 

Outside of cricket we had a Barry Richards charity golf day on one of the first days here, which was supported by Cricket South Africa and also Cricket Australia with players and staff from both teams competing in the event and some TV camera crews to put the pressure on our Golf Swings! Long story short was, you guessed it… Ricky Ponting shooting 3 UNDER par with seven birdies. Demoralising for the rest of us mere mortals who thought we had had a good day! A great day had by all in beautiful sunshine and some serious golf played.

The table tennis and FIFA 12 competition has been hotting up, and as you can see in the above photo our official ACTTTA (Australian Cricket Team Table Tennis Association) and FIFA official rankings have been released this week by Alex Kontouris – the only ‘certified ranking analyser’ so he tells us. Usman is proving to be very difficult to knock off his perch at number one. He’s got me mentally that’s for sure. If anyone has got any tips for me please don’t hesitate to let me know!? Hughes, Beer and Langer have entered the frame in the last day or two so watch out for them by the end of the tour. I have been lucky enough through the absence of FIFA regulars Paine and Ferguson from our Aus A trip to hold the mantle there, Siddle and Johnson have beaten me and or hot on the heels! The guitar playing for the record hasn’t progressed much! Lets hope by next post it will be better…

Some of the standout performances this week were up there with the best I have seen. Pup’s 151 in the first innings after being sent in and no one really making it look anywhere near as easy as he did for the first two days was absolute class. Watto with 5/15 in the first innings after having SA 1/42 at lunch it only took him about 20 balls to take his 5 wickets, beautiful seam presentation and swing bowling. Also Ryan Harris with 4 wickets, no doubt the leader of our attack at the moment!

Unfortunately that is about all the good news from this test, as has been well documented, being bowled out for 47 in the second innings and losing after a lead of 188 runs on first innings. Back to the drawing board for us, but I can guarantee you we have been working hard in the days since, and will be up for the Second Test Match come the Wanderers, Johannesburg on Thursday!

Off to Joburg tomorrow and to a HIV/AIDS charity dinner which will be televised live across South Africa. The whole team making a conscious effort to support such a great cause and no doubt a very moving evening.

Enough from me, hopefully next time we meet will be after a resounding performance next week.

Until then,

Copes

Ps. Should any of you wish to follow more of the banter on tour, some of the boys are on twitter… Follow @CricketAus @MClarke23 @Peter_Siddle @Uz_Khawaja @Davidwarner31 @Beery19 @r_harris413 and me @Copes9 .

Posted 141 weeks ago

First game on tour with the red ball and another win for the Aussies!

Arriving in Potchefstroom last week we were greeted by stormy weather and a whole lot of space and serenity in what is a place over 2 hours drive away from Johannesburg. However we were quickly reminded – by four million photos and framed shirts - that this was the ‘home base’ for Spain during their World Cup winning stint in South Africa earlier last year.

Along with the stormy weather came wet training facilities and some tricky net sessions during the week, with all the net bowlers keen as mustard to have a crack at the aussie batters. I know I copped a few in the ribs! One of these net bowlers was a past South African tearaway fast bowler Nanti Hayward. Still with his ginger locks, living and playing local cricket in Potch, he was still steaming in to give us a good test! One of the many things when ‘on tour’ which are unexpected but great memories.

Following our training or match each day there were numerous activities set up for us in our team room to pass the time. Some went for coffees at the nearby shops, some chilled out in the room, but for several others and I, Table Tennis and 9-ball Pool battles were the way forward. It is evident that not only was young Usman Khawaja practicing his pull shot growing up, but also his Table Tennis skills! He dished out many a flogging this week, I’m sure he’d be happy to tell all of you about it. Haha. Fist pumps, screams of Lleyton Hewitt’s cummmmooonnnn were certainly out in force this week. I did have a few games against Punter as well, I can assure you it is no myth… The man is good at everything.

Ryan Harris, Mitch Johnson and Peter Siddle also had a different source for entertainment, during one of explorations of local shops the boys came across a toy shop. Remote Control Cars were the way forward with plenty of space where we were staying to let loose! Rhino was the first to buy, an orange Nascar type car and the craze caught on. By the end of the week Siddy had bought a race car with a big wing and Mitch had surpassed them all with a Monster truck! Of course he did. Last night all of the boys were celebrating our win in the tour match by watching these three hoon there remote controlled chaos makers around the carpark. Great fun.  

The other thing that has entertained me this week has been my decision to learn guitar. For those of you that have been through the process before and are now awesome at guitar, I currently envy you no end because boy it’s frustrating!! Guitar lessons with coach Usman have been progressive but it is like learning to walk again, not that I can remember that stage of my life but I imagine it was hard and took a long time!

Young fast bowlers seem to be a topic of interest around the cricketing world of late, with Patty Cummins bursting onto the scene for us, and most recently in this tour match against South Africa ‘A’ a name to watch out for, quite possibly sooner that you may think is Marchant de Lange. A big tall young man with serious pace. So little was known of him prior to this match that when one of our boys asked Robin Petersen (South African left-arm finger spinner) about him, he replied “I have never seen or heard of him prior to this match!”.

Young de Lange proceeded to forge himself an immediate reputation by taking 5 wickets in the first innings and bowling 5 bouncers an over! Unfortunately I was the fifth of those wickets and copped one on the gloves through to the keeper.

The match itself was crucial in our preparation moving into next weeks vital first test at Newlands, Cape Town. Losing the toss and bowling first was a good opportunity for Mitch, Sids and myself to get into a nice bouncy wicket against some top quality players. The wicket was very bouncy and sometimes not so bouncy, causing numerous blows to gloves and body. Mitch, Sids and Watto all picking up a few wickets and bowling them out was a great start to the tour match. But, it was then just as tough work for us with Shaun Marsh, and skipper Michael Clarke showing the way in gaining a first innings lead, both getting half centuries and no doubt feeling confident heading into next week. Mike Hussey as always a solid 41* at the end.

We did go on to win the match with Watto and Shaun Marsh absolutely smashing the ball to all parts yesterday, which was a great result for us. The main point I want to raise though is Mitch Johnson, finishing with 9 wickets for the match. Bowling the first over with the brand new ball in the second innings and for those of you who saw him bowl in South Africa in 2009 (I did on tv!) he is bowling just as well, if not better. Fast. Swinging the ball. Great control. And most significantly as he rightly mentioned following Sri Lanka, the wickets will come when you do the hard yards. Ryan Harris got a lot of rewards there, hopefully Mitch has the same happen here. Watch out Graeme Smith and co. I say! Maybe even my early prediction for man of the series.

Competition for places breeds success and there is no shortage of that within our camp. With five quicks and two spinners to go into four bowling spots and Usman scoring two hundreds in his only two matches back home in Australia prior to getting here it is a great problem to have in Australian Cricket. Winning matches is also key as Pup makes regular mention, we want a winning culture within this group and we are certainly making the right movements towards that being the case.

Off to Cape Town and ready for the Proteas to come hard at us.  Bring it on! 

Until next time,

Copes

Posted 142 weeks ago

Return from Sri Lanka, back at the Blues... The domestic game in Aus & prep for South Africa

It is an exciting time in Australian cricket no matter where you sit.

As I sit here in the change rooms of the SCG during day one of the NSW v VIC Sheffield Shield match, there is no place like home. A magnificent place for cricket and so much history looking up at the honour boards. How sweet it would be to have your name on there as taking a 5-wicket haul or scoring a 100 for your county in a test match. The NSW boys are in trouble early with the two debutants out and we are 4/45 in gloomy swinging conditions. Will be tough work from here but with Kato and Moises in the middle and plenty of batting to come I’m sure we will be fine! 

Certainly an exciting time in NSW cricket, with Sean Abbott, a hard hitting all-rounder, Scott ‘Scooter’ Henry and Tim Cruikshank all making their First Class debut’s in the last 7 days. Something any First Class cricketer will know and cherish is that first match, that first ball they face, the first runs, and for me… the first wicket you take holds a significant place in the memory bank. I remember it like it was yesterday against QLD at the SCG. Hopefully these three will go on to play many games for us and score plenty!

Its not only debutants which are exciting cricket fans and players alike. There are wickets falling around the domestic scene, hundreds being scored and some new players really shining through in both forms of the game for States and Country. Pat Cummins is one at international level who is obviously causing a stir.  He’s a bright kid with a big future ahead of him and I have no doubt he will play for Australia for a long time to come. Having had the honour of presenting Patty with his Baggy Blue NSW cap last season and playing a lot with him when he first started his career, I will always watch on with interest and hopefully bowling from the other end would be nice! 

Some others who have started well in domestic cricket outside of NSW are Dan Christian, Callum Ferguson and Tom Cooper all with runs against NSW last week, Liam Davis and Nathan Coulter-Nile with plenty of runs and wickets respectively for WA, Jayde Herrick with 5fa in this shield game and the great man former New South Welshman and new QLD Bulls Batsman/Part-Time Skipper/and bowler when he’s captain… Peter Forrest. Foz is a serious talent and it’s great to see guys take their opportunity with both hands.

Here’s some food for thought… Moises Henriques is in serious touch at the moment, with bat and ball. Having seen him do very well in the Champions League T20, come back and start very well in the Sheffield Shield in Adelaide last week and more recently with our great Sydney Grade club - St. George he is most definitely one to watch for NSW and no doubt Australia in the near future. 

The past few weeks upon return from Sri Lanka have seen a bit of grade cricket, which I love playing. Getting a lot of overs under my belt there has been priceless and feel as though I am bowling really well. NSW also had a Ryobi Cup followed by Sheffield Shield matches in Adelaide where I opened the bowling with the SELF Proclaimed “Twin Towers” - Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. Fantastic to see these boys both back on the park after injury and I can tell you they are bowling well and are NO fun to face in the nets. Although we lost that Ryobi game and I ended up with no wickets (much to my disgust) the ball came out great and there were definitely positives to take out of it.  

Outside of cricket it has been great to have some time with my fiancé at home - these occasions are few and far between at the present time with representative duties calling for both of us.

It wouldn’t be fair on Usman and Moises if I didn’t give them a Netball update, Kim and the Australian Diamonds have won their recent test series against England 3-0 with Kim the MVP in the second match which was exciting! They are now locked at 1-1 with the NZ Silver Ferns with the final match on this Sunday in Melbourne. Should be a tight one for a change!!! 

With the test squad being named last week I am ecstatic to be given an opportunity to head over to South Africa. Renowned as being one of the toughest Test Match tours I am sure it will be a great contest! I have been to South Africa previously in 2003 on a NSW Combined High Schools tour lead by Damian Toohey, so I am sure I will reflect on some of those experiences in the coming weeks. The first of which will be at Potchefstroom where we played a match on that tour. For those of you who didn’t know, I was a wicket-keeper then and in the first ten overs of that game I was keeping up to the stumps, got hit in the jaw and proceeded to take no further part in the match - and landing myself the Glass-Jaw award for the tour. Lets hope this visit will be far more prosperous.

I will be blogging along the way in South Africa so I will try to keep you updated with the behind the scenes goss and how we are travelling hopefully on a successful two match tour. 

Until next time.

Copes

Posted 144 weeks ago

I was at the Cricket Australia - Asics Australia Kit Launch in Bondi Junction this week. Check out this CATV video for Interviews, the new kits and behind the scenes from the launch. www.cricket.com.au for more details!

Posted 146 weeks ago

The SSC ground, and the end of my first Test Match tour.

Who would’ve thought a month ago I could’ve said I will play the tour match, take 5 wickets, make my debut in Galle and play all three tests? I can tell you… Not me! Surely not anyone! But boy has it been amazing, I am so thankful and have a serious hunger to make sure I get more opportunities in the near future.

Kim has arrived and it has been so good to see her and relax with her over dinner and by the pool in our down time. The restaurants at the hotel, in particular the seafood, and the shopping at ODEL and Gem stores got a workout and we loved every minute.

After some heavy rain overnight on the first day we arrived back in Colombo, the humidity must surely have been 100000000000 percent and training was intense as always. With Ricky arriving back in time to play this test, and unfortunately Ryan Harris succumbing to a hamstring niggle, there were some selections that were going to be line ball.

It is most definitely necessary to highlight Ryan Harris’ efforts in the first two tests, spearheading our attack and making life difficult with new and old ball for the Sri Lankans. We hope that Rhino will be fit and firing in time for South Africa tour in November. It was our job as a bowling group to step up in his absence and get the job done in this game to secure the series.

So the changes were Khawaja out, Ponting in. Shaun Marsh holding his spot after a remarkable debut. Tough one for Uz who is a great mate of mine and will no doubt get his chance again very soon. Class player. The other change was Peter “Diddy” Siddle in for Ryan Harris.

Batting first we reached 316 all out early on the second morning of play, thanks largely to that man again… Mike Hussey. It’s not all about batting Huss, but in this series it’s been pretty close to it!! Huss was the man of the match (for the 3rd time in the series) with scores of 112 and 94. Taking out the Man of the Series award also. Absolutely genius this man is to watch up close how he prepares is a great example for any young cricketers. Working hard at your game and hitting lots of balls in challenging situations pays dividends.

Sids has been training his beeeeehind off and made the most of his opportunity, taking 4/91 in our mammoth first innings bowling effort of 174 overs (Let’s not mention the fact we took a THIRD new ball!). Mitch, ‘Gaz’ Lyon and Watto bowled extremely well at different stages!

I was quite happy with my performance on a flat, slow wicket ending up with two wickets – which could have been a few more. Lets not mention the DRS at this stage.

The big thing I have learnt in this series with the help of Craig McDermott has been how crucial length is, being able to hit that ‘in-between’ length where batters don’t know whether to commit forward or back. Margin for error with the likes of Dilshan, Jayawardene and Sangakkara is minute!  Regardless of what pace you bowl, if you can control and manipulate this length successfully it makes things difficult for batsman.

The second innings for us was one of great things happen when under pressure. Phil Hughes has received some slack of late and for him to come out and produce a century on the 5th day in the sub-continent, an innings of aggression and statement to the cricketing world was incredible for him personally and crucial for us as a team controlling the match.

The other stand-out was our skipper Michael Clarke. When batting on 16 or 17 not out the big screen flashed the amount of innings and matches since his last Test match century. I thought to myself that could work one of two ways. One, he could let it get to him and affect the way he plays. Or two, which was the undoubted approach he took, was to take the bull by the horns and back himself and his game. A great innings, his 15th Test century and no where near his last.

One interesting fact I learned this test match, was that it was Kumar Sangakkara’s 100th Test Match – an amazing achievement – but what was more astonishing was when he strode out to bat amongst the incredible noise, the big screen showed his scores breakdown. The man in 100 tests has made how many ducks? I guessed 30 when asked by Michael Clarke in the slips. The answer… FOUR! In all of those test innings, only dismissed for four ducks. Astonishing. And a challenge I’d like to take on next time I get the chance.

The match ended in a draw and so the series was ours! Amazing feeling to have beaten Sri Lanka in their home conditions in my first test tour. To have contributed some runs, wickets, catches and a run out has been incredible!

So it’s now time to head to the airport, say our goodbyes to the Cinnamon Grand hotel, Chitral our Liaison officer and to all the boys heading off to India for the Champions League T20 starting this week. Donning the suit and talking to family and friends around the pool bar prior to leaving, a wonderful journey is finished. Let’s hope there’s plenty more around the corner…

Stay tuned for some updates on Grade cricket, NSW Blues training and the start of the Sheffield Shield Season.

Signing off from Sri Lanka,

Copes

Posted 148 weeks ago
 
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