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On reflection

Posted in Domestic Cricket

I write my final diary instalment as I look out at the impressive Burj Khalifa towering over the bustling city of Dubai.

Much of my 14 hour flight from Sydney was spent recalling the endless reel of memories I have taken with me from my time in Adelaide and looking back on the rollercoaster journey of emotions.

I can clearly remember the moment I was offered the chance to take part on the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy.

It was a cold and rainy fourth day of our championship match away at Chelmsford and I was sat alone watching the rain pour from inside one of the Twenty20 dugouts at the side of the pitch.

Our coach, Karl Krikken, was circling the square in the rain chatting away on the phone. He came over and explained he had an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had a feeling I didn’t have much choice in the matter and only now do I realise how happy I am that I didn’t.

He said: “I’ve managed to get you on the DLCA in Adelaide.You need to be there for October 7.”

It quickly dawned on me that it was a six month trip and I would be going in less than a month. I was somewhat sceptical about it at the start as I only wanted to go away for three months but it was a decision I am so grateful for now.

Having lived away from home since I was 17 I wasn’t worried about being homesick. So after the initial overwhelming feeling of being told I was going for six months I decided that I would indulge in every opportunity the trip presented me. I found this helped make Adelaide feel very much like home early on in my trip.

One thing I was made aware of before I started the DLCA was the intensity of the training, especially that of the fitness. It is safe to say that they didn’t disappoint in this area.

Running alone can be tough but on the back of a hard session in the morning and the heat beating down on you it becomes much more than that.

This was something that I grew to enjoy - the challenge of how hard you can push your body until it gives in, breaking that level of comfortable exhaustion the mind puts in place and being ignorant to all the things telling you to stop.

I have always said to myself that if I don’t make it as a cricketer I want it to be down to the fact my skills are just not good enough, not the fact my fitness or any other aspect got in the way. I have always tried to push my body in my fitness training.

It was a sadistic challenge I had set myself but I wasn’t happy until I was at the point of throwing up and this was something that was achieved quite regularly amongst a few of the guys thanks to the infamous ‘Snake Pit’.

The improvements made over the last five months have been clearly noticeable with the results in fitness tests and the general feeling of energy in my body, something that I hope will benefit me throughout the 2012 season.

I played my Grade cricket for Prospect - a club that last won the finals in 2000-01 and in recent years have struggled at the foot of the table.

This is something that I found hard to believe as the season went on. I couldn’t have asked for a better club to suit me. We had a very close, young side. If we won, we all went out together. If we lost, we all went out together.

We played some tough cricket, sometimes outdoing our own expectations, and every team we came up against knew they were in for a fight. We gave it everything, something that was evident when we got the chance to sing the team song having won. You could feel the passion and see how much it meant to everyone after the last 10 years of hard toil.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing at Prospect and hope to return one day to push once again for the finals. I am now, and always will be, a Pirate whether I like it or not.

I have been pushed regularly to the maximum capacity of my physical fitness. I have been tested to the extremes of my mental capability. I have played tough competitive cricket with highs and lows. I have laughed to the extent of almost crying. I have seen some of the most amazing views Australia has to offer and I have made many lifelong friends during my time away in Adelaide.

It was one of the best experiences I have had.

I found it much harder leaving Adelaide than I first thought, but I always knew my time here had to come to an end. However, I leave this place with many valuable experiences. I’m in the best shape of my life thanks to the conditioning work and I am fuelled with confidence and ambition for the 2012 season. Most importantly I leave with a library of unforgettable memories.

This blog was originally published on the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy website where Ross Whiteley spent time over the winter.