August 23, 2000

Postcard from Singapore: Andrew Hall

There was very big hype for the trip down to Australia especially in the newspapers where the Aussie press were blowing up their chances of defeating the SA team on their own soil.

Our first few days in Brisbane training was great as there wasn't a lot of pressure from TV and reporters and the team were able to train in warm weather and without the constant harassment that an Aussie tour brings.

Getting to Melbourne was great and on the bus ride in to the hotel we passed by the Colonial Stadium and it was a nostalgic feeling and an impressive piece of architecture to look at. Can you believe that the whole area under the stadium grass is a car park!

The weather change was also very dramatic for all the guys. Coming from Sri Lanka which was very hot and humid to Melbourne that was cold and rainy was a major change and all the guys were dressed up in their tracksuits for practices and warm-ups.

During the first match last Wednesday evening our bowlers traveled, as they hadn't really adjusted to the Aussie line and length. In our batting we struggled quite a bit and it was clear to see that our plan of attack, or lack of it, was a bit off key.

We had a bit of a hard chat after the game in the dressing room and everyone agreed that we had to lift our performance for the next match, much in the way we did for the test matches in Sri Lanka.

The second one-dayer produced the required results from the team with the bowlers applying the pressure with good line and length and giving the Aussies a bit of their own medicine that they gave us in the first game.

In the few weeks prior to this series I practiced really hard on my "at the death bowling" and this seemed to pay off as my 3 overs went for 8 runs and I managed to pick up two key wickets, that of Michael Bevan and Steve Waugh. My only two wickets in international one-day matches!

It was quite ironic once again for the team to be involved in a tied match with the Aussies, only this time we felt as though victory was kind of ours, whereas the tied match in last year's World Cup meant that victory was theirs.

Sunday's match was really a final for us as anything else other than a win meant we lost the series.

The key injuries to Jonty and Bouchie also had an effect on the team, as they were the run scorers in the previous match and thus kept us in the tournament. I was ceremoniously handed the gloves at practice on Saturday as I was selected as a keeper for the Nuffield Schools team back in 1993.

At first I was feeling a bit nervous but after having a good practice session keeping to some of the bowlers it all slowly came back to me. It was thus so disappointing not to take a catch or a stumping during the game although I did manage to catch one in the chest standing up to Zulu.

Beating the Aussies in the last match has had a positive effect on the team and we tried to savour the moment in the dressing room on Sunday evening.

However, we are now in Singapore on the last leg of this 2 month tour aiming to win this one-day series and return home with a very successful away trip.

This is Andrew Hall signing off for CricInfo.