"Stay patient, Pidge, you've got plenty of time."
Out in the middle, Riley McGrath is preparing to face the start of a new over for New City's second grade side against North Albury, with his team-mates yelling encouragement from the shade of the pavilion.
The voices he can hear are Indian, Pakistani, South African and Zimbabwean - among others. Seven countries are represented in the club's playing group this season and McGrath is the only white player on his team today.
"They call him Pigeon Singh," mum and club secretary Michelle McGrath explained.
"He gets the 'Pigeon' from Glenn McGrath and he thinks it's the funniest thing. We love all the different cultures we have here."
And the Phoenix is certainly a club doing things differently. Earlier this season, they became the first club in Cricket Albury-Wodonga history to field a first-grade team made up entirely of players from the subcontinent and there is a vibrancy around the ground which is impossible to ignore.
Club president Chris Green explains the journey they've been on.
"We had a really strong crop of juniors and they played a high level of rep cricket but when they got to 16 or 17, they saw other clubs who were stronger at provincial level and they found them quite attractive," he said.
"One thing led to another and it got to the point where, three years ago, we were down to 13 players. We were in real strife.
"At that point, there was a new committee formed and I took over the presidency."
Akki Murthy, who was North Albury's premiership-winning coach at the time, joined the Phoenix on a three-year deal and it proved to be a game-changer for both parties.
"I had actually stepped away from the game," Murthy revealed. "But I got a call from Greeny because a lot of players had walked out for various reasons and they wanted to rebuild.
"Greeny had a three-year plan and I bought into the vision straight away and took it up as a challenge. Going from a premiership coach to building a club is a really tough job and I wanted that on my resume as a coach."
So what was the plan and how has New City blossomed from a club on the brink of closure to one fielding five senior teams in 2021/22 and having welcomed almost 50 new players during the off-season?
"We've provided a home for the subcontinental players," Green explained.
"At one point, we had the same demographic as every other club and there were probably too many clubs for the white Anglo-Saxon cricketer. Our juniors wanted to play with their mates from school and we're not a school-affiliated club, which is quite challenging, so we didn't have a demographic if you like.
"When we got down to those last 13 players, we were in real trouble. We had great facilities and some really good people but we needed to reboot the club.
"We set a different agenda around trying to have fun, building a different culture and not necessarily worrying about the results.
"We recruited Akki as our coach, which was the making of the club. He had a strong following of subcontinental players and when we sat down and worked out where to go with the club, they didn't really have a home.
"They were playing backyard cricket at North Street and they didn't understand club affiliation."
Murthy's community contacts were key to the recruitment process.
"Most of these boys have always played cricket but never played for a cricket club," he explained.
"They used to play on Sunday so that's how we grabbed these guys and once the word got out, everyone started to follow.
"There's about 250 Indian families in Albury, about 150 Pakistanis and a lot of Bhutanese and Nepalese families and we have Bangladeshis here too.
"It's a cultural shift and we have to roll with it. We can't be old-school in our thinking. These boys are coming in from Melbourne, Sydney, flying in from different parts of the world and we have to welcome them with open arms.
"It's something we're very proud of, giving these guys a home away from home.
"Cricket plays a big part in their life because everyone plays cricket in the subcontinent, they start at 6am and finish at 6pm."
"It's a really interesting club now," Green added. "We're in the middle of Diwali and these guys are just having a ball.
"We love the culture they bring, the fun and how much they love the game. They told other people, this is our third year now and we've grown from 13 players to five senior teams. We've got three C-grade teams, and for good reason, but they just love the game.
"There's not a huge amount of skill in some of the guys but that's neither here nor there for us. We wanted to create a culture of belonging and I think we've done that."
A cheer goes up from the North Albury contingent away to our right. Pigeon Singh has holed out and the first game of the day is over, prompting first-grade captain Parminder Singh Hundal to step up his preparation.
"Cricket is the only sport played in India and Pakistan so everyone's very passionate about it," he said.
"Cricket is everything for us in India and Pakistan. You can say we live for cricket.
"We all try to speak English here but our native language is Punjabi. Sometimes we forget we have to speak English and we keep talking in our language so somebody has to remind us.
"But the guys are learning and doing a lot of hard work in net practice."
There was a clear strategy from the start, with Green and Murthy central figures.
"We had a Venn diagram of the three years," Green said. "The plan was to have fun in the first year, to get commitment and up our training up to a different level in the second year and by the third year, start to apply pressure.
"It was very deliberate how we went about it. In the first year, we still had a lot of imported players and it was the culture that was the issue. We've tended to bring in guns for hire but when you're trying to build a club with paid players, it was very challenging.
"It's very hard to get them to play 'club first' when they're professional cricketers.
"We've learnt that you can't build a club with guns for hire, you've got to build from people who want to be here and are really committed to it.
"Results are neither here nor there for us for the moment. Have we got to our pressure this year? No, and we're not going to. But will we, in the next two or three years, start to build on the back of some talent coming through? Absolutely.
"Nigel Semmens, who's been part of that reform committee, has driven the junior program really hard."
Semmens, also the club treasurer, smiles as he watches the first-grade players going through their final batting and bowling drills.
"It's really brought the enjoyment back into cricket," he said.
"Everyone likes to play for sheep stations but these guys - win, lose or draw - just love to play cricket and that's what it's all about.
"A lot of Bhutanese are getting involved at the club, they come out here as refugees and we've had a lot of them join in and play here. They were more of a minority group in the local community but this has given them a way to interact with more people.
"It gives them a real sense of belonging, it's a place where they can come and mix with people from other countries. If there's a group of 10 that want to come down on Sunday and practice in the nets, it's a safe environment where they can have some fun and play cricket."
"I've got a key in my letter box and it's always missing," Green laughed.
"They're always down here training and I've got a grant to put lights on the nets, so they'll be able to train right through the winter."
Vice-president Brad Baker has already experienced one overhaul at the club, New City's rebirth in 2007 after several years in the wilderness.
"My brother was one of the blokes who reformed the club and he dragged me out of retirement because the club needed players," Baker said. "I just haven't left.
"Our first goal was to get back into provincial cricket. Because we're city-based, we wanted to play more Albury-Wodonga cricket than going to Mount Beauty and those areas.
"Retaining players has been the main challenge. We had a time, not long ago, when everyone said 'that's it, I've had enough' but Greeny's done a lot of work to get it back up."
Just a few overs into the first-grade match, the Phoenix are already collapsing and Murthy is going to be batting sooner than he would have liked.
"Why do we play cricket?" he asked. "It's a simple question.
"We work from Monday to Friday so what motivates you to spend six hours here on a Saturday? Hanging around with the boys, play a good game of cricket, hopefully win and have a drink afterwards. That was missing when I joined.
"You spend a lot of time with blokes that you don't know so you have to find a way to enjoy yourselves.
"In the last three years, a lot of clubs thought we were there to just fill the numbers but in the past year, things changed. The presidents community is a very small community, they talk among themselves and the positive feedback that other clubs members are giving Greeny is just overwhelming for us.
"Do you measure a club by the number of wins? If I ask anyone who won the premiership in 2015 or 2016, they will not remember. But if I ask which is the best club to be part of, they will straight away come up with an answer. That's what we want to be.
BEHIND THE SCENES - OUR CRICKET SPECIALS:
North Albury, chasing just 93 for victory, have knocked off the runs inside 10 overs and everyone rushes to their cars before the looming thunderstorm hits.
But while today may have finished under a cloud, there are brighter times on the horizon for New City.
"Last year, people were calling us New Delhi and we were seen as a bit of a joke club," Green said.
"But the sheer weight of numbers and the way our guys are conducting themselves on the field and continuing to improve, I think they will start to take us seriously.
"I got a message from one of the other presidents, a text saying 'it was just a delight to play against your blokes.'
"These guys play very uninhibited cricket and they're going to pull off a few shocks. They smacked 33 off the last 11 balls against Tallangatta to win the game.
"In round one, we won A and B-grade and for us, with 48 new players into the club, that was awesome. Addressing the boys afterwards, I had tears in my eyes because of all the work that's gone in."
Talk around 'culture' at sporting clubs is cheap but the smiling faces and excited chatter from those in yellow, even after two comprehensive defeats, tells the story.
Watch this space. The Phoenix is rising.
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