Tuesday, October 24, 2017

John Newman - Hadleigh and Thundersley cc 4th XI

Content move to new blog here

Monday, August 28, 2017

Joe Owen - Benfleet cc 3rd XI

Joe Owen - More of a bowler than a batsman, but in the game I played against them he was the best player with both bat and bowl, so deserves a plan.

You should check him out on Play cricket with regards his bowling as he's very effective and yet he's only about 15 or 16. He's accurate and it's a case of - you miss - I hit. So be very wary - he deserves some respect - play straight and watch for his variations. On the Benfleet pitch next to the woods - furthest from their pavilion - in the game where I faced him and bowled against him in late August, the wicket offered little in the way of spin, so he didn't get much turn off the wicket. From what I could see he bowls right arm finger-spin and a variation which looked like a leg-break, neither of which turned.

In our game, the more aggressive batsmen fell foul to him - simply not showing any respect for him from what I could see. Our better batsman dealt with him fine, but was watchful by the looks of the scorecard below...

My suggested plan for Joe Owen if you're a Wrist-Spinner

As a batsman - he was okay, as you can see from my pitch diagram and based on other people's observations he either favoured or only has pull-shot that he's happy to play. The obvious conclusion looking at this and from the results of bowling at him is not to bowl legside. We were playing with 9 blokes, so setting a field was a little tricky and many of these runs could be negated by having your better players at fine-leg about 1/2 to 1/3rd of the way in from the boundary as the shots were in the air. Similarly a bloke at square leg, in a more conventional position and another bloke at deep mid-wicket sweeping. In theory, then cutting off his runs and dependent on the need to make runs he's going to be forced to play through the off-side which he did on a few occasions playing straight drives bringing the potential to find the edge of the bat.

I found on that wicket the ball didn't turn much at all and didn't see anyone else turn it in any significant way. Although, as I said in the account of the match here I wasn't getting any real spin on the ball, so on a better day it might turn? If it is turning and you're able to bowl a reasonable line and keep the ball off of anywhere leg-side, you're going to cause him problems, especially if you've got either a top-spinner, wrong-un or a ball that goes on. With the ball not turning, he struggled to get the ball through the covers (B) with the fielder intercepting the ball the majority of the time, again this will need to be one of your players that's willing to put their body on the line and dive around a little.
With the field set like this I reckon you're going to cut off most of his primary shots as well as reducing the run rate and keeping him on-strike. Anything that is a little off-line on the legside he is going to look to pull, so the potential for a wicket is there for that shot. But a stock Leg-Break on the off-stump varying flight, speed and the amount of spin is going to cause problems... edging it through to either the keeper or slips or with a variation such as a Top-Spinner cramping him up the close in fielders and you yourself are going to be in with a chance.

The other thing you might want to consider if you're a risk-taker and the game is either set in your favour or requires a more attacking approach is the tempter approach...
With this field, you do need to be bowling well, getting the ball on an off-stump line. Leave both areas A and B empty. The idea here is that you'd be tempting Owen to try and drive the ball through the off-side, or revert to a higher risk approach and attempt to fetch the ball from the off-side looking to hit it through zone B. Again, I reckon this may work if it entices him into playing aggressively looking to hit fours through the empty regions A & B. Combine stock Leg-Breaks with over-spun Leg-Breaks and Top-Spinners. 11 and 6 need to be your fastest and more agile fielders and six might mover round into a more mid-wicket position. I think this might induce a miss-hit leading edge of the bat that'd be caught by the close in fielders or if he manages to get something on it - one that might go up in the air a long way for the fielders at 11 and 6.

Please note you set these fields at your own risk, the owner of the blog is in no way responsible for you getting carted around the park for 4's and sixes. Seek professional guidance if in doubt.

Benfleet CC v Basildon & Pitsea cc 4th X 26th Aug 2017

Penultimate League game this Saturday away at Benfleet against their 3rd XI. Our team sheet looked ropey all week with very few people ticking to indicate that they were available. Joe's game in the 3's was a home game, so after picking up Tim Brown I dropped him off and Tim and I headed for Benfleet for the 12.30 start.

Weather was fine - blue skies and cumulus clouds and predicted 25 degrees centigrade. Got changed and as we got ready it became apparent that we were a couple of blokes down, but the oppo were saying they were in a similar situation. I made a couple of phone calls to see if I could get a couple of people at short notice, but this was to no avail.
As a result of the toss, we were fielding first. We opened with Jai who was playing tomorrow and was only going to bowl 5 overs. He bowled well as did Tony Keep bowling from the North End (A127 end). Once Jai had finished his spell Joey Keep (Tony's son) bowled, not having bowled for 4 years and it didn't go that well and he asked to finish his spell at the end of the 1st over, but the rest of the team encouraged him to continue. As you can see he did better in the following two overs.
 I then came on bowling from the A13 end see below...
I got the wicket of E.Warwick (Captain), who after having a look at a couple of attempts at my stock Leg-breaks which I wasn't spinning that much... just wasn't coming out of the hand that well, he decided - as they often do, that enough was enough and my bowling was going to be hit back to Tarpots on the A13... A massive swing and a miss at a ball that pitched on off and turned away from the off-stump signalled his intention, so the next ball was one with a lot more over-spin. This one dipped and didn't really turn - cramped him up and he dollied it back to me for a bowled and caught. He looked a little disappointed. I only just caught it - as it was one of those that came straight at me and initially I couldn't tell if it was coming at me fast so I set myself as if it was fast and then realised it was dead slow and it had began to dip so I had to suddenly squat and in doing so twisted my knee.

But, it was the other bloke Joe Owen whose wicket I wanted as he looked more organised and threatening, he'd already hit the ball back past me for 4 with a singular off-drive that evaded both me and the fielder at mid-off. But the majority of his shots came off of pull-shots between fine-leg and mid-wicket region, where with only 9 players, one of whom had already gone down with a bad back from bowling (Joey Keep) wasn't looking too up for it or agile. The other bloke Dave Ayres our chairman - who doesn't play and on very rare occasion come in to help out - but this was the first time in two years - was given the role of sweeper covering the area this bloke saw as his main scoring area. Dave is no athlete, more suited to darts I would imagine - but he pit in a valiant effort, but I leaked runs down there. Not Dave's fault at all, my fault for bowling leg-side where this bloke obviously felt his strength was.

The knee then started to have some impact, along with the fact that I couldn't get the ball out of the hand with any revs on, so I got a bit carted.

I was followed by Al McIver and Frank McLeod who did a good job getting the remaining wickets. Owen was eventually dismissed for 34 caught off of Al's bowling, edging the ball to Tony Keep at a position around Gully/4th slip area. He was their best bat in this game so was a valuable wicket to take. They finished with 128 for 8 all out - off of 38 overs.

Tea was very commendable and we all made our way back satisfied and ready to bat. The openers were Joey Keep who scored a fair few runs in the last game and the reliable Frank McCleod who usually provides the main runs in our innings and any hope of a win. Frank faced the first ball and the opener was Warwick (Capt) with the kid Joe Owen bowling from the A127 end. Not only was Joe Owen their star batsman, but his bowling was very tidy as well...

Owen accounted for Joey Keep for 2, and Tim Brown and Tony Keep for 10 each. Frank McLeod scored 58 with 11 fours primarily scored off of Warwicks bowling.

With Frank batting I'd gone looking for lost cricket balls which looked as though they'd be easily found having been given up on far too easily. Couldn't find any and when I emerged from the trees and got back to Dave who was scoring, found myself 2 wickets away from getting a bat which is very unusual. While I was getting my pads on, one wicket went down and shortly after getting padded up with Owen getting through our batting line-up like a hot knife through butter Tony Keep was caught off of Owen's bowling for his 3rd wicket.

As Tony came off I asked what was happening and he said "Just straight and accurate". I joined Jai and faced the first ball off the other bloke bowling from the A13 end... L.Wheeler. As Tony said - straight and accurate, varying the speed. I was initially very nervous, just not wanting to get out, there were loads of overs on the board and we only needed about 30 runs. I remembered the disastrous game where I joined Lee and played across the line and got bowled when we only needed a similar amount of runs. Within the first few balls off of Wheeler I missed one, that must have just missed the off-stump and noticed where my bat had gone in relation to the ball... I'd played across the line, bringing the bat down diagonally from my back-lift -past the point of impact - mistiming it with the bat swinging through towards mid-on and not the bowler! I stood and re-calibrated my brain - realising that this bloke at least and probably the other one at the other end were bowling straight and accurately and if I didn't rectify this I'd be out.

Joe my younger son has worked with me on this and the solution is to have the bat in my back-lift behind me almost pointing towards fine-leg. I then seem to bring the back down and through the ball - with the bat pointing towards the batsman, so I put that approach into action and it worked. The kid Joe Owen was as described.. accurate with some variations. Most of it was straight, but looked as though it was supposed to be off-breaks, some turned a little and then every now and then he'd try and bowl what looked like leg-break out of the hand. Frank was umpiring and was saying - just get bat on ball and take your time, the runs will come. At the other end Jai was playing with more fluency and was obviously less risk adverse than me so was making runs, so that for me was the basis of a plan. I'll just block, and help see off the threatening Owen The key thing was not to lose a wicket with so many overs to play with. I've previously batted with a bloke in a partnership of 90 +  runs and won a game that had been given up on. In that game I scored no runs, he scored all 90, I just blocked , so I can stick in there and soak up the goading and jibes while the other bloke scores. I figured if Jai lost his wicket G-man and Dave Ayres might then play his role?

It worked okay, at drinks it worked out that we needed a run an over. Owen had run out of overs and another bloke came on and he was nowhere near as threatening. But the bloke at the A13 end (Wheeler) was still a bit tricky, trying all sorts... slow, loopy, faster, all very accurate, but then every couple of overs or so, he pushed one through outside of off, not sure if it was intentional. There were about 3 and each one I played at I missed, with what seemed to me a high chance of the ball being edged through to the keeper, but he didn't see the potential, so went back to bowling at the stumps... A kind of you miss - I win approach. Over by over, the total came down, the batting and the approach taken flattering the bowlers figures, but in between the maidens Jai was hitting singles and 2's and a couple of fours. With only 4 required and the field up around our gills I saw the opportunity to hit the winning runs off of Wheeler, first a couple hit through backward of square leg and then one in the gap between square leg and mid-wicket for 4. I rarely get to bat, so it was nice to get a bat and bring the team home for a win and be the one that scores the winning runs!

Once home writing this up, I looked up Joe Owens stats on Play cricket and found out a little about him...

This year he's bowled 134 overs. That includes 21 Maidens, He's taken 43 wickets!!! with his best being 5 for 20. He's only been playing adult cricket for 2 years and he's had 2 x 5 wicket hauls and his economy is 3.39 and his strike rate is 18.79. His average is 10.63 and his contribution to the team as a bowler is 26.71% of the wickets. So he's no slouch with the ball. But he doesn't look that massively threatening, but he's definitely accurate and if you miss he is going to hit the stumps, he varies what he does, so I'm guessing if you go after him, it's definitely going involve quite a high level of risk as Tony, Joey and Tim Brown discovered.

His batting was okay and on this day he was by far their best playing with the ball and the bat. So I have come up with a cunning plan as I'm bound to play against him again next season, or if don't Joe will. See the plan Here

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Paul Howlett - Orsett & Thurrock CC

Content moved to new blog see here

Orsett & Thurrock cc v Basildon & Pitsea CC 12th July

An away game today at Corringham, captain Dutton has retired for the season to focus on his business as he's had an upturn in work/clients. So in his place for the rest of the season is G-Man AKA Graham Davies. Still loads of movement within the team and this weeks team consisted of the blokes you see here on the batting card.

The opposition was made up of some of my team mates from what was Grays and Chadwell CC... Chris Buckley, Terry Hills and Alex 'Wizard' McClellan the Wrist Spinner and some familiar faces from the previous games in the season.

We batted first, not sure if we chose to or we were put in (Most likely). It didn't go that well on a difficult wicket with no real batsmen other than Frank McCleod. Wickets fell at regular intervals around Frank and we ended up scoring 74, with Frank McLeod scoring 41. The next best were two 9's - Asif Patel and Michael Wilson and the rest of us made contributions of 0 and 1's with 4 people scoring 0. Extras accounted for an additional 12 runs.

It was pitiful and I expected to heading home after about 45 minutes once we resumed after tea, but it didn't pan out that way...

For some reason we all bowled well and the batsmen for the most part showed some respect and batted with real caution. Perhaps as this is their local ground they knew how sketchy the wicket was and that maybe the score of 74 was reasonable? This appeared to be the case as Chris Buckley came out and was gone for 0. Chris's records go back to 2000 and in nearly 300 games he averages 23.

With Dutton and Joe my younger son now gone and no longer a part of the 4th XI set-up I was in the field looking around thinking who the hell is going to bowl next. It seemed like it might be me and given how poorly I bowl on occasions and what with no runs of the board it looked as though once Jai and Michael had done there bit the game could be over and done with very quickly! What was making it worse was that Michael and Jai were bowling superbly and going for next to no runs!!!

So, at 16 overs when they'd both been bowled out I was thrown the ball and had to try and maintain the economy and get wickets. Paul Howlett was at the crease having come in during the 11th over. Paul Howlett is one of the blokes that I've suffered at the hands off during the season and so have done some homework on him and have come up with a plan. See here.
The key thing as with most aggressive batsmen, is to keep the ball away from the leg-side and bowl to your field.

Before I came on he'd already hit three 4's through the leg-side in his favoured zone. I knew that as a basic plan I just needed to starve him of that option, so all of the deliveries were outside of off, where as far as I can make out he struggles to get the ball away. In the short time that I bowled at him he was looking to be aggressive - no doubt with the "Don't let the spinner settle" mantra going through his head. He looked to be waiting to see where the ball pitched and looking to then fetch the ball from outside of off getting it over his favoured leg-side. I think it was him although I'm not 100% sure, but during the phase I bowled at him I had two balls go to hand. One at backward square leg that was hit hard and put down and one that was totally miss-hit that I thought G-man (Wicket Keeper) was going to take easily as it was in the air for about 30 seconds, but one of the other players called it, running in from fine- leg or a short long stop position who then dived and dropped it! Never mind as a few balls later he hit the ball to deep mid-wicket and Josh Debond caught it without having to move.

That brought Carter to the crease who I don't know, but maybe I should do some homework on him as he looked pretty handy and him and the opener then seemed to take the decision to up the aggression and little and finish the game off. Despite the fact that we lost it was a really good game. It was good to see Terry Hills bowling - years of experience evident and good to face my old mate Alex McClellan's leg-spin. When we finished we had a chat and bowled some balls to each other and talked leg-spin and flippers and that ball that doesn't exist.

 Alex McClellan bowling leg-breaks to Jaidev Charan - Corringham Rec wicket.

Alex McClellan - Wrist Spinner.


Joe's progress

I've got two sons - Ben who's now almost 19 and off to Reading Uni to study Geography, he's almost certainly been lost to cricket for the foreseeable future, he played a couple of games last season and enjoyed it, but this season hasn't played any despite being asked several times if he'd play. Joe though the younger son (Only just 16) is still hanging in there despite frequent threats of not wanting to play and having an air of complete indifference. But three weeks ago, because of how badly all of the teams in the club are doing he was more or less forced to move up to the 3rd XI and therefore no longer plays with me in the 4th XI. Going on what he was saying about the prospects of moving up, this seemed like a make or break moment, but the club and the 3rd XI captain handled it well and it seems he's enjoying it. It might help that since moving up they've won as many games than they've lost and this has been in part down to his bowling. Prior to that they'd hardly won any games at all.

This week Joe took 3 wickets for 13 runs off of 6.
This puts him in the position of 2nd highest wicket taker at the club at the moment along with Rob Brooks (Off-break bowler).

I played with him this week as I was moved up, I had a good game, fielded at Mid wicket, Mid-on and silly mid-wicket where I took a good catch off of Alastair Hayton's bowling (Off-break bowler). But Joe bowled really well as you can see. The wickets were all key players amongst their top four batsmen.
At the end of the game the 3rd XI boys were all saying that they were more than happy to have him, but were fully aware that it wouldn't be for long and that he'd be going up to the 2nd XI pretty soon e.g. next season. Dutton (4th XI captain) and many others reckon that he should be straight in the 2nd XI based on his bowling, but he is only just 16 and I personally think that should be kept for next season or perhaps a game before the end of this season to see what he reckons to it and how he gets on. One of the blokes Alastair Hayton said that he's never seen anyone bowl at Joe's pace at this level. Again reinforcing the comments of a Southend 2nd XI batsman a couple of weeks back that Joe clean bowled.

In the 4th XI we're really missing him now, we've had two games where all of us are looking around asking where's all the bowling gone? In part as our Captain has had to bail out of the team for this season as well.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Flipper practice

After Saturdays horrific game against Hadleigh and Thundersley, I came away thinking I need to have a least one variation other than the subtle variations in my leg break. The ball that nearly got the batsman that had me thinking about giving the game up (Keith Klein) was my off-spinning out the front of the hand flipper (Double click image below).

I haven't bowled regular Flippers of any type for years. Most of the ones that I tried and used to use, linked to the video above I've discarded for a number of reasons. One of the main things that I came to realise was that, in trying to develop all of these, you end up with a so many variations, you're never really any good with any of them. The other thing I've come to realise is whilst you think you're doing x or y when you're bowling the reality is more than likely very different, not that this matters that much, because you're still bowling a variation of some sort, although it's possibly not doing what you intended it to do.

I still reckon that if you're interested in bowling a Flipper of some type, it's still worth trying most of the ones that I demonstrate in these videos and just look for the one that suits you. The only ones that I'm able to bowl with a little practice is the basic back-spinning Flipper and this one in the video above - the Off-Spinning Flipper. It's this one that nearly got the bloke that slaughtered me and I've got good batsmen previously with it.

What I've come to realise over the years and is the case with this particular delivery (Off - spinning Flipper) is that you do as much as you can to get your wrist and hand in the correct position when bowling it, but when it comes down to it, unless you're very lucky, to be honest you're unlikely to hold the wrist in the perfect position through the action. I find the basic back-spinner relatively easy to bowl with the seam dead straight and offers one option. The off-spinner, despite all my efforts to control my wrist position doesn't come out with the seam anything like a conventional off-break e.g. angled with over-spin, but, instead comes out of the hand with the seam angled towards the leg-side, but spins backwards which is pretty unusual. The results is the ball holds its line through the air and doesn't dip like balls with over-spin, so it keeps really low and with the angled seam some of them nip in to the right-hander.

So, if you try Flippers, don't get too hung up on whether they work in the way that you want or expect them to, instead be content that they give you simply another variation. The only other thing I'd say about them is that you've probably got to use them sparingly especially against better batsmen.

So the last couple of practice sessions I've been working with the Flipper bowling alternate over-spun leg breaks and the back-spinning off-spinning Flipper. Both of them in my case require a pretty vertical arm, so there's not the obvious give-away in that aspect of the delivery. So far the practice with the Flipper seems to have gone okay and I'll continue with this week. What I want to be able to do is bowl a series of Leg-Breaks and then just pull the Flipper out of the bag and execute it well, so that's what I'll be working on this week, so far it's gone okay.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

4th XI batsmen of South Essex District and how to get them out

Another game at the weekend and another couple of blokes that I bowled at and made some observations of. One of them Paul Howlett - Orsett & Thurrock CC is a strong player, but I've come up with a plan for next time, so if you're a local spinner in the SECDB area have a look at my analysis on my main website - click on the picture below for the link...