Monday, November 20, 2006

20th November

Equipment News

Just been round to Carl Hodgson's gaff and had a look a the gear he's got in his loft. He's said that we can have this anytime we want it -

1 set of stumps (6)
4 x Bats
1 pair of spongey batting gloves
3 pairs of conventional batting gloves
3 pairs of Thigh protectors
2 Pairs of Wicket keepers gloves
5 Pairs of Leg Pads

So, I reckon what with those amongst us who buy their own bats, gloves, helmets and boxes over the coming months we're pretty much ready for at least a practice somewhere.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Winter Net Practice

I’ve been looking around at places to practice and trying to ascertain where other people practice and what kind of fees you would expect to pay. Someone suggested schools, so I’ve located these in the Thurrock area, not had a lot of luck with Castle Point and Southend area though. But while looking around I came across this from the Westcliff cricket club website – it’s our ground, which we seem to be having trouble accessing, have a look it looks impressive.

The looking further within their website I’ve found this –


The Sports Hall offers first-class facilities for, among other things, basketball, badminton, volleyball and gymnastics. Its specially constructed floor also offers a good surface for cricket, and this, together with the provision of appropriate netting and two bowling machines, means that the School can offer outstanding indoor practice facilities to aspiring young cricketers.

The Sports Hall, Westcliff High School For Boys.
Contact Details

Winter Nets (February 2007 to TBC)
Westcliff High School for Boys ,Kenilworth Gardens ,Westcliff-on-Sea
Email Address
01702 475 443
01702 470 495
Changing Facilities
Artifical Nets (4)
Link to the above using –

I've sent them an email and I'm waiting for their reply.

School Facilities
In Thurrock, a large number of the secondary schools are able to offer many of their facilities to the community for usage. With the majority of these you will need to contact the school to ask them about hiring their facility, you will not able to turn up and just use them.

St Clere's School
· Cricket Nets
For more information please contact the school on 01375 641001

The Grays School
· Cricket Nets
Please contact the school for further information on 01375 371361

The Gateway Community College
South Site:
· Cricket Nets
For more information please contact the school on 01375 489000

Gable Hall School

Cricket Nets
For more information please contact the school on 01375 400800.

The Aveley School
· Cricket Nets
For more information please contact the school on 01708 865180


Sports Hall – I’ve emailed them and I’m waiting for their response.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

First Practice Session

We've kind of got Wednesday 29th Nov pencilled in as a practice session opportunity at Garons. I've asked for 7pm to 9pm as a slot option, but we'll wait and see what's offered. One of us will have to go and have a look and see how big the space is and see if it'll allow for a run up for the bowlers amongst us. The other thing we need to do is ascertain if they'll hire out bats and balls for the session, needless to say if they do that'll be an extra expense.

I've been looking on the internet and found that Basildon College have specific indoor training facilities for cricket including nets. I also know that St Chads school in Tilbury had a big sports hall with nets back in 1976 and that might be worth looking into as well, but it'll mean people will have to get in their cars and drive.

I'll keep you posted.

Cricket Masks

7th Nov

Found this on the BBC website, might be fun when we come up against our first opponents or when you sitting watching the Ashes at 4 in the morning. Or you could go shopping with one of them on!

Download a cricket mask
Who wants to look like Monty?
England's Ashes captain Freddie Flintoff is just one of many cricket masks you can download.
Spin master Monty Panesar is also available, along with Matthew Hoggard and Kevin Pietersen, and a host of superstars from across the globe.
All you need to do is click on your favourite player, print out the mask (we recommend a colour printout) and let the fun begin.
Then, in true Blue Peter style, cut it out and stick the mask on a bit of card (like the back of a cereal box) for the best results.
You could even put a bit of string through each ear of the mask or stick it to something like a pen or a ruler to hold it up in front of your face.
Choose from the list below:

Download the Flintoff mask (PDF file 220 KB/ 1 page)
Download the Panesar mask (PDF file 184 KB/ 1 page)
Download the Hoggard mask (PDF file 184 KB/ 1 page)
Download the Pietersen mask (PDF file 185 KB/ 1 page)
Download the Vaughan mask (PDF file 140 KB/ 1 page)
Download the Tendulkar mask (PDF file 130 KB/ 1 page)
Download the Warne mask (PDF file 130 KB/ 1 page)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Training Ideas - Wicket Keeper & Slips

Have a look at this link if you're one of the people in the frame for either being a wicket keeper or slips fielder. There's some good advice and ideas here and they're talking in terms of playing with Shane Warne and hopefully I'm going to be our Shane Warne, so I need you blokes to be able to catch these balls coming off the edge of the bat like this.

MPA First Eleven: Nov 7th Update

MPA First Eleven: Nov 7th Update

Whoa! Within our midsts we've discovered an Essex County player - Simon Grainge used to play for Essex under 18's! Day by day this teams getting stronger! So we'll looking to Simon to get us off to a good start when it comes to playing a few matches!

Garons News

I've contacted Claire Butcher and she's given us a little more info. It seems the sports hall at Garons is hireable in half measures and that'll cost us £33 for an hour. So one of us will have to get down there and have a look at it. Apparently cricket equipment is available to use/hire, no doubt hire and I'll look into that too. The aim is that we'll get something going before the end of November so we can start seeing how good this team is. So watch this space and I'll update as and when the info comes in.

One thing I want to see is confirmation from Richard that we might get a match against the Oz's and the Kiwi's.

One thing that has been mentioned is that we have some kind of 'Subs' so that we can purchase equipment what do you reckon to this as an idea - let me know.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Knocking in Bats

If you want your new MRF bat to perform to its full potential please follow the instructions below, if not you must expect a certain amount of damage which is NOT covered by any guarantee or warranty. During the lifetime of a bat some damage will occur and therefore it is impossible to prevent all damage. Each strike of a cricket ball will cause some, often unoticeable damage to the bat. ALL OUR NEW MRF BATS COME WITH A TOE GUARD READY FITTED TO HELP AVOID DAMAGE TO THE EXPOSED TOE OF YOUR BAT.OILING YOUR BATThe purpose of oiling your bat is to help to soften and bind the surface fibres of the willow during the knocking in process and also prevent the wood from drying out and becoming brittle. By oiling the toe you help to prevent water soaking in which could lead to the toe cracking.MRF cricket bats require oiling with raw linseed oil or special cricket bat oil. A minimum of two coats (preferably three) should be applied to the bat leaving 24 hours between coats for the oil to dry and soak in. During the drying time the bat should be laid horizontally, out of direct sunlight. A coat of oil is about one teaspoon full, but be especially generous with the oil around the toe area of your bat. However avoid oiling the splice area and the stickers as the oil could loosen the glue. Also NEVER stand the bat in oil or apply too much oil as this will deaden the wood resulting in very poor performance.KNOCKING INIs the process by which the willow fibres on the face and edges are compressed together to form a barrier that protects the bat against the impact of the ball. By properly knocking in your bat you will significantly improve the performance and increase the life of your bat.STAGE ONE: (Stage One should take in the region of six hours, although it may vary, as every bat is different.)Using either a Bat Mallet or an old cricket ball the face and edges of the bat should be repeatedly struck gradually increasing the force. This conditioning must be performed with patience. Do not however strike the edges directly at right angles to the blade, this would more than likely cause damage.STAGE TWO:(Stage Two should take at least another hour.)Now test out the bat by hitting short catches with an old cricket ball. However, if the seam marks the blade it is necessary to return to "stage one". Once these steps have been taken, the bat should be ready for use in matches. It is advisable to initially avoid use against the "new ball".WARNING UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD A BAT BE USED IN MATCH CONDITIONS LESS THAN TWO WEEKS FOLLOWING THE DATE OF PURCHASE.NETS - It is advisable not to use a new bat during indoor net sessions or on concrete practice pitches, the ground is often very hard and will increase the risk of damage to the toe of your bat, especialy if you try to 'dig out yorkers' or catch the bat on the floor as you attempt a shot. Damage caused under these conditions is not covered by any bat warranty.END OF SEASON - At the start and end of each season lightly sand the blade and apply another light coat of oil. Never put your bat away wet as this encourages rotting. Try to store the bat in cool, moist conditions to prevent excessive drying of the willow. Do not keep your bat in your car boot for any length of time as this will dry it out and weaken the willow.LIFESPAN OF A CRICKET BAT - A figure of 1000 to 1500 runs is often quoted but the life of a cricket bat is goverened by many factors, including preparation, usage both the amount and style of play and how you care for your bat. The length of time before the player needs to replace his bat will depend upon:a) The amount of use b) The weight of the bat (heavier blades tend to be more durable than lighter ones) c) The care with which the bat is treated Test match players get through 4 to 6 bats a year, an opening batsman facing a new ball every week against fast bowling at semi-professional level could expect to use a new bat each year, someone lower down the order who hits the ball hard would be in a similar situation.IN CASE OF DAMAGE - Immediate action should be taken. This normally necessitates withdrawal from play whilst repairs are carried out. It is vital the repairs are carried out by professional bat makers. The manufacturers are unable to guarantee repair work carried out by non-approved repairers.
The basic idea is to avoid splinters and bits breaking off the edges by gently tapping the bat with a mallet. Really need advice on knocking? Then read on. Otherwise skip the following excellent advise. Cameron Fraser: When you buy a bat, it is only lightly pressed at the factory and the fibres are still really soft - if you press your fingernail into the surface you'll see what I mean. 'Knocking in' is the process of compressing and binding these lose fibres together to allow the bat to withstand the constant impact from the ball. You're preparing the bat to be HIT.Your aim is to 'bash' the surface of the blade - not the back or the bottom of the bat (that can be disastrous!) You can use an OLD, GOOD QUALITY ball in your hand or put it in a sock or try different types of 'knocking in' mallets - my preference is for the solid wood version. Any good shop or mail order company does them for around a fiver - buy one, you'll need to make use of it many times. Start 'knocking in' by gently working on the edges and gradually knocking them into a rounded, compressed shape once you get started you'll soon see the change in texture. Then keep working on the edges and the area around the toe of the bat - not the bottom of the bat - and think of trying to use glancing strokes that resemble you edging a ball to gully, then 3rd slip, 2nd slip, etc. while all the time gradually increasing the strength of the impact.Don't forget to give the middle a good going over but the priority should be the outside inch or so of the bat round both edges and the toe. How long do you have to go through this mind numbingly boring routine? Slazenger recommend 6 hours - now that is a long, long time. If you try to do it in good 5 minute blocks it becomes more manageable. Essentially you don't want to think about using the bat until it's had at least 2 hours(24 x 5 minute sessions) but ideally if you can manage double that then all the better. If you have the time and space and tolerant neighbours then the process can be done in a week or so - most of us need a bit longer! But there's no point going to the other extreme - buying a bat one season and not using it until the next. Anyway, such self-denial would be way beyond the likes of me or most cricketers I know! So use the bat but be sensible. After the initial 2-4 hours 'knocking in,' try using it for hitting short catches and then in the nets against OLD, GOOD QUALITY balls and only against the spinners/ slow mediums first. A new or cheap ball can do a lot of damage to an under-prepared bat and digging out a fast yorker in the nets can spell doom and destruction for even the best prepared bat! So try and middle the ball and play the bat in - resist the wild slogging for once! Then do some more 'knocking in' and then some more and then some more and then some more... Remember, SOME bats need a LITTLE linseed oil - but no more than a couple of teaspoonfuls per season! However, ALL BATS NEED KNOCKING IN. Gunn & Moore now provide this service for around 10 pounds in their GM NOW range. For most people that's 10 lbs well spent. But don't forget you'll still need to keep 'knocking in' throughout the life of your bat, knocking out indentations, evening out dead spots in the bat, strengthening area around glued repairs etc. A cricket dealer I know recommends that the day you stop 'knocking in' is the day you throw the bat in the bin.
Preparing Your Cricket Bat - Knocking In
By James Laver - World’s foremost cricket bat crafstman
Almost all new cricket bats require knocking in before use. Knocking in, is the process of hardening and conditioning of the blades' surface. There are two reasons for knocking in;
Protecting the bat from cracking and increase its usable life
Improving the middle of the bat so the middle is bigger and better
The nature of the game of cricket is that a hard ball is propelled at high speed toward the batsman who swings the bat hitting the ball. This contact will cause a bat that is not prepared correctly to crack up very quickly, and have a short life.
Cricket bats are pressed in the bat-making workshop using a mechanical press. The mechanical press applies up to 2tons/square inch of pressure to the face of the bat through a roller. Willow is a very soft timber in its natural state. It has to be pressed to form a hard, resilient layer on the surface. Once this has been done, the bat can be shaped.
The finished bat still needs a final hardening, as the mechanical presses are unable to completely protect the bat, or get the perfect performance required from the blade. This requires knocking in by hand with a mallet. While it is possible to prepare a bat solely by pressing, this compresses the wood too deep into the blade, which dramatically reduces the performance of the bat. A bat pressed heavily will have a small middle and the ball will not travel as far as with a bat pressed lightly and knocked in by hand.
The Knocking In Process
At the stage when the bat is purchased there are different ways of preparing your bat for the knocking in process. We recommend the following process - repeated trials in bat factories have shown us that this works far better than all other methods.
Raw linseed oil should be used to moisten the surface of the bat and enable the fibres to become supple and knit together, forming an elastic surface. This is more likely to stretch on impact, rather than crack. Raw linseed oil is used, as it stays moist for longer than boiled linseed. About a teaspoonful should be applied to the surface of the bat.
I recommend that oil should be applied 3 times before the process of compressing the face begins. Each coat of oil should be about a teaspoon full. Spread the oil over the face of the bat using a small rag or your fingers (always discard the rag after each application as it can spontaneously combust). Spread leftover linseed oil over the edges and toe of the bat. Let each coat of oil soak in overnight and repeat the process.
When the oil has been applied the knocking in process can begin. This should be done using a Hardwood bat mallet.
Start by hitting the middle of the bat just hard enough to create a dent. [This is surprisingly hard]. Hold the bat up to the light to see if you are making a dent.
Gradually compress the face of the bat around this dent so that the face of the bat is level and you cannot see the initial dent any more. The bottom of the bat toe (the part that is in contact with the ground) should never be hit with the mallet.

The edges require special attention; they need to be rounded off so that the hard new ball cannot damage them too much. The edges should be struck at 45 degrees to the face so that the mallet can compress the willow. Similar to the face, make one dent on the edge, and then gradually even out the edge so that the whole surface has a smooth, rounded appearance. The back of the bat should never be touched with the mallet (or the ball) .
If the bat is hit at 90 degrees to the face on the edge it reduces the width of the bat and is covering an area not mechanically pressed. The likelihood of cracking increases and you should not be hitting the ball flush on the edge in any case.
With a hardwood bat mallet the knocking in process should take from between 10 to 15 sessions of about 10 minutes each. Once you have completed this process, as a guide to see if the bat is ready for play take it into the nets and play a few shots with an old ball. If the bat is showing very deep seam marks to the point of almost cracking the face of the bat then it needs more compressing. One will always get seam marks on the face of the bat; they should not be too deep.
The price of a bat does not have any effect on whether a bat cracks or not. The best bats are usually more expensive, but liable to crack more than cheaper bats because the willow is often softer. When a bat has expired buy another one!
Back in the late 1800's the bats were subjected to huge amounts of pressure at the pressing stage to make the willow very hard. If the blade started to show signs of cracking during this process it was rejected. Linseed oil was very often used to saturate the blade in order to soften the wood, make it more comfortable to use (over pressed bats jar on impact), and get a bit of performance out of it. WG Grace would have a few of the junior members of his club using his linseed soaked bats for a season or so before he would deem them ready for use. Bats soaked in oil generally break up and don’t perform!
When a bat is pressed very hard it is very difficult to hit the ball off the square. The thin protective layer of hard (pressed) willow is becomes a thick layer that is too deep into the willow. Hard-pressed willow does not have the desired elastic qualities of the soft pressed willow, meaning the ball does not 'ping' off the bat.
Laver & Wood strongly recommend to have your bat knocked in professionally when you purchase it. This helps to get a better performance and generally extends the life of the bat. It also relieves you and your family members of a time consuming, noisy and monotonous process. Ask at your local cricket dealer if they can have your bat knocked in by a batmaker - it should not cost too much.
Caveat: Damage can never be totally eliminated due to the hard nature of the ball and the speed of contact with the bat. A good bat correctly knocked in ideally would last about 1000 runs including net use.
Laver & Wood sell hardwood knocking in mallets and offer a knocking in service. All Laver & Wood bats come with a hardwood mallet.
For more advice on bat preparation from experienced cricketers and coaches from all around the world, visit our Coaching Forum where you can get excellent advice on bat preparation, bat repairs and the best bats to buy.
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Nov 6th Update

November 6th Update

The momentum continues forwards, with different team members now ordering their own personal bats and equipment off of the Internet, which is very commendable. A word of warning on this front, if you’re in this with the intention of dipping into your pockets as little as possible, which is understandable in view of the fact that the intention was that we may only ever play one game, which now seems unlikely (Read on) acquiring and using a bat is going to become an issue. Those of us that buy our own personal bats will probably have to go through the process of ‘Knocking In’ the bat, which basically mean bashing it carefully for 6 or 7 hours prior to using it with a wooden hammer. This toughens up the willow making it ready to start whacking 4’s and 6’s against people trying to throw the ball at 90mph. The thing is - having knocked one out, the likelihood of you then lending it to someone to who could potentially break it with the first swing for a 6 is very unlikely. I know for sure that having spent night after night bashing away at my bat I’m not going to be lending it to anyone. So we either need to buy some old knackered bats, or all buy our own individual bats. Hopefully new team member Carl Hodgson has a couple hidden away in his Dad’s loft that he’ll let us use as ‘Pooled’ bats? For more info on bats, there’s some links on the blog and a few articles about knocking them in.

Wellstead Gardens

I’ve had a response from Lynn Tucker regarding the facilities at Wellstead gardens. She’s looking into the possibility of us using it and what the conditions are for doing so. I thought this was kind of funny in that I recall being told at staff conference days about how under-used it is and that it is a good facility (The images on the internet seem to re-enforce this as being true) but now we’re in the process of applying to use it, all the contacts that we have to communicate with in order to use it seem to be passing on my requests to one another! I’ll keep you all updated as and when I get the news.

Indoor Venues

This seems to have gone off the boil at the moment as again the staff you have to communicate with that deal with these venues (Garons) seem to lack any sense of urgency or have any info to hand. I’ll follow up the lead that I had already and see if I can push for some answers and prices. Dean Wells seemed to be under the impression that there might be equipment there at Garons to use, again this is one of these situations that if we’re to do indoor batting practice the last thing you’ll want to be doing is using your own personal bat on concrete floors trying to bat Yorkers. So again if there are no bats at Garons, this is another situation where we’ll need old knackered bats.

Basildon contingent

The team is seemingly divided up into two groups those of us that work and live around the college – Simon, Nick, Richard and those that live around the Basildon area – Me, Steve Bone, Badger, Mark Benson, Phil Buchanan, Carl Hodgson and Thomas Slater. The Basildon contingent have got the additional options of using Laindon Community Centre and Markhams Chase sports centre for indoor practice and Thomas Slater and myself have already use the community centre at Laindon which is a tenner for an hour and Carl has said Markhams chase is also usable, so I’ll be looking into that as an option for indoor practice.

Batting Order

No science here or merit proven through demonstration of skills, just enthusiam for wanting to play or previous recent experience. Carls in first as he was the Captain of his previous team and was obviously playing more recently than any of the rest of us and seems to be only interested in getting 4’s and 6’s!

1. Carl Hodgson - Wicket Keeper or slips
2. Richard Sainsbury - Wicket Keeper
3. Alex Wood - Wicket Keeper or slips
4. Thomas Wheeler - Fast Bowler
5. Steve Bone – Batsman
6. Richard Sandling – Batsman
7. Simon Grainge – Batsman
8. Nick Naughty – Batsman
9. Mark Benson – Batsman
10. Chris Keeble – Batsman
11. Phil Buchanan – Batsman
12. Dave Thompson - Spin/slow bowler
Potential opponents

Steve Bone has been talking to his students and we may also be having a game against them in the early summer, if news spreads amongst the students in the college and what with the Ashes in OZ over November, there’s the potential for more than one team to be formed I reckon?

Richard also has links with a team locally around Southend made up of Teachers who are mainly Kiwi’s and Oz’s and they too are also up for a match or two. So hopefully if this all comes together we may have some warm up matches with these other teams before we humiliate Dean Wells and his mates!

Equipment news

Dave and Richard have got their own bats now and I’m waiting to speak to Carl about the contents of his loft. It was good to see that everyone was willing to dip into their pockets to buy some 2nd hand gear to get us equipped and it might be that we’ll make Carl an offer for the use of his gear?

We are going to need gear –
Bats, balls, Helmets, Gloves, boxes, pads, wicket keepers gloves and special balls for practicing indoors. Keep an eye on Ebay.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Venue News

I've had an Email from someone at the college regarding the usage of Wellstead gardens and the Email has been forwarded to Lynn Tucker within the college, so hopefully by Monday we'll have some kind of a response.

Regarding venues and other teams, if you know of any teams that are not too serious e.g. they're not in a leagues or affliated to the ICC or the MCC and they're up for a game let us know and we'll play them as well.

Someone has suggested that there maybe groups of students that might challenge us? Can't see it myself they have trouble enough getting thier shit together to get out of bed in the mornings let alone sourcing bats and what have you.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Equipment News

There's been some confirmations as to who's on the team and their preferred playing positions/specialities. On Friday I had two new players sign up as such Alex Wood and one of my mates - a bloke I know back home Carl Hodgson who run a team last year. His team has disbanded and as he was the team captain and driving force behind the team, he's ended up with all the gear providing it's still at his Dad's house in the loft. From what he remembers there's pads, gloves, stumps and bats, with regards the pads there's something like 4 - 6 sets. So I've held back on bidding for that gear that was on EBAY.

Team Update -

Alex Wood - Wicket Keeper or slips
Carl Hodgson - Wicket Keeper or slips
Richard Sainsbury - Wicket Keeper
Dave Thompson - Spin/slow bowler
Thomas Wheeler - Fast Bowler
Simon Garinge - Batsman
Nick Naughty - Batsman
Mark Benson - Batsman
Steve Bone - Batsman
Richard Sandling - Batsman
Phil Buchanan - Batsman
Chris Keeble - Batsman

Matt Lindsey - Has dropped out, he did say he'd play to make up the numbers and now we've got more than enough players he's dropped out. The same with Dean, he did say he would play, but again only on the basis of making up the numbers.

We're still looking for more fast bowlers, so anyone that wants to have a go at that needs to make themsleves known.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cheap Gear on EBAY

Have a look at this - if we're serious this is the kind of thing we should all chip in for and buy -

If that don't work try ebay and type in as the description 'New cricket kit inc'

MPA's first Eleven Cricket Team

Welcome to MPA's First Eleven Cricket Team Blog.
News and views on how we intend to smash Dean Wells's cricket team all over the park! The plan of action is that over the winter while they're playing football, we'll be practicing frantically in sports halls and places, honing our skills into something that resembles the Autralian National team!
Bewteen now and then we want to build up as much hype as possible to and get a big crowd down to Wellstead Gardens for a 1 day match sometime in July or August (late August I reckon).
Here's the news as of Nov 2nd...

This is slowly coming together and the team as it stands goes something like this -
Dave Thompson- Leg Spin bowler
Steve Bone - Undecided
Richard Sainsbury - Wicket Keeper
Nick Naughty - Undecided
Simon Grainge - Undecided
Chris Keeble - Undecided
Richard Sandling - Batsman
Mark Benson (R) possible fast bowler
Thomas Slater (R) Possible fast bowler
Phil Buchanan (R) - Batsman
'Ash' (one of Boney's students, but he's got real form - Played for Surrey's 2nd 11 or something) Matt Lyndsey - Undecided or sub
As yet we haven't got a clue what the batting order is, but I can tell you for one - I'm crap, hence the reason I'm concentrating on being the 'Shane Warne' of the team with the intention of bowling all of my brother's (AKA Dean Wells) team out for 50 or so! I've emailed someone tonight regarding the cricket pitch at Wellstead Gardens, so hopefully we'll get a reply tomorrow. I'm hoping as we're staff and they want this place promoted and used more often they'll let us use it for free as a way of generating publicity. On a more negative front if you look at the website (Use google and type in 'Wellstead Gardens') you'll see that it seems to be the home ground of Westcliff cricket club or someone, so no doubt they'll get all precious about their wicket? Anyway we'll see how it goes when the email comes through.
One of the problems we're going to face is equipment and I don't know how 'Into' this you're going to get, but having just bought a bat after weeks and weeks of research I've now realised how technical this can be and 'Lending' your bat to someone is just not cricket. So how we're going to get round having bats for everyone may be a problem. But there is an answer. I can get Grade 1 Kasmir bats for everyone for about £20 each if you're interested? The 'enemy' Dean reckons that at Garons they may have gear there for when we get round to practicing there over the winter. Again i'm in the process of sussing that out, but I'm sceptical about how much gear will be there to use. I'll keep you posted as and when I get more info. One last thing - I haven't got a clue how these blogs work, but by all means make contributions to it if you have some news. I'll distribute the passwords over the next few days or so. Dave