Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy December 21st!

At last it's here - for me one of the best days of the year - December 21st. Today is the shortest day of the year and the longest night, from here on right through to June 21st the days get longer and potentially warmer, drier and sunnier! We all know what that means - cricket and just being outside and in the sun! You can only be optimistic about that prospect and for me this is such an important day as I hate the winter so much so that it takes the edge off of June 21st for me as I always think "That's it - it's all downhill from here on"!!! I get over it though as it's summer for the next few weeks anyway.

As usual had a couple of short sessions outside my house and the Top Spinners looking really good and consitent and the short burst of Leg break practice look like they're slowly coming together so along with it being Dec 21st my optimism is riding a high at the moment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

19th Dec

I spent 45 minutes today on grass, but it was very sticky and soft so there was very little bounce, but it was useful in that my accuracy with line was good, far better than in the summer, but I still need to concentrate on length - I've still got a tendency to bowl too long. So this is something I need to look at. I also was aware of my walk-in and this seemingly new way that I do it. But this evening I've been looking at some video's on youtube and noticed that it's something a lot of people do in a similar way to me and it just appears to be what you have to do in order to keep your balance when shifting from a running forwards motions to a throwing over arm sideways motion. I looked at Lasith Malinga and Mathew Hoggard and they both seem to do it, but it's difficult to see the mechanics of it as they're so fast and most of the video footage is concerned with their bowling actions from an upper body perspective and not so much how they run in. I reckon if it is a change it's a change for the better. I need to get someone to film it so I can have a look at it and compare it with video footage I've previously shot of myself bowling.

Badger - if you're looking at this - when you get back come and video me please?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Update

Even though it's Dec and the temperature has been around 2 - 4 degrees centigrade the last few days I've still been managing to get out and bowl quite a bit. I've been submitting loads of questions and reports on my bowling progress on the forum at www.simplycricket.net as well as getting advice on what to do about my damaged calf muscle and on both fronts I've been getting loads of feedback that's been helpful.

My calf muscle at last seems to be definitely on the road to recovery after being advised to take it really easy. For more than a week now I've had no twinges and it seems as though it's okay. I've even leapt up flights of stairs in the last few days and it's been fine. Despite this I'm going to continue to take it easy and not do any exercise on it till the new year and then start to get it back in action.

Bowling

My bowling in the last week seems to have undergone massive improvement. One of the blokes on www.simplycricket.net in discussion made this point -

Ok, after reading this, one thing screams through my head.You have the leg spin variants, but you don't have the stock ball. This is pretty, i wouldn't say worrying, but for a leg spinner not being able to bowl it, then it isn't effective, you need one ball which spins, and when i say spin, i mean its the ball you fall back on when everything else fails.So, my suggestion, just how good are you at offspin? Because you can keep all your variants of legspin, and if you can spin using offspin, then i'd say we're onto a Sachin Tendulkar kind of moments, where you can use both.

Off the back of the comment I made a decision to look at the Leg break again and see if I could re-learn it. I looked at the Shane Warne Vid's and sussed out what I need to be doing and started throwing balls around indoors. I've now progressed onto bowling spells where I concentrate on the leg break and bit by bit it's coming together. In the mean time I'm still spot bowling with all the other variations except for the slider. They are all getting much better. I've now bowled 7 consecutive balls onto my designated 3' x 10" spot and regularly hit it now in sequences of 3 and four. Today I had an exceptional practice where for a 20 minute period bowling primarily flippers, Wrong Un's and Top spinners I was bowling 6 out of 7 good balls all on the spot or very near or turning into the stumps, which is probably the best bowling I've ever done! So tomorrow as the weather is dry I'm going to go over to one of the local fields with a set of stumps and try it with real balls and see how much success I have.

Two of the key things I've realised is that with different variations the leading arm has to point in different places. For instance the Flipper needs my leading arm to point in the direction of leg slip almost in order that the balls is directed towards the stumps. The other thing I've noticed that has changed is the walk-in. I now do this thing which is like a dance move where my right leg passes round the back of my left leg as I twist my body so that the delivery action is bodily sideways rather than forwards. It's difficult to explain - I've tried to do a diagram but it's not that easy. What I'll try and do is get hold of a video camera or someone with a phone with a video function and youtube it or make it available somehow for people to comment on.

I've also found someone who'll give me some coaching for a very reasonable price in West London. So if you need coaching checkout http://calypsocricket.co.uk/default.aspx I'm hoping to have at least a session with him between now and the new season.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Plans and Hopes 2007-2008

Bowling

After spending all summer trying to get the Flipper to pay dividends as my stock ball I've had to review the situation. It seems that in practice (This is still the case now) I can get my Flipper to turn acutely across the wicket from Leg to Off. But on the wicket at Blackshots it just wasn't happening and that tied in with the psychological aspects of having my confidence knocked for 4 along with the ball mean that my bowling was poor.
Then in the last game we played I saw the bloke that got the multiple maidens. He seemed to be bowling straight balls, straight down the wicket at the stumps on a good to short length, nothing flash just very consistent. So I've left the Flippers and now I'm concentrating on bowling Top Spinners but getting them to land in a very small area to order. So over the next few months all I'm doing is bowling 95% Top Spinners concentrating on line, length and flight. The other 5% will be the ocassional Flipper and Wrong Un which will serve as my variations. On that front since laying off the Flippers and concentrating on the Top Spinners it seems the rest has done wonders for the Flipper as it seems to be a lot more accurate now that I bowl it less?


With regards playing for G&CCC my main strategy will be to try and ensure that I don’t suffer any injuries. Seemingly the problem areas are

• Sprinting in the outfield calf muscles
• Sprinting in the outfield thigh muscles
• Throwing the ball in from the outfield shoulder and upper arm muscles.

Needless to say it sounds like I might have to do some kind of training with my legs, either more running or more cricket specific running. Looking back all the time I was practicing over at Great Berry I never suffered and that represented cricket specific training. As soon as we had the problems at Great Berry and the practicing tailed off that’s when the injuries started to occur. It may have been the reason for both the arm and leg muscle pulls?
With the throwing it’s also obvious technique is also an issue, so I’ve got to look at my technique.
Bowling aims – to take more wickets. The equivalent of one per week would be really good and to reduce the amount of runs I conceded. All of this I’m hoping will simply fall in place because of the new strategy with the Top Spinner ball which will become my stock ball. I’m hoping that the fact that I deliver it straight will mean it will threaten the stumps and cause the batsmen to play in a more cautious manner.

Persevere with the Flipper and the Wrong Un and have them as my other balls in addition to the Top Spinner.

Batting – I’ve not even addressed this yet, but one of the blokes at G&CCC commented that I need to move my feet more and stand slightly sideway to the stumps rather than directly in front of the stumps and then not move. At the end of the summer I had started to practice with a ball up against a wall which was useful in that it forced me to move my feet in relation to the trajectory of the ball otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get behind or on top of the ball. The thing with this is finding a decent wall and a ball with the right amount of bounce. Having said that now having discovered the basket ball courts with their high fences and tight nit mesh I may be able to use large bouncy balls if they come back off the fence in the same trajectory that they went into the fence? Something to look at for the future. Ideally when the spring comes I’ll be able to resume practicing on Great Berry and people will join in over there.


Teams – Obviously I’ll be playing all year with G&CC. Other than that I’m looking to get a team together within the college amalgamating our old MPA teams with sports science. The intention then is to play against G&CCC a couple of times if not more.

The other thing I’d like to do is get the blokes over at Glouscester Park to get a team together and play them over at Glouscester Park or Great Berry. There is so much potential there it would be a shame if those blokes never ever got to play a real game, so I’m determined that I get that together somehow.

Fitness

I've started a fitness regime with a strategy to get my upper body strength increased - arms and shoulders with some attention to core strength. I've got a series of exercises I'm doing every other day and for the next month I'll be doing the exercises and seeing how I get on. I'd imagine that if I keep it up for a week or two the exercises will then become easier and I'll increase the amount of reps. Once I get organised what I may also do is post the exercises on www.simplycricket.net and get feedback from the people on there - Liz Ward and David Hinchcliffe of www.harrowdrive.com That way hopefully I'll be building up to a good start to the season at G&CCC.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Here's how to put new grip onto a bat using a cone. This has been lifted from the simply cricket website with the permission of Tom. So cheers Tom. Have a look at the website and get involved with the forum loads of useful stuff on there including our old mate David Hinchcliffe and LIz Wizard from Harrowdrive still promoting fitness and core stability....

www.simplycricket.net










Although this will be teaching many of you to suck eggs, one or two of you have asked for tips on using a gripping cone so below is quick guide with pictures.Firstly -a gripping cone!Before you start it's a good idea to check the binding on the handle, make sure there are no loose ends and it's not starting to unravel. If it is you can stick down the loose bits with a little bit of wood glue. If the string has come away completely you need to get it rewound by a pro.You need to place the grip as far onto the cone as you're able - don't force it on but you should get about 2/3 of the grip on, like so:Once you've done that roll the grip upwards (as per arrow on photo) until the grip 'pops' off:Turn the half rolled grip around and place the unrolled bit back onto the cone, until the rolled up section is back on and then roll the grip down:Continue to roll the grip down the cone, towards the metal ring (if your cone has one). It should look something like this:Once you are near or on the metal ring, place that end over the handle of the bat (you need to grip the bat with your feet to free up your hands) and push the grip over the bottom of the cone and onto the handle. It may take some force, depending on the age of the grip and how thick it is:Proceed to roll the grip all the way down the handle - try to get the bottom of the grip to fall where the handle meets the bat (this will take practice). If you don't get it first time, you'll need to play with the grip to get it to fit. Use your thumbs and palms to work the grip.Lastly, roll the grip all the way up the handle. You can 'pat' down a small amount of excess using the flat of you palm. If its a lot then you can again work the grip using your hands. If the grip comes up short, roll it down the handle and then back up to stretch it.To finish off you can place some electrical tape on the base of the grip (wrap it twice round, keeping the second wrap over the first) but it's not critical.I hope that explains the basics, after that its down to practice and blisters on your palms! Apologies for the pictures being slightly blurry but I had to take them on a camera phone.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Winter plan of action - Throwing

I'm also writing a blog on a cricket website www.simplycricket.net so some of the content of this blog will end up on there and vice versa.

So - a winter plan? Whatever happens initially it's going to be hindered by the fact that I've pulled a muscle in my L/H calf muscle and I've been told by Liz Wizard on the simplycricket website that I need to rest it properly in order that I don't do any more damage to it. Liz is good at this stuff and has given me advice before that has then led to me getting fixed as such.

The winter plan I feel needs to lead up to the start of the season. At 47 I'm not as physically active as I was when I was younger and I have a tendency to expect my body to still do the kind of stuff I used to do as a kid. Over the last season I found that I was useless at throwing the ball in from the outfield and that everytime I did it I could sense that I was almost injuring my arm each time and it was obvious that if I continued I would in fact do some injury. Fortunately I noticed that the other 'Older' blokes were rolling the ball in and throwing it under arm if the batsmen had stopped running and wisely adopted that as an injury avoidance strategy. But at the same time I was gutted that I couldn't do what would have been easier in younger days - but then younger days would have been spent throwing rocks at objects out in the river Thames or hours spent trying to hit Swifts as they flew along river banks stuff like that where you'd be constantly exercising your arm. These days all I do is type and drive a car in between weekends, so it's not surprising that my arm isn't up to it?

So one of the things I need to do is exercises that will help with that and also practice on the technique. There's a good link on www.bbc.co.uk in the cricket pages where Paul Collingwood has a video where he covers throwing techniques and as soon as you see it and then try it - it all makes sense. Also on the www.harrowdrive.com website David has covered ways of practicing using different weight balls alternately as a method - so I'll re-visit that before I start.

How often? As yet I'm not sure and I want to do it in a way where I'm not really feeling I'm going to be wasting lots of time. I suppose what I could do is make it more cricket specific (If my leg was okay) by setting up targets opposite one another and everytime I've thrown the ball run/sprint to retrieve it, that way I'm also doing things like stooping down to pick the ball up quickly and turning to throw back in the other direction accurately which'll all add to my agility?

Anyway - my legs knackered so I'm not going to be doing that so what will I be doing this weekend? More than likely I'm going to be spot bowling trying to pitch the ball from 17 yards throwing top-spinners trying to get it to land in area 10" x 30" as that'll be fairly easy on my leg? If it proves to be too stressful on the leg I'll ease up again. I'll let you know what I decide.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Great Berry plan of action

For some reason tonight I was laying in bed and started thinking about Great Berry Open Space and all the stuff that happened over there last summer and how it was finally resolved and the councils official line on the matter at the end....

You can play cricket on the field whenever you want, you can mark out the boundaries, wear whites and play two proper teams.

If we can help you in any way we will, if we could somehow get our three tonne roller over here from 'The Rec' we would and we'd roll a wicket for you. In the meantime you can cut the grass as much as you like - we think it's brilliant what you're doing and if there's any other way we can help don't hestitate to contact the office, there may be cash and incentives available on the basis that you're grass roots and you're encouraging a sport that is on the decrease in this area.


So there I was going over this in my mind thinking what can I do next spring to ensure that I'm able to practice over there and maybe get some of the old MPA team over there for a knockabout. I was going over it and thinking maybe I should go and repair the holes where the foxes dug up the stump holes - fill it in and plant some grass seed. Then I thought maybe I should mulch it as well as I've got tonnes of compost in my back garden doing nothing? Then I thought that without a roller to then roll it once the mulch had been absorbed that was pointless and would make what is very flat piece of grass more lumpy. Then I had one of those moments of genius and remembered this....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02b_xMIi3vg

Watch what happens 55 seconds into the clip - it's genius! Why didn't I think of this last summer? The council blokes when they came and spoke to me on the occasion that I was mowing the wickets drove up to me on the field in their own van, so there's obviously some way of accessing the field in a van via the adjacent estate. Okay, so maybe I'm not going to be able to go to the council and ask can I use my car to roll the wickets as they're bound to be tied up in H&S laws and will almost inevitably say "No - sorry". But there's a chance that they might just drive across the wicket when they're in the area?

I know it's going to work because last summer during our camping holiday I noted the impact the cars had on the grass on the campsite when they drove around - compressed and flat and lovely for cricket!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Exercise & Fitness

If you've been following the blog over the months you'll have read about the occassional injuries that I've suffered - shoulder injuries, thigh muscles, thumb swelling, back injuries and calf muscles being the most recent when I played the last game of the season. I'm not that young anymore (47) but for my age I'm probably not that bad, I've always been quite sporty and interested in staying fit and eating well. Seeing my 'Fit' uncle die at 40 was quite a shock leaving a wife and two small kids behind kind of made me realise that along with his Dad dying in his early 60's and my Dad dying a couple of weeks after retiring that there was a propensity amongst the blokes in our family to croak quite early. So at the age of about 23 - 24 I decided I wasn't having any of that and that I'd see if I could take the record and hang in there till I'm at least 70. That'll do me fine my youngest will be in his early 30's and he'll be able to deal with it by then and not impact on his life too much.

Thing is I never accounted for cricket and now I've discovered it I want to be playing it till I'm 70 as well. Which means I don't want to be going down with injuries every weekend every time I run for a ball in the outfield, or put in a spell of 20 overs back to back when I'm practicing and suffer shoulder injuries. So tonight I got an email from my mate David Hinchcliffe at www.harrowdrive.com and it was covering his favourite subject "Core stability". He loves it core stability, he can't get enough of it and it's his mission it seems to turn the rest of the UK and probably the world into cricket athletes. I'd love to go and see his team play - I've got this image of 12 blokes doing warm ups and warm downs and they all look like Olympians in cricket gear. The opposition on the other hand will be a bunch of Lager bellied blokes tucking into their pre-match cans of Lucozade washing down bags of crisps and Macdonalds. I'm digressing a bit here so let's get back to where I was. So tonight after a recent good practiceI was thinking as I was reading David's email, maybe part of the reason I am bowling well is that I've taken on some of David's advice regarding shoulder exercises? So with that I tried to read it and decipher some of the language used (It's all very technical when it comes to the muscles and exercises) and as usual kind of lost my way with it and began to think I need something visual here I thne looked at the forum and some of the fitness plans and that sort of made more sense and was tempted to ask on the forum for a personalised plan. I erred away from that because it doesn't seem right that he'd spend half hour writing a plan for an old bloke like me simply playing Sunday friendly matches and that his time would be better spent replying to some young bloke who's got years in front of him as a cricket player. So I drifted away and googled "Core stability". Anyway to cut a long story short I found this - www.trainwithmeonline.com and within it exercises that relate to shoulder strength using resistance bands. But more than that a load of core stability stuff (I think) and it all comes with little video clips showing how the exercises are done. Looking at it - it looks like a really useful website if you're looking to improve areas of your fitness, or at least as a starting point. I reckon this website along with Davids mantra of 'Cricket specific exercise' and training I can see myself going on at least till I'm 50! This could become a new aspect of my blog - who knows?

Another practice idea

I've just been looking at the forum on David Hinchcliffes website www.harrowdrive.com/forum and some bloke from Korea has just posted a brilliant idea in response to a thread me and a bloke (Ali Malik) from Suadi Arabia were posting on relating to practicing on your own. The Korean bloke 'Alan' suggests marking out a grid on the ground in a kind of noughts and crosses arrangement. Any ball that lands in the zone you're aiming for is a wicket if it goes on to hit the stumps. All the other areas - short, long, wides etc they're all scored as runs against you, you can then keep a tally of how many runs are scored against you in the process of bowling the whole team out. Sounds like a good idea for my new practice venue. Now where's that tin of exterior masonry paint.........?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New practice area

On a bike ride with my boys yesterday I noticed a play area near where we live that looked as though it might be good for some winter practice. It's an enclosed fenced of play area tarmac and 10' wire mesh fencing designed to be used for Basket Ball (The hoops are still there). But the width of the area is easily big enough to have a bit of a run up and bowl for a spinner, diagonally it might even suit a faster bowler? So today it was raining slightly so bowling on a field wasn't viable so I thought I'd go and check this place out in the drizzle and see if it's any good.

I tied some stumps to the wire fence got myself two balls and placed down my 'Spot bowling' marker and threw a few balls. In a similar way that I practice on fields I threw the balls one side and then back the other side. With two balls it meant I was back and forth a bit but it was okay. All I need to do now is buy a load of those 5.5oz solid plastic hockey balls and I'm away (incidentally there's 12 on ebay at the moment for a good price).

With regards my bowling it - it was pretty good. My thumb has got better and I've been able to bowl flippers, so I threw a few of those and they were very affective - suprisingly accurate and so different to the top spinners in fact the opposite to a top spinner, so if I can get those both sorted over the winter that'll be a right result. I'll post some pictures of my new practice area once I've got some shots of it.

One Man cricket club


As mentioned a couple of blogs back I've acquired more gear and I'm now in a far better position to sort a game between us and anyone else with regards equipment. Have a look at the picture. I've got enough gear to easily accomodate another team. Of the bats I now own, there's three there I've got no problem lending complete strangers, but to be honest you can pick bats up for a lot less than £30.
The only thing any opposition is going to need will be their own boxes and helmets if they feel the need to wear helmets and to be honest I'd encourage it. So the gears here - so if anyone in the Essex, Basildon area fancies taking us on but doesn't have the gear - I've got it and you can borrow it.
98% of this gear was bought on ebay at knock down prices, the majority of it for £56 that was for one set of set of stumps, all the gloves, all the pads, 5 of the bats (including the Stac, Slazenger and Fernley bats that were all around £100 each when new). The slazenger stumps were bought seperately on ebay for £25 and the balls were mostly new but again bought on ebay from India for about £2.50 per ball. If you're starting out Ebay is the way to go especially around this time of year because there's so many people looking at all the gear they bought over the season who probably played once or twice and then got a ball in the nuts or a broken rib or were just completely crap at playing and now they're looking at it and thinking it's taking up too much room and that they're not going to use it ever again. So they'll bung it on Ebay and you'll get yourself a bargain.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Practice update

Had a bit of a bowl on Sunday night just before dusk. I've got to say it was cold and damp, but I managed to throw a few overs and it went okay. I didn't record what happened but it was pretty tight especially with regards wides. In the week every now and then I've been getting outside and throwing just outside my house and landing the ball in at the right length and width, so it looks like it's coming together nicely.

Ebay cricket gear

September just gone I bid for and won a load of cricket stuff - bats, shoes, pads, gloves and all sorts. The lot cost me just £28 but was a collect yourself job from Loughborough near Derby. I had no intentions of going to Derby but there was a chance that either my brother, sister, mother or father - in law would be going to or from our place here in Essex or Derby. So emailed the bloke and asked 'You okay to hang on to it till someone comes by your place and collects it'? and he was okay about it.

This weekend my Bro - in law had been down for the weekend and I asked him to pick it up on his way through to Derby and he said yes. He set off and an hour or so later I rang the bloke and got no answer on his mobile phone line. I'm then thinking of worse case scenario - the bloked done a runner with my gear and when Ian gets there - the house is going to be empty. Anyway Ian gets there - I'd rang him in the meantime saying the house might be empty, but it turns out for the good. The bloke was there and handed the gear over. I've just rang Ian and said thanks for collecting and Ian's just said the blokes thrown in a load of other gear. It sounds like there's another 2 bats (making 4 one of which he'd bought last season for £180) and another pair of cricket shoes. I can't wait to see what's there and how much of a bargain I've got!

The good thing is - this makes it more possible to get a game together with the blokes over at Glouscester Park if they play next summer, I've just got to somehow get that organised. When I get the gear I'll photograph it and stick it on here - ebay and cricket gear it's the way to go. So many people start the game with no concept of how much commitment it takes to be in a team and that means that their gear ends up on ebay!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Looks like I'm on to something here?

Trawling around the websites looking for bowling patterns for Shane Warne I came across a few on the Aussie website http://www.cricinfo.com.au/ if you click on the link below there's a couple that are useful in that it shows how tight and consistent he bowls sometimes. I think if I percevere and get my bowling somewhere near half as good as this I'll be onto a winner.




Looking around I also came across a website that was selling equipment to schools and found these images of training mats (www.flicx.com) and as you can see they employ the principle I've just discovered for myself - the image of the kid facing the ball having the orangey/red band down the centre doing almost exactly as my piece of wood does - but I'd argue in a less demanding way? My piece of wood is only 4' long but a similar width thus demanding even more accuracy?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More practice ideas - Leg Spin Bowling






Another unusually warm day - must have been around 19 degrees centigrade again - blue sky and sunny - very commendable. So another practice session was on the cards. As with yesterday I thought I'd warm up first (off the pitch as such) just outside my house. I went into the garage and got the stumps and as I stood there in the garage I noticed a piece of hardboard about 4' long and 3' wide. Looking at it I thought if I was to cut the board into a strip 4' long and 1' wide I could use it as the target onto which I must pitch the ball. So if I placed this in line with my stumps Diagram A this would serve as good practice for my line and length. So I set it up and gave it a go.




The idea is the piece of board is positioned 17 yards from where I bowl from and if I can pitch the ball onto the board it's the equivalent of pitching the ball 4-5 yards short of the stumps e.g. a length that is drawing the batsman out of his crease.




If I can practice this and land the ball consistently on the board it's also an accurate line that if left would go on to hit the stumps or the pads (LBW). Normally the stumps are another 4 yards beyond where the board is, but it's just nice to have the stumps there and see the ball hitting the stumps when you get it right! I gave this a go and did quite well - pitching the ball on the plank quite frequently and knocking down the stumps which is very satifying.








There's a couple of other pictures here that show you where I practice. Diagram B Is directly outside my house and the stumps when they're here are suspended from a screw in the wall so that they don't fall down but make a satisfying clatter when you hit them. If you look closely the board is just in front of the stumps and it's the same thing - I bowl the ball 17 yards pitching onto the plank (I actually have to bowl over the wall to left next to the B because the path curves round a corner just behind where the picture's been taken). This practice area is good because if I bowl wide to leg the ball flies off down the pathway which is most annoying, so it kind of forces you to get it right.


Looking in the other direction is the other area I practice diagram C. So as you can see I'm resourceful and completely obsessed with being good at this and just practicing just about anywhere where there's a bit of open space that's 25 yards or so long!
I don't know what the neighbours think, but it helps that I've got two boys who are 6 and 9 and they get out there with me every now and then and practice, but the majority of the time it's just me - they probably think I need psychiatric help!
Anyway back to today. After throwing a few balls in the places you can see here I then had some lunch and then went over to the local football pitch (The one that I rolled and mowed all winter and spring) and set up my stumps, but this time took the plank and placed in the 4-5 yrd zone in front of the stumps. I then bowled 120 balls, all top spinners and wrong Uns trying to pitch the ball onto the plank e.g. in line with the stumps and at that awkward length. I did so with relative success again. Of the 120 balls 30% landed on the plank and went onto hit the stumps. 23% were wides and 40% were balls that only just missed the plank.
Because of the plank the success of my bowling is now being measured in a different way. In future I'll be using the plank and the catergories to be recorded will be
1. Good Balls; This will be any ball that hits the plank irrespective of whether it goes on to hit the stumps or not.
2. Wides; This will be any ball that lands more than a foot wide of the plank
3. Indifferent; These will be balls that don't hit the plank and are slightly wide, long or short.
Ideally all the balls will fall into the Good Balls catergory as these will be the ones that are pitched that line and length that will cause the batsman concern. I'm looking primarily to increase the good balls and decrease the wides. Todays practice saw another improvement on yesterday.
Wides Sat - 23%; Today 21%
Wickets Sat - 14 Today 17
Indifferent Sat - 47% Today 40%
So that all looks very promising. What I will do if I get better is make the plank narrower. Currently it's 12" wides so there's a 1.5" extra either side of the stumps (9") but if this all works out well I'll rreduce the plank to 9" wide. Hopefully by the summer I'll be able to consistently pitch the ball onto the plank 66% of the time?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's still summer!

19 degrees centigrade on Oct 13th! I almost had my shirt off it was that warm! So it was hazy sunshine and dry so that means bowling practice. Venue - just across the road to where I live and a football pitch. My youngest son Joe came with me and he set up a wicket as well and he bowled at his stumps and I bowled at mine.

Today I'd practiced outside my house beforehand for a few overs and then left some time in between the warm up and the actual practice on the field in order to replicate cricket game conditions where you get the chance to warm up before the game and then don't actually bowl for some time.

It seems to have worked. In the first over I hit the stumps twice and one of the balls went over the top of the stumps only just. The other balls included two possible wides.

I bowled 17 overs (102 balls) with 50% good balls e.g. perfect line and length of which 17 balls hit the stumps. There were 21% wides and 29% balls that were indifferent e.g. just wide of the stumps. It's the wides and the indifferent balls I'm working on reducing the number of. I wont really know how the indifferent balls get played till next spring when we play again or before that if the club gets in the nets leading up to the new season. I'm thinking if I can increase the number of good balls - those that pitch right in front of the stumps at an awkward length and then sometimes turn, it may work out that those that are only just slightly wide may still cause problems because the batsman will not know whether they are going to turn or not?

Overall looking back at the previous blog today was a result as it marks another slight improvement. I thought that it may have been an indifferent session or one that took as step backwards but....

Last week - 47% good balls. Today 50%
Last week - 14 Wickets Today 17
Last week - 25% Wides Today 21%

So I'm quite pleased with that. I'll probably practice again tomorrow and see what the results are then? General observations were that when I try and bowl e.g. put some kind of extra effort into it e.g. faster or determination to hit the stumps it seems to go wrong. The more relaxed I am about it the greater the chance of it coming together and being the correct line and length. Today I was talking to a bloke that used to play cricket and he was saying the same thing - the harder you try and do it right the more inclined you are to do something wrong, then once it does start to go wrong the more tense you become and a spiral into disaster becomes unavoidable it seems?

All the data for today was for Top spinners. My top spinners have a tendency or are easily turned into Wrong Uns.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Merger News

I spoke to Gavin today - (Captain of the Sports Science Team) and he said that his blokes would be up for a merge between us (MPA) and his crew and we'd affectively become the basis of what's looking more like a South East Essex College team.

I did post a list of potential team members a couple weeks back - but to go over it again -

Gavin (SS)
Riley (SS)
Paul (SS)
Ronnie (SS)
Dean (SS)
Conan The Kiwi
Simon Grainge
Dave Thompson
Richard Sainsbury
Nakul Handa
Suhail
Jack
Chris
Alex II

Needless to say they'd be able to call upon other people to play - including their students. I mentioned their reluctance to play on Sundays and it pans out that the reason had something to do with playing football. So if we did manage to get some matches together for 50 overs on a Sunday with Grays & Chadwell CC they would probably happen out of the football season - so basically during June or the first week of July? Other than that Gavin said that other colleges are well up for playing against us including SEEVIC. So there looks like there may be some potential for some games in the summer?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Another practice session

Another practice session just bowling 12 balls back and forth at stumps. Bowled the equivalent of 14 overs. I've already discovered that I need to throw about four overs beforehand just to get a rythmn going and then go into the proper pratcice session. This is problematic as I tend to turn up at matches and and get straight into the game and then have to then wait well over an hour before I get a chance to bowl. That begs the question - even if I practiced before the match, would I still be in the groove as such an hour later or would I have to bowl four rubbish overs before I got my rythmn back?

Anyway - I still can't resolve the wides issue - I'm still bowling 25% wide balls. On the plus side 47% good balls e.g. down the center landing 4-5 yards in front of the stumps of which 14 hit the stumps and nine just missed the bails and went over the top of them, the other all spun off to leg (Wrong Uns). All the other balls were slightly wide of the stumps and wouldn't have been a threat and may have been easily hit?

The main issue is reducing the wides, I'm assuming this will only come with more practice. But I'm pleased with my line and length - I've just got to reduce the wides. Having said that there's a slight improvement between today and yesterday and today I may have even been more self critical?

Have a look www.harrowdrive.com/forum for more leg spin stuff and comments from Leg spinners and other cricketers from all over the world. Subscribe and get on the forum.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Nice and sunny Oct afternoon and one of the last chances I reckon of a warm day, so I had the stumps and 12 balls out and bowled the equivalent of 18 overs. Because of my thumb I kept to trying to bowl straight using Over-spinners erring towards Wrong-Uns. Again I was quite pleased with the outcome - hitting the stumps with 18.5% of the balls and 29% bowled on a good line and length with 6 of the balls only just skimming the top of the bales by millimetres. But despite the good bowling there was still 28% wides - although I may have been really self critical and some of the wides may have not been given in a match situation?

18.5% Hit the stumps
29% A good line and length with six balls just skimming over the top of the stumps
28% Wides

The rest were all acceptable balls that would have only just gone wide of the stumps. Again it does look like this new strategy of aiming at the stumps may be the solution for next year. What I have got to work on is the wides as 28% is very high still. I need to get it down to 15% at least. I may have another session tomorrow and see what happens.

Finally have a look at this Terry Jenner interview in conjunction with my recent realisations...

http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/312645.html

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Plans for the winter

Thursday, 4 October 2007


There's no hope of getting in the nets this year - not as early as we did last year and besides the majority of what was the MPA first eleven have disappeared. As previously mentioned I'm going to try and merge with the Sports Dept and form what will be a South East Essex College team with some mates involved as well. I've just got to run it past Gavin at SEEC and see what he says. The only thing is they for some reason are really adverse to playing Sunday matches and only seem to want to play 20/20 matches mid week? So to be honest the merge may not be the best idea as I'm aiming to play some 40 over matches on Sundays.So at this point I'm faced with the dilemma of who to get in the team?In the short term the other thing I'm doing is learning how to umpire and score. This turns out to be quite complex and subject to opinions and different approaches taken to different levels by different clubs.This all may be a bit of a pipe dream e.g. getting another team together, but I'll give it a go.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Learning Curves

After last weeks disasterous spell I'd come away from the game having watched one of the oppositions spin bowlers come away with about 5 maiden overs. I'd then asked our blokes what it was that this bloke was doing that was so troublesome and they come back with the fact that he was bowling a line and length that was really problematic. No-one said that he was making the ball turn (None of us had managed that either) but he was on target and an length where you was going to have to come down the wicket and have a go. It seems none of our blokes fancied it so that kind of implies that maybe he was varying his speed and bounce - so perhaps he was bowling over-spinners?

Anyway I gave this some thought and concluded that this blokes bowling made a lot of sense and this is emphasised by the amount of maidens he got. So I evaluated my approach and came up with some conclusions.

  • In all sorts of practice situations I can make the ball turn ridiculously and as a consequence I bowl wide looking balls normally varying flippers and Wrong Uns. But I'm realising that on a proper cricket pitch I'm not getting the same amount of turn - why? I don't know, but the consequence is I'm not threatening the stumps and so everyone is having a go at me and knocking me for fours and having a great time of it.
  • Having watched this bloke and seen how affective he was just throwing straight slow balls that seemingly might have turned I've decided that in the short term I'm going to stop trying to pull off Shane Warne style Mike Gatting round the legs deliveries and aim to be more accurate and consistent with where I pitch the ball.

So today I went over to my local field set up the stumps and laid a piece of fabric down in the zone where I intended to pitch the ball. The fabric was 4' long by 12" wide and placed 4 yards in front of the stumps. So all I had to do is pitch the ball at any length along that piece of fabric and it would be threatening the stumps. It would also be a short delivery that would mean the batsman would be tempted to come out after the ball.

I decided that I'd only bowl Flippers and Over-spinners, so I used 6 white balls and 6 red balls and put them in a bag. As I got the balls from the bag randomly I'd bowl the white ones as Over-Spinners and the red ones as flippers. The reason I'd gone for the Over-spinners is that theoretically they're the straight balls that bounce up high and contrast nicely with the Flippers that back spin and skid in low. So just the action of the variation alone causes an inconsistency in my bowling for the batsman? But added to that I have a tendency for my Over-spinners to turn into leg like a Wrong Un which again contrasts with the Flipper because they turn into Off like Leg Breaks. Despite being bashed all over the park by the batsmen last week I did hear their best batsman say "This blokes a bit tricky cos he's bowling offspin and Legspin" so that was encouraging to hear. So today with my strategy set off I went for a practice.

Initially it was awful which brings up another problem... I took about 4 overs to get my eye in as such. I'm wondering that if I was to have a practice before the game or during teas - would that loosen me up enough so that I could go straight into my spell and be affective - or would an hour or so waiting for my spell be so long that I'd need to bowl a couple of bad overs before I got then hang of it? I suppose this is something I could test on the practice field?

So anyway 4 overs in and suddenly it all came together. I found that bowling the flippers a lot shorter than I normally do and bowling them down the middle faster than normal meant that they didn't turn so much but they definitely seemed more threatening and I was hitting the stumps a lot more consistently. Without a batsman there it's difficult to tell how they'd handle them, I know my mate Nakul who I practiced a lot with over the summer (if he knew they were Flippers) would just step back and play off the back foot and whack em. But mixed up with the bouncy Over-spinners he might come unstuck?

The Over-spinners were good too. As I said without even trying to do it my Over-spinners have a sneaky and inconsistent tendency to turn to leg slightly and when I get into a bit of a groove with them it's just really easy to twist the wrist just a bit more and hang on to the ball a milli-second more so that it comes out of the back of the hand and turns loads. Again I was threatening the stumps so much more than I would normally do and having the bails off a lot more too.

In conclusion it looks as though if I adopt this approach where I'm aiming directly at the stumps I'm going to be more difficult to bat against and this might improve my figures. The only uncertainty is the length, so ideally I need to get someone to face my bowling, but as long as my line is consistent I don't think changing the length is going to be too problematic? So over the next few weeks I'm going to be sticking at these two deliveries making sure the line is consistent and just observing how often I hit the stumps and how much turn I get on the faster balls.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Last game of the season

Couple of things today.


1. Swollen thumb; does anyone out there also bowl flippers? If so have you ever suffered from a swollen thumb? My thumb seems to have swollen up and seems to be really tender and has been for over a week now. I'm not sure whether it's suffering because of over-use with the flippers or something else. I can't think of any other reason it should be sore and swollen. Has anyone else had this happen?

2. Learning curves. W'hey I took a wicket today, but at the same time went for 52 off of 2 overs and my Captain understandably withdrew me. Basically at the end of the match I reckon I must have cost us the match as the opposition scored 242 and in return we managed 210. Anyway talking to the other blokes and watching one of their spin bowlers who I think bowled 5 or 6 maiden overs out of about 10 I asked what was it he was doing that made him so difficult to bat against? Our batsmen said that he was bowling a consistent line at off stump and at a length that was just out of reach whereby they'd have to come forward and out of the crease. So I can only assume that he was flighting the ball so that it was high enough to make it impossible to judge where it was going to land and possibly varying the length from time to time? Otherwise why couldn't our batsmen just step back and hit it?

After my performance today it looks like I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board and practice landing the ball consistently a just short of a good length, but obviously on target with the stumps rather than varying it. Although saying that I heard their best batsman commenting to one of their players that my bowling was confusing him because I was bowling both Leg breaks (My flippers) and Wrong Uns. The ball that got the wicket was a straight one that bounced up that was wide of off stump and a sitter, the bloke went after it and got caught at cover.

But it does look like at the level that I'm playing my main objective needs to be just to thwart the runs primarily?

So what now? G&CCC more or less shut down after the last game next Sunday and there seems to be no practice of any sort until February. There's an AGM on Oct 16th which'll be interesting as there's loads of new proposals being put regarding the fees we all pay. It seems that most people don't every pay thier subs and try and avoid paying the game fees, yet they all work! It seems they're aware of the fact that the club wants to play as many games as possible and to do so they have to pick blokes that haven't paid their subs.

I reckon I'll do as I did last year I'll bowl right through the winter if the weather allows. But I'm kind of looking forward to some bad weather that'll stop me for a while and maybe my sore shoulder and thumb will get better?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Throwing update

A while back I posted an entry saying that I'd pulled muscles in my back and arms throwing the ball in from the outfield during matches. I have to bowl, so this needless to say probably affects my bowling abilities. So I looked into - exploring both the www.harrowdrive.com website and also the BBC website. From the Harrowdrive website I found some useful info about practicing with balls of different sizes and weights and tried that out and that seemed to hold some potential if I was to pursue it and keep the practice up. Unfortunately practicing on your own isn't that inspiring, so I've put that on the back boiler. But more interesting was the BBC website http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/sol/newsid_5180000/newsid_5180800/5180854.stm?bw=bb&mp=rm&news=1&ms3=4 which features a guide on how to throw the ball, showing you the correct technique. I tried it out practicing on a field and it works and this weekend I had throw a few balls in from the outfield and I've not caused my arms any problems neither immediately or later on. It's definitely a technique issue as opposed to a strength issue.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

G&CCC win again

Another win today which was nice. I never know who it is we're playing, but the team comprised of mostly adults with 2 very passionate younger lads around 16-18 years old maybe younger? All our faster bowlers had been drafted into the 1st XI team so we were left with a bunch of leg spin bowlers (5) and one seam bowler. Needless to say the opposition thought that all their christmas's had come at once espcially as the opening delivery went for 4 and the match then continued in the same vein. They eventually finished with 248 for 4 with 3 of their blokes scoring more than 50 each off of 40 overs.

So it looked like we were going to get hammered. But I've learnt to never under-estimate these kids on our team and a few hours later we walked off the victors having lost 3 batsmen with 3 overs to spare.

I had to umpire today and was allowed to do so at the cover position - so that was okay with only one serious appeal, but our bloke had his foot in and on the ground when the bales come off, but only just.

I fielded at Square leg, deep square leg, mid off and mid on. I've got to get my head round all these different positions so I don't have to ask where? I also got 6 overs and I think I went for about 58 runs or something. I had 2 stumpings that our lot said were dead certs but the umpire was having none of it. I had a few balls skied out to forward square leg - mostly off of longer balls that were loopy full tosses - which is something I should watch as a potential tactic to get blokes out? As usual I stopped a few balls, backed up some loose balls and probably made a fair contribution out in the field. Oh yeah I threw a few wides (3).

So even though we've got the likes of Gavin, Riley and Dean potentially on our side this match if it happens wont be a foregone conclusion.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Batting practice

I can't bat. I'm useless especially when facing fast bowlers. It's rare that in training situations I get to face bowlers and if I do they're generally of the faster variety as I'm the only spin bowler in our team and the other slower bowlers - Nakul and Badger they're not around much. Besides up till recently I'd always take the opportunity to bowl at people in order to hone my bowling techniques rather than practice batting.

So for ages I've been trying to come up with ways that I might be able to force some improvements. A couple of weeks back one of my team mates at Chadwell & Grays CC pulled me aside and gave me some advice about where I should stand in relation to the stumps when batting in view of the fact that I don't really move that much. What he said made sense, but I hung on the fact that he said I don't move my feet. So I had a look at some batting video tutorials on the Ninemsn website in Australia and listened to what was being said about moving your feet and being on your toes and mobile.

I was thinking it all through a bit miffed that I can't get anyone to practice with, but kept looking around for other ways to practice. I've got kids - two boys 8 & 6 years old and they've got all sorts of balls - footballs, tennis balls, wind balls, sponge balls, golf balls etc. I opened up the back of the car and noticed a bag of balls and the golf ball caught my eye and I thought - now that's a small and potentially difficult ball to hit with a cricket bat. I realised if somehow I could practice with a golf ball and hit that it would be so much easier with dirty great cricket ball. I took it and bounced it on the ground and realised the potential to possibly hit the ball bouncing off of a wall. Using a smaller bat - a size 5 I gave it a go. To the cut the story short I tried a range of balls including tennis balls and tonight ended up with a hard plastic ball (The type found in bat & ball sets used for beaches on holiday) that bounces well off of walls and it's hollow and light. Using this ball I found I could bat it against the wall and the level of ping off of the bat and wall enabled me to stand 15' - 30' away from the wall and practice a variety of strokes having to respond quickly in order to keep a rally going. The ball is smaller than a cricket ball and using a smaller bat means that (1) my eye/bat to ball co-ordination is being used and hopefully improved and (2) because the bounce combined with the spin means the ball comes at me at different heights and angles and in order to keep a rally of returns going I've got no choice other than to dance around quickly in order to get my body/bat in line and my head over the top of the ball to return it. It looks like it's proving to be a really useful exercise if only to prove that I can get the bat on the ball which usually evades me in a cricket match.

I did this last weekend using a golf ball and tennis ball and last weekend (If you read previous blogs) I score a few runs and felt a lot more confident at the crease. I'm hoping now with this plastic ball, it just means I'm going improve my confidence in that I know I can get the bat on the ball and I now can sense how vital it is to move your feet and get your head over the ball when playing shots.

What's more during the rallies because the wall where I practice has a second wall at a right angle it means I can move my feet and look to hit the ball out to square leg. Additionally the walls are only about 4'6" high so I have to strike the ball keeping it low, so I'm practicing that aspect too. All in all this looks like it may be a good practice technique - half hour of it and I was dripping with sweat.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sports Science merge with MPA shock

I bumped into Gavin today and he asked how we'd done in our re-match with the Aussies and Kiwis which as you'll probably know or realise never happened because can't ever get a team together. Gavin went on to say they had another match scheduled which similarly didn't happen either and asked about my involvment with Chadwell and Grays CC. I then thought - here's my chance to suggest the idea of a merger between us and Sports Science to create the beginnings of a SEEC cricket team? So I said 'If you're up for a game still before the end of the season I may be able to fix a game between you lot and C&GCC'? Which he seemed well up for.

So it's been left that he's going to talk to his blokes and Dean and that the game will be played at Welstead Gardens. Tonight I've emailed my captain Fozzy at C&GCC suggesting that this may be a possibility? So all I've got to do now is find out how many people are up for it in Sports Science and see if some of the MPA boys will be up for it. I've spoken to Simon and Richard and they are, I just need to email some of the others.

Possible team -

1.Gavin
2.Ronnie
3.Dean
4.Riley
5.Conan the Kiwi
6.Paul (Sports Science)
7.Simon
8.Dave
9.Richard
10.Alex
11.Badger
12.Nakul

Then there's the possibility of Alex, Chris and Jack in the event that we're stuck for players?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tremlett signs up for MPA 1st XI

A glimmer of hope here. Drew Tremlett contacted me through Facebook tonight and asked about the cricket saying that he had been following the blog, but then noticed that it had suddenly gone quiet with no more additions. I explained that there was some enthusiasm, but not enough to continue. He then offered to play saying that he'd come down from Cambridge to have a game! So - maybe a game before the end of the season?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday - Cricket with Golf Balls

I emailed a couple of the other blokes at work today - Richard and Simon suggesting that they consider signing up for Grays & Chadwell. I've heard nothing from Simon, but Richard kind of implied that he was vaguely interested, so who knows maybe this weekend. I think I'll email him again tonight and see if he follows it up?

After the relative success with the bat (2 not outs) and I made a couple of runs I'm going to see in future if I can bat further down the order as it means you face the spinners and the slower bowlers and I get on with that a lot better it seems? I'm also looking at ways of getting my feet moving and some kind of way I can improve my timing and accuracy with the bat. One thing I've found fairly useful is to use a golf ball and bat it up against a wall. Golf balls ping off the wall fast and hitting them with a bat puts loads of spin on the ball so it comes back at you at a different angle meaning you've got no choice other than to move your feet and go after it. The other thing is that a golf ball is very small and therefore potentially more difficult to hit? I've just got to find a decent wall to hit up against now in order for the practice to be effective.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday report

A good day today. The sun was out and it was about 20 centigrade so very pleasent.

As usual the team struggled to get the full compliment and had to use batsmen from our other team that were playing on the adjacent pitch whilst they phoned around trying to get more players to come to the ground. They eventually turned up an hour or so into the match, so as I've been saying there's cricket to be had here and it's good fun because we frequently win.

Anyway they batted first and despite the fact that we didn't have any of our usual pace bowlers the people that stepped up to the job did well and we piled through easily and quickly. They did look like they were going to be good as they had Warsop Stebbing bats and some other obscure brands, but they dropped like flies and were all bowled out for 119 and we only used a handful of our bowlers. This meant that some of us including myself didn't even get to have an over which I wasn't that fussed about because of my shoulder. On the subject of the shoulder I was able to put into practice the throwing techniques I've been reading about and it worked. I suffered a lot pain which was nice and it's something I'm going to practice with - especially the using different weight balls.

Fielding today I was in the Deep Mid on position and had one chance where 'The Wizard' another leg spin bowler (real name Alex) forced a shot off a RH batsman that looped up high. I had to run back for it but needed my arms for balance at the critical moment as the ball reached me and therefore didn't get a good hand to it.

Not having bowled, the bowlers were given the option of what number they wanted to bat at and I opted for No.3. The openers batted through to 109 before one of them was bowled. I faced 2 balls before the other bloke finished them off, so I came away from the match 'Not out'.

The main team (3rd XI) were still playing and the visiting team were short of players and I was called in as their 9th batsman. I scored a few runs - actually hitting the ball a couple of times which was nice. The difference was that I was facing spin bowlers as opposed to pace bowlers. It's the pace bowlers I can't handle.

So all in all I had a good day. In addition I paid my membership fees for the current season, so I'll be able to attend the AGM. It seems there's going to be a big change in the way the club finances itself. The club fees are normally £75 a year but they're talking about dropping them to less than half that and increasing the match fees. So the more games you get the more you pay. Which seems okay to me.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Throwing

I've got a match tomorrow which I'm looking forward to. I've practiced a bit recently but taken it easy since last Monday when we were supposed to have had a knock about with a few of us. During that practice I was bowling some leg breaks at a much faster speed than I normally do and in doing so pulled some muscles in my lower back, but with the rest they seem to have recovered. But today I was just throwing a ball around to see what my throwing is like and it was useless. It's got to be age because when I was a kid I was such a good thrower - most accurate, longest distance and doing it for hours on end. We used to go down to a big ditch where swallows used to fly along catching flies, zooming around looping and turning as Swallows do and we'd stand there for hours trying to hit them - zipping stones at them, always failing. Or we'd go down to the Thames and throw stones at the marker poles in the river that indicated where the sewage outlets were and I'd always hit them and they miles out. But now I can barely throw a ball 30 yards - I do better throwing underarm. If I throw over or round arm I hurt myself - pull muscles and cause myself pain and injury.

I'be looked at the www.harrowdrive.com website and seen in the cricket fitness forum a link to a baseball website and there's some stuff on there indicating how you should train with regards throwing, so I'm going to have a look at that and maybe take some advice from there.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Match this Sunday

So I've got a match this Sunday. I'm looking forward to it, let's hope I at least make some contribution to the run total if only 1 run. The most I've ever made in any game has been 19. It'd be good to beat that or get my second highest score - 11. As for my bowling - recent form in practice has been okay, but I take a few overs to get into it. I'm wondering whether it'd make any difference if I was to practice a couple of hours before the game?

Teams and Clubs

Teams and clubs you've got to have then - but what a soul destroying demoralising job it is to run them. I had a series of emails from my mate Xan and his brother Boffa saying that I was mad trying to run a cricket club reiterating their own sorry stories. But I've been there before I ran our scooter club back in 1983-84 and that was the same and later in life as treasurer of the Plymouth College or Art & Design student union 1991 - 1993 it was a similar story. So I wasn't too surprised this week when an email circulated around my new cricket club (I'm only a player/member) saying that in the last 5 years or so they estimated that they'd been short changed in unpaid membership fees somewhere in the region of £10,000 - £15,000! Gutted! The email went on to point out that the money was enough to refurbish/renew our pitch and that some of the people that continuously moan about the state of the pitch are the people short on their committment to the club e.g. haven't paid their members fees.

Apparently the situation is so bad that it's threatening the existence of the club itself. I hope that those that haven't paid get their shit together and pay their dues because it's so obvious to me that there is a lot of people in the club who's lives are dedicated to it and revolve round it. For those people the situation they're faced with at the moment must be devastating.

As a new bloke and not being that sociable a person - I like what I've seen of the club despite the location of it and I like the people involve. I kind of get the feeling that for some people it's their whole life, but they're prepared to let you be involved on a surface level and allow you your own space. I looked at a lot of clubs in the area and some of them seem to be populated with total idiots. Maybe it's because these are people from my own town and the types of people I grew up with and I just fit in with them?

It's a shame that our cricket pitch is on the edge of a big estate and no-one in the area respects the pitch and the council seemingly don't spend a lot of money on maintaining it. Whereas were I live - the pitches are amazing and surrounded by beautiful trees and parks and are maintained by dedicated park keepers and the locals respect the wicket and the fence around it is left intact all year. But the impression I've had of the people in the clubs locally are that they're different. My wife says it's middle class, whereas my new club is very much made up of seemingly working class people.

Obsessed

Ebay - don't you just love it. Last year when we started out I picked up a ton of gear for £28. The gear must have been about £250-£300 new! Last week when I was feeling optimistic about the prospects of an MPA resurrection there was a bunch of left handed gear on ebay and I thought about bidding for it in the event that we might reform and have a LH player. I erred on the side of caution and didn't eventually, but later in the week a bunch of other stuff turned up - 2 bats, brand new wicket keeper gloves, size 9 spikes, thigh pads, knee pads and some other bits and it looked like no-one was bidding for it so right at the last second I put a bid in for £28 and won it. Again - one of the bats alone is worth £90 and it looks barely used, so another bargain. Again - ever optimistic at the back of my thoughts was the idea that next summer or over the winter I might try and get in touch with all the Indian/Pakistani blokes that play near the local swimming pool and challenge them to a game and this additional gear will be useful as they'll need to borrow some gear as they spent all summer playing really good cricket using kids sized equipment!

So I've won it, but now the problem is that it's up country near Derby and it's pick up only stuff. The bloke has said he's okay with keeping it until I go up there next, but that may not be till Christmas, so I've just got to see what happens. Lets just hope the blokes honest.

Pratice session that never was

Gutted!

Last week I asked around to see if there was still any interest in cricket as some of the blokes in the MPA first XI had bought equipment so that implies there was some commitment. A few people seemed to be up for it and they said they'd be there for 6pm last Monday.

I got there for 5.55pm and found Jack and Chris there playing football, but aware that there might be some cricket to be had. No one turned up and by 6.15 Jack and Chris left as well saying they might come back later. I stayed practicing my bowling till just after 7pm. Nakul had the decency to ring and Alex emailed me with good reasons for not being there. Richard had wife problems so that was understandable too.

So I reckon that's it, there wont be any resurrection and I'll leave it to the others to kick something into action if ever there will any future game or practice. What I'll do though is carry on the blog just recording my escapades with Grays & Chadwell cricket club.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bank holiday Monday

Had another spell of bowling. Went okay - pretty consistent, but I'm in desperate need of someone to practice with and now I'm running out of summer. A few kids joined me today which was okay. One of them a faster bowler bowled me out within about 10 balls - I'm just so crap at batting and I need to do something about it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

26th Aug Bank Holiday

Practiced today over at Great Berry. I went there just to see in part how many people would be on the field. The people that were there were all around the edges and this was with it being busier that normal as the 'Pavillion' had some kind of 'Do' going on with bouncy castles and what have you. Basically we could have had a game and used the whole field today. I think on a normal weekend you'd expect to see even less people?

Anyway - I threw 30 overs worth of balls back to back. I was experimenting with over spinners with a view to maybe having them as my stock ball and I was also looking at my length. I'm in two minds as to whether I bowl too long. I've noticed that the people I practice with step back and hit me off the back foot rather than come forward. I suppose as I usually throw flippers and I'm usually pitching at a consistent length it's easy to devise a tactic e.g step back and see where it's going and hit it accordingly? That tells me I need to vary my delivery.

I suppose today I was pretty consistent and I messed around looking at picking up the speed of my bowling. I noticed that with the increase in speed there seems to be a decrease in spin. Also worrying is that the delivery is lower and flatter and surely more readable when bowled faster. It keeps coming back to the idea of variation. But I then need someone to pratice on. Additionally to the consistency and the experimentation I through very few wides which was nice.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Resurrection

I'm nearing the end of my first year playing cricket and have decided to resurrect the MPA first eleven blog. From around about June when we played and lost the two matches that weren't affected by the rain the MPA first eleven started to lose it's momentum. Things were then made worse because I had a run in with a residents association that thought they had the unique rights and say as to who had access to a council playing field (Great Berry). This took nearly 3 months to resolve and while that was happening it gave me a long time to look at the team and ask how should we move forward. I was influenced by a mate of mine who has a very competitive streak and we moved towards the idea that in future we were only interested in winning. The MPA first eleven was then disbanded and the Great Berry Cricket club was formed as we had a few new players and it made sense in that the new players resided around the Great Berry area.

Unfortunately the new format, the new name, the weather, getting beaten so badly and the issue with the field all conspired to slow down the momentum the team had. I decided as a back up plan in order that I was able to play cricket I'd join a local team and I have - Grays & Chadwell cricket club and I now play for their 2nd or 3rd XI.

But for some reason I want to be involved in my own little informal team alongside the involvement with Grays & Chadwell. The thing is I really do enjoy playing and practicing I think David Hinchclife at http://www.harrowdrive.com/7-reasons-cricket-is-the-best-sport-to-play-in-the-known-universe/ puts a good case. So I'm looking to ressurect the mpa first eleven and use what I've learnt this year to hopefully set us up for a few games next summer. So we last 2 out 2 this year let's see if we can get 4 games next year and win half of them?

The annoying thing is that there are people out there that do play cricket and want to play against teams like us. There's the Kiwi's and Aussies, There's Grays & Chadwell CC and then there's all those Asian blokes that play at Glouscester Park - 24 + blokes that I'm sure we could persuade to put together a team and play against us? We've even got the gear to lend to people - we can kit out an opposition team if need be. We've even got access to several places to play some of which are free - Great Berry-the council has formally said we can play organised/competitive games there now. Okay so it's not a cricket pitch - but then neither is the place the Asian blokes play on. We've got access the 'The Rec' free of charge ocassionally and that's a fantastic cricket pitch. But the cost of renting a council pitch is not that much and between 22 blokes it's peanuts!

There is so much potential it just seems wrong to give up on the idea of creating a team. It seems wrong that Richard, Simon, Nakul, Badger went out and bought gear that they've hardly used. It seems wrong that Suhail went back to Pakistan and brought his gear back to the UK and never got a game. It seems wrong that today I played cricket with Carl Hodges who lent us all the gear nearly a year ago and he's a good player and yet he doesn't play cricket.

So what I'm going to try and do is keep this going and maybe put out a general email around the college and see if we can get a few more people involved - 20 maybe? What I want in the short term is a match over at Great Berry in Sept 2nd between us all as we did that day back in June. So who's up for it?

Dave

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

July 1st Sunday

July 1st will be the last match under the banner of MPAfirsteleven.

Check out www.greatberrycc.blogspot.com

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gavin and the nets

Hopefully some of you will have taken up Gavin's offer of a net practice tonight at Chalkwell Park. I'm hoping to go over there on Wednesday with him and Riley. I've been talking to Gavin and he's been giving me some good advice about practice - the main thing that he's said is that we need fielding practice catching balls and the like - he mentioned that (Boffa noticed this as well) when we were knocking the ball about catching it we were knocking it into the air, whereas we should be knocking it straight at each other off of the bat and yes it does hurt - but that's the nature of cricket balls - you have to learn to catch the ball properly. He also pointed out that it's a really dangerous to stick a bony part of your body out to stop a ball e.g. a foot/leg because if the balls does hit a divot in the grass and it's trajectory changes at the last moment you can find yourself with a broken ankle/shin etc. Use your body or best your thigh to stop the ball in those situations. We're doing so many things wrong and these blokes are offering to help in little ways - e.g. the nets, so if it's offered take it and listen to what they're saying and take it on board.

Team Ethos

There's a lot of opinions flying around at the moment with regards the team ethos - are we in it to win or are we doing it for a laugh. The situation is this the team is made up of several types from me - totally obsessed and committed but crap through to - totally crap with hardly any commitment - to probably very good but unaware that they're considered to be in the team. Different factions within the team have opinions about the way forward, outsiders have their opinion on what we should do and each and every one of their opinions has a degree of merit depending on how you as an individual perceive the teams ethos.

At the moment with the follow up match looming on the horizon and it's to be a 40 overs affair we need to be clear as to what we're about because we've got 15 people chasing after 11 places. The game is on a Sunday and it looks like everyone is going to be available (If you're not let me know as it'll make this so much easier).

I think Alex knows the situation with regards who thinks what. I'll state my case.....

In view of the reason the team was formed and the committment shown through the winter by all those that turned up for the practice sessions we should stick to the original ethos - it's a bit of a laugh, not too serious and therefore the places within the team should go to those that have been there the longest. If any of those people can't make it their places should be taken by the next longest serving member.

Unless of course Alex (The Captain) feels otherwise and chooses to pick the team on ability and skills which I'm happy to go along with as well.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I've had several interesting conversations with different people and trawled around the local cricket team websites all with a longer term approach to what I'm going to be doing at the end of this season. No matter what happens I'll still be playing cricket and I'll continue to try and bowl leg spin in practice situations as I'm determined to get it right.

Boffa had pointed out that he thought I was far better at batting and than bowling (3rd highest score against the Aussies and Kiwis and not out on Friday despite being No.6) so at this mornings practice over at 'The Rec' I approached it slightly differently sort of having gained confidence after surviving the onslaught from the bowlers on Friday. I was quite pleased with how I batted but no-one was bowling this morning particularly well, so that may have helped? So I'm settling in as my role of as a batsman and looking forward to maintaining my position at around No.6 despite the arrival of Chris, Alex & Jack.

With regards to the team I've been looking at the make-up of lower XI teams in the area and noticed that as in the case of Grays & Chadwell cricket team they have 38 players in that team. So every Sunday that they play and they field 11 men plus a No.12 they have the choice of 38 players to call upon. So that begs the question how do you get a regular match if you're really up for playing?

I now realise in order to do what I'm trying to do effectively our team needs to be made up of as many players as possible in a similar way as the Grays & Chadwell. Perhaps have 22 - 25 players who are interested at all sorts of levels. But then the issue of how does the side create income in order to finance payment of net sessions, pooled equipment, teas and general running of the team. Most teams charge a yearly fee of around £100 but they also get other benefits of being in the team - the main one being the social aspects. That then takes a lot of organisation and I'm not willing to go that far. I like the idea of a big team and in a perfect world 75% of the team would turn up for nets all winter and pay all the necessary fees asked of them and it would be great. But in the real world it's not going to happen because as the team gets bigger the team members are sourced from a much wider field and the control that I'm able to exercise over them is far less and the need for a captain and a manager and other roles becomes a necessity. So therein lies the problem.

  • Have a small team that will always be severely weakened by the players not able to commit themselves for games, but it's kept informal and personal.
  • Have a large team guaranteeing that you're always able to field a good side, but have to create positions within the club to run it.

In the short term we try and avoid teams that include serious cricket players and look to play people of a similar standard to us in order that it's a game and that we have a slight chance of winning. We try and get Suhail on board and aim to play on Sundays so that more people are able to be involved. To this end I'll be looking to play the Aussies and Kiwis again soon but with some of our new players involved as well. Boffa has said he might be able to knock together a team as well and they'll be up for a 40 over sunday match as well - they're all either blokes in their early 40's and one or two 16 years olds and they're similar to us in ability - but they will want to wind desperately.

The only downside is - if these matches are to be played at Welstead it's going to cost £120 for the venue + teas. I'm up for it who else is.

Then once this season is over we'll have some kind of AGM and see where do we go from here?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Annihilated

Where to start? We got beat again severely I'm not even sure at this stage that I want to even mention the score but rest assured it was bad.

They (Sports Science) fielded some really good players - blokes that are obviously not college staff, (We do the same) but I think they've got contacts with local cricket clubs and they're able to draw on them as players. There was an Aussie bloke who was pretty lethal as a bowler, a noisy South African bloke who took Deans place as the wicket keeper - he was good. Then there was the bloke they call 'Ethnic' and he was fast (Bowling). But the surprise for me was Ronnie. Last time I saw him bowl was against SEEVIC and he was okay tonight he was lethal. I umpired through all of his overs and he was unbelievably accurate and fast. With regards the batting we only took a few wickets and again they used the young bloke who batted well and they had to retire him after he'd scored 50. It seemed to me that there was a handful of people that play regular cricket and are decent cricket players along with some really good cricket players. We didn't stand a chance.

Now the excuses........

Nakul, Rod, badger, Sunhail and Alex#2 weren't there. Both Chris and Jack bowled really well but where both dismissed cheaply, I think Chris got some runs and Jack went for a duck and then came a succession of ducks including Richard. Thankfully Jack's Dad Ian had given Jack and Chris a lift and he mentioned in passing that he'd played cricket years ago and if we didn't have an 11th man he didn't mind stepping in. Ian played well and scored probably 75% of our runs if not more. I managed to stay in through 2-3 other peoples dismissals but only scored 1 run as far as I recall and I run Terry out as he wasn't shouting run/stay etc and I shouted run when it was his shout and he was dismissed.

Worthy performances on our side......

Richard - he did really well wicket keeping
Jack - Very good bowling commended by loads of the opposition and Boffa. Also noted for good contributions in the field - stopping balls and catching.
Chris - Very good bowling commended by loads of the opposition and Boffa and like Jack commended for his fielding.
Simon - Commended for a good bowling performance very consistent.
Ian - for scoring all the runs.

Boffa who's now seen us play a couple of times recommends that I no longer bowl saying that I'm the worst bowler he's ever seen. I've got to admit in a situation such as a match he's right it does seem that I'm completely phased by the situation and bowl badly. So now I've got to sit down and re-evaluate the situation. The only reason I do this is so that I can bowl. The only reason I spend hour after hour practicing is so that when it comes to the day I get that chance and by his reckoning I shouldn't bother as it's to the detriment of the team. I did bowl awfully and it's true that I did in the previous game, but I felt more confident this time round and to be honest I think I was put off by Boffa's comments on the field albeit meant to help at the time. Personally I think with more games my confidence may grow and I will be less phased with each ensuing match? He disputes that and says I shouldn't bowl at all stick to the batting as I'm so much a better batsman than I am a bowler.

I think what I'll do for the good of the team is not bowl in the 40 overs match (Which is something I've been looking forward to doing since all this started) but in the meantime continue to practice and look to join a local club and see how I fair there at bowling and maybe pick up some coaching? Again I reckon it's a case of bowling more against a variety of people in different situations. Maybe doing that I'll overcome being phased by the event?

If as Boffa says batting is my strength I'll look to improve on that and make sure my contribution in that area is worthy of a place on the team?

This could be a pivotal point in the teams short history as I found the whole thing really demoralising and talking to Boffa after - he told me a few home truths and has forced me to look at the whole situation slightly differently.

The decision I need to make is why am I doing this? Do I need all of the aggro involved especially the issues around why do we exist as a team and is the ethos of the team one of winning? If it is - what as a team do we need to do to improve our chances of winning and what sacrifices are involved in the pursuit of winning. I've acknowledged that I maybe have to step down as a bowler because in game situations I'm wholly inaffective. In order to stay in the team I've now got to up my game as a batsman. The crux of Boffas argument was - does the rest of the team really have a sense of the whole picture and share my passion to win and if they do, why are they not like me and spending hours trying to maintain a place in the team through practice or willing to hold there hand up and say - Jack, Chris, Badger, Nakul etc are far better and more affective bowlers than me - let them have my place in the bowling line up. I may have my day if someone doesn't turn up and a bowler is required but until then I'm going to step down and work on my batting to ensure I play at least as a fielder and batsman on July 1st.

I'm with Boffa on this - it's a case of on July 1st we should field our best team. The game is on a Sunday and theoretically everyone is available to play. So the question is - Who will play? I posted my dream team a couple of days ago and it's unchanged other than the bowling line up. From what I know of the bowlers if we had 5 bowlers (8 overs each) I'd go for.

Jack
Chris
Nakul
Suhail
Simon

6 Bowlers

I'd add Rod.

Everyone I know that looks at this from the outside says that I'm mad and they say - If you want to play cricket why don't you join a real cricket team and join up - you wont have all this aggro and you may find that you're playing with people that are as equally obsessed as you are? It's a vaild point. In the short term I'm going to stick at it and see out the rest of the summer. The Aussies and Kiwis today contacted me today and said they'd be up for another 3 games between now and September so we still have a possible 4 games to go? In the meantime I'm going to go along to Westcliffs net practice next week and see how I go and maybe look at joining a club more local to me here in Basildon.

Don't forget Sunday practice is at 'The Rec' 9.30 - 12.30 if you want a place in the team come along to the practice and prove your willing and worthiness!

One final point. This was a dismal performance but we had to face a team which did appear to be made up in part of very strong players that did look like they'd been playing for years. Our team is made up of people that have hardly ever played or used to play years and years ago. If we had been able to play Suhail, Alex#2, Rod, Nakul and Badger the outcome would have been better - I'm not saying we'd have one because some of their players were very good including Ronnie who I was amazed at in how much better he was and he claims to be new to cricket. What I want to say is Chris and Jack is don't give up on us yet - hang in there at least till the next game.

Dave

Match Day Update 16.10hrs

So far the game is on. The report from the groundsman is that it's all sytems go unless it rains bewteen now and 5pm. Everyone is looking at websites trying to figure if it's going to rain I reckon looking at proper charts the weather men are hedging their bets and saying it will rain at 15.00hrs. I reckon it's 50/50. Update at 15.00hrs.....

16.10hrs - Weather -

Here in southend Windy,Dry, warm and sunny all systems go! Cloudy but not so ominous now.

Captains plans are as follows....

Here we go then chaps

bowlers look like

Si, Me, Chris, Jack, Dave – we’ll all have to be on form since I don’t have any options for rotation. We’ll open up with quicks and see if we can use Dave to mix it up – especially to tease them at the end of the innings

Batting order is as follows (don’t make it up as you go along like last time)

Richard
Chris
Jack
Mark
Simon
Alex
Dave
Trev
Nick
Boffa
Loolie

We must look to put pressure on the fielding side and run wherever possible runs not wickets are the issue with this game – standing around waiting to hit 6’s in 20/20 is not an option. Do however play yourself in, trying to twat it in the first couple of deliveries will be likely to get you out.

Fielding will be up close to start with one or two sweepers as the batsmen get their eye in – we must field closer than we do at practice to put the pressure on, there’ll be more people to plug the gaps. Start with the Wicket keeper, Wide first slip, gulley, (deep) leg slip, short mid on, short mid off, cover, cover point, square leg, long off (sweeping).

All ok? Remember to get there as soon as you can after college in order to warm up and get a feel for bowling on the pitch (not as straightforward as you may think)
[Dave – who is going to umpire the match? – can you forward this to anyone else you can]

Watch this space..............

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bloody Rain!

It's looking like we may be rained off again, I'll keep you posted as to what's happening.

We've had another 3 "Unavailables" - Rod, Nakul and Alex Jnr.

So we've got -

1. Richard
2. Alex
3. Dave
4. Chris
5. Jack
6. Simon
7. Nick
8. Terry
9. Mark?
10, Loolie (One of my Tilbury Mates)
11, Boffa (Another Tilbury Mate)

So it looks like we may be okay for players? I've got some other people that may play who are on standby. Just need the rain to hold off.

Went over to Chalkwell Park tonight despite the rain knowing full well there wouldn't be anyone there, I just wanted to check out the set up over there. I was surprised as the nets seem to be a council facility open to anyone. There's an artificial surface and you'd need to take your own stumps, but other than that it appears to be a first come first served arrangement. I'm tempted to go down there one evening with the Southend contingent instead of going over to Great Berry? Richard, Simon, Mark or Nick do you fancy checking it out one evening and see what the arrangements are on a nice evening when it'd get used?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tuesday Night Practice

There's a practice scheduled for Tuesday night over at Great Berry

As many of us as possible should turn up as for most of us this will be the last chance to have a practice before the match on Friday night.

Hopefully there'll be a good turn out? We should have -

Suhail, Ankul, Nakul, Dave, Chris, Alex Jnr, Jack and Alex Wood - that's 9 already and Suhail may be able to bring a couple more players so there could be enough for a good practice? Taking Suhail's advice we should all take turns at the crease two at at a time maybe have a 10 minute limit each and just be bowled at continuously by all of the bowlers one after another - 3 bowlers have six balls each the rest of the team fielding trying to take catches and retrieving the balls - rotating the bowlers. Then if your bowled your out. Have 3rd batsman already padded up and he keeps a tally of each individuals run score? The bloke that's given out joins the fielding/bowling.