Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review of 2008

Again I reckon another year of overall improvement across my game thanks to the boys at Grays & Chadwell cc, especially Neil my captain as he's the bloke that allows me to bowl, but he's probably thinking we haven't got anyone else that could bowl! More than anything I've got an increasing knowledge of the game overall and have picked up on some of the fundamentals that are not obvious to the layman who's never played the game before. I think that the constant practice that I do and the constant search for the right strategies are all putting me in an ever improving situation with regards what I do. Confidence too is essential and I've become a lot more confident and also a lot more laid back about making mistakes. Last year to have made a mistake - wides especially used to then have a snow-balling affect whereby if I bowled a wide I'd then become gripped with a sense that I was losing the match and letting the side down imagining that the rest of the team where feeling as equally mortified as I was when I got it wrong. Patently they don't - they've been playing the game for decades in some cases and these things are water off a ducks back. So now if I bowl wides I'm no longer gripped with a sense that I've just let down England to the point where we're going to lose the Ashes anymore!

Last winters practice proved to be instrumental in gaining major confidence just by improving my ability to bowl a fair line and length. The potential to improve if I was younger seems very exciting, it'd be nice to be where I am now - having played for 2 and half years and to be a kid! Unfortunately I'm not - I'm not far short of being 50 and yet I still feel excited about the prospects of another year of improving further still. Saying that I've got to be guarded about over-doing it otherwise I may end up bowling myself out of the game before I'm ready to call it a day.

My progress batting

There hasn't been any at all really and coming in at number 9 or 10 means that it's rare that I get a chance to do so. Last summer there was a crowd of us that used to have an almost nightly knock about over at the Great Berry Open Space until the local ICF representative done his bit and put an end to that through intimidation. Up till that happened I used to get some practice with the bat, but this year I've had hardly any. I'm hoping that with the new interest from the likes of the original MPA boys and confirmation that we can use the nets at Woodlands and the possibility of net sessions with G&CCC & at Ben and Joes sessions with B&PCC I'll get some practice?

I've had one practice with the MPA boys and that did seem to go very well and that was after a practice session up against a wall applying some of the very basic principles employed in basic batting. I always listen to what Ben and Joe's coaches teach them and aim to incorporate what they say into my own game. So I'm hoping to beat my current high run score of 11!

My progress bowling

This as mentioned has improved massively with a return at the end of the summer with my confidence to bowl flippers. By the end of the season I was mixing Flippers with my wrong uns and top spinners.

Wrong un's This was my main form of attack as even my Top-spinner tended to turn towards the leg slip. I'm still baffled as to why some wickets I can't get the ball to turn on at all and others I can. The ground I prefer to play on where I can get the ball to turn was the one over at Billericay - Lake Meadows, but our own wicket it always seemed as though no matter what I was doing I may as well have been bowling into sawdust. But my Wrong Un is pretty accurate and 90% of the time I'll get it down the offside threatening to do something or close enough to the off-stump to cause concern. With each game I played this season I saw that there was potential bowling it - but much of what I do relies on the fielders on the off-side to make the catches and I've had some dollies missed or dropped, but then I've dropped and missed one or two myself.

The Flipper; I love the Flipper, but at the beginning of the year I couldn't use it, I'd focussed so much on the Top Spinner and the wrong un that I lost the confidence to use it and it wasn't until I went and holiday and played cricket every night for 2 weeks with a bunch of kids and their Dads that regained the confidence to consider using it again. In the last few matches of the season I used it a couple of times - still slightly wary initially but by the end of the season it was back on track. At the moment I'm bowling it quite a lot and it's very much back on form and what I like about it is the speed variations I get with it and one of the blokes at G&CCC said when I was having a knockabout with him towards the end of the summer that it also drifted considerably. I always feel that because it's got that underspin its trajectory is too predictable when bowled fast. Bowled slower I reckon it can be a deceiving ball because if bowled alongside top spinners directly at the middle stump it will virtually die as it hits the deck and possibly deceive the bat?

Top Spinner; I've kind of lost the Top Spinner at the minute, as no matter what I do the ball turns in like a wrong un. I'd imagine it wont take a lot of work to sort it out, but the thing I'm concentrating on is my Nemesis The Leg Break and until that's sorted out all the other variations that I'm playing around with will have to be on stand by, but here they are.......

The Gipper; This is the weird one where my arms all twisted and my wrist is cocked at a stupid angle. It works though and I'm getting better at it, this is a slower delivery that can produce enormous spin off towards Slips like a Shane Warne Leg Break.

Murali Offie; This is new, I'm fairly certain that I tried this early last year with a degree of success e.g. loads of spin but but not a lot of accuracy and it stressed my arm. But I've got renewed interest in it as I now understand it slightly better and I think there's potential for adding the Flipper Click to the delivery to make the ball spin the other way like Murali's Doosra. Then of course there's the conventional Doosra. If I get time to work on this delivery according to Murali himself the difference in getting the ball to go the other way is only a matter of changing the arm action so that it follows through slightly differently. But this is the least likely to be followed up. The one that keeps me awake at night, that I will be working on soon is the bog standard

Leg Break; Back in September I all but stopped bowling Wrong Un's and top spinners convinced that my brain and body are now so pre-programed to do nothing but bowl out of the back of the hand, that the only way I could re-discover the Leg Break was to re-wire my brain again. I spent all of October and November trying to bowl leg breaks and if you'd been following my other blog (And this one) you'll know that I did have some success. The whole thing though still felt wholly unatural and only came about through real deep concentration and full 100% focus on what I was trying to achieve. The good news is that apart from bowling the wrong un for a series of video uploads on youtube - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=hCCmNQWMbYE I've still kept from bowling it.

Very recently in on-line discussions with other bowlers, I've been give one or two very interesting suggestions as to what I maybe doing wrong and both the suggestions make total sense and they're something I've over-looked previously. Again in that Oct - Nov period I also incorporated a proper follow through in my action and I'm fairly convinced that brought better accuracy and power, so I'm still working on the leg break and leading right up to the new season in 2009 I will continue to work on it so that it becomes my stock ball. Loads of people in the past have all said you've got to be able to bowl the Leg break and then all your variations become more affective.

So, overall with the bowling - a vast improvement on my 2007 abilities.

Ben & Joe

This is the year that despite my wifes best attempts the penny dropped with my sons. Early in the year I'd bought Ben some pads and both he and Joe would reluctantly join me on the local field and have the ocassional knock about but quickly become bored. Then I cut the wicket in the middle of our local field and rolled it as we used to (With the blessing of the council) at Great Berry Open Space and some of the kids off the local estate started to join in. But because Ben & Joe have been playing off and on for a couple of years now they were so obviously far better than all the other kids (bowling in particular). This caused a slight increase in their enthusiasm, but it was the annual trip to Deepest Cornwall that sealed the deal. At the campsite where we stay I always take the stumps and practice bowling and again encourage Ben and Joe to have a go and in summer 2007 there'd been a few kids that had joined in and we had some good games. But in 2008 the same crew were there again but along with a kid and his Dad from Nottinghamshire who were cricket obsessives and man this kid could bowl and play exceptionally well even though he was a year or so younger than Ben. In the crowd of 10 -12 of us that were getting out on to the field and playing every night there were 2 that claimed that they were county level colt players including the kid from Notts. Both Ben and Joe bowled exceptionally well against these very competent kids and this is the holiday where Joe took his 9 wickets one night conceding less than 40 runs - might have been 30 runs with his Leg Breaks and Googlies!

Coming back from 2 weeks of what was cricket boot camp they then ripped through the local boys at the local field and took to cricket in a wholly different way. We even made the now ill fated trip to Grays and Chadwell that ended up putting them off of joining my team. Then this November they started to train with Basildon and Pitsea CC and so far they're enjoying it and seemingly doing really well there. So it looks like they maybe cricketers for life? I'm still treading cautiously otherwise I could easily burn them out with over-kill.


Practice wicket

Where we live and integral to our practice is a field almost a stones throw away from our house. The rumour is the lease of the field and it's sheds expires in 2 years time and the club that currently lease it and use the sheds primarily for boxing will move on and the field will then be up for development which will be a shame. The field is used very infrequently for football during the season and so far this season it's been used for 4 or 5 games/practice sessions. For the last 2 summers I've cut a strip of grass in the corner using a manual lawn mower and maintained it so that I can practice bowling there. The boxers come and go, sometimes they run round the field as part of their training and no-one had ever said anything to me about my grass cutting escapades. This year with the increased enthusiasm expected from Joe and Ben I cut a wicket in the centre of the field as we used to at Great Berry Open Space and again no-one has said anything. We stopped cutting it in Sept and it's returned to it's normal football use and apart from the fact that I top dressed it in October the only difference appears to be that the grass is marginally healthier where the wicket is/was. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the club continues to maintain the field e.g. cutting it once every 3 or 4 weeks this coming summer and not let it go to hay as they did in 2007 over the middle of summer. But it was a good thing to have right on your door and some of the kids that joined in had some fun along with us during the evenings rather than wandering round the streets causing aggro or climbing on the roofs of the boxing club sheds.



To be continued............

Monday, December 22, 2008

Joe - Throwing and Catching

Today was a fairly good cricket day. I've been outside bowling a la Murali - rotating my arm and wrist in the way that he does with some degree of success which has been fun. Ben videoed it for me but his camera technique is a bit ropey. But I have sussed that if I use the camera on a medium setting the results are probably of a size that'd be okay for youtube. I kind of fancy the idea of getting outside somewhere tomorrow with a tripod and shoot some footage of me bowling. The only thing is this is a 400 quid camera and I've smacked it with the stumps 2 times already today filming my bowling. If I'm going to go and bowl some really wayward 'Murali balls' I need to be able to protect the camera and as yet I've not figured out how to do this yet. Anyway that aside other things happened today -

Joe and me went out in the street and Joe off his own back spent 20 minutes bowling at the stumps and did okay. He still needs to work on the step through part of his action. Sometimes this comes naturally but more often than not he bowls and stops. Later in the day he was up for some catching practice and that went quite well, but the highlight of the day was in the evening.

Ben had his Karate session at the community centre and again I hired a bay for Joe and me and we had a bit of a knock about and did some of the drills he does at his training sessions and then at his suggestion he said 'Shall we do some catching practice'? So we spent a good 20 minutes or more catching and man did he come on leaps and bounds with it! Just over today the difference in his ability to catch has been massive. Whether now he'll stay at that level or not I don't know, but I reckon with more practice he'll know doubt get a lot more confident and with catching it is a case of having the confidence and believing that you are going to catch. Also his throwing improved as well, he was getting the ball back to me over a fair distance and generally very accurately and efficiently. I reckon he's got a real willing to learn in some situations and it's rare that he does this with me, but today he kind of did it on his own terms with me - dictating what it was that he wanted to do and it has been a good day.

One thing I do need to watch is how Joe interacts with other kids - in the past he's experienced other kids that give the impression that they are experts at what they do and they're very forward in coming forward to take key roles - primarily for their own purposes so that they have the first opportunity to take the glory and big themselves up. Team playing is not necessarily their forte it's more about themselves. I've seen this in the past in an instance where one kid that Joe played alongside fancied himself as a wicket keeper. Now - our understanding of wicket keeping in a situation where a ball is fielded is that - when the fielder returns the ball he aims at the stumps and the keeper positions himself up behind the stumps in the event of a miss, he gloves it and takes the bails off? This kid wanting the glory saw the ball coming in and got between the ball and the stumps, so that he could glove it - turn and take the bails thus claiming the wicket. Joe's ball wasn't intended for the wicket keeper so it came in low - needless to say the wicket keeper missed it and fumbled the ball and it never reached the stumps and the bat got home. Joe would have been a bit miffed at that but would have just been frustrated and left it at that, but not this wicket keeper - he then turned on Joe abusing him because he hadn't thrown the ball to his gloves.

Being my son I know that he has a similar temperament to me and this is exactly the kind of reaction I used to get off of kids when I was Joe's age when I used to play football in the playground with all the 'Super Human Crew' type kids that all thought they were George Best and were only interested in hogging the ball and scoring all the goals. On the odd occasion that I managed to wrangle the ball and would get up the oppositions end I could hear all the super human crew including one particular kid shouting 'Shoot you w******r Thompson - shoot'! Needless to say I'd shoot and unlike them it'd go wide or the straight at the goalie and I'd be subjected to verbal abuse fitting for missing an open goal from 10' in the world cup. Needless to say I kind of gave up on football not realising at that age with my stamina and understanding of the concept of the midfield game I could have been a half decent midfield player perhaps?

So what I don't want is for Joe (Ben as well) to be put off by kids that are quick to promote themselves as being far superior players who at this stage react to mistakes with a vehemence and disdain that really should be discouraged. Neither of them can bat and like me wouldn't be fussed at batting at No. 10 so it doesn't matter that they bat right down the order and all the other kids fancy themselves as budding Kevin Pieterson's - they're right in fighting for their places. But as I've alluded before Both Joe and Ben can bowl. They generally bowl good line and length and their technique considering they're new is fairly sound. There are other kids in their team that can bowl as you may have read in the earlier blog entry and I was really impressed with the two that bowled well this week at woodlands, but the rest of them have got some ground to make up before they can bowl like Joe and Ben. But when they play games they all rotate and everyone gets a go, but they all clamour to bowl yet very few of them can actually do it and Ben and Joe sit back and let all the others go first as though they're the worst of the bunch! Basically they're exactly the same as their Mum and me - we were exactly the same as kids. We try and encourage them to step forwards and put their hands up and to be honest they do in so many more situations than both my wife and me did as kids which is good. But bowling is one of the situations where I think they should be able to recognise that they are good at it and that in fact they should bowl 3rd and 4th!

On a more encouraging note though when they do step up to the stumps, some of the better kids that can play e.g. bat and field, I've heard them say things like 'get ready cos this kid can bowl'. I've just got to watch out that in case their are some nasty self obsessed types in the team that could easily put either or both of them off playing the game.

More Murali...

I've found some more video footage of Murali with the bloke himself explaining what he does and the more I look into it the more it become unfathomable and totally unique to him, but......

It seems with regards the offspin and the legspin that he doesn't do anything with his fingers at all and that it's more to do with his shoulder and the rotation of his arm. But the main difference to virtually everyone else is the fact that he rotates his arm and wrist in the opposite direction. If you try this - it is possible but feels very unnatural. I've been doing it today and video-ing it and there's a fair likeness between what I'm doing and what he does. I'm now thinking if I could master this rotation of the arm could I possibly discover the nuances of the delivery to make it turn both ways? Or even better click the ball out of my fingers using the flipper technique?

I think I maybe going to a sports hall tonight with Joe and if we do we'll take the camera and might have a go at this and see if I can bowl with the rotated wrist and arm in the Murali manner and see what happens?


http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-GrOLdi5s0M

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Flipper derivitives and Murali

If you're looking for my Legspin Blogs....
http://spinbowling-wrongun.blogspot.com/
http://spinbowling-legbreak.blogspot.com/
http://spinbowling-flipper.blogspot.com/

I've been posting elsewhere trying to get to grips with what it is that Murali does when he bowls and some of the responses have been a bit lame and laced with undertones of xenophobia. But a new bloke today in his first ever post gave an explanation that was pretty neat and put me straight with regards the Murali bowling action. But the reason I was asking about it and making loads of claims about what it might and might not be was just to get to the bottom of it and understand it more.

If you look at this clip http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=WxvYcRwyl9w you can see what happens and yeah they were right it's not a wrong un and I was completely wrong. If you watch this the main difference is the fact that his wrist rotates clockwise in order that the ball comes out of his up-turned hand. Whereas the wrong un you turn your hand anti-clockwise to get the ball to come out of the back of the hand.

Having sat watching the video clip, I then had doubts as to whether I'd ever tried Murali's off-break style so at 11 oclock at night I went outside and tried it and yeah this is something I tried back in the early spring over on the artificial wicket at Gloucester Park with some success.

But here comes the really interesting bit - no-one anywhere goes on to explain what he does to get the ball to spin like a Leg break, all they say is that the delivery looks the same but the ball goes the other way. So this is where I've been looking at the potential of using the flipper action in conjunction with balls that come out of the up-turned hand. One being my ball 'The Gipper' which is the wrist rotating anti-clockwise a la the wrong un and then clicking it out of the fingers which can produce massive leg spin.

Since I started to look at what it is that Murali does and the fact that a bloke in the offspin thread on Bigcricket.com - 'Mr Offspin' http://www.bigcricket.com/forum/t60610-2/#post284633 said that my Gipper sounded like Murali's Doosra I've been looking closer at the potential of the Flipper.....

If you can do the flipper action and spin the ball with your fingers by clicking them (See the Warne and Jenner videos on youtube) try this.........

Hold a ball in you hand flipper style with your palm facing the ceiling. Flick it flipper style and just let it drop to the floor. The ball rotates spinning clockwise as it drops to the floor and then spins away to the right.

Now do this; Do exactly the same thing but instead of just letting the ball drop to the ground just gently flick you hand forward from the wrist. To my mind the ball spins in exactly the same way and comes out of the hand spinning clockwise - but then observe what happens when it hits the ground this time. All my experiments show that it then spins away towards the left like a leg break.

The spin seems to be the same but this is obviously impossible and I had to look at it again more closely and what it comes down to is the very exact timing of when you click the fingers. If you click the fingers when the wrist is still in the cocked position Leg Spin is put on the ball, but if the click happens as the hand is unfurled and in a almost straightened position off-spin is put on the ball.

Neither actions are easy and my initial experiments seem to show loads of promise, but the thing is I'm an old bloke and I'm probably limited in my physical ability to do these things to some useful point and I haven't got time on my side to develop these weird varitations. But I think the most interesting thing is the Flipper. To me it seems that in the same way that Peter Philpott (The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling) writes about going round the clock with wrist spin you can do virtually the same thing with the Flipper giving you a whole load of new variations?

One last observation - the clip shows the off-spinner and there's nothing going on with the fingers. What I want to see is a slow motion clip from the same angle for the Doosra.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dec 21st - Winter Equinox

Last Training sessions at Woodlands

Today was a fun day with the kids at Woodlands with the Basildon & Pitsea CC kids. Big turn out again with 17 turning up and playing. The initial warm up was bouncing the ball off the walls (the trainer) and the kids had to catch it. Ben and Joe are not big on catching the ball and it's something they need to work on. I think probably like most people new to cricket they only see the batting and bowling as being key components of the game and all the other aspects as being peripheral elements. You watch them and they easily lose concentration and begin to drift away - the hands disppear into their pockets and their thoughts turn to Lego or chocolate, or anything other than the game!

As much as I can I try and get them catching the ball and there's always balls in the house in virtually every room much to my wifes dismay and frustration, as fast as she can tidy them up and put them in the garage I'm bringing them back into the house! So anyway that's something we can work on. The question primarily remains how do you get across to kids that fielding in itself should be treated as a specialism and that if you're seen to be good at it alongside one of the key specialisms you're going to retain your place in the team and therefore you need to be a committed fielder? Again it strikes me that you can't bang on about it too much otherwise you'll turn them against it and it needs to be learned in a slow empirical manner and definitely helped if it's reinforced by someone other than me!

Anyway from there they went on to work on fielding positions. Again being new to the game I'm not that brilliant at this myself and it was comforting to see that the trainers were referring to a guide sheet that they'd downloaded off the internet themselves. They also between them were disputing the position of Mid wicket - the reference sheet they were using had Mid Wicket almost at a position diagonally opposite to point which I personally thought was a bit extreme and too far out and too parallel to the stumps at the bowlers end? One of the blokes was pointing out that if it was mid wicket shouldn't the position be between the stumps approximately half way and I was agreeing with this assumption. I've just had a look at Simon Hughes book Jargon Busting - Mastering the art of cricket ISBN 978-0-7522-6508-7 and the position I've just described is short mid wicket and mid wicket is in fact in the position they'd placed it and then stretching further back behind the stumps diagonally (bowlers end) heading out towards deep mid wicket going beyond the power play circle!

Joe was given an easy one 'Bowler' which was good as he got it right. In the car going to the session I'd asked them if they knew any of the positions and they knew slip, wicket keeper and Ben knew Fine Leg primarily because of the Willow and Stumpy video on youtube http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=sORPjRxUpdU and it turned out that Ben was asked Fine Leg. He had to think about it figuring whether it was Legside or Offside and through deduction he came up with the answer, so I was quite proud of him for that.

The rest of the session they played a couple of games and they put me in charge of one of the teams! Needless to say we lost! I noticed that one or two of the regulars can actually bowl quite well today, one kid called Killer who's a fast bowler bowls reasonably accurately and a good length and one of the two brothers that I think maybe Neil the coaches sons? Later in the second match he had an amazing over in which he took 5 wickets in one over - it should have been 6 for 6 but his first hat trick ball came off the bat and fell short when I was fielding at Silly Point and the bat took a run and I fielded the ball quickly and threw the ball down the wicket straight at the stumps as the bowler stopped in his follow through in front of the stumps to catch the ball, which would have gone on to hit the stumps,. But by the time he'd caught it and turned, the bat was home, so he missed out on his 6 off 6 balls but he realised what he'd done and took it on the chin. I brilliant over though.

Ben's over was fine. One wide but generally quite good - down the offside and most of the balls were not hit so he very little runs off his over. With no spell to speak of and going straight into it cold he did okay. Joe on the other hand did better - he took 2 wickets off of 6 balls against 2 of the better bats. One of them was fielded quickly and the kid was stumped at the bowlers end and the other was the kid that took 5 for 6 later on - with this one I didn't see exactly what happened but Neil was high fiving Joe saying that he'd bowled him round his legs. Joe said that it had turned nicely and was well chuffed but wasn't sure whether it was a Leg Break or a Wrong Un! I got a feeling it was a wrong un because I think the kid was a LH bat?

Both of them with the bat were bowled really quickly or run out making no contribution to the runs, but hopefully that'll come in time?

They were all given medals and certificates which was a really nice touch as both my lads came away saying that felt really proud to have got a medal, although they could hardly get hat out as they had faces full of chocolate that was also part of the prize giving!

Our next session will be at Fitzwymarc School which is a fair old jaunt from Basildon so I can only assume that the facilities there are exceptional and a reasonable price or something? Actually, last year the bloke that did the training session with Ben and Joe and a couple of other kids at Markhams chase who had some affiliation with ECCC said that we should go along to his clubs training sessions at the same place - so that in itself indicates it must have good facilities. It also looks like I'm going to be able to get involved too which'll be good, so I'm looking forward to that.

Pitch Inspection

Went over to our field to have a look at our wicket and see how it's getting on. As usual very little football is being played there and it's the same situation with the training - it's not happening. The grass is still being cut and it looks reasonably healthy. The markers are all still in place so we know exactly where the wicket was and I'm able to affect any repairs as and when required. The biggest issue seems to be worms and worm casts. Worms work away under the surface aerating the soil which is very healthy for the grass as it oxygenates the soil and allows the roots to flourish and therefore helps the grass grow really well. The downside though is that the surface becomes uneven and at both ends where Joe and me bowl into it seems very rough. The middle section though seems to be far less affected and I reckon this could be down to my intervention this Autumn. If you remember at the start of the Autumn I top dressed the grass at both ends but not in the centre with organic compost. The way that this makes it's way into the soil is via the worms, it's the worms that collect organic matter like this and take it back beneath the surface and this obviously means increased worm activity! Hence the reason the two areas in front of the stumps are lumpy!

It just means I've got to get my rolling timing right. There's another opportunity in the spring to top dress the wicket again and this time seed it as well, but this is a case of seeding it when the frosts are over. If I do the seeding at the point when I top dress as well I'll also do some rolling. But I think I need to do the rolling in early March when we've still got very wet weather and the ground is still saturated otherwise my roller wont have any real impact. Then soon after that - late March or early April if the weather allows it I'll start to do some light cutting of the wicket with the blades set as high as I can get on my mower.

Winter Equinox

At last it's December 21st again and we're in the shortest day of the year. As of tonight the days once again start to getting longer as we had back to the summer! I can't wait as usual and look forward to the days when I get in from work and it's light outside and we can go and have a knock about on our wicket just across the road.

On the subject of winter I've noted several things this year that have been a bit Old Skool like the 1980's when we did used to get proper winters that were reasonably cold but nothing like 1962/63! I go to work in Southend and my train travels along the Thames Estuary and I noted this year there seems to be a lot more Geese. In November we had that cold snap where temperatures over a few nights dipped below freezing and we had some Frosts in November. Then on the news last night they were saying that at Snettisham on the Norfolk coast 3/4 of the worlds White Fronted Geese were there feeding and roosting. I've already seen flocks of Fieldfares which are Siberian Thrushes that move south in front of cold weather patterns. Nature often indicates changes in weather with things such as bird migration some time in front of the event, and what with that 80's style cold snap in November and the seemingly large increase in Arctic type birds in the UK it might be we're in for some proper cold weather?

There were some really cold winters in 1949, 1962, 1982, 83 & 87 so having not had one for some time we're due one.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/anniversary/winter1962-63.html

I seem to remember reading somewhere that preceding the bad winter of 62/63 in the week or so that led up to the first fall of snow there was a week of unseasonably warm weather. At the moment we're in a phase just like that! But it's got to be said I say this every year!

Bowling

I threw a few balls around today and was quite pleased with my accuracy line and length and the amount of turn I was getting. I was also trying Murali's Doosra style ball and getting that to turn spinning away to Slip like a leg break and then the same delivery out of the back of the hand turning to Leg Slip if bowled normally like a Wrong un.

I haven't been bowling much at all recently in order to give my body a bit of a rest. I've got muscle problems in my forearm and these seem to exacerbated by continuously clicking the ball out of my hand at home Flipper style and I've noticed that when I bowl my Gipper ball which is the one like the Doosra it hurts then too. So as much as I can I'm avoiding bowling and looking to practice with the bat.

I'm not doing any exercises either, so I'm falling to bits physically and I run the risk of putting on weight over Christmas if I'm not careful. Usually I don't do too bad and tend to eat a lot less than the rest of the family as I'm keeping an eye on the fact that soon after Christmas I'l be looking to start getting fit again.

Nets

I still haven't heard from the bloke at the school yet who said he'd send a letter. We're hoping to get in there for the 1st time on Jan 10th. The feeling amongst all the blokes who are up for it is that they'd be happy to do it once a fortnight, which I'm okay with too. One of the Grays & Chadwell blokes - Wayne is up for it as well, so I'll keep him posted as to what happens and I've now got his email address to help on that front. I just hope Wayne's not looking to stretch his batting/bowling abilities too much as I don't think we'll be too testing for him!

Video

I'm still fiddling with this and having trouble with file sizes, from my own perspective of looking at what I'm doing myself it's brilliant, but uploading it to youtube is still proving to be a problem because of the file sizes - but I will get there eventually.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Muttiah Muralitharan

I've been having a discussion with some Aussie blokes on the internet elsewhere about Murali. The bloke was saying that Murali doesn't bowl the Wrong Un yet clearly here on the cricinfo site it states that he bowls offspin suggesting that his stock ball is the off-spinner. Now whether this bloke is arguing about the technicalities of whether it's finger spin or wrist spin and suggesting Murali's stock ball is a finger spin technique thus suggesting it's not a true Wrong Un I'm not sure? But reading below and the emphasis on the Murali's flexible wrist being a key aspect of his bowling I'm of the opinion that his stock ball which is an off-spinner is more like a Wrist Spin action than a finger spin action and therefore a Wrong Un?

So let's agree that -

1. Murali bowls Right Arm spin.
2. His Stock ball is the off-spinner
3. This action is very wristy and therefore more of a wrist spin action than a finger spin action?

So that then means that his 'Other' ball in urdu 'Doosra' is a ball that spins the other way (leg spin) and this is his variation. The question and point that was being asked on the forum was What is it he does in the delivery that makes the ball go the other way when the ball obviously comes out of the hand looking like an off-spinner delivery and ends up turning massively to slips like a leg break?

This is the bit that I know - as I can do it and thought that I'd discovered a new ball when I first did it (My Gipper) it's a combination of the wrong un (e.g. the hand upside down almost and the ball coming out of the back of it) and the Flipper. You have the ball covered in the hand with the wrist cocked and it's delivered out of the back of the hand but at the point of releasing it you then use your fingers in exactly the same way as the Flipper and this puts massive leg spin on the ball. So from the bats point of view it looks like you're bowling a wrong un but it then goes the other way.

Murali's action is so wristy and bent in it's approach to the release that it catapaults the ball in a much faster manner and without the finger flick it produced good offspin.

Discuss.................


http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/srilanka/content/player/49636.html

He bowls marathon spells, yet is forever on the attack. From a loose-limbed, open-chested action, his chief weapons are the big-spinning offbreak and two versions of the top-spinner, one of which goes straight on and the other, which has now been labelled his doosra, which spins in the opposite direction to his stock ball. His newest variation is a version of Shane Warne's slider, which is flicked out the side of his hand and rushes onto batsmen like a flipper. His super-flexible wrist makes him especially potent and guarantees him turn on any surface.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter practice and big video files

Monday night is karate night for Ben and Joe and me go along and watch him normally and we're stuck there sitting on a bench for an hour. I've normally got a ball on me somewhere so last week in the bay next to the Karate blokes we threw a ball around a bit bowling it back and forth to each other but I realised we were taking the P a bit and we stopped. But I then said to Joe 'Let's go and ask the lady how much a bay is for an hour and maybe next week we'll bring some bats and some stumps and have a practice while Ben's doing his Kung Fu'? Joe was up for it and we asked. £10.50 it was for the same £8.50 bays at the weekend! So not cheap for an hour. So tonight we went for it and had a bit of a bowl and bat each and better still I took the Canon G9 and did a load of video clips of both of us having a bat and bowl.

So, since coming in I've been working on looking through nearly an hours worth of video footage to see what I can upload to youtube for analysis. I found a bit with me bowling and used the slow motion program I've got and slowed it right down and got it ready to upload. This time when I did the recording I used the high quality mode and when I'd done the editing which I'm still a bit iffy with the file despite the fact that it's only a few seconds long and is me bowling once was nearly 170MB. As I write it's been uploading to youtube for almost an hour now.
A little later - it's now been an hour and half and it's still going..... Three hours later and I gave up, obviously 170mb files are a bit too big. I went back to the editing software and cut it down further and left it at 90mb and I'll try that at some point. The annoying thing is when it's being uploaded you don't have any indication of it's progress so when I stopped the uploading I don't whether it was 95% complete or 5%?

Anyway other than that - the £10.50 session. It's not ideal this venue as It's only the length of a badmnton court - it's the same place I practiced a couple of weeks ago with Simon, Badger and Alex. But for JOe who would be expected to play on a 17 yard wicket it's fine. Joe's bowling was fine - loads of difference in the flight and speed and generally on-line. No apparent spin though which I'm not fussed about, when he tries to bowl spin he opts for an out the back of the hand approach which produces off-spin and I want him to bowl Leg breaks otherwise he'll end up like me! If he sticks to his Leg Breaks he'll continue to get wickets as he did in the summer. Generally since the summer his bowling has come on loads - he's a lot faster and I think if he concentrates he'd be a lot more accurate. The only real area for development is the follow through with the leg coming round and over in the delivery. I'll have to show him the Beau Casson video as he responds to these a lot better than he does to me telling him.

With his batting it's a similar story - when he's told by other people to do things he makes a lot more effort to do so, whereas if I suggest things he starts to get stroppy it's a bit like Fozzy and Ross at Grays! He's another Dad who's son bowls Leg Spin who has a similar reaction to his advice.

Looking at the video of my bowling I'm quite happy with my bowling action, I'll try and get more shots of it from all angles when I get the next opportunity. Realistically I still need to test the camera and get the right combination of file size and composition and also come up with a way of protecting the camera from the ball. I don't think I'll get the perfect combination till we get in a bigger hall where I'll have a run up and be able to use a real ball?

Last night I tried some of the Flippers out the back of the hand and couldn't get them to work and then ended up bowling Doosras and man did they turn. The normal flippers are coming along nicely with them turning well when I don't opt for speed and go for a more flighted approach, but like Joe generally a good line and length. Also looking at my batting there looks as though there's an improvement too and it'll be good to see how I do against the likes of Simon and Alex if we get in the big hall as against Joe (Who's only 7) I look like I'm doing okay!! I ithink there's got to have been some improvement after the session with Simon and Alex 2 weeks ago and the practice up against the wall in the underpass - so I'm looking forward to facing their bowling in a much bigger space where they'll be able get a run up and throw the ball faster.

The initial response from some of the blokes is that they're up for a weekly slot at the hall which is good - but we'll have to see if that's realistic when we get the contract details from the school regarding the hire. They might want the money up front and we may need to make some kind of commitment that then ties us into using it and paying for it every week irrespective of whether we all go down with the flu or something. But if we can get in the hall every weekend for two hours I'm hoping to see an improvement in my bowling.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Update

Saturday, so that means loads of cricket activity. I was hoping that Simon, Alex and Badger would be around and that we'd get a bit of practice in today, Simon was up for it and I couldn't get in touch with Alex and Badger had already said that he was working so it was called off.

Venues

There had also been an issue with the venue that we practiced at last week (Laindon Community Centre). I went back to book a bay in the hall for today and the woman said that she wasn't sure that she could accomodate us. She asked about the balls we use (Kookaburra practice balls) and about how much they weigh etc. I told her they were soft plastic and that they're what small boys use when they train etc and she went on to say that previously someone had come in asking to play tennis and they were forced to use foam balls because tennis balls were deemed to be too hard! Which is totally bizarre because before we were able to get in the hall last week there was a bunch of blokes in there kicking a football around at 100mph that weighs 10 x more that a Kookaburra cricket ball and they were using the whole hall with impunity. Yet both us and the tennis players are sectioned off in 1/3rd of the hall but are somehow being penalised as playing a sport that is going to damage the hall? The woman went on to suggest that I ring Markhams Chase and ask the manager there if it would be okay to use our Kookaburra balls. I did this and the woman at Markhams Chase was totally bemused saying that what they do at Laindon Community centre had nothing to do with them and then offered their facilities instead!

Off the back of the first practice we had at the Community Centre I'd already decided to look elswhere and had contacted Woodlands school with a view to using it after the Basildon and Pitsea Colts for our practice. On Friday I'd got a reply from the bloke who does the bookings and he was saying that yes it was a possibilty and the indication was that we'd be able to use it from 12.00 to 1.30 after the Basildon and Pitsea colts had finished which would leave us a bit tight for time? But today at Ben and Joe's practice it became apparent that Basildon and Pitsea are only using the venue one more time prior to Christmas and thereafter the venue changes to Fitzwymarc school in Rayleigh leaving Woodlands available to us to use at an earlier time - maybe 11am to 1pm, so I'll be contacting the bloke tonight.

Because the venue is bigger we'll also invite some of the other MPA blokes along and get the use out of both nets - so hopefully we'll get Mark Soye and Nick Naughty along and perhaps Terry the Bloke, so there could be 7 of us when we all turn up?

Pitch Inspection

The weather has been dismal recently with a series of cold days and fairly heavy frosts so I thought I'd go and have a look at our field/wicket and look at ways of getting the roller over there and back off again in the Spring.

The field along the side that's permanently in the shade and retains the frost all day when it is cold was saturated with water. The middle of the field in the wicket area was very wet and the worms are active so the ground is very uneven. The damage from the irregular football games is nowhere as severe as I'd imagined and as far as I've noticed there's been no matches over there for 2 weekends and I'd be surprised if there was a match tomorrow although the lines have been recently re-painted. The markers for the wicket are still there and easily found and the grass does look different because of the fact that I look after it. So it looks okay.

With regards the roller it looks as though it maybe easier to unload it from the main road side and then leave in on the field padlocked up through the week that I do the rolling? All of this relies on whether they cut the field through the spring and summer though and not let it go to fallow as they did 3 summers ago.

Ben and Joe's practice

Nets again at Basildon & Pitseas colts session and another fairly well attended session with 13 kids this time - these were made up of the regualr main team members from last summer. It was Ben's turn this week to bat in the nets and Joe let him use his pads and gloves. The coach Dave put him through his paces and showed him what to do but Ben was bricking it a bit and was nervous about facing the bowling machine and ended up playing primarily defensive shots which has always been his way and he errs towards swinging at the ball with a sideways bat rather than a straight bat. Dave came in to correct Ben a few times and encourage him to follow through with the straight bat drive. I video'd it and was able to play it back later with Ben and evaluate his technique and Ben sat there shouting at himself on the playback "Follow through! Follow through"! Clearly unimpressed with his own performance, so hopefully he'll remember this for next week and I may even go over it with him again with the video clips before the next session so it's fresh in his mind that he has to keep a straight bat, step out to the pitch of the ball and follow through. Watching the video's he does do it a few times which is encouraging and it looks so much better and appreciates that himself, so I hope in time it will come?

Before Joe had a chance one of the other coaches spoke to me saying that he'd seen my blog and that he was reading that I was interested in Wrist Spin Bowling and I went on to say about how obsessed I am with it and he then said - 'Have a go here - set up the stumps and have a bowl'. So I was able to throw a few balls - albeit the Kookaburra balls with their lightness. Bowled mostly flippers which were okay, was tempted to bowl my Googlies but I'm still trying to keep away from them so that I get the Leg Break back in order. I didn't even attempt the Leg Break and stuck to bowling some of my weird balls - Flippers and the variations of that.

As I was involved in bowling I didn't see how well Joe batted but he said later that he felt that he didn't do as well as last week. That's to be expected as he was ill up till last night and in the last 48 hrs has hardly ate anything. It was at the end of the session that coach Neil announced that next week would be the last session at Woodlands paving the way for an opportunity for Alex, Simon, Badger et al and me to get in there at a reasonable time and use the nets on a Saturday. Seizing the opportunity I asked Neil what the arrangements would be after Christmas and he said that they'd be at Fitzwymarc and I think the nature of the way the training takes place differs in that the adults (I think) train as well leading into the new season at the same session and he said that I could come along and join in as well. Additionally this will be a Sunday instead of a Saturday which also means that if the MPA boys are still practicing at woodlands which I think is the intention I may be getting 4 hours of practice in over the weekend! So that's something to look forward to. I've just got to wait for a letter from Coach Neil confirming the details.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Quite cold

We had an Old Skool type winter day today - one where over night it was frosty and during the day where there was shadow the frost didn't disappear and tonight again it's going to drop into the minus figures again. Although dispite it being cold in the shadows out in the sun it got up to 9 degrees. I remember back in the 80's it used to stay frosty for days upon days and in 1987 there was snow on the ground for over 2 weeks with temperatures of minus 17 for that period at night. In 93 there was a snowy week or so, but none of this is anything like the winter of 1962 - 63 when it snowed on New Years even and then the sun didn't come out till Mid March and the average temp both day and night combined was something like 0.5 c and at night it regularly dropped to -17c. The snow in some places was 40' deep and over the 3 months it stayed there and got filthy dirty and became solid ice. It makes you wonder what would happen in this day and age where if we get 1" of snow it throws the country into turmoil? I'm just wondering if this weather now is indicative of a potentially cold winter ahead with 1980's style snow and coldness? It's got to happen soon and really we're due a 1949 - 1962/63 style winter where the Thames will freeze up, Gas and coal will run out within days, no food will be distributed because lorries wont be able to move, panic food buying will happen and the economy will go into further free-fall.

Went and had a quick look at our wicket over at Valence way and it looks as though the grass has been cut and no football has been played on it for a while. The markers are still in the grass indicating where the wicket is but increasingly difficult to find and I'm still pondering what I'm going to do with the roller if I manage to get it onto the field and when to do so. At the moment I'm still inclined to leave it till eary March. I was looking back through the blog a few days ago and we didn't cut the grass till June sometime in the middle of the field, but the practice wicket was cut in early May and there was some really warm weather late April, early May that would have reduced the affect of our little roller having any impact.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Joe's training session

Another good session, this time attended by 19 kids! The last session there was only 8 or 9 of them fortunately there were about 6 instructors on hand so it worked out well. I also had my camera and video and was able to shoot some footage, but as you can see from the earlier entry I've not been able to upload it as I don't want to cause any trouble. There's some footage of Joe in the nets and he's the only kid in the video - so I could use that but it's very early in his batting development and he's very much a beginner. It was the bowling that I'd liked to have uploaded but needless to say you can see all the other kids and it's just so much easier if I keep everyone sweet and comply with their requests not to upload the images despite what the actual law states. But yep Joe bowled well - he only had one over and from that over he produced 2 balls that were Dollies that the kids dropped and a possible edge that a good wicket keeper may have also got a dive in and caught and it's all on video and I can't show you it. He had one bad ball that was a wide and one that got spanked and his first ball he got passed the bat and just missed the off-stump. Oh well! If you know me in person come round and see the files one day!

But the main event was the nets and the bowling machine. He did okay and I think the blokes were pretty impressed with the fact that he comes out of his crease and goes after the ball looking to bat it straight off or before the bounce! It'll be interesting to see how they coach him with regards this - they didn't seem to fussed with it and weren't telling him to get back in his crease it looked to me like they were quite impressed. None of us are Bats so all three of us - Joe, Ben and me all need as much time and coaching as we can get our hands on - so it was nice to see Joe pushing himself forward to get in the queue.

As they had the nets out I heard them discussing the scuffing of the floor with the balls, so I don't know if this'll be a contentious situation with us if we manage to hire it. I overheard some of the blokes saying that there were mats or something that they'd donated some years back but it seems the caretaker was unaware of where they were. What I may do as a contingency plan is write more letters to other schools and see if they can accomodate us?

Had a bit of a bowl while Joe was swimming later on - it looks like I've lost the leg break but the flippers were going well as well as the flipper variations - especially the up-side down one that looks like a Doosra.

UK law photography - children in public places

Gutted! This morning we went to the net sessions at the school where Ben and Joe practice and I took along my Canon G9 and shot some video footage of Joe bowling. He only bowled 1 over but from that one over he should have got 3 catches - 2 of them absolute dollies, but I can't show you the video because of the paranoia over child protection and the fear of someone suing you. Personally because I am aware of the law I've got no issue over the situation and if it wasn't for the request from the bloke at the cricket club who's in charge of these issues I'd have posted the video clip on the website here.

Now, my understanding of the law is as described in the PDF below and the law is that there is no law about taking images of children in 'Normal' situations such as cricket or on the beach etc. But other laws can be enforced in situations such as cricket practices e.g. tresspass, but tresspass in itself is a very insubstantial law. The situation that is prevalent at the minute in this country fuelled by the likes of the Daily Mail, The Sun and the media in general - attached to paedaphiles, child abuse and the internet, is that clubs, schools, councils and organisations who work with children have all adopted their own codes of practice which are not actually backed up by any real law relating to photography. Their codes of practice mean that they adopt policies of not allowing photography or video unless of course every single parent/guardian of the club/school signs a disclaimer. The fact of the matter is, all this does in essence is gives the club/school/organisation some form of redress if a case is brought against them in court relating to a case of misuse of the images. In instances where the disclaimer has not been signed as in our cricket club the approach is that they would simply ask you not to take pictures/videos and if your were to continue to do so they have the option of following up the tresspass laws and that is their only option. In fact they run very high risks of getting into real trouble if they then start to attempt to do things like man-handle you off the premises or remove the film/card from your camera if they get over zealous on the assumption that they are within the law.

Fortunately the bloke at the club simply pointed out that he wouldn't like the images to be uploaded to the internet because of child protection issues. Having looked through the files that I have created I'm gutted to say that there are other kids in the shots - especially the bowling video. Now I might argue that the quality of the video is so poor that the kids unless you were aware of the clothing that they're wearing are unrecognisable and if case was brought against me I'd be fairly certain the law would be on my side. But the fact is in this day and age with the majority of the population reading newspapers of a certain political persuasion that trade in paranoia and fear that helps to fuel the USA lead sueing culture we now have I just don't want to take the chance and I quite like the club my kids are attending and therefore will comply with the request. So sorry there is no video I can share with you because it has images of other peoples children playing cricket and enjoying themsleves. I don't know about you but in a culture where increasingly kids have no communication with the real tactile world and increasingly relate to the rest of their peers and society through electronic forms mobile phones, computers etc I'd have thought that anything that promotes physical well being and sport would be a good thing?

Have a look at this PDF. Note - The laws currently change so rapidly I may be wrong on this and if I am please let me know.

http://www.sirimo.co.uk/media/UKPhotographersRights.pdf

http://www.sirimo.co.uk/ukpr.php

Thursday, December 04, 2008

It's almost the weekend!

After a 2 week break my lads should be resuming their cricket training at Woodlands school. Unfortunately for Ben the older one he's off to Cubs for their Christmas so he wont be able to go. Joe on the other hand is all kitted out with new gear - cricket whites, gloves, new bat and pads, so hopefully he's going to be up for it as this week they're going in the nets for the first time. It sounds as though they're going to be using real cricket balls too as they've all been told to bring and wear their 'nut boxes'.

I'm hoping that they'll allow me to shoot some video footage, so I'll be able to post up some video clips if he does alright and if his bowling is good I may do some Slow Motion clips!

On the MPA front there's been a bit of news. I had an email from Steve Brooks and he says there's one other bloke that he works with - but he also knows the Sports boys well and he's talking about getting them involved in our team. So if that happens it's quite likely that we'd have a fair team what with Gavin, Riley, Ronnie and some of the others? So it looks like that may be heading in the right direction? On a more prosaic front I've just sent a letter to the school asking about the potential to use the nets for our practice sessions. I'd rang earlier and the response from the receptionist was quite upbeat so I've got my fingers crossed that they may be able to accomodate us in some way at a reasonable price? So watch this space!

Monday, December 01, 2008

December - a new dawn

I hate this time of year - the very depths of winter, no light, no leaves, constant rain and drizzle and cold. I'm considering laying off the bowling for quite a period maybe 5 or 6 weeks to let my arm and shoulder recover and have a rest? I still want to get the sessions going every other Saturday and I may throw a few slow balls then, but nothing at all trying and certainly not the kind of 1 ball every 10 seconds approach that I normally do over an hour. If we continue with our indoor pratice sessions I might just concentrate on the batting as the primary objective? I do need to start phoning places and see if we can access some proper nets at a reasonable price?

Update - several hours later Slow Motion Video footage

I can't believe it, I've now sussed out how to turn my AVI files which I can capture in really high quality with my new G9 camera into Slow motion videos! This is going to be potentially an amazing tool with which to analyse my bowling or my sons bowling and anyone else who wants to hire me to film their bowling so that they can look at their technique! All I've got to do now is find some proper nets in the next 2 weeks and film the session in high quality mode and slow it down and see what's going on. As I write I'm uploading the 1st file to youtube. I'll post the link at the bottom of this blog page once it's successfully uploaded!

This first initial video is low quality with the wrong light balance. Once I've got the camera sussed and learnt how to edit the video I should be able to present some good footage. So check this space in the coming weeks.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=MPzGm9oPnTE

Have a look at this Mularitharan slow mo video - it's amazing! All he needs to do now is learn how to click it flipper style out of his hand!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxvYcRwyl9w

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Indoor practice

Woke up this morning and as expected what with all the sleep I've been having and the medicine I felt a lot better. It was a bit of a rush getting ready as I had to go and collect a cricket bag from a post office that had been won via a bid on ebay. If you're looking to buy a wheelie bag for cricket gear there's a bloke who's got a job lot of them he's selling and he's got them up on a best offer basis. I reckon they're a pretty good price http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/WOODWORM-WHEELIE-SUITCASE-TRAVEL-HOLDALL-CRICKET-BAG_W0QQitemZ310103747240QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Tickets_Travel_Luggage_CA?hash=item310103747240&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1301%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318 don't pay the full whack - make the geezer an offer and you'll probably get them at a reasonable price.

Having done that I had to rush around a bit and get all the gear ready, I wasn't sure what balls I was going to use and ended up getting the kookaburra ones, which are expensive and prone to getting damaged when used in the way we were playing. The hall was 8 quid 50 and when I arrived 5 mins early Alex and Badger were already there. Simon turned up a bit late. The hall as mentioned before is a bit short, but considering how unfit we all are and out of touch (More them than me) it was okay as a starting point. The distance between the stumps was probably 17 yards and virtually no run up at all. The width of the hall from wall to wall is probably 22 yards? Anyway not to worry we just got on with it as it was just a get together to see if anyone had a thirst for some more. I'm not sure what goes on in their heads - whether they'd be up for a match or whether they just like the idea of a knock about every now and then? In fact I reckon they're quite happy just to have a knock about which suit me down to the ground as it means I get a bit of a workout with the bat. Then if there is some interest later and we can get a team togther with very little effort I'd be up for a game and I'm sure they would be, but they readily acknowledge that getting 12 of us in one place on one day is pretty unlikely - so knock abouts it is! Here's the hall -

I had a bat first as I felt quite confident after my recent practice in the subway/underpass. I didn't do too bad at all the only person that caused me any real aggro was Simon as he's a lot faster than the others and he was getting the ball to outswing and the most difficult balls were the ones that initially looked like they were all going down the legside and then they'd swerve in towards the stumps on a yorker length. He had my stumps several times when I tried to play the ball. If I just played defensively I was a lot more successful.



I spent half hour batting and I reckon I didn't do too bad - you've got to remember my highest score ever is 9 runs and I struggle to get Willow on leather, so I was quite pleased. I then had a bowl and was wary about the fact that I've not done any for quite some time because of the weather and then my recent illness, so I wasn't intending on doing too much and besides the wicket was too short. Couldn't get the Leg Break to work, the Gippers worked okay, but not the new upside down Flipper/Doosra ball, that just felt like it required a lot more arm twisting and was too 'Out of the back of the hand' for my liking when I'm totally committed to bowling Leg Breaks - I don't want to lose what I've gained with the leg breaks so I was mostly bowling standard Flippers and they were okay.

I had a second bat and that was okay too, I even manged to get the bat on some that went down the Legside and again I was quite pleased that I did okay - nice cover drives and they all commented that for the most part I managed to keep the ball low or on the ground. Simon again was the one that caused me the most problems but playing defensively against him seemed to be the way to go. It'd be nice if we could get enough of us together in some real nets somewhere for a couple of hours every two weeks or so with real balls, so I reckon we could look into that. If we could get Nick Naughty and Mark Soye on board that'd be six of us - but 2 hours in the nets at James Hornsby is quite expensive. Whenever I've tried to contact other schools they've never replied to my emails. But it's definitely something to think about?

I took the G9 camera and shot some video. I've uploaded a clip of my bowling but even I can see the issues, but I'm going to make some excuses - I'm in recovery from having a bad cold, the wicket was too short and there was no room for a run up. But having said that I reckon my action looks okay - just really slow. I reckon I should go for a speedier run up and whip that arm round a lot faster - which is something Super Dave at Grays has said before. I also reckon that the next time we go I should have the camera up behind the bat or up behind the stumps at the bowlers end from a high viewpoint - which I could do if we had access to proper nets? So more reason to try and get somewhere better to practice.

G9 issues - I've since discovered that it's best not to record using the lowest setting and the next setting up is far better quality and allows you to record for an indefinte period of time, only restricted by the size of the memory card, so next time the quality will be far more improved. I also want some footage of my batting from the bowlers end - zoomed in so I can see what I'm doing wrong with that too.

With regards the others, I reckon they all did okay considering this was the 1st time any of them had picked up a bat in 2 years almost! They were all really kanckered and flailing by the time the 2 hours was up! Yep we stayed for 2 hours - 1 hour was nowhere near long enough, but for them 2 hours was just a smidge too long considering their current fitness levels. I found the second session with the bat tiring on my forearms and upper body strength, so that's something I need to work on or could it be that I'm not fully recovered from being ill? But - more rotational push ups and stuff are on there way I reckon.

The others need to look at their follow through with their bowling, that to me looks like their weak points. But a very good session and something I'd like to repeat again and I reckon batting is the area I need to work on in these sessions as it's something I don't get to do and I reckon they should use a real ball with me.

Here's my bowling video - if you want to comment on it and give me some advice please do so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb1m7T6lzQ8

Canon G9

Still rough, marginally better - hopefully overnight I'll improve a bit. I've been trying out the video functions on my Canon G9. I've just uploaded a test video onto youtube, it was one of the bigger files 45mb and it's uploaded okay. From the tests I've been doing it looks as though the lower resolution files will be okay, so if I'm up to it I'll try and get some shots of my bowling tomorrow and put them on youtube. The other thing I've noticed is that in-camera you can play the files back in slow motion, which my be good as a self evaluation tool. If I could I'd try and upload the files to youtube in slow motion as that would aid anyone else looking at my technique. I'll look into it, but I can't promise anything.

Friday, November 28, 2008

www.newitts.com

Nothing doing so I thought I'd promote one of my favourite internet companies. www.newitts.com I've ordered several items from them over the last two years and the service you get from them is exceptionally good. Deliveries are fast - within a matter of days and the gear is really well packaged. The prices are very good often the cheapest around. At the moment they're sending most of their stuff out Free postage so if you're looking for good quality and cheap gear - forget ebay look at Newitts, usually by the time you've added on the postage with Ebay you've paid shop prices.

I did some research today on Newitts wondering whether they'll be hit by the recession and it looks to me as though they'll be okay and that's good news as they're a small company based in Yorkshire with only 35 or so staff. So when you're buying gear look at Newitts as an option - a briliant service and good prices.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dog Rough

Feeling dog rough so haven't been doing much. It's still on for Saturday unless I get a lot worse, but I don't feel particularly clever at the minute. Been looking at Slazenger shirts for Ben and Joe on line and may buy some well in advance of the season and then run the risk that they might outgrow them. The thing is at the moment they're a reasonable price and I just know that if I hang on till the summer I'm going to have to buy them at premium prices?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nothing doing

Snow this morning for a short period. I'm currently on the verge of being ill, feels like I'm either going to come down with a cold or the flu or something, so I wont be doing much this week apart from resting. Hopefully whatever happens it's better by next Saturday when I'll be able to have a bat with Simon, Alex and Badger.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chilly

Blimey I've just been across the field for my weekly pitch inspection and chuck a ball around a bit. Oh - it's a bit cold and not conducive with doing things outside at the moment. The pitch was okay the markers are still there to indicate where it used to be and it doesn't look like it's suffering too much from the affects of having football played all over it.

I was intending on going to the sports hall and having a bit of a bowl and a bat. But when I woke up my arms and shoulders felt a bit sore and I was less inclined to go and then what with the fact that it was going to be costing me 8 quid I felt even less inclined. But right at the last moment I did get up, stuff some breakfast down my neck and left the house with a bat under my arm to have a go. Then walking down the street I thought better of it and came back home.

I had a bit of chuck around outside my house and again noticed the sore arm and shoulder. Now whether that's down to the batting last night or whether I'm bowling out of the back of my hand and twisting my whole arm to do so to bowl this new variation I'm not 100% sure? But I've got a feeling it might be the bowling action? In which case, have I at last got over the Googlie Syndrome - is my normal bowling action the Leg Break now? I wont know now till the weather warms up a bit and I try the Leg Breaks and see how they go.

In the meantime over the field I threw a few of these new variation balls and they look very good. The whole action feels like the Gipper a bit but the wrist isn't bent in such an acute angle. The arm is pretty much twisted round like with the Doosra and I reckon they look like the same action if you're the bat, the only difference being is the Doosra that turns towards Leg Slip sit more snuggly in my hand and this new ball that turns like a leg break is held bewteen the finger and thumb like a flipper. So when I get out onto somewhere better to practice this might be really interesting? Hopefully I'l be able to use it against my mates next weekend and bowl some wickets?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I've had a good day today on both the bowling and batting front. As I mentioned - this morning I got up and was flicking the ball across the kitchen in the manner that I mentioned in the earlier entry and was getting a lot of deviation and seemingly very easy to control and very accurate. I took the ball to work and was sitting at my desk and realised I hadn't accounted for the fact that when I took the images I'd photographed my left hand and hadn't flipped the image over to look like my right hand! I've corrected that now.

This evening again I was looking at the potential for this delivery and it looks very promising, it looks like it my be a lot more affective than my Gipper in many ways, but putting it into practice will be when I'll see whether the theory meets the expectations and it looks as though I might be able to explore it's potential tomorrow?

Not having done anything physical all week I was gagging to do something after a hard week at work. I checked with Simon and he's up for a session next weekend, so this evening I thought I'd better go and book the court in order that we secure a place. This then gave me an excuse to go looking for a batting wall see http://mpafirsteleven.blogspot.com/2008/11/i-need-your-feedback-on-this.html so, not wanting to draw too much attention to myself I thought I'd look for somewhere that sports already exist. I had a look at a couple of places at Gloucester Park but the place that I thought might come up trumps did. In the corner of Glouscester Park on the edge of the Cricket pitch is a little used under-pass and it's amazingly well lit and it's just over 7 yards wide and about 70' long. It's clean, bright and flat and absolutely perfect. One exit leads out onto a small parkland area where there's been several assualts on women over the years and the other exit leads on to a cricket pitch. It's doesn't really connect anywhere to anywhere else and it is almost redundant. (See the ariel shot here you can see where the underpass crosses beneath the road) I'd put my bat in the car with a ball so had a go for about 20 minutes or so.


Just as I arrived there, over on the artificial football pitches a bunch of blokes were just finishing up and one of them came through the tunnel and he was the only person I saw down there. So it's not like anyone is going to see me and I can just get on with it - it's brilliant! So another place I'm utilising for free and getting some potentially good practice in.

On the way there I went over to Laindon Community Centre and booked one of the courts for tomorrow morning 9.00 - 10.00 and I'll probably use that tomorrow on my own trying out this new bowling variation and get some batting practice in as well. Although tonight it went so well in the underpass that I was thinking I don't know whether I'll bother tomorrow? At the moment I probably will as it'll be interesting to see how much of a difference standing a lot further back from the wall will make and because of the bowling opportunity. While I was there I also booked the court for next week 1-2pm (sat) for Me, Simon, Badger and Alex.

Going back to the underpass - How useful it is to be able to knock the ball up against a wall like this I don't know? I know it's good that there's another wall directly behind you so that you can try things like leg glances or just miss the ball and it doesn't go anywhere. But surely it's beneficial - I must be getting more adept at making contact with the ball and just practicing stroke? Before discovering this as an idea last weekend my experience of hitting a ball with a cricket bat was incredibly limited - so this must be having some benefit? It'll be interesting to see how I fair against Alex and Simon next weekend when we have the practice - that'll be the point at which I'll be able to say whether I've advanced at all.
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In a spin

Gave the new variation some more thought last night and this morning got up and threw a few in the kitchen but going the whole hog with the application of the Flipper technique so that the delivery in fact is a spinner the flipper delivered up-side down. Because the spin then is imparted using the exact finger and thumb configuration and application, it strikes me that it's simply a flipper but with the hand in a new position in the same way that my Gipper is. I then had a look at Wikipedia and a description of the Doosra and more descriptions of Finger Spin and it strikes me that the Flipper has a lot more in common with Finger Spin than Wrist Spin? It looks as though if your turn the wrist in all sorts of directions with the Flipper you can make the ball Spin in what ever direction your wish. A straight hand with the palm of the hand for instance facing the bat at the point of release could potentially impart dramatic spin?

Is it the case that Finger Spinners impart the spin on the ball using the Thumb and Fingers in the same way that the Flipper is bowled? I'm going to have to investigate - but I'm pretty certain they don't because whenever I show people the mechanics of the Flipper they look at me as if I'm mental and if it was like their action - surely they'd say "That's what we do"!

Anyway on the subject of Spin I thought this was worth a mention - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/columnists/mike_atherton/article5192219.ece

Thursday, November 20, 2008

20th November

I've done 3 lates this week (15 hour days) so I haven't been able to get out and practice. But the up side of that is my arm/shoulder is able to recover. I've also been slack with the exercise and fitness too. But it does look as though this Saturday I'll probably book one of the badminton courts for an hour and do an hour of batting up against a wall and see how that goes as a drill?

Some more good news for next week when Alex, Simon and me get together at the same venue for some net practice - it looks like Badger might be up for it as well, so the seeds of a revival and a match against Boffa and his crew might be on the cards as a monthly event in the summer? The only thing is I'd need to book Welstead Gardens now or in the next couple of weeks to have any chance of having that as a venue?

I can't get the other 8-10 blokes to commit themselves to playing so I'm kind of stuck.

Other than I was looking around the http://www.bigcricket.com/ website and came across a thread that was covering the subject of Offspin and I was drawn to a comment by a bloke who said that what he'd just read was the most comprehensive description of a Doosra, so I went back to it and had a read and it was very interesting in what it alluded to. Reading the description of what this bloke claims Murali does I thought that sounds very interesting and is worth a look at? So a few seconds later in the Kitchen at 11.30 at night with sponge balls and then tennis balls I had a look at what was suggested. My own variation of the Doosra is a ball that is flicked from out of the back of the hand from a cocked wrist as indicated in Fig 1. For some reason this tends to be a much faster and flatter delivery with a big flick and when it goes right it deviates off the seam in the same way as the Googlie does. But instead of the Thumb curled and pressed against the seam as in Fig 1. The thumb is straight and along the seam.

Now, reading this blog I had the idea of bending the thumb and having it pressed against the seam as in fig 1 and 2 ready to flick the ball on release and impart spin on it as it does. Kind of like a Mendis Carrum ball approach but using the more powerful thumb.











As the ball is released in the same way as your thumb is used in the Flipper you flick the ball. It may be advantageous if you bowl the Flipper as this'll mean you've got a strong and flexible thumb, short of that you'll have to get flicking! Once the flick has happened the thumb should end up in the position as in Fig 3. As yet this has only been trialled in my kitchen tonight, but rest assured I'll be giving it a go as soon as I can get out there. I'm not overly confident that it'll work that well as the level of rotation the thumb imparts isn't that fantastic - but then who knows? All the evidence that I've seen so far is also interesting in that instead of this ball being an Off-spinning ball it's another Leg Spinning ball. Watch this space.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some more good news

I put the suggestion to Simon & Alex that we hire one end of the sports hall that's local to me and a few of us get together and have a bit of a knock about. Both of them have said yes to it in a couple of weekends (29th Nov). So perhaps this might be the start of something? I was thinking that it may not be that expensive to hire the whole hall as a bay is 8.50 quid - the whole hall might be 24 quid? We'll see what happens during the session and how enthusiastic they are? I might also email Badger and see if he's up for it - but he lives in Brentwood now and has transport issues I think?

Monday, November 17, 2008

I need your feedback on this?

I've been sitting here all night gagging to drive around town looking for other places where I can do this drill and not look like the town nutter. So, instead I've been posting this up on other websites trying to get a response with regards it's usefulness and I've just posted it on www.pitchvision.com to see if people will give me some feedback?.........

I'm not a big fan of doing exercises for the sake of keeping fit. On this website David Hinchcliffe talks about working on your fitness using exercises that are cricket specific. Two of the areas I tend to neglect are general cardiovascular and leg exercises e.g.running. Out of season this becomes even more of a problem because if I'm going to do it I want to do it away from roads and petrol/diesel fumes so I usually run around playing fields. But now we're up to our necks in mud till late March the incentive to do that has diminished. So I was kind of stuck as to what to do. I tried power walking but similar to running it's just so damn boring! But, this weekend looking for ways to practice my batting I tried batting a ball up against a wall. It's taken me loads of attempts with different balls to get the right kind of bounce and ping off the wall but I've now found the right balance with a particular ball. So, I've been able to practice hitting the ball using front foot drives and this forces me to hit the ball clean and straight so as not to deviate too much off of a nice return line. When the return line isn't straight it then means I have to move my feet and get my head over the line of the ball and my leading foot towards the ball so as to maintain the practice non stop. I can see that if I was to find a really good wall to practice against e.g. in a sports hall I could then start to hit the ball in different directions - cover drives and maybe leg glances every 10 balls or something? What I was amazed at was that just doing this for 15 minutes I came away sweating like a horse, with my heart pounding and then later my thigh, calf and buttock muscles all feeling the affects of being on my toes having to bounce around and almost dance in order to continuously correct my balance and line to keep the ball going back and forth off the wall! This strikes me as a brilliant cricket specific exercise that might improve my batting/timing/balance whilst doing the cardivascular stuff?

Does anyone else do this and am I right to think this is a worthwhile drill on both counts?

Ben, my older son does Karate on Monday nights at a local sports hall and I enquired there about how much the courts are for an hour and they're 8.50 quid. So that's almost a fair price. I might go back and see how much half an hour would be or enquire if one of the blokes at work might want to join me and share the cost? The courts are badminton court size and the hall divides up into 3 of these by drawing curtains across the hall so they're ideal. Something to look into?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Decathlon trip

Decided that we'd go to Decathlon today as Ben needed one of the those 'Skins' tops to go under his football gear as he's got a match this week and will freeze his nads off if it's cold and wet. While we were there we looked at the price of the Decathlon branded cricket gear and what kind of fit it was and it turns out that it's ideal. The tops are going to be around 10 quid each and the trousers a similar price and what we might do is hold off buying them until Christmas and possibly have them as a Christmas present option?

Joe also got a bat and little ball for indoor practice, so now Joe's got a half decent bat - see the images - it's a Woodworm bat and it was only 10 quid! What I may do is get some more of the pads and gloves for Ben as his stuff is possibly getting too small for him and again another option for Christmas presents.


No practice today - I'm giving my shoulder a rest. I may do some Terra Band exercises later, but I'm not over fussed as I feel a bit rough so I may be coming down with a cold or something?
Later on I went over to the Valence Way field (Where we play cricket and I maintain a wicket in the summer) and did some football training with Ben. I had a wicket inspection and it looks dismal apart from the fact that the grass is greener where we look after it. At the moment it's a real mess - dents and scrapes and stud marks all over the shop - quite distressing. While I was over there it allowed me to have a look at where I'd be able to stash up the roller when I eventually get it over there. In the furthest corner of the field there's a big hole in the fence and it looks as though the roller will fit through the hole, so once I've done the rolling I'd be able to push it out of the field and badge it up in the woods and chain it to a tree. But all that's quite some time off for the moment.
Once back home I thought I'd give Joe's little practice ball a try outside up against a wall - it works well indoors but as we live in a little house there's not a lot of scope for batting indoors against a wall so outside's an obvious solution. I've been looking for a ball to use against a wall as a way of practicing my batting and as yet haven't come across one with the right amount of bounce. The other problem is the wall near my house is only about 4' high anyway and it's difficult to keep the ball from going over the top. This ball was okay but still needs a little more bounce. I then remembered that we had the insides of a G&M plastic kids ball and that this had some bounce so I tried that and it was pretty good. It bounces off the wall pretty fast with loads of variation in height and speed. It looks as though if you had a bigger wall and was able to stand further back it might work really well. As it was it seemed to be okay and it looked as though as a training technique e.g. keeping the ball down and focusing on getting the foot to the ball and my head over the ball it was almost ideal. You've got to realise I have virtually no opportunities to ever practice batting and if I'm lucky I get two sessions in the nets each year because of my job commitments as a lecturer. So today in just 20 minutes or so I probably did more batting than I've ever done! I reckon if I could find a half decent flat wall (and as I write I know exactly where I can do this in one location - the school where my kids go swimming) my batting might actually improve? So now I'm on the look out for a wall where I can do this. An ideal place would be in a sports hall, but that would then cost - but I might look into doing this as the blokes at work want to do nets and if it's not too expensive I might go for it. Also my Father in Law is a school care taker and his school might have somewhere I could do this as well - a wall somewhere?
Utilisation of redundant space
This is a theme I love - an unused football pitch laying redundant through the summer - what's my solution - get a lawnmower and a roller and cut and maintain a wicket! So today after my session with a ball against the wall as a batting exercise I got on windows live maps and looked all round my town for a parking lot or somewhere similar that had a wall to bat up against. I had a few ideas and ideally it would be somewhere that sports are already played just so that I don't look like the town freak, not that I'm that bothered what people think, but I can live without the Old Bill or some dumb security bloke telling me that I can do this or that on thier land etc. But anyway, I went and bought my train ticket for tomorrow and parked up in the town centre in a car park that's situated in the middle of a roundabout almost and walking back I went under the underpass that allows you to cross the road. These underpasses are rarely used and they're a bit dodgy and if your were faint hearted you'd probably walk across the road rather than use the underpass, but I thought it might have potential and sure enough it did. Both ends of the rather wide tunnel had smooth walls at right angles to the tunnel so ideal for the batting and a stop wall behind you if you miss the ball. Then thinking about it more there's another tunnel over at Glouscester Park which might be even more under-used and is lit better? So these tunnels are potentially good places to have a practice and they're dry, so I may have a look in a few days time and see how frequently they're used and if I can get away with having a practice in them at night. Other than that I've found some other places but they're not so enclosed and a lot more time would be spent retrieving balls that you'd missed.
If you're interested by this concept and theme have a look at these images by a Spanish Photographer Xavier Ribas. I love this blokes work http://www.xavierribas.com/Contents/Barcelona/Barcelona.html

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another session with the Basildon & Pitsea Cricket Club under 11 colts. Joe as you can see (He's the one in blue) came this week and even though he kind of looked a bit detatched from the proceedings, he was there and he did okay. But it was obvious that just missing one week had an impact on his progression.

We did try and get there a bit early as some of the other boys do get there early and have a bit of a knock about before the session starts and I reckon this will be good to get them integrated into the group as they play together on thier terms, so I'll have to make more of a concerted effort to get there early for the next session.

Unfortunately the next session isn't going to be for three weeks as the coming 2 weeks the club has got to give up the hall while exams take place and the next session will be Dec 6th.

I paid our dues and was pleased that they've charged us on the basis that you pay per family so it was five quid for the two of them - which was nice.

There was a better turn out this week with 15 kids, some of the kids that were absent last week were back again. Two blokes this week - Neil and some other bloke. First off as a warm up they got them to run round the perimeter of the hall and, doing things like turning and running backwards for short periods and the whilst running stooping down as if to pick up a ball whilst running alternating between hands.

The next exercise they did was stand either side of the hall and bowl to their partners. The instructors seemed to be looking at basic arm action and the grip for a seam up bowler so they got poor old Joe right out of his comfort zone bowling like a fast bowler, but he followed the instructions and was still bowling a good line and length. Ben similarly was doing ok, but the kid he was partnered with seemed to be easily distracted and took the instructions to the word. So where the bloke said bowl 10 back and forth this kid did and then as soon as the 10 was up he stopped and then turned round to a basket ball hoop and start throwing the ball into the hoop while Ben was at the other end doing nothing. Ben did eventually call out to the kid 'Throw it back' but the kid just ignored him. I did notice though that both Ben and Joe weren't following through using that step over action very much. I think Ben was slightly better and it may have been due to the fact that they were doing standing start bowling. But Joe's bowling action and line was very good - just needs that step over aspect looked at?

Next the instructors showed them how to catch low balls - fingers pointed downwards and bringing the hands into the body as you catch it to absorb the power of the ball. The initially did throwing back to each other across about 20' trying to put this into action. Then they extended the distance and did that. They had 2 sets of kids along either side of the hall and then got them to throw the ball to the person diagonally opposite to them and then introduced another ball further down the line and then another forcing them to be aware that another ball would need to either caught or thrown at any time as they worked along the line.

The next was a variation of last weeks chase and pick up exercise. The boys split into 2 groups . The instructor behind the stumps threw the ball up the hall and the boys 1 at a time chased after it and picked it up as per last week. They then had to throw it back to the instructor/wicket keeper without forcing him to move. If they didn't collect in the correct manner they didn't gain any points. In order to get points they need to gather and throw the ball back to the wicket keeper in the correct manner. Each team one a round each and then on the 3rd round the decider - the kids were so determined to win they were making sure they were turning inwards - the correct way and Ben's team after a ropey start - every kid in the team did and they won.

They then played kwik cricket which was fast and frenetic and a great leveller because even the good kids struggle to be any good at it. Then finally possibly because a load of the kids were moaning about playing Kwik they played a quick game of conventional cricket. Unfortunately I didn't get the call up, but there was another geezer there that did and he looked quite handy with the bat. They played 15 minutes each team.

Both Ben and Joe bowled okay. Ben's over was good he took a wicket one of the fielders caught a ball out at short mid wicket and he had a run out. I'm not sure if run outs are credited to the bowler - I've got a feeling they're not? But his over he only conceded 1 run. Joe on the other hand was quite economic and had one ball that looped up and should have been caught by the slips fielder or the wicket keeper but both of them were too deep. Joe batted well with his front foot drives and twice I heard the instructors commend him for good batting. I reckon that's in part down to the work I did with Joe a couple of weeks ago indoors and then the follow up with the drills at the colts session 2 weeks ago.



As they all packed up one of kids got an award for best performance of the season amongst the colts, but I'm not sure what exactly for? As we all packed up the other trainer came over and asked whether they had all the kit for nets, as they'll be in the nets on Dec 6th and he wants them all in pads and gloves with thier boxes, so that sounds good - sounds like they may be using either a real ball or perhaps a bowling machine?



In the afternoon prior to swimming we went to Sports Direct and bought some pads and gloves for Joe and got quite a bargain I felt, the only thing is the gear looks so much better than Ben's old Duncan Fearnley gear and now Ben wants some new gear. So in the short term they've both got the gear and a helmet to share. The bloke didn't say anything about needing helmets?

Practice session

Normally while the boys are swimming I usually go out into the schools playground and throw the ball around but this time I drove over to the Basket Ball court that I have my night practice in. Took the camera as you can see and photographed it (fig 1) and seeing it daylight I realised that it made more sense to bowl slightly diagonal using the line you can see here in front of the stumps. The reason is that once I'd set up my cone for the stumps at this end I realised that I could extend my run up by using the goal mouth see fig 3 (looking from the stump end). Standing at the bowling end I was
going to place a bag as a spot for bowling onto and then I noticed that along the yellow line I was bowling onto there was already some marks - see fig 02, I've placed the balls on them. The ball closest to the stumps is just about an arm and bats length if your standing on the point where the crease is. So I then aimed to bowl anywhere in between the 2 marks on the line. If I got it there I was happy.


So the bowling - As per my plans the objective was to bowl Leg breaks and straight from the outset it was the emphasis on the 3rd ring finger, with a big gap between that finger and the 2 up fingers. The first ball spun away to slips really well and again it was pretty much the same kind of story as the session last night. Ball after ball spinning in the right kind of manner. The line was sometimes a bit iffy with the ball drifting down the Leg Side. So again loads of reasons to be pleased, but I then started to muck about with what works and again like the last time it all went to pieces. I went back to the more

orthodox way and that worked again. I think the issue at the moment is that it just feels very different to to how I've been bowling for over a year and it's going to take some time for it to feel natural - it's that unlearning the googlie thing. Today I didn't go anywhere near a googlie and I just don't bowl them, but the Leg Break doesn't feel natural, it's that sense that the Leg Break is my main ball that I've got to attain and it still feels a long way off. But things look promising.

The thing is if I reflect on what I'm doing (and the new Canon G9 http://www.buyacamera.co.uk/xsearch.asp?RecId=CANCA310&pt=f will be a real asset once I've got it, as I'll be able to position it in the position fig 4 which looks along the yellow line as seem clearly in fig 2 & 3) I am able to pitch the ball onto the line between the two balls seen on the line and get it to turn. When it turns the ball deviates and generally hits the Green post that you can see to the left of the stumps in Fig 4. So really - considering 2 months ago when I was trying to bowl Leg Breaks they were ending up in the equivalent position the otherside of the stumps. So I have come a long way and I've got to convince myself that what I'm currently doing is enough and that I should just focus on getting it


consistent and on a good line and length.

I also noticed that if there's a dry spell the grass behind the court in fig 2 is pretty flat and taking the stumps over there and bowling on grass might be an option as well using the plastic hockey balls - just to see how much spin I get on grass with a ball that has no seam? Besides I just like bowling on grass.

The balls I ordered from http://www.newitts.com/ are pretty good. At the minute they're a bit smooth and I don't get a lot of grip on them, so I may just go and rough up a bit of the ball where that ring finger goes and see if that gives me better results?