Sunday, June 29, 2008

MPA 1st XI call to arms

On Facebook tonight I had a challenge from "Boffa" he's my Tilbury mate from back in the day that came along and helped us out at least twice back in the MPA 1st XI days. He's got all my old Tilbury mates together and they've knocked up a team and have thrown down a challenge to play us. But we no longer exist and some of our number are on world tours not due back till late August (Badger and Alex). Personally I don't mind holding out till Sept some time and playing then after everyone has had their holidays? But as for who might still be around for a game - that's going to take some sorting. I reckon too that if it was to happen it would more than likely be at either Langdon Hills Rec or Gloucester Park?

Simon Grainge - Up for it

Thomas Slater - Up for it - but work commitments may be a problem

Nakul Handa - Up for it but now lives in London

Suhail - Up for it - but work commitments may be a problem

Rod "The OZ" - Don't know?

Badger - Up for it after Sept

Alex - Up for it after Sept

Chris - Don't Know

Alex - Don't know

Jack - Don't know

Richard Sainsbury - Up for it - probably ok


There's other people we could call upon - I know Neil at G&CCC has said he'd play on our side and another option is that the Tilbury Boys would play us at G&CCC or on some neutral ground. It's an idea and I'm kind of looking forward to bowling against some of my old mates - especially Boffa!

Valence Way Wicket news - no play on it as yet and it's drying out nicely. Hopefully the rest of the field will be cut tomorrow or some time in the week. I've bowled on it and it's nice and bouncy. Seems fairly even and flat as well. Here's the latest picture shot this evening.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Valance way cricket pitch is ready!

As I said last night in the blog - later in the day and into dusk and under the cover of darkness I kept cutting trying to get the pitch ready over the weekend. This morning in the light I had another look and then thought "Sod it - let's do this thing"! It was a lovely day and the grass was dry and easily cut. So over a couple of sessions starting at 10.30 this morning (The first image) I cut the final bit. After lunch my two boys and one of the "Valance way" cricket boys put the finishing touches to it - raking away the excess grass and then getting the mower on it and giving it it's first mowing. There's a few weeds and I may even consider getting some weed killer and getting rid of the weeds as they cause lumps in the surface and grow very rapidly. The surface itself is quite rough and lumpy, but I went over it a bit with the shears this evening and it's the grass that causes most of the lumpiness. Once it's cut very close to the earth it's not too bad. So that's it - done. I just hope the groundsman keeps the rest of the field relatively short. As I said he did make a start on it on Friday, so hopefully some time next week he'll come back and do the rest and not be too bothered by the fact that I've cut a wicket!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pitch progress #4

Made some good progress tonight, even considered finishing it off which would have probably taken an hour. If it doesn't rain tomorrow the chances are that the groundsman will cut the rest of the grass tomorrow morning which will reduce the amount of grass I need to cut and make the job easier. As promised I went out this evening before I did anymore cutting and did a few shots of the field -

The top two views are looking into the corner of the field where the practice wicket is. The practice wicket being in that far corner. If you look at the practice wicket image at the bottom this is the view looking the other way. I'd have been taking the top 2 images from a position nearer the red container.

You can see the progress made so far up to the point when I took the pictures, but tonight I made a massive effort to cut a lot more than previous sessions and I reckon I must have around 1/3 rd of the whole 17 yards to still cut. I would imagine that by Monday night maybe sooner it will have all been cut and I'll have had the mower on it and cut it evenly. I'm thinking that what I'll then do is not play on it till it recovers a bit and once it's recovered give it another mow and then perhaps a week later we'll start to use it? We'll see what happens.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pitch progress #3

I knew that it would start to rain tonight at some point and the weather indicates that it may do so for the next few days so I thought that tonight may be the last chance to do some cutting. I'd also noticed that the shape of the rectangle was looking as though it was going to be a bit skewed, so tonight under the cover of darkness I stuck 2 posts in and tied a bit of string along the length and cut a thin band 12" wide from end to end so the two sqaures at each end now are joined on one side. So in future I'll now cut from end to end working across the width. Once I've got enough width to get the mower in there that may help a bit as well. So after tonights clandestine cutting we're at this stage......

Pitch progress #2

Cut some more this evening at both ends and also cut the previously cut with shears sections with the mower, so it's shaping up. Another boy was added to the potential cricket team - a slightly older lad about 12. Some of the younger lads look like they're really getting into it and appear to have been practicing! Currently we're up to 9 boys and me and if can get another 3 we can have a full fielding team and 2 batting! I can then start to teach them their fielding positions (Which'll be useful as it means I'll have to learn them as I go along)!

They'll have to have a name soon at this rate! I suppose it follows that they're called "MPA 2nd XI"? Or maybe Great Berry Boys 1st XI after the boys club that uses the boxing facilities and football pitch in the winter!

The groundsman had also started to cut the field again today and he's been all round the outsides so far, so maybe if it doesn't rain over-night the field will have been cut all over which will enable me to cut it quicker perhaps?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pitch progress

Cut some more pitch tonight and I've probably done 3 yards of the 17 required, I'll try and take some pictures soon before it becomes too obvious as to what it is. At the moment it looks quite intruiging as a photograph and people have commented regarding previous pictures I've got on my facebook page that have no explanation as to what the weird short bits of grass are in the middle of a field. No cricket in any form tonight other than watching the Kiwis beat us by a 1 run on channel 5's highlight program.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kids cricket

Blimey, I get home from work chuck some tucker down my neck and I've got 8 boys clamouring for a game of cricket! Can't be bad! With me that's nine of us, so they went ahead while I had a cup of tea and I caught up with them as they were all arguing about who was going to bat and who was going to bowl - mayhem. Anyway getting the little kids to bat first and the bigger kids to bowl first seemed to work okay - the bigger kids bowling sensibly in view of the fact that the little kids were batting.

What with the bowling being a bit ropey it meant that whoever was batting was probably in a bit too long to keep some of the other kids involved. Similarly with the bowling - some of the kids are so much better than others that they then start to get on the case of the weaker bowlers and then it all starts to go a bit pear shaped. My own son Ben who in these situations (The 9 year old) bats quite well and bowls well too was dismissed easily and was then getting bored with the fielding. He missed 2 dead easy catching opportunities that went straight to him - high floaty balls simply because he'd sat down. If he'd caught either - his 2nd batting opportunity needless to say would have come round a lot sooner. I pointed this out to him and he seemed to grasp that this was true, so maybe he'll take more notice.

It's fairly tricky this lark - all these boys seem to be up for it, but I've got to be careful not to allow any of them to feel excluded or hard done by. In a smaller group they were getting to bat a lot more frequently but it wasn't really working at the fielding level. None of them get the importance of fielding and obviously fail to concentrate on the task at hand. So somehow I need to adapt the games to either rotate all the roles more quickly. Perhaps what I should do is rotate the batting so that each batter only faces 1 over and has to score as many runs off his over as possible? But that's problematic in that if the Bat has to face a bowler who's crap he's going to be whinging about that - saying he's at a disadvantage to those that face straighter/better bowlers. But then I can't penalise the crap bowlers because they need the practice!

Blimey what a can of worms - what have I got myself into! And all the time I've got the prospect of some thug in a West Ham shirt strolling across the field one day and punching my lights out because I'm cutting his grass and using his football field for encouraging boys to play a "Noncey game like Cricket"!

Wicket cutting news......

I've probably cut 1.5 yards of the 17 yards required so far and I did some tonight and may go back and do some more in a minute! The practice wicket is looking very worn now - so that punch on the nose looks more justified!

Count - 829.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I just can't help myself.........

Today thinking about the potential over the summer for all of the local kids on my estate that go to my sons school just down the road to all suddenly get involved in playing cricket this summer, I've realised I need to get this moving along a bit. "local field" as I refer to it is on the edge of our estate 150 yards from my house. It's primarily a football field with an old tin hut at one end that is also a Boxing gym. The gym seems to get used 2 or 3 times a week in the evenings and football is played on the field in the winter, but last year there was hardly any football played at all. Last summer the people who look after the field let the grass grow to a height of about 1.5 feet, this year despite the lack of football they've been cutting the grass frequently. The area that we use is over in the far corner probably on one of the corners of the goal area diagonal running towards the corner of the pitch.

What with the increase in kids joining in this year and the potential for a fair gang of them to get involved and my older son now showing a readiness to hit the ball, it looks like we need to let our practice wicket recover and look at moving to the centre of the field and prepare a wicket there. So tonight I looked at a couple of possibilities locally - one more long term and the other the "Local field". I've measured local field tonight and it's a long oval shape 50 yards from each set of stumps running along the wicket - so the entire length is about 117 yards long by 70 yards wide. So we could play with a 35 yard boundary all round.

Not being able to contain myself at the prospect of preparing this field I've already been over there at dusk and marked out the length and width by cutting the first few feet at either end. So at the moment the state of preparation is thus...


(A) is the position of the practice wicket currently where I do a lot of my bowling practice and (B) is the proposed position of the new 17 yard wicket for the kids in the summer. The 2 dark green patches are the extent of the cutting that I've done so far just in order to establish where the ends of the track are.

From the car park the practice wicket is not that visible. The only people that would ever know it's there would be the groundsman and the boxers as they often run round the field as a part of their training. But plonking a cricket wicket smack bang in the middle of their field may get their backs up a bit. I've checked out their website and the people that lease the land seem to be egalitarian in that they're a voluntary organisation with a constitution and aims which are basically to enhance the fitness and minds of boys between the ages of 6 and 16 through boxing and football. I wonder where cricket would fit into their plans? I was tempted to contact them through their website and ask if they minded that I cut their grass and got the local kids playing cricket - but I'm sceptical as to how egalitarian they really are as I've seen them over there in the winter on the edges of the football picthes and they all looked a bit "Red in the neck". None of them looked like Guardian or Telegraph readers and I'd guess that if they were to catch me red handed cutting their pitch they'd not be that polite in asking me to refrain from doing so.

But needless to say I will continue - watch this space.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I haven't made that many entries of late because I've just been trying to practice the spot bowling. I've been out every evening and probably managed to bowl between 75-100 balls each time. It's difficult to assess how good it's going and I'm beginning to think that I'm getting into a rut where I'm not going forward with it that much and I may give it a break for a couple of days before returning to it again. I've noticed that I've changed my run-up slightly and it may be for the better. I can also now probably switch to bowling faster and I've been working on delivering the ball on a higher trajectory above the bats eye-line. The amount of spin differs from day to day and the Gipper ball has morphed into something that is usable but is far less radical than when I first come up with the idea, but on the odd occasion it does spin and turn like a big leg break. I'm still sticking with the training regime of alternate offspin (Wrong un) and leg-spin (Gipper).

Additionally I've resumed exercising my shoulders - rotational press ups, pull ups on a bar and stretching those bands behind the head. Whether this is all going to make a difference in a game situation I'm reserving judgement. I think that I need to be more aware of what the bat is trying to do in future and try and force the bat to produce certain shots. Another Sunday yet to come without a game and my first game will be an away match in July if I get the call up for it? That's a lot of practice still to come.

Ben and Joe news.

I've now cut the grass on the local field to create a 17 yard wicket so that my boys can play and bit by bit more of the local kids are getting involved and there's real potential for the summer holidays for a fair crowd of kids to get involved and maybe even play with several fielders, a bowler, 2 bats and a wicket keeper? Some of the kids that have joined in have never picked up a bat in their lives and most of them have no idea about the neccessity to have a straight arm to bowl. One or two at the minute just can't do it but some of the others including kids who's Dads never do anything with them and seemingly never get any praise for anything in thier lives are bowling really well and you can see they're well chuffed when you say to them "Well done mate - really good bowling". So every night now I have a gang of boys from about 6 through to 13 years old knocking on my door asking "Are Ben and Joe going over the field to play cricket"? It's brilliant! I don't feel like such a mental case now for rolling the field under the cover of darkness in the middle of the winter and taking my shears and lawn-mower over there and cutting the grass!

The added bonus is that both my boys are gradually getting better and they love it because they're obviously the better players what with having been doing it some time now (reluctantly on occassions). Tonight at the end of the game I swapped the windball for a 41/4 oz cricket ball and got my older son to bat against that and he hit every ball and seemed to appreciate the increased ping off the bat and the fact that it went further. There's another little kid about 7 who can throw down balls and hit the stumps from a good distance who's also looking promising as a wicket keeper, so it's looking good for the summer holidays.

The wicket itself is wearing out and is becoming bare earth now around where the bats stand and it's pretty even. God knows what the groundsman makes of it when he comes and cuts the grass, I don't know what they'd say if they turned up and we were all there playing?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

18th June

Just watched the news, they reckon a 40% increase in utility bills over the next 6 months. That is not good! That is going to impact on our living massively coupled with the increases in food, diesel and utility bills recently.

Anyway in the short term a bit of practice and the possibility of a match this Friday at the college. Our college's sports dept are going to play SEEVIC's sports dept at Welstead Gardens in a 20/20 match and I may get the call up to play?

Bowled 50 or so balls tonight, did okay using the alternating Gipper and Wrong Un thing. It went okay, I was trying to bowl into the tyre and get the ball flighting above the eye-line with the Wrong uns, didn't do too bad. The Gipper is still very inconsistent, sometimes it turns other times it just skids in low like a normall Flipper. Initially I threw a few wide balls, but then got into the swing of things and was getting it to just miss off stump with the straight ones. It's a lot different to the Wrong Uns so I'll keep practicing with it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Practice on local field

Tonight I went over to Local Field and started to put into practice the new objectives -

  • Bowl faster (use a run up).
  • Flight the ball - spin it up above the eye line.
  • Spot bowling (I'm using a 20" innertube).
  • Bowl alternate Gipper-Wrong Un- Top spinner and Doosra.

I may change my mind on the Doosra as it involves a particularly vicious flick which is wearing on the muscles and joints? The first impression was that all of this looks pretty attainable - I think one of the issues that I have is judging the distance in front of the batsman as to where I need to pitch the ball. It's easy bowling into a tyre because it's so visible, take the tyre away and it's a lot more trickier. The other issue is the concentration factor - one of the things I've adopted recently is the awareness of the need to have the leading arm high at the point of starting the rotation, but I have to concentrate on doing this, which means concentration then lacks elsewhere in the short term until this becomes second nature. I'm now thinking in terms of - if the batsman adapts to my bowling in that he adopts the tactic of not trying to go for the short balls and instead steps back and hits it off the back foot, do I then need to bowl it a lot fuller and faster? This is where the Gipper would be good I reckon, but it requires that I'm aware that this is happening and adapt to it - I don't think I'm up to it yet?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Grays and Chadwell Vs Runwell commoners

The only contact I'd had from Neil aka 'Sammers' was a text that said "Swimming Pool at 12.30" so that kind of implied that it wasn't necessarily going to be a home match. It turned out that there was going to be three games (I think) and for some reason they were going to mix the 1st team blokes with the 2nds and 3rds and so on. I ended up in a team which was pretty much the usual 2nd team with the addition of "Cat" one of the first team blokes. Sorry Cat if you're reading this - I still don't know your real name!

The Wizard was there - first time I'd seen him in ages and I spoke to him briefly before we all headed off to our respective games, he seemed a bit peeved saying that he hadn't played for three weeks, but not saying why?

Once the teams had all be selected we all shot off and I'd been given a game near where I live in Basildon at "Lake Meadows", Billericay. WKF Rating 7.5

View Larger Map

Which is just up the road, so close in fact I rang Michelle who needless to say had the hump about me playing today and suggested I pick them up on the way through and they could hang out at Lake Meadows for the day or watch me play some cricket. She asked the kids and the answer was that one was saying yes (Joe I'd imagine) and the other saying no. Eventually they said no. So that was that. 'Cat' the first team player was looking for a lift so I drove over to Billericay with him, boring him to tears with my story of how I got into cricket and fishing for clues as to how I can encourage my boys to get involved - but his entry into cricket was self motivated and happened around the time he was 14 so didn't give me any ideas.

Eventually got there and was surprised to find a pretty nice looking pitch and again like the other Basildon Council Cricket pitches quite well maintained - so well done Basildon Council and good use of our Council Tax - Cheers! Unfortunately I didn't take the camera which is a real shame because it looked like a real traditional cricket ground with the exception of the pavillion which was a bit 70's, but the field was nice surrounded by biggish Oak trees and other types.

Initially it didn't look as though there was going to be any opposition because there was just us and the green keeper, but eventually they turned up and they looked better than last weeks mob e.g. there were some old blokes and a few kids rather than 11 athletic youths as per last week.

I don't know who won the toss, but it sounded like they did and they put us in to bat. Neil asked me if I wanted to bat at 10 or 11 and I opted for 10 with him following my Duck no doubt, whereas if it was the other way round I'd never have got to bat? So out we all went to do battle in a 40 overs match.

If you're reading this and you're one of those blokes that's got an autistic fixation with cricket statistics and scores you're on the wrong blog. But if you want the real figures check out in a few days time if you're looking at this on the 16th June and you'll find a break down of the results/scores. In taking down notes for the blog I don't get the stats sorted and just aim to give a general feel of what happens.

So for the match report in order of appearance today with vague details of what happened -

The day was lovely and warm - a shirts off day with sunshine and blue skies with the occassional cloud. John and Nick Buckley to open (Father and Son respectively). A slow start with only 11 runs all made by Nick off of the first four overs. Apparently last year we beat this team and at this point no-one seemed at all bothered by the run rate and Neil was saying that Nick should be good for a 50 at some point soon as he was due one. More or less as soon as he's said that Nick then hits a ball out to square leg and the fielder fumbles it and drops it. The bowling at this point is in the hands of Oakes Snr and a young bloke - Williams and it's pretty neat and tidy seam bowling. Oakes Snr gets himself a maiden for the 5th over and eventually John Buckley gets some runs in the 6th over as the ball glances off his hand and flies off through slips into the outfield. 7th Over and Oakes Snr stamps his authority on the game with another maiden.

Eventually around the 8th over Nick Buckley batting from the "Tree end" glances a ball out towards backward square leg and gets 2 runs. The very next ball Williams bowls him top of of stump. Next player up to join John is "Cat" of the 1st XI. His innings starts off with a single and we're subjected to some athletic fielding by the oppositions younger players as the try and hold the Cat down.

Out on the boundary Neil reckons "Swiss Tony" AKA Danny Groves will get himself a 50 today with his new £25 bat that he's bought off a mate. Neils already offered him £50 for it but Danny's not up for selling it. In the meantime Chris Buckley and the outed Nephew Nick have been round the pitch to have a look and they reckon the bowlers are getting the ball to swing in the air a bit. In the meantime Cat is now hitting 4's off Oakes Snr. In the 12th over John actually gets his bat on the ball and goes for a sprint and it's fielded really quickly and has to return to his crease and only just makes it as we all sit there thinking he hadn't made it. Cat hits a couple of fours straight down the pitch past the bowler to long on where there's no-one fielding. Then Cat hits a couple they get twos off of by hitting lofty balls over the top of the fielder at Mid wicket. Eventually in his 20th over (obviously feeling settled) John hits a 4 from the pavillion end out to Long Off bring his total up to 15 having scored 6 in the 20th over. By the 24th over Cat has made his 50 and John is eventually bowled in the same over going for a big sweeping hit having scored 16 runs total. As he comes off the pitch to the derision of Neil et al -
"That was crap"!
"That wasn't even good enough to be called crap"! John comes back with. He then says seeing me taking notes "I hope you don't mention that in the Blog"! Thing is, I wouldn't have done until he mentioned it!

Next man in is 14 year old (Almost 15) Lee Downes, who generally plays with a really positive approach and gets the run rate up. Lee starts with a good positive attitude hitting the ball and looking confident in the 25th over he hits a 4 from the pavillion end out to cover point. By the 26th over we're on 126 so we're round about our usual run rate, so it's looking a lot better now with Cat and Lee in the centre. Neil's positive too looking for Lee to go on and score a 50 "Lee will score 50 if keeps playing like this".......

Cat is next to go bowled clean with the bails flying off all over the shop and stumps well and truly parted he leaves the field having scored 72. "Swiss Tony" makes his way on to the pitch with his £25.00 bat looking to make a big impact batting from the Tree end. The 2nd ball off of Oakes Jnr he hits nicely right out of the centre of the bat with the ball zinging down the ground like an exocet missile down to long on only to hit the ground just short of the boundary - it's looking pretty good! Neil says "Danny's been talking a good game out here - lets see him do it"! The 3rd ball he does pretty much the same thing again. His 3rd ball hits the edge of his bat and flies up into the sky heading off towards Mid on hanging in the air for an absolute age. The wicket keeper goes after it, mid on is after it along with Deep mid on and they all miss, the nearest still being 8' short of where it lands! On his 5th ball he's bowled and Neil makes the comment "Why does he pay £10 to go out and bat like that - that's just cost him £1.11 a run - that's what you call irresponsible batting"!

Fozzy's up next he's a bloke my age and he bats pretty well, I think I saw him bat a few 50's last year and he might have hit a 100 in one game? Next to go in is 13 year old Rhys as Chris Buckley gives up his place in the order to give Rhys a bat. In the meantime Fozzy gets to work along with Lee and we're 133 off of 28 overs. In the 30th over Lee hits a lofty shot out towards Long Off and is caught at deep mid off. Little Rhys makes his way out and is dispatched within a couple of balls bowled cleanly having made no runs at all and I get the nod to pad up as Chris Buckley makes his way out to the centre. While I'm getting padded up Fozzy's innings are cut short and his son Ross makes his way out to the crease to join Chris Buckers. Within a matter of seconds Ross is bowled clean too having made no runs? And it's my turn to repeat last weeks pile of crap. Having done what I did last week, this week I kept that in mind and was again optimistic and was hoping to stay for at least an over? So concentrating on not stepping out of my wicket I set about at least staying there a while. Fortunately the bowler was fairly crap and kept bowling wides down the off side so to counteract that he bowled over the wicket instead and I managed to hit one down to long on and scored my first 4!!!! I then defended a couple off the other bowler and hit another where we were able to score a couple of runs. Then in my 3rd over the wide bloke bowled me clean coming over the wicket again. But at 6 runs that is now my record for Grays and Chadwell.

Sammers makes his way out as the last man in at 143 at 36 overs. Taking my pads off and taking notes I didn't manage to keep an eye on what was going on till the last over when everyone was clamouring for a final flourish from the last two. So into the last over with Sammers on strike. First ball is a yorker that Neil stops dead almost under his bats toe. The second ball Neil dispatches with aplomb for a 4 down to Long On. The 3rd ball the same as the 2nd and finally with the 4th ball the match is finished with Neil being bowled. 176 all out. Having no idea what these blokes are like with the bat 176 didn't sound that good to me - with a split of 50/50 between a bunch of old blokes which means potentially they've got experience on their side and the other half being young blokes and memories still fresh from last week I wasn't that confident that we'd have it easy.

The teas were nice - salmon and cucumber, Cheese and onion, Ham, Cheese and tomato sandwhiches. Fruit including strawberries and grapes and some other posh looking fruit like melon or mango - after all it is Billericay and it's north of the A127 and I'm from Tilbury! It looked posh to me! Why have you got to have all that poncy stuff when there's oranges, strawberries, raspberries and 80 or so different varieties of English Apples and we're mincing around with bloody mangoes!!! I don't know! Anyway - a lovely cup of tea, pork pies, quiche and a rich chocolate cake it all went down very well.

So out onto the pitch with the prospect of a few more overs than normal as we were short on bowlers. The bowling line up looked like Neil and Ross bowling wrist spin along with me trying to do the same and little 2'9" 13 year old Rhys/Rees our single pace bowler. Ross and Neil were to open and they got on well with the job taking wickets pretty early on, I think Rhys/Rees took the first few (You'll have to check the stats on the link further up the page). Neil had them on their toes with his off spin and he was looking to get two wickets to bring his seasons total up to 25 (It's obvious I've got s**t loads to learn at this game)! Next up was Ross Fulbrook again a young'un - probably 13 or 14 years old but normally bowls a pretty mean and consistent RH leg break. But he's a bit sensitive and moody and takes it to heart when things go a bit tits up. Earlier I'd seen him bowling short balls to Rhys/Rees and they were turning but it seems that sometime in the last few weeks he'd had a good innings with the bat and racked up his highest run score in a match and today he'd gone out there full of confidence expecting to stamp his authority on the match and went for a duck. It seems he didn't take it well. With his confidence shot he was now giving it "I'm s**t at batting and I can't bowl either" as he took to the track as one of our key bowlers. In that state of mind it wasn't surprising that he then went to pieces in comparison with his usual performance and it was down hill all the way it seemed with him getting more and more frustrated. Everyone was trying to buoy him up with positive comments but he got hit over the boundary for some fours and a couple of sixes later on just prior to Sammers changing his strategy.

The fielding was okay. Lee was having a bit of a duff game with some dives that were well short of his target with everyone taking the mick. Cat was fielding at Mid wicket (I think) and he had a ball go straight at him at a normally easily caught speed and height and he dropped it early in their innings and everyone took the mick out of him as well what with being in the first team. Maybe his name 'Cat' has something to do with him having cat-like reactions and agility? If so it wasn't on show today. Rees/Rhys got a few wickets and Neil had a similar number if not more? I bowled better than normal producing some balls that turned (off-spin) quite nicely causing the batsmen to comment. One nice one that pitched well outside off stump spun off just missing the top of leg stump having passed right across the front of the batsman. Some of the overs I was getting the line and length right and Neil was encouraging as usual as was Cat. I even bowled a maiden over and again I think that was a first for me. The fielders all done pretty well stopping some of the big hits from going for fours, but nothing was in the air particularly.

Neil was trying to coach me, suggesting different things I should be doing - primarily the length I was bowling. Too many times I was bowling so short so that the batsmen could just step back and have time to line up the shot and hit it miles. Looking back I kind of get what I should have been trying to do, but I think I need to have it explained in a practice situation - I'm the sort learner that needs to have it very clearly set out what I should be doing - more a visual learner than an auditory learner, so to have the thing explained in verbal terms doesn't quite do it in the same way as visual teaching does. I recalled that an Asian bloke over at Gloucester Park explained where I should be bowling the ball - what he basically demonstrated was irrespective of where the stumps are, you bowl to a zone in front of the batsman and he stretched out his bat and drew an arc round himself saying "That's where you want to be bowling - not any pre-determined length a flexible length just short of the batsman so that you tempt him to come forward". I think this is what Neil was trying to say? He's offered to do one to one coaching and I reckon it'll be beneficial, but as yet it hasn't come together so that I can take his offer up. But I reckon it's what I need. He also said that when he's training the colts he puts a hankie down and gets them to spot bowl, so keeping that in mind what I'll try and do is spot bowl over the next few weeks and move the spot back and forth and see if I can contol the length affectively?

The only other gripe I had with myself was that I wasn't trying to spin the ball up and bowl it faster as I have been doing recently in practice. The spinning the ball up tactic became evident later on when Neil changed tactics and it does seem to be something that works. I was remembering to reach higher with my leading arm which seems to help and I was keeping the variations simple - Top Spinners and Wrong Uns. I did use two balls that were Gippers and the batsman did notice as they were straight and both just missed the leg stump but neither turned in, but they skidded low. So I think what I'll do is keep practicing them alongside the wrong uns alternating each ball but concentrating on the spot bowling as mentioned earlier.

So my practice agenda for the next 2 weeks whilst I'm not playing in matches is -

Gippers and Wrong uns. Spot bowling whilst trying to spin the ball up above the eye-level and increase the speed a bit.

I think as a learner of this speciality and this goes for the likes of Ross and the Wizard we're lucky I reckon in that the captain of the team is himself a wrist spin bowler? Because I can't imagine that any seam bowler who doubled up as the captain would have the patience and understanding that is required to allow us into the game to then watch us be smashed all over the park for 4's and 6's. I often feel the same applies for the all the blokes that don't bowl. It sometimes seems that we're doing okay with the seam bowlers they keeping the run rates down and it looks impressive - they look like they're affective simply by virtue of appearing to chuck the ball fast and hard. Whereas on I come and I start throwing balls that look as though a Granny could clobber for 4 with a handbag without wearing any pads! As Shane Warne says in this video clip at the end -

"You need to be best friends with the captain cos he's the one that's going to try and keep you on and you need a lot of love from everybody because it's hard and it can be embarrasing sometimes. You also need to have a bit of courage - no matter what's happening you've got to throw it up and getting hit for six sometimes can be fun - you might not like it, but no matter how far it goes you get another chance to bowl the next ball and it might be a different ball or what have you - so"?

I think it's either very good captain or a captain that bowls spin himself that would understand those sentiments properly. So cheers to everyone that has to endure the agony of watching us bowl 3 wides consecutively and still manages to come up with encouraging words the next time one is on target and flies over the boundary! Even Neil this week had an over where he threw a bunch of wides and full tosses, so it happens to all of us sometimes.

At which point at 32 overs and still quite some way off of a win Neil decides to go for a radical approach - bring on the secondary wave of bowlers -

Chris Buckley
John Buckley

And for the very final over - Lee.

Now this was really interesting from my point of view because apart from Lee I'd never seen any of these blokes bowl. Lee I'd seen bowl before and take wickets - he bowls slowish straight balls and I think gets the wickets on the basis of accuracy and the fact that the pace at which he bowls is unusual and catches out the batsman. I wish it was something I could incorporate into my bowling! First up was Chris. A couple of weeks ago I'd thrown balls back and forth with him on a wicket where I couldn't get it to turn, but he was bowling off spin that was deviating off it's line. I think his first over was okay, fairly tight keeping the run rate down. At this point they were about 35 - 40 runs behind so only needed around 5 runs off of each over, so Chris did okay. Then on came Fozzy from the tree end, I've never seen or heard of Fozzy bowling so wasn't surprised when he bowled that the ball took an arc that at it's highest point was around 20'! But the batsman was completely bamboozled by the delivery that he did nothing with it. The rest of the balls were pretty much the same and each time the batsman wasn't able to dispatch the ball in the way that it should have been (I think at this point they were both youngsters) allowing Fozzy to pull Ross's leg "See Ross - see what I mean - pitch it up and they can't do anything with it if it's above their eye-line"! Ross wasn't impressed - probably mortified that his old man was bowling pies. Then off of one of Fozzy's the bat hit one straight down Cats throat and Cat dived forward but it didn't carry "See they should have had me on earlier"! Shouted Fozzy. Ross managed a smile at this point. Fozzy continued and I think he may have been clobbered once or twice with one of them getting past me for a 4 and then Neil more or less put everyone out on the boundary. Suddenly the Runwell boys sensed a chance of victory with their team shouting encouragement from the boundary. I looked at the field placings and thought that if they were clever they'd change tactics and go for singles at this stage and just get the runs ticking over.

Cat came on and he bowled an over with his own unique style and again it was 50/50 some of it was affective and others were hit but everyone fielded okay and they were kept just short of the required run rate. The crowd at the pavillion were getting really animated now. Chris came back on for his 2nd over and went to pieces in comparison with his first over and the run rate went up and it looked like they were now in a position to win and their team were now reaching a frenzy on the boundary line. Then Chris bowled a ball from the pavillion end that went up and out to somewhere between mid wicket and Mid on and Fozzy was there with the sun on his back in a position to make a safe and easy catch, the ball floated out of the sky and safely into his hands as I've seen his do so many times.

The kid took the walk back and out strolled their white version of Inzimam ul Haq who'd been slow in the field and average with his bowling, so may have been a half decent batsman what with his age and potential experience? Suddenly it looked like we may have blown it. He stood with the younger bat in the centre talking for quite some while discussing what they were going to do, it was obvious that they sensed victory and from my perspective I was thinking that we were definitely on a knife edge, but realised that Neil was manufacturing the end of the game to be like this just to make it so much more lively and exciting.

The next few overs seemed to be a blur, I just remember the crowd on the boundary clapping and cheering every time they got a run or a four and suddenly the kid hit a six off of someone, one of the blokes I heard say that it was his first six, this was soon followed up by the kids hitting another 4 and then here we were looking at losing the game in the last over. Neil was shouting "Lets make it a draw - lets manufacture a draw - I've never had a draw before"? I don't think anyone else was sharing his sentiment. So into the last over and they needed something like 5 runs for a draw and 6 to win. "Come on Lee". Called Neil and poor Lee Downes was given the job of either winning the match for us or letting it slip - no pressure at all!!! Lee stepped up to the role without moaning or anything and got on with it. The crowd was shouting "Go all out for it! Don't hold back smash it"! Each ball that was bowled made contact with the bat as they swung at it trying to get it over the boundary and each time it either connected wrong or went straight to the fielders only allowing a single or a dot ball. It came down to the last ball and they were one behind us and Neil was still shouting "Come on make it a draw - I want it to be a draw"! Their mob were screaming and shouting at the kid who was on strike and had been hitting fours and his first six. Lee ran up to the crease swung his arm over and the ball flew down the pitch and the bat swung at it hard and the ball sneaked past into Nicks safe gloves (My gloves actually) and we'd won by one run.

As we walked off Neil said that was one of his best games ever in a friendly situation and I've got to say the way he engineered it at the end bringing on all the other blokes to bowl had injected some real fun into the game and turned what was going to be an easy win into something a bit special at the end. The opposition seemed okay with it and we're playing them again by the sounds of it in July, so that should be fun too as they'll no doubt be looking for a victory and we may not have Cat next time?

I'll take a camera next time and do some pictures as the pitch is quite a pretty little pitch.

Just as we were leaving one of the oppo's came in and said....
"There's a T-shirt out here someone's left behind, none of ours have claimed it, so it must be one of yours"? No-one answered.
"Who's lost a T-shirt"? One of ours re-asked. Still no answer. Swiss Tony then asked.
"What's it like - is there a label on it"?
"Yeah - it's white..... Primark Basics it says".
"Ha ha no **** is going to own up to that, you'd be better off losing the two quid it costs than owning up to that"!
"Yeah - actually that's mine" I said "I can't afford not to buy Primark stuff - so cheers"!

Here's a new feature Wife and Kids user friendly or a WKF rating. Based on a 1 to 10 rating - 10 being good 1 being bad on how user friendly is the cricket pitch and surrounding countryside if your wife and kids decide to join you for the 6 - 8 hours your there. The premise is they load up there bikes on a bike rack on the back of the car and have the flexibility to ride out and away from the pitch to go and look at other features and stuff nearby. Horton Kirby in Kent for instance was really good - 9. I reckon that Lake meadows with it's Lake, fields, trees, swimming pool and skatepark is a 7.5

The images used have been blagged off of the oppo's website -

So cheers you blokes, but if you have issues over copyright let me know and I'll remove the images and any other reference to your team!

After my dinner I went over local field with the mower and cut the wicket a bit more and it's now getting to the point where it's moving towards being a full on cricket pitch (Slightly narrower). I've also noticed that the grass seems to be growing a lot slower - possibly due to the weather being dryer?

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Tomorrow we play Margaretting at home which'll be the first time I'll have played at home this year and as usual I'm optimistic about how it'll go! We'll see in 24 hours the reality?

Tonight I took Joe and Ben over to "Local Field" it's the one that I'm cutting the grass on this year (as you can see in the image) and it's just across the road from where I live so it's my place of practice most of the time. Even with the kids around I managed to throw a few balls doing the alternating between off spin and leg spin. I did the same thing as last night I stuck the stumps into the wicket where the batsman would stand and tried to bowl in front of the position that he'd take up. Again it all seemed to make sense, I'm accurate and able to bowl whatever length I want and make the ball turn in from either side and hit the stumps or even miss the stumps because it turns so sharp. The wrong uns and the Doosra turn like the video here -

But it's just not something I'm normally able to replicate in a match situation. I noticed too that the way I bowl when I practice is so much more fluid and relaxed and the ball just spins loads. Maybe it didn't help that we were totally outclassed last week by the blokes in the other team, perhaps this week it may be more evenly matched?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Round the legs

I went over to "Local Field" tonight and had an hour bowling keeping with the strategy of bowling alternate off and legspin using my "Gipper" for the leg spin and either the Doosra or Wrong Un for the off-spin and the occassional Top Spinner. But after the spell of indoor bowling at the exhibition venue a couple of days ago where I was bowling round the students legs I decided to follow that up out on the field. So using only one stump at the bowlers end I placed the 2 spare stumps around about 5' in front of the stumps and draped a coat over them to represent the batsman.

Now I reckon that this is either going to be very detrimental to my bowling or good - I'll have to wait and see what other people say about it as a training technique? But my feelings are this -

I generally always practice on my own and I'm bowling directly at the stumps and therefore may have a tendency to bowl longer than neccesary? I feel that if I practice in this manner I'm going to bowl slightly shorter and I also noticed that Peter Philpott was saying that the primary intention is to get the ball past the batsman? What I did today was bowl slightly short of the batsmans position and get the ball turn round behind him into the stumps from either side and I was pretty good at doing so. But it seemed just the idea of bowling it at and around the position for a yorker made sense.

I was also mucking around with the flight and the speed of the delivery but getting it and around the same length and line bowling both the gipper and the wrong uns, it all seemed okay. I also noted that if I bowl the Gipper my run-up is different and possibly more orthodox?

We'll see what happens this Sunday? It looks like we've got a home match and I think our wicket is pretty grassy in which case I may be able to get it to turn some?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Peter Philpott

It wasn't a normal work day today. It's the end of year show when all our graduating students produce their best work and show it at the "Freerange student shows" so I was there helping them get their work up and didn't get back home till 10pm.

The bummer was that Neil our captain had read the blog and this morning sent me a text saying "Come over the field (At G&CCC) and I'll bowl some balls back and forth with you and we'll look at what your doing" so a brilliant offer of help and I wasn't able to take it up - damn!

So on the train there and back I read Peter Philpotts book again going through the 8 stages of Wrist spin and again it sounds like it makes perfect sense and that I should stop bowling off spin and again concentrate on Leg Breaks?

Once I got to the venue for the exhibition though we had to wait for the display boards for over an hour. So I got out my trusty windball and bowled offspin using a student standing in front of some pipes as the batsman and bowled the ball around his legs several times with offspin.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The aftermath

Yep, I'm a bit disillusioned after yesterday and wondering what I can do about it? Super Dave was saying that he's been working with the Wizard (one of the other leg spin bowlers - there's him and Ross) and he's got him to bring his arm up and bowl differently and it's working and the Wizard is becoming a lot better especially with his accuracy. So that's good.

To be continued....

Right where was I? Oh yeah disillusion. Yep I came away from the match with my confidence in tatters having watched Ross take them apart and getting three wickets and Neil bowl well reducing the run rate. Unfortunately I'm never in a position on the field where I'm able to appreciate how much spin these blokes are getting and I'm always baffled by the fact that Neil always offers encouragement when you do get it right and yet he's nowhere near the bowling and certainly not behind the stumps. So that begs the question what is he looking at when I'm bowling and what is it he's commenting on when I get it right and he comments in a positive manner? I can only assume flight and length?

I have a problem in that I am slow and Super Dave was saying that if I just use my run up more affectively I'll get a bit more speed, but I have a problem in that my legs do this cross over thing that they all reckon is a bad move, but I bowl pretty much side on and the leg cross-over is the thing that gets my body into the sideways position for the delivery. In order that I get speed increase (1) I usually try and whip my arms round faster, but in doing this I then run the risk of becoming less accurate. I was watching Neil and he really whips his arms in his rotation but the ball seems to take a arching trajectory, whereas when I whip my arms and go for speed the ball then takes an 'easily seen' straight line that is very unlikely to deviate off it's line with spin. Or it goes for a full toss. The only way I seem to be able to get the arc is to bowl the ball a lot slower and then it just seems really slow and I keep getting comments relating to the fact that I'm too slow. BUt then reading Philpott yesterday he was saying that pace wasn't that much of an issue, placement and accuracy were far more vital and the threat that it might do something when it pitches and his advice was to ignore the advice to speed up. With him it'a all about the flick of the wrist and getting the ball to spin.

After the game I was so disillusioned that I went over to Local Field and tried to bowl leg spin, but that just made things worse as they ended up spinning to off. I tried to bowl leg spin on a shorter track just to see if I could get it to spin in the right direction - but nothing other than off spin. Eventually what with it being nearly dark I opted to go home and have a look tommorrow.
Tomorrow came and went and now it's Tuesday afternoon 17.35 and I'm on the train. Last night I did go out on the field and threw some balls with the intention of trying to see if I could stop the crossed over legs thing, but I couldn't. I feel like that's the way I bowl. I noticed that Neils run up is very short, but he does one of those hops that many Leg spinners do, but his non pivoting leg comes down in the way that the likes of Jenner and Warned indicate that you should and the leg on which he pivots needless to say does all the right kind of things as well. Having tried to look at the cross-over leg action and getting nowhere I've decided that it's here to stay in the short term and maybe it's something to look at under supervision from the rest of the team next winter if I can get to the net sessions? So next I decided I'd just see if I can speed up the walk-in with the cross over included and the outcome of that was that I can. So then I moved on to the whip action with the rotation of the arms using the leading arm in a really high starting point and the ball arm up level with my face and this worked as well, but this is something I'd looked at previously and knew would work. But yes the rotation of the arms can be increased along with the walk in and potentially I can speed the whole thing up.

In trying to do this I initially was still trying to get the ball to spin like a leg break, but it was doing the opposite so I changed tactics and bowled top-spinners, wrong uns and Doosras. Now these worked well (On rough grass) and all bounced nicely and were very accurate despite the relative increase in speed. Evaluating what was happening I reckon I need to practice more combining both the rotation and the run in with a view to increasing the speed. I think in game situations I'm worried that I'm going to bowl wides so I tend to bowl slower and more cautiously so it seems evident that I need to practice more with a much faster action with both of the aspects discussed and see how it works. Hopefully with the practice will come confidence in my ability to still bowl a good line and length. The other thing that was encouraging though was despite these increases in speed the ball was still spinning well with loads of bounce. I was also looking at the trajectory getting the ball up above the eye level of a potential batsman and still seemingly faster than I would normally bowl?

So now it looks like I've reverted back to being an off spinner (Googly bowler) which does bother me. So then I tried the gipper and it worked really well. As I bowled more of them though the less they then seemed to move towards off and became standard flipper back spinners. What's more some of them bounced up high in a weird way as well so that still needs loads of work. So overall a feeling of desparation still prevails.

The only good bit of news is that both my kids are up for a knock about on the little practice wicket because their mate is up for it and again we played tonight and they're both doing okay in their own little way.

10th June

Another amazingly nice day which means the ground is drying out along with the grass. Coming back from work I did a pitch inspection on the "local field" and it's looking okay - nice and short and relatively flat.

Again the boys were up for some cricket and we went and had a knock about and again they enjoyed it. I think part of the secret to maintaining their interest is that it's short, we all have a go at batting each and rotate fielding, wicket keeping and bowling and by the time we've all had a go it's time to go in.

Once they were tucked up in bed and asleep I went out with the mower and shears and cut the grass and tided it up a bit and it's looking okay. So much so that I took all the gear back to the garage and took the stumps and balls over and threw 36 balls. I had a plan - slightly faster off spin at the stumps. But once I'd thrown 6 balls I then decided to alternate between off - spin and Leg spin using the Gipper to get the turn. It went well - surprisingly well, so for the near future I'm going to work on bowling alternating off and leg spin concentrating on getting slightly faster and more accurate with line and length and see how that works out. So tonight I feel slightly more enthused.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Grays & Chadwell V's Sawbridge

So a game at short notice. They got this team off the cricket conference system whereby teams of similar calibre are matched up with each other on the basis of a vague description. But one mans good is another mans awful so there's room for a mismatch and this is by no means an exact science.

Met up with everyone at Blackshots at 12.30 sussed out where it was on the map and hung around whilst Neil confirmed that there was enough of and while I was doing that I shot a few pic's of our home ground. There's been a few people on one of the websites I comment on all the time asking what our pitch is like. They post pic's of their pitches and depending on where they are in the world they're mostly as you'd expect. The English pitches generally conform to the usual look of an English pitch - Oak Trees, Picket fences, black and white pavillions, warm beer and the crack of willow on leather - you know the scene. Well ours doesn't quite fit the cliche as you'll see below.

View Larger Map

Hopefully I've managed to embed the map into the blog and you'll see an ariel view of the location here. This is where it was at the village of Sawbridge and we were on the teams back up pitch which was on a school field but considering it was a school field it was pretty impressive. The only downside was that it was a long walk back and forth to the bogs and the changing rooms. As predicted the weather was very nice - sunny with blue skies and virtually no cloud and very warm - 25 - 26 degrees.

I managed to get there on the little diesel that I had and then back again via Grays. Had to stop once to check the map, but saw Super Dave go past with Neil so I followed them. After a bit of a palaver with finding the exact location we eventually found the field.

The other team was in the other changing room out of sight so we didn't get to see them, there were a few young blokes hanging around so it did look as though a fair few of them were quite youthful. There was an Old un hanging around so I think people were hoping for more Old uns and then out they came. We won the toss and Neil followed form and put us in to field first which I always think is a good idea. But to the opposition. As we stood around waiting for their first batsmen to get their gear on and out into the square the rest of them joined us. Our team is made up of a few old uns including me, but we had Chris and John Buckley, Fozzy, a bloke who I had played with before "Tony" who looked older than all of us and me of course at 47. Neil made the point that our average age must have been around 40 years old whereas these young blokes they must have had an average age of 17! They went from 15 to 22 and there was only one 22 year old, most of them were about 16 - 17. They all looked the part with their Warsop Stebbing bats a la Ravi Bopara.

Here they are - the young men of Sawbridge.
So in lovely weather the battle commenced with Dave Gaylor bowling first off alongside one of their players "Gilbert" who was a bit nervous and cagey with his bowling Neil encouraged him and his mate that was standing next to me while I was fielding at Square Leg slated him calling him a "Chucker".

Initially it looked pretty par for the course as we were bowling against a bunch of fit lads of 17 and they initially set out with an average of about 5 an over sometime threatening to be 6 and then Neil stepped in and started to weave his magic with his left arm leg spin and that brought the run rate down when it was threatening to run away from us. By the first drink break at 20 overs we were around 117 or something, so it wasn't looking that good and one of their players had already got himself a 50. I think at this point Ross Fulbrook had joined in the attack along with Tony "Zippy" Gilbert, Ross being a very handy Leg Spinner and Tony a fairly tight and accurate seam bowler (Medium pace) but the oldest bloke on the team and seemingly not having played for years?

Super Dave stopped a ball that came straight at him off the bat with his foot/ankle/shin somewhere in that region - he didn't say but you could tell from his grimmace and his limp that it had hurt and he hadn't been that happy in the first place and now he wasn't at all pleased.

Ross bowled well and tacticly, at one point where I was bowling with him from the other end there was a bloke that was coming down the wicket to have a go and Neil had mentioned it to me, but Ross was already on the kids case and in the next over he drew the kid out of his crease and got the ball past him and Nick had his bails away. It was good to watch as he'd been feeding this kid balls and I think the kid fancied his chances against Ross.

Towards the end of their innings I'd been taken off as I wasn't getting anywhere and Super Dave was back on to try and finish as many of them off in the last three overs. By which time they were way past 200 moving towards the final total of 242 or something with 6 wickets lost. Dave was hit for two sixes off his last over probably completely pissing him off. Neils evaluation of our performance was W**k, but as someone later pointed out we're a bunch of old blokes with a few young kids that are actually younger than this team, whereas the opposition was a bunch of 17 year old human gazelles diving around and sprinting 0 t0 25 mph in a micro-second. None of our youngsters are what you'd describe as human gazelles. There was a bit of a heated discussion later as we started off the batting it was pretty obvious that some people were a bit agrieved at the mis-match of the teams and there was a discussion on the merits of whether it was useful that our younger players played in these kinds of matches as there was the potential for them to be stretched in their abilities? But I think a part of the counter argument was that it's also demoralising to be continually pitched against teams that are always going to beat you? From what I heard that isn't the case anyway, it just sounded to me like different members of the team had the hump with each other anyway. Someone said (name witheld) "Put on the blog that Super Dave was moaning more than Love Joy"!

I'm going to have to carry on with this tomorrow night in the meantime for all you people that have been waiting to see our home ground - here it is......

This one view looking to the North East I'll upload more once I've got some other shots.

Their pitch was quite nice and this was their 2nd option. Apparently their main picth was smaller and their first team was playing at the same time as us and they were on 350 for 6 or something when were having our teas. The teas were quite nice with Neil going up for 2nds, 3rds, 4ths and 5ths with the Prawn sandwhiched and it was quite a healthy option with fruit and various options for sandwhiches - tuna, ham, cheese and prawns. They had strawberries but let themsleves down with the omittance of the fresh Double cream. So after teas we made our way back across the field to face almost certain humiliation. One of their blokes they were saying was a future goalie for Arsenal - already with a contract and the works. Super Dave pointed out that back in the day he was on the books at Essex County Cricket but look where it got him..... So back out into the blazing sun to face whatever these fit, lean and mean bowling machines could throw at us.
I haven't got the stats and they were too depressing to carry on recording but we went down with a whimper scoring half as many runs as they did exactly 121 and all out. The batting order being -

Nick Buckley went for 5 caught at deep mid off.

John Buckley - Caught at mid wicket for 7

Phil Downes - was bowled after making a slight impact he hit one or two nice shots for 4 going straight down the pitch but was then bowled.

Lee Downes replaced John and was dropped early in his innings at Mid wicket - went for only a handful of runs bowled off of a short delivery, he usually bats well.

Fozzy (Allan Fulbrook) was bowled after hitting a few fours and he hung in there for a while. At the point Fozzy made his stand we were 52 off of 22 overs. Fozzy was bowled clean.

Chris Buckely - he was out there for a while playing a cautious innings I think he survived through some of Fozzy's and then was joined by Super Dave Gaylor.

Dave Gaylor made a sprightly start and hit a six and followed it up with another soon after and he pushed us over the 100 mark only to be caught off a full toss down at Long Mid Off.

Tony "Zippy" Gilbert went out and played really cautiously initially and we were all sitting there making the point that this wasn't a test match and the bloke needed to take a kind of Matthew Hayden 20/20 approach to his game especially as he was out there with Chris who also likes to get his monies worth when he's batting. It looked like we were going to be treated to some serious Geoffrey Boycott action for the rest of the game and all was lost. But then Tony suddenly got his Matt Hayden batting head on and started to hit some fours off of a bloke that couldn't bowl. When Chris was batting at the field end he had 4 slips fielders accompanying him and it was looking as though I wasn't going to get a chance to bat once again, not that I'd ever make any impact on the score. Then just as Matty Hayden was getting his eye in he was caught at Mid on. Ross Fulbrook then joined the line up for certain death as we were getting well and truly into the tail. I think at this point I was getting padded up and trying to keep notes so I didn't see how Ross was dismissed and then I think it was me.

A bit earlier I'd gone down to the nets and Nick Buckley had thrown some balls down at me and I'd managed to get the bat on the ball a couple of times so I had this false sense of confidence as I initially strode out onto the pitch despite the fact that all our blokes had been dismissed so cheaply. But from here on in it all becomes a bit of a blur, I don't even recall who was at the other end, I was so pre-occupied with the fact that I didn't want to walk out there doing something stupid like forgetting my trousers/bat/box or putting my helmet on the wrong way round (I have done one of these before) that I didn't notice. Whoever it was knew my fate obviously because they didn't do the customary meet in the middle and discuss tactics thing because they knew there was nothing to discuss, my fate was already etched in granite on my tombstone.
I took my position raised my bat in readiness and noted that it was one of the seam bowlers but now he was bowling spin style. Earlier in the game it had reached that point where it was obvious that no matter what happened they were going to win (Around 30 overs) and they started to bring on all their wannabe bowlers - the sort of blokes that would never get a look in if we were more evenly matched. It looked as though everyone on their team did bowl except for one of the slips catchers who looked as though he had a disability anyway. By the time I strode out with my little bit of confidence that I did have they'd gone through all the wannabe's and now "Johnny seam bowler" was back on mucking around throwing slower balls and trying to get some spin. This bloke threw a slower ball and I stepped out of my crease swung at it heard the thud as it went into the keepers hands and then in slow motion it went through my head "Crap! I'm right out of my crease". I looked round to see what was happening and the keeper seemed to have been standing there waiting for me to look round at which point he had the bails off, but it was all so agonisingly slow motion. I wasn't surprised, but at the same time I was sort of disappointed that my bouyant and positive state of mind was quashed so easily. Something to remember next time. I'm sort of glad that I watch the cricket on the television and have seen the likes of Monty Panesar dismissed for nothing off the first ball.
So the conclusion is I can't bat and I need loads of practice. Which is fine if I could do something else half decent. Neil (the captain) wasn't happy with our fielding in this game, but I think generally I did okay. I think I missed two that I should have been able to stop. But my bowling...... Hmmm?

At the moment I'm fairly disillusioned with it, although I probably bowled giving away the least amount of runs and I only bowled 2 wides off of 5 overs. I think I went for about 7 runs per over and some of the other may have been more expensive than me? But I didn't seem to threaten anyone and I certainly didn't get any wickets.
But the wicket to me seemed pretty good, I could even get it to turn a bit (Offspin) but it didn't bounce that much. This was also the first game of the season I'd played alongside Ross. Last year I was impressed with his bowling and this game again I was impressed - he took three wickets and obviously knows what he's doing and he makes me look like the total novice that I am. (This kid is about 14 or 15 years old). So that's pretty depressing in itself watching someone do what you want to do and make it look so easy that you drive home thinking I'll just drive into the central reservation now at 70mph and just end all of this Leg Spin Hell.

So that was me gone for a Golden Duck and on came Neil Samwell. Needless to say he didn't last that long and that was it - we'd been stuffed.
Bowling stats -

Super Dave - Overs 8; Mdns 0; runs 70; wkts 0

Reynolds* - Overs 2; Mdns 0; runs 17; wkts 0 retired headache

Sanwell - Overs 10; Mdns 1; runs 42; wkts 0

Zippy - Overs 7; Mdns 0; runs 38; wkts 0

R Fullbrook - Overs 8; Mdns 3; runs 31; wkts 3

Thompson - Overs 5; Mdns 0; runs 36; wkts 0

Here's some of the team not previously showcased - left to right.
"Super Dave" in shades. The star bowler of the day Ross Fulbrook next to Super Dave. Directly behind Ross is team captain Neil Samwell. In the stripey t -shirt Phil Downes and leaning over the back of the chair is our wicket keeper Nick Buckley.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I've just watched the weather and it's going to be better than prviously predicted - 26 degrees, blue skies and back to back sunshine - real cricket weather and yes - the game is on! I checked my text this morning and I'd had a message from Neil the captain and I've got a game. Looking at the website though it indicates there's nothing set up other than a 1st Sunday team match - so maybe I'm playing with them? Who cares as long as I get a game!

This evening my kids wanted me to go over to "Local Field" as Ben is in a ball throwing competition and his mate who lives a few roads away who's also in the same comp wanted to do some practice, so off we went. I stopped off and picked up their bats, gloves, pads and the stumps and suggested that they might want to have a knock around and they didn't wholly reject the idea.

Once over there I put up the stumps and their mate was watching me bowling and you could see he was itching to have a go and it didn't take much before we were all having a bit of a game. Now, both my sons having done it a little bit (Cricket) love it when you introduce a new kid who when it comes to other sports (including the throwing comp) like football tend to be a lot better than they are. But when it comes to cricket because of the little bits they've done with me suddenly they're the stars of the show, it's them telling the new kid that they're bowling wides and that they're chucking the ball and that they need to get back into their crease etc. Suddenly their enthusiasm shoots up as they rule the roost and it ended up that we carried on playing through the drizzle and were playing for over an hour and half on my little practice wicket. That means all that hand shearing and mowing wasn't completely in vain!

The new kid despite being all over the place loved it and he's well up for it - asking Ben and Joe what time he can come round in the morning so that we can all have another game tomorrow. So that's really good as it's re-kindled Ben and Joe's enthusiasm and hopefully they'll be up for it more in the future?

That's it for now - match report tomorrow and I'll try and get some shots of our ground tomorrow as well.

Friday, June 06, 2008

More rain and no match

More rain and no match it seems this Sunday, sounds like half a reason to top myself? Made worse by the fact that it's raining tonight and will rain Saturday but then on Sunday it's going to be Sunny. I need to play cricket! Over the last couple of weeks I've been looking out for the blokes over at Great Berry and haven't seen them once and there's no evidence that they've been practicing anywhere either, so I couldn't even blag a game with them somehow.

I've confirmed that once and for all that practicing on grass whether it's rough and lumpy or smooth - just as long as there is grass and it's green I can bowl like Shane Warne. Take away the grass and put me on a wicket and I then bowl spin like Simon Groves. "Who"? I hear you saying - yeah exactly it's someone who cannot bowl spin! So the answer seems to be I've got to try harder and keep practicing on the artificial wicket that offers no bounce or spin whatsoever. The theory being if I keep at it and start to get it to deviate there that will transfer to a real wicket effectively? Trouble is it's a couple of miles away and aggro to get to, but I reckon I've got to do it.

This evening I was flicking and spinning the ball from hand to hand and back and forth and just marvelling at how much spin I put on the ball. But I'm still not able to convert that into a consistent and useful Leg Break which is frustrating and now I'm thinking I need to look closer at the bigger picture - the bowling action and run up.

Watched the highlights tonight on Channel 5 of the NZ v England test and Jimmy Anderson took 6 wickets, man was the ball moving off the line - swinging outwards away from the batsman. There's some blokes recently talking about this on the wrist spin thread of and the fact that this is an aspect of their bowling. As far as my bowling is concerned I'm miles away from that being a part of what I do.

What with the rain due again I mowed the practice wicket over at local field, the groundsman had also cut the grass on the field so it's pretty short all over. It'll be nice to have a series of days where we have some sunshine and the ground dries up. I noticed the appalling conditions of the 2nd wicket over at Gloucester Park, not so much the wicket but the outfield, the outfield is awful, there's an undulating pattern to the grass, but additionally most of it is a swamp and someone has driven lorries across it. It looks as though the council has had someone dredge the lake and take away the sludge in lorries hence the ruts caused by the wheels. There's a load of the mud also on the field and it's been spread out a bit, maybe they're going to use it to fill the ruts or something but for the short term the second wicket looks unusable - maybe for the whole season?

Now that I practice over at Gloucester on the artificial wicket I've got to say that the square in the last three weeks - possibly more hasn't been played on once and certainly hasn't been rolled. So the demand for the pitch is really low or non existent, which needless to say will threaten it's existence and I now understand the councils willingness to accommodate me and meet with me fairly readily as I'm a potential link to it being used. But it's a shame that cricket seems to be losing it's popularity to the point where the council will face the prospect of no longer maintaining the squares.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Now there's a thing....

325 views - not bad?

It didn't rain, coolish and cloudy all day with a bit of a breeze and in the late afternoon I drove over to my new regular venue - the all weather strip at Gloucester Park see images below.

Again a fairly dramatic improvement in my bowling, but nothing like the results that I was getting last weekend practicing at other venues. Which then got me thinking. One of the reasons I've started coming to this strip is because it's like real cricket wickets in that I find it really difficult to get the ball to turn off the surface. I can and today I was bowling alternating off spin and leg spin and it was working out okay. But - I then thought to myself what if I was to go to one of the rough old grass wickets that I practice on and see how that works out? Will it spin more? So after my dinner tonight I went over to "Local wicket" and threw a few balls over there 100 + and yes they spun like mad and bounced like mad making my bowling look like Shane Warne! So that's the answer - I can bowl on backyard style wickets and get the ball to turn the proverbial country mile - but put me on a flat track and my bowling becomes a lot less impressive.

So that now calls for a re-think. I need to be more tactical or learn how to get the ball to turn more on better wickets? It's a challange, but what I'll do is continue to practice on the surface here and just see if I can get the ball to turn big on this with the hope that when I then play on the real stuff I'll get a similar result.

My big leg break still isn't big but it does turn - it's more of a small leg break, but my off-spin options are all looking pretty good - The wrong un and the doosra both spin and turn well, so I've got them as an option, so all is not lost, I just need to persevere.

Oh yeah here's how rainy and wet it's been -