Hot tonight - Damn hot and as I write outside there's thunder lightning and rain and I only just missed getting over to the wicket and mowing it.
Tonight we had a good session over the field with Ben my older son doing particularly well tonight taking a good catch and a very low catch nicked off the underisde of the bat while he was wicket keeper and he took 5 wickets with his bowling - most of them bowled clean and one a bowled and caught, so he came away pretty much pleased with himself as he was needless to say integral to the game most of the night. Joe on the otherhand was knackered and couldn't keep focussed on the game at all and so his contribution was limited - in total contrast of his 9 wicket evening while we were on holiday a week ago!
One of the kids - the older one Andy who's 13 is coming along well as a cricket player - both with the bat and with his bowling. There's another kid Kieran who's starting to join in and he's all over the place with both his batting and his bowling but he's up for it, so maybe by the end of September who knows. I think the best aspect to all of this is that Andy is older than both my sons and he's a top example of a good kid at that age, he's fair and looks out for the little kids and is generally a nice kid and my boys look up to him and like him. It's got to the point now when 1 or 2 of them will come round and ask if I want to play cricket (Is the Pope Catholic)! and I just give them a bag of gear - stumps, balls, wicket keepers gloves and bats and they go and set it up and start playing and I go over and join in when I can which in fact is 98% of the time. When I can't they use the gear and bring it all back and leave it outside our front door or knock and hand it back. I'm digressing here - so Andy creates opportunities for both my boys to play cricket on what seems like their terms and not at my request all the time and if the other kids come round I say 'Yeah - I'll come over and it's almost a foregone conclusion that both Ben and Joe will jump at the opportunity to play cricket if Andy is playing. Whereas if it was me asking "Do you want to come over and play cricket"? The reaction I'd more than likely get would be - "Oh Dad - not cricket again, that's all you want to do".
I've also adapted the games as well so that it turns round faster. What we're doing now is that they all get to bat 2 overs, with the little kids going first with a crap bowler first and the 2nd bowler slightly better trying to match the bowlers to the bats. The idea is to see how many runs you can get off the 2 overs and tonight as part of Ben's successful night he got the highest scoring 2 overs with 7 runs.Me - I got bowled a golden duck off of Ben and bowled clean for 1 run by Andy off his 3rd ball. It's interesting how quickly these kids learn. Andy for instance has started to get used to my bowling and is a lot harder to clean bowl, so I have to adopt different strategies such as forcing catches and generally vary the pace and use much faster balls.
The catalyst tonight was that today I got 2 new Kookaburra soft balls. We've been using the Gunn And Moore soft balls, but both the balls that I've got have disintegrated pretty quickly. I did have another Kookaburra but I hit that for 4 into the bushes and as yet I've not been able to find it and we're waiting for the winter to have a good look for it, but when it was lost it was already several months old and still very much intact. So it'll be interesting to see how these new Kookaburra's hold up to the big hitters like Andy and Kieran. I prefer the Kookaburra's as they're the same size as a real cricket ball and of all the plastic balls that are available they are the heaviest and they've also got a really nice pronounced seam and they generally look a lot more robust than the other types with sewn in seams. Although somewhere we have also got a youth size "Freddie ball " (Woodworm) and that ball looks nicely constructed, but again lacks the weight of the Kookaburras. So it'll interesting to see how these Kookaburras do fare and I'll let you all know how good they are. I you're interested they're available from www.newitts.com and they're about £4.79 each.
Interestingly tonight while we were there in the middle of the field with all our gear on the wicket that I cut and maintain the fields "Owners" as such were in the boxing club building and later came out and ran round the field while we were playing and no-one said anything. I've noticed that my footmarks on the practice wicket in the corner are getting fairly deep and could be construed as damaging to the field? I noticed on the new kids wicket today that the grass is wearing thin as it does, so I may lengthen the wicket a bit to extend the thin area as that'll be interesting to bowl into and will gradually train all these kids to bowl longer lenghts moving towards the full 22 yards.
I've been exercising a bit doing the stretches behind the head with elastic band things and core strength exercises with the plank. Not too much but a bit. I've picked up a slight injury to my heel as well, so I've got to see how that goes. In the morning it's terrible but once I start to walk around on it, it eases up and it's okay. Didn't notice it at all this evening.
I can't remember whether I've mentioned this before but the Tilbury boys MCCC (Modlife Crisis Cricket Club) have already set up their next game with G&CCC and it's scheduled for Aug 17th. Boffa I think got in touch with Neil and sorted it all while I was away, so who they're playing I don't know hopefully it'll be the Sunday 2nd XI and I'll be involved and maybe get the chance to face their bowling as they were gagging to throw the ball at me! Hopefully they'll have looked at the links I sent them so that they have more of an idea how to do the scoring as well. So that's something to look forward to. I'm also looking forward to playing Leigh on sea CC at the end of August at Chalkwell Park, but I may yet be scuppered by family commitments as I think Michelle is hoping to go up to Derby and visit here sister and family. The MPA 1st XI is still on the cards against the MCCC and some good news on that front is that Badger is back from his world tour and Alex is due back soon and has emailed me from somewhere on the other side of the planet to say that he's up for it.
Proposed team - (Batting Order)
1. Simon Grainge (Medium/fast) Confirmed
2. Nakul Handa (Medium/Offspin)
3. Chris Eggleton(fast)
4. Suhail (fast)
5. Jack (Wkt)
6. Alex #2 (fast)
7. Rod Jeanes (Med/fast)
8. Dave Thompson (Cpt) (off-spin) Confirmed
9. Badger (Medium)
10. Alex Wood Confirmed
11. Richard Sainsbury Confirmed
8 Potential bowlers 6 overs each.
This would be the dream team, that might give the MCCC a run for their money, but there's a few people in there that are subject to working constraints and travelling issues etc. The blokes that I reckon that are integral to us winning are Suhail, Nakul and Rod Jeanes. Suhail has the potential to bowl exceptionally well and fast and be good with the bat. Nakul is our highest scoring bat todate and like Simon plays a strategic game and generally a clever player and also bowls very well varying his pace and spin. Rod Jeanes bowls very well and can get the ball to move in the air as I recall with loads of outswing.
Richard Sainsbury today said that he'll be able to play in the MCCC V's MPA 1st XI game. At the moment I can't email people to see if they want to be involved because my Broadband is out of action because of reasons to do with the local exchange.
No kids around tonight, so only managed to have a knock about with a handful of them before the England v South Africa highlights were on the tele at 7.15, so the game was curtailed and I came in to watch the match which was good as you all probably know. So that was nice. After watching that I went over and had a bit of practice session. Tonight I was mostly bowling Wrong uns, Top Spinners and Flippers which were all going really well. I had a real result with bowling round the wicket instead of over the wicket, I seemed to hit the stumps a lot more frequently, so I may try that out on Sunday and see if that makes any difference to my success rate. After the bowling just before it got dark I mowed both the practice wicket and the kids wicket in the middle of the field.
Still no internet connection apart from at work. No cricket tonight in any form. I watched the highlights of the Eng v South Africa on C5 and recorded them for future reference. It looks like we may actually win this match which'll be nice for Kevin Peterson. Shame Steve Harmison forced Monty into a run out and in doing so denied himself of his first ever test 50.
With the prospect of captaincy for this game (Although I'd be more than willing to give it up to Suhail if we can get him to turn up) I've been trying to learn what's involved and already writing up this initial list of players I'm facing the question do I want 8 bowlers at 6 each or 6 bowlers at 8 each. If I go for the 6 bowlers at 8 each I've then got concerns as to whether these blokes can bowl the 8 overs without flagging because as far as I know they've not had any practice and are unlikely to practice in the run up to the game? Whereas if I go for the other option is six overs enough to build up a rythymn to produce a good spell and if someone is performing well I may be forced into a position where I don't get the best out of them. I think looking at what I've got listed here if I was to drop 2 it would be Badger and Rod as they've definitely not touched a ball in over a year. That would then leave me in a situation where our bowling attack would come in the form of -
Chris & Alex to lead the attack as they're both exceptionally fast and young. I'd let them bowl the first 8-10 overs between them and see if that works out. If it does I'd probably keep them on for the first 10 overs. If they don't make any headway into the batting I'd probably then bring in either myself or Nakul alongside one or other of the faster bowlers and see if that makes any difference. I'd be keeping some of the faster bowlers overs in hand in the event that some of the middle order bats turned out to be productive. I think I'd keep Simon out of the bowling till around the 20th over and have him there to sort out anyone that proves to be stubborn and looking to make runs. I wonder if this makes any sense?
Batting I reckon is easier to call. Simon and Nakul to open and make steady progress through their opening bowlers just getting the runs ticking over. They're both really sensible and productive bats. Suhail, Jack and Chris are more flambouyant and creative with the bat and far more likely to produce fours playing in a far more agressive style. Alex is a pretty good all-rounder as is Rod Jeanes and thereafter it all goes to pieces with the rest of us being people that went for regular ducks or were generally unproductive. I've put myself in at 8 as I've been playing all year and have recently been hitting fours in games and was in fact the highest run scorer amongst the bottom 4 listed here.
All of those listed were commited as fielders with MPA and had played cricket before when they were at school etc, so were able to catch and would drop their knees to stop balls when fielding, but in comparison with the Tilbury boys MCCC some way behind their commitment levels. Even the G&CCC blokes were impressed with the commitment in the field in the T-20 game they played a couple of weeks back. It'll be interesting to see how the MCCC play in a 40 overs match and maybe some of the MPA blokes come along have a few beers and watch the game and see how they fare against a G&CCC Sunday team?
9th August (Saturday)
Miserable day here in the south East of the UK - ultra fine rain and blustery wind. In between a break in the rain I went over to the "Valence Way" wicket which is the wicket I've cut and maintain so that all the local kids can play cricket it on it with my sons. It seems to be growing in popularity with a group of kids coming round once or twice a day asking if we (More like I) want to go and play cricket and they're doing it in preference to football which is good. What I'd really like to here as that some time this year or more than likely next year when they go back to school they get involved with the cricket played at school and then turn out to be the best allrounders in the school team because of our games this summer! A group of 4 of them came by this morning and asked if I was going over there but I was fixing Ben's bike so didn't go saying that I'd probably go over in the afternoon or evening. In the meantime whilst in the garage I came across a can of spray paint that I used to paint the crease lines with last year over at Great Berry and decided that as the grass has only been cut short on the wicket I'd do some crease lines on the wicket and introduce the kids to the concept of the crease and it's use in getting the bats out. It might inspire someone to take the wicket keeping a little more serious?
The rain seems to have eased up and there may be a vague chance of some bowling practice or a knock about with the lads. Sorted my garage out moved all the cricket stuff around - bagged all the different lots of gear up in relevant bags for ease of use. I noticed some months back that my red wicket keeper gloves seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth and again going through all the gear I still haven't come across them so I can only assume that I had them over at Great Berry in the spring and must have walked off without putting them in the bag which seems unlikely but that does seem like the only explanation. I wandered over the field just now (Valence Way) and threw a few balls as in the last few days I've been watching the leg spinners on the tele/videos and they're fairly round armed when they bowl leg breaks whereas all my deliveries with the exception of the Gipper are probably vertical or possibly even past vertical? So I tried round armed and tried to spin the ball backwards and it still spins like wrong un. I'm kind of looking forward to the challenge of learning the leg break this winter and allocating a day when I say from this day on to April I will not bowl a single wrong un intentionally. Every ball I bowl will be an attempt at a Leg Break.
The weather is still crap, around about 5pm the rain stopped for a while I went over the field at around 7.45 and threw a few balls again coming round the stumps and that went okay, but the session was curtailed with the rain starting again. This time I bowled out in the middle of the field rather than the usual spot in the corner. The flippers are going well along with the top spinners and the Wrong Uns, so maybe tomorrow if the game is on I'll bowl a few variations, I'll see how I feel? At the moment with the rain it's not looking that promising which is a shame as that'll mean I've gone 4 weeks without a game almost which isn't good. Update.... just watched the weather on News 24 at 9pm and it looks promising now with the weather - might be sunny all day and a bit blustery, which sounds like it's going to suit my bowling especially if it's a bit sticky underfoot as the ball will get some purchase on the wet grass/mud and the wind I'm beginning to realise can be of some assistance. I noticed this evening that one of my flippers which was bowled a bit slower into the wind deviated weirdly so who knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Without the internet I don't even know who we're playing!
Grays & Chadwell CC V's MCCC
Neil sent me a text mid week asking if I could get 2 players for the match against Boffa's lot. I tried Chris, Alex and Jack straight away as Alex and Jack played in the last game and were up for a full 40 overs match. I got a text back from Chris saying he was up for it which was good as he didn't get a look in last time and he's a good bowler and pretty good with the bat. I didn't here from him then for a while and sent a text again on Wednesday night and then he came back saying that he was going to the "V" concert at Chelmsford, so there goes to of our start players, I enquired after Jack and he's on holiday in the Cape Verde Islands. So then I had to go for all the adults......
Suhail - no answer as yet
Nakul - doing something in London he's already committed to
Badger & Paul - doing something already.
Simon - Busy
Richard - Busy
Alex - still in the USA
Thomas - no answer
Rod Jeanes - no answer to his emails
Carl Hodgson - knackered leg
The only chance appears to be Thomas, if he says yes, he may be able to get Rod "The Aussie" Jeanes to play as well as they're mates, but I reckon it's a pretty slim chance that either of them will be up for it. Suhail is a surgeon and works all over the country, so it's unlikely he'll be able to either, so it looks like we're stuffed and the game will be called off. The only other thing might be if Boffa gets some of his spare blokes as he said he'd have no trouble getting 25 blokes together? We only need 2.
Thinking about this longer term I reckon this doesn't bode well for the MPA game in September.