This is my 400th post on my blog - not bad going? had to do some chores today laying tiles in the kitchen and stuff and I could see the day fading away into a DIY abyss. But I left some time and at 15.00hrs with clouds closing in I got awy to 5 tree field and again I forgot to take my camera. I want to post some pictures of it as it is at the moment because I think they have a fire work display there and it gets trashed and at the moment it's quite nice there and the grass is very short and ideal for practicing on as it's very even and smooth.
So with my stumps and a bucket of 37 balls I made my way over there and spent an hour and half bowling. Using 12 balls bowling from one end to the other. Initially it was uneventful I didn't have any real sense of going forward in any way and at one point it did seem that I was bowling straight and the ball was hardly spinning away at all to constitute a Leg Break and I was getting a bit disillusioned. For a while I tried flicking the wrist and that just made the ball spin off into a Googly so I went back to bowling straight. Getting a little frustrated I then thought let's mess around with the fingers a bit as yesterday I kind of came to the realisation that the fingers and where they are at the point of release does make big differences.
It tried two variations really wide with the two up fingers spread as wide as I could and another variation where the 2 up fingers were together but right round the seam as far away from the down fingers. Both kind of caused an improvement with the ball spinning away to the offside more but of the two the wider fingers seemed to be the more affective. The other thing I remembered was a geezer on http://www.bigcricket.com/ had said to try and push the ball through the air on release and I've done this before and it's made some kind of difference too. The session improved with all of these things combined. So finally having kind of made sense of what I was doing and sensing some progress I decided to use all 37 balls some of which are white. I decided that I'd bowl leg breaks with the red balls and random Googly's with the white balls.
If you look at the diagram here you'll see the bowling line I take. I have a run in that comes in as indicated by the arrow and I have a peg in the ground about 7' from the stumps so just at the point that the batsman can reach if he has his back foot on the crease. I aim to get the ball in the gap between the peg (the red dot) and the off stump, which I now do 90% of the time.
The ball currently with the little bit of Leg Spin that I get then goes just wide of the off stump, but I'm bowling so accurately that I'm hoping that the bat is pinned down and plays defensively? Or if they play the ball the field is then set to take edges at slip or any shots that are in the air at cover or point? With my last 37 balls I bowled googly's with the white balls bowling the same line and the googly's turned in on the stumps hitting off, middle and leg with different balls. The really pleasing thing with the Leg Breaks is it's bounce, it bounces like none of my other balls - high and that in itself strikes me as being an asset too. so all in all the session that looked a bit lack lustre to start off with ended on a real high with me in control of where the ball was going. On top of the accuracy, line and length I'm seemingly much faster with this ball and with the added bonus of bounce all I need to do is get my Mate Thomas out on the field and have a practice with him and see how I fair against him as he's got a good eye and usually punishes my bowling.
Valence Way Wicket Maintenance
As mentioned there's been very little rain of late so the Valence Way wicket (AKA someone elses football pitch) is still very dry and the grass growth rate and recovery looks painfully slow. I top dressed one end of the wicket last week and that's all but been absorbed into the ground and it's no longer apparent that I sprinkled compost over the grass. Tonight just a bit before dusk and knowing that it's going to rain I spread another bucket of compost on the other end along with some seed that I put down first. The weather is still very mild so there is a chance that the seed may take and improve the grass? I don't know how much top dressing would normally be put down but I'm of the opinion that this field is so poorly looked after even a little bit may create an improvement? The height of the grass is now equal on the wicket with the surrounding grass - see my blog banner when you open this website - that's the wicket I'm writing about and the image shows the grass when it was last cut at the beginning of sept (I think)? It's where I practice and where my sons and all the kids off the estate play cricket, it's owned by a 'Boys club' and they rarely use it, so I reckon if it's meant to be for boys what harm am I doing cutting it and maintaining it for the local boys on the estate? Anyway no-one's ever said anything to us and we're over there when the boxing wing of the boys club use the gym there - so it appears no-one's too fussed?
It looks as though on Monday 20th it's going to rain so the new compost will wash in and the seeds will get a watering? That's to be followed by sunshine for a couple of days which is ideal. Hopefully over the next weekend I'll top dress another 10-12' of the wicket and seed it and bit by bit I'll work down the wicket and do all of it. Just with the bit of mowing that I do in the summer you can see that it benefits the grass as the bit we cut and use is so much greener than the rest of the field. I reckon by the time the season starts in April and the first school holidays we'll have a lovely lush wicket with really short compact grass that'll start to resemble a putting green! But I need the rain in the spring to be quite heavy in order to make it soft enough to roll.
Hopefully all the lads that played cricket this summer will be up for it again and hopefully being a year older some of them will be slightly more sensible? I'm hoping that we may be able to get 12 of them over there and maybe play 6 aside or something, just to get it a bit competitive.