Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunny Mid October!

What a day - what an amazing day, here we are on October 12th and the weather today was incredible. Once the mist had cleared in morning around 10.00hrs we had back to back blue sky and sunshine again. At one point in the late afternoon 16.30 it was 22 degrees centigrade in the sun. I had my shirt off all afternoon wearing just a pair of shorts and was sweating my nads off it was that hot! Maybe it's time to extend the cricket season till the 3rd week in October?

Anyway a lovely day that had followed what must be now almost three weeks without any real rain therefore the Valence way field must be reasonably dry and okay to throw some balls on? Got the stumps out and 12 balls and had a go in the afternoon once all the football had finished. Once again I'm happy to say that the balls were either straight and bouncy or Leg breaks. Small leg breaks, but I'm not worried just as long as they're leg breaks at this stage I'm more than happy.

Later Ben and Joe came over with a mate of theirs and asked if I wanted to go over to Glouscester Park and practice there (5 Tree field) while they used the skatepark. Initially I was quite happy to stay where I was but then I thought that it'd be better to let the Valence Way wicket recover a bit, so going elsewhere might be a good idea? I also remember noticing a couple of weeks ago that the grass on 5 Tree Field looked very short flat so thought I'd give it a go.

When we arrived I was very pleasently surprised at how good and short the grass was. This is somewhere that I practiced a quite a lot last winter, I was even contemplating mowing it and rolling it through the summer, but it gets used as the site for the summer fairgrounds and other events and I got fed up driving to the field to find that there was someone using it and opted to use Valence Way field. So anyway - measured it out bunged the stumps in whilst still kind of being amazed at how flat and smooth the field was in the vicinity of the wicket and then got down to some bowling and it went very well.

I'm now going to load a CD that was burned when I had viruses, is this suicide? I need to because it's got some graphics on it that I want to use and also some images of 5 tree field just to refresh your memories of where I'm on about......

Then I realised I can get free virus protection and stuff from so I'm doing that before I put the CD in the computer!

Anyway - yeah the practice went well again. I set up the stumps and I put a little marker at the length I wanted to pitch the ball and set it just slighty wide of the off stump giving me a 12" area in which the ball would pass the off stump and this is where I was aiming the ball with the intention that they would spin away towards off. I reckon I must have had about 90% accuracy getting it within that width and 65% of the balls spun away wider after pitching, so I was happy with my bowling. The whole thing still feels wholly wrong and un-natural, but I'm going to keep going until the bowling action feels right/natural. Once it feels right I'll then try and get it to spin more, but until then I'll carry on with what I'm doing because it is turning 65% of the time and today that was happening without a great deal of concentration, so maybe it is coming easier?

The diagram here indicates the kind of leg Break I've been producing today. As I've said - not a lot of deviation off the bowling line but it is going in the right direction and I can consistently get it at the length and line that I want. At the back of my mind is the thought that if it's only spinning this much on rough grass, how little will it spin on a proper wicket? But that's a problem for next summer. Overall I was very happy with the progress today and alongside the Leg Breaks I was also bowling Flippers and they were pretty good too.
On the subject of lawnmowers and green keeping I've been watching to see how many Ransomes Ajax mowers come up on ebay and how much they go for. The prices vary it seems. There's claims that someone sells them re-furbished and painted for almost 300 of your English pounds. Yet there was a lovely one a bloke had done this to up North somewhere and his went for 99p! We had a nice one down here in Billericay that went up and that sold for 52 quid and that was just a 2nd hand one in good nick with it's grass bucket.
News on the Valence Way wicket is that football is being played there every weekend it seems so far, but the field seems to be holding up quite well, but that's probably helped by the fact that it's still very dry. I've done some tining and seeded some of the bare patches but today I looked at the possibility of top dressing it. I did a test in my own backyard to see how obvious it would be if I did it and to be honest it's quite apparent as the dressing I've used is old compost which is unbelievably good stuff and it's very dark, so once you put it down it is quite easy to see. But to be honest I don't know how bothered the green keeper of the field is and whether he'd even notice? I'm hoping that it'll rain this week and the compost will wash into the grass and not be so noticeable by the time they play football on it? At the moment I've done about 10' from one end of the wicket and it's only thinly spread. It'll be interesting to see how it affects the grass because the field is on rough old clay and is probably pretty thin on nutrients. It may be by the time I've finished if I do it bit by bit it'll produce a really rich thick growth that'll mow nicely?
I've also learned that the cutting in the spring needs to be gradual over a period of weeks, leaving the grass to grow back a bit each time you cut it. Gradually lowering the blades each time you cut it. I'm hoping that with the top dressing of compost that when it comes to rolling it this might help with producing a nice even pitch this year and an improvement on last year?

One last thing even though it was like summer today none of my boys wanted to play cricket. While I was over at 5 tree field Joe joined in a bit and batted a few balls then run off again. We asked (Michelle as well) them if they'd be interested in going to Neils colts classes in Grays later in the year and they both said they'd be up for it. Michelle even pointed out to Ben that Cricket was in fact the sport that he was best at - which he is by a long way, he doesn't like to admit to it for some reason and fancies himself as a football player, but in comparison he far better at Cricket, so hopefully this winter I'll be able to get them both along to the nets in Grays?