Saturday, November 29, 2008

Indoor practice

Woke up this morning and as expected what with all the sleep I've been having and the medicine I felt a lot better. It was a bit of a rush getting ready as I had to go and collect a cricket bag from a post office that had been won via a bid on ebay. If you're looking to buy a wheelie bag for cricket gear there's a bloke who's got a job lot of them he's selling and he's got them up on a best offer basis. I reckon they're a pretty good price don't pay the full whack - make the geezer an offer and you'll probably get them at a reasonable price.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canon G9

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

Friday, November 28, 2008

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

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dog Rough

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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nothing doing

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

Saturday, November 22, 2008


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

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

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

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

Friday, November 21, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway on the subject of Spin I thought this was worth a mention -

Thursday, November 20, 2008

20th November

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some more good news

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

Monday, November 17, 2008

I need your feedback on this?

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Decathlon trip

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

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

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

Saturday, November 15, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practice session

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

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

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

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

consistent and on a good line and length.

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

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

Friday, November 14, 2008


At last the weekend! I can't wait till tomorrow - I think Ben's looking forward to it and Joe's not said anything negative so it sounds like he'll come along to the Colts session tomorrow as well. Let's hope they do well and learn some stuff. Last week I got to bowl at the kids and took a wicket and once I'd come away from the session I realised I could have used the opportunity to try the Gipper out. So I may have a go with it tomorrow? With that in mind and my Hockey Balls having been delivered today I thought I'd go over the basket ball court and throw some balls. I've shot some pictures of the court that I use looking from the end I bowl from - you can see the stumps and the other shot is looking from the same end - but from the other corner and I've taken the stumps away as it's the end of the session. It's ideas because I can put the stumps on the yellow line and bowl along the line and this enables me to see how much I can get the ball to deviate. The other thing is that the surface is perfectly flat so any deviation that does occur is due to the spin not the surface of the pitch as such.

When I get it right on the odd occasion the ball ends up spinning away and hits the post to the left of the stumps. That's the kind of spin I want to achieve time and time again when I choose to do so. The session tonight was very promising with the first 20 minutes or so bowling proper Leg Breaks. Occasionally I'd drag one down but initially it was spot on with regards where I want to be with my progress. Again I'm of the impression that it is all about that ring finger on your right hand. For me it's that - that is producing the spin and as I've said here, when it comes right the amount of spin I get is enough to keep me very happy. If I can get to April being able to bowl like this consistently on a good line and length I'd be more than happy!

I bowled some Flippers and they were looking good. I was reading a couple of days ago about Flippers and that one of the ways they can be bowled is if used as one of your variations amongst balls like Top-spinners or Leg Breaks which have a relatively high bounce profile. You can bowl the Flipper in amongst these as a shorter ball and the bat might then be expecting the ball to jump up at him but being a flipper it'll skid in low and may catch him off guard?

The later half of the session I started to modify my grip - loosen it up and try and flick more and none of this worked in any maningful way and it then kind of upset my Leg Break a bit and it took a lot of focus to get the Leg Break going again. So next time I will just stick to bowling the Leg Break and just aim to get consistency with it.

If I get to bowl tomorrow I may try these new leg Breaks and see how they go?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday - rest day

Nothing doing tonight, I'll probably do some form off exercises but again coming in at 10.00pm at night there's not a lot of willing to go outside and do any running or walking. I may still do some exercises with the terra bands and some pull ups and rotational press ups and stuff, but no actual bowling I'll give my rotator cuff a rest.

Last night I ordered a bag of dimpled Hockey Balls off of Newitts.... so I'll now have 18 balls to use when I'm practicing on concrete and they're cheap at the minute and no postage fees, so that was a bit of a result.

I'm looking forward to Saturday and when Ben and Joe go to their cricket training. I've not said anything to Joe yet about going, but no matter what he does Saturday - short of him sawing his legs off or something he's going. He's a bit like me - loads of things I really like doing I just can't be bothered with and would just as easily sit at home. Then if I go I always enjoy it, it's just a case of getting on with it and going. So he will be there Saturday at 10.00!

I may have a bowl Friday night and work on the Gipper in the event that I get another chance to bowl during the kids practice. To pull a nice Gipper out of the hat in front of all the trainers and the kids would be a right result, so I may give it a go? Or I could just use it as a test bed for my newly forming Leg Break?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday - and some good news!

Had a go at the Beau Casson drill that's on the internet (Type 'David Freedman legspin' in google) and it seems to make sense, but I feel that the drill is more to do with learning and perfecting your action with regards to 'Exploding through the crease and follow through' rather that what's happpening with your wrist and how that imparts the rotation on the ball. I tried this a few times and it made no real difference to my spinning action.

Again standing still and throwing it over short distances I can get it to turn towards slip and with the one step walk in if I'm lobbing the ball up in a very loopy fashion. I did have more success with the wrist position that spins the ball back into the body a la Peter Philpott. It may be that I really have got to do this stage by stage and do this across a short distance and build the distance up gradually? But it is depressing.

I also noticed that the straight technique which is like a slider (See October blogging) gives a little bit of spin and it does seem that if I use that technique and flick the wrist dragging the fingers across the ball as the ball leaves the hand imparts more spin. The gutting thing is I feel like if had someone to do this with back and forth it would come together. We'll see what happens next time I have a practice, I'm tempted to go tonight.


After work at 20.45hrs I went over to the basket ball court and spent 40 mins there trying to put some of the stuff I've been pondering into practice. It worked! I went back to the technique where I just simply have my hand straight (Well that's how it feels) and as the arm goes over flick the wrist a bit but sort of make sure the "Down fingers" stay on the ball until the very last minute. This kind of translates into me turning flicking my wrist round and the hand coming down and dragging the fingers over the ball rotating it as it does into the spin. The degree to which this happens has a profound affect on the spin, when the drag and timing is right the spin and deviation off the bounce is far better, but you've only got to get it slightly wrong and you end up doing the classic dragging the ball down and it bounces about 11 yards in front of you. But if you get the flick and the release of the ball timed right it works a treat!

I think tonight I may have been getting it right because I used to work with a girl from New Zealand called Liz and she bowled Leg Breaks and was particularly good at it. I only faced her once and I think she bowled me in the nets, but she could turn the ball. But I remember asking her whether she bowled Flippers because I was suffering bruising in my fingers fron doing it so much and was asking whether she had the same problem, but she didn't bowl the Flipper. But she then went on to say that she got blisters on her spinning finger every year once she started to bowl again and it took time for her skin to harden up. Well tonight for the first time I've got soreness on that spinning finger suggesting that maybe for the first time I've been doing it correctly?

Things that I was doing today that seemed to be helpful -

1. Because I use a Basketball court there are lines that I bowl along and these are useful in that you can see that the ball is pitching along the line and you can see how much deviation you get from the spin.
2. After watching the David Freedman/Beau Casson Legspin video I picked up on the advice regarding starting with your arm, shoulder and leading arm all pointing at the stumps, with your bowling hand and the leading hand up at eye level.
3. The 2 up fingers close together and big gap spread quite wide with the 2 down fingers very much on the seam. Today the little finger I didn't worry about because it was obvious the ring finger was the one that was causing the spin.
4. Constantly flicking the ball in between bowling getting a sense of how the finger should come into play as it leaves the fingers.

As the ball was leaving the fingers it was clicking out of the fingers because the flick is so pronounced and this is the affect I get when I do the standing flicks, so it really does seem that once again I'm getting somewhere? This gives me some incentive to get the mpa lads together for a practice indoors.

After tonights session I'm pretty optimistic again and now looking forward to the next session. I've just looked at the Warne at the Gabba with Mark Richards video again and I think it is coming together for me. Tonight unike Warnes advice I was gripping the ball quite hard, but I reckon in time this might change, but in the short term I'll do what works.

I might order a load more of the slazenger Hockey balls that are perfect for bowling on tarmac/concrete as they're roughly the same size and they weigh 5.5oz and have similar bounce qualities.

Here's a weird article. It's from the cricinfo website and starts off ranting about the fact that the internet is full people commenting on the great spinners and it kind of implies that they're all talking out of their Jacksies and here and now on cricinfo he's going to tell us how it really is because he's an authority on the subject. But then look what he says at the end about the Flipper - he more or less says it doesn't exist. Well mate, come to Grays in Essex on a Sunday or over to Valence Way in the summer in the evenings here in Basildon - grab a bat and I'll bowl a few at you and then I'll show you what an upside down Flipper does (The Gipper). Have a look....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Still flicking the ball and still managing to do some exercises although not as much as I'd wish. This morning I got up and did some of the core strength stomach exercises as exemplified in the diagram a couple of posts back. Other than that I've been doing across the shoulder stretches with the terra band thing and also bicep curls. Still don't think I'm to doing very many pull ups.

Having got in at 10.00pm tonight I've got no enthusisam to do any walking, so at a push I may do a plank or two, but I am shattered. I'll watch the david freedman leg spin video again as I'm looking at curtailing my full length bowling to look at working on stand starts and bowling over much shorter distances in order to suss the Leg Break spinning action.

Monday, November 10, 2008


After the initial prospects of a new team being formed and some practice in the nets every now and then at the weekends, it's looks as though it'll probably come to nothing. I emailed all of the potential players and it looks as though I've not had a response from any of them apart from the new Bloke Steve Newman. But his response wasn't that encouraging either, what he basically said was that all the blokes he's got lined up all play football at the weekends through the winter and that they'll be up for it in the summer. Hmmm?

I can see that with a push and a shove I could get Badger, Simon, Mark and Alex involved but not enough blokes to hire some nets. I don't feel that inclined to go chasing around looking for somewhere to practice on a Saturday morning when I'd have to give up on watching my kids play/practice.

1. I don't need to I'm in a cricket team!
2. It looks like by going and watching my sons I'm learning stuff anyway!
3. Last week I was involved in a game and had a knock and a bit of bowling!

So why would I want to go and pull my nuts off getting something sorted when it seems the interest and commitment doesn't really seem to be there? But on the other hand it'd be good to bowl against them and to practice my batting against some fairly fast bowlers in the nets. It's a dilemma!

Been flicking the ball a lot and it does look as though I might be getting somewhere with the idea. I had one of the lads contact me and leave a message today "Edlad" and he's put a really useful link up on the comments box which is very good and goes into some detail with regards Wrist Spin bowling. The most useful point for me at this juncture is the idea that you start off with just one step and bowl as part of the process of getting the action right. I'm thinking that if I can get the ball to turn massively to point from a standing position if I now work on the idea of doing the same thing with just one step hopefully it follows that the ball will still come out of my hand spinning in the right direction? The idea is that once you're comfortable with that you build up the steps one by one till you've got a full run in?
I reckon that this is brilliant if you're a kid and you can get a mate or someone (Your Dad) to throw the ball back to you and you can repeat it again and again and encourage you as you get it right, but on your own up against a wall it's a lot more difficult. Still I've got no other option so I shall just have to shut up and get on with it! Anyway here's the link....

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A little later.....

I had a bit of a chuck about outside my house to see if I could get the same affect as yesterday. It was a bit better than earlier on when I went over the field. Some of them were looking as though they were turning towards the slips, but then every now and then one would spin the other way.
The thing is if I flick my wrist and throw the ball up over a short distance I get this kind of affect- Then it all goes wrong when I start to bowl the ball with some speed across greater distances, somehow something goes wrong and I end up with an off break?

In this second session I was bowling more with a kind of a push than a fling. My Doosra and my Googly rely on a kind of flinging action with the arm twisting as well as the wrist, but I kind of get the sense that the arm gets into a straight position very early in the action and kind of catapualts the ball with the flick right at the end. But some months ago a bloke on the internet was saying that you should push the ball through the air. I think it's sense that you're pushing the ball through the air that may be having the desired affect. When I do it I kind of feel like the action looks like Stewart McGills action because the arm feels like it's in that poised ready to push position that he has as he approaches the crease. Maybe it's something I need to look at. Or perhaps not bowl for a while - keep flicking in the Leg Break manner and visualise what I'm supposed to do during the non -bowling period and then bowl in a weeks time or something? Because when I bowled yesterday it was the first time in about a week - maybe that's a factor?


God how depressing, after yesterdays sudden change in fortune in getting the ball to spin off to the slips bowling proper Leg Breaks today as the last time this happened I can't do it again. I seem to have been doing exactly the same thing and yet as the ball comes out of my hand I can see that it's spinning the wrong way!! I'm gutted.

What happened yesterday that I didn't do today?
Well, for one I was on grass today at a place I'd never used before over at Glouscester Park. You can see from the image that it's got a bank around the edges of this piece of grass and the stumps were set up just in front of the bank stopping the ball from going miles past the stumps. But the ground is pretty uneven but not too bad. All my other variations were spinning off to wherever you'd expect them too so the surface wasn't causing a problem - it was simply the way the ball was coming out of my hand it was spinning wrong and I couldn't get it right. It's just depressing.
I bowled some gippers and they worked okay - a bit wayward sometimes but ocassionally spinning well towards slip. Maybe I should give up on Leg Breaks and bowl gippers - they do the same thing but are just slower?
I may go somewhere tonight on concrete with the hockey balls and have another go later and see what happens. But for now after yesterdays apparent break- through I'm just fed up.

Wrist spin variations

Not that it means a great deal with regards my bowling figures as yet but it looks like I now have 8 bowling variation that are not seam down.

1. Leg Break
2. Googly
3. Top Spinner
4. Slider
5. Flipper
6. Gipper
7. Doosra
8. Knuckle Ball

This week I am mostly bowling the Leg Break, but I might if I can get out today try some of the others with the exception of the Googly and just see how accurately I can bowl them, especially some of the ones I hardly ever use - Gipper, Doosra and Knuckle Ball.

I realised that yesterday in the sports hall using the ball the kids had, I'd have got a lot of deviation using the Gipper and should have given them a go as they'd have been really impressed at the way that spins. So if I can get out much during the coming week I may have a week of bowling Gippers to see if I can get a consistent line and length - as that'll be a bit of a laugh bowling that against the Basildon boys and maybe even the instructors!

The weather today is dry, so hopefully I'm going to get out on an artificial wicket over at Glouscester Park and have an hour or so seeing if I can convert yesterday progress into something with a proper ball?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Cricket practice session with the Basildon and Pitsea Cricket Club

Saturday 8th Nov
Cricket practice session with the Basildon and Pitsea Cricket Club. 09.30 hrs and we're getting ready and then Joe decides that he doesn't want to go and that he'd rather stay at home and do his maths home work! Whilst I'm disappointed that he doesn't want to go to cricket I'm bemused that he opts to do home work instead! I didn't press it too far as I don't want to make going to cricket a big issue, so we left it at that. What I was concerned with was whether this was going to give Ben a reason to say "I don't really want to go either". Fortunately he didn't and was well up for it, so Ben and I went on our own.
We had to pay subs this week 5 quid for the 2 hours but considering what they did last week and if it was to be sustained I'm happy to do that. There was another bloke this week doing the training and in the first section of the session they covered.

Running between the stumps
Chase and retrieve a ball
Stopping the ball using a long barrier
Hitting the ball out to Mid off (Cover Drive)

Having had no formal training, I find the whole thing really useful myself and again sat there taking notes just as much for myself as for Ben.

Running between the stumps - they were emphasising the need to hold the bat at the very end of the handle with the hand that would be in that position if you were on strike and just hit the ball and cradle the other end of the bat in the other hand similarly very near to the toe of the bat. They didn't say why but wathcing the boys run back and forth between the stumps, the wide grip of the bat enable the arms to swing from side to side in an efficient manner obviously helping you to maintain a good sense of balance?
The other thing that I knew already was that you need to be economic on the length that you run, so you run as short a distance as possible if you're going for more than one run using the full length of both your arm and bat to reach for the popping crease. As you approach the crease you slow down and stretch your arm and bat adopting a low profile stance again to improve balance.

Chase and retrieve the ball - This was interesting too they were advocating (if right handed) that you approach the ball as it's travelling away from you timing your arrival to pick the ball up so that your right foot falls to the left of the ball. You crouch and pick the ball up and turn inwards to your left rotating into a typically Paul Collingwood-esque throwing stance allowing a good and direct throw back to the square.

Long Barrier - This is the crouching position that you use when the ball is heading towards you along the ground. If you're RH you drop your left knee to the ground laying your shin along the ground making a long barrier. Your right foot stops just in front of your knee extending the barrier further. You then position your hand along the barrier in the centre so if the ball then bobbles up due to a rough outfield your body mass/height then blocks the ball as well. Again this position with your weight on the front right foot enables you to stand quickly and return the ball with ease and balance back to the square.

Hitting the ball to Mid off (Cover Drive) - With this exercise they had some cones positioned in the mid off region making gateway through which to hit the ball. One boy guarded the gateway recovering the ball using the long barrier technique another boy received the incoming ball (Catching practice) and set it up on a short cone for the batsman to then hit the ball. They did this 3 x each and rotated the roles.

Once they got all this out of the way they then timed the boys running four lengths between the wickets checking their techniques no doubt. The quickest kid was a kid that looked as though he was at the older end of 11 possibly even older? He did it in 13 seconds and something. Ben's time was - 16.16 seconds. But they had the records from the previous session and were looking to check to see if there was an improvement.

They then draw a cricket pitch on the blackboard and marked out some of the key fielding positions and then got the boys to come up and try and name the positions, all of the boys were challenged to name some of the positions once they'd gone over it a few times. Again another really good session. After that they had about 40 minutes in which to play a quick game and they initially asked one of their blokes if he wanted a game and he turned them down saying that he had to play tomorrow, but he then turned to me asking "Do you wanna play". Is the Pope Catholic? So I was able to join in, but then it got even better - as I walked out into the centre I asked "What am I doing - just fielding"? and one of the instructors said "No - you've got to bowl and bat as well". So I was on Ben's team. I started off at point but the capt (A 7 year old boy) had me go round to square leg. Then on a change of bowlers a kid that bowled slow loopy stuff had me move round to short extra cover and it worked perfectly the bat hit the ball with a lack of real commitment and the ball came off the bat my way - but looking very short. In a split second I looked at the trajectory, the floor and realised I was wearing a thick jumper and that I'd be able to slide and not stick if I did dive and that this did look in view of all those factors do-able, so I went forward flew into a spectacular dive and it only just carried and I caught it. I looked to the umpire and the finger went up - a wicket!

Soon after it was my turn to bowl and just as my over came up the afore-mentioed bigger possibly older kid took to the crease. As an indication of how far I've come since this time last year, here I was in front of bunch of blokes that are possibly experts and I wasn't at all phased. As I walked in doing my Warnesque flick from one hand to the other I could here all the kids all saying "He bowls - spin.... He's a spin bowler". The first ball went straight slightly down the legside and the kid missed it, so breaking all my recent training rules e.g. don't bowl the wrong one till April I opted for the wrong one. The ball was thrown up on a good length, it pitched outside off stump, the kid went for a forward defensive shot covering his stumps the ball was outside the line of the stumps and his bat - turned and he was out second ball. Very satisfying even though it was a kid! With him gone one of the trainers was on strike. Needless to say with more experience and a spin bowler himself he saw all the balls off - I think I faced him 2 or 3 times 2 wrong uns and a flipper.

Batting I didn't do so well I hit a couple of runs, but then facing the same bloke but the rolls turned round I was looking to play him towards Mid on - off the back foot, but he got it past me and that was me gone for about 2 runs? But it was good - I love it! The game soon came to an end and I think Ben and my team won 40 against their 38.

Indoors whenever I can I've been spinning the ball all the time. Standing still and throwing the ball up with a big flick of the wrist I can make the ball turn Leg Break style massively. But all the evidence is that when I then try and convert this into a bowling action with a run up it all goes to pieces and this is what was happening in the summer when I played around with this. But recently I've been doing it and I'm just baffled that I seemingly can't incorporate the same wristy flick with turning my arm over?
This afternoon Ben and Joe went swimming so that allows me 1/2 an hour in a school playground up against a brick wall. So I took the stumps and 4 of my Hockey Balls with the intention of trying the flick with a run up and a bowl.
It worked! For the first time since last May or something when I had that flukey day with Thomas I was able to bowl good Leg Breaks! What I found was that it felt kind of jerky and a bit like it was happening in two distinct parts, but I'm not bothered how it might feel - the thing was it was spinning away towards the slips. Additionally when the last two fingers came into play it spun towards 2nd slip. I was able to do this over the whole of the half hour so this sounds very very promising. Also it was pretty accurate too - straight at the stumps bouncing and away and missing off - stump! So a very good session.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Nothing doing...

Not a lot to write really. The blokes that would form the new look MPA team have yet to get back to me in numbers that would warrant me ringing around venues looking for somewhere to have our net sessions, so that's stalled for the moment. The key to that happening will be Steve Newman the new bloke on the scene. We're going to need to get at least 6 of us that are up for it and then for them to be prepared to either come to a venue that I've got sorted or one that they set up if they're of the opinion that the majority of them are up southend way - which may end up being the case?

But the thing I'd like to see is some of these blokes join a club (Grays & Chadwell for instance) Alex, Simon and the 3 Great Berry Boys (Alex, Chris and Jack) would all be good for G&CCC I reckon?

I spoke to my Lads tonight (Joe and Ben) and they're right up for playing cricket again with the Basildon and Pitsea boys, so long may this continue. I can't wait myself and I'm hoping that Michelle will turn up and see how good they are and maybe at last she'll be on board with the idea?

Monday, November 03, 2008

MPA 1st XI

It wont go away the MPA 1st XI. Through work I've met a bloke (Steve Newman) who works in a different dept and it somehow got round to talking about sports and eventually cricket and it turns out that he plays a bit of cricket. I mentioned the MPA 1st XI and he came back with the suggestion that we re-formed and played the blokes in his dept. I know from the feeble response back in Sept that there's no way that the MPA 1st XI could re-form in it's original line up (see ) but there's definite possibility that combination of the Great Berry Boys (see ) and Steve Newman and his mates that we could be talking about a line up of 12 blokes that do seem to be up for a game and there's the peripheral members of the MPA 1st XI that might turn up if we were a man or two down?

I'd have said that the idea was pretty dead in the water before it started if you'd have asked me last Friday, but at the weekend I bumped into Badger in Basildon and he said that he was still interested and that he was looking to buy some new kit (bats and pads etc), so he's still up for a game. Then this morning without any prompting Simon approached me and said.... "I saw Alex Wood at the weekend and him and I were talking about cricket and were saying that we should get in the nets again this winter - so what do you reckon"?

So that means of the original team -

1. Badger, 2. Alex wood, 3. Simon Grainge, 4. Dave Thompson (Me) Are all up for it and are willing to do nets over the winter. I'm fairly certain that 5. Mark Soye would be interested? Then if Steve's got some other blokes and I'm sure he said that he could get 4 including him interested that brings us up to 9. I'm not sure whether the youth contingent would be up for nets as they've got lives, but they were the only people that turned up in the summer for the game and they definitely should be a core part of the team as they're all pretty handy bowlers and bats.

So going on the info I have at the minute it might look like this -

1.Dave Thompson
2.Simon Grainge
4.Alex wood
5.Mark Soye
6.Nakul Handa
7.Jack Hawthorn
8.Chris Eggleton
9.Alex C
10. Steve Newman
11. Steve Newman's mate No.1
12. Steve Newman's mate No.2
13. Steve Newman's mate No.3

In addition there's a load of people that may turn up for nets and may want to play in the summer including

14. Richard Sainsbury
15. Suhail
16. Carl Hodegson
17. Terry The Bloke
18. Nick Naughty
19. Rod the Aussie
20. Thomas Slater
21. Badger mate from Customs and Excise
22. Alex's Brother

With regards opposition if we choose to play at Welstead there's the Aussies & Kiwi's of Southend who I'd love to have another go at. Tilbury's MCCC (Modlife Crisis Cricket Club) and possibly Grays & Chadwell's 2nd & 3rd XI's and of course the Sports Dept at college.

In the short term though I'm interested in who would be up for nets over the winter, how often, where, how much are we prepared to pay, have we got the commitment from the players and how are we going to pay for kit (Balls, stumps etc)?

How many nominations have we for the position of Captain and treasurer if we're going to paying for kit and the rent of hall etc. I don't mind doing one or the other or both. But if anyone else fancies the captain job I'll be vice captain.

That then brings up the situation of potentially 22 blokes chasing 11 places. How's that going to be resolved? This needs to be discussed at an early point because the ethos of the team needs to be decided. Are we doing it for a laugh and we don't care if we put out a crap team and get smashed for 300 and bowled out for 60? Or when it comes to the match - do we try and put out a team that will make a good fist of it? This is the contentious area, because some of the players in the team may have naturally ability on their side and athleticism and may not be in the nets all winter and therefore making no financial commitment to the team and then may be seen to simply turn up on the day of a match and get a game and take all the glory? But it might mean the difference between winning and losing and the game lasting an hour after so much organisation e.g. they put us in to bat with a side full of Bunnies we get bowled out for 60 they come in and hit 61 in a few overs - that kind of scenario.

But this could be got round by having a fixtures Officer who's sole job is to arrange the fixtures and all the details therein. If several fixtures could be arranged it might mean that players that don't get a game one week play the next time and so on? So that's something to discuss/think about?

Just to make it clear where I stand on this. I play to win and will put in the hours and commitment to ensure that I'm up to a standard where I'll be selected. I'll also be integral to the whole setting up and organising of the thing - again just to make sure I gain a place on the team by virtue of deserving it through sheer hard work and involvement in the team.

So - who's up for nets then?

One last thing on the nets issue. When we did this in 2007 we used James Hornsby school in Basildon because of it's availability - but it was 80 quid for 2 hours. We charged everyone 10 quid each for nets and if more turned up that went towards the cost of balls and stumps etc. I know that there are a couple of places in Thurrock (Tilbury & Grays) that are potentially cheaper (A lot cheaper) so I would suggest that we look into that as an option, but it means that people will have to travel and maybe share cars. The suggestion is that we do this Saturday mornings?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunny & warm

Today in stark contrast to yesterday it's sunny and warm! Went through my exercises this morning and despite the fact that it bores me to tears I am doing it occasionally and will try and continue doing it. Although I don't actually feel that much stronger - for instance pull ups I'm struggling to do 4 whereas a few year back I was doing pull ups with one arm and able to do 120 a day with my knees pulled up to my chin while I'm up there.

I've added another exercise where I stand with my back to a corner unit in the kitchen then place my hands behind me and lift my legs up and hold them for a second or two and repeat see digaram. I reckon this'll be a good one for core strength stuff as it does your stomach muscles. You can make it a lot more difficult by stretching your legs our straight in front of your into what was called an L -sit back in the 70's when we used to skateboard a lot. More difficult still is then to raise your feet up so they're up higher - level with your shoulder into a V - sit. The L sit I can manage but the V-sit is more your Olympian standard!

I like this one as it's an exercise you can do while you're waiting for a cup of tea to boil.

Valence Way News

Went over the field earlier and there's a bunch of kids playing on the field and thankfully not adults. Ben said to me "They're ruining our cricket pitch" I had to remind him that it's not our cricket pitch and that it's in fact their field!

I'll go over later and see if there's any repairs I'll have to do, but hopefully as it was a bunch of boys the damage wont be that bad?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Colts cricket at Basildon cc

The plan was that I'd take Ben and Joe to Basildon's colts training session at Woodlands school today and then on Tuesday night Michelle would take them to Grays CC colts training down in Tilbury on Tuesday night. I think right from the start the odds were stacked against Grays and when Ben the older son came out of the session with Basildon this morning exclaiming, "That was AWESOME"! I think the deal was already a done. Michelle, my wife isn't up for driving them down to Tilbury at all and added to that it's in the evenings - everything was leading up to a negative response to the Grays option.......
"So, do you want to go and have a look at my teams sessions (Grays & Chadwell) on Tuesday night then"?
"I didn't like it at Grays..... they were too posh, I like here - I want to play for Basildon" Said Ben. Too posh - now that's an interesting assessment of the Grays lads! I think what it was, when we went along to the Grays colts set up in the summer, every single kid without exception was wearing whites and had their own bats and my impression is that they're all pretty good cricket players.

So, being only vaguely interested in cricket, my lads were very intimidated by the whole thing. Additionally, only Neil was there that night for the training and Super Dave hadn't turned up or something - leaving Neil with 20 boys to manage. Needless to say keeping 20 boys all on the go and active isn't exactly easy and that in itself meant that Ben and Joe were having to wait their turn for long periods of time. All things combined the whole experience just served to put them off rather than encourage them.

Several months later and more cricket on the Valence Way Wicket over the road with the local kids off the estate, and obviously more confidence - we went along to the Basildon cc colts session today.

  • First off there were 2 blokes split between 14 boys
  • There was differentiation - so my boys were put with 4 other boys who'd only been the week before and the "Good" kids trained with the other bloke.
  • They weren't all wearing whites. Now this might not seem like much of a big deal but I can clearly recall being from the "Poor" family when I was a kid that I didn't have a football strip back in the 1960's and all the "Talented" football kids did and this just knocks you back psychologically. It reinforces that sense that you are an outsider coming in to a new environment. Today at this session of the 14 boys that were there, maybe 4 or 5 of them were wearing whites, but the good thing was the better kids in the team weren't, they were wearing football shirts, so my lads straight away didn't feel like the odd ones out.
  • Similarly some of the better kids also used blue KWIK cricket bats and my lads turned up with their own bats and again this probably made them feel better about themselves?
But the clincher was the fact that - once they got going both my lads Ben and Joe were so obviously on par and if not better than the group of boys that they were with and it was good to see Ben itching to bat and bowl and show the bloke Neil that he was already on his way as an all-rounder. So it was brilliant to see them both getting in there and doing the stuff. They did warm up exercises and gradually got introduced to basic aspects of bowling and batting (I was listening and making notes for myself so that I can try and make some of improvements on my own batting)! The bloke Neil was really good he didn't make any assumptions about their abilities just went through the fundamentals and both my lads listened. He even went back over the points with them he'd covered asking them questions, it was a bit like watching the Bob Woolmer stuff on the internet!
But then it got so much better - this session couldn't have been any better almost. They then instigated a match and split the boys into 2 teams. Ben's team was up first with the established kids obviously opening the batting and bowling and it was pretty obvious that bowling is not their strong point. There was a couple of kids that were okay, but there was shed loads of wides, full tosses and No-balls and this is with the proper colts and I just sat there thinking If Ben can just hold it together and not be nervous and be confident in his own abilities he is just going to look like the best bowler here. I asked him what he thought of their bowling after and he said that he thought there was a lot of wides bowled, but he didn't think he was the best. Eventually all the proper bowlers had their overs and it came down to the newbies and Ben being the modest little bloke that he is didn't get to bowl till last and then he bowled his over. Most of them were on target and none were given as wides or no-balls. The blokes noticed and so did the good kids all shouting encouragement and commending Ben on his abilities. Joe's bowling was similarly impressive considering he's only 7 and again I don't think he bowled any wides in his 2 overs. Joe almost got a bowled and Caught but fumbled it and his next ball was nearly caught at Short Mid wicket and he had one dropped at cover as well all in the final over when they were looking to score 12 off 6 balls and Joe's team beat Ben's by 3 runs.
With regards batting neither of them are accomplished bats and that's one of the reasons that I want them to go to these training sessions and to be trained by other people. I think I've done okay with them regarding their bowling - and things like cricket when we're on Holiday in Cornwall is massively good for them as there always seems to be really enthusiastic and adept players on the campsite when we're there and bowling against and with them has been very instrumental in their development as to is the cricket we play over at Valence way (See masthead). One of the things I need them to do and I think it'll come in time is to put themselves forward more, both of them hung back to bowl last and this is when Ben it could be argued was possibly the best bowler there and Joe for a 7 year old is no slouch either. Remember this is Joe Thompson Leg Spin Legend 9 wickets for 30!
So I was well pleased that all my cajoling and encouragement has at last seemed to bear some fruit and Michelle it seems is on board with it as well. You never know maybe next week she'll turn up early and watch the end of the match!
So if you live in the Basildon area and you want your boys to play cricket I can whole heartedly recommend Basildon & Pitsea cc as good looking colts outfit - the boys and the blokes were all spot on today and we'll certainly be going back next week and Ben and Joe are hoping to become part of the club.
The session was also useful for me as I was close enough to be able to listen in on what Neil was saying. If you follow this blog you'll know that I'm crap at batting - my highest score with Grays being 7. So it was interesting to listen in on his advice with the boys and I made notes.
  • Look straight down the wicket at the bowler making sure the bat, elbow, shoulders and eyes are all in line with the ball.
  • Step out towards the balls so that it lands inside the line of your stride.
  • Keep your eye on the ball and your head still.
  • Make sure your stance is comfortable with knees bent slightly.
  • If you move your head the ball has a tendency to go in the direction your head points.
They had some good exercises for the boys to do - one of which we can do indoors. Drop the ball just in front of them from above - let it bounce twice and they step forward and hit the ball straight down the wicket between a target area which kind of emulates the positions of Mid off and Mid on.
Other than that it's been raining all day and the Valence Way Wicket must be saturated, so if they play football on the field tomorrow it'd bound to have an adverse affect on it and I'll have to go over after and repair it.

Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.