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.