Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dec 21st - Winter Equinox

Last Training sessions at Woodlands

Today was a fun day with the kids at Woodlands with the Basildon & Pitsea CC kids. Big turn out again with 17 turning up and playing. The initial warm up was bouncing the ball off the walls (the trainer) and the kids had to catch it. Ben and Joe are not big on catching the ball and it's something they need to work on. I think probably like most people new to cricket they only see the batting and bowling as being key components of the game and all the other aspects as being peripheral elements. You watch them and they easily lose concentration and begin to drift away - the hands disppear into their pockets and their thoughts turn to Lego or chocolate, or anything other than the game!

As much as I can I try and get them catching the ball and there's always balls in the house in virtually every room much to my wifes dismay and frustration, as fast as she can tidy them up and put them in the garage I'm bringing them back into the house! So anyway that's something we can work on. The question primarily remains how do you get across to kids that fielding in itself should be treated as a specialism and that if you're seen to be good at it alongside one of the key specialisms you're going to retain your place in the team and therefore you need to be a committed fielder? Again it strikes me that you can't bang on about it too much otherwise you'll turn them against it and it needs to be learned in a slow empirical manner and definitely helped if it's reinforced by someone other than me!

Anyway from there they went on to work on fielding positions. Again being new to the game I'm not that brilliant at this myself and it was comforting to see that the trainers were referring to a guide sheet that they'd downloaded off the internet themselves. They also between them were disputing the position of Mid wicket - the reference sheet they were using had Mid Wicket almost at a position diagonally opposite to point which I personally thought was a bit extreme and too far out and too parallel to the stumps at the bowlers end? One of the blokes was pointing out that if it was mid wicket shouldn't the position be between the stumps approximately half way and I was agreeing with this assumption. I've just had a look at Simon Hughes book Jargon Busting - Mastering the art of cricket ISBN 978-0-7522-6508-7 and the position I've just described is short mid wicket and mid wicket is in fact in the position they'd placed it and then stretching further back behind the stumps diagonally (bowlers end) heading out towards deep mid wicket going beyond the power play circle!

Joe was given an easy one 'Bowler' which was good as he got it right. In the car going to the session I'd asked them if they knew any of the positions and they knew slip, wicket keeper and Ben knew Fine Leg primarily because of the Willow and Stumpy video on youtube http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=sORPjRxUpdU and it turned out that Ben was asked Fine Leg. He had to think about it figuring whether it was Legside or Offside and through deduction he came up with the answer, so I was quite proud of him for that.

The rest of the session they played a couple of games and they put me in charge of one of the teams! Needless to say we lost! I noticed that one or two of the regulars can actually bowl quite well today, one kid called Killer who's a fast bowler bowls reasonably accurately and a good length and one of the two brothers that I think maybe Neil the coaches sons? Later in the second match he had an amazing over in which he took 5 wickets in one over - it should have been 6 for 6 but his first hat trick ball came off the bat and fell short when I was fielding at Silly Point and the bat took a run and I fielded the ball quickly and threw the ball down the wicket straight at the stumps as the bowler stopped in his follow through in front of the stumps to catch the ball, which would have gone on to hit the stumps,. But by the time he'd caught it and turned, the bat was home, so he missed out on his 6 off 6 balls but he realised what he'd done and took it on the chin. I brilliant over though.

Ben's over was fine. One wide but generally quite good - down the offside and most of the balls were not hit so he very little runs off his over. With no spell to speak of and going straight into it cold he did okay. Joe on the other hand did better - he took 2 wickets off of 6 balls against 2 of the better bats. One of them was fielded quickly and the kid was stumped at the bowlers end and the other was the kid that took 5 for 6 later on - with this one I didn't see exactly what happened but Neil was high fiving Joe saying that he'd bowled him round his legs. Joe said that it had turned nicely and was well chuffed but wasn't sure whether it was a Leg Break or a Wrong Un! I got a feeling it was a wrong un because I think the kid was a LH bat?

Both of them with the bat were bowled really quickly or run out making no contribution to the runs, but hopefully that'll come in time?

They were all given medals and certificates which was a really nice touch as both my lads came away saying that felt really proud to have got a medal, although they could hardly get hat out as they had faces full of chocolate that was also part of the prize giving!

Our next session will be at Fitzwymarc School which is a fair old jaunt from Basildon so I can only assume that the facilities there are exceptional and a reasonable price or something? Actually, last year the bloke that did the training session with Ben and Joe and a couple of other kids at Markhams chase who had some affiliation with ECCC said that we should go along to his clubs training sessions at the same place - so that in itself indicates it must have good facilities. It also looks like I'm going to be able to get involved too which'll be good, so I'm looking forward to that.

Pitch Inspection

Went over to our field to have a look at our wicket and see how it's getting on. As usual very little football is being played there and it's the same situation with the training - it's not happening. The grass is still being cut and it looks reasonably healthy. The markers are all still in place so we know exactly where the wicket was and I'm able to affect any repairs as and when required. The biggest issue seems to be worms and worm casts. Worms work away under the surface aerating the soil which is very healthy for the grass as it oxygenates the soil and allows the roots to flourish and therefore helps the grass grow really well. The downside though is that the surface becomes uneven and at both ends where Joe and me bowl into it seems very rough. The middle section though seems to be far less affected and I reckon this could be down to my intervention this Autumn. If you remember at the start of the Autumn I top dressed the grass at both ends but not in the centre with organic compost. The way that this makes it's way into the soil is via the worms, it's the worms that collect organic matter like this and take it back beneath the surface and this obviously means increased worm activity! Hence the reason the two areas in front of the stumps are lumpy!

It just means I've got to get my rolling timing right. There's another opportunity in the spring to top dress the wicket again and this time seed it as well, but this is a case of seeding it when the frosts are over. If I do the seeding at the point when I top dress as well I'll also do some rolling. But I think I need to do the rolling in early March when we've still got very wet weather and the ground is still saturated otherwise my roller wont have any real impact. Then soon after that - late March or early April if the weather allows it I'll start to do some light cutting of the wicket with the blades set as high as I can get on my mower.

Winter Equinox

At last it's December 21st again and we're in the shortest day of the year. As of tonight the days once again start to getting longer as we had back to the summer! I can't wait as usual and look forward to the days when I get in from work and it's light outside and we can go and have a knock about on our wicket just across the road.

On the subject of winter I've noted several things this year that have been a bit Old Skool like the 1980's when we did used to get proper winters that were reasonably cold but nothing like 1962/63! I go to work in Southend and my train travels along the Thames Estuary and I noted this year there seems to be a lot more Geese. In November we had that cold snap where temperatures over a few nights dipped below freezing and we had some Frosts in November. Then on the news last night they were saying that at Snettisham on the Norfolk coast 3/4 of the worlds White Fronted Geese were there feeding and roosting. I've already seen flocks of Fieldfares which are Siberian Thrushes that move south in front of cold weather patterns. Nature often indicates changes in weather with things such as bird migration some time in front of the event, and what with that 80's style cold snap in November and the seemingly large increase in Arctic type birds in the UK it might be we're in for some proper cold weather?

There were some really cold winters in 1949, 1962, 1982, 83 & 87 so having not had one for some time we're due one.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/anniversary/winter1962-63.html

I seem to remember reading somewhere that preceding the bad winter of 62/63 in the week or so that led up to the first fall of snow there was a week of unseasonably warm weather. At the moment we're in a phase just like that! But it's got to be said I say this every year!

Bowling

I threw a few balls around today and was quite pleased with my accuracy line and length and the amount of turn I was getting. I was also trying Murali's Doosra style ball and getting that to turn spinning away to Slip like a leg break and then the same delivery out of the back of the hand turning to Leg Slip if bowled normally like a Wrong un.

I haven't been bowling much at all recently in order to give my body a bit of a rest. I've got muscle problems in my forearm and these seem to exacerbated by continuously clicking the ball out of my hand at home Flipper style and I've noticed that when I bowl my Gipper ball which is the one like the Doosra it hurts then too. So as much as I can I'm avoiding bowling and looking to practice with the bat.

I'm not doing any exercises either, so I'm falling to bits physically and I run the risk of putting on weight over Christmas if I'm not careful. Usually I don't do too bad and tend to eat a lot less than the rest of the family as I'm keeping an eye on the fact that soon after Christmas I'l be looking to start getting fit again.

Nets

I still haven't heard from the bloke at the school yet who said he'd send a letter. We're hoping to get in there for the 1st time on Jan 10th. The feeling amongst all the blokes who are up for it is that they'd be happy to do it once a fortnight, which I'm okay with too. One of the Grays & Chadwell blokes - Wayne is up for it as well, so I'll keep him posted as to what happens and I've now got his email address to help on that front. I just hope Wayne's not looking to stretch his batting/bowling abilities too much as I don't think we'll be too testing for him!

Video

I'm still fiddling with this and having trouble with file sizes, from my own perspective of looking at what I'm doing myself it's brilliant, but uploading it to youtube is still proving to be a problem because of the file sizes - but I will get there eventually.