Thursday, December 24, 2009

End of year review 16127 more to follow......

Well it's a few more hours till Christmas, I've got to wrap up a bike for my younger son and make a start on the final entry for this year. I've noticed that I've just had a couple of followers added to my followers list - so cheers you blokes for tagging along with my cricket diary, thanks for the support.

So a good year for me 2009 - it's the year that it finally all came together, looking back at the blog entries it's only been a little over 3 years that I've been playing cricket. I started in summer 2006 when my younger son broke his arm so July 2006 and this was the first time I'd picked up a cricket bat since I was about 11 or 12. Around that time back in 1971 - 1972 the amount of hours playing cricket must have been about 2! So it was at the age of 46 that I started playing. 2007 was as the MPA 1st XI - last 2 months of this year with G&CCC.
2008 was with G&CCC playing badly.
2009 - with G&CCC not bowling too bady.

I think my objective last year was to beat my mate 'The Wizard's' figures and I managed to do so. The other big thing was to recover my Leg Break which I also managed.

2009 also saw my sons start playing cricket with B&PCC and a change in where we practice. In 2008 we started to practice on a local field near us and we continued to do so in 2009, but during 2009 I realised that a neglected paddock across the road from my house was big enough to practice in and what with it having a fence round it - it was almost usable as a net to train in. The surface was ridiculously uneven but over the months during the summer I filled in the cracks and worked to get it a lot more even and towards the end of Autumn I seeded it and levelled it using a roller.


I'd like to be able to say that I'm going to play more cricket in the summer, but the likelyhood is that I wont be - I've got a wife and 2 kids so there's alway competition for my time, so it'll be once every weekend that I can manage it. There was talk last year because of my massive improvement in my bowling and the fact that I'm pretty committed in the field that I might be better off playing league cricket for the 2nd XI on a Saturday rather than friendly cricket on Sundays, so I'll see how that pans out. At the minute I've not made my mind up about what I'm going to do and it's primarily down to how it fits in with the family situtation. What I would like to do though it play right from the outset as I didn't get a game till May last year which was disappointing. But I reckon my objectives for this year will be to improve my wickets, average, strike rates and batting, but more of that later.

The Paddock

The paddock, if you've been reading the posts over the last few months is kind of coming together. I've contacted the council about the fencing around it and they've said that it's earmarked for renewal, so that my happen in the new year. With regards to the on-going rennovation of the wicket that we've established for practicing I've noticed in more recent weeks especially with the snow on the ground in the last few days that people walk across it. Unfortunately this in the area where I'll be bowling, so whereas I thought it was going to be easy to prepare it for next summer it looks like it's going to be more awkward, but despite this I'll persevere with it and get it as good as I can. To be honest when we first started using it back in July it was a wreck and the work we've done with it already if we were just to leave it as it is now would represent an exponential improvement in that it would be relatively flat.

On a more optimistic note I still think there's scope to roll it several times before we start to play on it, but I concede that any early rolling and further sewing of seeds will be not work as the best option and I think we'll have a fairly thin covering of grass on the area that is currently being damaged. But I reckon as long as it rolled early in the spring and then is allowed to dry without sustaining further damage as it dries we'll end up with a nice wicket to practice our bowling on. So in short I'll keep my eye on it and try and get it as good as I can ready for May.

The Rec

A big change for us will be re-location to the Rec for our games and practicing. As my lads are getting older they're now able to go further afield in their wanderings and I'm expecting that they'll be going as far as the Rec on their own this summer - they did this summer to some extent. I'm also expecting the other kids on the estate to be doing the same thing and this means there's real potential for bigger groups of boys to play cricket as the estates that surround 'The Rec' kids are far more 'Posh' and middle class and as a consequence many of the boys that frequent the Rec have their own bats and play cricket for their schools so this offers good opportunities for my kids to bowl against decent kids and face similar bowling. So that's something we'll be looking forward too. Additionally it's also the place where the old tennis courts are where we practice over the winter when the weather has been fine and where we'll test out our new 'Backyard' game 'Pair 25's'. This also has an additional benefit in that it means we'll not have to use the 'Paddock' because we have somewhere else to practice pre-season and that'll enable us to give the Paddock a chance to establish grass growth quite well. Additionally the big field at the Rec has a cricket pitch and if the weather allows it - we'll be able to use the outfield for any practice on grass if need be.

Pair 25's

Not only do I reckon I've come up with a good practice format with this game, but some of the blokes at work who used to be in the MPA 1st XI are up for trying it out and having a game and a knock about which'll be good for my own batting and bowling. The blokes at work are gagging to give it ago to the point where they sound like they'll give it a go as soon as the weather breaks and it gets a little warmer. Some of them will come into Basildon from as far as London and Southend which demonstrates how enthusiastic they are.

We booked out the ‘Muno’ (As in communo, as in community centre) again and trialed Backyard Pair 25’s with a couple of kids we know and it worked out okay with everyone batting as pairs trying to beat the other pairs scores. The best partnership we had was 12 between me and ‘Harry Bat’ one of Joe and Ben’s mates. The most promising looking pair looked to be Ben and me (My older son) but communication let us down and just as we were getting on a good roll Ben got him self run out. But the idea of getting the kids to hit down the ground looked as though in the longer run it might work. The new kid ‘Harry Bat’ who as far as I know doesn’t play that much cricket played a good strategic game and seemed to understand the game to the point where he new not to hit the ball if it was outside of the off stump and when it was on the stumps he had good coordination and was able to deal with almost everything that was thrown at him. So that looks really promising with regards playing in slightly larger areas such as the old tennis courts. I reckon it’ll be a good game to play with mixed groups of adults and kids so it’ll be good to get my mates from work involved.


My first net session is soon – Jan 11th so I’ll be starting on my fitness regime soon – concentrating on core strength and shoulders initially and gradually easing into stamina and legs. But I have got a niggle that is worrying me and that’s my heel. Not this August but the one before I jumped of a wall and seemingly bruised my heel. I was hoping that over the winter that year it would heel and the tender feeling gradually disappear. But towards the end of the last season as the weather dried the ground to almost concrete hard, I noticed that I was waking up in the mornings with a really tender and sore heel. I’ve been trying to rest it up as much as I can this last few months but it seems I’m becoming more and more aware of it. I’ve bought a cushion thing to put in my shoes/trainers to try and alleviate some of the soreness and it helps a bit, but I am concerned as this may be one of the age related things that may end up scuppering my bowling/playing abilities? I reckon I’ll try limping around over the next few months and see if it helps at all. Or I may have to stop wearing Adidas Samba’s and start wearing those ridiculous looking trainers with the cushioned heels?

My Bowling

I reckon I'm still sticking to the plan I came up with at the end of the season. 90% of my focus will be on my Leg Break. I have two sub-variations the high in the fingers accurate off-stump ball that turns away from the edge of the bat nicely, that's a faster ball. The other being the lower in the hand loser grip comes off the 3rd finger, loopier, slower and turns bigger, this one in the last few practices in late November looked to be getting a lot better with regards accuracy and I was starting to bowl it down the legside turning it into the stumps.

Wrong Un

I'll look to bowl my wrong un more to increase the accuracy.

Grimmett Top-Spinner Flipper

Last summer towards the end I started to bowl this in games, look potentially good - have to see how it goes, Straight and fast with dip, sometimes turns off the seam like a off-cutter.

Grimmett style back-spinning Flipper

This is like a conventional Flipper but I use 4 fingers, this somehow creates enormous in-swing, so I've got to master the in-swing aspect of it, if I can get this sussed this could be a good ball too.

So they're my variations that I'll be using. In a way I'd like to drop one of them and I'll monitor the two Flippers and if one or the other doesn't pan out okay I'll drop them. I a way I'd like to put a lot of work in trying to get the 'Real Slider' and the 'Big Legbreak' but for the moment the plan is to leave these and focus on these four and get these going so that they are exceptionally accurate.

My Batting

Still not good. With my sons getting big and bowling faster the idea is that I'll improve as they improve. The other hope is that the backyard pair 25's game will help to encourage the blokes at work to come down and join in or some of the better kids that live round the Rec. With the influx of different bowlers perhaps I'll be able to make some kid of improvement? With nets starting soon though with Thurrock Cricket Club, maybe the penny will drop during training and some improvement might occur?

Or perhaps if the Paddock shapes up and we get the grass/mud flat and it's usable as a wicket I may be able to improve there? We'll have to see?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Equinox

Looking for Legspin specific blogs? - see these....

At last it's here the Winter Equinox, December 21st the shortest day of the year where here in the southern half of the UK the sun rises at about 07.45 and sets around 16.00 hrs giving not a lot more than 8 hours of light. The good thing is that it marks the start of the race towards summer and lengthening daylight hours, so each day marks the prospects of more light to bowl in and later in the year warmer weather. After 4 days of snow and ice we've seen rain today and an increase in temperature so there's a thaw, so hopefully sometime over the Christmas break there will be an opportunity to go and bowl.

I've updated the Leg Spin blog with some videos I've shot today in response to some requests on a forum, so there's a couple more videos uploaded covering spinning exercises described by Peter Philpott in his book 'The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling'.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Backyard Cricket 'Pair 25's'

I've been trying to come up with ideas for practice formats with limited numbers of people. At the start of the MPA 1st XI we used to have a knock about in the hall after nets where it was one bloke against everyone else, but it lacked something and the obvious thing is the running between the wickets in pairs. Then over the last couple of summers as my lads have got older we've been playing cricket on the local field sometimes in pairs, sometimes as singles, but again even in pairs the onus of the game was the individuals score. Also these variations were played in a 'Terrier cricket" style where there was a limit of two overs each and there was a tendency for the better kids to hog the Strike. So I've come up with another variation which I'm calling Pair 25's.

The idea of the game is that the onus is on the pairs to play for each other and instill the need to communicate with reach other and work together. The game can be played over as many overs as they like, so that the approach they take is up to them, but they're looking to reach 25 runs and do so on the 1st ball of a new over, because as soon as they reach the 25 they have to declare but then have the opportunity to bat out the remainder of the over. So theoretically if they reach 25 or pass 25 on the first ball of the over they can potentially hit 5 more sixes off the remainder of the balls in the over and get their score up to in excess of 55.

The partnership ends as soon as one of the pair is dismissed, but the other batsman remains to make up the new pair, so in effect good batting is rewarded with more batting. That batsman has to stay focussed and it kind of emulates a real game situation. The format suits our new set up where we've been practicing in tennis courts and the like and would probably suit indoor cricket in sports halls. But the potential of it is that it appears to work quite well using a backyard cricket approach to it and if you've got 10 or more players you can even have 2 umpires. But in a small area it seems to be workable with as little as six people.

Paddock update - 15966

Not a lot of work able to be done on the Paddock, but what with the snow being on the ground I could see where people have been walking when they come into the Paddock and the bad news is it's right on the wicket pretty much where I need to be bowling and it's more or less just about where the dog has been causing the damage which leaves me with a bit of a dilemma.
I'm now considering working on the bowling end and maybe preparing that instead. The downside to that option is that the fence behind the wicket is in a bad state of repair and the ground is as bad as the current good end was in the summer which is pretty bad.
I think I'm going to have to stick with the current end for this season and just hope that the grass does hold together and establishes a good root system that then wont be too damaged by any rolling I do as the season approaches.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Line and length

On the forums there's a lot of discussion centred around bowling Leg Breaks on a good line and length. As a learner the Wrist Spinner is notoriously innacurate leading to situations where they as individuals may lose a game for the whole team or in a better scenario they're taken off. Everyone knows that if you bowl short you're going to be hit for 4's and 6's to the four corners of the ground with ease by a batsman with a modicum of skill and as a result many Wrist Spinners throw in the towel and turn to one of the other easier bowling disciplines.

Currently I'm asking the question - is there any merit in leaving your efforts to spin the ball on the back boiler and focus on bowling straight just to ascertain whether you can bowl the ball on a decent line and length? The theory being that if you can establish this, you then at least know that you've got a grasp of the fundamentals. If you can master the basic actions of bowling it then strikes me that you would only need then to change your grip to the basic wrist spinners grip and start to add on the step over, the arm coming through past your hip, the rotation of the shoulders and the follow through and the ball is going to start to turn away from the edge of the bat?

A year ago this was virtually what I had to do in order to recover my Leg Break when it was lost to the Googly Syndrome. I went through a couple of months of bowling the Top Spinner with the wrist flick looking to turn the wrist slightly to get the leg break it didn't happen. It was only when I stopped trying to flick the wrist and concentrated on the basic wrist position and emphasised this in conjunction with making sure the ball left the 3rd finger with good contact that the ball started to move off the seam towards off.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Practice session

At last I had a practice today for the first time in weeks and it went okay, Very accurate varying degrees of turn off the surface in accordance to how I bowled - I do have a variation that turns big and my usual one which turns well and is faster. Threw a few wrong uns that went well, I was more impressed with the line and length than with the amount of turn I was getting off the surface. Threw a couple of the Flipper Top-Spinners they were good both went straight on to the stumps. Normal back-spinning Flippers were rubbish all were full tosses, so I'll have to work at them. All in all a promising looking session. Tried the Biggun with very limited success, there's something there - but it'll need a lot of work.

The Paddock

Here's where all this DIY pitch prep inspiration came from -
I had another look at the paddock today and it looks as though the same person has been on there again since yesterday and the dog has done the same thing. I reckon if I could catch whoever it is that's doing it I'll have a word with them and try and get them to stand somewhere different. I had a walk round the rest of the paddock which was depressing because it now looks like the bit of the paddock that looks to be in the worse state of disrepair is the bloody wicket area! I'm now trying to come up with a different solution to the problem.
As you can see the damage of the 'Dogged' section in comparison of the 'Non-dogged' section nearer the stumps on the Leg Side is obvious.

I went over to my Father in Laws and had a look at his school field (He's the caretaker) as it's being repaired by a professional company and he was saying that a large section of the field was still looking a bit poor because the seed was sewn at the start of a 6 week drought in the summer when it didn't rain once. He was saying that the company are going to put seed down this coming week because of the continuing mild weather. I considered doing the same, but the fact is if the grass does come through it's only going to be ruined by the dog.

I was watching some old video of the 2007 world cup in Jamaica and noticed the Sabina Parl wicket

and how shiny it is and realised that if it wasn't for the dog I could roll the surface now because the surface is so wet and possibly work towards getting it this kind of flat. I think in the short term there's not a lot I can do and I've just got to live with the fact that this damage is obviously going to continue. Timing is a major factor because when I roll it in the late winter or spring I need to do so when it's in the kind of condition it's in at the moment e.g. ultra soft and saturated with water. I reckon too at that stage I should also seed it and then just hope that it slowly dries out without sustaining any more damage from dogs or people. If the grass doesn't take I may have to change tactics and work towards getting as above. The grass that does survive which looks like it's all going to be on the Leg side I'll just have keep ridiculously short. All that aside I came across this article about earth/bulli

Clay mineralogy
Clay soils are composed of secondary minerals derived from primary parent rock minerals during the natural weathering processes. Most of the clay in natural soils is colloidal and which is of a crystalline structure. The crystalline structure can be seen by high-powered microscopy. The crystalline structure of clays are either of a two-layer or a three-layer. The dominant atoms are silicon and oxygen and to a lesser extent, aluminium. The degree and pattern of � soil cracking� during normal wetting and drying cycles of wickets is primarily determined by the type of clay crystalline structure. Clay minerals are basically classified into one of three clay groups. These groups being kaolinite, illite and montmorillonite (smectite). Clay mineralogy is typically determined by X-ray diffraction techniques and differential thermal analysis. Wicket soils are typically composed of each clay mineral in varying proportions. Uniformity of the cracking of the wicket surface is an inherent characteristic within the soil, based on the proportions of each clay type.
The kaolinite clay group comprises a two-layered, rigid structure that does not expand when wet. Illite has a three-layer structure and is another clay type like kaolinite, which does not expand when wet. English wicket soils are largely composed of illite and kaolinite. Montmorillinite or smectite on the other hand is a two-layer structure. Montmorillinite does have space between the layers and which expands when wet. In addition, montmorillinite clays have a greater capacity to exchange cations and which are held in the exchangeable (plant available) form (Donahue et al 1971). Both Bulli and Merri Creek soils are largely composed of smectite. Bulli and Merri Creek soils are alluvial black earths. Collins wicket soil (Sydney) is a volcanic black earth with properties which mirror those of the original Bulli soil.
Clay mineralogy results in linear and volumetric changes of clay soils, which explains their cracking ability. This is readily seen during wetting and drying cycles. High quality clay soils must possess plasticity (ability to be moulded and shaped without rupture) and maintain coherence (ability to remain dense when in a dry and moulded state). Changes in linear and volumetric shrinkage have long been used by civil engineers to characterize the structural stability of soils. Linear and volumetric shrinkage can be readily measured by laboratory methods and is a useful physical measurement to compare unknown soils in order to predict their behavior in the field. Intimate knowledge of the properties of clay soils plays a vital part of wicket preparation to achieve the desired results.
I've just seen that Ryan Giggs has just won the BBC sports personailty of the year. I'm not a big fan of football but I've always liked the way Giggs plays football and I especially like the fact that this bloke is almost double the age of the people he plays alongside and with and he's still there in the Premiership. Well done Ryan Giggs!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

General update 15745

Looking for Legspin specific blogs - see these....

Eventually got to have a look at the paddock and yes it has sustained a lot of damage - I'll try and shoot some pictures of it tomorrow and upload them. As described a few days ago the damage is being done by a rather big dog and the new grass growth is being trodden into the mud by the dog going back and forth. There was a load of leaves as well in amongst the mud and on the wicket generally, so I've raked them away. Where the dogs footprints had created real uneveness I've kind of raked it hard to sort of level it off a bit, but in doing so realise that's potentially damaging to the grass and the roots.

I'll have another look tomorrow and see if there's anything more I can do, but I'm fairly resigned to the fact there's very little I can do. I'm trying to think of something I can do that is simple to encourage this bloke to stand somewhere else so that the dog runs back and forth to another spot on the paddock and the only thing I can think of is to put a paving slab or something nearby where this bloke stands to entice him to stand on that instead?

Bowled and batted with the kids over at the tennis courts went okay - video'd the proceedings. I'm hoping tomorrow to have an hour of bowling properly on my own and maybe video it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Weather & wickets 15633

Nothing doing so just stuff about the weather. I knew it seemed a bit rainy but blimey that was 50 days of rain!

So next we've got Frost to look forward to and possibly fog, at least I'll be able to get out on to the paddock do some repairs, sweep the leaves away and look at doing some levelling at the bowlers end. Photo's soon to update how it's going Wo-hoo! (Said in a Homer Simpson manner).

Looking for Leg spin specific stuff? Have a look at my other blogs......

Monday, December 07, 2009

Paddock news and more - 15567

Looking for Legspin specific blogs - see these....

General News/Diary

For the first time in 20 days I think I’ve managed to have a look at the wicket in the Paddock and it’s looking to be in a sorry state. I went over and tried to see how it was looking a week or so ago in the dark and I could see that it appeared to have leaves on it. Today I went into work on the later train and left early enough to stop by and do a pitch inspection as such in the light and it looks a mess. Over to one side – fortunately wider than anyone’s bowling line it looks as though a dog walker has taken to standing in the same kind of rough area while he or she then throws something for the dog. So where there’s been so much rain the earth is ultra soft, soggy and malleable and where this person has been moving around but staying concentrated in a smallish area it’s done some serious damage. Additionally where he/she has moved forwards to then meet the dog and the dog returning to them there’s additional areas that have been flattened and basically mushed.

As to what I can do about it I’m not sure, there’s the issue of the leaves first though as they have a bad effect on the growing of the grass and some of these leaves are concentrated in the mud that’s been created by this bloke/woman. So I’ll rake all that out and try and get the mud level where the damage has happened and hopefully the grass/roots in amongst the mud will recover? Other than that I’ll have to sew more in the spring. With it being to one side at the moment that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but the biggest issue is having time and light to get over there and action these things.

No cricket of any sort over the weekend. The only practice I'm doing is the usual indoor flicking of the ball keeping the wrist supple and getting to grips with the wrist position with regards how it's going to turn once the practice starts again in the new year.

Over at we're still in the process of compiling our top ten tips for wrist spinners and it looks like it may end up as a top 20. But so far we've come up with..........

No.1 - Get yourself a good wicket keeper.
No.2 - Make sure you've got a captain that appreciates Wrist Spin as an attack weapon.
No.3 - Practice without a batsman - but with a wicket keeper.
No.4 - Bowl into the Breeze.
No.5 - Don't be afraid to flight the ball.
No.6 - Spin the ball hard.
No.7 - Bowl your stock leg break 90% of the time
No.8 - Keep the umpire on-side be really enthusiastic about LBW appeals - but realistic
No.9 - Wind the batsman up get under his skin - verbally without being antagonistic and psycologically by taking your time between balls discussing 'Stuff'.
No.10 - Practice, practice, practice and more practice with total focus.
No.11 - Look after your rotator cuff muscle

That's about it for now.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Top Ten Tips - Legspin bowling


Over at we're currently discussing a top ten tips list for the new year and one has come up already that we've never considered before and that's ..........

1. Get yourself a good wicket keeper.

Which seems very obvious, but has not arisen before in the list. It's now got me thinking about how committed wicket keepers are and whether like us Wrist Spinners they need to practice with the same intensity that we do. I've got a feeling that at club level they probably don't. But I'm now interested in whether wicket keepers prefer to keep with Spinners or fast bowlers? Then there's questions like what makes a good wicket keeper and do wicket keepers sit around at home playing Xbox or what have you passing the hours away wishing that they were out there somewhere practicing with a Wrist Spinner? Or is it easy and there's no need to practice?

Here's a useful link there's a good bit relating to the spinning ball.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Have I said this before? 15541

Again here in England after the wettest recorded November ever we’re subjected to more rain and the prospects of not even being able to get onto a tennis court or anything to have a practice. But despite that I’ve still got a selection of balls indoors and I’m still giving the ball a ‘Big Flick’. The action that I’ve been working on is the slider, so this is the ball spun back towards the body and it looks to be working fine. The ball spun in this way and allowed to drop to the kitchen floor comes back at me with far more spin on it than my Flipper and I’ve got a pretty healthy flick with the Flipper as well.

So with the gradual development of the Slider and it’s apparent spin being superior to the Flipper I’m now looking at my development list of variations for this coming season and wondering whether I should drop the back-spinning Flipper for the Slider?
By the end of last season I’d all but given up on the Flipper because I was finding it very inconsistent because I was bowling it and finding that it produced a lot of swing. Bowled at the off-stump I was finding that it was ending up wide of leg stump but on an inconsistent basis. I felt that it may have been possible to work on it leading up the start of the season and try and gain some control of the swing, but initial experiments and discussions on are leading to me to believe that the Slider may be the better ball. I suppose over the coming months I could work on both and see how it works out, but I’m definitely erring towards the Slider because it is only a matter of degrees ‘Going round the loop’ from the Big Leg Break and that’s the one thing that I really do want to master by the end of the 2010 season. I just feel that if I can get the Slider I’ll be literally millimeters in terms of wrist action control from being able to bowl the Biggun and that’s my ultimate goal.

So if that comes together the only Flipper I’ll be likely to be bowling in 2010 will be Grimmetts Mystery Ball – The Top-Spinning Flipper. So my line up for April 2010 will be………

Leg Break
Flipper (Top-Spinning variation)
Wrong Un

By the end of the summer I’ll be bowling the Leg Breaks wide of Leg Stump and turning them in around the back of the legs!!!

If I've not covered this already here I've certainly said it at

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

December 15371

If you're looking for my Legspin Blogs....

It turns out that November was one of the wettest ever with the 12" of rain in the North a week or so back in 24 hours or something ridiculous. Then last night as we moved into December the skies cleared and we've woken up to a wintery sub zero morning. So grass growing on the paddock (if this weather now takes a hold) will be suspended, as grass needs the temperature to be consistently + 4 degrees centigrade in order to grow.

My plan is to take it easy for the rest of this month and then around or more likely after Christmas (along with most of the population post Christmas) I'll commit to start training in preperation for the new season. If the weather permits I'll carry on practicing with my sons at a low level and then as the pre-season nets starts with Thurrock Cricket Club the training will intensify. With regards injuries and niggles from the summer I've got an on-going issue with a bruised heel that doesn't seem to want to go away and is aggravated by running around on the tennis court (Tarmac) and my dislocated finger is still an odd shape, but fortunately doesn't get in the way of my bowling. Catching though is another matter and that causes pain in the finger so I don't know what that indicates.

Recent flicking of the ball indicates I might be able to bowl The Slider, so I may add the Slider to my repetoire during the summer but the focus is the 4 deliveries previously written about over Oct......

Leg - Break
Top-Spinning Flipper
Wrong Un
Back-spinning Flipper

So roll on Dec 21st and the winter equinox and the move towards summer!

Monday, November 30, 2009

End of November -15332

If you're looking for my Legspin Blogs....

The end of November's been marked by loads of rain and the continuation of ridiculously mild weather. The last week has moved towards a colder feel and tonight as we finally move into December there's an indication that there's going to be at least one night of frost with the temp dropping to -6 degrees. The rains been so prevalent that I've not raked the wicket or even gone over there and had a look to see how it's getting on, but I'm not too worried as most of t he leaves have gone from the trees and leaves will be less of a problem over the next few months. The yellowing grass as far as I'm aware recovered and I'll keep an eye on that, but the good news is that we're now only 21 days away from the winter equinox and the days becoming longer.

I've had notification that Thurrock Cricket Club AKA G&CCC will be resuming net sessions and training in mid January so that's something to look forward too. Joe, Ben and I have continued to practice over at the tennis courts at the Rec and as a result thier cricket does seem to be improving slightly. They're still swinging at the ball, but their bowlings okay and their fielding is getting better too. Whether batting against 8 and 11 year olds has any beneficial results for a tail-ender remains to be seen, but the other way round me bowling against them must be improving their batting to some extent especially as I've started to bowl seam up to them and on the stumps.

For me it's been a lazy bowling month but flicking the ball around the house the Slider might be on for the summer and added to my list of stock deliveries. In fact I may have to change my mind completely with regards to what I'm going to be working on and using in my game.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Paddock news and more 15038

If you're looking for my Legspin Blogs....

Quite a good weekend on the cricket front, Ben and Joe were involved in an Indoor game with their team Basildon against Horndon at Grays. This was their 2nd ever 6 aside indoor game, so I’d said before I left for work in the morning that they should have a knock about when they got in from school and do some bowling and when I got in they were all full of themselves and gagging to prove me wrong and tell me that they had done so as I'd left that morning thinking it was highly unlikely they would.

Whatever the outcome of the toss was their captain Ryan put Ben in to bowl first as they were fielding. The team was made up of 50% boys that are the key players and the best players in the Basildon set up - Jody, Ryan, Killer and Harrison, these kids are leagues in front of my boys in terms of their knowledge and skills with the bat and fielding. I think two of them play at County level for Essex under 11’s .

In Ben’s first over of his 2 allocated overs Ben bowled okay one wide down the Leg-side maybe 2? But generally they were okay with one ball that he got a faint edge to down the off-side which should really have been gloved but the keeper fumbled it and put it down, no-one said anything though understanding that everyone has bad days or makes a mistake every now and then and that in fact although they do want to win this isn’t the Ashes. Joe was second up and he bowled pretty much the same – a couple of wides, but being a slower bowler he got hammered a bit, nice flight though.
What was good to see in Ben's 2nd over was that he almost pulled off a 'Bowled and caught chance' and he went to ground getting his body fully in the way of the ball stopping it going for a four although his team mate Ryan was also on to it and he had it covered anyway. The fact that this is with the plastic training balls and is bread and butter cricket practice for the other boys with Joe and Ben this represents in my opinion a big difference in attitude and it was good to see. Similarly both Joe and Ben caught balls that were thrown from the other ends of the hall and both of them caught them - these are little steps, but they're significant.

The opposition Horndon batted well and seemed to be putting down what looked like an insurmountable score. The ‘Pro’ boys bowled well with Killer taking a wicket hitting the top of off-stump. Harrison had a bad day with the ball but fielded exceptionally well stopping absolutely shed loads of balls. My lads were put at Square leg and point or positions just backward of those. My lads being new to the game and only just having finished their first season are not the most adept fielders yet and were in positions close to the bat where a far higher degree of skill is required to field the ball, whereas the 'Pro’s' were in positions more akin to Mid on and Mid off giving them far more time to gather up the ball and field it.

The game panned out that my younger son who's just turned 8 was left to score 3 runs as the last man standing, the 'Middle order' having done well and got runs on the board, his partner at the other end who still bats but who's runs don't count stopped Joe in the middle and I could see him telling Joe to but the ball into positions like square leg and point! Joe's lucky to even get the bat on the ball let alone decide which direction it's going to go in. Apparently Joe was absolutely crapping himself as up till that point he hadn't been aware of how pivotal his role in the game was and now with 2 balls to go he suddenly became aware of the gravity of the situation, and remember some of his team 'Mates' play the game in with an attitude that makes the Aussies in the Ashes look like a Sunday 3rd XI team. Joe said afterwards "I was poohing my pants nearly - my hands were shaking and all my legs had gone wobbly". Joe had a go but needless to say he didn't get the neccessary runs and his team lost.

Staurday & Sunday

So Saturday and Sunday with the weather being really mild (Saturday it was 16 degrees centigrade at 15.45hrs) we were able to go over to our new practice venue - The tennis courts at The Rec and see if they could improve in their batting and bowling. (See below). I take a couple of cones and mark out the V and try and encourage them to drive the ball through the V and if they do that they get 4 runs whereas all the other fences are 2 runs unless the ball hits it in flight then it's 4 and if they get over the fence it's a six. On Staurday we were joined by a load of their school mates including another kid 'Ben' who could bat quite well so all in all they had a good game and really enjoyed it.

Similarly we did the same again on Sunday but in much colder and windier weather and we were joined by another one of their mates Ozan and he batted quite well and again they enjoyed it and it was good fun. The result hopefully is this will improve their bowling and fielding and maybe even their batting, but no matter how I try and tempt them to drive with a straight bat they're not having it off me! But it's encouraging to see them enjoying a game of cricket, to tell the truth the fence helps as it means the ball never goes that far. I invited Talak and his son as they also live local and his son has joined the Basildon team this summer too, unfortunately he was away in Bury but he sent me a text back saying that he'd come along another time.

If the weather holds out this mild throughout the winter we'll keep going along to this venue and hopefully inspire more kids to get involved and join in. I also intend to use the field adjacent to the tennis courts for our games in the summer as the kids on our local estate didn't seem to be so up for it this summer and besides they're now reaching and age where they'll be able to get over to the Rec under thier own steam anyway and might turn up for a game anyway. But Whenever we've practiced at the Rec in the past we've attracted the attention of groups of kids and they've joined in and many of them because it's a fairly up-market area already play for their schools and therefore can bat and bowl and have their own bats. So it makes sense to make this our primary practice area.

The Paddock

As you can see it's recovered massively from the state it was in at the end of the summer. The only thing I'm doing at the minute with it is raking it and keeping it clear of weeds as this encourages worms. The worms produce a lot of worm casts and this works to make the ground uneven. The levelling looks good and it looks as though it is going to be massively better than last year which was the intention so that we will be able to bat on it. I also noticed today that where I am raking it further up the wicket I'm beginning to have a levelling affect through the raking. The rake seems to be taking the tops off the lumps and then redistributing the earth in the gaps, so at the minute it looks like a win win situation.

Last week I contacted the council bloke who's always been really good with offers of support for me in my attempts to get people into cricket and my request this time was whether there was any chance that the paddock fence could be repaired. He came back with a response really quickly saying that the Fence had already been noted and that it was waiting for approval from local councillors and that if the budget was there it was earmarked for replacement already. So that was good news.

The paddock in September 2009.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grass problems on the new wicket - 14915

If you're looking for my Legspin Blogs....

On the way into work this morning I checked the new wicket to see how the grass is going. Last time I looked the initial area that was seeded looked to have slowed right down and settled with regards to it's growth. The newer batch had started to come through and was looking promising. 2 Weeks on though the new growth has gone yellow and I had a search round the internet and come across this - .

It seems that the bountiful rain we've had as in fact been a little too much and has a detrimental affect on the grass in that it's encouraged bad Fungi to attack the grass and the surrounding earth and deny the grass of it's necessary nutrients. The only thing I can do in the short term is hope we have a spell of dry weather that'll then encourage better forms of Fungi. I'll just have to see how it goes.

Still no signs of a practice and gradually falling into a state of unfitness I reckon. Hopefully I'll get out this weekend and I'll be interested to see if I've lost any of my abilities.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


If you're looking for my Legspin Blogs....

Didn't get to practice today which is diappointing, although I went over to the tennis courts with Ben and Joe and we had a knock about there trying to get them to practice in a way that'll be helpful with their indoor game coming up this Friday. It kind of went okay but there's shed loads wrong with what they do and they're not inclined to listen to me at all. Another aspect is this continuing trait where they get really upset at not being able to do stuf - so they turn up pick their bats up and start swining at the ball with no discipline and then get wound up when they get bowled so readily. I was talking to Michelle and it's apparently a trait of hers - impatience and frustration of not being able to do something easily and quickly. I had to stop the practice and again explain that cricket isn't easy and that they need to practice more often in order to step into a situation like this and into games and expect to be hitting the ball and scoring runs. It seemed to work and they got on with it with a slightly better attitude.

So that ended up being the only opportunity that I had to bowl all day. Other than that I checked out the wicket in the Paddock to see how that was coming along and it looks okay. The only thing I'm doing at the minute is raking it and clearing all the leaves. We had a lot of rain yesterday and Friday and the last couple of days have been incredibly mild so the grass is still growing. The wicket in comparison to all the surrounding grass which is in a real mess looks very lush and level. The fact that the goal mouths in the Paddock are in such a bad way and the general eveness means that the kids are not using it to play football in which suits me fine. Additionally and somewhat incredibly people take their dogs in there to crap all over it when it's obviously there for kids to play in! Again this works in my favour as no-one in their right mind would want to play football in so much dog crap.

The only thing I can do with regards improving the wicket at the minute would be further work at the bowlers end making that more level or hollow tining the batting end or something similar. As I haven't got a hollow tining tool what I may do is just areate the grass by making holes in it which apparently works okay, so I may look to do that in the next couple of weeks.

One of my concerns about the levelling process was whether the new top layer of loam would integrate with the sub-layer which is clay. The hope is that the roots of the new grass would bind the two layers together and the evidence from what I can see at the minute is that this is happening and that the new layer does seem to have binded okay. I wont really know until the late spring when we get to play on it for the first time, that'll be the test to see if this has all worked, but so far so good.

Another thing I'm looking to get sorted is all the holes in the fence around the paddock, once we start batting in there the chances are we're going to start losing balls through the holes, so I've contacted the council bloke who's helped us out in the past who likes my grass roots approach to getting people involved in cricket asking him if he can doing anything for us. Along with the email I've sent a load of images of the state the fence is in so maybe in the new year when the councils have to start clearing all their excess money running up to the end of the financial year we may get lucky and the fence might get fixed?

I also walked across the field where we have our wicket in the summer and I reckon if that's used again this coming summer we'll definitely go for having it running in the opposite direction this year. But alternatively as all the boys are getting that much older I reckon there's a chance that we may actually change pitches and play more frequently over at The Rec which is about 1/4 mile away. The advantage of that is that it's a public space and it's adjacent to a big estate with people of a different socio-economic standing and the kids off that estate all have their own bats. We've played over there on several ocassions and these kids have joined in and on the odd ocassion there's been the odd kid that's quite handy with the bat and the ball having played it at school. Also the grass is in so much better condition meaning the ball actually rolls across your outfield. So the prospects of having games with a full 11 people fielding and 2 batting all competing against each other or maybe even team formats is very high. We'll have to see how it goes.....


Another thing I've been doing is cleaning up and oiling my bats, so three of them I've removed all the stickers from them sanded them down, oiled them up and replaced the bat grips. Man getting the stickers and protective tape off was hard work, the initital peeling was okay but with the stickers especially a big thick layer of glue was left that just clogged up the sandpaper. Eventually I found that scraping the glue off using a scalpel worked out to be the best option and then once 95% of it was off sandpaper then worked.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Other Blogs

Been working on the other bowling specific blogs listed above as some of them are moving up into the Top ten in the Google searches. Reading about maintaining a presence in the top ten I've found that it's important to update the content on a frequent basis, so that's what I've been up to. I've also printed the Blogs off and had a look at them and I reckon I'll update them further still as I don't like the way they're written, so that'll be somethng I can work on.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Off season practice

Not having bowled for a week I had an opportunity today for a bit of practice using Hockey Balls on Tarmac at the 'Chav Park' - a playground round the corner from where I live where there's a fenced in basket ball court.

Considering the balls have no seams I was able to get it to turn off the wicket quite well with my leg breaks and again the consistency and accuracy was on par with the last practice session over at Gloucester last week. This time using a Coke can as my length and line target marker and hitting it quite frequently, but generally 90% of the time the ball landing very close to it.

The Big 4

These are the variations that I'm focusing on as previously mentioned - Leg Break, Wrong Un, Black Spinning Flipper and a Top Spinning Flipper. The Leg Break was very commendable and my Wrong Un by the end of the session began to come together in a manner that I was happy with. The two Flippers were a lot less impressive, the Top Spinning Flipper over the summer had been very good in practices but I didn't bowl it much in very many matches, but for the moment my Flippers are a bit ropey, with me not being able to control the swing they produce and the ball ending up down the leg-side. I'm not that worried in the short term as I know it'll just take a couple of practice sessions and I'll have them both back under control.

I also had a look bowling from around the wicket bowling the Leg Breaks into the same target area which kind of looked potentially useful. It looked as though if you did this it may entice the bowler to to try bat against the spin into the Leg Side with possible mis-hit consequences? But It also looked useful in that you could bung a Wrong un in there which might be problematic too? I reckon it's something I'll try and in the nets in the new year.

Indoor practice with Ben and Joe.

This morning Ben, Joe and I went to the Laindon Community Centre and had a knock about trying to get them to improve their batting. Towards the end of the session I worked with Ben trying to get him to play with a front foot defensive block which he sees as being boring, preferring to swing at every ball. Even though he was pretty negative about the idea he did go along with it and I think after a while he could see the potential in the indoor games as the ball is pushed forwards into the area where there are no fielders. It looked as though if he was to apply himself he can do it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Gloucester Park Basildon

I've been doing some work on my other blogs, they're still not quite finished as I will eventually add a lot more links to video clips and add pictures to them as well. There's a few images and links in some of them but the defining touch will be to add slow motion video footage. The intention was that the Slow Mo would have been added by now but the camera hasn't been made available. I was hoping that they'd get them in at college and I'd be able to borrow one, but the order was made but then cancelled with no plans to place another order for some time. So I may have to look into getting one myself.
Another thing I noticed was that these blogs weren't getting very many hits so I've started a campaign to get them into the Google search top 10 websites hence the links here and in each of the blogs. In addition the same links now appear in all my postings on and within a matter of hours the LegSpin blog moved up from nowhere into the top 15 searches, so it does appear to be working. If you've not looked at them yourself click on the link and have a look.
Other than that because of the rain not a lot doing although I'm quite happy about that as it gives my body a rest. It also gave me the chance to go over to Gloucester Park in Basildon and photograph the New Netball facilities (See below) which have a lot of potential for off-season bowling practice using plastic Hockey Balls what with being fenced off and floodlit. As mentioned previously all the courts are very securely locked so it may be that access is tightly controlled and you might have to pay for the right to use the courts. I also thought that the courts might also double up for Tennis but the markings on the court suggest otherwise which is a shame.

The Other Picture here is the future location of the cricket pitch that will replace the one that is directly outside Murrayfields according to one of the Green Keepers. The Murrayfields pitch is to be turned over to Rugby and the pitch moved here which is better in lots of ways as this area in the summer is quite nice and they've built a brand new Car Park. I wonder if when they do complete the pitch it will come with a pavillion or changing facilities?It looks a bit dismal at the minute because of the weather, but it's quite secluded and back from the roads, so maybe a nice pitch. There did used to be a pitch here years ago which is visible as a trace from ariel shots on google earth.

Other specialist Blogs

November starts out looking more like what we'd expect of Autumn - windy and rain, but the temperature is still very warm - 16 degrees centigrade. So that's good for 'The Paddock' and the new grass that was sewn a few days ago. I also filled in some of the uneven gound at the bowlers end which I'll probably continue to do, but I haven't got an endless supply of earth so how much of an improvement I can make remains to be seen.

I was going to work on one of my other blogs - but it's pretty much finished. I was hoping that these new blogs would be in the top 10 searches on google but as yet they've failed to make an impact so it looks as though I need to link to them as much as I can else where. I'll have a look at this one today, but I know the main thing I need to do is get a slow mo camera and shoot some more stills images of the different grips that I use to get the sub-variations. I was hoping to have a camera this Autumn via work, but the order was cancelled so it looks like I might have to buy one myself.

The other blogs

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Today I had a sort out of all our gear ready for winter as most of it wont be getting used now till January when winter nets gets started up.

We're lucky in that we've got a garage so the stuff gets put in the garage, I know mates that live in flats and they didn't even have anywhere they could put a single bat. So their bats had to be stored indoors what with all the heating with the fact that their bats would then dry out and potentially get damaged.

Once all the stuff was laid out I was quite surprised at how much gear we've got between us!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Strewth it's Oct 30th and I've just had the most amazing practice session and a generally very good cricket day! The day started out well when I took yesterdays obvious batting/bowling idea to Ben and Joe and tried it out on them and sure enough they had a knock about outside the house in 'The Square' for more than an hour with total enthusiasm and it was only stopped when Michelle came back from the shops and we helped to unload the car and put all the shopping away. But the theory worked well - I bowled straight - seam up and they had to hit the ball and generally they did and in doing so they obviously enjoyed it far more than facing spin and not being able to hit the ball. So that's the obvious way forward.

That'll mean that the wicket in the paddock will have to be fairly flat and smooth so that the ball goes on straight so that'll have to be something to keep in mind.

Then this afternoon the boys went off with their Mum to somewhere with some of their mates leaving me with 3 hours on my own to either do decorating or maybe some bowling. Hmmmm - yes I went bowling. I rang a few people to see if they wanted to meet up at Chalkwell nets but they were all busy so instead I went over to Glouscester Park on the artificial wicket. I used the same wicket this time last year as well, what with the grass being too wet this is a good option. So with a bag of 40 + balls and a set of stumps and my video camera off I went.

The plan was to concentrate on my 4 variations with the primary focus being on the 2 main Leg Breaks that I bowl. A big turner and a small turner. Normally I bowl the small version because of it's accuracy, but lately I've become a lot more enamoured by my big turning sub-variation and because I've been using it more frequently the accuracy with it is increasingly better.

Last year on this wicket I noticed that there were two distinct characteristics - No bounce and no spin. So I wasn't surprised that despite the fact that I've improved a great deal since last year my small turning leg break didn't do a great deal at all and I then reverted to my big turning sub-variation. This one turned, nowhere near as much as it does off of other surfaces but enough to make me feel like I was bowling Leg breaks and to be able to call myself a Leg Break bowler.

So the practice went on and I remembered I'd got my camera in my bag and that I could video the procedures. Needless to say that when you get the camera out you then start bowling differently trying to show off and sure enough this happened a bit and the bowling went slightly awry. But the footage I was shooting was in sequences of 30 balls and generally the 30 balls were fairly decent especially as I was using my secondary version of the Leg Break and one that I don't have a great deal of control over, but it was working fairly well.

I ended up being on the wicket for the best part of 3 hours and must have bowled in the region of about 50 overs and I just got better and better. About half way through I realised that the balls that were going wrong and were ending up down the Legside were turning in across the face of the stumps and going wide of the Off-stump. So for the first time in almost 2 years I started to bowl down the Leg-side with the intention of turning the ball into the stumps and you know what it worked - again and again and again. It ended up being one of the most productive and enjoyable practice sessions ever. I also put a readers wind ball on the wicket on the length and line I bowl for my leg breaks that go away from the bat and in the end I got fed up of having to reset the ball back in it's position! All this with this new bigger turning Leg Break.

So all in all a staggeringly good practice session. I reckon my biggest issue is not quite understanding the right length to bowl, yesterday I was reading somewhere on a forum that with the tail-enders you should bowl slightly fuller as they're obviously not that good at batting, but it's the better batsmen that I have trouble with and it's understanding where to bowl to them that I want to learn. Again I have to refer to the older blokes that I've seen bowling that don't necessarily turn the ball that much but put it on an troubesome length and cause no end of problems. It's the understanding of this length aspect that I feel is one of the missing aspects of my bowling now. The other thing that probably would have seen me get at least another 5 wickets is asking for LBW's. But I'm working on that already with the kids.

The other thing that I noticed over at Glouscester Park is that the development is underway for the Olympic facilities. I'm not sure what the connection is with the Olympics but it's because of the Olympics that the money has been made available. Anyway - the new stuff that is already in place includes some top notch Netball courts with 20' anti-climb fencing and two courts to each bay. But the two courts together provides excellent practicing facilities for someone like me because not only is it a lovely flat area with fencing all around it but it is floodlit with massive lights! But all the courts have locks on the gates and you can't get in there. Whether there's a charge or not I don't know and I'll have to have a look into how much it is to use the courts or what the access arrangments are. I think they're also multi-use and can be used for tennis as well as that was the arrangement with the old facilities.

While I was bowling the park groundsman was mowing the wickets and I had a chat with him and he was saying that the wicket he was mowing was being given over to Rugby and that the old 3rd wicket was going to be re-instated up the other end of the park near the athletics track. I also asked about the really neglected 2nd wicket near the lake and he said that was being used last year quite a bit and that was staying too. I can't say that I saw either of the wickets get used last summer, so I was surprised that he had such an upbeat account of their use.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Performance review and other stuff

Fast approaching November when we'd expect Frost at nights and the potential of snow and instead we've got hazy sunshine and temperatures of 19 degrees centigrade. All the doors of the house are open and we're walking around in T-Shirts.

I've just been over to the paddock and put some more topsoil down to cover the seeds that were sewn a couple of days ago. With it being fairly damp at night with heavy dew the seeds already looked as though they've had a good soaking so now getting covered and the temperatures as high as they are there's a good chance that they might germinate.

Other than that it looks like people are using the paddock for football and there is a little damage to the new grass. At the minute it doesn't look too worrying but it's something I need to keep an eye on. Looking at the state of the new grass it looks as though I'll hold off of rolling it this winter as it looks as though that may do more damage than good. I think I'll just have to be happy with the fact that I rolled it in Sept when it was still bare earth.

For Liz Wizard Have a look at this Liz, the girl in question isn't having it looked at but to me this looks as though she may have dislocated her Knee cap and it's sprung back and it may not have found it's way back quite 100%.

Another exceptionally warm day for the end of October. Today we were blessed with sunshine and at one point around about 15.00hrs the temperature was 22 degrees centigrade. We were out and about at the time and rushed home to get some cricket done before we lost the light and warmth.

With the indoor games requiring a different approach we’ve been playing in the little square outside our house and I’ve ordered a few Readers Windballs from so that we’re able to play on concrete surfaces. I’ve been bowling seam up trying to bowl faster in order that it’s more like the balls that Ben and Joe face when they’re playing cricket against the kids of their age. In addition the emphasis is that they communicate with each other and run hard between the stumps. I have been trying to get them to play a front foot defensive block but they’re not that interested in listening to me, but there does seem to be an improvement in Ben’s batting. Interestingly I noted that when we all played over at Chalkwell Park yesterday that one of the things that thwarted the game was the inconsistency of the bowling and this is something I’ve noted before in several other situations. In the summer during the B&PCC fun day they followed through with their policy of allowing everyone to bowl and some completely random people were allowed to throw ahem – sorry bowl which meant that the poor kid that was batting never had a chance of getting his bat on the ball during the two overs that he faced. The same frustration I’ve noted in the games over at our Valence Way wicket where often the bowling is very wayward. It’s obvious now, but I’ve only just realized this kind of bowling is detrimental to anyone’s progress if they’re looking to learn how to bat. Similarly if you’re learning to bat and learn the basics it probably isn’t helpful to have someone bowling spin at you turning the ball away from the edge of the bat. So today I bowled seam up as I have done before and this means that Ben especially is able to get the bat on the ball and score runs and in doing so keep his enthusiasm levels high. In the summer we had a couple of days where I bowled seam up and it was with this approach that we discovered that Ben has an aptitude to play well off his legs and down the legside. So it looks like that’s what we’ll be doing in future and because of the consistency of the line and length there seems to be the potential for an increase in speed and no doubt a gradual increase in confidence and enjoyment of the game maybe?

At the end of last season Sept/Oct 2008 or perhaps running up to the start of the 2009 season I set myself some targets and Neil my captain set some as well and no looking back I reckon I did okay for the best part. My main objective was to bowl better than my mate The Wizard AKA Alex McLellan. Being a lot younger than me he’s able to play in far more games than I am and it turns out that he’s bowled almost 3 times as many overs as I have so there’s an argument potentially there that his averages are going to pan out to the detriment of his figures. I might argue that as he’s bowling a lot more than me his experience might then offset that detrimental effect? Anyway down to the figures –

My Figures were
Average 12.71
RPO 4.86
Strike Rate 15.69
Best Bowling 4-27

Average 26.35
RPO 5.82
Strike Rate 27.16
Best Bowling 4-40

But more interesting are the bowling figures of some of the more senior players and some of the other up and coming younger players. I wont even begin to consider Neil as he is in a world of his own and holds the clubs all time record as far as I know.

Mike Stephenson (Bootsie) - Senior
Average 10.86
RPO 3.32
Strike Rate 19.63
Best Bowling 4-13

Colin Pomphrett - Senior
Average 20.70
RPO 4.90
Strike Rate 25.35
Best Bowling 4-10

Ross Fullbrook – (youth)
Average 25.76
RPO 5.08
Strike Rate 30.43
Best Bowling 3-19

Callum Sellars - Youth
Average 22.30
RPO 5.36
Strike Rate 24.96
Best Bowling 5-7
3 x 5 wicket hauls

Stat Wars - Bowling Maidens

But then if you start looking at some of the statistical details these are quite interesting. For instance although I had a tactic of attack bowling and had given up on my averages after the mauling by the Leftie at the Runwell Commoners game statistically with regards bowling Maidens I did quite well.

I was 13th in the Maidens league table but then if you look at the Maidens as a percentage of your whole bowling figures I did exceptionally well considering I’ve only been at this game for 3 years. This season of my total overs I bowled 21.85% maiden overs. Looking at the stats for this year amongst the Spinners in the team both Wrist and Finger that 21.85% is the highest percentage with Neil Samwell being the nearest with 13.68%. But then looking at all of the bowling including the quicks I come out as being the 2nd highest Maiden taker as a percentage of total bowling. Some bloke called Paul Gelder beats me with 25.1% and it could well be the case that he's been bowling for years?

Stat Wars Strike Rates

Again I don't really know how important strike rates are in the scheme of things, but I'd imagine that the quicker you get the B******s back in the sheds the less runs they're going to make so hats off to Abdul Stanikzai because he was sending blokes back to the sheds every 13.99 balls. Again I don't know who this bloke is and I assume he plays for the 1st team as probably the Paul Gelder bloke does? But collating the data again I'm surprised at how frequently and infrequently some of my contemporaries are in getting the bats back to the sheds.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you might be aware that I'm not that convinced of the affectiveness of using fast bowlers in isolation at the start of the game and some of this data goes some of the way to back this up. Hopefully the previously mentioned Abdul Stanikzai is a fast bowler and therefore the practice of using pace bowlers against openers is justified to some extent. Admittedly also - the data collected here is from a season whereby 95% of the initial bowling attack for the first 15-20 overs would have been by fast bowlers against the better batsmen from the teams and this is obviously reflected in the data. But anyway the 2nd highest Strike Rate in the team with a strike rate of 15.69 was me. My next nearest Spin contender was Mike Stephenson with 19.63 and then Neil Samwell with 24.64. My mate Wizard comes in with 27.16 with a position of 11th best Strike Rate amongst the serious bowlers. Interestingly some of the people that the Wizard and I have to watch bowling in front of us are way back in the 20's with strike rates up in the 30 + region.

Again I have to say that some of this is fairly naive and I concede that if we were put in as openers on a regular basis I'm far from sure whether we'd be able to post similar figures to the fast bowlers after a season. But then in our defence The Wizard and I are newcomers and given the years of experience some of the others have I like to think we'd give them a run for their money?

In conclusion I reckon I did pretty well and that I more than acheived what I set out to do. The big turning point was back in May when after almost 6 months of trying to work out how to overcome the Googly syndrome I eventually did and got my Leg Break back. I've spent the last year on discussing Wrist Spin Bowling and looking at some of the more obscure Wrist Spin variations and trying them out. I'm now working out some new goals for the next season with a view to improving at a similar rate. I think the key to this happening is to now disregard a lot of the weird variations and to hone my skills with a handful of variations and get really good at those. I'm looking to go forward with 4 different variations but I'm not that convinced I even need 4, but will try it out for at least this season and maybe strip another away the following year.

A key area I do want to improve on that I failed with this year is my batting. But I think the fear of facing the ball is ever diminishing and my determination to improve is increasing and this may be helped by the fact that my son is getting bigger and stronger every day and is no doubt improving himself and therefore I should in theory be improving as he does? After Christmas I'm hoping to spend more time in the nets with my bat now that my bowling is far more accomplished and hopefully I'll beat my record this season?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chalkwell Park Cricket Nets

28th of Oct 3 days from November and the temperature in overcast conditions is still 17.5 degrees centigrade. This time last year the day time temp was 6 degrees and it was snowing! Over night it was -3 degrees and at the minute the night temp is 13 degrees! Needless to say good weather for some cricket so a few phone calls and some Face Booking and we joined up with Boffa and his two kids Ellie and Robbie and met them over at Chalkwell Park Nets.
Also in attendance was Harry and Ami and my two lads (in the image above) Ben and Joe. Me and Boffa bowled and batted, so it was good for me to face some balls of a faster nature and once I got my eye in Boffa commented that I batted okay. My bowling was alright - but you know my opinion of bowling in the nets so however I bowled it doesn't reall account for much at all.

The two other kids Ami and Harry - it was Ami that was the better - especially with her bowling and she was saying that Harry never listens to anyone and as a result throws the ball. They enjoyed it as well. My mate Boffas son Robbie played well, my kids said that he was a good batsman and his bowling action was pretty good too. All in all it was a good afternoon, before we'd gone out Ben had shown no inclination to get involved and wasn't at all enthusiastic, but as we'd left he said that he'd really enjoyed himself. Boffa was saying that during the summer he like me mows the green outside his house and makes a wicket for the kids and that sometimes they have as many as 20 kids all playing cricket out there, so I've said we'll go over there this summer and join in. So that'll be something to look forward to.
The Paddock
I had a quick look at the paddock this morning after sewing a few more seeds in the patchy areas and the rough bit nearer the bowler. I'll probably put down some more top soil and cover the seeds to increase their growing potential. At the minute with the weather being so mild the seeds may still have some chance of germinating hence the reason I gave it a go. Fingers crossed we wont get any really cold weather for another 4 weeks in which time the grass will sprout and get established and survive. It's a bit of a long shot but it may work out and therefore worth a go.
I'm also looking again at the potential to extend the levelling further down the wicket and maybe level the bowlers end as well as that seems to have been levelled to some extent inadvertently just by being walked/bowled on. In fact the bowlers end as it's in the middle of the paddock somewhat and away from any trees is subjected to more sunshine and is pure clay whereas the current batting end as it's in close proximity to the trees has been subjected to leaf droppings and therefore is a mixture to some extent of loam and clay? I'll see how the weather goes over the next few weeks and may be add more earth when the grounds wet?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Blog hit count 13947 which is wrong as the counter screwed up months ago, it's probably more like 20,000 by now.

Personal development

Because I've now got a whole bagful of variations - Leg Break, Wrong Un, 4 x Flippers (see ), Slider & Top-Spinner the only thing I need to do is drop some of them and focus on a handful maybe as many as 4 that I can perfect and use in matches. So at the minute the ones that I'm looking at are -

Leg Break as my Stock Ball
Conventional Back-Spinning Flipper
Wrong Un

There's a couple of issues within the list - for instance my Leg Break has a couple of sub-variations......

1. My main leg break which is a very accurate ball bowled on the off-side that spins away from the edge of the bat, it turns but the turn isn't enormous

2. A variation where the ball is gripped differently (lower in the hand) and is less accurate but spins a lot more.

3. A similar ball to No.2 but more flight and slower.

But the thing I need to work on is the Big Leg break with the big flick, so this will be the main thing I'll work on and at the moment I'm kind of working with the flick in the house and gradually aclimatising my wrist and fingers to having the flick action smooth and natutal. Later in the winter I'll get outside and give it a go and see how it works out.

The other area is the Top Spinner at the moment I have 2 variations of the Top-Spinner, the normal wrist spin type with the big flick and the obscure Flipper variation which was used by Clarrie Grimmett in the 1930's and 40's and is arguably the 'Original Flipper'. The idea is that I'll re-instate the normal variation and see how it works alongside the Flipper Top-Spinner and try them out in the nets come February and then stick with the one that gets the best results. I'm kind of hoping for the Flipper type as I already bowl that well at the minute.

Run up

Another thing I've looked at this week and considered is changing my run up. Earlier in the year my older son Ben had to work on his own run up as he was taking off on the wrong foot and everyone said 'He needs to address this sooner than later as if he sticks with what he's doing for much longer he'll really have difficulty correcting it. So I video'd a bloke at nets bowling properly and Ben and showed him what he was doing. I watched it and sussed out what I needed Ben to do e.g. launch off his left foot and ended up doing it myself in order to show him. At the time I was kind of impressed by the feel of the technique and then really impressed at how quickly Ben got it and modified his own bowling.

Recently I've been looking at it again with a view to considering trying to modify my own run up as I do this little shuffle that everyone notices and reckons slows my speed down. So I may give it a go and see if it has any benefits?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thurrock Cricket Club

It seems that Grays and Chadwell are no more and now we're Thurrock Cricket Club. I don't know the full details but word on the street seems to be so that there can be some forging of connections between us and the Thurrock Rugby Team who use the pitches adjacent to the cricket pitch? Although I might be completely wrong on this? It makes sense as I've heard that the reason that the facilities at Stanford Le Hope cricket club are so good is because the complex/fields have been given lottery money but this was reliant on the site being a multi-occupancy complex. Therefore their lovely pavillion is shared by the Rugby Club, a bowls club, a tennis club and the cricket club. So perhaps big plans are afoot for the newly named team?

Remember none of this is confirmed and this is not the views of the cricket club.
Yesterday I made this comment

But having said that tonight I thought that Ben made a pretty good account of himself surviving possibly as many as 6 of the 12 overs albeit not making that many runs due to his lack of confidence in shouting yes to potential run making opportunities. I know also he's acutely aware of the fact that if he gets it wrong and the better players are then run out due to a bad call on his part he'd feel mortified at making the wrong decision. Additionally the other boys are very vocal in their condemnation of such mistakes and they themselves pile on the pressure to the less confident boys like Ben and Joe.

Today I've been giving it some more thought. This definitely a difficult call for both the coaches and the more experienced players. At B&PCC they have a definite ethos of having fun and that fun should be the primarily objective for the lads, but the nature of the game is such that the primary objective of the game is that you win. All of the kids without doubt come into the game realising that to win is the ultimate goal and that the fun ethos as espoused by the coaches is muddled amongst both the natural instinct of boys to win as part of their instinctive drive to prove themselves as Alpha Males and without doubt the wishes of their parents that they make a good account of themselves as winners.

The issue lies with the other lads in the team who I have sympathy with because no doubt if I was them I'd want to the best from the other newer kids and full 100% commitment. Even now as an adult this is a part of who I am, I want to win and I want to be on the winning team and therefore surround myself with winners and not losers. So even looking back through this blog to 1997 you'd find the accounts of the MPA 1st XI's first matches and descriptions of my absolute disbelief that blokes almost half my age would play in our games and show a fraction of the stamina, fitness, skill, speed, agility, obsession and commitment than me. At the time, being the team captain I really struggled to come to terms with the fact that most of the other team didn't share my enthusiasm and desire to win and I had to look at the prospects of kicking people out of the team and replace them with mercenaries. These people were my mates who were founders of the team that had started out to be just a bit of fun and here I was kicking them out because they didn't share my passion and desire to win and meet my expectations. Needless to say it was a recipe for disaster and soon after things had reached this stage the team was disolved and I joined Grays & Chadwell.

It strikes me that the situation mirrors life and the law of the jungle which so many people are in denial of. The good kids who feel that they're being let down by the lesser kids will no doubt go on as I did and reach an age where they'll join older kids and integrate into the next level. The current good kids will bit by bit eat away at the lesser kids confidence or conversely might drive them to work harder and try harder. Whatever happens it will be a case of only the strongest will survive. I myself went through this on the receiving end as a child in conjunction with football, I wasn't a goal scorer and as a kid with no adult guidance the perception was that unless you scored goals you were useless and I gave up on the game only to rediscover it when I was 27. At 27 I found that my agility stamina and willingness to be a team player suited being a mid field player and I reckon I might have been okay at football in that role. I just hope that with the help of the coaches and my input my own kids can rise above the sense that they are letting the rest of the team down and go on to enjoy this game and find their confidence and speciality.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Indoor U 11's B&PCC v Belhus

Indoor Match

13858 - hit counter

Cor blimey this was a bit of a baptism of fire for Joe and Ben. Having never played a match in this kind of environment with the fielders all being so close and the ball bouncing off the walls and 2 runs being conceded for wides and no-balls (I think) and only 6 lads per team it was a bit intense. It's not a game I've played either so it was interesting to watch and see what the key objectives seemed to be. From Ben and Joe's point of view neither of them being particularly good at batting it looks like the thing that need to get good at is just getting the bat on the ball and looking to run if it's anything other than directly into the fielders hands. Their coach G-Man was saying that by running and getting the runs on the board you then put pressure on the fielders and they then start making mistakes with over-throws which if are not dealt with lead to runs from the ball hitting the wall/boundary. The only thing is - that kind of requires a sense of confidence from you as a batsman and feeling at ease and accepted within your team and not feeling like you're seen as the most likely person to consistently let the team down. The thing is there is such a vast level of difference in abilities and confidence between the boys in the team and I know that Joe and Ben feel like the odd ones out and that their place in the team is grudgingly accepted by the other boys who are far more adept than they are.

But having said that tonight I thought that Ben made a pretty good account of himself surviving possibly as many as 6 of the 12 overs albeit not making that many runs due to his lack of confidence in shouting yes to potential run making opportunities. I know also he's acutely aware of the fact that if he gets it wrong and the better players are then run out due to a bad call on his part he'd feel mortified at making the wrong decision. Additionally the other boys are very vocal in their condemnation of such mistakes and they themselves pile on the pressure to the less confident boys like Ben and Joe.

Joe didn't have such a good game - bowled fairly poorly and was bowled out as per usual by the big kid that was bowling at a thousand miles an hour and was as usual the best bowler of the oppositions team. The good news though is that G-Man's text message about the up and coming weekend 3 hour session is going to be all about playing this kind of game, so hopefully that'll help Ben and Joe understand what they need to do with regards getting the runs between the wickets.

I actually fancy a go at it myself and maybe with only 6 blokes required and it being played in the evenings I might be able to knock together a team I reckon? Simon, Dan, Badger, Me, Alex maybe? I just need one more Nakul? Or perhaps the Sri-Lankan bloke or maybe that geezer that played for Essex - how good would that be to have him on your side?

I reckon the 12 overs a-side and quick pace of it, tied in with the fact that it's played in the evenings might well appeal to them? The only thing is - it seems to be played fairly seriously amongst adults and the only examples of games I can find reference to on the internet are all league games. What I'd be looking for is to play games against teams like SDR in Basildon - but I can't even find any contact details for them at the moment on the internet. I could probably get them via Westleigh Height CC? The other option might be to look at other part time clubs like the AnZac teams around Southend or now that our college has almost merged with Thurrock and Basildon college - perhaps they could get a team together and play - inter-campus games?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oct 21st 2009

G&CCC News

As per usual, not a lot doing. There was an EGM at G&CCC last night and I couldn't get along as I'm studying for a teaching qualification and one of the lectures coincided with the meeting. I haven't got a clue as to why an EGM was called and not being of an age where I can be an integral member of the club and make it a key part of my life I don't even have a sense that there's anything major going on within the club for there to be an EGM. I suppose I'll just have to wait until I receive some kind of notification.

B&PCC News

I had a text from G-Man today asking if Ben and Joe will be up for Sunday morning training sessions between 10.00 and 1pm which is a good old solid 3 hour session at Woodlands. The impression I got was that he was sounding out whether there's the necessary interest in the idea to justify them running it. From the amount of boys that were turning up at B&PCC Under 11's at the end of the season I'd imagine he'll get the response that he's hoping for unless of course they've all been brain-washed into playing that other sport. let's hope not?

This Friday Ben and Joe get to play their first indoor league match which I'm looking forward to. I'm hoping that Ben Bats well and keeps the ball off the stumps as he seems quite enthused at the minute with his batting. Hopefully Joe will bowl okay and his enthusiasm might improve after a crappy couple of sessions with him.

My training

Not a lot happening, I'm starting to work on my shoulders and arm muscles after leaving them for several months after the Medial Epincondilytis. At the minute with the low level exercise I'm doing the ME seems okay, so I'll have to keep and eye on how that all goes and see if I start to get twinges. At the minute there's not even a ball in the house so I'm not even spinning the ball from hand to hand in the manner that I normally do every spare second of the day.

Bad news on the digital camera front, at work they ordered some of the cameras that produce the slow motion footage, but the order has been cancelled due to the website not being contactable. My own camera has broken down (Canon G9) completely stopped and researching why I came across loads of other people reporting the same thing after a year. Mines in at repair workshop and the geezer's fixing it for me and I'll hopefully get it back in about a week?

The Paddock

There's been rain and mild temperatures interspersed with sunshine, so the grass is still growing with vigour. I took a load of pictures of the fencing around the paddock with a view to trying to get the council to repair the holes, so that's something to work on.