It's 5pm and I'm two thirds of the way through a sport packed day. Midday after some frantic phoning around I eventually arrived at our nets (See picture). Paid the man and was left to drag the nets out and roll out the mats as no-one was there on time. Thomas turned up at about 12.10, so there was at least two of us and I knew there was handful of others on their way coming in from London and Southend. By 12.20 they were all there. Realising that they were going to be late I thought I may as well bat first and got padded up. Since our nets at the same venue 2 years ago now I've acquired hip pads and recently forearm pads and I'm probably slightly better at batting than I was back then so I was quite confident about going in there and facing Simon and Thomas who are both quite fast bowlers.
Eventually once everyone was there it ended up that there was 5 of us - Thomas, Simon, Alex, Nick Naughty and me. The word is that this is probably Nicks first and last time with us and he only came to make up the numbers. So with the situation with Badger doing over-time on Sundays we're kind of looking at only 3 of us potentially turning up and there's more about that later.... But this week thankfully Thomas was there and made up the numbers. Nick and Alex practiced in one net and Thomas, Simon and me practiced in another. Our makeshift stumps didn't last that long either with simon disintegrating one into bits with one of his first six balls. So I've got to go back to the drawing board with that and come up with another idea for stumps. In the meantime I'll just repair the current ones. Plastic would be the answer - the type they make chemical drums out of. We have got wooden ones that are embedded in a wooden base but they're rubbish.
Anyway to the batting and the bowling. I suppose the area that I've improved the most is just confidence, having had a broken/bruised rib I'm as fearful as i used to be, plus my technique has slightly improved. So generally I did okay. Simon caused me the most problems with his bowling - he's Right arm over the stumps at the off stump on a good length and I tried to play front foot drives and numerous times I must have just missed the ball and it clipped off. Batting's not a strong point for me so hit a few back down the wicket with a front foot drive is a step forward and there were spells where I was surviving quite some time so it wasn't too bad.
Bowling. Here comes the fun bit. Of the old MPA 1st XI Simon was our best bat (Or was it Nakul) and he plays a fairly cautious game and is quite knowledgeable having played at County level with his school. He does well against the faster bowlers but concedes that my bowling really causes him problems and for once I was able to get some feedback on my bowling and apparently I do get dip! He was saying that because I flight the ball and vary the length he's always in two minds as to whether he should come down the wicket, but then he said 'If I'm indecisive, I get forced onto the back foot and then your bounce varies and I'm edging the ball to the keeper or out to Mid wicket or cover, so yeah you're a nightmare to face'. But he looked like he was enjoying the challenge of trying to come up with a strategy. He also said 'Surely if you can get it to turn on this mat, it's gotta be some much worse on a wicket'? The mat we were using was pretty crap and I wasn't getting that much turn on it - but a little. So that was pretty good.
Leg Break; Then later I was bowling at Thomas and he's left handed so my googlies are not that good against him - for some reason he could deal with them easily, so I reverted to trying the Leg Break and it came good even on the particularly unresponsive mats. I was surprised at how good they were faster and bouncier than most of my other balls and it seemed to be the key to bowling them was the straight hand and the spread fingers making sure the 3rd finger was very much a key part of the grip. It requires that when I place the ball in my hand I put the 3rd finger on the seam first and the rest follow pretty much all spread out quite wide. Doing this it worked exceptionally well, so it looks like I maybe getting the Leg Break?
It's not looking that promising. I kind of got the feeling that Simon (Although he seemed to enjoy it) came begrudgingly? The next session is supposed to be on Valentine Day weekend and at this session they were all more of less saying 'Count me out'. So we're now looking at the weekend after or a months time? I'll have to negotiate with the caretaker Kevin and see if we can get in there the weekend that's around the 21st?
Then later I played football at the Laindon sports hall with a bunch of random blokes and Thomas and Warren. I half expected to come away with injuries but it was okay. I didn't do too bad considering I'm 48! I don't think I was huffing and puffing half as much as most of them! Our side won something like 25 - 8!