Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ben and Joe - Basildon & Pitsea CC

Joe was dropped from this match to give someone else a shout, so the only son playing was the older son Ben. After a disasterous swimming gala the night before where all his other team mates (3 of them) all got medals and Ben came last in his race we needed for him to do well in this match otherwise he'd have been devastated.

The opposition 'Rayleigh cc' have been doing well recently and are probably the best team currently in the league by what someone was telling me. We arrived to a misty morning that was threatening to become a blazing hot sunny day and sure enough within the hour the mist had been burnt off and we were treated to a lovely sunny hot morning.

I don't know who won the toss, but Rayleigh batted first I'm assuming that might be because the ground was damp and the extra time spent batting would allow the wicket to dry and their bowlers would have a drier and potentially bouncier wicket?

The game got off to a steady start with our bowlers (I've changed alleigencies here - when I say 'Our' I'm assuming a stance of being B&PCC) started well keeping things nice and tight and not bowling a shed load of wides and no-balls as they have done in some of the other games. "killer" (Connor Barnes) took the first wicket in the second over only bowling 1 wide and 1 no-ball through his 3 over spell. The rest of the bowlers didn't make anymore inroads on the wickets front but bowled quite tight and giving away very little in the way of runs and extras. 'Frank' being the best of the bunch with measley 2 runs and one no-ball off his 2 over spell. Then came the moment of truth - Ben's spell. Ben's 4th ball clean bowled C.King and in the 2nd over he cleaned out M.Patel in the same manner.

Killer (Connor Barnes) went for 11 runs off 3 overs with 2 wickets (One was a run out)Ben went for 5 off 2 overs with 2 wickets (Clean bowled).All in all the B&PCC doing very well and in a bouyant mood as they went out to bat.

The batting was pretty good too despite some pretty good bowling from the Rayleigh boys. Our only loss leading up to Ben's innings was through a run out in the first over. Then came Ben's innings and he was sent out alongside Killer which was good as it meant that Killer with his experience would help Ben out with communicating whether to run or not. Ben blocked a few and then hit one and got a run. In his second over a couple slipped by the stumps and then one went down the Leg side and Ben got his bat on it and got a 2nd run. Meanwhile at the other end Killer was doing well and combined they managed to not be dismissed and batted their way to the best partnership of 11, Killer scoring 9 and Ben 2. Ben was more than happy at getting two as normally he'd expect to be in minus figures due to being bowled out. Two represents his personal best so along with his 2 wickets he was well chuffed.

At this point we were all looking at the scores and thinking this is on for a very tight finish with a chance if no wickets are taken that we may even win here? Then on came Mahir Patel their secret weapon. The short run up position was an indication of what was to come. He stood there patiently and quietly with no histrionics while the batsmen took their places and the fielder theirs. The ball was thrown to him and he flicked it in an arc from one hand to the other and then started his spell of Spin. Finlay and Anthony Ayres were his victims and at the end of his 2 overs he'd taken 3 wickets with Finlay getting bowled twice but the kid Patel turned the ball the proverbial country mile and did so with real finesse and style fligthing the ball with skill and accuracy that most adults would have had a problem dealing with. It was an amazing display of Leg Break bowling from a kid so young.

Needless to say from a position of looking on track to win M. Patel with his spin wizardry changed the outcome of the game. If you want to win you need some Spin! Hopefully Joe will play in the next match against Grays & Chadwell (My team) and he'll get wickets as he tosses the ball up with some spin and varies his speed and length. They can't wait to play my team and beat them and all the rest of the team realising that I play for G&CCC are all gagging to do the same.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

G&CCC V's Woodford Green

Here's the headline - 2 for 23 off 9 overs including 2 x Maidens. The opposition came at the game in a rather unusual manner erring towards caution at the expense of the game in the end as we bowled the whole team out for 110 with no-one really looking to put runs on the board at any point in the game. Throughout my 9 overs I had one bloke who would not be tempted to throw caution to the wind and have a go hence the low number of runs across the nine overs. Our openers were Reece Downes and Wozza followed up by Bobby Ewing and Chirpy. The Woodford boys seemed to be taking a somewhat measured approach to their batting and seemed to me to be over cauitious especially when the actual ground itself was pretty small and if you could get a ball through the gap or over the fielders head you'd be looking at getting a load of fours and an increased chance of hitting sixes. Straight down the wicket shots though, the boundaries were much longer what with the pitch being a long oval shape.

The fast bowlers got through some wickets and by the time they'd reached 30 they'd lost three as I recall and some of these went to Wozza and one disconsolate batsman left the pitch mumbling something about Wozza being a chucker. Yes he's got a round arm action and he holds the ball through his gather in a peculiar manner but the arm comes over and round nice and straight as far as I could see - just a bit low in a slightly Malinga-ish manner.

Bobby Ewing came on for one over where Reece was having problems with his bowling. The pitch ran off at angle from left to right and as Reece was coming out of his follow through he was running on to the middle of the wicket and the umpire was pulling him up for this, so Wayne decided that he needed to change ends and Bobby was brought in for one over so that the end change could happen. Bobby's a player I may have only played a game with maybe once so I didn't know what to expect, but Wayne who was the captain for today didn't seem too optimistic about his prospects, but then it turned out that he was pretty good taking a wicket in his first over and bowling a good line and length causing the batsman all sort of problems.

Jay had **** good overs. He didn't take any wickets but he varied his pace, length and flight considerably and only conceded **** runs. I watched realising that this team was taking a completely different approach to their cricket than any of the previous games I'd been involved in this year and increasingly it was looking as though it would ultimately lead to their downfall because at the current RPO rate it looked as though they'd be lucky to reach 100. The only rationalisation of the approach would be if when it came to the bowling they'd be phenomenal and look to be clearing all of us out by a much lower figure, so they were either supremely confident about their bowling and fielding or maybe weren't looking to win which was a shame.

Again another massive learning curve. The key points of which were to do with the nature of the wicket and the fact that it was so wet. This it seems which I did notice sucks all the potential for the ball to bounce away and make my bowling half as affective. I also expected too that I'd get more spin and that didn't happen either. The other key thing was the leg side approach. In the first over or two there was a bloke who obviously just didn't like it on his legs and he really struggled with the balls that were leg-side and that led to the first Maiden as 5 of the 6 balls all went legside turning into his body or round the back of his legs none of which made contact with the stumps.

Then I was called up to have a go. Wayne had asked me what end I wanted to bowl from as the pitch angled away quite steeply from one side to another. I decided that I’d bow from the end that slanted downwards towards off thinking that this would assist my Leg-Breaks? The bloke that was facing me was P.Shearman and I think he’d only arrived at the wicket and he had a look about him that suggested he knew what he was up to. Once he realized I was bowling spin he kept a poker face and then the battle commenced. Shearman sat out the whole of my spell which I was imagining would have lasted maybe 5 or 6 over based on what had gone on before me, but was extended to 9 overs because I think that Wayne was enjoying the battle and wanted to see me win it.

Shearman’s approach was that anything down the off-side aimed at the off-stump he just blocked it or just offered a block shot when they were faster and so many of those balls just skimmed the edge of the bats. The occasional wrong uns that you could see he was in appreciation of (Raising his eyebrows and allowing himself a wry smile) he blocked with his body or got the bat on them blocking them so that they fell to his feet. The run rate was still staggeringly minimal. The first over against Shearman produced a Maiden. The next over the other bloke took the stand and he wasn’t so much of a problem and he came after the ball offering a dab off the leg breaks almost creating catching chances at short extra cover but there wasn’t anyone there. Seeing that his approach was similar to Shearman’s I put a ball down the Leg Side and this bloke was all over the shop and couldn’t do anything with it and I could see that he was aware that I was able to turn one in around his legs and suddenly looked very vulnerable. I then tried to put one in there and get it to turn but without my compression tube bandage on my arm I wasn’t able to give it the big flick to get it spinning. The balls were going straight threatening to be given as wides. I tried another of those but more on his Leg Stump and he got onto it hitting it out towards Mid On off the bottom of the bat, the ball looped up and Wozza gave chase having to cover a lot of ground. Being only about 16 Wozza was up to it and made up the ground catching the ball over his shoulder producing a very good catch and my first victim.

Back to Shearman. Having had the legside success with the other bloke I then adopted the same tactic with Shearman. Shearman got the bat on the ball and put it down the Legside behind him getting a boundary 4 off the last ball of the over. Luck or skill? I wasn’t sure but went back to the leg breaks. The next over was pretty much the same story – anything down the off-side he was defending it well or leaving it and the ball was just passing the bat but still nothing not an edge or any sign of him attempting to make runs. The 4th ball I put down the legside again and again he dealt with it getting himself another boundary 4 but I was still unconvinced that he was that sure of his abilities down the leg-side.

In the fourth over I tried again and he hit me again with a ball towards Deep Fine Leg. Roy Gant was fielding out at Long leg and saw the ball heading for the boundary. Up till this point as I mentioned the pitch was nice and wet and loads of the younger lads were covered in green grass stains where they’d been doing sliding stops recovering the balls. Unfortunately Deep Fine Leg was under a big Conker Tree and the grass was very thin and the earth was as dry as a bone and Roy made a massive effort to get to the ball to stop it going for another 4 by sliding in where no man should slide. He slid and stopped and then crumpled and stayed down, chirpy who was nearest went over and Roy sat up holding his knee and we could see that he was shaking his head and obviously in pain. Bit by bit we all walked over to him and it was obvious that he wouldn’t be taking much more of a role as a fielder. He was sat on a chair and the locals got him a cold wet cloth.

With a Roy off the pitch surely this would be the point where they’d look to exploit the fact that we were a man down? No such luck Shearman stuck at the same tactic not going for anything. In previous games balls down the leg-side or on the leg stump have produced chances and catches, but this has been partly reliant on the player looking to get it over the boundary. Whereas Shearman here was just getting his bat on the ball and using the speed off the bowling to get it on it's way - deft little flicks. I tried him at least twice more down the Leg-side just tempting him or checking to see if he would deal with it again and sure enough the same measured response earning him a couple of 2's. At this point happy that I was at least containing him with the balls on the off-stump I went back to that strategy and the run rate dried up. I then realised that if I hadn't put all those balls down the legside I'd have had a brilliant figure for all the overs that I was getting.

And so to our innings, with a target of 110 it looked as though it would be easy. I was wondering what they’d come up with in the way of a bowling attack considering their approach with the bat. My assumption being that they were taking it easy because they were more than aware that they’d clean us up well short of 110. To me with little knowledge of the game it looked as though they straight away went for the conventional approach of using fast bowlers in isolation. I noticed that one of the older blokes in their team was in fact the captain so he would have been at his peak during the 1970’s and would have seen that period when Spin had been cast aside and rarely seen on a cricket pitch. So it was tediously obvious that he would try and rely on fast bowlers. Sure enough as I suspected with the fast bowlers our runs came thick and fast. You don’t have to be physically so strong to get the ball to the boundary with a fast ball because you simply use the speed of the ball to do that part of the job and both our openers set about getting a half decent total going right from the outset. In fact several balls were so fast that their wicket keeper let a few go by that ran off to the boundary for 4. I’m yet to be convinced of fast bowlings merits over spin when it’s half decent.

Jay and Bobby Ewing were our openers and right from the outset despite their obvious and misplaced belief in their fasts got off to a good start helped along by Byes. Around about the 6th over Jay hit a skier and the fielder at Cover looked as though he had it all under control what with the sky cover being cloudy, but the bloke dropped it. Eventually Bobby Ewing fell as the first victim clean bowed and Jay was eventually caught at a position a bit deeper than Mid Off. Ricko replaced Jay and my understanding is that Ricko is a good batsman and Reece replaced Bobby.
Ricko upped the ante even further dealing with the fast bowling deftly all over the ground keeping the run rate ticking over and despite their fast bowling strategy we were soon moving towards a quick win. The fasts still were used through the first 2 wickets and Reece got off to a good start hitting some pull shots and getting the ball across the boundary. Eventually the fast bowlers cleaned out Reece hitting the stumps. Wayne then made his way to the crease for some of his stuff. Wayne was putting the odd ball away for four and frustrating the bowler (Farhaz) with big lunges forward and being hit on the legs with cries of Howzat for an LBW. One bowler had three attempts at that and each time Fozzy and Chris Buckers shook their heads. This bloke was well miffed and not happy. We reach fifty for 3 and Ricko and Wayne are going strong still. Wayne continues with a series of 4's.
Eventually they see sense what with Wayne gradually smashing his way to victory with his series of fours and they bring on a slow bowler (Tom) and not a paricularly good one at that. But within his 1st 2 overs he had Waynes wicket. Wayne was replaced by Wozzer who did okay for a while but inevitably he fell to Tom as well with his slow bowling.

Wozzer took the fight to them and then Wozza was also dismissed by the spinner too caught at Point. At which point Roy Gant came on with Jay as his runner. Roy put away a couple of balls including a 4 and ended up 9 not out with Ricko 38 not out.

Back at the club

As the teams came back in from their games at the clubhouse in Grays I was interested in hearing that Neil hadn’t got any wickets but I think he’d been miserly with the runs made against him. ‘Super’ Callum the 14 year old spin wizard had taken 2 wickets and someone said something about Neil is getting worried about my figures as I’m bowling so well that I’m looking as though I might be giving him a run for his money! But there’s no way that I’ll ever beat him wicket wise as I play about 1/5 of the games he does if not less, but some of those other figures that they produced averages, strike rates and what have you – they’re the figures that might give an indication of how affective I am as a bowler and these for all I know maybe creeping up towards Neils. At the start of the season my main objective was to ensure that I keep in front of ‘The Wizard’ and so far I think I’m on track with that? The next goal would be the other spinners – Wayne, Ross, Jay and Callum, from what I’ve heard with Callum getting a series of 5-fers while I was getting my 4-fers and him dismissing whole team almost single handedly for less than 50 I reckon he’s out of my league along with Neil. But the others I may have a chance with?
Mason was at the club with his arm smashed up and in plaster. The day before he’d fielded an in-coming ball and it had caught him on his forearm and broke one of the skinny bones. The consequence being that he’ll miss the remainder of the seasons league matches which I reckon from what I’ve seen of his playing is a serious loss. Matt was pulling his leg saying that he broke a leg and was playing league cricket again within 5 weeks "And you’ve broken a little chicken bone in your arm and you’re out for the season – what kind of a cricket player are you"? Not only has it affected his cricket but he’s off work and on statutory sick pay as well and was saying - "I reckon I’ll have to get a paper round"!

It’s now Thursday 5.30 pm – I write this stuff up at night on the train going in to work and home from work and it’s taken this long to write it up! I reckon I’ll have to do less of it as its taken hours and is probably too long?
The fast bowling theory
I also asked Buckers and Fozzy about the conundrum I came up with last week with regards why don't they use spinners earlier in the game. Seems that at club level your average spinner isn't accurate enough to contain the batsman and it's therefore seen as a no - go as a strategy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leg Breaks

I was hoping to bowl the exceptionally rare and unknown 'Flicker' ball tomorrow in the game, but on Wednesday I woke up with all the joints in my thumb sore, so have rested it for the last 4 days. The thumb feels a lot better at the minute and if I get a chance I may try it out before the game tomorrow and if I can get the line and length right down the off-side with it I may still give it a go? Other than that I was testing out the leg breaks this afternoon using the cocked wrist approach and these were turning big in between going straight. There's a very subtle difference between the straight ones and the ones that turn and it's in the grip. The much looser grip with the ball being spun off the 3rd finger gives the big turner. More speed in the delivery produces the straight ball, so it sounds usable.

Weather's going to be hot and humid 29 degrees centigrade and it's rained this evening and the wicket will be damp and I think that helps me out as well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Grays V Woodford Green

The teams been announced and it's an away match at Woodford Green. There's a link here - http://woodfordgreencc.hitscricket.com/default.aspx with an image of their pitch and it looks promising if it's that lacking in grass when we get to play on it. Looks like a small boundary though? The team as it stands looks as though it excludes Neil which is worrying as I don't know who the captain will end up being and they may not be aware of my current form at the moment?

The team consists of -

Buckers (C)
Connor Scott
Ifty Ali
Reece Downes
Jay Shojahi *
C. Richardson *
W. Engwell *

Those marked * are blokes that I've not played alongside before and looking at the list I'd imagine it'll be Fozzy as the captain which might mean I'll get to bowl? Looking at it the only spinners other than me are Jay and Wayne and they're off-spinners of the Finger variety, but there's at least 3 fasts - Reece, Connor Scott and Ifty. So there may be the chance of 6 over spell if I'm lucky?

The weather looks promising and in the morning Ben's got a game at Rayleigh. Joe's been dropped which I think is a fatal mistake as he's one of the only kids apart from Ben that attacks the stumps and understands the necessity to flight the ball and vary the speed. He's going along anyway as the 12th man in the event that one of the other kids doesn't show and hopefully they'll play him up the bowling order as he takes wickets and is stingy as well. Hopefully Ben will find his rhythm quickly and cause problems with his bowling. We had a practice tonight and he was bowling okay after a few initial no balls because of his full tosses at head height.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grays & Chadwell CC v Old Gravesendians CC

Another Good day with the ball. 4 for 31 off of 4 overs. Batting didn't come to much but best of all I can now bowl 'The Flicker' and I'll be trying it out for real in the match next week. This is a ball ressurected from the 1930's and one that Ashley Mallett and Terry Jenner do not acknowledge as being physically possible to bowl over 22 yards! More to come..... A cup of tea first though.........

So 2 matches in a row where I've taken 4 wickets and another day and another opportunity to try and keep that kind of bowling going. Before the match I'd pondered the chances of it happening again but honestly thought that so far I'd been riding my luck and 3rd time lucky was kind of asking a for bit too much. Initially set to play in the 3rd Sunday team there's been a swap around and I'd been put in the 2nds with Neil. Tonight in the post match de-briefing back at the clubhouse Matt Hills said that prior to the swap around one of the team had 8 spinners in it and then went on to say across the whole team that there were only 5 real fast bowlers? I wonder who he counts in his top 5 fast bowlers?
So a nice day on the cards with cloudy bright conditions and quite warm at 21 - 23 degrees centigrade with some chance of some rain during the afternoon. I got off to a late start not being able to get the car till nearly 1.30 in the morning I'd been over at Mopsies Park to watch Joe

play with his team Basildon & Pitsea in a inter-team match where they mixed up the under 11's with the under 13's as the team they were to play had dropped out of the league. Joe bowled well conceding no runs off the bat across his 2 overs but giving away 3 runs with 2 x wides and a no ball. But I'll do a seperat entry for all that later.
The Old Gravesendians were again like last week surprisingly sprightly and young and it looked like another challenging game was on the cards. I got my balls out and threw a few up against the fence to get loosened up. Neil came back from the toss and we were to field. A quick warm up and a stretch and we were into the game. Looking around the team there were a couple of blokes I hadn't played with before - Bootsie and Chris Wren.

Bootsie AKA A. Stephenson and Rees Downes opened the bowling to Edwing and Skye who both looked about 20 years old - ish. Initially cautious they batted well ticking over at around about 4.5 runs an over. Rees and Bootsie bowling an offside line and as I recall fairly tight with Fozzy behind the stumps. The highlight of their joint spell was that off Bootsie's bowling which was considerably more rapid than Rees's bowling he nearly managed to knock Fozzy off his feet with a ball that he didn't quite see. I didn't get any come my way fortunately that were catchable but the ones that were within my reach I stopped including a pretty good one where I produced a dive to stop the ball that Neil felt was commendable. I chased a few down and generally did okay in the field. The opening pair kept the run rate around the 4.5 region and finished their spells without a wicket.
Tom Hills replaced Rees at the pavillion end and he too plugged away initially without anything to show for his efforts. Meanwhile at the other end Bootsie kept at it too with no fruits for his work. eventually a long way into the game we got a break- through Tom took the wicket of Skye just short of the bloke making his 50 - clean bowled him. Shortly the first of the spinners came on Ross Fulbrook bowling from the 'Flats end' taking over from Bootsie. Ross was economic but didn't meet with any success. Joining him was Chris Wren (Mason's brother)? Another bloke who can throw the ball from here to Dartford at about 300mph and earlier in the match he'd done one of those 'Wren' type returns to Fozzy and it was travelling at light speed and went past Fozzy and about 2 or 3 other blokes and I think it may have gone for a 4 as over-throws! Anyone trying to stop the ball using the long barrier technique would run the risk of having you knee cap decapitated! Anyway he was up to bowl and I was right down at Long Off and Tom hills was out at Deep Mid wicket and the bat kept hitting the ball deftly between me and Tom - but closer to me but being 30 years older than Tom I'm not quite up to his speed and agility and I was soon swapped over and Tom did a far better job stopping that batting tactic from producing 2's when I was there to singles while Tom was there.

Chris's bowling was unorthodox, he was taking very short run ups and looking as if he was spinning it, some of the balls were exceptionally fast and others much slower - I'd say 20 mph slower in some instances, some of the deliveries included as stall on the run it just as he was about to pivot and bowl. One of the bats was looking to get at him (C. McDermott) hitting 4's and he may have even hit a six, but he was definitely trying to get at Chris and Chris was trying all sorts and varying what he does massively.

Neil was then introduced (Chinaman) and pretty quickly he got the other opener T Edwing - clean bowled. Chris was then rested and I got the nod to take over from the Pavillion end. No wind this week and no idea of how I'd do? Surely I couldn't maintain the current record that I've been coming up with over the last few weeks. I had it in mind that I'd talk to the bats and umpire (or at least myself as a desperate measure within earshot of them both talking about where I'd be spinning the ball and how I'd be spinning it) as a tactic to get under their skin. First up was the bloke McDermott that had really been getting in to Chris's bowling so I needed to get rid of him as he'd been there some time. I hadn't noticed whether he was weak anywhere as I was miles out on the boundary? Besides my first over on the last few performances tends to be a bit wayward so I was prepared to go for a few runs and see how he was going to play me. First up a series of Leg Breaks to see how he'd cope with those. First ball came out of the hand wrong and went leg side looking like a full toss, the bloke swang at the ball and didn't quite connect with it and it looped up and over towards backwards square leg where Bootsie was. Bootsie came in a bit - steadied himself and caught it. McDermott was gone off the first ball of my over. There's merit in full tosses I reckon that go slightly leg side and around shoulder height as they invariably end up in this fielding position for a catch, but not something I'd look at intentionally, but I've noted it.

Unfortunately because I've not got a copy of the bowling analysis I can't remember the exact ball by ball account. But the bloke that came in next had walked in and met the other geezer and they'd had a little chat like they do, trying to come up with their little plans and strategies and stuff. I think he got hold of a leg break and dealt with it quite well and then repeated it again getting a few runs and looked kind of cocky and pleased with himself obviously ignoring me running through what I was going to do next when he'd been at my end. I bowled a bog standard Flipper and this fizzed through with Neil commenting positively from Slips. The next ball again was another leg side cock up and you could see the look of glee on the blokes face as he went after it giving it all he could and the ball sailed through the air massively and initially I thought s**t - that'll be at least a four and then I saw where it was going and who was coming in off the boundary - Tom Hills. He took a few steps in and just like Bootsie steadied himself and it landed safely in his hands and the next victim 'Plumber' was gone. 2 Wickets off the first over and I still had another ball to go I think? Neil again was laughing at the fact that the fasts had plugged away using all their skills and years of experience and got nowhere and here I was 'Johnny s**t bowler' of last year with less than 3 seasons worth of bowling under my belt and I'd already taken 2 wickets off my first over! But I have to admit they were bad balls, that hadn't been intended for the leg-side so there was a lot of injustice in a way.

Neil got the big Geezer Stoneham for 0. I wanted him because he'd come to the crease looking like he intended on taking us apart at the seams. So we were both on 2 wickets each. Neil then got Wilde. I think in my 2nd over I went for some wides and was hit for a four by this bloke Wilde so I was glad to see the back of him for 17. In my 3rd over still mumbling within earshot of the bats and the umpire about what I was going to do next I changed tactics going for the Wrong Un. I'd said to Lee Downes at the drinks break when he'd swapped with Fozzy and taken over the role of Wicket Keeper to look for the signal for the Wrong Un. I didn't bother and just chucked it up there. I went nice and wide of off - stump and then turned in and came across about two or maybe two and half feet to hit the off-stump - a lovely ball, even if I do say so myself and that was the end of 'Ting' who'd only accumulated 4 runs. Neil and Lee appreciated the turn off the wicket as well.

My next ball again was intentional a leg break down the middle as the balls that were wide of the off-stump were being hit. This one pitched on middle and leg came across the front of the bat with a lot of bounce and took the top of off-stump and it's bail. That one as well was very satisfying as it was a simple leg break and it's this ball that is the reason for my current success and it's just really nice having put in so much work since last September when there seemed to be no hope of recovering from the Googly Syndrome to now be able to bowl these balls and take wickets with it.

Overall though in comparison with previous weeks I didn't bowl that well. I bowled several wides, got hit for a 6 which Ross Fulbrook almost stopped for me but he'd gone across the line by the time he'd got his hands on it. A handful of 4's as well. Off 4 overs I'd been hit for 31 at least 10 maybe even 14 had come off the last over. In the 3rd over I tried something new......

The Flicker a la' Clarrie Grimmetts 'Mystery Ball'. This is a ball that was devised back in the 1930's by possibly the greatest Leg Spin bowler ever Clarrie Grimmett and then lost to history. On an internet forum http://www.bigcricket.com/forum/t58854-165/ me and a couple of other blokes have been discussing wrist spin bowling now for some months and one of the main contributors Macca has been researching some of these old techniques and he's dug up 'The Flicker" named and described by Don Bradman and carefully kept secret by it's owner CV Grimmett.

The ball is a Flipper delivery but with the hand rotated 180 degrees clockwise so that you flick the ball towards yourself as you turn the arm over. It's a seam up spinning delivery with a tendency to break like a Wrong Un. But if it's done right Grimmett says of it that it's got so much over-spin (Top Spin) that it comes off the pitch twice as fast as it has travelled through the air. Terry Jenner, Shane Warne's mentor claims that it's physically impossible to bowl more than 10 or 11 yards because it is so difficult. Ashley Mallett who wrote a book about Grimmett Clarrie Grimmett the Bradman of spin also denies it's existence and suggests that it was just part of Grimmetts psychological warfare against the batsmen. But neither of these blokes have read Grimmetts book taking wickets of 1930 in which he describes it to some extent and has images of the grip. Whereas my mate Macca has done an incredible job researching this delivery. So today in Grays, Essex in my 3rd over I may have attempted to bowl for the 1st time since 1940 Clarrie Grimmetts 'Flicker'. As it happens because I have been only messing around with it a bit - it didn't go that well. It went wide down the off-side and would have been given as a wide but the bloke got the toe of his bat on it and hit it for four down to a non-existent 3rd man. But there's more of this later......

PS if anyone thinks I'm talking horse s**t regarding this delivery by all means point me in the direction of someone else that uses it or describes it as we'd be really interested in hearing about it.

To be continued..................

Batting Figures -

Before I got to bat I had to do my umpiring duties and I got to see one of the older blokes bowl. I'm always interested in old blokes that bowl slow because some of them do it with some level of skill and no doubt experience. This bloke 'Goosey' (I think that was what they were calling him) was flighting the ball but I'm doubtful whether he was turning it at all. But despite this loads of the players were talking him up as though he was Shane Warne, but then they turned to taking the p**s saying "Come on Goosey show him your Flipper" and "Bowl the Googly Goosey" only too aware that I was there and that when I'd been bowling I'd been saying the same things to their blokes. Difference being though I was coming up with the goods and Goosey came away with one scalp (Bootsies).

Bowling; Crap! I didn't photograph the scorebook with the breakdown of the details of the overs! Gutted.

What's interesting to me as a novice at this game with no real grasp of the tactics involved. Is that if you look at the batting and the fall of the wickets and who they're credited to it's primarily Neil and Me both of us taking 4 wickets each and both doing so within minutes or seconds in my case of coming to the crease. Without a breakdown of the overs I can't quantify it but I'm sure that Tom was bowling quite some time before he picked up his wicket. Rees, Bootsie and Chris all bowled more overs than me for instance yet got nowhere. Yet I came on and got McDermot out with my first ball. Neil said at the fall of that particular wicket who again needed to be stopped as he was heading for his 50 'Dave - that is really going to p*** off some of the other bowlers, that you've just walked on tossed up a full toss and had it caught by Bootsie off your first ball'! Why then if spin seems to be the way forward and gets results - (remember these blokes were the openers and the top order batsmen), is it held back till much later in the game when they've made a substantial score, when it seems to me that if you want to wrap the game up and humiliate the opposition you would use your spinners? Surely when they first come to the crease this would be when they'd be more vulnerable? Instead it seems that the spinners are used far too late in the game once these blokes have got their eye in? Or is it that the logic being used is that after having a to play fast stuff, the inclusion of slower spin is so radically different it then causes problems? It's obviously something I'm going to have to look into and ask about.
Post Match

I eventually left the clubhouse at around 8.45 after listening to The Wizards account of his day and as I stepped outside Callum the Demon Leg-Spinner (He of a great many wickets and single handed destroyer of teams) was outside having a knock about with Ross. Just as I came out Ross was going and Callum said 'Now who's going to bowl at me'? Needless to say I offered and threw a few at him trying a few variations including The Flicker and the 2 or 3 that I bowled were on the money as such. He soon left and I thought I'd have another look at the flicker before I went home and I ended up bowling the Flicker at the fence for another 20 -25 minutes and whereas I only bowled the one in the match because it went wide - here and now they were coming out perfect - right on target. Of the 30 - 40 that I bowled maybe 2 or 3 went wide down the off-side. But I've now discovered that they have another attribute - they swing and they swing big, but this may be down to the nature of the balls that I use and the atmospherics as it was cloudy and warm. The balls I used are smooth on one side and artificially rough the otherside, designed to explore the potential of swing. But other than that they were coming out of the hand perfectly and rushing on when they hit the ground and breaking like an Off-Break ball, but they seem easy to aim despite the fact that they require an odd hand/wrist position. The success I had here in just a matter of minutes is so promising that it's inevitable that next week I'll be looking to use this ball in the game.
Neil made the point in the game today when I was mixing in Flippers with Leg Breaks that the oppo wouldn't appreciate the bowling at all and that someone like Cat who's a good batsman and watches the ball come out of the hand would appreciate and respect the variation. Neils comment came off the back of seeing a Flipper come in a lot faster than the bouncy Leg Breaks and skid in really low and still break towards off beating the bat and only just missing the off-stump by millimetres. So things are going well.

Coming away from the bowling session, the arm felt okay and I'd bowled without the stretchy support thing


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bradman bat practice

I had a bit of a bowl this evening. The leg breaks are going well, kind of realising that the looser my grip the more they come off the 3rd finger and spin better. I saw Warne somewhere recently talking about how loose his grip was so gave it a go and it kind of makes sense. Stopped after bowling a few of the new Grimmett Flickers and came in to watch some of the tapes I've recorded recently from the T 2o games. I'm kind of surprised that again people are so ignorant of bowling history and are making a big fuss about the fact that Mendis is bowling the Iverson-Gleeson ball. Somehow it's been renamed the Carrom Ball or something, but then again maybe it was never given a name back in the 1950's?

After ironing all my gear and the Boys gear for their game tomorrow I went out with the Bradman Bat and found a good bit of wall to bat up against. While I was ironing I was thinking that I need a good bit of wall and remembered the wall that constitutes a part of the building that's on the edge of the field where we've got our practice wicket. So I went over there and had a look. Turns out that it's a good stretch of wall and the ball bounces off the wall onto either grass or gravel which then means that it either goes straight or deviates. I'm getting so adept at hitting a small ball with 1" wide bit of stick that I reckon even with the deviations and differences in speed, bounce etc I'm hitting the ball straight off the stick 85% of the time. This surely has got to represent some kind of improvement that might transfer into a match situation? We'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime I'll carry on with it and I may try a Golf ball off this wall tomorrow and see how that works as that pings off the wall in a different manner and is obviously a lot smaller and more dificult to get the bat on.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

3rd XI this Sunday

Hopefully I've got a game on Sunday? The website indicates they want me but an oppo hasn't been confirmed yet which is a worry. Again a very different team with some people I haven't played before -


The weather is shaping up and a bit more practice and maybe I'll be bowling a ball that possibly hasn't been seen since 1940! 'The Flicker'

Looks like there's been a bit of a shuffle around with the teams again and I'm now at home with many of the blokes I played with last week -

A Stephenson ?
Tom Hills
C Daly?

So a team with 3 wrist spinners 2 x R/H and Neil throwing his Chinaman stuff. We're playing Old Gravesendians, who we play against regularly. I'm not sure how we do against them usually. Just had a look at their website and that doesn't really throw any light on the matter.

Had another muck around with this new ball 'The Flicker" seems okay I reckon I need a bit more work on it before I use it, but I reckon it could well be in use in the near future. I'll try and throw it down to some of the players on Sunday before the game and see how accurate I can get it, but tonight I was trying to land it on a sweet bag in the road and getting pretty near it, but the good thing is the turn and bounce I'm getting with it. So Lee if you're keeping for me this weekend we'll have to come up with a series of hand signals so that you know which way it might turn. You'll have to do what Neil does as well - every ball that comes down you've gotta make it seem like we almost got them every time.

I'll have to shout in the umpires face for LBW shouts and I might start asking the bat how he wants the ball or maybe talk to the bat when he's at my end and tell him what I'm doing - maybe ask him for advice "What shall I bowl your mate - do you reckon I should go right or left, or put some Top Spin on it or slow it down"? That kind of stuff - giving the impression that he's going to have to face a whole variety of options once he gets up there.

Flipper variations

Over the last few months on one of the cricket forums me and couple of blokes (one from Malta and the other from Australia) have been sifting through some of the classic books on the great spinners or written by the great spinners. One bloke in particular Macca (The Aussie) has been going so far as to research newspapers at his local libray and email the likes of Terry Jenner and Ashley Mallett and ask them direct questions relating to some of the more obscure variations of Wrist Spin. Ashley Mallett of course met, interviewed and bowled with the great Clarrie Grimmett at least once and was told to give up bowling and take up batting as he was far better at that than bowling.

The particular ball that Macca has been looking at and investigating is the Flipper and it's variations. Through his research he's found that many of the great wrist spinners of the last 50 years seem to be in denial of Clarrie Grimmetts legacy and some such as the slimey Richie Benaud have even tried to lay claim to inventing the Flipper.

My own interest in the Flipper stems from the fact that I learned the bog standard Flipper in a matter of days and then read that Richie Benuad had toiled for 4 years perfecting it before he used it in a game. Further research on the internet - Cricinfo for instance has articles where eminent cricket commentators go as so far as to say that the Flipper doesn't exist and that it's just a commentators excuse for not understanding the delivery that was just bowled. My interest in the delivery was further enhanced when practicing one day I realised that I could bowl the Flipper out of the back of my hand like a Googly and produce a big turning Leg Break A kind of Googly-Flipper and so The Gipper was born. I was further surprised by the fact that I couldn't find anyone else that bowled The Flipper let alone think in terms of The Flipper having it's own variations and in discovering The Gipper found myself in the position of potentially having invented a new delivery?

The truth is that Clarrie Grimmett invented The Flipper way back in the 1930's and over 12 years in total isolation messed around with all of the possible variations of the Flipper. Through Macca's research he's concluded that Grimmetts own preferred version of the Flipper is the completely lost to History 'Flicker' which unlike Warne, Jenner and Benauds back-spinning 'Bog standard Flipper' is a top-spinner. The Flicker uses the same finger and thumb snap to impart the spin but like all wrist spin variations the wrist is turned 180 degrees so that as you turn your arm over you flick the ball towards yourself creating massive over-spin.

Looking back through the history books we've discovered that my 'Gipper' was experimented with and Grimmett saw too that it looked like a Wrong Un but turned like a Leg Break and he christened it 'The Wrong Wrong Un'. He spent many years working with this ball but then seemingly dropped it to go on to bowl his 4 finger version of the Bog Standard Flipper and the Flicker.

Between us over the months we've been pondering the potential of the Flicker. Macca has emailed Jenner as part of his research and Jenner wrote back saying that he thought the over-spinning Flipper was impossible to bowl over 22 yards and that he'd demonstrated it to kids before but had only been able to get the ball half way down the track.

I'd already looked at the potential for bowling The Flipper with the wrist rotated so that the palm of the hand faced the batsman - theoretically this would create an off-break ball. But the experiments didn't work that well and it felt like an incredibly difficult ball to bowl and I left it. Then discovering Macca and his knowledge of Grimmett and his investigations into the Flipper history he began to unearth Grimmetts 'Mystery ball' and this it turns out is the Flicker. Macca speculated having found images of Grimmett bowling it (see plate) that it was a Flipper delivery and eventually he discovered more references to it.....

Don Bradman confirmed in one of his books that it was a Top-spinner. So with that info Macca was onto something and he described the ball to us all. I tried it and again like the 'Off-break Flipper' out of the front of the hand it was really awkward. I couldn't get any distance with it and the line was impossible but the main problem was the fact that it strained you wrist badly in trying to flick the ball inwards in a really awkward manner. Eventually I pulled a muscle in my arm and gave up on it saying that I might look at it again in the off season.

In the meantime another of our number on the Forum Gandalf posted some ropey video clips of himself bowling it into his garage but it was difficult to see what was happening but the thing is he was bowling it and describing it as Macca had.

So having re-discovered my leg break I've been flicking the ball in a completely new way when I'm just hanging around the house and as a result my wrist has become more supple and I'm able to spin the ball in new ways and directions and for the last week or so I've been flicking the ball over the top of my hand Flipper style rather than under the hand.

Realising that this was Grimmetts msytery method last night I threw a few and they went okay. Tonight I went back to it again this time over a longer distance and it worked really well. So later Joe and I went over to our practice wicket and I bowled 3 or 4 the full distance and they worked.

So tonigh on the forum I came to these conclusions -

I've just had another 1/2 an hour bowling 'The Flicker' but also bowling the other variations of the Flipper. I reckon I've got it down to 5 distinctly different variations all of which I reckon have got applications in the game and most of which I could actually use in a game. So here they are going round the loop

(1). Your "bog standard" Flipper as demo'd by Messr's Warne and Jenner on the internet, using index and middle finger and Thumb to put backspin on the ball.
(2). Your Clarrie Grimmett Flipper which is much the same ball but you use 4 fingers and the thumb. This ball because I think you have much firmer grip on the ball you can bowl faster with more spin and you get a lot of swing with it (In Swing to RH bat).
(3). Now twist the wrist 90 degrees so that the palm of the hand is facing the bat. This then spins out of the hand spinning clockwise and is an off-break ball.
(4) . Turn the wrist another 90 degrees so that your little finger is closer to the bat and your thumb is pointing to your face. This is the 'Over-spinning' Grimmett secret ball that everyone is in denial of - This is 'The Flicker' and it looks like a killer of a delivery!
(5) Now rotate the hand 270 degrees anti-clockwise (You have to twist your arm) and you have 'The Gipper'. Which is like a Leg Break.

Again I have to credit so much to the fact that I've been clicking the ball in my hand over the top all week and this has just given me a real feel for the delivery and made it so that my wrist it seems is far more supple, the version (3) delivery which I've never been able to do well tonight was working exceptionally well, just because of the ease at which it came out of the hand with the flick. I'm staggered at how good all these deliveries are and especially 'The Flicker'. I reckon with a few more weeks working on The Flicker it is going to be a killer ball used in conjunction with my Leg Break!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Proud Dad

Here's my son's on their teams website at last. Cheers to the bloke Neil that got the pic's uploaded.


Other than that I had one of my new style practice sessions. Instead of going out there with 36 balls and bowling back and forth for the equivalent of about 30 - 40 overs I just go over and bowl 24 balls and keep my hand in and try not to strain the arm. Did that and it went well with everything coming together after about the 5th ball. Nice leg breaks with some good bounce, accurate flippers and top-spinners that drop short and a couple of nice turning Wrong Uns. When I got back I also got my Bradman bat out and was practicing using a tennis ball and a golf ball up against a wall a la' Don Bradman and I manage to get the 1" wide stick on to the ball and away using drives or defensive blocks 90% of the time. I reckon doing this must have had some beneficial affect on my batting and this is born out by the fact that on Sunday when I was there with Neil at the end of the game I was so much more psychologically positive about the prospects of staying there and getting the 20 runs that I'm seeking. Surely if I can hit a golf ball bouncing irregularly with a 1" wide bat I'll have far more success with a bat this is massively wide with a big fat chunky ball that's basically travelling in a straight line?

I've also been flicking the Flipper the wrong way as I walk around so my wrist is in the the Top-Spinner action position and I threw a few of these and they went okay. Nowhere near being usable but a lot more accurate than previous experiments line and length wise.

I've also been bowling sliders because my muscle memory has now been totally reconfigured and I now naturally bowl leg breaks with my wrist in the right position. So it's not that much more of a wrist angle adjustment to have the ball come out of the back of the hand.

If had the call to say I'm playing Sunday and Ben and Joe are also playing Sunday too. So a good cricket Sunday coming up.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grays & Chadwell v Eastside

Grays & Chadwell v Eastside
As predicted it looked like a lovely summers day was going to be had for the game against Eastside. Michelle and the kids went to Chalkwell by train as Ben and Joe didn't have a match today and I was left alone to take it easy. I got there early at about 12.30 and there were a few people milling around in the club. I got a few balls out as Ross Fullbrook, the legendary Callum Sellars and Priyan Prankhania were all messing around bowling and this looked like an opportunity to have a bit of a warm up, so I threw a few balls and got them to turn quite and some of them that came out of the rough really turned which looked fairly promising. But within just a few balls the old Medial Epicondylitis started to play up and I thought I'd better stop. I was quite worried because I'd only bowled a 5 balls or so and the twinge did seem to feel substantial, but I also realised I hadn't stretched as I should before I bowled. Keeping my fingers crossed I was hoping that by the time I got to bowl it would feel better?

Then the opposition turned up in dribs and drabs and they looked like proper cricket players e.g. all youngish - in their 20's and pretty mean and lean. All of them without exception were of Asian extraction which to me - and I know that I am the king of generalisations means they were born with cricket in their blood and probably had cricket bats and balls in their cots when they were first born rather than teddy bears! It looked like it was going to be a tough game. Neil agreed saying this looked as though it was going to be one of those games where they score 300 odd and we're all bowled out for less than 100 or worse. The teams name was Eastside and they were from the Ilford area just outside London.

Neil made his way out onto the wicket with their captain and came back having won the toss deciding to field which he said the bloke was surprised at. Looking at our team as they'd turned up there didn't seem to be that many obvious batsmen with the exception of Mason and again many of the players were people that I've only ever played alongside once or twice before last year. The line up was as follows -

Wayne Simmons (WKT keeper)
Priyan Prankhania *
Mason Wren
Phil Downes
Roy Gant
Tom Hills*
Danny Groves
Neil Samwell (capt)
Connor Scott (Chirpy)
Ross Fulbrook
Dave Thompson

Those indicated * are blokes I've not played alongside before.

So with a Westerly wind coming diagonally across the wicket from the houses towards the pavillion (Same as 2 weeks ago) under billowy white puffy clouds and 23 degrees centigrade we made our way out onto the wicket. Worryingly the arm was still feeling sore and I was worried about energetic fielding and having to throw the ball in from the outfield. Wayne took his place behind the stumps and the bowling opened with Mason who I've only ever seen bowling in the nets on rare ocassions and he was fast there and sure enough he was very fast here! Mason bowled into the wind very promisingly and the next over was down to Tom Hills who looked almost as fast and equally threatening. The 2 bats looked as though the fast bowling was keeping them on their toes and there was plenty of oohhs and aaahh's as the ball whizzed through at high speed only just missing the bails and stumps. Wayne was doing a good job stopping the ball and generally the fielding in view of our gloomy assessment of what the outcome was likely to be was very energetic and efficient and we kept it nice and tight and gave away very little in the way of missed chances and mis-fields. A few understandable mis-fields happened due to the lumpy nature of the pitch - Phil had a dodgy one, but generally we were all backing each other up and keeping the run rate under 5 runs an over for Mason and Tom's spells.

The breakthough came with the first wicket being taken by Tom in the 6th over. Mason in the meantime despite his lack of wickets was bowling exceptionally well giving away virtually nothing and getting himself a maiden in his opening over. Mason's reward came in the 9th over - just clipping the top of the bails. Mason finished up with an impressive 1 for 31 off of 8 overs and Tom got the same score 1 for 31 off of 6 overs. During their bowling I was fielding at Mid Wicket and got my fingers on ball with a dive that went on to Deep Mid wicket but was stopped from going for four and another ball was hit and dropped in front of me low and I almost got it and they were both off Mason's bowling. The 2nd one if I was a few years younger and slightly more agile or maybe not carrying an injury I may have caught it? No-one at this point seemed overly bothered because generally we were fielding in a fairly tight and impressive manner much to Neils obvious vocal delight. One other highlight was a ball off Mason's bowling while I was at Mid Wicket the bloke hit it and it hit the deck before it got to me low and I used my legs to stop it going through and it hit me on the knee. Everyone kind of cringed and went 'Oooh'! And a few said s**t that must have hurt and Roy called across "Don't show the pain". But it hadn't hurt at all!

Then it was Priyan's turn to bowl his fast stuff. Being somewhat younger (probably about 14 or 15)? He was an awful lot slower than the likes of Mason and Tom and I got the sense he was being chucked in at the deep end as we all are when we start out. Neil encouraged and cajolled him and generally he seemed to be doing okay, but these blokes were pretty adept. Later on Roy showed me their scorebook and several of their games they'd scored run totals in excess of 300's and 400's and in some cases this was in less than 30 overs! Priyan bowled 4 overs and went for 41. He bowled in tandem with Neil and Neil kept it nice and tight and went for 11 across the same 4 overs and then he was joined by last years champion Leg Spinner Ross Fulbrook who was bowling with the wind behind him assisting his turn if he was bowling Leg Breaks. But already someone had said before we'd even started to play that Ross was going through that lean period that young Leg Spinners go through when they have growth spurts. Apparently when you're a youth your bowling is massively affected by sudden increases in your physical height and possibly strength. So it seems that over the winter Ross has grown and got stronger and is now having a bit of a lean period, so it was fingers crossed for Ross and we'd see how he was coming along with coping with this situation.

By now we were well into the game and only 2 wickets had been taken, the drinks had come and gone and the game was sliding away from us. As usual Neil was being accused of trying to profit from cheap wickets but as yet only 2 blokes had been dismissed. With Ross bowling and the fact that I new Chirpy (Connor Scott) was up next I thought that perhaps I was not going to get a chance this week and resolved myself to the fact that maybe this was in fact a good thing because of the earlier twinge in the arm. Ross and Neil combined to control the run total once again and kept it around the 4 - 5 balls an over again and it looked as though we might finish the game up having conceded perhaps 200 runs which in view of the fact that we were expecting a routing seemed pretty acceptable. What had been noticed though was that one of the players looked like he played for Cambridge Universities cricket team (He had a shirt) and there was talk that either him or one of the others was capable of bowling at 90 mph so we were crapping ourselves and in between batsmen there was some 'I'm not opening - you can open' kind of conversations going on anticipating a bowling onslaught when it came to our turn to bat. I didn't have to worry as I'd be well down the order and would miss all that thank God!
The next wicket was Ross's caught by Wayne at the stumps. Chirpy then started his spell and he did pretty well too, keeping the run total to a managable rate after a bad first over. In his 3rd over he took another wicket and it looked as though we were going to end up doing a lot better than we imagined.

Then Neil indicated that I was up next bowling from the pavillion end into the wind. So was the last week a fluke or could I take a wicket or two this week. These blokes looked as though they new what they were about even more so than last weeks lot, so this was really going to be a test of my abilities especially with the knackered arm. The chance came and again just like last week Mason said to Neil 'Neil do you want me to go and stand over behind the pavillion'? Whether Neil thought that was reasonable or not I don't know but he put Mason on the boundary at Deep Mid wicket. So Mason obviously thought that last week was a fluke. The thing is apart from the fact that I've gone from being a Wrist Spinner with a good Wrong Un and no Leg Break to a Wrist Spinner with a Leg Break and 3 or 4 other variations, the main thing is the fact that I'm just so much more confident in that I can do what I'm supposed to do and no longer phased by the situation.

Once I'd got the shout to bowl and the Chirpy's victim left the field and we were waiting for the next bat, Wayne approached me saying that I needed to give him some kind of signal for when I'd be bowling my Wrong Un. So a simple signal was agreed. But at the minute I can't bowl my wrong un cos of the arm, but the Top-spinners have a tendency to go wrong so I decided that I'd signal these as he'd then know at least they weren't going to break to his right on bouncing.

Neil put the fielding in place and off I went with a pretty poor over the same as the previous week 2 x 4's a dot a single and a 2, but I felt quite happy with that even though I'd conceded 11 runs. The first ball had been a full toss and the 2nd 4 was pitched okay but the bat had just hit it well and Neil had said 'Don't worry Dave - he hit that well, you're ball was okay'.

2nd Over; This started well with the wicket of Usman caught by Swiss Tony (Danny Groves) out at Cover, one which he had to make up a fair bit of ground to get to it - having been a high ball off the top edge of the bat from a Leg Break. The rest of the over went dot ball, single and three dots all off of Leg Breaks going down the Off-stump line trying to draw the bats out of their ground.

3rd Over; another Good un with Dot ball, single, dot, single, dot and finishing with a 4. I think in this over one of the singles was another top edge that flew off the bat looping up towards Square Leg and Chirpy was right underneath it almost and only had to move slightly to catch what everyone else was saying was a dolly. I looked at the amount of time he had and the fact that he was in place a long while before it came to his hands, but when it did he dropped it which was a bit gutting. He apologised and I wasn't that fussed I'd had one wicket and these batsmen were now looking a bit flustered. One of them 'Taj' during the 3rd over had said to other bat 'This is s**t bowling - it's so slow' having hit the last ball for a 4, but also acknowledging the fact that one of the earlier balls to him had gone the other way and he'd looked as if to say 'Whoa - that went the wrong way'.

4th Over; I was now facing the 'Taj' bloke again who'd just made the dispariging comment about my bowling, I looked him in the eyes and could see he was looking at me as if to say come on let's have it you s**t bowler I'm on 28 and I've just hit your for 4. I went back to the Leg Break and the first ball broke and he swung it only to miss it and for it to land in Waynes gloves. The 2nd ball was tossed up slower and sure enough he went at it and smashed it right over my head miles into the sky towards Mason sitting right out on the boundary at long off. Mason stepped forward one or two paces with the sun up on his left hand side not causing him any problems and caught it safely. My s**t bowling had taken wicket No.2. Taj was replaced by Rizwan who copped another Leg Break and blocked it with the ball stopping at his feet - another dot ball. The second was another slower loopy leg break down the middle that he didn't move for and seemingly hit it unconvincingly off the bat up near the grip and so knocked it straight out to 'Swiss' again at cover who caught it with ease. The next few balls went for a 4 and a 2.

5th Over; First ball went for a 4 down the Legside and the next was another wicket caught by Phil nicely out at Gully easily taken. That was followed up by two more dot balls a four and my final ball which was another dot ball which really should have been my fivefor. The bat swung at it, it nicked the top edge only just - Wayne took it and it bobbled out of his hands and was dropped. I wasn't that fussed I'd already got 4 and had one dolly dropped by Chirpy so another wasn't going to be that much of a big deal and besides Mason and many people before me have never made a fuss about any screw ups I've ever made. But Wayne was gutted and was beside himself with distress at screwing up my fivefor on the last ball of my spell. Needless to say Neil and several of the others were rubbing salt into his wounds and as we walked off the pitch Wayne could help but apologise profuously all the way back to the boundary.

It was later suggested in jest that my main rival in the stats game - The Wizard who I ended up almost on par with at the end of last season and therefore is the benchmark with whom I'm trying to beat, had rung Wayne and said something like If Dave looks like he's putting in another good performance make sure you drop a couple of his and that was the one!

Their final score was 213 for 9 wickets. Which was okay considering our first estimation of their potential. Generally we'd done alright, the fielding was pretty good and I think Neil was pretty happy with the performance that we'd put it. We all made our way to the hall and had our teas.

Later on Neil whilst working out the scoring said 'Dave your results today put you in the top 7 bowlers for the club at the moment'. Which is nice as I think I ended up last year with the worst bowling figures, but I'm not going to take too much notice of that as yet as there's still quite a bit of cricket in between now and September and I would suspect that I'm not going to be able to sustain this current run for the rest of the season? I'll just take things one at a time and try and learn as much as possible as I go along. I did have in mind though when I was bowling my Owzatt ask approach and I reckon I'd have done it in this match had the LBW occured. Other than that I reckon I did alright again - nice and straight with a bit of turn and a little variation. The fact that when they're getting a bit cocky I can turn the ball the other way and they then seem to be slightly concerned. I'm liking the fact that the slowness seems to be their un-doing and despite the claims that it's s**t bowling for the 2nd week running the figures don't really suggest that this is the case? Interestingly over at the other match the kid that bowled with us last summer against the Tilbury Mod Life Crisis team and took the key batsman and most of the others is producing some phenomenal spin form. In his last 3 matches he's had three fivefors - 5 for 10; 5 for 7; and today 5 for 21, this combined with Lovejoys 3 for 0 and 2 wickets by the Wizard and some others the oppo in that match were bowled out for 28 or something. One of the fivefors was a league match and this kid Callum Sellars is only 14! But what he does is put the ball on the same spot again and again with varying degrees of flight and spin. So that's something to aspire to and aim for and I reckon I'm getting there.

But having said that later in the clubhouse I'd pointed out to Neil or Monkey that this was my second week getting four wickets and yet this is with a bad arm where I'm still unable to bowl my Wrong Un or really give the ball a big flick. Neil came back with the 'Dave it just goes to show what happens when you don't practice too much - maybe you practice too much and the other thing is what with your batting today it just goes to show that you're not s**t anymore!

Reflecting on this again the next day I’m beginning to get some idea of why I’m getting these wickets. Reading Ashley Malletts book Clarrie Grimmett, the Bradman of Spin the last chapter looks at Grimmetts strategies and notes some of the things that Grimmett said about his own bowling. Grimmett was primarily a Leg Break bowler with a good range of variations. He himself explains the main balls that he took all of his wickets with was a small turning Leg Break and the Top Spinner. He tells a story of seeing a batsman walking off showing the incoming bat how much his leg break was turning using his hands to show the width. The batsman walked in expecting the first ball to be a leg break that was going to turn big and instead Grimmett threw up a Top Spinner that went straight on.

Grimmetts Wrong Un by his own admittance didn’t turn a great deal and his Flipper (Which he invented) wasn’t brought into action till the end of his bowling career. The variations were used very sparingly, but the Leg Break was used deftly using exceptional accuracy and variations in speed and flight. It’s these basic aspects that have caused the turn around in my own bowling. I recognize that my own Leg Break I can bowl with reasonable accuracy at the Off Stump.

I'm now getting the sense that within a few balls or possibly as a bat comes out to the crease to meet his mate they're recognising that I am a Leg Spinner, which as far as I'm concerned straight away puts me into the ascendancy. If I now chuck one up on the Off-stump attacking it they're faced with the situation that it might go straight or turn away from the bat and therefore have to deal with it.

I’ve now recognized that there seems to be 2 approaches depending on how suicidal or confident the batsmen are. The confident types recognize the fact that I’m slow and then try and attack me learning as they go that the ball breaks and spins away from the bat. Initially in that situation my current mode of play is that I’ll continue with the Leg Break and capitalize on the fact that many club players assume that I only have a Leg Break. It's this situation that I've got to learn more on as it seems important that while I'm spinning my web of deceit convincing them that it is going to go away from the bat each time with varying degrees of spin or bounce, I still need to attack the Off stump but not go for many runs? Whilst at the same time realising that this is only 40 overs cricket and that ideally I'd get a wicket at least every other over.

This approach will always need adjusting on the basis of how the bat responds. For me there’s two ideal scenarios here, one is that his confidence then grows and he starts to come down the wicket which hypothetically is an ideal situation and one that I’ve not faced yet and is a much favoured one in the nets. At which point I have to say that I agree with Grimmetts assessment of bowling against batsmen in the nets. Grimmett wouldn’t do it, saying that the scenario created in the nets just wasn’t realistic, no batsman on the field would ever approach his batting in the same manner as he does in the nets and therefore from a bowlers point of view practicing in nets against batsmen is not only demoralizing because it gives the bats the upper hand but it’s virtually pointless. Far better practice can be had anywhere just as long as you can bowl the correct distance with the intention of landing a spinning ball on a small target. Assuming that I am faced with a suicidal/confident batsman charging down the wicket to the pitch of the ball, I might let this happen twice or more but then just do something different – a Top-Spinner perhaps that drops even shorter and shoots on creating a mis-hit opportunity that would be readily fielded or something so much faster that would just go past him – Flipper or a Wrong Un?

The other type would be the cautious nervous player standing his ground not being tempted out of his crease. With these I'd keep attacking the Off-stump and simply vary the length, speed and keep turning it. There seems to be an inevitability of the fact that at some point he’ll edge it or mishit it out to cover? With trickier batsmen maybe introduce the variations if they’re insistent on playing with this approach? Much of this is theory because as of yet I’m yet to encounter a batsman that’ll take me to task. But a massive advantage in our team is the fact that we seem to bowl spinners in tandem with each other and the differing styles and approaches seem to complement each other and facilitate a quick ending to the batsmans attempts at ascendancy.
I’m no expert at this and I’m on a steep learning curve and all this may be a fluke, but it does look very promising and it does seem to hinge massively around the fact that my line and length is controllable.

With the line and length issue I’ve also considered mixing up seam balls with spin as I can bowl a much faster seam ball and have had some success in practice using Off-cutters. This may be useful as a one off ball that goes through so much faster amongst so many slow balls? Similarly mixing wrist spin with Finger spin may have some merit, I seem to be able to bowl using the Iverson Gleeson technique and get the ball to break like a Leg Break or a Top Spinner which may also be useful? But for the minute with 4 for 28 off 7 overs and 4 for 32 off 5 overs I’ll be sticking with wrist spin. But it does seem that I am learning and beginning to see different ways of scheming a batsmans downfall. I noticed this week and last week that any balls that I put down the middle or on the Leg Stump seem to be greeted with glee and if they're anywhere wide of Leg Stump they are going to be going for 4's and 6's out to Deep Backward Square Leg. But this also seems to be an option for a trap, not that I've tried it. It strikes me that a ball down the middle that goes straight could either produce a LBW as they did last week or one that bounces or rushes on could produce a top edge mistake or come off the gloves?
Another good tactic that I've got to look out for is the sense that something is about to happen when I bowl. I know Neil does it - he oohs and aahs at loads of the balls that I bowl, but I didn't notice whether Wayne was or not. Watching the documentary today that I recorded off the tele (Empire of Cricket BBC2) Shane Warne was remarking on how this helps to build the pressure on the batsman and he was saying even if the ball wasn't really doing anything the rest of the Aussie team where giving the impression that it definitely was.
The Batting
This didn't sound or look hopeful in the slightest. We'd done well in keeping them below 220 what with Neil predicting a score in the 300 region and their scorebook suggesting 300 or even 400 wouldn't be unusual for this team, but the batting line up didn't look that strong. Our main man Lee Downes seen here getting some Man Love from Dave Gaylor had been banned from playing as far as I could make out, something to do with him not turning up for a match, it all sounded a bit political to me and I got the sense that he wasn't welcome at the pitch for his misdemeanour, but Neil or someone had said to come along and support us and in the picture we see Lee being forgiven at least by Super Dave.

Our other bats included Mason Wren seen here getting his gloves on and Swiss Danny Groves seen flaked out here at Teas after a hard session catching balls at cover for me (Cheers Dan). But half way through the match to find Dan looking this knackered didn't bode well.
The batting line up was a listed above, but that hadn’t come about by design it was a case of who was prepared to face the Demon bowler from Cambridge, someone had said earlier that he’d been recorded as bowling as fast as 80mph and he wasn’t the only one that could bowl that fast, so there wasn’t a great deal of blokes stepping forward to do the job. In the end Pryam put his hand up and said he’d open along with Wayne and so by and by as the game progressed and it did become apparent that these blokes weren’t quite as good we had first lead ourselves to believe people were more motivated to step up to the challenge. The first two bowlers as far as I could make out weren’t actually that fast, our openers Mason and Dan looked a lot faster especially Mason. But what they were doing was getting the ball to swing. One bloke was bowling out-swing and the other In-swing and it looked pretty tricky. As I was umpiring for the first 11 or 12 overs I wasn’t able to note the details that readily but if you look at the bowling figures none of our bats made that much of an impression.

The batting line up was a listed above, but that hadn’t come about by design it was a case of who was prepared to face the Demon bowler from Cambridge, someone had said earlier that he’d been recorded as bowling as fast as 80mph and he wasn’t the only one that could bowl that fast, so there wasn’t a great deal of blokes stepping forward to do the job. In the end Pryam put his hand up and said he’d open along with Wayne and so by and by as the game progressed and it did become apparent that these blokes weren’t quite as good we had first lead ourselves to believe people were more motivated to step up to the challenge. The first two bowlers as far as I could make out weren’t actually that fast, our openers Mason and Dan looked a lot faster especially Mason. But what they were doing was getting the ball to swing. One bloke was bowling out-swing and the other In-swing and it looked pretty tricky. As I was umpiring for the first 11 or 12 overs I wasn’t able to note the details that readily but if you look at the bowling figures none of our bats made that much of an impression. Wayne, Prian and Phil all went quite cheaply victims of the swing bowling their bowlers were producing. Roy made his way out there with it in mind that he’d be batting to some serious swing one way or the other. He may have stopped half way between the boundary and stumps to be warned by the batsman just dismissed (Phil)? To look out for the swing only to come back to the scorers within a matter of seconds….
"That’s not right – the only ball that didn’t swing and it’s a bloody Yorker". Maybe the bowler had watched them speak to each other and perhaps had seen the gestures indicating swing and decided at that point to do something completely different as he was expecting it to swing?
Mason made more of an impression hitting a series of 4’s and a six or two. Mason was pulling off some nice shots a late square cut in the 10th over, deft little balls that were purposely being put over the heads of the fielders at slips and gully. By the 14th over we were more or less level pegging still, but with the latter order of the batting line up Mason would need to stay there for a lot longer and he’d need someone like Tom Hills to form a good partnership. The oppo’s bowlers (Usman) looked angry and determined picking the ball up and throwing at the stumps frequently in the event that Mason was out of his ground. Mason responded by hitting a big Six that went right over the tops of our heads at the scoring tables into the nursery play area where we have our teas. With Tom and Mason at the crease in the 14th over we were still in the game but then Tom hit the ball incorrectly and was caught at Cover. With Tom gone Danny made his way out to the crease and we were now in the hands of the Gods. Danny’s approach is unorthodox and gung ho, so he just goes big all the time and aims to get fours and sixes and needless to say this is a high risk strategy.
Super Dave said ‘We’ll do a ball by ball analysis of Danny’s batting’, but then for some reason I lost track of what was going on. As Danny left he checked to see if the opening bowlers had had there 8 over allocations and Super Dave confirmed that they had, so he was more than happy to get out there having left the opening to the 14/15 year Pryan! His first ball he gets off to a start with ball out to mid wicket that’s fielded. We at 16 overs and we’re on 78 as far as I could make out. Then the first of the Slow bowlers comes in (This may have been Taj)? Off his first ball he hits it right over our heads at the scoring tables in the nursery playground behind us. Dan’s next ball is a dot ball followed by a 4 out to Mid Wicket. Then followed by another big one bounce four that was only 4 yards short of the boundary and again out to deep mid wicket. His next ball is a single putting Mason on strike. He gets a nice little glance off the bat down to the opposite position to fine leg behind him that runs off for 4. Danny’s next ball is a big six out to deep mid on. Feeling that he’s on a Roll and facing the spinner Danny then lashes out looking for another big 6 and top edges the ball and it goes straight up in the air. The wicket keeper takes a few steps backwards, has a sip of drink and fag has a look to see if the ball is still in the air prepares himself and catches it. Danny comes away having scored 11 runs off 11 balls. Neil takes his place and I’m given the nod to get padded up as we’re now running out of players.

So the blogging gets discarded as I get my pads on with a really good chance that I may get to bat and put my Bradman practice into action – will it work I wonder? The good news is instead of being anxious about going in I’m quite excited and looking forward to the prospect, so that in itself represents a positive step forward.
More to follow.............

So around about the 30th over it looked as though the game was going to be wrapped up and for the first time this season I was going to get a bat. Neil had suggested that I set myself a run total to achieve of 20, my previously highest score for Grays and Chadwell being 7. So over the winter I’ve been in the nets most weeks and since January I’ve been doing the Don Bradman thing of hitting a ball up against a wall using a stick 1” wide and tennis balls and golf balls and I reckon it’s made a difference I’ve learned things like the later you hit the ball the less likely it is to rise and be caught. Interestingly last night I watched ‘Empire of Cricket’ a documentary series the BBC are showing leading up to The Ashes and on this there was a clip of Bradman with his stick and a golf ball. I’d always assumed that he’d be so good that he’d be hitting the ball continuously off the wall taking the ball each time off the rebound and keeping control of its direction by driving it forwards. But this footage had him throwing the ball up at the wall each time and hitting just the once and collecting the ball by hand and repeating again and again. (Grimmett would have a dog do the collecting for him). So with my Bradman bat practice in place and no real fear of having the ball bowled at me unlike last year when I used to crap myself I took my place at the opposite end to Neil looking to try and build a final partnership with Neil and maybe reach the target of 20.
I walked across the field with my tatty gear that looks as though it's seen some action and one of the blokes said 'Here comes some years of experience' I laughed and I got the sense that Neil had said as Chirpy had walked off and I'd walked on something like 'Oh here we go - Dave'll be out with a duck'....... They all clapped me in smiling at the tail-ender come to the slaughter, ready for a bit of comical fun.
It was the last ball of the bowlers over and Neil looked down with trepidation knowing that on last years form I'd be dismissed 1st ball. The bloke looked like a slow bowler with a short approach to the crease but he whipped the ball in at a pretty hectic rate and I stabbed the bat out and killed the ball dead in it's tracks much to Neil surprise and delight. Neil took the strike and a series of two's and fours seemed to pass by with the 4's coming off me. One of which would have stopped before the boundary had the bloke not fell on it and somehow pushed the ball across the boundary. I don't even remember where they went I just remember Neil shouting instructions and me hesitating and Neil becoming agitated. I remember swinging at some that were wide of the off-stump and Neil coming down the wicket and telling me to step back and cut the ball and mentioning that I was rolling my wrists over to ensure that it went low rather than up in the air? I felt okay about it and was beginning to calm down and think in terms of his advice and I was now thinking could I possibly be on to hit this 20? The balls that came my way that needed blocking I did so and each time Neil commended me and the fielding team did the customary oohing and aahing. I was just beginning to settle down and think that yeah this 20 might be on and Neil hit a ball out to cover and that was it game over so I ended up 8 not out which as far as I'm aware represents my Grays & Chadwell record.
So being at home having had two maiden overs last week and setting a new personal best with my batting this week they cajolled me into having one of the customary yards of muck. I had sickly muck rather than the usual ale, but luckily because I live miles and miles away and drive to cricket they saw fit not to try and pressure me into the ale version. So what happens is they go around the clubhouse and get everyone to contribute a quid to the contents of the yard of muck and the poor sod has to drink it. If you're a local and you can walk/stagger home, it's made up of a variety of alcoholic beverages and the idea is you get it down your neck as fast as possible and at some point it glugs forward and you get it all over yourself and everyone laughs at you. But I think it also serves as a way for the club to make a bit of cash and it probably bonds the club together? I was very fortunate in that they put loads of sickly sweet stuff in mine including fruit pastles and these got stuck in the neck and I was spared the glug back splash affect. One of the women there who could see I wasn't up for any of this commented 'See it pays to be a mediocre player'.