Monday, July 20, 2009


Got up and what with it being nice and sunny and with not a lot else to do we (Ben, Joe and I) drove over to the SLH ground with a plan to retrieve some of the 5 or 6 balls that went into and never came back out of the long grass. Having witnessed the half hearted attempts at retrieving the balls I was sure that if we went down there with some sticks and a gardening equipment we'd find ourselves a veritable cricket ball graveyard. With 5 or 6 balls per game disappearing into the long grass, brambles and nettles it seemed to me that we'd possibly come away from a good search with at least half a dozen balls if not more.

So we spent a good 30-40 minutes having a dig and scrape around and do you think we could find a single ball? Nope - not a single bloody ball, not even an old one that may have been there for months or years! I can only imagine that someone has a dog that's trained to sniff cricket balls out and they come along at the end of the day or first thing in the morning and he gets them all! Other than that the badgers and foxes must be storing them up to sell them on ebay!

No real practice today. Threw a few balls at Ben and Joe's training session at B&PCC and that was it.


I don't know whether this is a good thing to be doing, but I've just roughly figured out my bowling stats for this season after this weeks performance.

Average - 8.29; RPO 3.67 SR 13.41

Which is an improvement on all of last weeks figures.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

That'll do nicely G&CCC v SLHCC

Yep that went well I got 6.4 - 4 - 8 - 3 and we won easily and then we did something really unusual more coming later........
Note for Danny Groves Sorry Dan turns out when they're enlarged the images are a bit ropey so I've only uploaded a couple.

Wow! I got that wrong a few days ago, none of those blokes were in this match at all and man is this a big old club with some pretty nice facilities. An oldish cricket club with a history that goes back more than a 100 years, but recently seems to have funding to build some really nice facilities, maintain 2 fields and 2 outside nets and more. The trick is multi-user occupancy of the facilities, so on the fields that surround the clubhouse they play Rugby, Cricket, Tennis (Tennis courts out the back) and bowls. But we noted at the end of the day there was no-one in the bar hardly - just us and few of the oppo that we played against. Then someone said an Aussie player that plays for SLHCC attended one of our clubs beach parties and was amazed at how well it was patronised and how good the atmosphere was. He said that they'd tried to do something similar and only 10 people turned up. It was suggested that the difference was that whereas our club is ours entirely and we say what happens and what goes on because it is ours, their club is multi occupancy and anything like a party has to go through a series of committees before it's agreed and the element of spontenaity is removed and probably more than anything else the cricketers don't feel like it is there's and have no commitment and empathy with the club/bar?

Driving there I went through a heavy-ish shower and drove out the other side of it and it was dry again. The skies were leaden and ominous and I could easily see this match not happening or being abandoned. In the end after a little more rain in Grays the team eventually turned up and I gave Cat (Mark O'Neil), Bobby Ewing and Wizard a lift in my car. Went straight there and got some sense of who the team was and here it is in batting order.

Liam 'Princess' Gant (Bat & Off-spin)
Callum Sellars (Off-spin)
Glen 'Bobby' Ewing (Bat)
'Swiss' Danny Groves (Bat)
'Cat' Mark O'Neil (Bat)
Matt Hills (All rounder, fast & Capt)
'Pomph ' Colin Pomphrett (Off-spinner)
'Wozza' Warren Engwell (All rounder - Fast)
Alex 'Wizard' McLellan (Wrist Spinner)
Dave 'Blogger' Thompson (Wrist Spinner)
Billy Gargan (Medium pace)

I'm slowly picking up who all these people are. The only ones I didn't have a clue as to who they were, were Billy Gargan and Liam Gant. So we had a big cross section of ages and sizes from Billy Gargan who looks about 11 and stands at about Matt Hills elbows to Pomph who's been around the club since the days it was based in Tilbury and that's before the Docks were built!

Then we got a look at the Oppo and they weren't so much of a mix. 8 lads with an average age of about 15, a girl Laura Knight who was about 18 I reckon?And two older geezers around my age maybe slightly older? Nothing like the team I envisaged that they'd put up to play us. I think that team was playing on the next pitch in a League match.

Anyway in a force 6-7 cross-wind it was decided by due process that they bat first and we opened with Wozza and Billy Gargan. I've played alongside Wozza before and he has got a weird bowling action that all of the opposition players that get bowled out by him complain about and say that he's throwing the ball. Sure enough what with him ending up with 6 - 1- 18 - 4 there was plenty of whinging going around 3 of them going for a duck. I even questioned the legitimacy of his action and Matt said that an ex - international player now umpire had umpired at one of the matches that Wozza bowled in and he said that his action was fine. But it looks very odd in every way, but God is it fast. His gather before he bowls is odd and he seems to catapult the ball, it's like his shoulders go forwards first and then his arm slings the ball like one of those Roman catapult, kind of like Lasith Malinga but not as round-armed. At the other end Billy was bowling his medium fast stuff and coming up with some results as well. But looking at the score sheet they've not been recorded that well. But one of his balls was a much slower ball as I recall and the other similar but with the added bonus of an extra bounce. Billy was taken off of bowling duties and I was thrown the ball. I was bowling downhill for my first 5 overs with wind blowing across me from my right and man was it windy, the worst conditions I've ever bowled in!

I made a good start with a Maiden bowling Leg Breaks, I'd only thrown a few balls on arriving at the pitch so wasn't that ready to bowl and didn't feel that good about bowling. In changing ends I was then faced by one of the dreaded Lefties and didn't know whether I'd exorcised my fear of the Left Handed Ones, the obvious solution was to bowl Wrong Uns, but I wasn't feeling that good about my bowling and we had this situation with the wind and they'd have to turn into that wind. The first 3 balls were dot balls all 2 on his legs on middle stump and the other a wide-ish ball on the off-side. Then I dropped one that was on Middle stump a bit short and he gave it what it deserved a spank for 4 on the legside backward of square Leg. I was bordering on being worried about this lefty but realised I just needed to get the ball right up there under his nose preferably on his off-side. It didn't work and again it strayed into his legs and he hit a single which suited me as he was no longer on strike. Two more dot balls and Wizard took over at the other end. I shouted 'Make sure you leave the Leftie up your end'. Giving him the impression that I was worried about his batting trying to lull him into a sense that he might be getting the better of me which he almost was, but I thought if I could get him coming down the wicket at me I might have more of a chance of getting him, because both of these lads were playing very conservatively.

Then the Wizard (See below) did his stuff with the Leftie at the crease and was hit for a 4 and a 2 so that kept him at the other end, so when I bowled my next over I had the RH bat & bowled a 2nd maiden, so I was happy with that 3 over and six runs down to a Leftie.

Alex 'Wizard' McLellan contemplates wides and bowling in the nets.

Alex was up again bowling to the Leftie again. Alex conceded 2 runs off his over and again the Leftie was at my bowling end out of the way. This over went okay with a series of dot balls and then I tried bowling a Flipper. I must admit I was out of salts for some reason and didn't feel good about my bowling and didn't feel that good that I was sure that the Flipper would work that well, but when I did chuck it up it was a disaster, landing 12' wide of the stumps! So that was my first wide and I gave up on bowling conventional flippers although normally they're one of my more accurate balls. The sixth ball was lobbed up as a slowish full toss, I don't now whether the bat thought it was going to dip or not but he didn't get the bat to it and it hit him in the torso somewhere and then fell to his feet, he'd turned his side/back to the ball and realised it had potentially fallen to the ground with a chance that it might hit his feet and sure enough he looked down and it was trickling towards the stumps, he quickly tried to kick it aside but all he managed to do was help it on it's way and it hit he stumps with the faintest of taps, but assisted by the force 7 wind, the bails were probably hanging in the stump grooves by the skin of a viruses teeth and down they came and back to the sheds he went. First wicket.

Wizards next over he went for 6 runs including a wide which meant the leftie was facing me again. This time possibly having seen his mate go and having a new bloke at the other end he played far more defensively and our boys fielded well to see me through to another maiden.

Wizard was up again; He bowled a tight over only conceding a wide, somehow I was then bowling against the Leftie again? This time I was beginning to get a rythmn to my bowling and some consistency so I was able to tie him down and negate the possibility of runs. The bowling was tight and consistent and I then saw the opportunity with the last ball to put one in there a bit faster on the same length and bingo, the increase in speed completely caught him unawares and he was bowled with a Leg Break that turned into him from outside his off-stump. A nice wicket maiden and a Lefty at that! Back to the sheds he goes. Cat hits a nice drive through the Off-side for 4
Matt signalled that was enough for the moment sensing that this was going to be all over in a matter of an hour or so as we were now on 5 wickets for 43 runs in the 16th over.

Wizard kept plugging away with Billy at the other end with his medium/fast stuff. In his 8th over he got himself a maiden and in the ninth a wicket so he ended up 9-1-30 -1. Meaning I'm still on track to reach one of my goals for the end of this season and that was to end up with better bowling figures than the Wizard. I've not looked at the batting figures as again my goal on that front was to do the same with the batting but he's definitely got the potential there to beat me as my batting is still very poor. I'm still nowhere near reaching Neils target that he's set me and that was to get 20 in a match, but as I bat at no.11 more often than not I don't get to see if I can do this as I end up being Not Out as the other bloke gets dismissed, but I'm not that fussed. With regards missed opportunities. I think there were a couple of near catches but I never remember them as they're quickly washed from my mind and I don't dwell on them at all, but in the final over which came later there was a ludicrous LBW that was so plumb it was beyong belief and I still didn't appeal!

Towards the end of the game Matt brought me back on again possibly to finish the game off quickly so that we could all play again and turn it into a test match! So I found myself bowling against the girl Laura Knight and Ryan Sidebottom. SLHCC's young Ryan Sidebottom lookalikey (M. Easter).

Laura Knight looked a bit handy with the bat even though she'd come on as the No.11 and she got a run off me and her dot balls were off the bat and fielded well by our lads rather than misses or leaves. (I'm sure there was an over that they've not recorded). Because I would swear that I bowled more than 2 balls at Laura? One of them, possiby the dot ball if I did only bowl one over in the second spell was a plumb LBW. Laura Knight came out with a big low defensive stride to a Leg break pitched well up. The stride was so big it negated the potential for the umpire to tell if it was turning or not and somehow there was no bat there at all and it hit her plumb on the legs. I saw it and realised that it was an LBW and then noticed her reaction as she realised that she'd been caught plumb LBW and waited for the shout looking up at me, then the umpire and then me again in total disbelief. It was too late, I turned to Matt at Mid Off and said 'That was Plumb wasn't it" He shook his head. "You didn't appeal". Laura couldn't believe her luck, but she only survived a few seconds more as there was a rotation of strike on a single. Then it was Sidey's turn and he'd already got a 2 and a 4 off some positive looking batting and it looked as though he was up for some spin (because it's so easy to play). He came after me and top edged it out to Point and Bobby Ewing caught it. That was their innings - all out for 81.

Pomph leads the oppo off the pitch at the end of their innings

Bobby Ewing leaves the field laughing in disbelief that he fell to their wrist spinner who had the weirdest action and no follow through, but some how he managed to hit a Dolly off it to square leg.
Cat grounds his bat in a near run-out scenario, whilst their wicket keeper wearing shoes with no studs or grip slips and head butts the floor!
Princess of Grays faces the Princess of SLHCC.

Liam 'Princess' Gant.

Wozza wicket keeps whilst Callum 'Off-spin' Sellars bats in his sox with a real ball and no pads. They're hardcore at G&CCC.

Callum Sellars News. I've always been under the impression that Callum was a wrist spinner, but it seems that he's being trained in the technique of Off-spin and we're not talking Wrong Uns we're talking Finger Spin techniques. But he's being encouraged to use the two different techniques by the sounds of it - Leg Breaks to get the ball to go one way and Finger Spin to get an Off-Break. I suppose because most bats wouldn't know a Leg Break from a Finger Spin Off-break it doesn't matter that he's mixing the two techniques and I suppose from that point of view it makes sense. But it does sound like it could lead to another loss of a wrist spinner and that's never a good thing, who will pass on the knowledge in the future? We'll have to monitor his progress as he goes along.

The batsmen waiting their turn.

Danny risks one off of Laura Knight in direct contrast to 99% of his batting which were all defensive blocks. I wonder why that was?
The poor kid that used his knee to stop Danny's ball that came out of the middle of his bat. That'll be sore in the morning mate. Use your hands next time!

Danny hits one leg-side on his way to his 31

I'm a bit stuffed for time, so I'm going to blast through the batting as quick as I can. Liam did well getting 37 including a bunch of fours. He was caught at cover. During his innings we lost Callum Sellars to a run out and he hadn't even got off the mark. Cat replaced Liam and Callum was replaced by Bobby Ewing. Interestingly their opener who was a reasonaby fast bowler for a little bloke came up with nothing. He looked accurate as they usually are *(They only have to bowl it straight after all)! But ended up with 6-2-15-0. But then on came another lad - 'Smith'. Matt our captain was able to tell that he was a wrist spinner, but he had the oddest action and it looked a bit wayward initially, but with his weird action he gradually got it together. Neil says 'S**T spin bowling gets wickets and sure enough this lad took out a couple of our blokes. Bobby Ewing - "It was so slow it was going to be a double bouncer and I went to hit it just as it was going to hit the ground on the second bounce and just knocked it straight to square Leg". At least he was able to see the funny side of it. This was the same kid that got Princess as well and the kid came away with 5-0-41-2 bowling 2 of our top order bats. Again substantiating my arguments for the inclusion of Spinners in the opening bowling attack.
At this point I was going to launch into a tirade of anti-quick rhetoric, but went to one of my sources wherein I was expecting the Spin dismissive Simon Hughes to give me a load of ammo with which to quote with and then found this in his book 'Jargon Busting - Mastering the art of Cricket'. ISBN 978-0-7522-6508-7.
It's a fallacy to think that spinners prefer to bowl late in the day with a ragged, old ball you wouldn't give your dog. They like to get in the action with something hard that will bounce just as much as the pace men do. And like the pacemen, they are often aggressive in words and deeds. Bringing on a spinner early is quite a bright idea, but because top-order batsmen are not so used to slow bowling and, with the new ball, some spinning deliveries might grip and turn and others, pitching on the shiny part of the ball, might skid straight on. (Simon Hughes; Jargon Busting - Mastering The Art of Cricket; Channel 4 Books; Basingstoke & Oxford, 2002, Page 101).
Where he is obviously on my side with regards the idea of using Spinners much earlier in the game. So it was good to see the kid bowling fairly early againts 2 bats that were doing well till he turned up and sent them back to the sheds! Maybe in a few years with hours and hours or practice he might get a follow through and some accuracy and be a half decent attacking spin bowler?
Other highlights were Laura Knight the SLHCC female player 'She can bowl that girl, she's right on the stumps'! Said Danny Groves having made 31 runs. 30 were made off of the bowling featuring blokes bowling from the Wheat field end and 1 run made off the bowling from the estate end (Laura's end). I've never seen Danny bat in such a text book manner as when he faced Laura Knight - every ball a dead straight bat and or a defensive block. Whereas at the other end he was flailing the bat around like the usual Danny we know - knocking the ball for four with his usual streaky manner. His 31 included six boundary fours and the loss of at least 3 balls in the long grass on the East boundary (Leg-side).

The official match was all over before teas and it was decided that we'd carry on playing as we were all here to play cricket and it was all over too soon. I'm not sure how it all panned out but I think what happened in the spirit of the game was that we set an acheiveable total for them to chase, so we batted through to 190 and declared. They were then put in to bat and batted in a completely different manner and rushed through their innings and got in front of our total and then declared leaving us only a matter of overs to force a draw. To be honest I was a bit confused as to what was going on, but I know at the end we needed a small amount of runs to win and we didn't make it and it was declared a draw. The thing is it was a far more satisfactory end to the day as opposed to all going home at 3pm. The good thing was in their second over the SLH boys came out and batted with far more confidence and were hitting 4's all over the pitch. Maybe because they had something to chase rather than having to set a batting total and being in the middle of a collapse as they did in the first innings?
Cat played well hitting the ball where he wanted it to go with real skill and actually played Laura's bowling on it's merits rather than fannying around fearful of being bowled out by her.
Matt took over from Cat and hit some sixes as you'd expect him to do with his averages and what with being of the Hills cricket dynasty.
I'm glad that both teams saw sense in playing again and would thank anyone that had the hump with going in again because they were knackered from playing on Saturday. Cheers! Because I wait all week to play on Sunday and really look forward to it, so when it all finishes early and the other team play in the manner that Goresbrook did when we were totally mismatched a few weekends ago, it's a real shame and as some people pointed out not worth the tenner you pay for the game. So well done Matt and the other captain for making that happen.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

G&CCC v Stanford Le Hope

Blimey looks like they're expecting some serious stuff at this game or they're looking to get the game over in a few minutes as they've pulled out the stops on the wrist spin front for this match they've got The Wizard, Me and the legend that is - Callum Sellars, while I was having my run of 4 wicket bags he was getting 5's for a handful of runs in his matches, he was in one match where they bowled the side out for 29 or something stupid and he took 5 for 8 or something. Nick Buckley seems to be in the match which is news as I'd heard that he'd blown it all out and wouldn't ever play again? I think W Engwell is Wozza? but I don't know Liam Gant or B. Gargan are and there's no info with regards whether they bowl or not. Looking at the stats there's no evidence that Billy Gargan does anything yet so it looks as though he's a colt or new? Mark O'Neil is an exceptionally good batsman so along with Matt we've got a couple of good bats. Actually - Mark O'Neil is that Cat?

Matt Hills (47 - 2 - 239 - 15)
Mark O'Neil - Serious Batsman.
Nick Buckley?
Liam Gant
'Swiss' Danny Groves
W Engwell (76 - 11 - 320 - 12)
The Legendary Callum Sellars!!!! (85.2 - 7 - 402 - 25)
J Warren
Alex 'Wizard' McLellan (53.7 - 2 - 333 - 9)
Billy Gargan
Dave Thompson (32.2 - 6 - 133 - 14)

The practice sessions today went well, couldn't get my leg breaks to turn much in comparison to the Wrong Uns, but they were incredibly accurate and turned a bit, so I'm hopeful about the outcome tomorrow. With the success over the week with the Wrong Un's I'm far better prepared for the Lefties so if they pull out there Lefties - Bring em on! The weather's been good today windy and sunny so that would have helped to dry out the wicket and tomorrow is predicted to be similar. So it's all systems go!

New wicket news

The rain has stopped and the sun has been out and the earth is nice and damp so I've been out with the roller and the mower and cut the new wicket for the first time and I've got more of a sense of how rough it is now and the work that needs to be done on it. There's still some levelling to be done and some obvious weeding that I can get on with in the short term.

Me and Ben set up the stumps and Ben bowled a few balls at me on the new wicket and it wasn't too bad considering how rough it is still. Generally the balls kept pretty much there line, but it was just good that Ben had a bowl and seemed to be enjoying it. Joe wouldn't be tempted at all so I just left him to it.

Managed to have 2 stints myself bowing mostly my Leg Breaks and the odd Wrong here and there, the Wrong Uns I can produce the big flick with and they turn really well on a consistent basis. My line and length is slightly wayward but I reckon if I keep chucking them up there on a regular basis and bowl 3 for every 12 balls I'll get the consistency I desire and I can already see improvements and I'm optimistic about getting it together pretty quickly.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stanford Le Hope cc

Standford Le Hope cc is the up and coming game this Sunday and the lambs to slaughter for some of my Wrist Spin. It looks like the Captain will be Matt Hills, so when he'll play me I don't know, but can't really see him putting me in as an opener. Looks like quite a good team with some good players, Alex is there with me ready to chuck up some of his Leg Spin as well. The game is at their ground in Standford Le Hope so if I get a chance I may go over there and have a look and see if it's going to turn. It should do as it's been raining and it'll be a bit sticky like it was that day at Dartford.

I've had a nose around their website and come across a few hopefuls. This mob have got some off Spinners and a 'Leg Spinner' who doesn't describe himself as a wrist spinner, so they might fancy their chances against the real stuff. These blokes probably would have had some practice in the nets over the winter against their own spinners and will be thinking that they can play spin? There's also the Leg Spinner, so that gives them an edge as well to a very small extent. But they will all probably be suffering from *Net Spin Syndrome. (NSS).

Potential Openers -

Phil Anderson RH Opener also bowls a bit of spin 1-39 against Southend being his Best Bowling figures. 48 being his best batting total.

Alex Ellis; RH patient opener has scored 65 against Belhus before.

Geoff Lake; RH Top Order 114 his highest.

There's more but I got fed up of looking for them but came across the Danger Man for me - Peter Gray: A Leftie - On the website the captain says -
" Despite never training he is simply the best wicket keeper batsman in Thurrock. With his unorthodox batting style he is capable of taking any bowling attack apart and winning games single handedly " His batting record is 200 and it clearly states that he is the best LH bat they've ever had.

John Harris; Is also a Leftie but his profile isn't anywhere near as ominous.

They have got a bloke Michael Gray who's been bowling Leg Spin since 1985, but he's listed as being a Saturday 1st XI player. If he's been chucking the stuff since then we'll be expecting the full repetoire from him and I'll be interested in seeing how good he's got over the last 24 years of bowling leg spin. I'll be watching for his inward-spinning Grimmett Top Spinner and his Wrong- Wrong Un that goes the other way. He's got good figures 7 for 40 against Langdon Hills.

Not all of them are listed as being Sunday players and it may pan out that hardly any of these blokes will play, but if they do there's a couple there I need to adopt different strategies with so if the rain holds off tomorrow I'll see if I can have a few chucks on my practice wicket. But the most interesting thing will be to see a bloke who's bowled wrist spin for 24 years. So fingers crossed some of these blokes may be at the match?

NSS. (Net Spin Syndrome). Clarrie Grimmett the Grandfather of Wrist Spin dismissed practicing in the nets against batsmen as being an almost pointless exercise if you're a wrist spinner. He makes the point that the batsman will bat in a wholly unrealistic manner while in the nets because there are no consequences for his actions. So in a net situation they will bat with a flair and bravery that can't be transfered to a match situation. The net (excuse the pun) affect is that they fool themselves into believing that they can play spin whereas the truth is they can't, not in that way they can't and for the wrist spinner it's a wholly pointless exercise that can be soul destroying because of the manner with which the batsman plays and gets the better of you. Grimmett always advocated practice alone to the point that throughout his career he had a backyard wicket in each of his bacakyards and he'd practice every day for hours and carried on doing so into his 80's.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Private Wicket news

Went in to work today so limited opportunities to practice. I'm on the train writing at the minute and it's lovely and sunny and warm with no obvious wind so a good evening to possibly knock up a video for the website and an evening to do some stock pictures of the kids. I want to get shots of them wearing traditional school boy clothes playing cricket, whether it'll happen or not I'm not sure but I do want to do that kind of shot soon and if I'm going to let the practice wicket on the field over-grow which seems increasingly likely I need to do these images in the next couple of days. Added to that despite the fact the weather is nice at the minute the prediction on the weather report this morning is that the next few days especially tomorrow are going to be marred by rain. Looking out of the train the clouds indicate that's the case as there's Mackerel Sky cloud cover and that's usually a pretty safe indication of a front moving in and a change in the weather for the worse. Actually looking west in the direction we're travelling and the direction the weather would be moving in from, it looks a lot cloudier and the clouds looken laiden with rain.

I'm hoping that overnight it does rain so that the new wicket starts to come together in some positive manner. If I get to practice tonight I'll be mostly focussing on wrong uns and getting them down the prospective sides. I can get them to turn and I reckon I get a decent length what I need to be able to do is get them on a controlable line e.g on the off-stump and anywhere up to a foot wide of it so that there's always the threat of the ball going the other way and legside anywhere wide of the leg stump but then turns in well viciously threatening to hit the stumps, nothing straight down that side. In the short term I'll stick with using the 9 red balls for Leg Breaks and 3 white balls for wrong uns. I need to explore further the potential for the Top-spinner flick version to continue turning big and the loose in the hand version to turn a little bit and be a lot more accurate in the short term.

Much later on....... 21.42 Hrs

We've got rain and thunder and at last the rain that's required to get the new wicket growing and binding together nicely. Just before dusk though I decided that I wouldn't let the wicket go to fallow and went over there 15 minutes ago under threatening clouds and gave it a mowing. This was partly down to the fact that Ben and Joe had taken one of their mates over there this afternoon and played cricket for a little while and Ben was trying to teach him how to bowl.

As I came back past the compound with the new wicket I went in there and attempted to give that a cut as well but the blades are set so low on the mower that it was a lost cause and I gave up. I didn't get to do half the things I wanted to do, I didn't shoot the pics of Ben and Joe but I did have 2 stints in the compound bowling and that went very well on both ocassions.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Practice x 3

Had a few sessions today 5 x 12 balls, so the equivalent of 10 overs each spell in the compound. I've been working on getting the grass in front of the stumps level by top-dressing with a mixture of clay and well rotted compost, you can see in the image the patches of dirt where the levelling process is taking place bit by bit. All the time the weather is as dry as it has been for the last week or more there's no chance that this new top dressing is going to integrate with the sub soil. It'll need a fair bit of rain and probably the autumnal grass growth spurt to knit the new stuff together. But having said that this new top layer has made the area far more level if not very loose to bowl into.

Despite that I am coming round to the idea that this is now where I practice rather than the big field that I've been using that's just a few more yards away. At the bowlers end (below) you can see already that I'm wearing out the grass during my run up.
Anyway - the practice sessions went exceptionally well, especially the first two. My bowling looks really promising and I can't wait for Sunday to see if I can improve on last Sundays debacle. I'm hoping that if I get a bunch of right handers I cut a swathe of devastation through them in the style of Callum Sellars, he's a lad in our team that has recorded figures of 5 for 4 runs or something outrageous like that.
The 2nd session I almost got to video and that was like the first session was an excellent session with a similar 1 out of 60 balls going for a wide. I was also messing around with bowling at different speeds, loopier flight, Wrong Uns and disguising the bowling to look like a faster delivery but then slow the ball down. The 3rd session I managed to get the camera and tripod over there and recorded a load of 12 ball overs. Most of the footage is Leg Breaks using the red balls and Wrong uns using white balls. There's an over of the Grimmett 'Mystery Ball' which is looking promising - this is the ball that is a top spinner using the Flipper technique, so you spin the ball in towards yourself as you release it. I bowled an amazing Wrong Un about 5' wide of the Off-stump that turns in and comes across the stumps and lands on the leg side, which is video'd so I might upload that to you tube. The gutting thing is that I bowled 3 or 4 balls like it before I put the video on, the 5th ball did the same and I got it on camera, but then I became self concious and they then didn't come out so well. These ones came about through trying to really flick the ball out of the hand like a Top-Spinner but turned into Big Wrong Uns. I'm obviously doing something wrong with the wrist when I really try and rip it as a Top Spinner, but I'm not that fussed if they turn like this.........
I noticed that with my Wrong Un it's far more consistent and accurate if I sit the ball very now in the hand and very loose. Whereas to get it turn big like in the Vid I try and top spin it with a BIG flick, gripping the ball with a lot more purpose. So if I can incorporate both approaches into my repetoire I reckon I'll be ready for the Lefties in future.
A very commendable day of bowling.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stat wars #2

Not that I'm bothered that much, but here's the current stats for all the Spinners that I'm aware of in our team. Again if you're just joining us for the first time on this blog I'm new to the game and don't quite fully understand how to decipher the content here and it needs to be viewed in the context of some of the blokes here play every day they possibly can, so someone like Neil Samwell for instance has bowled 160 overs and has an amazing RPO figure of 3.61. Whereas me (Dave Thompson), I've only bowled 32.2 overs. But couldn't you then argue that Neils been bowling for 15 years or more and I've only been bowling for 3 years and was one of the worst in the club last year - so this seems to represent quite a big turn around?

Wikipedia for instance states - Bowling average is a statistic measuring the performance of bowlers in the sport of cricket.
A bowler's bowling average is defined as the total number of runs conceded by the bowler divided by the number of wickets taken by the bowler, so the lower the average the better. For fast bowlers in Test cricket, most need to maintain an average of below about 35 to hold a place in the team. Bowlers who maintain an average of below about 25 over a long career are exceptional. The very best in the modern game have averages just over 20. Acceptable averages for spin bowlers tend to be a little higher ranging between 25 and 40.
Source - I understand that the more I play the higher these figures will potentially rise, but last weekend if it hadn't been for the left handed batsman I'd have had amazing figures based on the performance of my first three overs 3-2-1-2. Hopefully at the moment I'm addressing that problem and working on my Wrong Un so that I can get the ball to turn away from the bat and keep a good line and length. If I can get that together in a satisfactory manner I might then suggest that with more games under my belt and more experience there's surely the potential to improve? To me it seems that the more you play, practice and gain experience the more the potential for these figures to improve? Maybe I'm being naive?

To see the whole thing in full detail have a look at the club website.

One of the things that did come to mind when evaluating and reflecting on the game on Sunday featuring the incident with the left hander was this......

In his book 'Getting wickets' (1930) Clarrie Grimmett writes about the bowlers role as a fieldsman....

It is not intended that he should go out in the field and knock himself out by chasing the ball needlessly, but it is obvious that, if he is alert and a catch is hit up that is going to save him in the long run if he uses some of his energy in running to secure it, that he should do everything in his power to take the ball.

With that in mind it struck me that the position that I was put out in to field, required that at the age of 49 a lot of running about was needed, whilst much younger blokes were in positions of relative inactivity. This meant that in addition to the issue of the lefty I was pretty knackered when the ball was thrown to me in order to commence my next over. Wayne in fact along with some of the others mentioned that I was bowling short and now looking back could this have been because I was out of breath still when bowling? Is it a strategy adopted by some captains that your bowlers are placed in primary catching positions as opposed to run and chase positions while they're bowling their spell?

Containment - off-spinners?

If you look at the figures for the off-spinners Wayne and Jay their RPO is very low alongside Neils. I've just had a look at some websites and it seems that it's generally agreed that Off-spinners are far more accurate than Wrist Spinners, but have less options for variation. Does it then follow that they actually play in a manner that is less attacking and more of a containment game?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Practice x 2

It's 14.22 here in the UK and I've already got 2 x 3/4 hour practice sessions in using my new practice venue just outside my house. I'm beginning to think that I may let our private wicket on the field grow over and focus all my attention on getting this new practice wicket sorted because I reckon the long term prospects for it all round are so much better?

Anyway as previously written about I've been looking at My Wrong Un, The Grimmett swinging Flipper and the Top Spinner and chucking in the usual Leg Break practice. Most of it has gone really well. Very accurate same as the bowling before the Leftie yesterday. The Wrong Un is there and it turns massive when it comes out right. The only issue is confidence and the line, so I just need to bowl it more often maybe I'll have to bowl it once every 6 balls or something to get it going. The Grimmett Flipper - couldn't get it to swing and I put that down to atmospherics and my top-spinner was straight just a bit weak, so I'll have to work on that a bit as well.

Both sessions were pretty much the same, so I was more than happy with the outcome and I'm beginning to like this new venue despite the fact that it's a mess at the minute. I may even get the mower out today and cut the grass and see how uneven it really is. I noticed the bloke next door has got a big pile of clay in his backyard - might be a good source of dirt to make good the repairs. I also watered the seeds I put down a couple of days ago.

Later on........

Ben and Joe went to their practice session today with the B&PCC under 11's team. John had them working on running for singles and good communication and also getting the fielders to encourage each other. This is something Joe needs to work on but then Joe is the youngest in the team I think. Ben's better at it than Joe and he's quite good in the field with all the chat. Joe will get it in time I reckon when he feels like he's in the team a bit more. Today for instance he was seperated from all the main team players and had to train with the little kids, he didn't say anything about it, but it might impact on his sense of place in the team. Meanwhile all the key team members practiced in a seperate group away from Joe untill later when John called him over for the previously mentioned exercise.

At the end of the session when the team is then sorted for the coming Sunday both Ben and Joe weren't picked. Michelle looked at the website though and on there - Joe and Ben look as though they were lined up for the coming game? Strangely though there were no other boys at the training session that would have been there to inform that they were picked? Never mind we'll have to see how it all goes over the week. I don't think Ben and Joe quite get the idea that perhaps you get picked on the basis of performance and that in the week they need to be picking the ball and the bat up and practicing in order to secure their position in the team.

I liked the idea behind Johns drill tonight and thought that it's a technique that Joe and Ben might learn if I get this new wicket sorted because of the restrictive nature of the compound. We'll have to see how it all pans out over the next month or so? I put some more dirt down this evening and I reckon I've already made quite a big improvement on the levelness of the area in front of the stumps. With a bit of rain I reckon it could become fairly promising quite quickly. Initially I'm only going to level the area 4' either side of the stumps and 20' in front of the stumps so there'll be a nice track 8' wide and 20' long to bowl onto. Once that's established I might look at improving the whole 66' but that's a years worth of work yet to come I reckon.

Basildon & Pitsea U 11's v Horndon

A much better performance this week by the U11's at Basildon & Pitsea. They all pretty much improved massively on their bowling. Last week they prodeced in excess of 60 wides and No-balls where as this week there were 21 (Approx). Actually looking at the score sheet there's still some slight discrepiances, but there were three of us doing the scoring including Anthony's Dad in the score box and we generally had consensus. But the key is the extra's were massively down.
I think this is down to the fact that this week I took my stumps and got them all having a bowl before the game started. I know for sure that both Joe and Ben like me can't just start bowling without having had a few balls beforehand maybe 12-18 to get us into the rythmn. Whereas the last 2 previous weeks they've gone straight into bowling without any form of warm up which I think is a catastrophic approach and is reflected in the poor bowling figures. Having said that I think 'G-Man' their coach also had a go at them telling them that they weren't to give away their wickets. So whilst the other team did almost exactly as we did with their bowling regarding extras, they were looking to hit the ball rather than defend their wicket when necessary and subsequently lost through the loss of 9 wickets which costs them -72 runs.

Here's Joe batting, his wicket was one of only 2 that fell, the other was Killer a much older and more experienced cricket player.

Here's Joe in the image below bowling. He didn't take any wickets this week and probably produced the worst bowling figure regarding extras. (Not enough practice during the week). He's also bowling a lot more round armed which I reckon is part of the problem and where he's got that from I don't know and he's carrying on with this idea that he should also bowl seam up too. He wont listen to me so I just have to let him carry on and just see how he gets on.

Ben the older of my two lads did okay he bowled his two overs only conceding 2 runs. He was chuffed to get a mention in the U11's news letter for his 2 wicket performance a couple of weeks ago. At the time of writing they've not been picked for the next match which is a shame.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Runwell Commoners - The results

My kids played their game in the morning against Horndon which they played at Home (Mopsies Park), which I'll post up later leaving me running late again. I didn't get back to the house till 13.00hrs and then had to rush around getting myself something to eat. Eventually after getting some pasta, cheese and Ham down my neck I left the house with no money at just after 1.30 which mean that I'd probably just squeeze in a bit of practice before the game started which I see as being absolutely essential.

Got there at about 13.45hrs and it looked promising with regards the weather. It was cloudy/bright with about 50% cloud cover. The wind was South Westerly meaning that anyone bowling from the pavilion end would be bowling into the wind. (All the images here are shot from the Pavilion end). On the subject of the images, I didn't take that many today because the battery was looking as though it was going to fail on me and I wanted some left to shoot the images of the score sheets. Having said that these I reckon are the best images I've shot to date of any cricket event! I reckon sports photography of any type is pretty difficult and cricket is particularly difficult, the ironic thing is these haven't been shot on an SLR but a Canon G9 a compact digital camera! But normally I wouldn't use any Canon camera not even as a door stop, but the G series compact Canon's are phenomenal cameras - they can't be faulted!

So the coin was tossed and we were put in to bat as they won the toss. Wayne was the captain for this event and he said that he was happy that it happened that way as he was unsure what is decision was going to be. I never like it when we bat first so this wasn't a good start as far as I was concerned and the batting line up didn't look that strong and that was the feeling generally around the team. The only obvious batsman was Fozzy but he always talks himself down these days and today he was giving it "Oh, I haven't batted at all well this season, I wouldn't back myself to have any real impact on the game".
So the team for today was in batting order.....

Wayne Simmons
Esh Fuat
Ifti Ali
Ross Fullbrook
Allan 'Fozzy' Fullbrook
Danny Groves
James Millsom
Connor 'Chirpy' Scott
'Bruno' Burnley
Alex 'The Wizard' McLellan
Dave Thompson (Me).

As usual you'll have to read between the lines with the batting as I view the game from a bowlers perspective and may make some mistakes. An additional problem that I had was that I didn't have my note book with me to make notes with initially, so it may be a sketchy.
We didn't get off to a good start. I've played this team twice before last year and both games were good games that I really enjoyed. I love the venue and like playing here and again would congratulate Basildon Council for maintaining and providing such a good cricket pitch - it's well spent use of our council tax. Anyway that aside - yeah not a good start. Before we knew it we were 3 men down with hardly anything on the scoreboard. Their bowling looked pretty good and you could see from the pavillion that it was swinging and their bowlers looked pretty accurate. The team differed quite a bit from last years lot (as it would) and there seemed to a few more younger blokes and less of the older geezers. I reckon there was about 6 from the original team. As I recall this team were stronger with their batting than they were with their bowling but today with the influx of younger blokes they made a good start.

Esh had fallen for 0 and his place was taken up by Ifti who I've not played alongside much before but had high hopes for. The sense I got though from the people around me was that he was a bit of a maverick player and could potentially be a good batsman if he was to concentrate and play the appropraite strokes. They were all saying that his eye to ball coordination was exceptional but he took a gung ho approach to his batting and would always look to go big with almost every shot. Sure enough he followed his apparent form on this front and went for 4 within a matter of 1 or 2 overs, hitting the ball wildly and it not coming out of the middle to go skywards to Mid Off for an easy catch.

Meanwhile Wayne was doing okay but at the same time going for some rash shots as well and had a few close shaves, but when he did hit the ball he was getting 4's. His run came to an end on 18 off Williams's bowling an off-side ball that was very wide, Wayne clouted it and was caught at point. "It was there to be hit and there was a gap..... I just missed the gap".
So we now had the Father and son Fullbrook combo with all our hopes pinned on Fozzy (The Dad) to guide back out of the mire back on track. We were 9 overs in and down three blokes with one of their bowlers Williams looking very threatening with 2 wickets and 4 maidens to his name, but this was to be the end of his bowling.

Fozzy and Ross set about re-establishing some control over the game and did well and the game was taken to the oppo by the 15 year old Ross Fullbrook showing his Dad how to do it. There was some good communication between the two of the them and the runs ticked over nicely and gradually got us back in the game. Half way through the game on 20 overs we were in the 70's so it looked as though if we kept the momentum we might reach 140 which realistically would leave us with some work to do with the bowling.

The bowlers had changed and they were facing Andrews who looked more of a dibbly dobbler type bowler, short run in looking as though he might be spinning it but there was nothing doing, but he looked quite accurate and he slowed the run rate down quite considerably. It looked as though they needed to get some spin going but didn't seem to have anyone that was up to it?
Fozzy played well - playing in a Inzamam ul Huq style game - prefering to conserve his energy by hitting 4's rather than mucking about with singles. He played okay by his own reckoning getting a total of 24 before being caught near Mid-wicket off Oakes bowling. I think he may have said that this was his best total so far this season. Before Fozzy was dismissed Ross picked up his 50th run to applause from all of us on the boundary and Ross raised his bat in acknowledgment of his acheivement. 'Swiss' Danny Groves somewhat subdued by not having some of his usual mates around to take the mick out of and share banter with made his way out to make his impression on the game. Again we look to Danny to hit some high risk 4's and 6's, but it's always a high risk strategy and he was now facing another odd bowling style in the form of Parson's who again approached the wicket in a spinners manner but then didn't spin the ball? He bowled reasonably fast and short off a short run up and looked to be straight and many of his balls seemed to clear the top of the stumps after going past the bat - tricky looking bowling and soon to be the demise of 'Swiss'. Danny was bowled for a duck by Parsons. "I stabbed my bat into the ground"!

Then the other young'n from last week was in to take 'Swiss's' place - '5 Quid a run' James Millsom. With 5 quid a run in mind he set to earning himself some serious cash and soon was getting the runs in. At this point I was sent out to Umpire with Wayne whilst still trying to make notes for the blog. James did well hit a few 4's and you could see his face light up each time as they all represented 20 quid when it went across the boundary!

Eventually Ross was caught at short extra cover by Parsons having scored 67. So a good innings by Ross that got us back in the game. Chirpy was in next and at this stage we were on 140 off 34 overs with 5 men down. We still needed runs to give us a chance. James was still there playing really well, one of his balls was a lovely little nick off the edge of the bat that run away down to Fine Leg for 4, the kind of stuff I'd love to be able to do off of fast bowling. Shortly one of the ball went passed everyone down to 3rd man area at the Pavillion end, a bloke went after it and we could see that it was going to be stopped right on the boundary or thereabouts, but it's over a dip so none of us could see including the umpires. We were looking to him to signal back and say whether it went over and he shrugged his shoulders as though he didn't know, yet it was him that was right on the bloody ball. All our lot were waving their arms at the scoring table for a 4. Again we were looking to him to confirm whether it had gone across the line and again the geezer just shrugged, the rest of his team shrugged as well and said - yeah it's a 4. What was that all about?

Jamie went for 16 having been run-out going for a risky single with Chirpy. Then the Wizard came out with 1 ball to go and he was not out for 0 and Chirpy not out for 11. Me and Bruno didn't bat. Just prior to the game ending there was a kid near me talking to himself (it seemed) and he had already thrown the towel in saying out loud 'We might as well not bother - we've obviously lost this game as well'. As far as I was concerned 162 for 7 wasn't that special and we still had a lot of work to do with the bowling. One thing that was noticeable at this stage was during the match they hadn't been that vocal and didn't give an sense that they were optimistic, but I for one thought at this point 162 was going to mean this was going to be a close match.

The weather was still holding out okay, Ifty had a call from Grays and they reported that it was raining there. All around us were ominous looking clouds with 75% cloud cover and the wind picking up to about force 4 to 5 occasionally keeping South Westerly. Teas were very commendable and taken out on the boundary as the little hut isn't big enough to accommodate tables, but that was fine. Then I was really surprised when Wayne came up to me and said that I'd be one of the openers!!! How good is that! So to open it was going to be Chirpy down the hill with some of his fast stuff with the wind behind him and me up the hill into the wind.

Chirpy started well with 5 dot balls and one run against him with loads of chat coming from all of the fielders in complete contrast to their fielding approach. My over and I was feeling confident having had a bit of chuck about when I'd turned up. My over was the same as Chirpy's 5 dots and a single, but the good thing was the ball was turning and beating the bat and straight from the outset I was talking to the umpire who'd potentially have to face this stuff later and the geezer at my end winding them up. All around me loads of encouragement loads of vocal stuff and 'Oooh's' and 'Bowling Dave' and Fozzy winding up the batsman from behind the stumps building up the pressure. The bats looked worried.

Chirpy again..... 3 dot balls a 2 and a single, but still doing okay and still loads of verbal. I take my position flicking the ball from hand to hand asking the other bat and the umpire how the bloke at the other end likes his spin? Asking Wizard 'What shall I chuck up next - A Flipper or a Wrong Un'? The bat looks apprehensive and nervous, how often is he confronted with this as an opener - Spin? Surely as an opener he's expected to see fast bowlers? Wayne said later that he wouldn't have normally taken this approach but the new ball had been seen off by our batmen and he felt that it was appropriate tacticly. I threw up some of my stuff - Leg Breaks turning away from the bat, some round the back of the legs almost coming in on the stumps as this was an opener and he looked like he was crapping himself. A wrong un that didn't turn (I need to work on my Wrong Un's). A leg break the bloke hits it and it flys out towards Esh (I think) at Mid Off, I'm looking and not expecting him to catch it, but he takes it beautifully and the bloke R.Oakes is on his way back to the sheds gone for 5. Last ball a Leg Break that the bat blocks playing cautiously and I get myself a wicket maiden. Everyone's chatting and clapping and shouting out encouragement, the bats are looking really unsettled.

Chirpy up again and the batsman faces him and all the chat around him all in expectation of another wicket. James says to Chirpy 'Dave's beating you Connor, you don't want to let that happen'. Chirpy bowls a nice tight over giving nothing away getting himself a Maiden. Everyone's involved they're all in there fielding well, the momentum is on our side and it looks at this rate like we're in the game still if we can maintain this kind of attitude and pressure.

Again I'm winding up the bat at this end - it's the new one. Meanwhile the bloke that is surviving is down the other end thinking about his game strategy, thinking 'I'm an opener, I can do this - this is slow crap, this old duffer is only chucking the ball up at 35mph I usually face 50 mph plus'. I'm looking and thinking yeah do it mate come after me, I can see you want to - go on - do it! I chuck one up he comes at and hits it towards Mid On before it spins low, straight at The Wizard hard. The Wizard dives and it looks like a catch is on, but he only manages to stop it and Ross backs him up and gets in to keep it a dot ball. Esh at Mid On says to me 'Bloody Lizard - he should have had that'! Seeming quite annoyed. 'I'm not fussed, I say it happens to all of us, you can only try and you can't let yourself get wound up about it'. I'm back to my mark knowing that the batsman down the other end is trying to convince himself that he can do this, Fozzy knows it as well, I chuck a leg break up slightly faster and he's coming down the wicket looking to send the ball to Stock and being a bit faster he screws it up and it goes right through him and Fozzy takes the bails off for No.2. Four dot balls later and I've got myself a 2nd consecutive wicket maiden.

Chirpy joins the club with James at the other end reminding him that he's getting left behind and that I'm showing him up. So Chirpy's response is his own wicket maiden and he puts himself on 1 for 4 while I'm on 2 for 1 run. But at this point it all goes horribly wrong. Chirpy in sending the last bloke back to the sheds lets in a Lefty and an older bloke at that with the advantage of experience. The whole thing just looks odd, the bloke is round the wrong way for my bowling, everything I do is based around bowling the ball at the off-stump and this blokes standing on the off stump. I can see Fozzy and see him indicating where to bowl it (On the lefties off-stump) it doesn't compute, my brains having a malfunction. I opt to go round the wicket thinking I'll pitch it on his off-stump and turn it into his legs with the spin not knowing whether this bloke is going to be good off his legs? The ball goes up turns and the bloke hits it off his legs for 4 out to Deep Square Leg. I'm not impressed and I've not been so verbal since the Leftie came on sensing that he would be a problem. A straight one next at the off stump a dot ball. Fozzy is still indicating that I should bowl it wider, another one goes up this time wider and turns into the bat and another dot ball, but the bloke doesn't look scared, he looks up for it. Same thing again like a Wrong Un to a right hander turns into his body but he steps back and hits it and it goes for 2. A change of tactics - faster with back-spin a Flipper. It's on his legs and he hits it to Square leg for a single.

The other bloke now sensing that his mate has got the better of me sees the opportunity to join in the fun and hits me for a 4. I'm in trouble here and I need my wrong un to turn away from the bat when the Lefty is on strike, but I'm not confident that I can come up with it as the earlier attempts just went straight.

Chirpy does well 5 dot balls and a single meaning I'm confronted by the Leftie again. The Leftie now getting a sniff of blood goes to town on me and hits me for four 4's and 2 dot balls. Wayne sensing a mullering if I'm left on takes me off and says I may get a shout later and I'm quite pleased as I didn't have any response for the Leftie and it's obviously something I'm going to have to work on. The obvious answer seems to be to bowl the wrong un, but I seem to have lost the wrong un a bit in the last week. It seems that almost everything I do just like when I had the Googly Syndrome turns into a my main ball (The Leg Break). Whereas 8 months ago no matter what I did it would come out as a wrong un. Now 8 months later when my main ball is most definitely the Leg Break everthing has a tendency to spin away towards off like a leg Break - even my Top Spinner. So it looks as though I need to work on Top-Spinner variations and Wrong Uns. The shame is up till a week or so ago the Top-Spinner still had a tendency to spin off towards Leg-Slip like a Wrong Un, but all this week I've been noting that my Top-Spinner has changed to more of a Leg Break and because I'm looking for drift with the leg break I've been happy with that happening hoping to discover drift through bowling a top-spinning Leg Break. I'm now going to have to go back to the drawing board and start looking at bowling the Wrong Un more and get it so that I can bowl it when I need to and for it to happen. In the short term this looks like the solution to bowling against lefties and having an offside field put in place. Will that mean that I'd come round the wicket to a lefty I wonder. I'm going to have to pose the question on the Big Cricket forum and see what they reckon?

You can see how I was doing till the bloody lefty came along I had 2 for 1 run off of 3 overs with 2 wicket maidens. Then the lefty turns up and smashes me all over the park - gutted! We play this lot again on September 27th and the blokes name is J. Andrew so over the next couple of months I've got to come up with a strategy to get him back in the sheds as quick as possible as he went on to bat and score 56. What I've got to remember is that he was very strong off his legs and looked to gain superiority over me quickly, initially just coming in he was cautious, but then once he felt that he'd gained the upper hand his confidence soared as he saw that I didn't have any answers to his approach. I've got to admit I was totally flummoxed by the fact that he was a left hander, last year only being able to bowl wrong uns I'd have been fine as I'd have been getting the ball to go away from the bat, so in the short term that's the answer. See diagram.

I've got an expectation that this'll be difficult to do as 99% of what I do in practice is about bowling on the off-stump in a right hander situation, so I'm going to have to bowl a lot more in this completely new way in order to have a strategy for Lefties. The only other option I have is the 4 finger Flipper (Clarrie Grimmett version) which swings. I can bowl this coming over the wicket initially down the leg-side to a left handed bat. The problem is it's a very sporadic as to whether it'll swing or not. When it does swing I have to aim it 2' outside of the Leg - Stump (LH bat) and when it works it'll land in line with his off-stump and then turn into him low and skidding like a normal flipper delivery to possibly hit the middle or off stump. But I can't always do it - but maybe it's something I could look at?

  • So in the basis of that perhaps I should be bowling more
  • Top- Spinners that go straight (No deviation)
  • A good Wrong Un
  • The 4 finger Grimmett Flipper that swings from left to right.

With those in my armoury I may have something for the lefties?

With me taken out of the attack The Wizard comes on to do his stuff again more Leg Spin and we've still potentially got Ross - more Leg Spin, Wayne Off-Spin and Ifty - Fast. Joining Wizard we had Bruno who's older than me and I've not seen him bowl since I first started at the club 3 years ago but he's well up for it and quite affective. It looks like he's bowling seam up medium pace stuff.

Bruno kept it quite tight 5-0-31-0. I let him down a couple of times as I recall one was a potential catch that I didn't get to and the other was a fast ball that required a dive to stop it and it snuck under me. Both which went for 4's I think. But then why put an old git like me in positions that really require a young un? Or am I wrong on that front for some reason? Incidentally one of the balls that came off of Bruno's bowling if I remember rightly went for 4 down to 3rd man who wasn't there and disappeared into the undergrowth. One of the young-uns who I'd watched earlier acting like a girl when it came to digging around in the nettles, brambles, spiders and bugs went after this ball as well and again was fannying around like a woos, so I went over there and spotted it straight away in the garden. Alex Joined us as well, so we've now got 2 young uns (No names mentioned) both around the 14-16 year old kind of age bracket, one old bloke 49 in a few days time and Alex who'd sat telling me he was unfit and was looking to lose a couple of pounds in weight to improve his game. One of the young-uns got hold of the fence and made an attempt to get up and over it. 'Nah - can't do that, it's too flexible it's got too much give'. I'm looking at it thinking when I was your age I'd jump over that! So guess who goes over the 'Impossible to climb fence' yeah me - silly old git with the dodgey arm that's bandaged up and the fractured heel from last summer doing a similar thing. Now I've just realised that the fractured heel that I hadn't noticed now for a couple of months but was giving me gip this morning because suddenly it hurts again - was probably caused by jumping back down from the top of the poxy fence which is how it was done in the first instance last summer - Marvellous! Young people these days - Gor Blimey I dunno!

Alex did well, probably the best I've seen him bowl with regards his tendency to bowl wides and then get the yips and then escalate into a wide-fest. He came away with 9-0-33-2 and only bowled 4 wides and each time contained the wides and didn't go to pieces, we were all holding our breath and not saying too much. Again all around the field loads of chat and encouragement which was more than I'm used to in our matches and was in direct contrast to the oppo's attitude while they were in the field. I definitely reckon it's a good thing to do and it keeps everyone on their toes and focussed and it affects the batsmen as it gives the impression that things are going our way and yet as Alex's overs came to an end it was looking a bit ropey and it looked as though we might get beaten. Their run rate was looking as though if was maintained we'd be easily beaten so the key to our success was to bowl these blokes out and get them all back in the sheds before they matched our total.

Wayne then combined with Alex so we were spinning from both ends now. In Waynes 4th over he got his man caught and then had a bloke run out in an unfortunate incident. The bloke that went on to bat and get 35 not out kept hitting the ball through cover where I was (again)! This particular ball came off the bat sharpish and required a dive to get my body in front of it to stop it but I didn't get to the floor in time and it just brushed the under-side of my body and I rolled over expecting it to be just the other side of me, and looked up to see it disappearing into the distance. In the meantime the bloke ran and the non-strike bat who'd only just come in called for a 2nd run, but despite my mis-field James or Chirpy was onto it in a flash and they got the ball back to the bowlers end in good time to stump the poor bloke who'd just come in.

The chat tailed off a bit during Waynes and Wizards spin duo and the runs kept coming and it was looking more and more ropey with each over. Wayne was cursing himself and kept putting the ball down the leg-side with Fozzy not having a chance in some instances and the ball ran off of for a few byes, the runs ticked over getting closer and closer to a situation where we'd lose. But we still had a couple of bowlers in hand - Ross and Ifty. I knew I wasn't going to get any more overs and was okay with that. As the game seemed to be sliding into oblivion Wayne took one more wicket and brought on Ifty. I've only ever seen Ifty bowl in the nets with a short run up. But here out on the field his run up almost started on the boundary line and it wasn't one of those Mickey Mouse run ups where the bloke runs 30 yards at the same pace and then throws the ball, this was the real thing. As he ran in, he got faster and faster and faster and then exploded through the crease like an Exocet missile. Man was he fast! The only downside was that if the bat got his bat on it just a smidge the ball went flying - you just needed to have big balls to offer the bat up to the ball and get that edge. Their bloke who'd managed to stay in was up to it and he clung in there producing some good shots. Fozzy did amazingly well getting all the balls that went past the bat, anything that would have cleared Fozzy would have ended up in Basildon as the rate that Ifty was pushing them through. Needless to say the wickets came and in his 3rd over Ifty produced a Wicket Maiden and the last wicket in the 4th over finished the game off giving him figures of 4-1-10-2. Meaning that we won.

All that diving about and going over fences though has meant that I came away from the match with my elbow really sore. So I'll have to keep an eye on that. Hopefully it's impact pain rather than tendons stretched type pain?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Runwell Commoners CC V Grays & Chadwell CC

The rain as yet at 2pm hasn't materialised and the weather predictions have changed tomorrow looks as though it's going to be quite nice with temperatures hitting a high of 25 degrees centigrade and good periods of sunshine. It even looks as though the boys game against Horndon is going to happen and it may be quite pleasent too weatherwise?

I've been chucking the ball around and that's been very commendable so I'm looking forward to a bit of a bowl tomorrow and causing some problems. Let's hope that I get a good range of batsmen to bowl at and learn some tactical stuff. I'll be looking at the batsmen this time when I'm not bowling to see where there may be some perceived weaknesses before my own overs.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New project & some bowling.

At the end of my road 1/2 way to our private wicket there's an enclosed compound more or less square in shape 34 yards x 35 yards with two full size goal posts in it. Around it there's a chain link fence in state of disrepair but 85% intact. It's not flat and runs of to one side at an angle and because it's used primarily by kids to play football the grass is exceptionally uneven and in a right mess and has probably never been levelled ever? I've practiced in there before bowling up the hill but today I went in there and had a bowl from side to side and realised that with a bit of work it could be made usable as a practice wicket and would be better because it's enclosed by fencing. Then thinking about it as I bowled I realised the potential for putting our nets up. Because of the position of the goal posts and the distance between them it's almost an ideal place to put nets up temporarily with very little effort using the goal posts as the main supports for the nets.

As you can see we could easily string a net from one post to the other. Behind Joe there's a fence and on the off-side there's another fence. Because of the position of the strip in relation to the goal posts it's probably the least damaged part of the grass and possibly the most level? You can see how the compound slopes away downhill from left to right, but the strip wouldn't be too bad.
This view is looking from the Short Mid-Wicket and the bowlers end would be from just behind the furthest goal post. In relation to my house - my house is behind the white van you can see in the image in the centre almost so it's ideal.

So looking at the state of the ground at the batsmans end I realised the first thing I need to do is level the ground up a bit by initially filling in the gaps between the clumps of grass and getting the grass growing in a more vigorous and even manner. This is a long term venture and will probably take the best part of a year to get it to a half decent standard. But in the short term I want to get the ground in front of the stumps level and flat and a good bit of grass growing on it.

So straight away tonight I made the first moves. The actual ground the field is on looks like clay that's been put there when the estate was made and probably half heartedly levelled with a bulldozer or something so it's a good hard surface with plenty of bounce when it's dry. So stage one is to use a mixture of clay 75% and well rotted compost 25% to fill in the gaps between the clumps of grass and sew some seed, although because of how dry it is the success of the seeds germinating and growing is ultra slim but worth a go in view of the rain predicted for the weekend?

This is the initial work, since this shot was taken fine clay dirt has been put down along with seed. Hopefully with the rain predicted the clay and compost will merge into the wicket and start to become part of it and help to start the levelling process. The clay comes from the wood behind the stumps. Inside there there's loads of mounds of it so it's just a case of mining it more or less. Dig it out sort the stones from it and siv it till you got a fine grade clay. Then it'll be a case of mixing it with some good rotted compost and gradually fill the holes and then building it up to a flat layer and rolling it when it gets wet.

When I went over this afternoon I bowled at the goal post and bowled pretty well - good accuracy and good control over some of my more obscure variations hitting the posts several times. Leg breaks are turning nice and I've been trying to speed them up. I noticed that the back-spinning Top-Spinner had loads of swing into the batsman which looked useful and I may give this a go this weekend and see how it goes because it sometimes breaks like a wrong un or simply goes straight.

If I can get this project going and get this grass flat like a wicket it's got shed loads of potential I'll almost be like Clarrie Grimmett with a wicket more or less in my back yard! Thinking about it, there is potential that I might give up on maintaining the other wicket and focus all my attention on getting this done, because this is so close to my house. The potential for my two boys to use it a lot more than the other wicket is massively increased because of it's proximity to my house and there's the added bonus that it's enclosed and no-one needs to be chasing after stray balls. I think the estate boys would probably prefer it to playing games because of the fact that it wouldn't include the necessity to field the ball. You never know in another 3 or 4 years time you might find there's a whole bunch of kids that bowl Wrist Spin coming out of Basildon!!!

Here's an approximation of how I see the nets once they're in place.....

So watch this space and see how it comes along.

Weather and bowling psychology

Gutted, it's 09.00 hrs here and at the minute we've got blue skies and white puffy clouds, but out to the west we've got a low depression and by late tonight /early Saturday it's going to be raining. It looks as though it's going to rain all day Saturday and then possibly clear away Sunday but the weather reports for Sunday are a little non-commital and sketchy, I reckon they don't know as yet how much rain will be generated and how strong the wind will be to move it through. So fingers crossed all the rain gets dumped on Saturday and any remainder of rain gets blown north where it belongs.

Our secret wicket at 10.00hrs Friday (Weather check).

I've just been having a discussion with a bloke who's learning Wrist Spin bowling on a forum. With the help of some of the others it sounds like he's getting it together. But he has one major problem as far as I'm concerned (Which on one hand is good) he practices bowling against his brother who's a batsman e.g. as far as you're concerned when you're bowling are the scum of the earth and need to know their place (Back in the sheds)! Batting in the nets or in any situation where there is no consequence to their actions gives them a psychological advantage over the bowler and this needs to stop and be addressed. Batsman need to bat with the same psychological disadvantage that they have when out on the field when they're facing spinners, I don't much care for the same being applied to fasts as they're of a different breed as well. But as far as you're concerned as a spinner you need to balance things up a bit and make it more representational of a game situation e.g. you've got the upper hand. In situations where batsmen are allowed to have a go at you with impunity (Nets and practice) there needs to be something in place that ensures that they give you the respect that you deserve as a spinner. So when they face you they can't come bounding down the track to hit you for six knowing full well that they'll do the same thing again with the next ball even if they miss it and would have been out in a real game. No - if they do that and they get it wrong there should be some kind of consequence - I dunno maybe they have to remove their box and you're allowed to kick them in the nuts as hard as you can to get them in the frame of mind that if they screw up there is a consequence? Realistically maybe for every wicket you take if it's in the nets they hand over a fiver to the club or something that is equal to losing their wicket in a match situation. I bet you there'd be a change in the way they bat and I bet the spinners suddenly would gain a real sense of confidence from the way the batsmen would then act in the nets.

The easy solution is to bowl on your own more than bowling in the nets. Bowling in the nets and in practice situations isn't real and it's bad psychologically for spinners. I've seen kids in the nets at one of other of the clubs that I observe and see kids getting mullered all over the place when they're not ready and it makes you realise why wrist spinning is such an obscure art, so many kids must give up in the early stages because of this kind of thing happening. As Warne says you need a lot of love from your team and your captain and that's coming from him!

One last note Clarried Grimmett possibly the greatest wrist spinner ever always practiced on his own and never bowled in the nets against batsmen. In his book 'Taking Wickets" 1930 he writes....

However, if it be arranged intelligently, much useful practice can be obtained. For instance, if nets are set apart for bowlers, with marks at varying lengths for the different types of bowlers a single stump to bowl at, and, where possible a wicket keeper to throw back each bal, thereby give him also the practice he hardly ever gets, except in a match - this would enable the bowler to work with a definite object, that of developing his length and direction.

This object is not so easily attained if a batsman is there to spoil the effect of the deliveries. Then again, batsmen rarely play as they would in a match which also makes it difficult for the bowler to practice under match conditions. If you tried in the majority of clubs, to have nets set aside for bowlers, you would be cried down. The batsmen could not possibly be deprived of their practice!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Runwell Commoners cc v Grays & Chadwell cc

I had a broken up phone call from Matt which sounded as though I'm in the game with Runwell Commoners on Sunday so I'll drive straight there as the match is at Lake Meadows in Billericay just up the road. That works out well as Joe and Ben are at home to Hornchurch in the morning. I keep checking the club website to see who's in the team but last time I had a look it still hadn't been updated I'll have another look in a minute.

Still practicing and looking at the subtleties of the wrist position in relation to the amount of spin that's generated. My elbow has been pretty good recently so I'm bowling with the big flick and looking at the possibility of pitching the ball leg-side and getting it to go round the legs from a very wide position. What I may do is start practicing with an obstacle to represent the batsman in front of the stumps. What I have noticed is that in order to get the ball to do this it requires the inward spinning ball technique which is difficult and at the minute inconsistent, but when it pitches the deviation off the expected line is very good. As with all this Wrist Spin lark it is just a case of total concentration, experimentation and hard work.

I was also bowling the Wrong Wrong Un today, the off-break Flipper and Grimmetts inward spinning Top-Spinner which are all Flipper variations and these were all coming out pretty good, so I'm still probably in fairly good form.

Just had one more final look at the G&CCC website and the teams are still not posted.

One final thing the repairs to the wicket have all been dug up again by bloody foxes, so I'll have another look at that tomorrow and do repairs again last thing as it'll rain on Saturday they reckon and the rain will hep fix the repairs.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I've been reading Peter Philpott (The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling) looking at Drift and also listening to the Ashes commentary this morning on Radio 5 live.

Re-reading the section that covers drift using Tennis as the means to get the point across in the book, I’ve come away from it under the impression that what I already do should be producing drift, it just may be that I’m not noticing it or perhaps not bowling fast enough to produce it. I tend to bowl different speeds, lengths and trajectories, my Leg Breaks tend to be slowish and loopy to get maximum turn off the wicket whereas if I bowl faster I then resort to bowling Flippers which produce swing rather than drift. What I may have to do is bowl a faster flatter leg break to see if that results in drift. The key thing that I’m working on at the minute is being able to use the wrist in order to produce The Top-spinner but one that err’s towards being a Leg Break, a small Leg Break and the Biggun. I’ve also realized that the Slider is looking as though it’s a ball that I may be able to develop because of the constant wrist position and flick practice I’m currently doing in order to get the Biggun going at will. I’m hoping that by watching the ball more and possibly bowling faster the drift may come as a by-product?

The reason I mentioned the Ashes in conjunction with the subject is that it's closely related to swing and Jonathan Agnew commented on the fact that Hilfenhuaser had initially not been able to swing the ball, but then could and this coincided with it getting sunny. He mentioned the fact that swing is supposedly more readily available in overcast and humid condition not bright sunny and dry conditions and he said to be honest I and most people haven't got a clue why it really happens.

I had been looking for scientific papers on the matter and they are out there but they're not in the public domain, so for the moment I'm not that fussed on doing academic research on the matter and would rather conduct empirical research on the matter e.g. do it and make observations and try theories out in practical tests.

Discussions on my wrist spin thread on have thrown up some observations made by other Wrist Spin bowlers and the factor that seems to be missing from my own bowling is speed as I suspected. Alongside the quest for drift I feel there's a necessity to get a lot more subtlety in my bowling. My Top-spinner which I'm able to rip really well has a tendency to come out of the back or the hand because I bowl with a very vertical arm and turn into a Wrong Un which is fine. But if I could fine tune it and be aware of the subtle change that is required that enables me to turn the wrist the opposite way to produce a Top-Spinner with Leg Break tendencies I'd be looking at a delivery with highest likelyhood to drift. So at the minute as I walk around flicking the ball which I do 24-7 I'm looking at the way the ball spins in relation to the wrist position.

So in the short term more control with the Top Spinner to ensure that it goes straight and ripping it big so that it dips.

Private practice wicket

Went over there tonight on the way home from work and noticed that it looks to have been vandalised by foxes. In the past they've dug up the stump holes and caused problems which it looks as though they've made a start with but also on the wicket itself they seem to have scraped up small areas and dug small holes. Initially it looked as though it was divots caused by some **** playing golf on the wicket which has happened before, but this looks more like foxes looking for worms in the short grass. So later I cut the wicket and repaired the holes and put down some seeds and top-dressing where the grass is wearing from footholes where the run in happens. Also used the 'Round up' to kill off some ofthe plantain weeds. I'll have to monitor this and see how it all goes.