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.