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?