Monday, August 31, 2009

Bank holiday Monday

Over the weekend we headed up to West Hallam in Derbyshire to see the In-Laws and part of the itinery turned out to be my Sister in law showing us some of the local cricket pitches and their adjacent hostelries. I was most impressed! How can it be that such small villages have such staggeringly good pitches, club houses and facilities. The one we ended up staying at and drinking in the pub was Ockbrook just outside Derby City. Ockbrook if you look at it on a map is about the size of Westleigh Heights e.g. a 2 horse town (village) yet look at their set up........

How the hell do they do that!? It's not an isolated case, Ockbrook were playing Spondon again another little 2 horse town/village only about 3 miles apart and their pitch and set up looks equally grand on But I suppose we can console ourselves with the fact that we've only got to look at the colour of the grass on the pitch and the outfield and compare with the images of Grays I took last weekend and you can see the difference 200 miles makes to the climate here in England. Yesterday in Derbyshire it was 14 degrees c with wind and overcast and yet only 200 miles away here today in essex we had blazing hot sun at 28 degrees centigrade and wall to wall blue skies and all our cricket pitches are bare and grassless with patches of yellow remains of where the grass once was.

But where do they get all the money to afford such amazing facilities?

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Someone I know who works in conjunction with an institution here in the UK has just given me a load of cricket stuff. A set of the blue Kwik cricket stumps, 4 or 5 Kwik cricket bats and two spring back stumps. I almost bought some of the blue Kwik cricket type stumps a while back and was horrified that they were so expensive. The reason I've been donated this equipment is that it was thrown out by the institution, yet there is nothing wrong with it and this is in the wake of an Ashes series that we've just won further reinforcing my recent point that the majority of the world have been disenfranchised by the exclusive SKY coverage. Incidentally there was an article in the Guardian to this affect which concurs with my assessment of the whole SKY debacle. But why has the gear been chucked out? It might be that they were expecting a big up-turn in enthusiastic kids wanting to play cricket and needless to say what with the coverage the Ashes has had this year that's now not going to happen? More realistically it's to do with the fact that institutions get set budgets which they must spend or they're capped, which simply means in order to buy stuff they therefore need to chuck away their slightly old stuff and this time round I've ended up the beneficiary which is nice.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Paddock News

I had a bit of a bowl in the paddock tonight, I bowled some Top Spinning Flippers as I wasn't that happy with my accuracy on Sunday, although saying that I bowled a few of these and after 2 initial bad ones the others were okay and I didn't get hit to the boundary with them either. I was disappointed in the match as the first one was very wayward when normally I can pull these out of the hat and bowl em fast and on a line with swing and they break like a Wrong Un, but that didn't happen on Sunday. Anyway I had a little pratice and bowled a couple of the Big Leg Break and they went well along with the TS Flipper.

Other than that I had a scrape around with the rake on the wicket area, put down some top soil and watered it in. Just looking for some decent amounts of rain now so that I can put down a lot of top soil and get the roller on it and some grass seed.

My Father in Law came round tonight and says he's got a bit of nylon rope to use with our nets, so perhaps we'll get that going if it stays dry and try it out in the next week or so in between repairs. I'm also waiting for a series of still days to shoot some video clips to use in conjunction with some of my other blogs. I may have to consider shooting these indoors and I might ask the girl at work who's got access to a camera that shoots digital video footage at some ridiculous rate of a 1000 frames a second or something and try and film the ball being released from the hand in all my deliveries. I have asked before and she wasn't up for it, but I'll try again as it would be so useful to see what happens in ultra detailed slo-mo.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Old dog

Cor blimey I got up this morning and I felt like an old dog, if there was anywhere on my body that didn't ache I couldn't figure out what bit it was. I took about an hour before I'd stopped creaking and aching and the balls and heels of my feet still ache along with my left hand that copped a ball dead centre straight out of the middle of the bat in an almost bowled and caught scenario yesterday. So as a consequence along with the fact that the kids have been out all day today we didn't go to the training session and they were packed off to bed early and were asleep by 8.30.

I went over the 'Paddock' tonight, raked and watered the wicket and smoothed it out looking to level it further still in the vicinity directly in front of the stumps and it looks like it is working bit by bit, so I'll continue doing that through till after the bank holiday. Tonight a big bank of cloud came over looking ominously like it'll bring rain. This cloud is possibly the leading edge of the Hurricane Bill weather pattern or a small depression preceding it.

If it does rain I may move to getting some of the top soil down and rolling it and putting the first lot of seed down. Looking at the progress so far it looks as though we might have a half decent practice wicket for spinning next summer. I'm very optimistic about the prospects of this coming together nicely and maybe looking at getting myself one of these to go with the wicket.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shocking 6-0-61-2

It seems we were mismatched, our captain reckoned that the 1st XI should have played this team and we should have had the their team which they soundly beat. We played Walthamstow and the final score was Walthamstow 272 for 2. The 2 wickets that were taken were both mine, a catch at short extra cover from Wayne our captain off a full toss and a stumping by Chris Buckley. But Christ look how bad my figures are. We were bowled out for 86, but there's a whole list of excuses apart from the fact that we were mismatched. So here we go with the excuses -

1. We started out with a man short in the field and what with the outfield being like concrete anyone hitting the ball was guaranteed a 4 if it got past the fielders and their batsmen were pretty handy. No-one was inclined to dive for the ball apart from Rees and Wayne otherwise you were looking to suffer from broken elbows/wrists if you did. I've got an excuse not only have I got medial epicondylitis which I now think is impact inflicted (From diving) but my dislocated finger isn't fixed yet.
2. The team we fielded included 1 bloke over 50 'Bootsie' maybe more and this is him below leaving the field after umpiring and yes that is a walking stick.Me, I'm 49 and I'm carrying injuries and didn't feel that clever today and played this morning with the Basildon Under 11's. Buckers who's 43 and played yesterday. Roy who's got to be around about 40, who played yesterday, did a shift at work this morning came straight to the game and is just coming back from an injury as well and Ricko who is probably 40 + as well.
3. Their lot had an average age of around about 30 I reckon with only 1 under 16 player, whereas we had 3 under 16's.
4. Oh yeah and we had a part time wicket keeper. I reckon that if you looked at our players and had to make a choice about how many of us were 'Of the age and stature to be athletes' we had Danny and Jay! No it's not Australia it's the green and pleasent land of England!

Jay leaves the pitch having not made the impact that he and us had hoped for.

Danny Groves makes his way out to replace Jay as our other 'Athlete'.

What I can't believe from a personal point of view is how knackered I felt. As I mentioned I'd played in a match with my sons this morning at B&PCC and found it hard to chase down balls in thier game - almost pulling up every time I chased a ball. I suppose if I think about it loads of things have conspired against me recently meaning I'm out of form and generally unfit. It looks like I'm going to have to do some kind of fitness training for the last handful of games and see if I that creates an improvement? I just didn't have any legs today it seems, they were just constantly aching. I hope it's not the first glimmers of proper age-ing!!!!

One thing I was very impressed with today was the Geezer J Mariani who was bowling some weird looking spin with a very unorthodox action, (Chinaman) but he was really spinning the ball and I actually witnessed for myself someone who spins the ball so viciously that the ball 'Fizzes' as it flies through the air, very impressive.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ashes & TV coverage

It looks promising for England tomorrow, but I'd always be a wary of the those Aussies, I'd never say that it was a foregone conclusion that we've won it, they've had it ingrained into their psyche to 'Never let the Poms win' as Shane Warne keeps telling us and they wont give up.

Is it just me or is there not the same level of excitement about the Ashes this year? Is that because it's not being shown on proper television and therefore the majority of the population have been marginalised and excluded from what is almost our national game? I noted a couple of weeks back that the ECB didn't want the Ashes to be aired on terrestial television and that it went to court over the BBC's intentions to have it aired on Proper Tele. I can only imagine the ECB didn't want that to happen in order that a bidding war could be had between the TV companies that did want to televise it knowing full well that SKY TV would win and pump millions into their coffers. I'm now wondering because of the limited coverage and the lack of involvement/empathy the population has this time round with the Ashes whether there's going to be a longer term downside to this short term greed on the part of the ECB. So many kids would have been denied the opportunity to watch the Ashes this summer and these kids that have been excluded are the potential cricket players of the future? I noted this morning at my local field that there were loads of boys playing football while the cricket was being played at the Oval - it's these boys with their no doubt football obsessed Dads who do have Sky Sports who might have been watching the cricket on SKY TV if it wasn't for the fact that they were playing football. It'd be interesting to see how many of the SKY TV's in the UK have been used to access the cricket as I'm pretty sure that most of them are being used to watch the football rather than the cricket hence the reason it's all quite on the cricket hysteria front.

The Paddock Wicket

On a more Prosaic front I had an idea today based around an article I read about repairing wickets. Because of the lack of rain and the ever decreasing window of opportunity to sow the seeds on the Paddock wicket I thought I'd try out an idea whereby I'd water sections of the wicket on a daily basis and see if there's any scope to start the levelling and integrating the new earth with the existing layer. I tried one small area and the results were interesting and surprising. Firstly the new layer of clay once saturated seemed initially to easily integrate with the existing sub soil layer. I say initially because I need to look at it again tomorrow and see if the integration has taken place or whether the new top layer is just sitting on top of the sub soil layer and will be easily 'Peeled off'? The surprising aspect of the test was that the new clay once made wet decreased in volume massively which in hindsight is obvious, but the amount by which it decreased was massive. I reckon it must have lost 65% - 75% of it's volume.

I'll have another look tomorrow and introduce more top-soil and wet the same area and see if it levels. The idea being if it does level and integrate I'll do this on a regular basis and try and get the whole area flat and then re-wet the whole area and roll it and start seeding it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Listening to the Ashes........

Mathew Hayden's just pointed out that Pointing has just brought Marcus North on to bowl spin against Strauss and Cook with the new ball in the 11th over. The general consensus in the commentary box is that it's good captaincy and this is using a 'Part-time spinner'.

As I write Cooks bowled and caught off North.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looks like there'll be some rain soon

Hurricane Bill is on it's way -
I'm aware more and more that I should be watching the batsman as I field to get some sense of how good or bad they are prior to the start of my spell. One of the things I could look for is whether the batsman leaves a gaping great gap between his bat and his legs as he plays his shots. This then gives me the option of bowling a straight ball amongst a sequence of Leg Breaks turning away from the bat. The straight ball potentially squeezing through the gap? But in order to observe such things that would then mean that I'd surely have to be fielding at somewhere like Mid On or Mid Off so that I could make such observations. This then leads me to another observation. Surely if you are bowling your spell does it not make sense from that point of view and the point of view of physical economy that you'd be given one of those fielding positions in order to limit the amount of running and fielding during your spell? Does that make sense?

Back in action


W'hey I'm back in action, went to the hospital and the bloke said the dislocation is fine and that I just need to exercise the ligaments and get them back into shape. Went straight home and bowled for an hour or so and did exceptionally well, noticed that some of my balls do drift, one was pitched just wide of the off-stump, it drifted in landed just outside of Leg Stump came back in off the wicket and hit middle and off! I was Shane Warne!!! LOL!

So I'll be playing Sunday with a bit of luck?

The Paddock Wicket

Today's been a lovely day possibly the warmest day this summer with it getting up to 30 degrees centigrade. The weather reports are that in the next few days there maybe rain so I've been working on the wicket in the paddock. Even though it's still been dead lumpy we've been batting on it on the odd ocassion and that combined with the recent good weather the grass has all but died. I've treated the plantain with weed killer and most of that has gone although it could do with a drop more. But what with the grass dying off and going yellow and being scuffed up I've got more of an idea of how level the area is and it's clear to see that the work that's already been done is coming together.

So today I've been trying to level it off and make it ready for seeding. Looking at some on-line resources the recommendation is that it's seeded between now and early Autumn. So if I can get a nice level bed ready for the sowing of the seeds, that'll mean I'll be able to cover the seeds with another layer of topsoil, which'll be made up of primarily clay along with some compost and then roll it. If that's successful it looks as though we'll have a nice level area which is approx 9' wide and 20' deep onto which we can bowl. It's looking as though by the end of Sept maybe early October as long as it's not too dry we may have a lovely new wicket on the way ready for next summer and it's looks as though it's going to be dead flat.

At the minute it's looking far better than it was when we first started using it and it is almost level already. The earth that's been used to level it at the moment is lying loose on top and in between what was clumps of grass, with the couple of times that I've cut it, the clumps are no longer so clumpy and the area being worked on is pretty even. My only real concern is that I'm not 100% certain how long the new layer that is being gradually built up will take to integrate with the existing layer of earth and become as one. The theory that I'm working with is that as the new grass seeds takes the roots will bind the two seperate layers and as the winter comes and the earth is saturated the clay will then combine and become one. It should work.
The Paddock June - with 1st levelling work.
The Paddock Mid July looking a bit patchy with the earth visible between the clumps. The Paddock today - a lot less grass and to me a lot more level.


The first ball I bowled since dislocating my fingers hit the stumps middle and leg coming in from the legside, so that was a promising start! The hour that I bowled went really well and backed up the notion that sometimes taking a break from intensive practice is a positive move that sometimes moves your bowling forwards. I mentioned either here or elswhere that I never watch the ball as it flies through the air, I'm totally focused on where it's going to land and whether it's going to turn off the wicket, but I've been involved in a lot of forum dicsussions on how much does the ball need to spin in order that it turns off the wicket. As a consequence the day or so before I did my finger I'd taken to watching the ball as it flew through the air away from me and observed how much it was rotating and this was with this new relaxed grip technique that I've developed. The things is it truns what looks to me as being relatively slowly, but despite the speed of the rotation it breaks off the wicket quite well! But today with my absence from bowling and looking at my bowling with fresh eyes and now watching the ball go away from me in flight I noticed that one of my first balls left the hand heading for the off-stump rotating almost 90 degrees to the the wicket and then it drifted in towards the leg-side landing outside the leg-stump and then breaking back in and hitting Middle and Off! Not a big break maybe 6" outside of leg, but nonetheless a good delivery! So perhaps I do get the ball to drift or maybe this is new with this new delivery technique, or is it that I just have never watched the ball flying through the sky before? But it's a good start after my finger incident.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Big Leg break

I've been pondering the intricasies of Leg Break bowling and beginning to understand how complex a bowling action it is. I'm currently of the opinion that I bowl it in three distinctly different ways producing three different balls with differing attributes. Peter Philpott in his book breaks the Leg Break down into 2 sub variations -

The normal Leg Break and the Big Leg Break 2.38

To be continued

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dislocated finger stops play

Gutted! Practicing tonight and I lost my footing somehow and 'Stacked it' as my kids say, I got my hands out to break the fall and plunged my little finger into the ground completely dislocating it. Virtually the same as the image here.

So I've just come back from having it reset and what have you and I'm out of action the nurse said for at least 2 weeks! Just as I was getting real results from my Leg Break!


So last night still under the influence of the local anaesthetic I made the quick entry regarding my finger half expecting to then be in pain all night and the best part of the day. It’s turned out to be as I expected a dull tender feeling rather than pain, but it’s obvious that given the choice as I have you wouldn’t want to bowl in the next few days and I certainly don’t fancy the prospects of catching a ball or diving around on the floor using my hands to break my fall, so I wont be doing much of that over the next couple of weekends. The upside of the whole thing is twofold. 1. It gives my elbow (Medial Epicondylitis) a chance to recover completely and 2. I’ve found in the past that if I come away from trying something too much I get in a rut and don’t progress. If I’m then taken away from it (Practicing) I come back to it with a fresh approach and often make massive leaps and bounds. So it’ll be good to do that and just see if it works out in practice rather than as an anecdotal observation.

Also given the extra time that I’ll now have I may also crack on with a teaching qualification that I need to get nailed over the next 5 months that currently I’m behind with and can’t face when sat at the computer at home. So there could be lots of positives.

PS the photo's not mine, I didn't have the camera with me in the hospital, but the image was spectacular on the XRAY as it was virtually the same as this but slightly more seperated, even the XRAY technician commented on how good an example it was off a dislocation and asked me again how I'd done it so well? I've got pic's of the finger more or less straight after it was done and I'll upload those in time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Biggun #2

There was a geezer (I think a Moderator) on the big cricket forum who had a bit of a dig at the wrist spin forum I write on and where I discuss this stuff with the other "Wristies". One of the things that he inferred was that he thought the entries were too long and over complicated and just too difficult to get your head round. Basically the long and the short of it was that he probably thinks it's all a bit esoteric and non accessible by non-wristies. I quite like that myself and if he's a batsman looking for clues that's even better. But this kind of brings me round to a point I want to make about all written accounts of how to bowl using the wrist spin techniques.

Most wrist spinners desire to bowl a big side-spinning leg break, that gives them good deviation off the line of flight in normal wicket conditions and if it was to land in the rough would come out of the rough like Warne's ball of the century. If you look hard enough and long enough you'll come across a range of resources - websites and forums written & created by mortals like me, the odd video here and there by the real experts - Warne, Jenner and Beau Casson and a few books - primarily Peter Philpotts book 'The Art of Wrist Spin'. In some cases if you're dead lucky you may even have a wrist spinner at your club who knows a bit and might spend some time helping you out. But when it comes down to it the thing you have to do is start chucking the ball 22 yards and making it spin and if it doesn't happen you then have to start looking at all the information that's available and start using it to get your game together.

For example Philpott says to 'always give the ball a big flick'. His explanation in the written form is fairly understandable and he goes through the process in 8 stages which generally make sense and slot into place sequentially, especially as the written explanation is accompanied by images.

But after last night thinking about how my practice sessions had gone I began to think outside of the box a bit and realised there might be an issue of Semantics. The key issue being - How 'Big' is the big flick? Then off the back of yesterdays blog entry a couple of blokes on the Big Cricket Forum posted some ideas and suggestions based on yesterdays discoveries/revelations.

On the Wrist Spin thread today the bloke Paulinho (entry 1962) says........

'I should have realised long ago if you get all the levels working you can get massive spin on the ball without trying that hard at all really'.

He also mentions the Cloverdale clip on you tube which drew my attention to the fact that the slow motion sequence is Warne. So I looked at it again and noticed the point that Pauliho makes about the angle of the seam. But more interesting is the fact that there is no 'Big Flick' as advocated by Peter Philpott and in fact the delivery looks more like the delivery I was trying last night - The very loose grip, purposeful placement of the finger on the seam, the cocked wrist and the *unfurling of the hand at the wrist into the release.

So the question that I came home from work with today was 'How big is the 'Big Flick''? Could it even be that what I call *Unfurling of the wrist at the point of delivery is indeed the equivalent of Philpotts 'Big Flick'?

So tonights 90 minute session after work was based around the combination of deliveries mentioned yesterday - Big Leg Break (BLB); Grimmett over-spinner flipper; BLB; Small Leg Break; BLB and finishing with a Wrong Un. It turned out to be one of the best practice sessions I've ever had. Having seen the Warne Slow-mo clip I continued with yesterdays very loose grip as described above but placed the seam slightly angled less so that it wasn't at 90 degrees to the direction of flight. This worked better straight away and I was still able to maintain my accuracy. But then as the session developed I tried slower loopier deliveries that required a different action in my delivery where I was kind of whipping the ball out of the hand and rolling the wrist over the top of the ball with a slightly later release and the arm coming down and through past my hip a la Warne. And just like my Wrong Un (Which turns big) I felt the ball being distinctly being whipped off the finger and guess what - it turned big again and again and again. Being at the end of the session with darkness drawing in I was still sceptical as to whether this was me spinning it or a result of the ball coming off lumps in the wicket. So to dis-spell this to some extent I bowled 6 seam up balls.... They all went straight except one which I might have actually bowled as a cutter.

So the Bloke on the forum who was whinging about the esoteric nature of my rantings has a point. But I think the truth of the matter is that Wrist Spinning is so complex that it requires input from a range of different people explaining it in different ways and making different suggestions. Different people teach and communicate in different ways - Visual learners, practical learners and audible learners mean that no one way is the right way, so Philpotts book and the language and style that it's written in cannot be the definitive guide to Wrist Spin Bowling. It most definitely requires a range of different inputs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Biggun

I've had a got at trying to bowl the Big Leg break today with some degree of success, I spent about an hour or so over 2 sessions and it came and went, for a couple of overs I had it and then I'd lose it again. It seemed at one point the key to getting it was a really relaxed grip, with it still coming off the 3rd finger with the emphasis being that sensation that you spin it inward towards yourself (See Peter Philpott).

I then had a third session for about an hour in the evening and got really frustrated with the lack of control and the inconsistency of getting to spin well. It seems at the moment that there is obviously a right way of holding the ball in the hand and flicking it, but the precision involved means that there is so much potential for the delivery to come out wrong and the ball just sailing down the Legside to be hit for a 4 or a 6.

Again I had to re-think what was happening and eventually went for a delivery that gave me a lot more spin, 95% control over line and length but not enormous amounts of spin that would allow me to pitch the ball 2 foot or more wide of Leg Stump and get it come back in on the stumps. The modification in the grip came down to holding the ball in much the way I do with my Medium Wrong Un - so that's a really loose and lazy kind of grip but with the 3rd finger very much the primary contact with the seam/ball. A cocked wrist is used ain conjunction with a straight arm delivery that comes over and the cocked wrist flicks or unfurls with the 'Stop' hand action being used as the ball leaves the hand off the 3rd finger (If you know what I mean). This was very accurate, with a good amount of deviation off the line and loads of bounce, so I'm more than happy as it represents a big improvement on the spin front.

In the end I was using 6 balls and practicing using a sequence of This new leg break approach (NLB) for the first ball, The Grimmett Mystery Ball, NLB, Usual Leg Break, NLB and the last ball a wrong un. My Wrong Uns were so good today, massive turn and very accurate. So I'll keep at the New Leg Break for this coming week and see how well it serves me and put the biggun on hold again till the close of the season. What I have noticed is that my 3rd finger feels as though it's been used as it was used in a far more integral way during the delivery the ball comes off the 3rd finger in a very purposeful manner, so maybe this will represent further improvement in my bowling?

such a tiny margin for error with getting the flick wrong and the ball simply sailing down the leg-side straight

Monday, August 10, 2009


Got up this morning took the mower over to the strip and mowed it and it's looking pretty fine. I've also measured it out for a 20 yard strip for the kids and used the 'Roundup' weed-killer stuff to create a crease, it'll be a week or so before the grass dies and the crease becomes evident, but this way means the crease will be more permanent than painting it with something.

I then had a bit of a bowl in the 'Paddock' that went okay and then Ben joined me for some batting practice which was good to see. Joe seems to have lost interest a bit and this is in part because he's changed his bowling to what he says is fast and he bowls round arm like Lasith Malinga so bowls shed loads of wides. I keep reminding him to get his arm vertical which he then seems to get the right ache about but then he hits the stumps, but he soon returns to bowling wides with a low action again.

Noticing that the area in front of the stumps into which we bowl is still very un-even in the 'Paddock' though massively improved, I decided that I'd do some work on it today, so I cut the grass short and had a look at where we might put some earth down to even it it out even more. So I got a couple of big buckets of clay and compost mixed up and did some further in-filling of the dips and ruts in the ground. Having done that it was clearly evident that just that little bit of work had made a massive difference in front of the stumps and it's also evident that if we have a period of rain it does look as though it's beneficial to seed the patches in order that the grass roots will bind the new earth to the existing top layer.

There's also a longer term approach that I could adopt and that would be to use the 'Round-up' and kill off all the grass in the bowling zone so that we've got just earth. I could then turn the top surface over lightly, rake it, in-fill it where necessary, maybe introduce some compost and clay and then roll it so that it is perfectly flat and then seed it in early Sept right through to October so that a brand new sward is cultivated which will then become very well established in the following spring and potentially be dead flat. Realistically though this gradual approach seems to be working okay at the minute and maybe I'll consider this more drastic approach at the end of next summer if I'm not happy with the wicket by then.

We also got the nets out today and had a look at how they'd work if we were to use them. They're the perfect length and height and it looks as though the only thing we need to look at is how to fix the net at the batsman's end as the goal post to which the net attaches to is too big for the big market clamps that I was intending to use. We also need a post in the centre, but all that would need to be is a bit of tree with a 'V' cut in the top and a piece of 10mm rope threaded through the top of the net. In fact if use a bit of rope threaded through the eyelets in the net that does away with the need for clamps and makes the whole set up potentially easier to set up and take down. Sounds like if I can source some of that blue 10mm nylong rope from somewhere on the cheap and check to see if I can indeed thread it through the eyelets we could be looking at a net by the weekend I reckon.

Later in the day the same bunch of kids from last night came by the house and asked if we wanted to play cricket so we went and had a game on the big field. That was then rained off and we then had a game in the 'Paddock' and that went okay apart from Joe losing interest. While we were on the field I'd bowled wide of his stumps to offer him some encouragement and give him a worthwhile bat, but his 2nd ball he hit in the air and someone caught it, so he was out, which didn't help with keeping him on board. Thankfully later in the day at their training session he partnered me at the crease and he got a few runs and avoided being out, I was out 3 times trying to get him back on strike, but the good thing that he was pleased with was taking a catch at short extra cover. So all that catching practice we did on holiday at the beach seems to have paid off!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Am I bowling crap and more?

I didn't seem to bowl that well today, well I wasn't that happy with it. Before the match I'd had a look at the wicket and thrown the ball down it to get a sense of whether it'd spin or not and it did even with just a little bit of spin, but the worst aspect was that wasn't a great deal of bounce. When I practice I get shed loads of spin and bounce, but then this is on a rough surface, so maybe I'm making assumptions about my bowling prowess based on bowling on a surface that assists the image of doing well with both these aspects? But I've also got to consider that the game today was a lost cause and that those batsman had nothing to lose. If they were chasing a much higher score perhaps they'd have played in a different manner showing a lot more respect for our bowling? I've also got to take positives from the fact that we (Wizard and me) slowed down the run-rate considerably and that The Wizard was the only bloke to take a wicket and again this is in a situation where there was no pressure and against an opening batsman. Again I'd argue that surely there might be room for some experimentation in these friendly matches and try a Warne/McGrath opening bowling attack. It would have been interesting to see how unsettling it would be to have the opening batsman facing Tom Hills coupled with either Wizard, Callum or me (All spinners) at the other end? Surely this approach wouldn't allow the batsmen to get their eye in so readily and therefore pay dividends with wickets? It would also allow a side by side comparison of how affective fast bowlers are compared with spinners in opening the bowling against their opening and supposedly best batsman. Even the intransigent and spin sceptic Simon Hughes in his book 'Jargon Busting - mastering the art of cricket' concedes...

Bringing on a spinner early is quite a bright idea, because top order batsmen are not 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. Jargon Busting - mastering the art of cricket; Simon Hughes; Channel 4 Books, London; 2002; Page 101.

As a consequence, I'll mow the wicket on the field across the road as that's a lot flatter than my current practice venue and see if I can get the ball to turn on there. That'll give me a truer picture of how my bowling is going at the moment and whether I'm losing the ability to turn the ball.

Cricket on the field with the kids.

For the first time this summer the kids on the estate and my son Joe asked me if they could play cricket on the field. Of course I said yes and was quite pleased because, yesterday I'd decided that I wouldn't continue to maintain it because the kids showed no inclination to use it. So 6 of us went over and had a game. What with them all being another year older they all played quite sensibly with some sense of what the game is about. It was quite good to see that they were all taking the fielding quite seriously and all bowling fairly straight and correctly. One kid in particular - Jojo bowled really well and if he could catch would have had 3 bowled and caughts but he put down everyone of them and they were all dollies! We had a good game with my son Joe winning with the most runs and showing a bit of improvement with his bowling (He bowls round arm like Malinga) where he was getting his arm almost back to vertical and when he did so he was taking wickets. So what with this sudden desire to play cricket on the field and my need to have a closer look at my own bowling I'll be mowing the field tomorrow at some point and I'll also mark out crease lines using the 'Round up' plant killer.

That wasn't good....

Turns out that I played a home game against a team called Kingfisher. It didn't look good straight from the outset. We had our usual mix of old duffers, small boys, sloggers, bowlers and Bobby Ewing. Unfortunately we lost the toss and we were lead to the slaughter slab for the ritual of sacrifice. Several minutes later we left the pitch after a batting collapse that looked reminiscent of the current Ashes test at Edgbaston. A series of ducks, golden ducks, out for ones etc and probably only 2 blokes getting into double figures, we left the field all out for 73 with Bobby Ewing batting right through having come in at number 3. He batted a total of 36 as I recall. It was that bad I didn't even bother to record the details or take any pic's! I was batting at No.11 and was doing okay supporting Bobby Ewing - just fending of the ball through my overs so that he could get back on strike and make the 130 so runs we needed on his own. Thing is, I was so focussed on keeping it together batting-wise that whilst at the non-striking end I was concentrating on getting the running between the wickets right that I didn't account for the potential of some particularly sharp fielding. The bowler came past me at the non-strikers end and I set off down the track a bit in the event that Bobby called a run, he hit the ball out to Mid Off and shouted 'Wait' and as I turned back to get back to my crease only 3 yards away, the Mid Off fielder took the ball cleanly turned and I saw his arm go up as he rotated to face my stumps side-on, I realised I was going to be short of my ground by about a metre if he threw the ball, sure enough he hit the stumps almost side on and that was the end of the game - gutted.

This now meant that we had to get them all out for 72. Obviously we didn't have a dogs hope. Our bowling was opened by Chirpy who had a nightmare and Tom Hills who bowled extremely fast and seemingly in the corridor of uncertainty. But fast balls off of bats used in the right manner have a way of finding their way to the boundary and their 2 openers were flying through the overs comfortably. Once they'd reached 60 off of about 6 overs Wayne gave me and the Wizard a go (Both Leg-Spinners) and sure enough we thwarted the run-rate massively, but given that we had 12 runs in hand to bowl the whole team out with it was still pretty much a lost cause, I don't even think Callum Sellars would have been able to make a difference! My first over I think I went for 4 with no wicket 2 dot balls and 4 singles as I recall, My second over was similar 2 dot balls and a 4? One of the dot balls was a Wrong Un that the bloke who appeared to be giving it the Biggun by leaving it and suggesting that my bowling was crap because it was wide of the Off-stump was all but un-done for the sake of a millimetre maybe? The ball turned in big and Wayne (WK) was already celebrating as it passed him as he was 99.99% it had hit the off-stump, but if it did it was a gnats piss of a contact and the bails weren't dislodged. The next ball he hit me for 4 finishing the game. The Wizard took a nice wicket, one of the openers hit the ball and sliced it out to deep square leg were Tom was waiting taking a catch a few yards inside the boundary.

We had teas and a few of us went out on the wicket for a knock about for an hour or so and I still got home around 6pm so a wholly depressing match. I wasn't that impressed with my bowling and I got the impression that the two blokes that we were bowling against thought that they had the edge over us, but to be honest they did, there was no way that they could have lost so they were able to bat with confidence and boldly.

It's interesting to watch batsmen when they're batting in practice scenario's, they do so with such flair and abandonment hitting the ball freely, but then see them on the wicket where they've got to make runs. It's a different story. As Wayne said we need more blokes that can bat.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Pre match practice

Listened to the cricket on the radio (The Ashes) and gave up around about 5pm as it was obviously going down the pan and I thought I'd save the awful truth till later when the highlights are shown on Channel 5 (TV). 8pm and laden with despair at Englands predicament I went across to my practice wicket and threw some balls.

Having been away for over two weeks I was pleased to see that the seeds I'd sewn had actually taken and are growing, so the bare earth where I'd done the repairs a few weeks ago are no longer and the process of repair is underway. It's still fairly uneven but definitely improved and this evening after my bowling session I got out the 'Round-up' (Weedkiller) and treated the Plantain. Coming home on Friday night I went via the field where our summer wicket is and it's still obviously there, but needs to be cut. I noted that where I'd treated that a few weeks back with the Round-up there were loads of circular marks where I'd sprayed and it had not only killed the weeds but the grass too, so it is really potent and effective stuff.

Anyway to the bowling. I bowled this morning and that was okay, but this evening I bowled the equivalent of 8 overs and it went well. One thing I'm having issues with at the moment is whether I'm getting the ball to turn enough. Over the holiday as I mentioned I'd been putting in the hours trying to get The Biggun sussed, this is the Leg Break with the big flick backwards that produces the ball with the potential to turn like Warnes ball of the century if it hits an area of uneveness on a wicket. As part of the process I've been slightly disillusioned by the fact that my spinning ball no matter what I do doesn't 'Fizz' through the air in the way that Grimmett and Warnes did in flight. Because my bowling's pretty sound at the moment I've not been that fussed, but the last couple of days I've been reading Philpotts 'The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling" and re-reading the insistance that massive amounts of spin are a pre-requisite to calling yourself a Wrist Spinner. This coupled with the fact that I'm compiling a new series of blogs specific titles and giving this advice to the people reading the new blog, I'm feeling like a bit of a charlatan because I can't bowl The Biggun. But then I watch the Ashes and hear the commentators saying that Graeme Swann is getting the ball to spin big and I'm looking at it thinking well - if that's big I turn mine massively then! I suppose all that matters is that I take the wickets in the matches and should forget about my apparent lack of spin when compared to Philpotts teachings!

So all in all the practice went well, good line and length, good Wrong Uns and Good 'Grimmett Flippers'. These Grimmett Flippers need a name I reckon.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Hadleigh cricket club v Grays and Chadwell

Hadleigh Cricket Club this Sunday at home looks like my next game and it looks like the weather is shaping up nicely. There doesn't seem to be any info on-line about them so can't get any sense of what we might be up against although I know from the last game this is a pointless exercise to be honest. I don't know which team I'll be playing in but on our website there seems to be a gap in the 1st XI team and that's the team that's playing Hadleigh and it's a pretty strong looking XI.

I've been surfing in Cornwall, well - what with my knackered elbow (Medial Epicondylitis) I didn't do a great deal of surfing, the least amount of surfing I've ever done it fact, but fear not the bowling practice did not cease. I had six balls with me, stumps and bails and spent a lot of time when it wasn't raining bowling my off-stump line. Whilst there I worked on the Grimmett secret ball (the top-spinning flipper) and that's looking more and more useful all the time and if it works okay tomorrow during my practicing I may throw a few in during my spell. I also worked on The Biggun, this is the big turning Leg Break which was slowly coming together, but I seem to have gone backwards with it to some extent. The intention never was that I'd have this together during this season and the plan is that I'll work on it over the winter - it'll be my winter project.

The bowling in Cornwall went very well, very accurate, good variation in speed and loads of messing around in changing the grip to elicit more bounce. Nothing particularly conclusive with regards the position of the fingers in the grip. The other good thing was I got a copy of the Bob Woolmer book for my birthday which was good and I've read huge tracts of it. It's definitely a good book and from my point of view as a wrist spinner it was good to read that he acknowledges the legacy of Clarrie Grimmett and also the work of Peter Philpott. In the book he advocates the three definitive books on the subject of Wrist Spin are Grimmetts 'Taking Wickets", Philpotts "The Art of wrist spin bowling" and another Grimmett book that I don't own (yet) called "Tricking the Batsman". Which was a conclusion I'd already arrived at which kind of goes towards reinforcing my belief that the subtleties of Wrist Spin Bowling are lost on most people because they simply are not aware of it's history. I was interested in reading that when Lasith Malinga bowled his 4 consecutive wickets in the world cup in 2007 he was oblivious of the fact that he was about to do it for the first time ever in first class cricket. Woolmer points out that if Malinga was well versed in the history of pace bowling he'd have been aware of the fact that he was about to bowl his way into the history books and in being aware of that fact put himself in a completely different psychological state and probably wouldn't have taken the 4th wicket.

Similarly if you read these old books and the books written about the likes of Grimmett e.g. Ashley Malletts book on Grimmett you come away wondering why Shane Warne only bowled the handful of variations that he does? As yet I've not been recommended any books on Warne and all the ones that I've looked at seem to be written and marketed for an audience that want to know about him as a celebrity rather than as a bowling genius or an innovator.

Even Woolmer with his vast knowledge on the subject of Cricket seems to have missed the potential of the Flipper.

There are two types of Flipper. The underhand Flipper and the side Flipper. As demonstrated by Warne in the early stages of his career. Bob Woolmer; Art & Science of Cricket; Page 314; New Holland Publishing, London 2009.

Whereas if you read Grimmetts 1930's book - 'Taking Wickets' you're made aware of the fact that Grimmett was experimenting with at least 2 or 3 other variations of the Flipper 2 of which I came across simply through empirical research (Experimentation) on my own prior to reading any of these books, one being described as my 'Gipper' which I now know to be Clarrie Grimmetts 'Wrong Wrong Un'.

What I don't understand is how for instance the 'Flipper' that Grimmett was finally happy with, which he then went on to use in 1st class matches and possibly test matches and he christened his"'Mystery Ball" has been completely lost to the game in the form that he bowled it. It's only through reading Grimmetts books and accounts from Bradman and Ashley Malletts research that you realise that Grimmetts secret ball was another derivitive of the Flipper applying the 'Going round the Loop' technique that Peter Philpott advocates using to get to grips with all of the variations. This technique Grimmett had already been writing about and applying to both conventional wrist spin techniques as well as the Flipper variations. Grimmetts "Mystery Ball" is so obscure that both Terry Jenner and Ashley Mallett have both quoted in email correspondence with my mate Macca as being impossible to bowl over 22 yards, yet I'll probably be bowling it this Sunday on a field in Grays 70 years after it was first bowled!

In acknowledgement of Woolmer and to his credit he does kind of bow to the genius of Grimmett and to his legacy and similarly he acknowledges that Philpotts book is the modern day equivalent of Grimmetts 2 books. He goes as far as quoting some of Grimmetts book in big chunks but does say that the combination of the key texts by Grimmett and Philpott constitute the definitive descriptions of what wrist spin bowling is. Two of these 3 books of course are no longer in print and are virtually impossible to get hold of. The one that I don't have is available on-line but is in excess of 250 quid!

The ball of course to which I was referring (Grimmetts 'Mystery Ball) is the Top Spinning Flipper, the one that you spin towards yourself in the bowling action. More to come on that in a new Blog in the near future.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Back in full affect.

Just back from a couple of weeks surfing and bowling practice and looking forward to a game on Sunday!