Saturday, October 31, 2009

Today I had a sort out of all our gear ready for winter as most of it wont be getting used now till January when winter nets gets started up.

We're lucky in that we've got a garage so the stuff gets put in the garage, I know mates that live in flats and they didn't even have anywhere they could put a single bat. So their bats had to be stored indoors what with all the heating with the fact that their bats would then dry out and potentially get damaged.

Once all the stuff was laid out I was quite surprised at how much gear we've got between us!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Strewth it's Oct 30th and I've just had the most amazing practice session and a generally very good cricket day! The day started out well when I took yesterdays obvious batting/bowling idea to Ben and Joe and tried it out on them and sure enough they had a knock about outside the house in 'The Square' for more than an hour with total enthusiasm and it was only stopped when Michelle came back from the shops and we helped to unload the car and put all the shopping away. But the theory worked well - I bowled straight - seam up and they had to hit the ball and generally they did and in doing so they obviously enjoyed it far more than facing spin and not being able to hit the ball. So that's the obvious way forward.

That'll mean that the wicket in the paddock will have to be fairly flat and smooth so that the ball goes on straight so that'll have to be something to keep in mind.

Then this afternoon the boys went off with their Mum to somewhere with some of their mates leaving me with 3 hours on my own to either do decorating or maybe some bowling. Hmmmm - yes I went bowling. I rang a few people to see if they wanted to meet up at Chalkwell nets but they were all busy so instead I went over to Glouscester Park on the artificial wicket. I used the same wicket this time last year as well, what with the grass being too wet this is a good option. So with a bag of 40 + balls and a set of stumps and my video camera off I went.

The plan was to concentrate on my 4 variations with the primary focus being on the 2 main Leg Breaks that I bowl. A big turner and a small turner. Normally I bowl the small version because of it's accuracy, but lately I've become a lot more enamoured by my big turning sub-variation and because I've been using it more frequently the accuracy with it is increasingly better.

Last year on this wicket I noticed that there were two distinct characteristics - No bounce and no spin. So I wasn't surprised that despite the fact that I've improved a great deal since last year my small turning leg break didn't do a great deal at all and I then reverted to my big turning sub-variation. This one turned, nowhere near as much as it does off of other surfaces but enough to make me feel like I was bowling Leg breaks and to be able to call myself a Leg Break bowler.

So the practice went on and I remembered I'd got my camera in my bag and that I could video the procedures. Needless to say that when you get the camera out you then start bowling differently trying to show off and sure enough this happened a bit and the bowling went slightly awry. But the footage I was shooting was in sequences of 30 balls and generally the 30 balls were fairly decent especially as I was using my secondary version of the Leg Break and one that I don't have a great deal of control over, but it was working fairly well.

I ended up being on the wicket for the best part of 3 hours and must have bowled in the region of about 50 overs and I just got better and better. About half way through I realised that the balls that were going wrong and were ending up down the Legside were turning in across the face of the stumps and going wide of the Off-stump. So for the first time in almost 2 years I started to bowl down the Leg-side with the intention of turning the ball into the stumps and you know what it worked - again and again and again. It ended up being one of the most productive and enjoyable practice sessions ever. I also put a readers wind ball on the wicket on the length and line I bowl for my leg breaks that go away from the bat and in the end I got fed up of having to reset the ball back in it's position! All this with this new bigger turning Leg Break.

So all in all a staggeringly good practice session. I reckon my biggest issue is not quite understanding the right length to bowl, yesterday I was reading somewhere on a forum that with the tail-enders you should bowl slightly fuller as they're obviously not that good at batting, but it's the better batsmen that I have trouble with and it's understanding where to bowl to them that I want to learn. Again I have to refer to the older blokes that I've seen bowling that don't necessarily turn the ball that much but put it on an troubesome length and cause no end of problems. It's the understanding of this length aspect that I feel is one of the missing aspects of my bowling now. The other thing that probably would have seen me get at least another 5 wickets is asking for LBW's. But I'm working on that already with the kids.

The other thing that I noticed over at Glouscester Park is that the development is underway for the Olympic facilities. I'm not sure what the connection is with the Olympics but it's because of the Olympics that the money has been made available. Anyway - the new stuff that is already in place includes some top notch Netball courts with 20' anti-climb fencing and two courts to each bay. But the two courts together provides excellent practicing facilities for someone like me because not only is it a lovely flat area with fencing all around it but it is floodlit with massive lights! But all the courts have locks on the gates and you can't get in there. Whether there's a charge or not I don't know and I'll have to have a look into how much it is to use the courts or what the access arrangments are. I think they're also multi-use and can be used for tennis as well as that was the arrangement with the old facilities.

While I was bowling the park groundsman was mowing the wickets and I had a chat with him and he was saying that the wicket he was mowing was being given over to Rugby and that the old 3rd wicket was going to be re-instated up the other end of the park near the athletics track. I also asked about the really neglected 2nd wicket near the lake and he said that was being used last year quite a bit and that was staying too. I can't say that I saw either of the wickets get used last summer, so I was surprised that he had such an upbeat account of their use.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Performance review and other stuff

Fast approaching November when we'd expect Frost at nights and the potential of snow and instead we've got hazy sunshine and temperatures of 19 degrees centigrade. All the doors of the house are open and we're walking around in T-Shirts.

I've just been over to the paddock and put some more topsoil down to cover the seeds that were sewn a couple of days ago. With it being fairly damp at night with heavy dew the seeds already looked as though they've had a good soaking so now getting covered and the temperatures as high as they are there's a good chance that they might germinate.

Other than that it looks like people are using the paddock for football and there is a little damage to the new grass. At the minute it doesn't look too worrying but it's something I need to keep an eye on. Looking at the state of the new grass it looks as though I'll hold off of rolling it this winter as it looks as though that may do more damage than good. I think I'll just have to be happy with the fact that I rolled it in Sept when it was still bare earth.

For Liz Wizard Have a look at this Liz, the girl in question isn't having it looked at but to me this looks as though she may have dislocated her Knee cap and it's sprung back and it may not have found it's way back quite 100%.

Another exceptionally warm day for the end of October. Today we were blessed with sunshine and at one point around about 15.00hrs the temperature was 22 degrees centigrade. We were out and about at the time and rushed home to get some cricket done before we lost the light and warmth.

With the indoor games requiring a different approach we’ve been playing in the little square outside our house and I’ve ordered a few Readers Windballs from so that we’re able to play on concrete surfaces. I’ve been bowling seam up trying to bowl faster in order that it’s more like the balls that Ben and Joe face when they’re playing cricket against the kids of their age. In addition the emphasis is that they communicate with each other and run hard between the stumps. I have been trying to get them to play a front foot defensive block but they’re not that interested in listening to me, but there does seem to be an improvement in Ben’s batting. Interestingly I noted that when we all played over at Chalkwell Park yesterday that one of the things that thwarted the game was the inconsistency of the bowling and this is something I’ve noted before in several other situations. In the summer during the B&PCC fun day they followed through with their policy of allowing everyone to bowl and some completely random people were allowed to throw ahem – sorry bowl which meant that the poor kid that was batting never had a chance of getting his bat on the ball during the two overs that he faced. The same frustration I’ve noted in the games over at our Valence Way wicket where often the bowling is very wayward. It’s obvious now, but I’ve only just realized this kind of bowling is detrimental to anyone’s progress if they’re looking to learn how to bat. Similarly if you’re learning to bat and learn the basics it probably isn’t helpful to have someone bowling spin at you turning the ball away from the edge of the bat. So today I bowled seam up as I have done before and this means that Ben especially is able to get the bat on the ball and score runs and in doing so keep his enthusiasm levels high. In the summer we had a couple of days where I bowled seam up and it was with this approach that we discovered that Ben has an aptitude to play well off his legs and down the legside. So it looks like that’s what we’ll be doing in future and because of the consistency of the line and length there seems to be the potential for an increase in speed and no doubt a gradual increase in confidence and enjoyment of the game maybe?

At the end of last season Sept/Oct 2008 or perhaps running up to the start of the 2009 season I set myself some targets and Neil my captain set some as well and no looking back I reckon I did okay for the best part. My main objective was to bowl better than my mate The Wizard AKA Alex McLellan. Being a lot younger than me he’s able to play in far more games than I am and it turns out that he’s bowled almost 3 times as many overs as I have so there’s an argument potentially there that his averages are going to pan out to the detriment of his figures. I might argue that as he’s bowling a lot more than me his experience might then offset that detrimental effect? Anyway down to the figures –

My Figures were
Average 12.71
RPO 4.86
Strike Rate 15.69
Best Bowling 4-27

Average 26.35
RPO 5.82
Strike Rate 27.16
Best Bowling 4-40

But more interesting are the bowling figures of some of the more senior players and some of the other up and coming younger players. I wont even begin to consider Neil as he is in a world of his own and holds the clubs all time record as far as I know.

Mike Stephenson (Bootsie) - Senior
Average 10.86
RPO 3.32
Strike Rate 19.63
Best Bowling 4-13

Colin Pomphrett - Senior
Average 20.70
RPO 4.90
Strike Rate 25.35
Best Bowling 4-10

Ross Fullbrook – (youth)
Average 25.76
RPO 5.08
Strike Rate 30.43
Best Bowling 3-19

Callum Sellars - Youth
Average 22.30
RPO 5.36
Strike Rate 24.96
Best Bowling 5-7
3 x 5 wicket hauls

Stat Wars - Bowling Maidens

But then if you start looking at some of the statistical details these are quite interesting. For instance although I had a tactic of attack bowling and had given up on my averages after the mauling by the Leftie at the Runwell Commoners game statistically with regards bowling Maidens I did quite well.

I was 13th in the Maidens league table but then if you look at the Maidens as a percentage of your whole bowling figures I did exceptionally well considering I’ve only been at this game for 3 years. This season of my total overs I bowled 21.85% maiden overs. Looking at the stats for this year amongst the Spinners in the team both Wrist and Finger that 21.85% is the highest percentage with Neil Samwell being the nearest with 13.68%. But then looking at all of the bowling including the quicks I come out as being the 2nd highest Maiden taker as a percentage of total bowling. Some bloke called Paul Gelder beats me with 25.1% and it could well be the case that he's been bowling for years?

Stat Wars Strike Rates

Again I don't really know how important strike rates are in the scheme of things, but I'd imagine that the quicker you get the B******s back in the sheds the less runs they're going to make so hats off to Abdul Stanikzai because he was sending blokes back to the sheds every 13.99 balls. Again I don't know who this bloke is and I assume he plays for the 1st team as probably the Paul Gelder bloke does? But collating the data again I'm surprised at how frequently and infrequently some of my contemporaries are in getting the bats back to the sheds.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you might be aware that I'm not that convinced of the affectiveness of using fast bowlers in isolation at the start of the game and some of this data goes some of the way to back this up. Hopefully the previously mentioned Abdul Stanikzai is a fast bowler and therefore the practice of using pace bowlers against openers is justified to some extent. Admittedly also - the data collected here is from a season whereby 95% of the initial bowling attack for the first 15-20 overs would have been by fast bowlers against the better batsmen from the teams and this is obviously reflected in the data. But anyway the 2nd highest Strike Rate in the team with a strike rate of 15.69 was me. My next nearest Spin contender was Mike Stephenson with 19.63 and then Neil Samwell with 24.64. My mate Wizard comes in with 27.16 with a position of 11th best Strike Rate amongst the serious bowlers. Interestingly some of the people that the Wizard and I have to watch bowling in front of us are way back in the 20's with strike rates up in the 30 + region.

Again I have to say that some of this is fairly naive and I concede that if we were put in as openers on a regular basis I'm far from sure whether we'd be able to post similar figures to the fast bowlers after a season. But then in our defence The Wizard and I are newcomers and given the years of experience some of the others have I like to think we'd give them a run for their money?

In conclusion I reckon I did pretty well and that I more than acheived what I set out to do. The big turning point was back in May when after almost 6 months of trying to work out how to overcome the Googly syndrome I eventually did and got my Leg Break back. I've spent the last year on discussing Wrist Spin Bowling and looking at some of the more obscure Wrist Spin variations and trying them out. I'm now working out some new goals for the next season with a view to improving at a similar rate. I think the key to this happening is to now disregard a lot of the weird variations and to hone my skills with a handful of variations and get really good at those. I'm looking to go forward with 4 different variations but I'm not that convinced I even need 4, but will try it out for at least this season and maybe strip another away the following year.

A key area I do want to improve on that I failed with this year is my batting. But I think the fear of facing the ball is ever diminishing and my determination to improve is increasing and this may be helped by the fact that my son is getting bigger and stronger every day and is no doubt improving himself and therefore I should in theory be improving as he does? After Christmas I'm hoping to spend more time in the nets with my bat now that my bowling is far more accomplished and hopefully I'll beat my record this season?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chalkwell Park Cricket Nets

28th of Oct 3 days from November and the temperature in overcast conditions is still 17.5 degrees centigrade. This time last year the day time temp was 6 degrees and it was snowing! Over night it was -3 degrees and at the minute the night temp is 13 degrees! Needless to say good weather for some cricket so a few phone calls and some Face Booking and we joined up with Boffa and his two kids Ellie and Robbie and met them over at Chalkwell Park Nets.
Also in attendance was Harry and Ami and my two lads (in the image above) Ben and Joe. Me and Boffa bowled and batted, so it was good for me to face some balls of a faster nature and once I got my eye in Boffa commented that I batted okay. My bowling was alright - but you know my opinion of bowling in the nets so however I bowled it doesn't reall account for much at all.

The two other kids Ami and Harry - it was Ami that was the better - especially with her bowling and she was saying that Harry never listens to anyone and as a result throws the ball. They enjoyed it as well. My mate Boffas son Robbie played well, my kids said that he was a good batsman and his bowling action was pretty good too. All in all it was a good afternoon, before we'd gone out Ben had shown no inclination to get involved and wasn't at all enthusiastic, but as we'd left he said that he'd really enjoyed himself. Boffa was saying that during the summer he like me mows the green outside his house and makes a wicket for the kids and that sometimes they have as many as 20 kids all playing cricket out there, so I've said we'll go over there this summer and join in. So that'll be something to look forward to.
The Paddock
I had a quick look at the paddock this morning after sewing a few more seeds in the patchy areas and the rough bit nearer the bowler. I'll probably put down some more top soil and cover the seeds to increase their growing potential. At the minute with the weather being so mild the seeds may still have some chance of germinating hence the reason I gave it a go. Fingers crossed we wont get any really cold weather for another 4 weeks in which time the grass will sprout and get established and survive. It's a bit of a long shot but it may work out and therefore worth a go.
I'm also looking again at the potential to extend the levelling further down the wicket and maybe level the bowlers end as well as that seems to have been levelled to some extent inadvertently just by being walked/bowled on. In fact the bowlers end as it's in the middle of the paddock somewhat and away from any trees is subjected to more sunshine and is pure clay whereas the current batting end as it's in close proximity to the trees has been subjected to leaf droppings and therefore is a mixture to some extent of loam and clay? I'll see how the weather goes over the next few weeks and may be add more earth when the grounds wet?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Blog hit count 13947 which is wrong as the counter screwed up months ago, it's probably more like 20,000 by now.

Personal development

Because I've now got a whole bagful of variations - Leg Break, Wrong Un, 4 x Flippers (see ), Slider & Top-Spinner the only thing I need to do is drop some of them and focus on a handful maybe as many as 4 that I can perfect and use in matches. So at the minute the ones that I'm looking at are -

Leg Break as my Stock Ball
Conventional Back-Spinning Flipper
Wrong Un

There's a couple of issues within the list - for instance my Leg Break has a couple of sub-variations......

1. My main leg break which is a very accurate ball bowled on the off-side that spins away from the edge of the bat, it turns but the turn isn't enormous

2. A variation where the ball is gripped differently (lower in the hand) and is less accurate but spins a lot more.

3. A similar ball to No.2 but more flight and slower.

But the thing I need to work on is the Big Leg break with the big flick, so this will be the main thing I'll work on and at the moment I'm kind of working with the flick in the house and gradually aclimatising my wrist and fingers to having the flick action smooth and natutal. Later in the winter I'll get outside and give it a go and see how it works out.

The other area is the Top Spinner at the moment I have 2 variations of the Top-Spinner, the normal wrist spin type with the big flick and the obscure Flipper variation which was used by Clarrie Grimmett in the 1930's and 40's and is arguably the 'Original Flipper'. The idea is that I'll re-instate the normal variation and see how it works alongside the Flipper Top-Spinner and try them out in the nets come February and then stick with the one that gets the best results. I'm kind of hoping for the Flipper type as I already bowl that well at the minute.

Run up

Another thing I've looked at this week and considered is changing my run up. Earlier in the year my older son Ben had to work on his own run up as he was taking off on the wrong foot and everyone said 'He needs to address this sooner than later as if he sticks with what he's doing for much longer he'll really have difficulty correcting it. So I video'd a bloke at nets bowling properly and Ben and showed him what he was doing. I watched it and sussed out what I needed Ben to do e.g. launch off his left foot and ended up doing it myself in order to show him. At the time I was kind of impressed by the feel of the technique and then really impressed at how quickly Ben got it and modified his own bowling.

Recently I've been looking at it again with a view to considering trying to modify my own run up as I do this little shuffle that everyone notices and reckons slows my speed down. So I may give it a go and see if it has any benefits?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thurrock Cricket Club

It seems that Grays and Chadwell are no more and now we're Thurrock Cricket Club. I don't know the full details but word on the street seems to be so that there can be some forging of connections between us and the Thurrock Rugby Team who use the pitches adjacent to the cricket pitch? Although I might be completely wrong on this? It makes sense as I've heard that the reason that the facilities at Stanford Le Hope cricket club are so good is because the complex/fields have been given lottery money but this was reliant on the site being a multi-occupancy complex. Therefore their lovely pavillion is shared by the Rugby Club, a bowls club, a tennis club and the cricket club. So perhaps big plans are afoot for the newly named team?

Remember none of this is confirmed and this is not the views of the cricket club.
Yesterday I made this comment

But having said that tonight I thought that Ben made a pretty good account of himself surviving possibly as many as 6 of the 12 overs albeit not making that many runs due to his lack of confidence in shouting yes to potential run making opportunities. I know also he's acutely aware of the fact that if he gets it wrong and the better players are then run out due to a bad call on his part he'd feel mortified at making the wrong decision. Additionally the other boys are very vocal in their condemnation of such mistakes and they themselves pile on the pressure to the less confident boys like Ben and Joe.

Today I've been giving it some more thought. This definitely a difficult call for both the coaches and the more experienced players. At B&PCC they have a definite ethos of having fun and that fun should be the primarily objective for the lads, but the nature of the game is such that the primary objective of the game is that you win. All of the kids without doubt come into the game realising that to win is the ultimate goal and that the fun ethos as espoused by the coaches is muddled amongst both the natural instinct of boys to win as part of their instinctive drive to prove themselves as Alpha Males and without doubt the wishes of their parents that they make a good account of themselves as winners.

The issue lies with the other lads in the team who I have sympathy with because no doubt if I was them I'd want to the best from the other newer kids and full 100% commitment. Even now as an adult this is a part of who I am, I want to win and I want to be on the winning team and therefore surround myself with winners and not losers. So even looking back through this blog to 1997 you'd find the accounts of the MPA 1st XI's first matches and descriptions of my absolute disbelief that blokes almost half my age would play in our games and show a fraction of the stamina, fitness, skill, speed, agility, obsession and commitment than me. At the time, being the team captain I really struggled to come to terms with the fact that most of the other team didn't share my enthusiasm and desire to win and I had to look at the prospects of kicking people out of the team and replace them with mercenaries. These people were my mates who were founders of the team that had started out to be just a bit of fun and here I was kicking them out because they didn't share my passion and desire to win and meet my expectations. Needless to say it was a recipe for disaster and soon after things had reached this stage the team was disolved and I joined Grays & Chadwell.

It strikes me that the situation mirrors life and the law of the jungle which so many people are in denial of. The good kids who feel that they're being let down by the lesser kids will no doubt go on as I did and reach an age where they'll join older kids and integrate into the next level. The current good kids will bit by bit eat away at the lesser kids confidence or conversely might drive them to work harder and try harder. Whatever happens it will be a case of only the strongest will survive. I myself went through this on the receiving end as a child in conjunction with football, I wasn't a goal scorer and as a kid with no adult guidance the perception was that unless you scored goals you were useless and I gave up on the game only to rediscover it when I was 27. At 27 I found that my agility stamina and willingness to be a team player suited being a mid field player and I reckon I might have been okay at football in that role. I just hope that with the help of the coaches and my input my own kids can rise above the sense that they are letting the rest of the team down and go on to enjoy this game and find their confidence and speciality.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Indoor U 11's B&PCC v Belhus

Indoor Match

13858 - hit counter

Cor blimey this was a bit of a baptism of fire for Joe and Ben. Having never played a match in this kind of environment with the fielders all being so close and the ball bouncing off the walls and 2 runs being conceded for wides and no-balls (I think) and only 6 lads per team it was a bit intense. It's not a game I've played either so it was interesting to watch and see what the key objectives seemed to be. From Ben and Joe's point of view neither of them being particularly good at batting it looks like the thing that need to get good at is just getting the bat on the ball and looking to run if it's anything other than directly into the fielders hands. Their coach G-Man was saying that by running and getting the runs on the board you then put pressure on the fielders and they then start making mistakes with over-throws which if are not dealt with lead to runs from the ball hitting the wall/boundary. The only thing is - that kind of requires a sense of confidence from you as a batsman and feeling at ease and accepted within your team and not feeling like you're seen as the most likely person to consistently let the team down. The thing is there is such a vast level of difference in abilities and confidence between the boys in the team and I know that Joe and Ben feel like the odd ones out and that their place in the team is grudgingly accepted by the other boys who are far more adept than they are.

But having said that tonight I thought that Ben made a pretty good account of himself surviving possibly as many as 6 of the 12 overs albeit not making that many runs due to his lack of confidence in shouting yes to potential run making opportunities. I know also he's acutely aware of the fact that if he gets it wrong and the better players are then run out due to a bad call on his part he'd feel mortified at making the wrong decision. Additionally the other boys are very vocal in their condemnation of such mistakes and they themselves pile on the pressure to the less confident boys like Ben and Joe.

Joe didn't have such a good game - bowled fairly poorly and was bowled out as per usual by the big kid that was bowling at a thousand miles an hour and was as usual the best bowler of the oppositions team. The good news though is that G-Man's text message about the up and coming weekend 3 hour session is going to be all about playing this kind of game, so hopefully that'll help Ben and Joe understand what they need to do with regards getting the runs between the wickets.

I actually fancy a go at it myself and maybe with only 6 blokes required and it being played in the evenings I might be able to knock together a team I reckon? Simon, Dan, Badger, Me, Alex maybe? I just need one more Nakul? Or perhaps the Sri-Lankan bloke or maybe that geezer that played for Essex - how good would that be to have him on your side?

I reckon the 12 overs a-side and quick pace of it, tied in with the fact that it's played in the evenings might well appeal to them? The only thing is - it seems to be played fairly seriously amongst adults and the only examples of games I can find reference to on the internet are all league games. What I'd be looking for is to play games against teams like SDR in Basildon - but I can't even find any contact details for them at the moment on the internet. I could probably get them via Westleigh Height CC? The other option might be to look at other part time clubs like the AnZac teams around Southend or now that our college has almost merged with Thurrock and Basildon college - perhaps they could get a team together and play - inter-campus games?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oct 21st 2009

G&CCC News

As per usual, not a lot doing. There was an EGM at G&CCC last night and I couldn't get along as I'm studying for a teaching qualification and one of the lectures coincided with the meeting. I haven't got a clue as to why an EGM was called and not being of an age where I can be an integral member of the club and make it a key part of my life I don't even have a sense that there's anything major going on within the club for there to be an EGM. I suppose I'll just have to wait until I receive some kind of notification.

B&PCC News

I had a text from G-Man today asking if Ben and Joe will be up for Sunday morning training sessions between 10.00 and 1pm which is a good old solid 3 hour session at Woodlands. The impression I got was that he was sounding out whether there's the necessary interest in the idea to justify them running it. From the amount of boys that were turning up at B&PCC Under 11's at the end of the season I'd imagine he'll get the response that he's hoping for unless of course they've all been brain-washed into playing that other sport. let's hope not?

This Friday Ben and Joe get to play their first indoor league match which I'm looking forward to. I'm hoping that Ben Bats well and keeps the ball off the stumps as he seems quite enthused at the minute with his batting. Hopefully Joe will bowl okay and his enthusiasm might improve after a crappy couple of sessions with him.

My training

Not a lot happening, I'm starting to work on my shoulders and arm muscles after leaving them for several months after the Medial Epincondilytis. At the minute with the low level exercise I'm doing the ME seems okay, so I'll have to keep and eye on how that all goes and see if I start to get twinges. At the minute there's not even a ball in the house so I'm not even spinning the ball from hand to hand in the manner that I normally do every spare second of the day.

Bad news on the digital camera front, at work they ordered some of the cameras that produce the slow motion footage, but the order has been cancelled due to the website not being contactable. My own camera has broken down (Canon G9) completely stopped and researching why I came across loads of other people reporting the same thing after a year. Mines in at repair workshop and the geezer's fixing it for me and I'll hopefully get it back in about a week?

The Paddock

There's been rain and mild temperatures interspersed with sunshine, so the grass is still growing with vigour. I took a load of pictures of the fencing around the paddock with a view to trying to get the council to repair the holes, so that's something to work on.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Last sunny warm day of Autumn?

At last the weather we'd been promised - blue skies and sunshine - a bit crisp at 13 degrees but with the sun and a distinct lack of wind and the previous run of dry weather it was quite pleasent and with it being dry underfoot a good day for a bowl.

Went over to the paddock for a wicket inspection and looked to see how the grass was fairing after yesterdays cut and it looked fine, in fact it looked long still so I decided I'd go back to the garage lower the blades on my Ransomes Ajax lawnmower and give it a better going over. I also looked at the amount of leaves that were on the wicket area and decided it needed a rake as well and a general tidy up. I looked too at the end that was furthest away from the stumps and thought too that if I got time I'd fill in more of the holes and in doing so extend the flat part of the wicket even closer still to the bowler.

So it was cut and raked and looked an awful lot better and this is how it currently looks and there's an image below as it was back in early September.

The shot here below is how it looked today after the mowing, as you can see the seeds have now taken and the grass is establishing itself. The surface at the minute is still pretty even after being rolled prior to the seed being sewed. With all the recent rain the surface is soft and we had a bowl but with the stumps set further back against the fence so not a great many balls landed on it, but later Ben joined me and batted and I then had to bowl shorter and the balls were then landing on the fresh grass. The surface is so soft the balls were leaving and indent and then when Ben left I noted you could see the indentations in the surface as by that time the sun was lower in the sky and picking out the indents. The effect was like a Hawk-eye Pitch Map and my bowling looked pretty impressive with virtually every ball on or just outside middle and off.

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I noticed as well because I've been moving the stumps around at the batting end I've had to bowl from different positions at the bowling end and over the months the affect is that at that end the ground has become a lot more flattened and bare - there's hardly any grass and I'm now looking at that end thinking that maybe if I get the earth for it I might start looking at making that even and have that as a wicket end as well, but with hardly any grass?
Other than that I bowled okay and Ben - the older son batted pretty well, he's good with balls down the Leg-side. The younger son Joe came over for a short while and then bailed out pretty quickly when he was unsuccesful with his bowling. Rather than have a go at him or try and get him to stay I let him go. But the good thing is the older of the two at the minute seems to be up for it a bit more than he has been in the past.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Practice and other stuff

We've not had the sunny weather that had been predicted, but it's stayed dry if not a little cool - 11 degrees centrigrade. I threw the ball around a little this morning outside of the house and I've taken to doing nothing but trying to get the ball to come out of the front of my hand using the 'Big Flick' when I'm indoors doing nothing. This seems to be working because this morning throwing the ball around I was able to bowl it the 22yards and get it to turn fairly big as a leg break using the big flick.

So somewhat enthused by this I went over the paddock and threw a few overs and they went okay trying to bowl Leg Breaks with the big flick. The line was a bit wayward but the general feeling was that it seems promising and it's something to work on.

I got the mower out as well and set the blades for a long cut and cut the new growth on the wicket area.

This afternoon Joe, Ben and I went over to the artificial wicket at Glouscester Park and we all had a knock about. Wasn't that eventful other than that both of them seem to have anger/frustration issues when they can't do something and they don't seem to grasp the fact that if you can't do something then maybe you need to practice at it in order to force some improvement. I said to Ben that if he could hit the ball to the boundary on the off-side I'd give him a fiver. Once he'd been given that incentive he started to bat with more conviction and enthusiasm and at one point near the end of the session he hit the ball and it ended up only about 20' short of the boundary. But we then ran out of time and he was most upset that he hadn't done it and it seems as though that turned out almost to be counter-productive. But I think it might make him realise that potentially he could do it. If the outfield had been a bit better he'd have easily done it. So maybe it might serve as some incentive in the future?

Friday, October 16, 2009


Ben and Joe have an indoor match on the 23rd of this month and not having that many opportunities to practice I thought we'd go down to the local leisure centre and hire out one of the Badminton bays which are sectioned off by floor to ceiling curtains across the width of a sports hall. The size is just big enough to allow them to bowl the 20 yards. The cost is a £10 for an hour so if all three of us get in there it's justified I reckon.

Unfortunately the centre was booked all night and every night for the forseeable future mostly by footballers. We then went on to Markhams chase and it was the same story there, so we then ended up at the floodlit basketball court near the A127. Having got there with the intention of batting as well as bowling we soon discovered that the lighting was inadequate and that overall it was an unsatisfactory arrangement at night. We gave it a go but ended up going after a short while. If the weather holds out we might go to Chalkwell Park either Saturday or Sunday as there's nets there and a decent artificial surface.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nothing much doing

My lads have got some indoor matches coming up which'll be good and they're all being played at Grays where we (G&CCC) have our winter nets. The first game will be Oct 23rd and it's at a time where I'll be able to take them and go along and watch. So I've been getting them to practice a bit. Joe's been the most up for it and he seems to have reverted back to spin and his bowling action seems to have recovered a bit. Ben on the other hand has been experimenting with spin but can readily turn back to pace bowling it seems. Both of them seem to have naturally improved with their batting slightly, but not a great deal, the test will be when they face other kids with a real ball. To be honest I'm not sure what kind of ball they'll be using indoors. I had a practice with Joe tonight and when he was focused he was bowling quite well. So next Wednesday I might book out a bay at the community centre and take them both down there and have some indoors practice.

The Paddock

The paddock is doing well, the grass is now growing very well with 90% coverage and in a lot of places the growth is quite dense. The weathers been dry for a couple of days and over the next few days it's going to continue in this way so there's a window of opportunity to give it it's first mowing since sewing. This'll also help out with levelling it slightly as my Ransomes Ajax is a hefty lump of mower.


Not a lot happening on the practice front, but it's getting to that point where I'll have to resort to bowling on concrete again. It looks like I may get a couple more sessions on the grass if I'm lucky.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Perfect grass growing weather

Suddenly everywhere you look the grass on the yellowed fields is recovering. My little plot of dirt where I'm cultivating the wicket in the Paddock is now covered in tiny grass shoots with only a small patch of bare earth but I'm optimistic that this'll produce shoots too over the next few days. The temperature last night was an 1/8th of a centigrade away from being the all time record for a night in October with it reaching 18 degrees. With the damp warm air and the fact that it's now been raining for the best part of 2 days on and off, the conditions for the grass to get a foothold are perfect. This morning I sewed some more seeds on the bare patches and I'm going to see if I can score some more from somewhere or maybe buy some so as to establish a good growth before the winter sets in. It suddenly looks very promising.

The only short term issue is the grass as it's so new wont be able to take any rolling so the littel bit of uneveness will have to be addressed in the spring once the grass is really well established. It's looking good.

Other stuff

I'm a bit lost as to what to do now in the short term. Last year I had the Googly Syndrome to sort out and that kept me busy all winter. This year the only thing that is in need of obvious attention is the fact that I'm missing the Big Leg Break 'The Biggun'. In the short term though I'm fairly happy to rest up for a while and let things like my dislocated finger heal up properly and the faint niggle in my arm from the Medial Epicondylitis. I've noticed because of the Med Epi I lost a lot of upper body strength which affected my surfing this summer and virtually rendered me unable to surf, so once I've rested up a bit I may start to work on the upper-body strength again and hopefully that might help if I combine stretches with my Fingers to Elbow tendons to alleviate problems with the Med Epi condition (Golfers elbow)?

I've changed my header image. Unfortunately it's a fast bowler, but I've not been able to get my act together to get a good picture of my lads and no-ones ever taken a shot of me bowling. The image I've ended up using is from a match earlier in the year with Runwell Commoners over at their ground in Billericay (Lake Meadows) which is one of my favourite venues and favourite teams to play against.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Rain at last

Woke up this morning to be confronted with rain, so at last some conditions that may get the growing underway on the wicket. I'm still slightly concerned that the seeds that I've used are past their sell by date and the reason for the there not being any real growth is this? This rain is due to be around for the next 3 days on and off and then followed by sunshine and warmer weather so if the seeds are okay surely this'll be the kick that's needed to get them going?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Clay beautiful clay

I've scored some clay - probably as much as I want. The bloke next door has an enormous pile of it in his back yard and today I filled a bin with it and have started to dry it and seive it. Ideally I'll end up with 2 dustbins of finely seived clay as a minimum and possibly even more. It looks as though over the winter there's a chance now that I may be able to work on levelling the whole of the wicket area - the full 22 yards by about 3 metres wide. What with the fact that there's more than enough clay in the bloke next doors garden there's even the possibility I could level a strip that runs from one side of the paddock to the other and even work towards making it possible to bowl and bat at both ends which will enable rotation of the ends and help with the maintenance of the most worn out end.

Looking at the growth rate of the grass I'm beginning to think that maybe the grass I've sewn is past it's sell by date or something as there doesn't seem to be a lot of growing going on.

Managed to get Joe and Ben over to the Rec to have a bit of a knock about and we were joined by a bloke called Nick Gosling who at some point recently had been on Essex County Cricket Clubs books as a player. He joined in with us and he bowled at me and was pretty nippy even with his spin and then I bowled at him and he hit me for a couple of fours but then I managed to get the ball past him a few times and got him LBW. He's left me with his phone number and said if we're looking to have a knockabout next summer he'll be up for it and to give him a ring.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Rain at last

Not a lot though, fairly light so I'm not even sure it'll penetrate the surface that much. The dampness though followed by the predicted sun tomorrow may activate the seeds into germinating? I'm slightly worried at the minute though because the dryness of September may mean that the grass wont get a good foothold before November and I wont have a lush even growth of grass across the wicket area. It strikes me that I need that because as far as I can make out a good root system beneath the surface is what's going to bind the surface together and prevent it from rapidly breaking up when used with a batsman as we intend.

Looking around at all of the playing fields and pitches at the moment they all look in the same condition though, they are all suffering from a lack of rain and by November they have all usually recovered and look very green again, so I suppose I'll just have to wait and see.

Other than that I had a quick bowl yesterday evening and that went very well. I'm just undecided as to what I'm going to focus on when it comes to practicing again on concrete. I suppose it should be the Big Leg Break. Hopefully before the end of September I'm going to have access to a high speed digital video camera and that's going to help me analyse my release of the ball with the big flick and allow me to modify the action and get the ball spinning in the right direction?