Well it's a few more hours till Christmas, I've got to wrap up a bike for my younger son and make a start on the final entry for this year. I've noticed that I've just had a couple of followers added to my followers list - so cheers you blokes for tagging along with my cricket diary, thanks for the support.
So a good year for me 2009 - it's the year that it finally all came together, looking back at the blog entries it's only been a little over 3 years that I've been playing cricket. I started in summer 2006 when my younger son broke his arm so July 2006 and this was the first time I'd picked up a cricket bat since I was about 11 or 12. Around that time back in 1971 - 1972 the amount of hours playing cricket must have been about 2! So it was at the age of 46 that I started playing. 2007 was as the MPA 1st XI - last 2 months of this year with G&CCC.
2008 was with G&CCC playing badly.
2009 - with G&CCC not bowling too bady.
I think my objective last year was to beat my mate 'The Wizard's' figures and I managed to do so. The other big thing was to recover my Leg Break which I also managed.
2009 also saw my sons start playing cricket with B&PCC and a change in where we practice. In 2008 we started to practice on a local field near us and we continued to do so in 2009, but during 2009 I realised that a neglected paddock across the road from my house was big enough to practice in and what with it having a fence round it - it was almost usable as a net to train in. The surface was ridiculously uneven but over the months during the summer I filled in the cracks and worked to get it a lot more even and towards the end of Autumn I seeded it and levelled it using a roller.
I'd like to be able to say that I'm going to play more cricket in the summer, but the likelyhood is that I wont be - I've got a wife and 2 kids so there's alway competition for my time, so it'll be once every weekend that I can manage it. There was talk last year because of my massive improvement in my bowling and the fact that I'm pretty committed in the field that I might be better off playing league cricket for the 2nd XI on a Saturday rather than friendly cricket on Sundays, so I'll see how that pans out. At the minute I've not made my mind up about what I'm going to do and it's primarily down to how it fits in with the family situtation. What I would like to do though it play right from the outset as I didn't get a game till May last year which was disappointing. But I reckon my objectives for this year will be to improve my wickets, average, strike rates and batting, but more of that later.
The paddock, if you've been reading the posts over the last few months is kind of coming together. I've contacted the council about the fencing around it and they've said that it's earmarked for renewal, so that my happen in the new year. With regards to the on-going rennovation of the wicket that we've established for practicing I've noticed in more recent weeks especially with the snow on the ground in the last few days that people walk across it. Unfortunately this in the area where I'll be bowling, so whereas I thought it was going to be easy to prepare it for next summer it looks like it's going to be more awkward, but despite this I'll persevere with it and get it as good as I can. To be honest when we first started using it back in July it was a wreck and the work we've done with it already if we were just to leave it as it is now would represent an exponential improvement in that it would be relatively flat.
On a more optimistic note I still think there's scope to roll it several times before we start to play on it, but I concede that any early rolling and further sewing of seeds will be not work as the best option and I think we'll have a fairly thin covering of grass on the area that is currently being damaged. But I reckon as long as it rolled early in the spring and then is allowed to dry without sustaining further damage as it dries we'll end up with a nice wicket to practice our bowling on. So in short I'll keep my eye on it and try and get it as good as I can ready for May.
A big change for us will be re-location to the Rec for our games and practicing. As my lads are getting older they're now able to go further afield in their wanderings and I'm expecting that they'll be going as far as the Rec on their own this summer - they did this summer to some extent. I'm also expecting the other kids on the estate to be doing the same thing and this means there's real potential for bigger groups of boys to play cricket as the estates that surround 'The Rec' kids are far more 'Posh' and middle class and as a consequence many of the boys that frequent the Rec have their own bats and play cricket for their schools so this offers good opportunities for my kids to bowl against decent kids and face similar bowling. So that's something we'll be looking forward too. Additionally it's also the place where the old tennis courts are where we practice over the winter when the weather has been fine and where we'll test out our new 'Backyard' game 'Pair 25's'. This also has an additional benefit in that it means we'll not have to use the 'Paddock' because we have somewhere else to practice pre-season and that'll enable us to give the Paddock a chance to establish grass growth quite well. Additionally the big field at the Rec has a cricket pitch and if the weather allows it - we'll be able to use the outfield for any practice on grass if need be.
Not only do I reckon I've come up with a good practice format with this game, but some of the blokes at work who used to be in the MPA 1st XI are up for trying it out and having a game and a knock about which'll be good for my own batting and bowling. The blokes at work are gagging to give it ago to the point where they sound like they'll give it a go as soon as the weather breaks and it gets a little warmer. Some of them will come into Basildon from as far as London and Southend which demonstrates how enthusiastic they are.
We booked out the ‘Muno’ (As in communo, as in community centre) again and trialed Backyard Pair 25’s with a couple of kids we know and it worked out okay with everyone batting as pairs trying to beat the other pairs scores. The best partnership we had was 12 between me and ‘Harry Bat’ one of Joe and Ben’s mates. The most promising looking pair looked to be Ben and me (My older son) but communication let us down and just as we were getting on a good roll Ben got him self run out. But the idea of getting the kids to hit down the ground looked as though in the longer run it might work. The new kid ‘Harry Bat’ who as far as I know doesn’t play that much cricket played a good strategic game and seemed to understand the game to the point where he new not to hit the ball if it was outside of the off stump and when it was on the stumps he had good coordination and was able to deal with almost everything that was thrown at him. So that looks really promising with regards playing in slightly larger areas such as the old tennis courts. I reckon it’ll be a good game to play with mixed groups of adults and kids so it’ll be good to get my mates from work involved.
My first net session is soon – Jan 11th so I’ll be starting on my fitness regime soon – concentrating on core strength and shoulders initially and gradually easing into stamina and legs. But I have got a niggle that is worrying me and that’s my heel. Not this August but the one before I jumped of a wall and seemingly bruised my heel. I was hoping that over the winter that year it would heel and the tender feeling gradually disappear. But towards the end of the last season as the weather dried the ground to almost concrete hard, I noticed that I was waking up in the mornings with a really tender and sore heel. I’ve been trying to rest it up as much as I can this last few months but it seems I’m becoming more and more aware of it. I’ve bought a cushion thing to put in my shoes/trainers to try and alleviate some of the soreness and it helps a bit, but I am concerned as this may be one of the age related things that may end up scuppering my bowling/playing abilities? I reckon I’ll try limping around over the next few months and see if it helps at all. Or I may have to stop wearing Adidas Samba’s and start wearing those ridiculous looking trainers with the cushioned heels?
I reckon I'm still sticking to the plan I came up with at the end of the season. 90% of my focus will be on my Leg Break. I have two sub-variations the high in the fingers accurate off-stump ball that turns away from the edge of the bat nicely, that's a faster ball. The other being the lower in the hand loser grip comes off the 3rd finger, loopier, slower and turns bigger, this one in the last few practices in late November looked to be getting a lot better with regards accuracy and I was starting to bowl it down the legside turning it into the stumps.
I'll look to bowl my wrong un more to increase the accuracy.
Grimmett Top-Spinner Flipper
Last summer towards the end I started to bowl this in games, look potentially good - have to see how it goes, Straight and fast with dip, sometimes turns off the seam like a off-cutter.
Grimmett style back-spinning Flipper
This is like a conventional Flipper but I use 4 fingers, this somehow creates enormous in-swing, so I've got to master the in-swing aspect of it, if I can get this sussed this could be a good ball too.
So they're my variations that I'll be using. In a way I'd like to drop one of them and I'll monitor the two Flippers and if one or the other doesn't pan out okay I'll drop them. I a way I'd like to put a lot of work in trying to get the 'Real Slider' and the 'Big Legbreak' but for the moment the plan is to leave these and focus on these four and get these going so that they are exceptionally accurate.
Still not good. With my sons getting big and bowling faster the idea is that I'll improve as they improve. The other hope is that the backyard pair 25's game will help to encourage the blokes at work to come down and join in or some of the better kids that live round the Rec. With the influx of different bowlers perhaps I'll be able to make some kid of improvement? With nets starting soon though with Thurrock Cricket Club, maybe the penny will drop during training and some improvement might occur?
Or perhaps if the Paddock shapes up and we get the grass/mud flat and it's usable as a wicket I may be able to improve there? We'll have to see?