Thursday, December 24, 2009
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?
Monday, December 21, 2009
At last it's here the Winter Equinox, December 21st http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_solstice the shortest day of the year where here in the southern half of the UK the sun rises at about 07.45 and sets around 16.00 hrs giving not a lot more than 8 hours of light. The good thing is that it marks the start of the race towards summer and lengthening daylight hours, so each day marks the prospects of more light to bowl in and later in the year warmer weather. After 4 days of snow and ice we've seen rain today and an increase in temperature so there's a thaw, so hopefully sometime over the Christmas break there will be an opportunity to go and bowl.
I've updated the Leg Spin blog with some videos I've shot today in response to some requests on a forum, so there's a couple more videos uploaded covering spinning exercises described by Peter Philpott in his book 'The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling'.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
The idea of the game is that the onus is on the pairs to play for each other and instill the need to communicate with reach other and work together. The game can be played over as many overs as they like, so that the approach they take is up to them, but they're looking to reach 25 runs and do so on the 1st ball of a new over, because as soon as they reach the 25 they have to declare but then have the opportunity to bat out the remainder of the over. So theoretically if they reach 25 or pass 25 on the first ball of the over they can potentially hit 5 more sixes off the remainder of the balls in the over and get their score up to in excess of 55.
The partnership ends as soon as one of the pair is dismissed, but the other batsman remains to make up the new pair, so in effect good batting is rewarded with more batting. That batsman has to stay focussed and it kind of emulates a real game situation. The format suits our new set up where we've been practicing in tennis courts and the like and would probably suit indoor cricket in sports halls. But the potential of it is that it appears to work quite well using a backyard cricket approach to it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backyard_cricket and if you've got 10 or more players you can even have 2 umpires. But in a small area it seems to be workable with as little as six people.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Currently I'm asking the question - is there any merit in leaving your efforts to spin the ball on the back boiler and focus on bowling straight just to ascertain whether you can bowl the ball on a decent line and length? The theory being that if you can establish this, you then at least know that you've got a grasp of the fundamentals. If you can master the basic actions of bowling it then strikes me that you would only need then to change your grip to the basic wrist spinners grip and start to add on the step over, the arm coming through past your hip, the rotation of the shoulders and the follow through and the ball is going to start to turn away from the edge of the bat?
A year ago this was virtually what I had to do in order to recover my Leg Break when it was lost to the Googly Syndrome. I went through a couple of months of bowling the Top Spinner with the wrist flick looking to turn the wrist slightly to get the leg break it didn't happen. It was only when I stopped trying to flick the wrist and concentrated on the basic wrist position and emphasised this in conjunction with making sure the ball left the 3rd finger with good contact that the ball started to move off the seam towards off.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Here's where all this DIY pitch prep inspiration came from - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02b_xMIi3vg&feature=related
I had another look at the paddock today and it looks as though the same person has been on there again since yesterday and the dog has done the same thing. I reckon if I could catch whoever it is that's doing it I'll have a word with them and try and get them to stand somewhere different. I had a walk round the rest of the paddock which was depressing because it now looks like the bit of the paddock that looks to be in the worse state of disrepair is the bloody wicket area! I'm now trying to come up with a different solution to the problem.
I went over to my Father in Laws and had a look at his school field (He's the caretaker) as it's being repaired by a professional company and he was saying that a large section of the field was still looking a bit poor because the seed was sewn at the start of a 6 week drought in the summer when it didn't rain once. He was saying that the company are going to put seed down this coming week because of the continuing mild weather. I considered doing the same, but the fact is if the grass does come through it's only going to be ruined by the dog.
I was watching some old video of the 2007 world cup in Jamaica and noticed the Sabina Parl wicketand how shiny it is and realised that if it wasn't for the dog I could roll the surface now because the surface is so wet and possibly work towards getting it this kind of flat. I think in the short term there's not a lot I can do and I've just got to live with the fact that this damage is obviously going to continue. Timing is a major factor because when I roll it in the late winter or spring I need to do so when it's in the kind of condition it's in at the moment e.g. ultra soft and saturated with water. I reckon too at that stage I should also seed it and then just hope that it slowly dries out without sustaining any more damage from dogs or people. If the grass doesn't take I may have to change tactics and work towards getting as above. The grass that does survive which looks like it's all going to be on the Leg side I'll just have keep ridiculously short. All that aside I came across this article about earth/bulli
Clay soils are composed of secondary minerals derived from primary parent rock minerals during the natural weathering processes. Most of the clay in natural soils is colloidal and which is of a crystalline structure. The crystalline structure can be seen by high-powered microscopy. The crystalline structure of clays are either of a two-layer or a three-layer. The dominant atoms are silicon and oxygen and to a lesser extent, aluminium. The degree and pattern of � soil cracking� during normal wetting and drying cycles of wickets is primarily determined by the type of clay crystalline structure. Clay minerals are basically classified into one of three clay groups. These groups being kaolinite, illite and montmorillonite (smectite). Clay mineralogy is typically determined by X-ray diffraction techniques and differential thermal analysis. Wicket soils are typically composed of each clay mineral in varying proportions. Uniformity of the cracking of the wicket surface is an inherent characteristic within the soil, based on the proportions of each clay type.
The kaolinite clay group comprises a two-layered, rigid structure that does not expand when wet. Illite has a three-layer structure and is another clay type like kaolinite, which does not expand when wet. English wicket soils are largely composed of illite and kaolinite. Montmorillinite or smectite on the other hand is a two-layer structure. Montmorillinite does have space between the layers and which expands when wet. In addition, montmorillinite clays have a greater capacity to exchange cations and which are held in the exchangeable (plant available) form (Donahue et al 1971). Both Bulli and Merri Creek soils are largely composed of smectite. Bulli and Merri Creek soils are alluvial black earths. Collins wicket soil (Sydney) is a volcanic black earth with properties which mirror those of the original Bulli soil.
Clay mineralogy results in linear and volumetric changes of clay soils, which explains their cracking ability. This is readily seen during wetting and drying cycles. High quality clay soils must possess plasticity (ability to be moulded and shaped without rupture) and maintain coherence (ability to remain dense when in a dry and moulded state). Changes in linear and volumetric shrinkage have long been used by civil engineers to characterize the structural stability of soils. Linear and volumetric shrinkage can be readily measured by laboratory methods and is a useful physical measurement to compare unknown soils in order to predict their behavior in the field. Intimate knowledge of the properties of clay soils plays a vital part of wicket preparation to achieve the desired results.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Eventually got to have a look at the paddock and yes it has sustained a lot of damage - I'll try and shoot some pictures of it tomorrow and upload them. As described a few days ago the damage is being done by a rather big dog and the new grass growth is being trodden into the mud by the dog going back and forth. There was a load of leaves as well in amongst the mud and on the wicket generally, so I've raked them away. Where the dogs footprints had created real uneveness I've kind of raked it hard to sort of level it off a bit, but in doing so realise that's potentially damaging to the grass and the roots.
I'll have another look tomorrow and see if there's anything more I can do, but I'm fairly resigned to the fact there's very little I can do. I'm trying to think of something I can do that is simple to encourage this bloke to stand somewhere else so that the dog runs back and forth to another spot on the paddock and the only thing I can think of is to put a paving slab or something nearby where this bloke stands to entice him to stand on that instead?
Bowled and batted with the kids over at the tennis courts went okay - video'd the proceedings. I'm hoping tomorrow to have an hour of bowling properly on my own and maybe video it.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
So next we've got Frost to look forward to and possibly fog, at least I'll be able to get out on to the paddock do some repairs, sweep the leaves away and look at doing some levelling at the bowlers end. Photo's soon to update how it's going Wo-hoo! (Said in a Homer Simpson manner).
Looking for Leg spin specific stuff? Have a look at my other blogs......
Monday, December 07, 2009
For the first time in 20 days I think I’ve managed to have a look at the wicket in the Paddock and it’s looking to be in a sorry state. I went over and tried to see how it was looking a week or so ago in the dark and I could see that it appeared to have leaves on it. Today I went into work on the later train and left early enough to stop by and do a pitch inspection as such in the light and it looks a mess. Over to one side – fortunately wider than anyone’s bowling line it looks as though a dog walker has taken to standing in the same kind of rough area while he or she then throws something for the dog. So where there’s been so much rain the earth is ultra soft, soggy and malleable and where this person has been moving around but staying concentrated in a smallish area it’s done some serious damage. Additionally where he/she has moved forwards to then meet the dog and the dog returning to them there’s additional areas that have been flattened and basically mushed.
As to what I can do about it I’m not sure, there’s the issue of the leaves first though as they have a bad effect on the growing of the grass and some of these leaves are concentrated in the mud that’s been created by this bloke/woman. So I’ll rake all that out and try and get the mud level where the damage has happened and hopefully the grass/roots in amongst the mud will recover? Other than that I’ll have to sew more in the spring. With it being to one side at the moment that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but the biggest issue is having time and light to get over there and action these things.
No cricket of any sort over the weekend. The only practice I'm doing is the usual indoor flicking of the ball keeping the wrist supple and getting to grips with the wrist position with regards how it's going to turn once the practice starts again in the new year.
Over at http://www.bigcricket.com/forum/t70231-68/ we're still in the process of compiling our top ten tips for wrist spinners and it looks like it may end up as a top 20. But so far we've come up with..........
No.1 - Get yourself a good wicket keeper.
No.2 - Make sure you've got a captain that appreciates Wrist Spin as an attack weapon.
No.3 - Practice without a batsman - but with a wicket keeper.
No.4 - Bowl into the Breeze.
No.5 - Don't be afraid to flight the ball.
No.6 - Spin the ball hard.
No.7 - Bowl your stock leg break 90% of the time
No.8 - Keep the umpire on-side be really enthusiastic about LBW appeals - but realistic
No.9 - Wind the batsman up get under his skin - verbally without being antagonistic and psycologically by taking your time between balls discussing 'Stuff'.
No.10 - Practice, practice, practice and more practice with total focus.
No.11 - Look after your rotator cuff muscle
That's about it for now.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Over at http://www.bigcricket.com/forum/t70231-66/#post378820 we're currently discussing a top ten tips list for the new year and one has come up already that we've never considered before and that's ..........
1. Get yourself a good wicket keeper.
Which seems very obvious, but has not arisen before in the list. It's now got me thinking about how committed wicket keepers are and whether like us Wrist Spinners they need to practice with the same intensity that we do. I've got a feeling that at club level they probably don't. But I'm now interested in whether wicket keepers prefer to keep with Spinners or fast bowlers? Then there's questions like what makes a good wicket keeper and do wicket keepers sit around at home playing Xbox or what have you passing the hours away wishing that they were out there somewhere practicing with a Wrist Spinner? Or is it easy and there's no need to practice?
Here's a useful link http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au/~cross/cricket.html there's a good bit relating to the spinning ball.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Again here in England after the wettest recorded November ever we’re subjected to more rain and the prospects of not even being able to get onto a tennis court or anything to have a practice. But despite that I’ve still got a selection of balls indoors and I’m still giving the ball a ‘Big Flick’. The action that I’ve been working on is the slider, so this is the ball spun back towards the body and it looks to be working fine. The ball spun in this way and allowed to drop to the kitchen floor comes back at me with far more spin on it than my Flipper and I’ve got a pretty healthy flick with the Flipper as well.
So with the gradual development of the Slider and it’s apparent spin being superior to the Flipper I’m now looking at my development list of variations for this coming season and wondering whether I should drop the back-spinning Flipper for the Slider?
By the end of last season I’d all but given up on the Flipper because I was finding it very inconsistent because I was bowling it and finding that it produced a lot of swing. Bowled at the off-stump I was finding that it was ending up wide of leg stump but on an inconsistent basis. I felt that it may have been possible to work on it leading up the start of the season and try and gain some control of the swing, but initial experiments and discussions on http://www.bigcricket.com/ are leading to me to believe that the Slider may be the better ball. I suppose over the coming months I could work on both and see how it works out, but I’m definitely erring towards the Slider because it is only a matter of degrees ‘Going round the loop’ from the Big Leg Break and that’s the one thing that I really do want to master by the end of the 2010 season. I just feel that if I can get the Slider I’ll be literally millimeters in terms of wrist action control from being able to bowl the Biggun and that’s my ultimate goal.
So if that comes together the only Flipper I’ll be likely to be bowling in 2010 will be Grimmetts Mystery Ball – The Top-Spinning Flipper. So my line up for April 2010 will be………
Flipper (Top-Spinning variation)
By the end of the summer I’ll be bowling the Leg Breaks wide of Leg Stump and turning them in around the back of the legs!!!
If I've not covered this already here I've certainly said it at
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
It turns out that November was one of the wettest ever http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/ht20091123.html with the 12" of rain in the North a week or so back in 24 hours or something ridiculous. Then last night as we moved into December the skies cleared and we've woken up to a wintery sub zero morning. So grass growing on the paddock (if this weather now takes a hold) will be suspended, as grass needs the temperature to be consistently + 4 degrees centigrade in order to grow.
My plan is to take it easy for the rest of this month and then around or more likely after Christmas (along with most of the population post Christmas) I'll commit to start training in preperation for the new season. If the weather permits I'll carry on practicing with my sons at a low level and then as the pre-season nets starts with Thurrock Cricket Club the training will intensify. With regards injuries and niggles from the summer I've got an on-going issue with a bruised heel that doesn't seem to want to go away and is aggravated by running around on the tennis court (Tarmac) and my dislocated finger is still an odd shape, but fortunately doesn't get in the way of my bowling. Catching though is another matter and that causes pain in the finger so I don't know what that indicates.
Recent flicking of the ball indicates I might be able to bowl The Slider, so I may add the Slider to my repetoire during the summer but the focus is the 4 deliveries previously written about over Oct......
Leg - Break
So roll on Dec 21st and the winter equinox and the move towards summer!