Sunday, February 28, 2010

More rain and injuries

24 hours or so later and the claf muscle has improved dramatically. I wont be bowling or running around for quite some time it seems as it is damaged and is still very tender. At the minute I'm considering seeing how it goes over the next 2 weeks with no activity at all. Then once the 2 weeks is up I'll seek advice as to what to do next. I've been looking around websites looking at how you should stretch your muscles prior to exercise it does seem that maybe I've been rushing things and over-stretching the muscles in a rapid manner rather than spending more time on the stretching and easing into physical activity.

With regards the paddock, I read some stuff on renovating existing areas of grass and it seems that I should start sewing the seed in March sometime. Today it rained again for most of the day and the indications around the area is that over-night there was a lot of rain as there's loads of roads flooded with massive puddles and the fields in the area are just enormous ponds in some cases.
Here's how bad the rain and weather's getting the flood barrier warning is a little more worrying than they let on in this article. The barrier actually needs to be replaced by a bigger model. All that's required is a big weather pattern coinciding with a full moon (Like now) spring tide and that'll be it - the final blow to the UK economy and the potential for thousands of people being killed. Fortunately with the type of weather pattern required to push the water over the top it's quite rare, but that recent low that was in the bay of Biscay must have looked worrying as that didn't conform to standard weather patterns!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

More Injuries

Gutted! I've pulled a muscle in my right leg - calf muscle. Had a bowl outside in what is looking to be the warmest day since November at 11 degrees, I was working with the big flick leg break and it was coming along okay when suddenly a sharp muscle tearing type pain in my calf muscle low down in the centre, if I press it the area that is sore seems to be quite large at the minute. I stopped straight away came home having to limp and got some ice on it. I've done the ice thing twice now, so hopefully that'll help. I've had a look around at some websites on calf injuries and it does seem as though there's potential that I've done something fairly serious and that I may be out of action for quite some time. My wife just takes the P*** out of me and says that I'm a hypochondriac. I'll just have to see how it feels over the next 24 - 48 hours? The thing is I've done so little exercise since November when the bad weather started and I'm going into my bowling in the same way that I would if I was match fit. Fingers crossed there'll be some improvement quite quickly but I can't see myself going to nets on Monday night now.

If I am out of action maybe a positive that I can draw from the situation is that I'll be able to spend time on getting the wicket up to a fair standard? I had a look at it today and the impression is what with the weather turning milder the grass is actually growing now. There's been some activity in the paddock so there are some foot marks but it's not that bad. All last week we had rain virtually every day with some of it heavy. The forecast for the next 24 hours is a lot more rain so I wont be doing an rolling tomorrow and I'll save that for next weekend and besides with my leg I don't think I'd be able to push the roller.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Net 7

Another day of heavy and almost constant rain. There was snow at Luton just up the M1 heading north - that was enough to close the airport. In Madeira there were big rain storms on Saturday leading to people being killed - the weather at the minute has gone a bit Old Skool and catching load of people out.

Anyway it wasn't that bad that I couldn't get to the nets. Bowled okay tonight was in a net with some blokes that would probably be 2nd and 3rd XI types (Maybe 4ths)? I initially worked with the Flippers but they're not really a good ball to bowl consistently - far better as a variation, so reverted back to the Leg Breaks. These were coming out okay and was bowling them more around leg stump tonight with some interesting results. I'm getting the hang now of exploring the batsmans weaknesses and realising there's real value in watching the bowling before your own over to see if the other bowlers are exposing such weaknesses before you even step up to bowl yourself.

Didn't attempt the Biggun although recent practice outside is showing promise. I can get the length but accuracy is all over the shop, so I wont be using that at all in the near furture. If the weather clears up I noticed that I was walking home in the light so it's not going to be too long before coming home and having a bit of a practice becomes a viable possibility.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More rain

Another day of cold rain, further up north in a place called the Midlands they've had snow - but it's generally accepted that it's pretty grim up there, so much so that there's song about it that reflects how bad it is here's a little ditty called 'It's grim up north'.

Ben and Joe had their practice session and ben did quite well with both his bowling and batting and Reg their coach was saying that Ben's batting is coming along okay. Slowly bit by bit they're getting there and Ben produced some nice shots and blocks and is now beginning to produce the right strokes for the differing length balls. What I did notice though was that when Joe was batting (His little brother 3 years younger than him) Ben was bowling so much faster and better at poor little Joe - what's that all about?

Nets tomorrow - I think I'll bowl the 2 flippers and focus on the new 180 degree rotation and look for the LBW because of got to start asking for them.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Foot and Paddock


After yesterdays sunny day the weather has returned to it's usual pattern of recent months e.g. pouring with rain intersperesed with sleet and freezing cold. Having rolled the wicket yesterday in the paddock and compressed the earth the rain is not draining away particularly well and I may have to consider instigating some kind of rudimentary drainage. Perhaps make several small bore holes remove the earth and fill the bore holes with sand? I'll leave it and see what happens. Today 19th it hasn't rained yet and it's a bit breezy, so I'll go and have a look and see if there is still standing water?

Yesterday I drove up to Liz Ward to have my foot looked at and discovered that what I have is not classic plantar faciitis and in in fact a problem relating to the muscle in my calf - the peroneus longus, it seems this muscle is a tad damaged with loads of micro tears and repairs and therefore has the appearance of a thick lumps of woven rope instead of the smooth regular straight strands that make up your muscles. In addition it's incredibly tight and it's these things that are leading to the pain I'm having in my foot. So yesterday Liz massaged or rather neaded this muscle for quite some time which seems to possibly straighten out the rope texture of the muscle and possibly re-allign the muscle fibres/strands?

The good news is this morning when I got up I'd usually expect to have to hobble around like an old bloke for the first 5 minutes or so until my foot loosens up. Before I even got out of bed I could sense that my foot felt different and when I did get up there was a massive improvement - I was suffering about 10% of the normal pain I'd expect so that one session with Liz has made an extraordinary difference. I've now got to massage the muscle myself and stretch it and ensure it doesn't return to the condition it was in before Liz worked on it.

The other issue which was discussed was what is at the root of the calf muscle problem. One thing that Liz noted was that I stand with my feet pointing outwards whereas a perfect stance would be with both feet parallel to each other straigh forwards, so I've got to try and stand like that and walk with my feet in a parallel manner. If I do this I can feel the weight being distributed in a different way across the bottom of my feet. The other thing that Liz asked about was my bowling action (See slow motion video below). It's been noted in the past that my rotation around my left foot (Pivot foot) is far more than 180 degrees. If you think in terms of a clock with the batsman being beyond the 12 end of the clock, with my pivot foot in the middle of the clock, my rotating leg starts at 7 o'clock and rotates counter clockwise and end up between 10 and 11 o'clock representing a massive over - rotation. The foot that rotates round the pivot foot should go from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock with my head and chest being far more forwards facing than it is at the minute. At the moment because my body comes round so far I have to crook my neck in order that I'm watching where the ball goes.

What I might also do this Monday at nets is film Alex 'The Wizard' McLellan while he's bowling to have a look at his action and try and get some clues as to what it is that he does that gives him such a massive amount of turn off the wicket. I'm assuming that he bowls with a 180 degree rotation, but I'm now interested in whether he keeps his chest and face going forward in the delivery as Shane Warne does?

Bowling session

In the meantime I was interested to see how easy or difficult it would be to change my action to the 180 degree rotation and how it might impact on my bowling. 26 overs later and I had some idea..... I bowled along a line so that I could see how well I was doing and straight from the outset it was easy and not only was it easy but it also seems to have improved my accuracy or at the very least not effected it at all, in fact as I was using Kwik cricket stumps I got fed up of having to walk back up the wicket and re-set the stumps after they'd been knocked down, that I used one stump and still kept hitting it and in the end had to stop hitting it and aimed to hit a fence post instead that was on the off-side a foot wide of the stumps just behind it.

There also seemed to be some improvement with my wrong un and the two flippers I bowled were dramatically improved for accuracy. I tried the big leg break using the big flick with some success but that's still a long way off of being usable but shows promise. I don't think it helps that I was still concentrating on the 180 rotation.

Weirdly though having bowled with this 180 rotation I've come home with the muscle soreness in the right leg in what feels like the peroneus longus!!! What's that all about?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Paddock News & Bowling

At last a sunny day and the first sense that Spring may be on it's way. There's Daffodils coming through and I've seen snowdrops flowering in peoples gardens and I saw the first butterfly of the year. So what with the sunshine I decided that I'd give the Paddock it's first rolling as it looks such a mess what with it being so dog damaged.

I went over and had a look and as it had been raining all day yesterday the ground was absoultely saturated with standing water in the dips. Before I even started rolling I knew that what I was about to do was going to dramatically change the way it looks and there's a good chance that the rolling in the longer term may actually cause the grass to be stressed and not grow particularly well. Whether that turns out to be a bad thing or not I'm not sure, we might just end up with a particularly smooth and virtually grassless wicket that works fine. But the thing to remember this patch of ground was ridiculously uneven with thick tufts of grass growing in patchy lumps with all manner of earth moguls in between.
In the image here (above) you can see where at the end of the summer we re-seeded the wicket and did a lot of work on getting it level, the grass cover is a lot more dense and even whereas further up the wicket where the grass was a far more sparse with the rolling it just looks like a mud bath. The images here below show the wicket in the Paddock at the end of the summer prior to re-seeding and once the seeds had been sown and the initial growth had taken place. The greener of the 2 images is kind of how I'm hoping the paddock is going to look around about mid April?

What I'll do now is just keep and eye on it and just see how much more damage is done by the dogs and whoever is walking all over it. The weather forecast is for a hard frost tonight and the possibilty of snow in the next 48 hours, so there's no short term chance that it's going to dry up. What I've got to do is try and time it so that I roll it again when the weather is equally as wet but then is subjected to a dry period where it dries up 80%. If that happens around the middle of March and it's warm as well I'll then seed it and roll it so that the seed is embedded into the surface layer and maybe we'll get a good grass covering. Then we've just got to resist bowling on it till the grass establishes itself quite well. I'm fairly optimistic that no matter how it ends up the work that has been done it over the last 9 months or so constitutes an enormous improvement and we''l have a far better surface come June a year after we started to used the paddock.

If we don't get the expected wet weather or snow I may roll it again in a few more days just to smooth it out a bit and compress it so that it's less susceptible to dog damage.

Bowling Practice

Bowled the equivalent of 25 overs today working on my four deliveries. It went exceptionally well except for the fact that I couldn't replicate the same progress I had with the big leg-break a couple of days ago. It came out a few times really well but I couldn't get it to spin with any consistency, I'm not looking for any line and length success at this stage just a big turning leg break. Again as with the last practice I didn't have any real success with the wrong un either which now leaves me thinking is this a long term issue or is this just a temporary thing and I've gone from a not bothered situation to a am i losing my wrong un and if so I'm slightly concerned scenario? The Flipper was going well in both it's guises the top-spinning variant and the back-spinning version. 25 overs back to back represents a big increase in bowling intensity and I've come away feeling okay from it, if anything it's my legs that possibly need more exercise/training so after the visit to the physio tomorrow I may start power-walking as a part of my training regime.

Back home I was flicking the ball and went outside the house and worked on flicking the ball and had a good degree of success with my current biggish turner which I describe as unfurling of the wrist rather than the flicking of the wrist. I adopted the cocked wrist approach with a big emphasis on ensuring the ball left the 3rd finger with purpose and this turned really well with lots of control over the line and length. All of these variations of my leg break involve incredibly small but seemingly very significant changes to the grip and how the contact is made between the ball and the 3rd finger.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Net Session No.6

It was a lot better tonight as there were a lot less people, so the wait between each ball was no-where near as long and frustrating. My bowling kind of went on from three and half hours earlier, but I didn't try out the Big Flick Leg Break as it's far too inconsistent at this stage. Bowled my current leg break variations, the Top Spinning Flipper and few back-spinners and the wrong un. The Wrong Un seems to have gone for the minute which I'm not concerned about - I think I said the same thing last week? I bowled against Buckers (Chris) who is one of the 2nd XI openers and got him a couple of times, but I think he was a bit rusty and everyone was having a piece of him especially Wayne who I think got him 4 or 5 times and at least 3 of those he hit the stumps with his off-spin that was going very well tonight. I'm not sure whether I got Neil, I usually get him with the wrong un but I couldn't get it to turn tonight, but all in all I did okay and was quite pleased and ended up not too knackered especially as I've been swimming today, bowled for at least half an hour 80-100 balls at 4.30 and then 2 hours in the nets 8pm to 10.00pm. I had a bat as well at the end and was focusing on keeping the ball off the stumps and did okay for a while although all the bowlers did look a bit knackered. Wayne got me in the end with one of his off-spinners that came off the inside of my bat and Neil got an edge as well. All in all it was pretty good, better than last week.

The Wizard was also heard to be saying that after 3 years of bowling Leg Spin he was possibly going to give it up?


It's been dry here today in Essex, cold but dry (4 degrees centigrade) so I had the opportunity to throw a few balls and spent 1/2 or so bowling my stuff. Today everything was coming out of the hand well with the exception of the wrong un, but I wasn't that fussed as it was either going straight or very slightly to the leg side e.g. a ball pitched on the line and length I bowl to was ending up on leg stump, so in a game situation it would have worked anyway. The last bucket of balls (just as it started to snow) I decided that I'd give the Biggun a go what with all the talk and theory being discussed recently. Added to that over the winter I've been flicking the ball inwards with back-spin 90% of the time so in theory it might come out of the hand quite readily. I moved the bowling marker a bit closer - 18 yards and tried it. Of the 18 balls 3 of them were dragged down 1 or 2 went straight but all of the other went exceptionally well. I'm using hockey balls on rough/old tarmac and I bowled round the wicket bowling well wide of the leg-stump and virtually all of the balls ended up wide of off-stump or hitting the stumps albeit with a very loopy flight and very slow. In a game they'd have all been hit for 4's and 6's out to the leg-side by anyone with any batting ability.The good thing is it was working and this is at the start of the season with freezing cold hands and with me being very much out of practice and not particularly fit at the minute. This now gives me food for thought as I've got no plans for any real bowling development other than to keep my four deliveries nice and tight and working well which will be just day to day practice. With this session today probably representing the biggest step forward with the 'Biggun' (Big Leg Break) I'm now considering having this as my main development plan for this season? I'd already planned to try it out every now and then to see if it was showing any promise as I did today, but today has been a bit of epiphanic event and this could be the start of something good I reckon.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday nets and stuff

A good day all round for all of us. Ben and Joe's net session/training is at 3pm so before that we had a bit of a warm up (I wicket keep). Ben was zinging them through incredibly fast and accurately so much so I was reluctant to get my hands on a lot of them. He was also bowling Leg breaks at the start he bowled one well outside of leg stump that came in and hit middle and this is with a non-seamed Hockey ball! Joe did okay and was asking what he needed to do to get it to turn and he found that when he wasn't trying to make it spin it turned a bit, so hopefully that might give him some incentive over the next few weeks to change his bowling a bit.

But the highlight of the day so far was Ben's increase in speed since last summer. We then went to their club practice session and that went well for both of them especially Ben. At the minute Ben seems to be enjoying it and as a result seems to be doing well. He got to face the bowling machine first and showed a lot of improvement with that - stepping forward to the pitch of the ball and trying to drive the ball and then went it wasn't threatening the stumps and was there to hit he was swinging the bat and hitting it. At the end of the session he had to face the other boys and I think generally he played the ball well keeping them from taking his wicket - he may have been LBW on one ocassion. He also bowled and whilst it looked like nothing as fast as earlier he did bowl the teams opener. Joe did similarly well, stepping to the pitch of the ball and driving it. As far as I could see both of them showed signs of improvement since last week which was good.

Once back it was still light and despite the fact that it was wet and only 4 degrees I went and bowled 60 balls or so trying out my repetoire. It went as well as expected considering I'm still not able to get out and bowl. It's still the Flipper that needs the most work so I'll give that a going over tomorrow night at nets. I'll try my tactic of bowling round the stumps at the RH mixing it with Leg Breaks and see what happens?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Plantar Faciitis and more - 18084

Views of the blog are up at the minute with the number being recorded at 18084 at the moment, it looks as though I get about 50 hits a day?

Anyway the foot - yes it's still painful in the morning but arming up exercises do help with it, both first thing in the morning and then if do any sport. It's not too much of an issue with my bowling it seems but general running around at the minute is hindered and I can't run as fast as I could last year. I'm considering going to see a proper sports physio on Thursday and driving all the way up to Saffron Walden to do so and get some professional advice. I kind of know what she might say but I need someone like that to say it otherwise I'm running the risk of doing myself even more damage.

Today I've had a knock about with my kids at the Rec and didn't warm up that well and sure enough it's been pretty painful since coming back from the game.

Mucking about with the kids I bowled leg breaks and back-spinning Flippers, the flipper needs some work but wasn't that bad - seems fairly accurate and effective if I bowl it a bit slower than full pelt, bowled fast it seems as though I tend to bowl crap lines with it. Bowling against Ben my older son (He hit me for 6 today e.g. through the V and over the fence at the place we play for the first time he was well chuffed) I found that there maybe some mileage at bowling the flipper round the wicket from a wide position and bowling it at the legs, so I may give that a go at the Nets on Monday?

Another thing I tried today was something I read about or heard a commentator talking about in the last week which was that both Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke sometimes are heard to be saying to themselves 'Watch the ball, watch the ball, watch the ball' as the bowler approaches. I'm dogshit useless at batting and both my sons over the last couple of years have bowled me again and again with relative ease. Just of late though I've improved against them, whereas my expectation was that as they got older they'd probably be able to bowl me with increasing ease? So today I tried the Ricky Ponting thing and sure enough I got the ball on the bat 100% of the time I did it. Whether that might transfer to a net session against a bunch of half decent bowlers is another matter?

Paddock News

Again all week it's either been freezing cold and cloudy or drizzle mixed with sleet. There's been a couple of snow flurries too. The net result is that the Paddock is still saturated with water and the grass isn't growing at all and again I'm tempted to get the roller out and give it a going over? I'm off for a week so I may do it in the week sometime - possibly Monday. Again as per usual the damage looks to be caused by a big dog all down one side of the wicket (Off-side). If I roll it I'll blog the outcome as you'd expect. This article suggests that rolling might get started in February and suggests a light rolling. As my roller can only be described as light this gives me more incentive to give it a go?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Net Session 5

Another pretty uneventful net session. Nothing to report really only that I desperately need to get outside and bowl properly. I suppose there's the fact that I bowled against some of the first team players and I'm assuming they're the good batsmen. Both these blokes were coming down the wicket and hitting the ball while it was still in the air not having hit the deck, maybe I was bowling too long and making it easy for them to do this? So there's the issue of length again. Flippers made a bit of a difference as I was getting them right into their feet, but overall it wasn't that good and just highlighted how out of practice I am. But the coach was watching and he seemed to think I was doing okay because the ball was comimg off the bat at a catchable height and with the Wrong uns spinning off into areas that where there would have been a fielder perhaps?

Came away feeling knackered - legs and joints in my legs ached and I also smashed the inside of my ankle with the bat during a practice drill where were practicing driving.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Ben and Joe's practice

Ben and Joe had their practice sessions today. I tried to keep and eye on what was happening in both nets but was primarily watching Ben the older son (Age 10). What I did notice in Joe's net was that he was being told by both the coaches that the should get his arm up a lot more vertical which is good as that's what I've been telling him. He no longer tries to spin it and I think he is a bit lost as to how he actually bowls. Most of the time he will use a wrist spinners grip and sometimes it does turn, but not like he did a year and half ago. I'm not going to say too much to him and just let the coaches tell him and see how he responds. But at the moment he has a tendency to get despondent if he doesn't get things right quite quickly.

The older son Ben, did better he was with the coach they call Sharpey (Dave Sharp)? They were working with the bowling machine and Sharpey was trying to get him to step to the ball and drive the ball, there was a glimmer of something there and again this is what I've been trying to get Ben to do myslef with a little bit of success. 'Sharpey' came over and had a word at the end and said to try and encourage Ben to step to the ball with more conviction. So when we got home we had a go and it seemed to work fine without the use of the bat, but then as soon as he's got the bat in his hand he focusses on the bat and the leg then trails behind leaving a gaping great gap. Thing is here I am pointing out Ben's faults and I can't even get a bat on a ball. The chances are by the end of this coming season Ben would have scored more runs than me - you watch!!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bowling practice

Me and the kids went over to the tennis court today and had a knock about and I got to have a bowl albeit using wind balls. The good news is that I'm still sticking with my 4 variation approach and was able to try all these out today and they went okay.

Leg Break; Wrong Un; Flipper and Top-Spinning Flipper. The Leg Break in particular was coming out well with 3 different kind of sub variations on the go which was how I was working with it at the end of the season. My main sub variation which is held high in the fingers and is bowled faster and flatter was going well, very accurate on the middle and off-line or just outside off - this is the ball that got me the most wickets last year. The other two variations were going well too, they're more flighted and with a ball with a seam they have the addition of drift, these tended to bounce more and turn more but are slower, I can't really say how good they will be till I can get on some grass or an artificial wicket, but I'm very optimistic about there potential.

The good thing is that all of them turn using balls with no seams, so it'll be good to see how they all go with a seamed ball once we get the dry weather, warmth and sunshine.

I may have a proper practice tomorrow using hockey balls on my own and that'll give a better indication as to how I'm bowling.

A bloke on the forum I comment on a lot was talking about my approach to bowling at the lefties and was saying that I should bowl wrong uns as though they're my stock ball, pitching them right up in the same way that I do with my main Leg Break to RH's and then put a Leg Break in every 6-8 balls and see how that works, so if I've got any form this Monday I may give that a go?

Paddock news

After weeks and weeks of snow, rain and frost and the temperature hovering around the 0 degrees centigrade zone for the best part of 2 months we had a sunny day today, with the temperature moving up to around 10 degrees. Since the snows we've had a lot of rain so the paddock is soaked and saturated with water, in some areas in the dips there was standing water so the drainage isn't that good.

Before the snow there seemed to be a lot of traffic through the paddock. This view here below is shot from the entrance and they would then walk across the paddock through the gap in the fence on the opposite side. This means they walk across the wicket area shaded dark in the image here. The worst damage is though isn't in that area but further down the wicket and was caused by a dog walker and his dog
The close up shots below come from the positions on the wicket marked with the red dots, the less muddy image is shot approximately where the red spot on the left is - just in front of the stumps. The other shot is roughly where the red dot is and this area is a mess. There's an obvious need for levelling and seeding, so I'm going to have to watch the weather and try and get the timing right. In an ideal world we'd continue with fairly wet weather but warmer and interspersed with sun. That'll get the grass growing again and I might be tempted to roll it sometime in February or early March.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Net Session No.4

Not so good tonight, bowled okay but ran out of steam is seems? I just seem to lack the stamina and fitness to bowl that well and every now and then just bowled rubbish. It doesn't help that you bowl every 4th or 5th ball and never get into a rhythm. It may be I'm at a low physical biorhythmic stage or perhaps on the verge of falling ill (Cold or something) or maybe just plain knackered? Whatever it is, I feel that it's temporary and as soon as the weather picks up and I can get back to bowling in terms of buckets of balls rather than single balls every 4 or 5 blokes I'll soon get back into the groove so I'm not going to stress that much about it.

My mate The Wizard was bowling well, he's a lot better than he was last year in the nets and he was turning the ball big. So I need to match his improvement in my own bowling and aim to come out of the end this coming season with better bowing figures - averages and strike rates. He'll always play more games than me, so he'll end up taking more wickets over the season. It's the strike rate figures that I'm interested in - I'd like to end up taking a wicket every 2 overs or at least improve on every 15 balls.