Monday, March 29, 2010

Rain update

After reporting on the blog last night that I now needed it to rain, the good news is that over night it's been mild and raining and therefore the seed has had a good soaking to get it on its way. The forecast over the next week looks as though it's improved since yesterdy as well, with the week remaining relatively mild and wet for the week, which is absolutely perfect for establishing some initial growth. What it does look like though is that the if we want to play on it though we really need to wait a fair bit of time before doing so as we need to allow the grass to establish itself and that I think takes a lot longer. Ideally the roots of the new growth need to be very well established in order that they survive when the grass on the surface is damaged, enabling new growth to come through from the root system. I think we're being optimistic with this goal, because I can see that once some nice growth is established on the surface and it's been cut we'll be gagging to get on it and use it.

I noticed today that even though I gave it a good roll yestrday, the grass that is already there which normally seems to suffer from rolling, seems to have bounced back in less than 12 hours and looks as though it hasn't been rolled. This wicket so far compared to the other one on the big field has been rolled 4 or 5 times more and is likely to see more rolling action all through the spring and maybe the summer - perhaps every weekend prior to using it?

I'm now thinking about the other end and how I can improve the bowlers end as the surface is possibly more even and flat than it was last summer, but it still isn't ideal. There's very little grass on it and it's likely not to grow this summer, as it gets dustier what I may try and do is rake the uneven surface and make it flat maybe preparing it for an attempt to establish a good covering of grass over Sept and October.

No nets last night, instead went and watched Derren Browns show Enigma. Clever stuff, but my God are those people that get up on stage for real? Some of it is corny, like the trick where he's got the muppet up on stage and he's showing you that he can make him rigid or floppy and the climax is that Browns two henchmen then lift the bloke up and place him in between 2 chairs, his feet resting on one chair and his neck the other. I can do that! I got home and did it myself and I'm 50 and do very little in the way of core strength training! But still a good show.

Wicket news

Loads of rain yesterday, it rained almost all day and it was heavy, so if this grass doesn't sprout in the next 2 weeks we'll go for a bare earth wicket. Keith over at Great Berry Space was asking about my birthday bash. He was asking when I was going to be getting over to Great Berry Open Space to roll it ready for the summer. At the minute I'm so impressed with the wicket over at the Paddock, I'm certainly not inclined to leave the roller over at the Pavillion so that I can focus on rolling that instead of the paddock. Over the Easter break I'll go over there and have a look to see what the prospects look like for having a wicket on there. If I thought that Keith could get a few blokes and kids over there in the evenings having a knock about I'd be far more inclined to follow it up, I'll have to see if I can get over to the Pavillion with him for a beer and see how it pans out.

Later in week

The rain continues and the temperature has dipped once again to an un-seasonal 7 or 8 degrees during the day. Up North and in Ireland they've been having bad snow - a foot in a day and it's now heading our way on an anti-cyclonic weather either today or tomorrow. Fortunately there's going to be some influence from the Atlantic and it'll drag slightly warmer air in off the ocean nulifying the snow and it's not expecting to snow on us, so we'll just get more rain.

Dave Ashwell

I've just heard that my mate Dave Ashwell who I've known since he was 15 has just died aged 48 on Sunday, having struggled to over-come cancer. The funeral is this coming Thursday at 11.30 in Surrey, so if you're one of our mates and you've not heard yet, get in touch and I'll let you know the details.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

28th March

Not a lot of cricket happening for me personally, what with the shift to British summer-time the day didn't pan out in the way that I'd hoped for and any cricket activities that happened today were all centred around Ben and Joe.

Yesterday was a cricket failure as Michelle had signed us all up to go on a paintball type activity without paintballs. Though when we got on the bus G-Man was there along with his son Ryan and Harrison with his Dad (Another couple of kids in Ben and Joes team). Talking to G-Man while we were shooting the other teams he was saying that he's seen a massive difference in both Ben and Joe's abilities over the last year and was pleased with their progress as I am. Incidentally we teamed up with the other cricketers calling ourselves the 'A' Team and took on a couple of girls and their Dads making us a 10 person team and we went on to win every single battle whether attacking or defending meaning at the end of the day we were the team that won overall not being beaten in any battles - which was good.

So if there was any cricket to be had it was going to be today. Just before the training session with the B&PCC we went over to 'The Rec' and had a quick knock about and warm up there and then more or less went straight to the last indoor session at Fitzwymarc School. As with last week they played a few games instead of the usual bowling and batting practice and it went well. Ben was commended for his good fielding - he was getting his leg down for his long barrier and just getting his body in the way of the ball generally. He bowled nice and tight conceding few runs and not bowling any wides as far as I recall. He's a lot more confident with the bat now as well, but does still tend to hit in the air a bit, but as G-Man had said yesterday he's a lot better than he was last year. In fact a lot better than he was in September, I think the work that we've all been putting in over at The Rec during the winter in the tennis courts has made a big difference to all of us - me included.

Joe though had a brilliant game. He took four wickets and was on a hat-trick at one point, but the event of the session was a brilliant jump and stretch to his high left of off Charlies batting which he plucked out of the sky taking his wicket. As he did it I was thinking 'No way is he going to get that' imagining that at best he might take some of the stimg out of it's flight but his little hand reached out and it stuck solidly to produce a brilliant catch that Ben said of it "Joe's catch was better than mine a few weeks ago I reckon". They looked fairly much the same - but I saw Ben's from a different angle and his had looked special and it was off of Killers big batting, but then Joe's was a left-handed catch so I reckon they were both on par with each other. So that was a good game with both of them pretty enthusiastic at the minute about the prospects of the new season. The only down-side I can see of the new season is that there are so many kids in the team at the minute, it looks as though they'll be lucky to get a game every fortnight?

Jeff Noble had a word with me about getting involved in the B&PCC set up, I said that I'd help out as much as I can and said that I'm up for helping out, but he was a bit vague about what he wanted me to do instead asking me what it was that I wanted to do? Not sure of any of the particular roles that there are in these kind of set-ups I said that I was willing to do the scoring and help out where possible. He went on to talk about coaching and I said that I'd be up for taking the courses and he said that the club would pay for the training and that it would be a couple of Saturdays in Sept/Oct this year and I said I'd do that. In the meantime I'm well up for helping out with the training and he said that I could shadow the current trainers this summer, so that'll be good.

Paddock News

What with the recent rain and the fact that it's now been more than 2 weeks since I put down the grass seed, I had a think about what the next move should be. It looks like for whatever reason that seed hasn't taken it looks like Plan B needed to swing into action. This morning I had a look around the garden and found a bag of processed earth that I'd graded last summer - 25% compost 75% clay. So I decided to have a second go at seeding the patches and this time rather than just rolling the seed into the clay I'd cover it with this earth and then roll it and also do some repairs as there's a couple of dents that need some work. So after the training session with Ben and Joe I went over and did the work and rolled it again. After it was rolled it was looking exceptionally good and it has got to grow this time surely as we're almost in April!!! As night fell this evening there were drips of drizzle, but it could do with a good drop of rain to help this new earth merge and also give the seed a good soak and hopefully get it on its way.

I've just looked at the forecast and there's a chance of light rain with some heavier rain in the weak. The most troublesome thing is the fact that there's going to be a series of night where the average temperature is due to drop to 2 degrees which wont help as that may damage the seeds? On a more positive front the day-time temperatures are going to be 10 degrees with sunshine and showers, so if the seed can survive the cold potentially frosty nights - the prospects look good.

More cricket

Then this evening Joe, Ben and I had a knock about using the Bradman bat and Ben was doing exceptionally well with that. I reckon by the end of the summer there may be a big improvement in Bens batting, the key thing he needs to be doing is playing it slightly later so that he keeps it on the ground. With regards his bowling he just needs to keep it as it is, because he just gets faster and faster and more and more accurate.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


A lot more rain today amidst the overall warm temperatures, which should get the grass growing. Again tonight I stopped by the Paddock and had a look at the wicket and still no signs of the seed germinating, so I'm thinking that maybe I'll put some more seed down and see if that's more successful? What I have noticed though is that there's a lot of worm casts, so many that it could be a problem in the longer term and I know that on proper cricket wickets the groundsmen brush the worm casts away on a regular basis.

There's speculation that the weather for the summer is going to be good - but they said that last year

Monday, March 22, 2010

Net 9 and some weather news

Another net session that went well-ish. It might have been a lot better if my foot/leg wasn't giving me so much grief. I've done loads of stretching today - all day long and it doesn't seem to be getting any better which is disappointing after a period when it did seem to improve a lot. What I'll have to do is try not to run on it or belt up and down the stairs at work but carry on stretching all week and see if it gets any better running up to the weekend?

Nets was good from a batting perspective, it seems that when I get in the nets Wayne, Neil, Wizard and anyone else that is around up the ante a bit and seem to put a lot of effort into getting me out. I never know quite whether to go for a completely defensive approach or whether to try and hit some of them, when it comes to hitting the ball I have problems sussing out which of them are there to be hit, there's a few obvious ones, but once I've hit a few of them I then get too over-confident and then start having a go at the ones that look like 1/2 chances and that's where I come unstuck. But as I bat at either 10 or 11 and I'm sometimes there with someone who can bat and it's important that I hit the ball and get singles so that the better bloke can get the proper runs with the 2's, 3's and 4's when he's on strike. But overall I think I've got better than I was last year and that's down to the fact that Ben in particular (My older son) is getting bigger and stronger and better at bowling meaning that as he improves I do too. I'm not scared of the ball anymore as well (If it was a lot faster I would be) so that helps as well. So I quite enjoy the challenge of trying to keep them from hitting the stumps.

Weather news

It's rained this evening so more sprouting potential for the seeds on the paddock. I think I'll try and keep off it for a couple or weeks and keep my fingers crossed that the footballers, dogs and golf players do the same. Compared to how it looked back in October it looks disnmal and I'm kind of hoping that it should look like it did in October around about Mid April?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Paddock News and bad legs

After yesterdays rain, we woke up to the prospects of a dry cricket filled day with the potential to possibly roll the wicket again. In the morning I had a look to see how it was going and whether there was any sign of grass shoots and there still isn't anything, but the prospect is that the rest of the week will be warm with a little rain.

This morning Ben, Joe and I went over the Rec to the old Tennis Courts and had a quick knock about in there as we do most weekend days around 11.00/12.00. That went well with Ben seeming to hit the ball with increasing confidence especially if the ball goes Leg-side. I reckon Ben's on the verge of getting to that point where he might start taking his batting more seriously and caring about the shots he makes, we'll have to see? Joe bowled okay, he doesn't turn it anymore and when he's bowling well he just does well through being fairly accurate and varying his flight and speed, which is something he's always done. Ben's bowling is fine with good accuracy and he's getting more and more interested in Leg Spinning and today he threw one up that turned off the wicket massively and was obviously inspired 'Am I better than you Dad at Leg - Breaks'? He asked? Yeah - maybe come back and ask that one again when you take a wicket every 15 balls I replied. But the thing is my Leg/Foot has been playing up the last few days after I bounded down the stairs at work on Wednesday rushing for the train. It seems - that I've either got to be stretching all day long or not do that kind of stuff - because I hadn't stretched beforehand and it's still bad now 4-5 days later and I've got nets tomorrow night and I don't want to be sore for that.

I've tried ice on it today and that seems to work a little bit, but I was watching Eddie Izard on the tele last night and this is a Bloke who's only 2 years younger than me and he did no prep but ran 43 marathons in 51 days! He put some of his success down to the fact that after each race he sat in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes after each race and seemed to think this was what enabled his body at 47 to be able to go on and on? So maybe part of the answer is Ice Baths for my feet? But that aside it does seem that before any activity be it running to the station to catch the train or running up and down stairs at work - I need to do warm ups or at least stretch all the time at work, which I have been doing, but seemingly not enough?

After lunch we then went to Ben and Joe's net session and a couple of his mates joined us and watched too (When they didn't have their heads buried in their nintendo DS's). Neither of them did well with the bat in either the proper game or with the Kwik Cricket later, but they both did okay with their bowling with Ben bowling one of the better kids with his 2nd ball cleaning him up hitting the stumps. Getting a bit cocky - around about his 3rd ball he tried a couple of balls of wrist spin and bowled 2 wides and then reverted back to his seam up stuff - which is increasingly very accurate. Joe did okay - good flightly balls some of them and couple of wides - always cause the bats problems with his flight and speed (Slow). Ben and Joes mates were suitably impressed when they did look up on the odd ocassion.

I don't know why and I was surprised to see it but Ben and Joe did seem to be okay about batting with each other, but it all went very wrong. Joe was on strike and hit the ball straight down the ground and shouted yes on a risky run - but having put the ball straight he could see that mid on was going for it and thought that it was him that was running the greatest risk, but rather than throw it at the stumps side on or to the bowler, he did the right thing and got it back to the keeper and Ben having been slow out of his ground was run-out. He wasn't impressed - in fact he was exceptionally upset. I consoled him and pointed out that it was probably a good idea that they work together in practice to get a good batting partnership going, but he wasn't particuarly interested in my suggestion.

Once back having seen the cricket the other 2 boys were up for a bit of a knock about in the paddock so we had a quick game working on buidling partnerships. The other 2 kids weren't that good - but a good insight into the endemic state of unfitness our kids are in these days. Both of them having thrown a few balls were whinging that they had aching and sore arms.......

Once they'd all packed up I dragged the roller over to the paddock and gave it a roll. Yesterday, what with it being so wet it looked a bit rough and vulnerable to damage, buy just the little bit of sun today and warmth has made it look sound again once I'd rolled it. I was looking at how good it was looking back in October and I'm wondering that playing on it so early we may actually damage it? I need to see growth - new growth sprouting, as that'll give me an excuse to stay off it for a month or so. Let's hope this week we'll see some evidence of growth?,-4.064941&sspn=18.461747,67.543945&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Basildon,+Essex+SS16+5UE,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.565157,0.42625&spn=0,359.998969&t=h&z=21&layer=c&cbll=51.565157,0.42625&panoid=qgmCrTXfo0rss4wyLgmRUQ&cbp=12,23.26,,0,-1.32

So, what with my bad calf muscle/heel I'm off for a stretch - oh one last thing.......I've just booked 8 hours of coaching with Terry Jenner, I'm just waiting now for his reply to see if I've got a place. How good is that!!! I'll let you know if I'm successful.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Some welcome rain

Eventually the promised rain came and it's come in the right kind of variety I reckon? It's been drizzly all day long, so not the kind of rain that is going to deep saturated the alreay soaked wickets, but a light rain combined with 15 degrees centigrade air temperature which is exactly the kind of weather event that should trigger the grass on the paddock growing along with the seed that was put down last weekend.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wo Hoo! Springs is here!

I've just updated my Leg Break blog with an improved version of the Drift article -

Despite the forecast it hasn't rained yet meaning we've had a couple of weeks now of no rain and that means the Paddock is drying out rapidly, in fact too rapidly because the wicket is developing little cracks in the surface. What it does mean though is that it's now drying to the point where you can bowl on it. So tonight, son No.1 having got his first set of cricket shoes through the post wanted to give them a run out and despite the fact that the sky was grey and overcast we were able to get over to the paddock.

So tonight we had 20 minutes of bowling and batting before it did get too dark. The good news is here in the UK the clocks change to BST the weekend after next, so by the time the Easter Break is over we should be looking at the potential of having our tea around 6.00 - 6.30 and then probably get out on the Paddock for an hour perhaps.

What with it being dry though, the grass seed that was sown doesn't look as though it's going to be growing in the next couple of days. Maybe it will rain tonight and that might trigger it? If not, it looks as though we'll end up with a grassless wicket? On the subject of the grass what with it being 16 degrees today and warmer than 4 degrees at night it's growing 24-7 and it was noticeable tonight on the wicket, so potentially rather than rolling the wicket this weekend we might even mow it!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Legspin bowling Drift


This is a magical complex aero-dynamic feature of wrist spinning, where the ball is released spinning from the hand on what initially looks like a trajectory heading for your off-stump (RH bat) and then as it approaches it veers to the batsmans left suddenly heading towards the Leg Stump at such a late stage in its flight heading for his blind spot only to then hit the pitch and do what all good Leg Breaks should do – break towards the Off-Stump.

Drift was probably first described back in 1930 in Clarrie Grimmetts wrist spin bible ‘Getting Wickets’. He refers to it as ‘Swerve’………..

Grimmet on Drift

The ball or sphere which is perfectly round, and has no seam, swerves because it is affected by the pressure of the atmosphere. This is dependent on the way that the ball is spinning. Take, for instance, a ball spinning in a horizontal plane from right to left. That is, if you were to put a chalk mark round a sphere, similar to the seam on a cricket ball it would be spinning round at right angles to the line of flight, parallel with the ground. The ball would then be traveling much faster on the right side than on the left, because it is spinning forward. On the left side, the ball is spinning back, and, consequently, not going so fast as on the other side. Hence, the different sides of the ball are differentially affected by the air pressure.

It is therefore, easy to see that the ball must tend to travel or swerve to the side on which there is the most resistance. In this case, the most resistance is on the left because the ball has a spinning motion backwards, and is traveling forward. Consequently, it swerves to the left; and, if the spin is reversed, it will swerve to the right. Similarly, top and backspin operate the same way in their respective directions.

A cricket ball introduces something different again by reason of the fact that it has a seam raised above the main surface of the ball. Through the fact that the seam is in such contrast to the smooth, shiny surface – this varying as the ball becomes worn – it necessarily follows it offers more resistance to the atmosphere than the shiny part. Consequently, it swerves according to the way in which the seam is spinning.

Bowl a ball spinning over towards the slips as for the leg break, the seam being gripped so that it touches the first two fingers and thumb. The seam would be then pointing in the direction of the slips, and, with the atmosphere striking it in this position it would act as a rudder, steering the ball towards the slips – an out-swerve. Now grip the ball with the seam exactly opposite, spin it the same way, and it will swerve towards fine leg – an in-swinger.

It is possible, however, for the seam to spin in such a way that, in the prevailing conditions it does not act as a rudder, and the ball swerves simply because it is traveling faster in one place than in the other, as for instance, the ball spinning on a horizontal plane.

In the case of a ball bowled as for a leg break, a previously described, with the seam spinning like a hoop towards the slips, the top part of the ball is traveling faster than the lower part, and causes the ball to drop quickly. Hence the curving, deceptive flight of a ball from a slow bowler.

In baseball, they use for practice purposes a ball with the seam raised about an eighth of an inch, the idea being to enable learners to get the impression of swerve more easily by means of the contrast between the raised seam and the ball itself. This suggestion could be applied to cricket. Bowlers anxious to solve the mysteries of swerve could have a cricket ball made to order with the seam so raised, and would thus more clearly be able to note the effect of swerve.

Much useful experience can be gained by noting, particularly with the raised seam ball, the effect of the wind. Young bowlers should also watch carefully to see how the swerve varies according to the way they grip the ball.

In swerve bowling, like other branches of the art, it must be the bowler’s object so to regulate his swerve that the ball will hit the wicket. A new ball swerves much more than the old one, and it is vitally important that this advantage should not be wasted.

It is always advisable for a slow bowler to work against the breeze, which causes the ball to dip and swerve, together with other peculiarities of flight impossible to obtain while bowling with the wind.

Philpott on Drift……..

Philpott points us to looking at Tennis and baseball for clues as to the way that a ball spins and we as Wrist Spinners need to be aware of the potential for applying drift to our game.

“For the left handed server (Tennis), it is easier to slice down the left side of the ball, creating ‘Leg-Spin’. The serve now drifts from left to right. It drifts ‘in’. The ball always drifts the opposite way to the eventual ‘Turn’ after bouncing’. Peter Philpott; The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling; 2006; Crowood Press Ltd, Wiltshire.(Page 31).

And that’s it, apart from a diagram that illustrates a ball that is spinning with its seam 90 degrees to the direction of flight. There’s no mention of whether the seam is fully upright or slanted backwards or forwards. The illustration suggests that the ball is delivered with the rotation 90 degrees and perfectly up-right. But then you could argue that Philpotts book is aimed like Grimmetts at young boys and is written in a manner that is accessible to kids in the 1990’s. Whereas Grimmetts is far more complex and assumes that the kids have far less to distract them and therefore will take the time to read it over and over again until it sinks in.

Woolmer on Drift

Woolmer, on the other hand attempts to take a very in depth look at Drift in his book. Page 301 through to 307 he writes several thousands of words illustrated with some good diagrams explaining the Magnus affect. If you want to explanations of the magnus affect youtube is particularly good if you search around links to Baseball as there are video clips of wind tunnel and water experiments showing the affects of turbulence around balls.

Having tackled the subject of the Magnus effect he then moves on to the ball of the Century from Warne to Mike Gatting
There’s a couple of interesting points that Woolmer makes that are in opposition to many people’s explanations and theories and the key one contradicts Philpotts diagram of the ball with the perfectly presented up-right seam spinning at 90 degrees to its flight path. Woolmer concludes that a ball presented in this manner will not drift. He then goes on to explain in great detail Warnes Ball of the century which has a great deal of drift, but as he gets into it and starts to explain the theory he then notes “In order for the delivery to drift towards leg, the wake of the ball must be disturbed upwards towards the off-side. How this happens is not yet well described in scientific literature. Thus, some speculation is warranted – and illustrated in Figure 5.23”. Which is the diagram used to explain the ball of the century.

The key revelation within the text is the speculation that in order that the ball does drift in the manner illustrated in the video link, it was probably tilted slightly backwards from vertical (When seen from above). For me personally, its just this line from everything I’ve read that I feel is new and definitely worth looking into. Additionally another resource that is available to everyone on the internet and is exceptionally comprehensive is fellow bigcricket forum contributor ‘Spiderlounge’s blog that looks at the subject -
I can follow what he’s saying up to a point but then I get a bit lost but within his explanation I’ve noticed too that he looks at the possibility that big drift occurs when the seam moves off the perfectly upright (Viewed from above) position and slants one way or the other.

I find the difficulty with all of the explanations is the visualising of the written explanation with the reality and sometimes the written explanation and the combination of the illustrations still leaves me confused, Having looked at this now for several days and numerous explanations in books and on videos dealing with the physics of a spinning ball I’ve come to a inconclusive conclusion.

Some of the information relating to spinning balls is easy to grasp and the magnus force when it relates to some types of balls makes sense. But, with regards to wrist spinning and the fact that it in itself is a relatively unexplored and unexplained with very few people prepared to put their hand up and say that they are experts in the field either as protagonists or researchers (the researchers would need to work with the protagonists) it seems that the fact that it is such a dark art amongst all of the cricket specialities that information is scant. The fact that not many people bowl wrist spin apart from Danish Kaneria and 2 others (His words not mine) the scope to explore the physics using players is limited. Then add the fact that we spin the ball around a horizontal axis with the seam 90 degrees to the direction of flight and it all starts to get a bit messy and exceptionally complex. So much so that when you read the few books that there are, that, deal with the subject of Wrist spin in any depth (see bibliography). You then see even the experts in the field with the help of physics and cricket experts come to a similar inconclusive conclusion.

On the Bigcricket Forum as I discussed this with the others we all more or less came to the same conclusion……..

· It is a very complex theory to understand and apply to your actual bowling.
· If you spin the ball hard with your Leg Breaks you will produce drift and if you notice it or someone else notices it keep it in mind and try and work with it.
· Don’t get hung up on it though, because similar to seamers who can swing the ball some days and not other days – it may be the same kind of thing with drift.

Woolmer winds down his section on Wrist Spinning holding Warne up as an amazing bowler with an exceptional degree of technical mastery and that the Ball of the century was probably a ball in a million. He finishes the chapter though quite fittingly as I have at the start of this section on Drift transcribing Grimmetts original work from 1930’s and saying it was Grimmett who literally wrote the book on spin.

Update; Added Aug 2011. Just having a look around the internal workings of my blog and I've stumbled upon the fact that my little blog here is linked to the Guardians website. In which case I think if you're looking at this with regards drift/spin and dip, you might want to have a look at the posts made through Aug 2011. During this phase I reached the point in my own bowling where I'm now able to produce these elusive attributes.

Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.

Clarrie Grimmett Chapter 2

Length and Direction: The twin essentials of bowling success.

One of the first things a boy should be tauht is what is a good length. This should thoroughly be explained to him, so that he understands perfectly what it means.

A cricket ball has the power to swerve or to alter its course in the air before it pitches. It also has the power to spin or change its direction after pitching. But once it has pitched, and its direction and pace noted, it has no further power to alter. It must, then, be obvious that the shorter it is pitched the sooner the batsman has the opportunity of judging what it is going to do, and the more time he has to decide what stroke to play, and prepare for it.

Therefore, the bowler must try to pitch the ball in such a position that the batsman has the minimum amount of time to see the ball and decide what to do with it. It may also be noted that, a full toss, which is a ball pitched so far that it reaches the batsman before it hits the pit, may swerve or dip or have some peculiarity of flight.

This makes it more difficult to play than the shorter ball, which after pitching, is easily followed by the batsman. What is called a good length ball is the most difficult to play. It pitches at such a length that it gives the batsman a minimum amount of time to decide what he is going to do. He does not know whether to play back or forward, and is often forced to compromise, playing what is called a 'Half cock' stroke. This means that he starts to play forward, finds that the ball is too short, and stops his bat half way, allowing the ball to hit it, without making any attempt to score - purely a defensive stroke.

In many cases he is playing 'Blind' in doing this, unless he get well over his bat, and should the ball alter its direction after pitching, there is a good chance of taking a wicket.

It will be seen from the foregoing that the short ball is the easiest to play, and, as a general rule, it is bad bowling to bowl short. The pupil should have this impressed upon him, and should be encouraged to keep the ball well up to the batsman, even to the extent of full tosses.

There are however, ocassions when a short ball - otherwise a long-hop - will be the means of taking a wicket. Sometimes the state of the game is such that the batsmen are forced to play carefully, taking no risks. Good length bowling is simply playing into their hands, whereas an ocassional long-hop will coax them to hit, and incidentally change their game. It is possible, in these circumstances, that they will mistime the ball, and the unexpected happens.

Length varies according to conditions. For instance, the faster the ball the shorter it may be pitched to be of a good length, and the slower it is the further up it must be pitched. The reach of the batsman also has its effect on length. To a tall player, the ball would have to be pitched shorter, so that he would not by the aid of his reach, be able to smother, or to make a half-volley of it.

This Half-Volley, by the way, is one of the easiest balls a batsman could get to score from. It is a ball which is struck by the bat as it hits the ground, and it should be a 'gift' to any good batsman. Therefore, a bowler must avoid sending down a ball which a batsman could make into a half-volley.

This matter of the reach of different players, and their style, whether they play firm-footed or use their feet to get to the ball, introduces a very important point for bowlers, and emphasises the importance of length and direction.

To be continued..........

Monday, March 15, 2010

Net 8 and big revelation Neil Sammers can turn a ball!

Another net at Thurrock Cricket Club as we're now known. Again another fairly low turn out which is good as it means on occasions you're in the net with just 2 other blokes and you can get into a bit of a rythmn. My own bowling was okay and I was quite happy with it generally, the only real issue is one of fitness but as the weather gets better that'll improve no doubt and what with Easter coming up we're talking about the potential to bowl 2 or 3 maybe more hours every day for 2 weeks which'll be nice. So the fitness running up to the first matches will no doubt improve dramatically.

A couple of events tonight..... One of my early balls was hit back to me quite low but at catchable height and I just left it - I always do unless of course they're loopy and safe, but this ball was hit with a bit of sting in it's tail so I let it go to Neil Sammers saying 'Oh Dave that was terrible'! Inferring that I should taken the catch. An hour later the coach Terry Hills was in the net next to us and a new bloke hit the ball back at him and it was around the same height and probably faster, instinctively he stuck his hand out maybe just to slow it down and it did, but in doing so he dislocated his finger! Yeah - so that'll be 3 - 4 hours at Basildon hospital sitting there in pain tonight before work tomorrow, so yeah I'll stick to my policy of letting them kind of balls go by me in the nets and save that kind of heroism for the games in the summer.

Neil Sammers - he's the bloke I mention quite a lot on various forums alluding to his prowess as a bowler, he holds our all time club record as far as I know for the most wickets in a season and possibly the most wicket ever in the club and he averages around 3 runs an over so he's a pretty good bowler. Initially I thought he was a Chinaman bowler (Left arm Wrist Spinner) but as I've got to know him better I've realised that actually he's a finger spinner. Also by his own admission he'd say that he doesn't actually spin it that much and that most of his wickets come about through variations of flight, speed and differing lengths. Facing him though in the nets I can vouch for the fact that he does turn it both ways and that combined with his speed variation as a tail-ender it's difficult to play. But tonight there was an awful hullabaloo in the nets with Neil almost beside himself with excitement because he was claiming to have turned the ball big, unfortunately I didn't see it and no-one else seemed to be sharing his celebration and the stumps were all intact as well, so to be honest whether Neil can turn it big or not is still just a rumour..........

Paddock News

Walking home tonight after another very spring like day with the temperature reaching 15 degrees centigrade the wicket was very much intact and looking good. The fine weather is set to continue into the week with the next bout of rain due Thursday night or Friday which'll be good for the seed germination.


At the minute I'm looking into drift and the physics involved trying to ascertain what it is you have to do to the ball to get it drift on a consistent basis or add or exclude drift in your deliveries. The only real thing I seem to be finding is that it's elusive and that maybe there isn't an answer to the question because the physics and dynamics of drift in wrist spin bowling isn't fully understood by anyone?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is it Spring at last?

Yesterday (Sat) it was dry and relatively warm with the temperature hovering around the 7-8 degrees centigrade mark, which to be honest is still below the avearge for this time of year. There was even a bit of weak sunshine in between the cloud.

But today was the first day that felt like any indication that here in the UK we do have a summer. The winter that we've just had has been one of the worst and probably the worst since 1963. The cloud and cold arrived in November and today was the first day since early November that it got anywhere near feeling warm and sunny. Today it's been mostly sunny and the temperature got up to a barmy 12.5 degrees centigrade!

I did a wicket inspection over at the paddock this morning and gave it a rake to move some of the leaves and it felt just tacky enough and warm enough to warrant sowing some grass seed. So today I've put down the first seed of the season.
I then got the roller and Joe and me gave it a good rolling and it was so successful and looked so good that Joe wanted to have a knock about and a bit of a bowl on it, so we had a bit of a bowl and a bat.
We've now got a couple of scenarios that might happen, as it's warmer the local kids might get on there and play football on the actual wicket just simply because it is the smoothest bit in the paddock. If that happens while the earth is still soft the damage potential is still high. If this fine weather continues obviously the surface will dry and harden and any damage that occurs will be increasingly superficial. On one hand though we also need fairly damp weather so more rain would also be good in order that the germnation of the seed is successful. Realistically we can just keep our fingers crossed and hope that the paddock doesn't get much use and that we have a mixture of rain and sunny weather which is what you'd expect at this time of year.
We'll just have to keep an eye on it and see what happens. Whatever happens it's still going to be a big improvement on what it was like last summer.
Joe and Ben nets
I got to see Joe bat in the nets and he did really well only getting bowled once in 48 or so balls at 42 mph and I managed to film it. Ben seemed to be bowling okay despite being knackered after swimming this morning with his mates. So all in all a good day.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Great Berry Open Space

Now there's a name from the past. This is pretty much where it all started for me back in the MPA first XI days, but we were elbowed off the field by the local football fraternity based in the Pavillion pub on the edge of the field. There was some emails and contact made with the council that clarified the situation with regards whether we could use the field to have a knock about and the bottom line was that once the football season was finished - yes we could play cricket on the field as much as we liked and as often as we liked. The thing was it took so long for the situation to be clarified that the MPA 1st XI faded away into history and I joined Grays & Chadwell CC and that was the demise of our patronage of the field.

But 3 years on and with new friends that live in that area who use the Pavillion and are regulars of the pub there is now talk of Great Berry Open Space being used once again for cricket. So tonight there was the suggestion that maybe we start to roll a wicket in April and that the roller be stored in the Pavillion for the duration of Spring while the rolling took place? The initial reaction of the staff was positive, but then someone piped up "But you'll have to pay for it because we pay 900 quid a year to use it for football". This was the same issue that arose before and as with last time I had to point out the fact that we weren't going to play league cricket or organsied cricket we were just going to have a bit of a knock about in the evenings and maybe once or twice during the summer it might be the case that 22 blokes do turn up and have more or less a proper cricket match. There are no subs, there are no affliliations to the ECB - just a few blokes and their kids having a knock about. Maybe the big difference is because the game involves the aspect that you are trying to throw the ball at the oponents goolies at 90mph it's probably sensible that you make the surface that you play on as flat as physically possible - hence the need to at least try and roll the surface to make it flat! It's the use of the roller and the mower that seems to incite the reaction from the football players - sort of because you're using a roller that must mean that you're playing at a level that requires that you pay subs? What? No - we're rolling it because to play at any level with a cricket ball you're asking to have your teeth smashed out or your bollocks ripped from your torso if the surface isn't particularly flat!!!

I can see problems ahead..............

Monday, March 08, 2010

Net 8 other stuff

Walking home from work tonight in the light I stopped off and had a quick look at the paddock to see if it looked any dryer and to be honest it didn't in the wettest areas. I'll just keep an eye on it over the next few days with a view to rolling it again at the weekend if not sooner? Today was the last of the sunny days for a while and we're now set for a series of cold days with cloud and possible rain and the continuation of cold weather. This means the prospect of sewing any seeds is reduced. What I might do is hold off until some of the trees flower as a natural indication of spring coming. I'm hoping that as the weather improves I'll roll the wicket more and once the grass sowing has taken place I'll roll it a couple or three times more to get the seeds well into the surface. Under good conditions the seeds will then sprout within about 17 - 21 days and then I'll be into cutting the grass and keeping it maintained and roll lightly. Anyway I'm off to nets now - be back in a few hours...............

Driving back from nets the temperature was a consistent 5 - 6 degrees centigrade. If that temperature is maintained that'll mean the grass will be in growing mode.

So the net session..... Not so many people this week and it seems that each week less and less people turn up? Not that I'm worried as it means I get to bowl more - 2 blokes in a net is too many I reckon!! Give me a bucket of 24 - 30 balls and I'll spend an hour bowling non stop.

Wayne was up first and I had some success against him forcing edges, trapping him with my wrong un and possibly taking the bails off with the Top-Spinning flipper, so that went well and he came off shaking his head saying 'I can't pick your variations'. The next two blokes including Neil I lost my concentration and was put off my rhythmn partly because there were too many people bowling. It wasn't till Martin put the pads on that I got back in the zone as he's probably one of the better batsmen - as far as I know he no longer plays for us and plays for a bigger team as it means he plays against far better teams/players? Anyway, he nets with us and is a decent batsman - first XI league player kind of bloke. By this time there were four of us in the net and I held back and let the other 3 bowl to get a look at how he played them and right away noticed that there was potential for bowling right into his legs. Anything that was on the off-side he was getting hold of it and putting it away nicely. So, I bowled round the wicket leg breaks looking for the off-stump off the turn and then the ocassional over the wicket off-stump line looking for the edge of the bat mixing that with the Top-Spinning Flipper and the Wrong un. My line and length was good and it appeared to me that even the balls that he was getting hold of, he was mis-hitting and they were flying up rather than along and might have ended up in the fielders hands?

The balls that were round the wicket he was having to block or sweep and again with the sweep shots he was mis-hitting them and they were flying into areas where there would have been fielders? That's how it looked to me. He commented while I was bowling that the bowling was good and that it was causing him problems and as we left at the end of the night walking back to the car park, I asked him 'How was my bowling'? He had nothing but praise saying 'The balls that were coming into my legs were all back of a length and were all landing in the same place about the size of a hankerchief - all I could do was block them or try sweeping them - but you'd have just put someone down on the boundary and cut that option off, besides when I was hitting them - nearly all of them went up and would have been caught - same with the off-side deliveries.... It was good bowling". So that was pretty good.

The legs and feet have held out and it looks like all the stretching I'm doing is now paying dividends so a good start to the season looks on and hopefully I'll get to play in some of the early games instead of having to wait till May to get a look in?

I had a bat again and that wasn't too bad, so I've set myself a target of 10 runs in a game this season. I think batting against Ben is beginning to pay off as he gets stronger and faster, I'm getting better at batting.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Paddock update

We've had fairly spring-like weather the last week e.g. some sun and some wind albeit still cold. A couple of night as I've walked home past the paddock I've had a look and seen that it's still suffering from damage caused by dog walkers and the kids playing football. So this morning I had a look at it and raked some of the old leaves away and this afternoon I was going to give it a roll, but just as I was about to go and roll it a bloke turned up and started whacking golf balls around in the paddock and from what I can see from the house he's using the wicket as the point from which he's hitting the balls because obviously with all the work I've done on it - it's the flattest part of the field. Whether the bloke is from one of the houses nearby or not, I don't know, and it doesn't matter anyway as it's a public space and there's nothing I can't do. I wont be able to go and have a look at the damage till later or tomorrow, but he's using a big club and I know that normally they do a LOT of damage to the grass.


This bloke lives on our estate as he eventually walked off round to the back of my street. I had a look and I was actually quite surprised how limited the damage was considering he'd spent an hour or so whacking the ball around over there. Sure enough - he had been using the wicket because it is the only flat bit of grass there, but at the same time it looks as though where he'd been walking up and down so much he's also flattened the wicket as well. So tomorrow I'll get over there with the roller in the morning and give it a going over and flatten it a bit. I'm hoping that this was a one off and this bloke wont be back again? I'll just have to keep an eye out and see what happens.

Practice with Ben

I had a practice with my older son today net style at the Tennis courts at The Rec. I mixed the bowling so that one over he was facing spin and the following over he was facing seam up bowling and he didn't do too bad. We'd had a practice outside the house in 'The Square' but both Ben and Joe are now hitting the ball so hard that they're putting the balls into people's backyards, so I reckon that's the end of that, they're too big to have a knock about in there now. That's where the paddock should come into its own over the summer it's more or less fenced all the way round and is just a across the road from our house. Additionally there is the potential to put a net up and have proper net sessions in there, hence the reason I'm so obsessed with making sure the paddock is prepared ready for April/May.

My Bowling/Injuries

I was bowling with Ben today at probably 85% capacity and it went okay, so that's promising. Bowled 95% Leg Breaks using the technique that produces my biggest turn and it went exceptionally well and it looks like my accuracy has improved since last year as well. So much so that I'm now bowling leg-side and at the legs looking for LBW's and 'Round the legs' opportunities. I think this season I'm going to be a lot more aware of the potential to target the batsmans weaker side, so I'm hoping for a good season again. I also bowled a few blinding wrong uns today that would have caused anyone problems. Following a sequence of Leg Breaks looking for the edge of the bat the last ball of 3 overs was the wrong un and all three were on target looking like leg breaks - to go away to the off and instead turned in towards the Leg-side all just bouncing over the top of Middle and leg or leg, so I was well pleased with that. The difference just seemed to be to bowl them like a Top-Spinner rather than trying to turn them massively and what with my affliction to naturally bowl wrong uns these 'Top-Spinners' came out as good wrong uns.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Spin- Fest

If you don't have SKY and want to check out some games with some Spin action, check this series out and it sounds like the one day series is going to be spin all the way!