Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wicket maintainence in the Paddock

Today I purchased some cheapo grass seed from B&Q two quid fifty a pack and started the process of establishing some new growth at the batting end to start off with as it's sustained quite a bit of damage. So, first up Joe and I gave it a good rake and loosened up the surface and got rid of any leaves and stones that were on the surface.

Once it was raked I seeded the area quite heavily using virtually a whole packet. Once that was done I used the rest of yesterday bucket of Top Dressing to cover the seeds over and level off any areas that looked as though they needed some attention. Surprisingly the surface was relatively dry despite some rain earlier in the day. When the seed went down it was warm (17.5 degrees C) so only a little moisture and the continuation of this fine weather should see the seed germinate quite quickly. I'm guessing 7-10 days.

So this image above is how it looks once the seed had been sown and the top-dressing put down.
The other end needs a lot of work still and I'm going off the idea that maybe we bat at this end next year. In this section here were we run- in you can see that there's a lot of wear. But in addition to a fair bit of repair work there's also a lumpy uneven section on the left hand side so over the last 2 days I've been gradually raking the lump away and raking it over the run-in area as a whole just to get it a lot more even. So far that's working okay and I'll continue to spread the earth around and get a large area flat. I suppose if I do this and do get it flat there maybe an option next year of batting at this end - but it's not something I'll be doing intentionally.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Some obvious stuff here that wouldn't have been in the Daily Mail or the Sun

Sunday and Monday

It's a cricket filled weekend with cricket all over the place! Joe again today continued with his Leg Breaks but the practice was curtailed for a short periodwhen I hit a ball which hit him right on the end of the nose square! But he picked himself up, brushed himself down and got on with it and as with yesterday he bowled well.

Currently what with the Paddock now kind of de-commissioned while it recovers, I've been looking at other ways and ideas of getting Ben and Joe to play and practice. The main thing I'm trying to get them to do is to drive the ball and play with a straight bat. So I've been trying to devise methods to encourage this. One thing I did was play opposite my garage entrance and bowl from there only giving runs if the ball went in the garage having go directly past me either side. We used a really soft sponge ball as well so that anyone could catch it as the length of the wicket was 25'-30' and the objective was to hit the ball late so that it came off the ground and couldn't be caught.

Bit by bit they both more of less got that and started playing correct shots -straight and late. We've not moved into a walled square opposite our house. On three sides behind, in front and to the on-side. The walls only chest height and over it are cars, gardens and things that shouldn't be hit by a Readers Windball, so any balls over the wall are 'Out'. On the Off-side there a short section of wall that ends just in front of point so any balls hitting that wall in the air are out and on the opposite side the same applies to a section of wall that's covered by Square Leg. The rest of the Off-side is the front of peoples houses in close proximity to the game so any balls above chest height are going to go through the windows! So basically the only options are straight controlled drives through the areas inside Mid On and Mid Off. Or balls down the Leg-side kept low, or late cuts through cover again if they're low and not in the air. Slowly it looks like it's working and it's in this square that Joe's developing his Leg-Break.


I'm off to Chelmsford with B&PCC again to play a team we played a few weeks back which was an okay game and I bowled okay in, so that'll be interesting. I've done very little practice since going on holiday enthused by the fact that my Plantar Fasciitis has improved with the decrease in practice and playing. Longer term I don't know what the answer is because I'd like to play next season. It'll be interesting to see how well or badly I bowl with the decrease in practice. I've found in the past that there is a some benefit sometimes in not practicing because I get into bad practice and kind of lose my way and then if I stop and come back to it I bowl better?


Bank Holiday and despite the rain today and the prospect of some rain tomorrow Monday looks set to be fine with the temp a warmish 19 degrees. Monday for B&PCC is 'Fun Day' which last year was an excellent event and something I'm really looking forward to. Loads of extra kids turn up and have a go and there's just non-stop cricket all day. Dads v Lads, Dads V Dads and coaches mixed in. Mums v Mums and all sorts. We're taking people that wouldn't normally go, along with their boys and the day should be really good fun. With it being Dads v Dads there's a vague chance I might get a run or two, but I wouldn't put any money on it.

Paddock Repairs & Maintainence

After all the recent rain and the paddock looking a bit healthier we decided that we'd do some maintainence today. So we brought out the newly acquired petrol mower, along with the Ransomes Ajax and gave it a bit of a cut, roll and repair.

The blades are set high on both mowers at this time of year so as to not cut it too short. The petrol mower did most of the hard work and got rid of 80% of the grass and then we tided it up using the Ransomes Ajax. With so little attention paid to the wicket since June when the dry weather set in and it cracked and turned to powder almost, the surface was fairly uneven and this was noticeable when using the petrol mower.

As yet I've not been able to identify the petrol mower and I'm not that impressed with it yet, but I reckon with some adjustment and with the wicket a little less lumpy it may be okay.

The kids were recruited to help which they did willingly with the prospects of mucking about with a petrol mower. The roller was also deployed and once I'd filled some holes and did some repairs and levelling we gave it a light rolling. Just as we were finishing up it rained which was good as it'll help all the repaired holes to bed in. The main thing I'm short of that I need to get especially at this point in the year is seed. If the weather continues as it is at the minute, we'll get new growth established really quickly and it'll possibly get some good root growth going before the winter sets in and halts the growth of the grass.

Here I am doing the repairs using a 50/50 mix of clay and organic material (Household compost). I'll try and get a shot of the paddock tomorrow and maybe purchase some grass seed and get it down as there's more rain on the way. At the minute in the North Atlantic there are 3 low pressure weather systems including 2 low catergory Hurricanes which will all filter through to our weather system over the next 4-8 days.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Joe finds his Leg Break

My younger son Joe did that thing when he was younger where he just somehow naturally bowled Leg Breaks. That combined with the fact that he bowled accurately, loopy and with varying pace and flight he was very successful against kids of his age that could play a bit of cricket and anyone else (including adults and me) that chose to pick up a bat and face him. There's the time in 2008 when we were on holiday on a campsite with a group of kids that included U11 and U13 club players he took 9 wickets for less than 30 runs. But not long after that he joined his club and was exposed to fast bowling and suffered being batted out of the park by kids that were good with the bat. I think this undermined his belief in slow bowling and he bought into the idea having seen Lasith Malingas 4 wickets in a row in the 2007 world cup, that fast was best and that if you want wickets you're best off bowling fast.

His Richie Benaud vertcial bowling action disappeared as he bowled more and more trying to copy Malinga and bowling faster. In the end I had to stop trying to get him to revert back to bowling wrist spin and let him find his own way and perhaps end up going over to the Darkside with aspirations of being a pace bowler when he's older and bigger.

Fortunately, I think like a lot of brothers he has a sibling rivalry thing going on and his older brother Ben who is primarily a pace bowler doesn't serve the purpose of being someone to aspire to. The net effect is that Joe, no matter how fast he tries to bowl, he can't ever get anywhere near the same speed as Ben because there's a big physical difference across the 2.5 year age gap. But rather than own up to this and recognise the fact that Ben is a better pace bowler, I think Joe has kept trying to bowl straight maybe waiting for it to come right with the speed and has kind of ended up being a slow bowler that doesn't intentionally turn the ball. In the last two seasons his wickets have come through primarily bowling straight, flighting the ball and varying the speed from loopy and very slow, through slow and quite a bit faster.

This has served him well and he's okay with how it's going. I've had to keep a very low profile, hands off and don't say anything approach unless of course it's by way of encouragement. But then over the last couple of months he's drifted into bowling Wrong Uns that turn out of the back of the hand in conjunction with his slightly faster balls. Whether this delivery is used in games or not I don't know - but in practice he uses it to good effect

But tonight playing in the square where I've devised a game to get their batting techniques better he started to bowl ripping Leg Breaks that had me bowled 6 times for 6 runs off of 36 balls! (Yeah I am crap). But the first ball which I just thought had just come out of his hand wrong to produce the Leggie turned perfectly from outside of Leg right across me almost clipping my hands as it passed the off-stump!

"Whoa Joe! That was a Leg Break there"! I said in surprise and he smiled, but then the next ball bowled on a middle stump line I played a straight drive to and it turned away from the edge of the bat just missing it!
"Joe your bowling Leg Breaks"!
"Yeah I know". He answered nonchalently. I asked him what he was doing different and he showed me his grip (2 up 2 down) and how he was flicking his wrist as he bowled. Sure enough the next 36 balls I watched and the majority of them had the seam which is clearly visible rotating perfectly to get the leg-break! But then he started mixing it up bowling top-Spinners and Wrong Uns and down went my wicket again and again.

I was well chuffed and so was he and we played for over an hour and half whereas I'd usually expect a game outside the house to last for 20 - 30 minutes before his enthusiasm waned. Could this mean that Joe after a couple of years in the bowling wilderness has returned to the fold and is once again a Wrist Spinner? Let's hope so eh?

England v Pakistan

This post is somewhat different to my usual stuff, but todays match was pretty special.

I’d imagine that this morning sitting inside Lords having bought your ticket several months ago and seeing yesterdays debacle, sitting there freezing your nadgers off waiting for the game to start the prospects of a positive outcome must have been dismally limited?

At some point during the day just after lunch a mate of mine asked ‘Are you watching the cricket’ (The scorecard ticking over)? His eyes rolling in despair giving the game away.
“No – don’t say anything, I’ll watch the highlights on channel 5 later on”. Thank God channel 5 have the rights to at least broadcast the highlights of what is almost our national game, but that’s a different argument. His shoulders shrugged in disappointment at not being able to tell me how crap Cook, Strauss, Pisterson et al were and that they’d no doubt all been bowled out by Amir and Asif and the series was on course to go Pakistan’s way. For a moment I reflected on Strauss’s and Pieterson’s batting and got back to work thinking that the rain would probably put paid to any chance of their being anything vaguely exciting to watch.

Just before 7pm Joe and me started to have a knock about on the play area outside the house and out of no-where Joe suddenly re-discovered his Leg-Break bowling me 6 times for 6 runs!! 4 wickets with his leggie, one a lovely wrong un and another a top-spinner when I was playing for a leg-break!!! So what with all that going on, I skipped indoors and put a tape on and recorded the cricket. Once it got too dark we came in and I noticed that the tape had finished and had rewound itself back to the beginning so I wasn’t sure whether I’d managed to record the whole lot and was a bit disappointed that I might miss some of it.

I found the start and started to watch it. Being the highlights Cook was soon gone cheaply which was disappointing after his recent 100 +, but then one after another England’s finest, the blokes that have got to do battle against the Aussies in a few months time followed. But the nature of how they followed was a killer. Mark Nicholas the Channel commentator commented “If you’re watching this collapse on the highlight program, this isn’t highlights, this is in real time”!

Pieterson gone for 0 first ball the commentators virtually writing the bloke off and out of the England set up before the Ashes saying, that he’d written in a column yesterday admitting that he’s lost it, Collingwood momentarily looking good with some good defensive blocks, my spirit lifted and then gone for 0. Morgan the bright new hope who will lift the Ashes next year?……. Gone for 0. Then Matt Prior, he got the ball on the bat and was making runs, a sigh of relief….. maybe we could survive? But then gone for 22. Trott was there ticking over runs, but now with only bowlers left to support him it was looking grim. Amir the 18 year old Pakistani bowler was incredible! Swann joined the queue, 2nd ball and gone for….. yeah you guessed it 0. Aussies all over the world must have been watching or listening with big beaming smiles, especially Ricky Ponting.

Stuart Broad joined the queue of English batsman to go before Amir to be dismissed for a humiliating and psychologically crushingly low score. There was no hope, all the English batsmen had demonstrated that they’d met their match in Amir. But then cricket did that thing that makes it special. We’d been entertained with some spectacular bowling by Amir and it looked like a totally and utterly lost cause, but then bit by bit Stuart Broad a No8 batsman along with Jonathan Trott the No.3 dug in and started to play proper Test Cricket, a run here and a run there and slowly the runs began to tick over and Pakistan took their foot off the accelerator and England looked as though they may be able to get some runs on the board to give the bowlers a chance. Trott reached his 50 and then there was the 100 partnership, then Trott reached his hundred with Broad 35-40 runs off his, but it was inconceivable after this morning that Broad would go on to attain his all time test batting record? But he did, and then he went past his all time 1st class batting record and it was looking like the 100 was within his grasp! The 90’s arrived and Michael Vaughn commented on the fact that there would be adrenalin and other factors working against Broard to deny him of his 100. 98 and then eventually the glory of getting 100 at Lords!

What a moment, that must have been for Broad, in this one game he broke a whole bunch of records and PB’s and by the end of the game England or rather Stuart Broad and Jonathan Trott had taken the game from a score of 102 for 7 to 346 for 7 with more records to be taken tomorrow and the potential to put England in a strong position what with the weather improving and something that the bowlers can work with.

What an incredible match and day that must have been for all those thousands that must have been sitting there this morning in the gloom before the match wondering when the rain might start.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

John F Cook

John F Cook are you out there and if you are and you're reading this can you re-instate your Beau Casson/David Freedman video on youtube as it was one of the best resources on youtube please?

Signed - The Wrist Spinners on

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clarrie Grimmett on No Balls

If I had anything to do with the rules, I would say that a bowler bowling a no-ball should be penalised six runs, not only one for each time that he offends.

It is the most deadly sin in bowling.

Good habits are as difficult to get rid of as bad habits. So why not cultivate the good habits first? Make your run up to the wicket one of them. Avoid no-balling. It is a simple matter. If you transgress you are penalising your own side. No good cricketer would wish to do that.

Really it is the worst fault a bowler can commit. It gives away runs and nullifies the chance of taking a wicket. It gives the batsman a heap of confidence.

Clarrie Grimmett

Tricking the Batsman 1934

No sign of the hottest day ever

As we approach the end of the summer, it looks increasingly unlikely that we'll get to see a day when the weather here in the UK exceeds the current record of 38.5 back in 1983 in Faversham and Gravesend. There was a prediction that we'd see a day when 40 degrees was reached, but it hasn't happened and with the current Westerlies and North Westerlies coming off the Atlantic there's no sign of an Azores high which is usually required to drag warmer weather off of central Europe.

In recent weeks after the long spell of hot and dry weather that saw the Paddock dry up, crack and eventually crumble the recent spells of heavy and prolonged rain have rejuvenated the grass in the paddock and without any seeding there's some grass cover establishing itself slowly. We've not used it for weeks and weirdly neither have the kids that usually play football in their and cause all the damage, yet the weather has been far more conducive to playing football than cricket?

It's obvious that without there being a 2nd or 3rd strip adjacent to any wicket the damage sustained by even light use is such that, by June, if the weather is dry the paddock will always crack up and crumble and be unusable as a batting surface. So if the weather is okay it looks like we may be able to get a couple of months out of it with light use, which I suppose is okay?

I'll have to look around now and see if I can get some seed cheap somewhere and get it down early in Sept. Considering how bad the paddock strip was last September and how it came good through May and early June, the prospects for next year look really good. I've also had someone give me a petrol mower for my birthday, but I've yet to have a good look at it and see if it cuts as low as my Ransomes Ajax mower which is nothing short of amazing. So hopefully in September we'll give the Petrol mower a run out and see how it cuts and whether we can lower the blades to the same kind of minimal heights as the Ransomes Ajax.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The boys did well

Sunday mornings up at the crack of dawn to get your kids to a cricket match never seems like a good idea. I do like having a lay in and Saturday it didn't happen and so I wasn't that enamoured with the idea this morning especially when I knew I'd be met with 'Oh Dad have we really got to go to cricket'? It seems they take after me in this respect as I've never been one to be easily motivated even when it's things I like doing. So we ended up getting there just about on time.

The teams were made up of the U11's and the U'13's First off my older son was given the task of being the captain of his team and Joe the younger son was picked and they were on the same side together. Ben's team fielded and Ben made the bowling selections putting himself in about 5th or 6th change, whereas quite often if the others get the role of captain they'll have him in at 2nd or 3rd bowler. The match trundled along and everyone was doing okay and it looked like a fairly equal two sides. Ben bowled his over against one of the better batsmen in the U13's and limited him to just 1 run off of his two allotted overs, from where I was watching other than 2 wides his bowling was pretty good causing the other kid problems and one of the coaches commended Ben on his bowling. So straight away having bowled so well he was quite pleased with himself.

Joe bowled okay taking a wicket, bowling primarily (But not intentionally he later admitted) down the off-side and then putting one down the legside to a batsman that was weak that side that batted the ball out to one of the older boys at a position backward of Square Leg.

Batting; Joe batted okay surviving a few overs and Ben did the same but on the way hit at least 2 fours, a two and a single, he may have hit 3 fours, one edged to the 3rd man area and one that I saw that went back past the bowler in between mid on, so he came off well chuffed that he'd bowled really well to one of the better bats and had even scored a minimum of 11 runs which is my all time total ever in a match, so he's got that target in his sites and he'll no doubt rub my nose in it when he passes it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Clarrie Grimmett Books

So having finally got hold of Tricking the Batsman, here's the other two in the collection of Grimmetts books that are the fore-runners of all other books and articles on Wrist Spin bowling and coaching. Anything that has been written or said about Wrist Spinning since 1934 simply re-writes what Grimmett said back in the 1930's. The Flipper for instance is described in 4 different variations in 'Getting Wickets' a Top-Spinner, Off-Spinner, Leg-Spinner and the one that Grimmett virtually dismisses and yet everyone else bangs on about - The Back-Spinning Flipper, hi-jacked and virtually claimed as his own by Benaud in the 1950's almost 20 years after Grimmett had invented it.

I've yet to read two of them, but once I have I'll try and write a review.

Tricking The Batsman

Tricking The Batsman - At last I've got a copy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Paddock News

Having not bowled in the paddock for more than 2 weeks now and while we were away it seems that it's rained here in Essex several times, the strip looks like it's beginning to recover. The grass is beginning to grow in places and the because of the rain the natural process of levelling had had some effect in places where I'd filled in holes with earth. The weeds - Plantain are very evident and have all started to grow again, so I've been pulling them up. Weirdly it doesn't appear that anyone has been playing football in there?

It's rained again over so there's a small chance I may get the roller out, but part of me thinks that I should leave it for a while and see how the grass gets on with it's recovery. I also need to source some cheap grass seed and I have seen some in B&Q's, so I might start seeding soon as I think I did it too late last year.

While I was away I read more of Bob Woolmers book and he's written a section in there on wickets and how they're constructed and it seems that my approach of mixing clay and compost is the correct method. I was surprised to read that the ratio is 50/50 which is almost what I’ve been doing. Previously I’d probably been mixing 70% clay and 30% compost and the 50/50 ratio is better for me anyway as I’ve got compost coming out of my ears as I recycle all our food waste and garden waste.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cricket Hannah Spondon

I was pleasently surprised at the amount of girls that can play cricket that we came across whilst on our holiday this year. I always take a set of stumps, training balls, keepers gloves and a selection of bats and get a game going at least 2 or 3 times a day either at the campsite or down on the beach. We went back and forth this year between our campsite near Landsend and my sister-in-laws near St Ives. Their tents were pitched around a small field designated for kids to play on and we monopolised this much of the time we were there and attracted a number of kids who joined in. Amongst these kids was a girl of about 12-13 years old 'Hannah' who played club cricket for one of the teams around Spondon/Ockbrook in Derbyshire. This girl was amazing! She bowled seam up with a beautiful action and was unbelievably accurate and fast, my 11 year old son Ben was most put out when this girl joined in an stole his thunder! In addition to her bowling, her fielding was spot on, you'd have had her in place of any 4 of the current Under 11's that my sons play with, she was fast, technically good, enthusiastic, decisive and accurate with getting the ball back to the stumps or bowler, it was so good to see that some girls are good at sports and I'd imagine that this girl if she was to continue developing in the manner that she must have already done, she'd be a contender for county level or perhaps higher?

Also there was an Asian girl who never joined in and was probably 16-18 years old and was playing other games with some small children on the same field. Whenever a ball went near her, again she very deftly picked it up whilst attacking it and got it back fast to the either the bowler or the wicket keeper with dead eye straightness and perfection. When it was required she was using the long barrier as well and could throw the ball the full length of the field and more. So on one small field there seemed to be to exceptionally gifted girl cricket players.

Update - general stuff

Just back yesterday from 9 days in Cornwall for my annual surf trip. Surf wasn't up to much what with the wind being on-shore and the weather patterns not conducive to producing good surf. I had gone, as I did last year with no prep, e.g. no pull ups or exercises that would have helped with paddling and stamina and therefore knew that I wouldn't be doing a lot of surfing. Turns out that I went in most days for a paddle around and got to my feet in some slop when I went for the waves. What I did notice on the one day that was good at Gwenva was that there was no-one in. A couple of local blokes had a go at one point, one was older than me and the other was a Matman and he had a broken hand that was wrapped up and bandaged. There were plenty of 'Surfers' on the beach and tons more up at the campsite all posing with their boards and camper vans, but, weirdly no-one in the water when it was six foot + and producing powerful and rideable waves?

If this had been 1986/87 we'd have been out there, Paul the Oz always used to say 'You have to surf everything - the good, the bad and the crap to be any good', and we'd have been out there with several of the locals - Janus Howard, Squiddy, Kevin Mathews, Andy Fern, Chris Roynan et al. But today - no-one. I reckon this is because they were probably all too busy on their Facebook and Twatter accounts talking crap to each other to be bothered with surfing. Besides what with their sedentary lives that they lead, they probably couldn't even get out there?

I suppose considering I'm fifty and hadn't done any pre-training I did as well as expected, but I have to concede that my back suffered. Although I'm not 100% certain that it was totally down to the surfing as the day the bad back ensued I'd batted and played cricket with a bunch of kids on the campsite for 4 hours, more of that later.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Played today

Had a match today and got to bowl 3 overs. Of all the matches we've played this year it was probably the one where both teams were fairly evenly matched. We were put into bat first and scored 203. Fortunately we had Dave Sharp one of the coaches and Rez the new bloke and they between them along with some of the younger lads got us up to around 175. Batting 5 upwards got us an additional 28 or so runs. This is all set against the fact that we only had 10 blokes and we only played 39 overs as the scorer lost count. I managed 2 runs and survived 3 or more overs.

We then fielded and they reached our score in about 32 overs with 4 wickets in hand. I reckon that if we'd had the 11th man we may have had a chance. I also reckon I was integral in losing us the match because at the 20th over we had them around about 100 runs and I conceded a fair few runs off my overs. There were other factors to consider, but it's a Sunday Friendly, so s**t happens and it's not a problem, although the opposition when they were fielding were a bit confrontational. All in all it was an enjoyable match I reckon let down by the fact that we were a man short.