Sunday, September 26, 2010

Leg Spin bowling - The Grip

From the No.1 Leg Spin web page - the new updated section in progress.

This work has now been moved to Leg spin specific blog here...
Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.

The Grip, flick and release

The grip is a contentious issue as it follows that the way you grip and hold the ball has some bearing on the way that you release the ball and the release is integral to imparting as much spin on the ball as possible. All Wrist Spin bowlers of historical note from Grimmett to Warne say the same thing Spin the ball hard. The mantra is that the spinning of the ball is first and foremost and that issues such as line, length, flight are secondary to the ability to get the ball spinning. This it turns out is the Australian approach and has been advocated since the days of Grimmetts first books.

If there is one factor in spin bowling which all spinners should accept if they wish to perform to their optimum, it is the concept that the ball should be spun hard. Not rolled, not gently turned, but flicked, ripped, fizzed.

Peter Philpott; The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling; 2006; Crowood Press; Wiltshire, England.

The grip therefore is important in getting the ball to spin in the way that wrist spinners do. A good wrist spinner is able to impart so much spin on the ball that, as it flies through the air it hums. The basic grip is referred to by Shane Warne as the 2 fingers up, 2 fingers down technique as seen here below.

Dependent on the size of your hands in relation to the ball size, your own grip may not match this image. Indeed the idea of the 2 up 2 down finger configuration is a template for a basic starting point. Many people bowl with slightly different looking grips, but in a roundabout manner they are normally modelled on this version. Again all of the master Wrist Spinners say that there is no regulation grip and that if people grip the ball in a slightly idiosyncratic manner and still get the ball to produce a good leg break you shouldn't mess with their technique. But if you're starting out this image above will serve as a good starting point.

Most of the advice with regards the grip and how hard you should grip it is standard in that you shouldn't grip the ball hard. The logic behind this advice is that when you bowl your Leg Break well, the whole action is usually performed in a flowing fluid motion where all of your 'Levers' work in tandem with each other to bowl the ball. Tension within the bowling action at any point tends to lead to problems with inaccuracy and dragging the ball down short. With regards how and where the ball sits in your hands - especially if you have large hands will be down to trial and error. I personally use differing positions in the hand to affect variations. I bowl a smaller turning ball that is bowled faster using a slightly harder grip, high in the fingers pretty much as in the image above. But my general leg break is bowled with the ball lower and sitting further into the palm.

The most important aspect of the grip though is the position of your 3rd finger on the seam. It's the 3rd finger and it's contact with the seam that is used to impart the spin on the ball. When you release the ball in the bowling action, your 3rd finger is the last point of contact as it's flicked from the hand using that finger to put the revs on the ball. The contact therefore needs to be deliberate and positive and along the seam whilst the '2 Up' fingers go across the seam.

Here's a still from where you can see that the last point of contact is Warnes 3rd finger.

Again below, but not quite so clear is this screen grab from the Cloverdale series

Three Different Approaches to bowling this delivery

I suppose I should tow the party line on Wrist Spinning and advocate the Aussie way and say that it is of utmost importance to spin the ball hard and learn to do so before anything else. I've had discussions with many people about whether there is any merit in establishing first, whether you can actually bowl at all, e.g. straight and there are big differences in opinion. If, you read both Grimmetts and Philpotts books, the premise is that the books are for boys looking to bowl wrist spin, but there is a tacit understanding that, at the 1st stages in the process, your raw material is a boy that can bowl. I would still argue, that even before you start to try and spin the ball you should have a basic ability to bowl the ball seam up with a side on action and a regulation bound. This action should then enable you to get the ball to batsman with a degree of acceptable accuracy.

I would say that, if you're there you can then go forward with all the instructions with regards to spinning the ball hard. The foundations to your bowling are there and you can now build on them. I would imagine that if you've got those fundamentals already in place you're in a good position to go forwards

The real Leg Break with a big flick

The real leg break requires the big flick. Look at the earlier explanations regarding the throwing of the ball from one hand to the other and the video on-line at . As you work on this and get used to the feeling you’ll soon begin to develop an action where rather than just rolling your hand over and round the ball you’ll begin to produce an action more akin to a flick. hopefully this flick will incorporate the use of the 3rd finger, the wrist, the elbow and shoulder in putting the spin on the ball. Again the exact way in which this is done varies from person to person, some people note that the amount of work that the 3rd finger does is such that it produces blisters, Shane Warne apparently was able to produce his spin without having blisters or callouses at all. The important thing is that the flick is there. My own version creates an audible sound not unlike the Flippers click as the ball is flicked off my 3rd finger. In trying to understand the wrist flick and the role the 3rd finger plays my own experience is that the sensation that I have is that I’m primarily bowling the ball off the 3rd and 4th fingers, the rest of my hand apart from the wrist has very little involvement in getting the ball to spin, the thumb and the 2 up fingers only support the ball in holding the ball poised against the fingers that impart the spin.

To see the emphasis and action of the 3rd finger on the ball watch the two sequences of Shane Warne in this video in high quality (HQ).

When learning this, note the sideways action of the ball being thrown from one hand across the body to the other right to left with the flick. This is the basis of the leg break with the big flick. This is the action that gives you the flick coupled with imparting spin off the 3rd finger.

Similarly with the other versions the hand still releases the ball with the *palm facing the batsman, the ball should leave the hand rotating anti-clockwise with the seam at right angles to the direction of flight so that when the ball hits the ground the seam bites and propels the ball towards the off-side away from it’s expected trajectory. You may find that with this variation that your thumb is instrumental in some way and holds the ball in the hand so that the ball is tucked up ready against the 3rd finger on release as the ball is released the hand closes around the thumb. With all these slight variations and approaches there is one consistent aspect and that’s the position of the wrist on release. The underside of your wrist with the veins needs to be
facing the batsman on release.

The Straight Ball with the drag off the 3rd finger
The Cocked Wrist with the straightening of the hand at release
The real leg break with the flick

The Straight Ball with the drag off the 3rd finger

If you are struggling with the Leg Break, one approach is to bowl the ball with the palm of the hand at the point of release facing the batsman. As the ball leaves the hand the last part of the hand that has contact with the ball is the 3rd finger and it’s this that imparts the spin. This approach seemingly doesn’t use any or minimal wrist action but still produces a small leg break with a good degree of bounce. Some people say that as you bring the ball over you should also have a feeling that you’re pushing the ball forward out of your hand rather than flinging it. Also try turning the wrist slightly clockwise so that your thumb comes round towards you and the little finger moves towards the bat so that the hand starts to move towards being in the Karate Chop position. You’ll notice that this small variation in the wrist position will affect the spin and the bounce. This approach would probably fit Philpotts description of you 'Rolling the ball' rather than ripping the ball out of the hand.

The unfurled cocked wrist approach

Many wrist spinners you’ll note will start with their wrists cocked at the start of the delivery and then release the ball with the hand in the ‘Traffic Cop’ position on release. Again if you’re having problems getting your Leg Break together this is an approach that you may want to explore that could potentially lead to a break through or an improvement. The unfurling of the cocked wrist to the ‘Traffic cop’ position with the palm facing the batsman on release involves a degree of wrist flick and incorporates the 3rd finger as the last point of contact on the ball thus producing the spin. You only have to do this gently over a couple yards so that you can step forward and catch the ball yourself and you can see how readily the ball comes out of the hand rotating perfectly with the seam rotating at right angles to the direction of flight. Again this isn't quite the 'Ripping' phase, but it's an intermediate approach that will produce a Leg Break for many people.

At this point I need to mention anomalies in the ability to carry out complex motor activities despite the ability to mentally formulate the action. We've seen the need to present the hand in the manner as indicated by the images and we understand that in order to release the ball with the seam spinning approx 70-80 degrees to the direction of flight or thereabouts to obtain maximum turn off the wicket, there can be difficulties in executing this action. Without the use of high speed video recording we're unable to see exactly what it is we're doing as we release the ball. If your motor coordination is perfect, you're not going to have a problem, you'll release the ball in the manner as intended and it will spin in the direction as imparted by the flick and the position of the wrist. The subtleties of the wrist position dictate whether you're going to bowl the Leg Break with differing degrees of over-spin or side spin. If you're able to formulate the action prior to bowling and then execute the delivery with accuracy and consistency you've probably got extraordinarily good fine motor skills. I would suggest that if you do have this kind of control over your Leg Break you should follow all of the guidance with regards to learning how to bowl the Googly e.g. do so with due care and attention to your Leg Break, do not over do the learning of the leg break see The consequence of over doing it when learning the Googly is that you end up losing the Leg Break (Googly Syndrome) and my own anecdotal experience to date would suggest that it seems to have an extremely detrimental affect on your ability to contol your Leg Break release (Fine Motor skills). For further reference see the links at the bottom of the page with regards the grip.

Blog Updates

Over the next 4 or 5 weeks I intend to update all the bowling blogs I've got. Some will be simplified and others will be virtually re-written and up-dated. In the last couple of weeks I've managed to get my head round someinternet and computer technology which means I'm going to be using more images and videos in conjunction with the blogs. One thing I may do is up-load the new sections into this blog before organising them into the main blogs. One of the more or less defunct blogs is going to beresurrected, because despite its dormant status it's the one blog that gets the most hits and often (as posted earlier this month) comes up as the No.1 webpage for searches on leg spin bowling ahead of Wikipedia!

I just had a look and blow me there it is again at No.1!

Annus Horibillis

Well, there goes the weekend and the last chance of a game of cricket. For a moment it looked like I might get a shout for a game for Stanford Le Hope, but that didn't come through. Even if I'd got a game it would have been ruined by the rain which settled in around midday and hasn't stopped since.

So, a crap start to the season where in the first match I went for 11.4 an over. I had couple of games with G&C AKA Thurrock CC over the next few weeks as they went through the turmoil of several key players defecting to other clubs. It then seemed as though there were some fixture issues or I fell out of favour despite having paid my membership way back in January and I just didn't get the weekly call up that I got with the old club members in place. Wayne contacted me a couple of times later in the season, but each time it coincided with me being away. Eventually I got another game in Sept. So overall my experience at Thurrock this season hasn't been that good, but the last game was exceptionally good.

So what with not getting the call-up at Grays for whatever reasons I've been getting the occasional game with B&PCC which has been good albeit sporadic. Unfortunately like the first few games of the season at Grays the teams we've played against have been for the most part wholly mis-matched and we've been mullered, which is a bit depressing. But as the season went on my bowling gradually recovered despite the superior opposition in most games. But in comparison with last year my bowling has been pitiful, I don't think I took two wickets in a match let alone 4 as I did several times last year!

The highlight of the year though has been this month - September. Firstly because of the game at Grays where Wizard was the captain, I don't know how other people perceive his captaincy, but in the match I played at Grays a couple of weeks ago I reckon he did a very good job and did so with real strategy and creativity. I think with that game he helped me re-establish faith in my own game. I'm not one for banging on about missed chances in Sunday cricket, because they just happen, but in the match that I played under the wizard I'd have had 5 wickets if the fielding was marginally different or the fielders were actually there to play cricket. Wizard himself fielding at the end of the game at Mid On with another bloke at Mid off readily admitted that if he was a bit more sprightly he'd have taken one of my catches and the other bloke caught it, but it bounced from his hand with the impact of hitting the ground in the dive. Two at deep square leg should have been caught and there was also an edge that went to the keepers glove that was fumbled and dropped. So all in all I'm doing the right thing, it's not like I'm bowling bad, it's just that the field placing needs to be a part of my game and an awareness of the batsmen's weaknesses.

The other thing you may have read in recent posts, is that I've changed the way I approach the crease and 'explode' through the crease. No longer do I do the little skip and the impression I have at this early stage is that this is going to improve my bowling quite a bit. So at the end of a largely disappointing season there is promise and I look forward to winter nets and the next season.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Googly Syndrome

Content moved to

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Had another go at looking at producing a bunch of drills, went out and threw some balls around but kind of needed my kids to be the directors and they weren't interested, so I had to do it on my own. Just looking back through the clips, I wont be using any of them but I was watching the videos side by side with clips from Warne at the IPL. I noticed that the balls that turned the most appeared to be those that were from the bowling where, I seemed to have a longer stride off the back foot. In this sequence clip here you can see that my foot at this point in the delivery isn't quite on the ground. I'm not really one to go modelling myself on other peoples actions, but I've had other people talk about Warnes stride and his foot position at the point where he pushes off into his delivery stride. To look at it at properly I need to shoot some footage from this side as I bowl, so I'll look to some more this coming weekend. But I may try lengthening the stride to see if it has any beneficial outcome?

Warne - big stride, foot side ways to the direction of his movement and a straight body psoition.

Parts of it have vague similarities, but this clip here is the delivery that turned the most and it's the one that may have had Warnesque attributes - longer stride and possibly a more upright body position?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Leg Spin Bowling development

This is the stage that I'm at now with the change in the way I bowl. I've got rid of the skip via doing the 'Stand Start' drill and at the minute I'm simply walking in keeping everything going down the wicket nice and straight and smooth. At this point I've only been bowling like this for a bit short of an hour, so the prospects in the longer term look very promising, especially once I've got the approach to the crease a bit more dynamic and looking more like the desired 'Explosion through the crease'.

Here's the un-edited pitch map for the bowling sequence in the video.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekly Paddock report

After the previous weeks rain and the potential for some decent growth to kick in, we were then treated to a relatively dry weak, where on the ocassions that it did rain the wind and sun soon dried it up. But early in the week there was some evidence of growth, but with the dry weather the initial spurt seems to have stalled. Whether this is due to the dry weather or just the fact that I bought cheap grass seed I don't know, but I'm now considering spending a little more on grass seed next time around to get some better quality stuff.
That aside the Paddock is doing it's best to recover without my intervention and the grass is growing rapidly so yesterdy I gave it a bit of a mow and it's looking fairly healthy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Epiphany - Leg spin bowling drills

Nearly four years now I've been doing this Wrist Spin Bowling lark and all the while I've bowled in my own peculiar way. If you've seen me bowl you'll know what I mean when I say I bowl with a little skip action. Recently someone commented that it looked very similar to the way Tich Freeman bowled and indeed it does if you look at this

But recently I've been putting a lot of work in trying to come up with some video drills and the first one that I got on-line was the 'Stand Start' drill or the 'Bowling from the base' drill as the ECB refer to it, see it here - in making the video and bowling like it in the square (as seen in the video) against Joe and Ben I realised that it's worth as a drill was not to be disregarded and I was hoping that I might be able to follow this one up with the next stage - The one step - then bowl approach. Eventually adding 2,3,4 or more steps. But when it came to going beyond the stand start I just reverted back to my Tich Freeman 'Skip' technique and I realised that this wouldn't be a good example to post up on youtube. So instead I posted the video up on youtube and asked for people to comment on my 'Skip' bowling action.

People responded and the main cricticism was the fact that I do two key things wrong. In frame 79 here you can see my position on the crease is wide of the stumps and then as I go into the gather which coincides with the skip I move across and in front of the stumps. see below.

Then having moved across and in front of the stumps I then fall away to my left. There were other technical issues that I've not even got round to looking at yet, but this prompted me to use the stand start drill as the basis to possibly address the issue of the 'Skip'.

So today having cut the grass in the Paddock (We'll get on to that later) I thought I'd have a go at practicing what I preach and see if this old dog can learn some new tricks. So using the stand start as the basic starting point I was looking to approach the crease and then explode through the crease without using the skip. One of the blokes on the spin forum suggested that I do this, but he said not to worry about where the ball ends up just focus on where your feet are going. So this afternoon I gave it a go. By the time I'd been working on it for about 10 mins I'd got to 2 steps and was getting this - which I felt was very promising. With a few more minutes I was here - note how close I'm getting the ball to land on my target mat and this is using a technique I've never ever used and the outcome seems to be that it gives me massively more control over my line and length. Here it is from the other end close up shot from behind. and the final clip demonstrates the before and after side by side.

I've just now got to get this new technique sussed more and then find a good location and shoot a sequence all at the same place so that it all looks nice and tidy. I'll also invite comments on the action as it is as there are probably still issues?

The sequence above is the new look action and already someon has pointed out that in comparison with the Tich Freeman action this one is lacking the 'Ooomph' through the 'Explosive' stage of the delivery. At the minute my main focus is just getting the feet working so that I go forward and don't waver across the line of direction and for the moment this is working. The 'Explosion' through the wicket aspect will needless to say come at a slightly later stage.
The Skip Issue
Looking again at the skip issue, these two images and the accompanying video show the problem graphically. In image 1 below I've drawn a line from my foot down to the stumps, so in an ideal world as far as I'm aware heeding all the advice from the likes of Warne and Jenner, all the energy from the 'Explosion' through the crease needs to be directed straight down the wicket. So if the rotation is correct the foot should swing round the pivot foot and end up on the red line.
You can see in image 2 below that this isn't the case and I move sideways across the crease with the bottom half of my body. The back - foot in 1 ends up very wide of the red line in 2 and in order to compensate for this I keep my head pretty steady and in line, meaning that bodily I lean over through the delivery. All of which must result in inaccuracy and cause all the problems I have with my inaccuracy. As mentioned above the initial experimentation with the new teccnique has proved to demonstrate promising looking accuracy.

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Artificial wicket issues

I was invited to a meeting tonight at B&PCC to discuss the coming year with regards the youth teams, as both my sons play in them. In amongst the usual meeting discussions was interesting point that one of the other Dads made with regards the wicket at Mopsies park and the impact that it may have on the boys games. He mentioned the fact that almost without exception all of the opposition this year were teams who's home grounds were grass wickets. Whereas our lads play and practice on an artificial wicket, which obviously has different bounce, turn and carry characteristics to a grass field. He mentioned that he'd observed several of our boys playing for balls that they expected to bounce more and as a consequence lose their wickets. He also pointed out the game against Wickford a couple of years ago where Joe took 2 or 3 wickets with his Leg-Spin on a proper grass wicket.

Off the back of it was a discussion as to whether there might be some scope to have a 20 or 21 yard grass wicket next to the artificial wicket. But it was a very interesting point and one that certainly merits some consideration.

On the subject of wickets.........

I also learnt that as of Tuesday the wicket at Mopsies Park is going to undergo a pretty major refurb. This year instead of the basic scarification, top-dressing and seeding approach it sounds like they're going to scrape the whole of the surface layer of grass off or dig it over/in and re-flatten and level it and re-seed the whole pitch. So I'm interested in seeing what the sub-surface is like and what there is underneath. By digging it over and re-rolling it, they're going to undo years of compression, so in theory the grass growth over the winter and early spring is going to be more vigourous and healthier. The surface will be aereated and the grass seed used can be selected in order to facilitate a grass cover conducive with its use? They'll also have the option of
taking away the old surface earth and bringing in a new mixture with a different ratio of clay and organic matter, or mixing clay or organic with the existing earth.

I'll try and get down there and have a look I reckon, and see what they do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

World domination

A few days ago a bloke who is integral to one of the biggest if not the biggest and most subscribed to cricket forum in the word asked me to write a few short articles on Wrist Spin Bowling to use on his own spin-off (Excuse the pun) website and I obliged. Today the first of the three articles was published and this has gone live on his website and in return in the spirit of blogging and forums he's linked the article to one of my other blogs and credited me for the article etc.

This prompted me to have a look in Google to see where my blogs come if you do a search looking for leg spin bowling and sure enough there you go one of my blogs comes up in first place in a Google search!
Kind of ironic though that it's this one as it's an old defunct blog, but I think it gets found a lot easier than my main one because of it's name?

But this demonstrates to some extent how small a community the on-line Wrist Spin Bowlers are. No doubt there'll be loads of people out there, that haven't got the time or inclination to write blogs or sit for hours writing to people you'll never see in India, Australia and the USA and they probably bowl their stuff exceptionally well, keeping it simple with a couple of variations and never getting to pass on their wisdom and techniques. Me... I have to write and learn and I love doing it as you can probably tell by the amount of stuff I post up here and elsewhere. But it just goes to show that with a little effort you can single handedly give the likes of Peter Philpott, Terry Jenner and Clarrie Grimmett a run for their money in the 'Passing on the knowledge' stakes.

Someone said to me recently joking 'Here he comes, the worlds best wrist spinner'. Yeah that aint ever going to be the case! But we may be living with the privelage of having lived at a time when the man that does carry that title lived and entertained us. In a million years even if I was 40 years younger and as obsessed as I am, I don't think I could bowl anywhere near the level that Warne has, but I might it seems be moving towards being the worlds best blogger on wrist spin?

So cheers to Scott on for allowing me to write the article and link my blog.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thurrock CC v Capricorn CC

Out of nowhere after not having a game with Thurrock Cricket Club (Used to be Grays and Chadwell) I bumped into Wayne on Facebook and he offered me a home game at Grays (Blackshots). Pinno the Spinno at B&PCC had said earlier in the week that he already had 11, so this was a right result!
The weather during the week had been pretty crap but it looked like it was going to shape up a bit for the weekend with today the better of the 2 days.

I got dropped off at just after 12 and there were a few lads there including The Wizard and they all commented that they thought I'd left and gone to Basildon. I explained that in the last few months Wayne had contacted me a couple of times, but the 2 or 3 ocassions that he had done, I was either doing family stuff or on holiday. Someone joked that Jay Shohaji reckoned that I'd left because I'd got fed up with him asking for pictures that I'd shot over the last 2 years.

Jay, if you're reading this I do intend on sorting through the hundreds of CD's and DVD's I've got and making a compilation up which will include the shots I've got of you! But you're right to keep pestering me, so just keep reminding me!

Incidentally I noted that in the clubhouse there's a big montage of one of the do's a couple of years back at Laindon Golf club and all those pictures are mine!

Anyway back to the game, by the time the oppo turned up - Capricorn cricket club we only had 8 blokes. The word was that Ifty was on his way and there were 2 younger kids on there way from a football game in Southend. No real indication of when they'd be here. The oppo were waiting for some of their blokes but it ended up that we were put in to field with only 8 blokes and this ended up being instrumental in the final results.

Initially I didn't recognise the opposition, but later in the game I realised that they were in fact the team that around this time last year Rees Downes scored his first 100 against and I remembered that they were really passionate and determined to win screaming at each other like it was the final of a cup game rather than a Sunday match and henceforth this kind of explained their approach to their batting.

The pre-Ifty scoreboard

The game in progress

The walk back to the sheds

Wizard and Ifty

The overall bowling figures for us

Thurrocks finest Sunday XI lads

One of Ifty's sixes just a foot short of ended up in the greenhouse!

And so it came to the point in the game whereby I was thrown the ball and what with Wizard already putting the breaks on their free for all rampage against the seam bowlers all I needed to do was pretty much the same thing and look to take wickets. Looking at the way the Wizard had set the field e.g almost everyone of the leg-side, Ithink he'd deduced that these blokes were looking to put the ball through the leg-side boundary as we were on the outside strip and the boundary at square leg and deep mid-wicket was exceptionally short. Where as the opposite side boundary was way off in the distance through long grass you'd be able to hide Tigers in!
As you can see below the 1st over was good, the ball was turning and I was varying the flight and length and used the odd Flipper in there. As my spell went on nearing the end of the game, the batsmen were looking increasingly to up the over rate and were batting more aggressively. In the final 2 overs with a new man in they had obviously made a decision to start to put the ball out of the park as they still had loads of blokes in the sheds waiting to come out. They threw caution to the wind and started to free their arms and as you can see my figures then suffered a bit.

W'hey bowling figures I don't mind posting at last!

Normally I don't like to go over missed opportunities, but I bowled pretty well and everyone would probably concede that I had 4 good chances go missing. One of the late arrival kids "George" Benson was fielding at a position just forward of point and 2 of my Leg-Breaks were skewed off the bat falling 6-12 inches in front of him, whether he was walking in or not I don't know and he certainly made no effort to put the dive in, but bless him he had played football for 90 minutes earlier in the day, so he must have been knackered!
Another 2 were close as well, with the ball being hit over my head and landing in between The Wizard and T.Owen, both of them went after it and on both occasions the ball didn't go to hand, one of them the bloke T.Owen put a valiant dive in - got it in his hand, but the impact of his elbows hitting the ground first bounced the ball out of his hand and he made another scramble to get it but it went to ground. So again just bad luck as the ball dropped slightly short.
The better view of Thurrock CC's ground and clubhouse.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Awards night at B&PCC

I hadn't been checking my emails much of late and I'm rubbish at putting dates of things on the calender in our kitchen, but coming up to the weekend I had a feeling that this weekend might be the Awards night at B&PCC my sons team and the team I've been playing with more than Grays this summer. So I checked my emails and sure enough it was the night. Looking on Facebook I then noted that prior to the awards from 2pm there was a cricket game over at Mopsies Park their home ground. Unfortunately Ben and Joe had karate in the morning and Joe was at a party in the afternoon. I asked Ben if he was up for it and he wasn't fussed, so I didn't pursue it. There were also plans for us to go to Southend, but they were scrapped and it looked like we'd mosey down to clubhouse about 7pm and see the awards ceremony.

In the meantine in the afternoon Ben his mate Kieran and I had a knock about in the square playing backyard cricket, more footage was shot for my 'Backyard cricket video project' where I'm trying to learn how to use Windows Movie Maker to edit clips and add text to videos. Bit by bit I'm getting there and gradually increasing the content in the video and learning how to do all the editing and stuff. The intention is that over a period of years I'll end up with videos like 'The Keys' videos on youtube which I love. So if you're interested have a look what I've done so far here's the link but this will become defunct next time I re-do the video, so maybe the better option will be to look at my channel on youtube instead of the specific video, so here's the channel link -

After a knock about in the square we went over to the Paddock with the petrol lawnmower and gave it a mow. There's been some paddock news but I've refrained from posting it as it can obviously be boring. So here it is in one lump. Ben gets the petrol mower ready for the Paddock.

On Wednesday someone went over there with a golf club and I think I know who and they chose to hit their golf balls (which they hit straight into the woods with no intention of recovering them) from the wicket. The net result as you can see here is that he's scooped dirty great chunks out of the wicket.Now I have to contend with Golf players!!!
So I had to make up some more top dressing and fill the holes in and re-seed them. Fortunately the bloke that did it and I think that he's one of the blokes that plays cricket with us in the summer realised that initially he was hitting the balls from the bowling area and then he moved up the wicket nearer the bowlers end and hot the majority of them from there thankfully.

Repairs to the divot holes

Since then there's been a fair bit of rain and a mix of sunshine and cloud which is perfect grass growing weather meaning that the Paddock today was in need of a trim. None of the seed has started to sprout yet but the grass on the wicket is in full growth mode and needs to be cut once a week at least at the minute.

Ben gives the Paddock wicket the once over

After dinner still completely oblivious as to what we might be expect at the B&PCC do we got slightly dressed up, not knowing how formal or informal it was going to be and made our way there. There was a big crowd with most of the U11's, 13's and 15's all there with their parents. Some people were dressed up but generally it looked pretty informal. There had been a game preceeding the evening event and I was pretty gutted as it was a 30 overs game and I'd liked for Ben to have been involved in that, but he hadn't fancied it.

Because the event was at the clubhouse many of the boys were in their whites still and they were round the side of the clubhouse bowling and I couldn't resist but have a go and I ended up bowling some good Leg breaks. Raffle tickets were sold with a hundred and twenty five pound bat being the prize and then on to the main event. We all piled into the clubhouse with all the U11's sitting on the floor and the medals were all handed out. In the past as I recall all the boys were simply given medals for joining in and being a part of the team, but once in it was evident that there were trophies in addition to the medals. Best bowler, bat, all-rounder and fielder it turns out. This wasn't something I was expecting at all and I hadn't even brought a camera. The prizes were handed out by Jeff Noble (Youth manager) and the President of the club Bob Ayres. First up was best all-rounder of the year and this went to Harry Davey who bowls pace and bats as an opener. Second up was best fielder and that went to Anthony Ayres the wicket keeper and then 'Best Bowler of the year' and I thought there's a chance that Ben and Joe might be in the running for this along with Harry Davey. Not doing the scoring this year at all I hadn't really got a clue as to who had been the most economic and the best strike rate etc. Neil announced..... "This goes to a lad, who despite not taking the most wickets, bowled, we felt in a very consistent and mature way, varying his technique and demonstrating a good solid bowling action and the ability to not get flustered by being hit for runs, this lad wins the best bowler of the year..... Ben Thompson". As Neil had read out the description I thought it was going to be either Joe or Ben and then thought it sounds like Ben and was right. I was well chuffed for him and really proud of him. Ben being Ben got up and took the award without hardly smiling, but I thought he looked as though he was a bit emotional and might crack, but he held it together and sat back down, still without looking as though he wasn't that bothered, but at the same time looking like he still might crack. The best batsman went to Frank Farrington.

Ben and Bob Ayres (Best Bowler U11's 2010

Once out of the glare of the on-lookinging crowd, when all the awards had been handed out Ben at last relaxed a bit allowed himself to look pleased and admit to being very pleased to have won. Here he is above with Bob Ayres and his trophy.
Ben's mates look at the trophy

Once outside with his mates he was a lot more relaxed and was then able to enjoy the moment a bit more. As you can see from the final image here below, I was very pleased for him and very proud and he's beaten me to an award that I would love to have but stand no chance in hell of winning! Well done Ben and well done all the other boys who picked up awards and medals. Again it was another good event and well done and thanks to all those brilliant people who put in all the effort to run the club and give our kids these times and memories!

Proud and slightly envious Dad

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Leg Spin bowling drills

Leg spin bowling drills are few and far between and it seems there's very few people that are prepared to put their hand up and say that they're Wrist Spinners and that they're prepared to show you what it's all about and give you some coaching. The people that I've come across have been general coaches that have actually been along to one of the yearly Terry Jenner clinics here in the UK and have picked up some pointers there.

Till recently there was a video clip of the Aussie Beau Casson on Youtube going through some Wrist Spinner drills and as far as I was concerned this was probably the best thing of it's kind on you tube. Currently on youtube there's a growing resource coming out of India called Questions Cricket but like me they're just club cricketers, so what they do and say is not backed up by any professional endorsement or acclaim. Increasingly there seems to be some pretty persistent websites that purport to give away all the secrets of wrist spin for a fee and the accompanying text that helps to promote their wares has a very familair ring about it? If you research the background of these seemingly professional products you draw a blank and it just looks like an outfit that is doing something very similar to what I'm doing but possibly packaging it slightly differently and promoting it in a more professional manner and asking for a fee for it. It would be very interesting to hear from anyone that has parted with their cash for these products and get a sense of what it is they're selling.

Anyway back to the Beau Casson video. This too was linked to an outfit which in this case was easily varified as being backed up and supported by 1st class cricketers and their operation was a money making venture too. But clearly with the product including Beau Casson and David Freedman in the tutorials and video footage, you knew that you were about to part with your money for something worthy. The clip which has now been removed demo'd what you'd be getting for your money and was 9 minutes long, but the demo's were unique on the internet and were obviously proper drills being executed by an Aussie international Wrist Spin bowler so were validated as being sound.

I can't claim that what I do is sound and my videos ask for feed back if you're in the position of being able to pass comment on what I'm doing. So if these are fundamentally flawed get back to me via the youtube comments and tell me why?

Other than that have a look through the links here for similar stuff -

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

General stuff

Tonight looking around the Internet I came across this video on youtube which is quite useful. Some people say that they find it difficult to get through it because of the regional accent, but generally that aside it's pretty good. Who these blokes are I'm not sure and they're almost certainly enthusiastic club players, but they've got access to some pretty good video equipment and editing software and I've contacted them asking them to do more on other technical aspects of Leg Spin bowling so fingers crossed they may be able to put something together looking at the intricacies of the 'Explosion through the crease' rotation, leading arm, follow through and some drills?

Paddock update

Not too much on this as it is probably exceedingly boring watching grass grow on a blog! But it rained a fair bit today and this evening with the wicket soaked I seeded the bowling end for the 1st time and top-dressed it, so give it 3 weeks and we should have a near perfect strip?

Fun Day at B&PCC

I've not written about this yet, primarily because of the restrictions with regards up-loading pictures of the event as it kind of needs images to kind of help with telling the story.
Here's one I can use Neil and G-Man the coaches at B&PCC.

It happened on Bank Holiday Monday and preceeding the day the weather screwed up and it looked as though as with the Sunday the weather might intervene and mess everything up. The day before I'd driven to Chelmsford and we'd played 10 overs in a force 7 gale in cloudy bright conditions, but all around us there'd been ominous looking clouds and we weren't surprised when it did rain and the match had to be called off. We all waited around for a fair bit of time to see whether the wicket would drain, but what with it being rolled and compressed everywhere else but the wicket drained off and was okay, but the wicket was a puddle and we had to give up. We had our tea though which was a bonus and very nice it was too.

So with Sunday on our minds waking up to a similar looking day with the wind still very blustery and quite cold at 09.00hrs when I first ventured out, things didn't look too promising. We all headed out looking to arrive slightly earlier than the suggested 10.00 hrs. The organisers (see image above) G-Man (on right) had been there since 06.00 hrs or something getting ready. A few boys were there and it was straight into some cricket and from then on in for me at least it was cricket fun for the rest of the day!

They made up an extra wicket the day before by rolling the outfileld and made two small pitches, so at any one time there was usually 2 games going on, boys in the nets and mini-set ups around the edges of the main pitch. The weather held off and as the day went on the wind eased up and it got warmer.

For Ben and Joe what with having some of their non-cricketing mates there, a whole day of it was a bit too much and unlike me they stopped to eat food whereas I just kept going!

It was good to see old geezers who obviously had played years ago have a bowl and take loads of wickets, I didn't do too well, but took a couple. One of the highlights of the day for me was the Lads and Dads match where they put them together to play on the same side and I ended up batting with Ben facing Harry's Dad and one of the Sunday seamers 'Sam'. We faced 2 overs and we both batted properly!!! Most of our balls went back past the bowler through the V and we both got a thin edge on one getting the ball past the slips. Both of us hit a couple of 4's! (I bat at No.11 remember - I am dog crap useless at batting). So to hit the ball so well in a partnership with one of my sons was brilliant!

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

Monday, September 06, 2010

Rain at last

Rain at Last

More maintenance work in the paddock

Last night having mowed the wicket in the paddock I then went in and saw that the weather predictions had changed and it looked as though today there'd be some rain. So before going to work I went over and had a bit of a rake around and brushed the seeds back into the area at the batting end.

During the afternoon there was a little light rain, but not really enough to really get things going by my reckoning, but again an update on the weather report suggested that over night there'd be a lot more persistent. So I went over this evening and did some remedial work at the bowling end try to rake out the lumps and get that a lot more even and I also top dressed the batting end making sure that the majority of the seed that is down was covered. This layer of light top dressing was made up of primarily propriety compost and kitchen waster compost.
The bowling end (above) will have to go without seed for a while till I get some more in, but if the weather looks to continue in this rainy and warm manner I reckon that'll be sooner rather than later as it's a perfect opportunity to get some grass established at this end as well.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Paddock

Still not using it at all and looking at ways I can work on it and get it ready for next year. Since putting the seed down it hasn't rained and in the middle of last week the council cut the grass in the paddock using a bit sit on Flymo type mower which has scattered all the seed and Top-Dressing everywhere especially up the batting area. I raked it all back again as much as I could and have just gone back to waiting for the rain. When it does rain I'll probably put more seed down, just to ensure a good even layer of new growth.

As you can probably gather from the stumps in the images I had a bit of a gentle bowl tonight as I've been working on my Biggun and doing pretty good with it. Although it's a re-occuring theme the thing I've noticed and have got to get in my head is that as far as my bowling is concerned when I bowl the ball the sensation needs to be that I'm bowling with the karate chop action. It's then that it turns big, if I don't bowl with the Karate chop action sensation the ball will come out as a small leg-break.

So it's looking like this at the moment.

Backyard Cricket in the square

No real cricket this weekend despite the fact that I had two options - a Sunday game with B&PCC and then just before going up to Derby for the weekend I had a call from Neil at B&PCC asking if I wanted to play on Saturday, which I'd have loved to but was going to be away first thing Saturday morning. All these offers when at the moment my bowing seems to be coming out well.

Backyard cricket in the square

This is our set up, as you can see it's pretty tight for space with houses and glass windows in close proximity. The rules are that any ball that comes directly off the bat that hits the areas coloured red are out, so balls going to square leg or point are out. Any balls going through the Off-side where the house are over 3' above the gound are out. Anything hit through the legside that goes over the wall or straight back past the bowler over the wall are also out.

The only real option for scoring runs are to hit the ball hard along the gound through the red zone below and get it past the bowler - they get you 2's and 4's depending on how well you hit them if there's just a couple of you playing. When there's a few players, the only way 4's are scored are if you hit the ball through the off-side between the bowler and Mid-Off as there's a pathway there and the ball will go 30 or 40 metres down the pathway.
The other thing we're focusing on as mentioned yesterday is building partnerships, so that the emphasis is not on the individuals score, but the combined score or any 2 batsmen and this is working as I said yesterday. Normally Ben and Joe are loathed to play together but yesterday they formed the best partnership and both seemed quite proud that they had done so and looked determined to better it and maintain that record, so that's very promising and something I'm quite pleased at achieving with them.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Backyard cricket

In recent weeks we've begun to use a little play area outside our house for backyard cricket. We've used it before, but we've kind of taken things a step further in order to hone some of our skills. The area is quite small so the wicket as such is very short, but the reason I've started to utilise it more is that it is surrounded by a fairly low wall on three sides and houses with windows on the Off-side. So the order of the day is that you've got to hit the ball along the ground and play shots straight down the wicket in between Mid-On and Mid Off. Anything that's more than 1.3 metres off the ground and you're either hitting windows or putting it over the wall in which case your out. Either side of where you bat in sillly positions are walls, so again, if the ball ends up in those areas in flight you're out too.

Instead of pictures here's a video clip from October (2009)

Tonight there were 4 or 5 of us out there playing at different times, so we had 2 bats a bowler and a wicket keeper and the objective was to form partnerships and get as many runs with your partner and we ended up with Joe and Ben (My sons) batting together the longest in a very sensible and measured manner getting singles and two's to win. Normally they're sworn enemies and simply refuse to bat together as it descends into confrontation and retribution when one or the other runs the other out. So it was good to see them keeping the ball on the ground, batting it into spaces where they'd pick up runs and communicating effectively in order to get the runs ticking over to go past the previous record held by my older son and me.

The other good thing is we're getting other non-cricket boys involved and maybe it might stick with a little more playing and work on them?

I'll try and get some pictures of the area and post them up and explain our rules, but they're pretty standard - one hand one bounce catches are allowed and then all the rules with regards going over walls and getting stuck in places that they can't be fielded. What I want to do is get some video clips going like these as I reckon these are good fun and a bit of a laugh.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

To Spin or not to Spin

There's been some debate in the past as to whether there is any merit in bowling without any spin if you're struggling with your bowling. The concensus does seem to favour the opposing view that if you're a spinner, first and foremost the thing you must do is spin the ball and spin it hard. This theory is supported by Peter Philpott in his book 'The Art of Wrist Spin Bowling'. But, what if you came to spinning at such an early stage in your bowling development that you hadn't really honed any basic skills in bowling?

Is there not some merit in stepping back from months and months of frustration where perhaps you feel you're not going forward with your bowling and just having a good look at your basics? At one point I'd have argued that there was some value in this process and some time spent just assessing whether you could bowl in a straight line and hit the stumps might be a good idea? I then had a change of mind a while back whilst making some in-roads into bowling the Big Leg Break. My thoughts a few months back were that the Big Leg Break was so fundamentally important that no time should be spent tinkering with anything else and that you should focus entirely on Leg Breaks and the Big Leg Break.

I think I've softened on that viewpoint again and now might advocate that a basic sound bowling technique may be the pre-requisite to moving forward and learning wrist spin? The basis of this new opinion is that watching my younger son develop in his bowling he has gone through 3 distinct phases to date.

Phase 1: Initially with very little effort and no real technique with regards his explosion through the crease and follow through, he like many small boys could produce a leg break. This Leg Break because of the very slow and loopy flight and a degree of accuracy got him wickets.

Phase 2: Once he came up against boys that could bat a bit and was tonked around the park a bit, seam up bowling suddenly looked like a better solution and he went over to the darkside. During his 2 years in the seam up wilderness, because of his size and the fact that he is 2.5 years younger than his older seam up bowling brother he always compared himself to his older sibling. So for the 2 years he tried to bowl as fast as his brother, which was (In the short term) always going to be a battle that was going to be lost. But what did seem to happen was that he explored the Malinga round arm action and just trying to bowl much faster than he'd ever done. On his own with very little input from me he seemed to learn that varying the flight, length and speed worked if it coincided with accuracy.

During the phase 2 period, his whole bowling action improved along with physically growing. His bowling action by the start of this summer looked more like that of a spinner with a slow walk-in buidling up to the explosion through the crease, with a spinners follow through.

Phase 3: That's kind of happened in the last 2-3 months or so. Around June he started to bowl Wrong Uns that turned quite a bit and asking questions about them. "So it's just by turning my wrist and bowling out of the back of my hand that I bowl a Googly"? This was then followed up with questions about the Leg Break once I'd said "You don't really want to be bowling Googlies, otherwise you'll end up with the Googly Syndrome". I simply explained that he needed to be bowling out of the front of the hand with a flick of the wrist having the ball come off the 3rd finger.

Then last week we were mucking about outside the house and he bowled a series of lovely Leg-Breaks and when asked about it he said "I'm just flicking my wrist when I release the ball".

In conclusion: It strikes me that he made enormous progress whilst bowling straight not trying to get the ball to turn. During that Phase 2 the very fundamental elements of bowling were laid down allowing him to then recently add the flicking of the wrist either way to bowl the Leg-Break and the Wrong Un?