Monday, January 31, 2011

First Net session at B&PCC

Now that's what you call a net session 7.30 - 9.30 2 hours and plenty of bowling and a bit of bat as well! They've got some sorting to do with the mats as mentioned yesterday, but they've got their blokes on the case and word is by this Sunday they'll have mats for all three nets with an option to use the plastic balls in the outside runs. But tonight with only the two mats that are on site, some of us (The Older blokes) and some new blokes used plastic balls in the mat-less nets.

Overall though I was pretty disappointed with my bowling, but I am going to offer a bunch of excuses.... The slippery floor. As far as I'm concerned there has got to be some resistance on the pivot foot as you go through your bowling action. You've only got to look at how much damage you do when you're bowling on grass to realise that there some resistance and this resistance is crucial when your bowl. So as a result and this used to happen years ago when I used to practice here before you can't get the ball to spin. Despite that though it was turning a bit by rolling the ball off the fingers rather than flicking the ball. I've got to admit I was hoping to be flicking the ball tonight but for some reason it wasn't happening, so I am going to have to resort to bowling on concrete as soon as possible in order start flicking. But I'm dead certain that in order to flick and generate all the power through all the levers you have to have a good solid base and that means not sliding. Maybe I need to take a rubber car mat and put it down at the bowling end?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Pre-Season nets for Ben and Joe

Pre-season nets started today for Ben and Joe at James Hornsby school. The space in many respects is so much better than the Fitzwymarc facilities. For a start it's just round the corner and the light in the hall is superb, whereas Fitzwymarc was miles away and was as dark as a medieval dungeon. Other good things about the James Hornsby facilities are the viewing area which over-looks the hall now, having been built in the last year or so and the fact that there is three nets and two big spaces down the outside of the three nets which are ideal for practicing bowling in and other drills. The negatives for JH are the surface which is polished wood effect and very slippery and the mats as I mentioned before and back in October when they first said they'd be having their nets there.

Anyway, prior to making our way over there, Joe and I had a bit of bowl outside the house for a 10 minutes, I kept and he bowled and he got his line and length going okay, hitting the stumps a couple of times before we packed up and went back indoors out of the 5 degree centigrade cold weather. I didn't ask Ben as I knew I'd be met with a look of 'As if'? As it turns out Ben hit the stumps with his first ball and carried on pretty much in the same vein throughout the session. He then hit the stumps another 6 times while there were batsmen there during the session which was only 40-45 minutes long once you factored in some of the fielding drills. Joe did okay hitting the stumps a couple of times and finding the outside edge of the bat similarly. Some of the other boys were doing well also - Harry, Harrison and Frank who was bowling Leg Spin. At the end of the session a few people mentioned the fact that Ben had grown physically since September and had got visibly faster at bowling. That and the fact that Ben had come away from the session thinking that it had only lasted about 15 minutes bodes well, because he obviously enjoyed it and would have carried on for a lot longer.

While I was there John one of the player/youth trainers came over and said that they'd be looking to encourage a couple of the boys that showed an inclination to spin the ball. They're looking to develop a couple of spinners for the team to give the team another dimension. Dave Ayres chipped in reminding us that Joe had taken apart the tail of Wickford a couple of season ago. John asked if I'd look after them in the end bay in a couple of weeks and see if I could help develop their spinning. They spoke to Frank about it and he was up for it and so too was Joe. Joe went as far as suggesting that we hire out the 'Muno' and practice in there during the next week or so, which I'm not totally adverse to if he's going to take it seriously.

The things is where do I start? John implied that it would only work really with some of the more switched on boys as it's quite complex and not as easy as simply running in and chucking the ball fast and on target, but the challenge I reckon is to somehow simplyfy it to almost approximate that same description.

So where do I go with it? What do I work with primarily? Watching Frank he spins the ball well and his line and flight was pretty good, so whatever is that he's doing with his wrist and fingers it's working okay. So with him I'd probably look to change his 'Explosion through the crease' aspect and get him to rotate and step over with more energy, that alone, looking at his action would give him more spin and turn off the pitch. The same drill would work with Joe as well and what with Frank taking notice and vice versa, it may work out that they'd both develop that aspect of their game?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cricket prospects this week

This weekend sees the start of the season for Joe and Ben my sons in that they'll be attending their first pre-season Nets at this new venue - James Hornsby school (see below)which is just round the corner from where we live which is good as last year we had to drive miles to get to the other place which was a couple of towns away. This is also where my net sessions will be on Monday nights meaning that I've now left Grays and Chadwell cc and have joined Joe and Ben at Basildon & Pitsea.

Back in the MPA 1st XI days we used to hire this hall and it's going to be interesting to see if they've equipped the hall with any new gear, as there were only two really flimsy bowling mats that had seen better days. The thing we liked about this hall was that the three nets that pulled out down the centre left two big bays either side of the 3 nets, which could also be used and it's very light in there. The only gripe about the venue was the mats and the stumps. So I'm looking forward to seeing how Joe and Ben get on with their first session on Sunday and I'm looking forward to having a bit of a bowl with the Basildon blokes who I've yet to bowl at.

Spring watch

As I get on the train now in the evenings there's a glimmer of light at 5pm even if its cloudy. I had a look at the paddock and it's looking dismal but it is at its lowest ebb at the minute. The through traffic that we had last year seems to have not been such a problem this winter which is good, but I've got a feeling there's going to be increased use of the paddock this summer by kids that are playing football.

I've found a good website with details about preparing the wicket here -

The Rec

I'd like to get over to the disused Tennis court more this spring with Joe and Ben and get their mates more involved which is a definite prospect as two of them have started to play cricket at their school and their level of interest in the sport has increased. Plus at the end of last season Suhail was up for joining in and hopefully he'll be around as well, so we may be able to get a few people in there and get some stuff going on.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spring approaches

Noticed in the garden today catkins on the trees and daffodils starting to poke through the grass on the tiny bit of lawn we've got. I've got Yucca's in the garden and Calla Lillies and they look like they've taken a hit in the frost, so they'll not prosper this summer. I'll go and have a look at the paddock at some point over the weekend and see how it looks and whether there's anything I can do to get it ready for the new season. I'm looking to get both ends working this summer for batting on, in order that we can extend its use. To be honest though the 'New' end is angled and slopes off to one side and need to be gradually built up, but I'd need about a 1/4 ton of earth to do that with.

Other things aside I've been asked by a cricket website to write articles for them, so I've got try and get that going in amongst all the other things, needless to say there's no money in it, so I wont be rushing to do that too quickly as I am supposed to be updating my own blogs.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nets at Grays

The cats out of the bag, the Grays boys know I'm off to Basildon and Pitsea and have been pulling my leg tonight about the fact that I'm using them for practice, with no intention of signing up this season. It was ironic that 'El' one of the younger blokes that played in the Sunday team last year said..........
"Dave you ought to play more this season, there were loads of games last year where we were men down". Yeah, they'd have been the games that I'd been waiting all week for and never got the call to turn up! Despite paying my club fees and match fees on time. I didn't say that though and just let it go. There's one more session to go next week and then it'll be Basildon nets at James Hornsby which is virtually throwing distance from my house, which'll be a lot better and it's going to be an hour and half session which is good.

Bowled okay tonight, but nets isn't something I take much from as the blokes batting are just playing mental strokes and getting themselves out all the time, so coming away having potentially got wickets all over the place through catch situations isn't going to excite me too much, but observing that the balls that are tossed up nice and floaty cause all sorts of problems is interesting and something to take away for the season and work with - which I suppose slots in with the need to vary pace and flight. I did go with the intention of watching the batsmen to see if I could spot any particular weaknesses, but other than really obvious things I have to concede that it's an aspect of my game that I need a lot more work on. But overall it was a good session with pretty good accuracy and one or two wrong uns doing their stuff perfectly, I'm going to have to work on the wrong un a bit this year to get it going well. One of them turned massively I noted - outdoing anything that I can produce with the Leg Break.

The Paddock

I had a look at the Paddock a couple of days ago and currently it's a swamp. we've had some really mild weather as well - 15 degrees centigrade a couple of days ago and tonight it's 7 degrees which means the grass will be growing.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Now for something slightly different

Still on the theme of cricket though........ I've laways had a bit of an knack for drawing and years ago I used to paint a bit, so after more than 30 years of not picking up a paint brush and becoming a photographer I've had a go at the painting. To be honest digital photography technology means that anyone over the age of about 3 can take a pciture that is virtually fit for publishing and as a result fees for photography have gone down and down with the exception of situations where hard nosed business men set up 'Portrait Photography studio's' and rip people off. The art and craft of the photographer is now almost dead and so I'm kind of reverting to something that still has a bit of art and craft to it.

I've used acrylics which isn't something I've ever used before and have had to learn as I go along and the whole process is one of learning as at every step this is all totally new to me, but here's the efforts so far.....

First stage - the drawing. It's not finished as one of the eyes is completely wrong, but I'll return to that later. The thing I felt I needed to do at this stage was get some paint going and see how I'd get on with that aspect of it.

I under-painted the white site screen and I'm following a theory that it's better to do the background first.

The shadow in between the bars of the sight screen have a green tinge (reflectancy of the grass in front of them, but at this stage this looked too green!

I've over-painted that green here and started to work on the shadows now..............

And this is where I am now. I'm going to straighten up the lines on the sight screens - over paint the mistake at the bottom where I painted over the jumper and focus on the panels of the screen where they're directly in the light.

12th Jan

This is gone on now several stages and lots of hours and I reckon I'm pretty much done with painting the sight screen. Here's some of the stages over the last couple of days. I've been spending hours correcting and then re-correcting the planks and the shadows between the planks. All the time I'm learning what works and what doesn't. Tonight having painted the shadow beneath the screen and the wheels last night and pondering whether the white of the screens was too-white, I concluded they were and have over-painted all the bright white panels with a grey wash to tone them down.

At the stage below I've reduced the impact of the shadows and reduced the contrast of the image overall. The galvanised steel at the bottom of the screen has started to come together and the grass is pretty much as I want it.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Such a nice feeling

It's looking like my interest in cricket was timed just about right. I missed out on the Botham era and anything before that because I was doing stuff and no matter how much work a bloke at work used to put in trying to convince me I was missing out I wasn't going to be convinced. It was simple - cricket or surfing? Surfing won hands down. But totally disillusioned with the big football con Englands national game is football, Bobby Moore, World Cup etc I turned the tele on one night to watch a fat bloke throwing slow balls at the English batsmen and completely tying them in knots. Whereas all my other recollections had been waiting 7 minutes for some lanky git to walk from the wicket to the far end of the pitch to then run in and throw the ball at 90 mph and miss the stumps. The bloke with the bat lifting it above his head and letting the ball go past him and then they'd do it again and again ad infinitum - what was all that about? The fat bloke was Warne and it was mesmerising and this was the mid 90's. My interest was minimal, but as the years went on it surpassed my waning interest in football - not that had ever been that enthusiastic. Then in 2006 I picked up a ball and started to try and spin it and here I am today bathing in the awareness of an Ashes win in Australia and liking the feeling! Further more there's a nice warm feeling when you look at these links and you see how bad it is for the Aussies!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Legspin bowling Field Settings

Another in the recent series of field setting suggestions. I have to admit though these are mainly put up to encourage feedback on the bigcricket forum - On there I've commented that the use of posting such field settings is limited because of the fact that there are so many different variables to consider when setting the field and simply setting a field on the basis that you've seen it on a website or in a book is pretty much pointless unless of course there's some rationale as to why you've placed the fielders in a particular configuration. I was interested in the comments made by the commentators after the match and Mitchell Johnson's appraisal of the approach. The Daily Mail (On-line) wrote........

If England’s bowling was far too good for Australia’s top seven then why should they suddenly treat their No 8, Mitchell Johnson, like a world-beater, affording him a respect that should have been reserved for the greats of the past rather than a haphazard, fragile bowler who sometimes succeeds with the bat?
Instead, Strauss spread the field, rather like Bob Willis almost suicidally did when faced with Allan Border and Jeff Thomson in that famous last wicket stand in the 1982-83 thriller at Melbourne, and let Johnson dictate terms rather than allow England’s bowlers to put him in his place.

The result was that Johnson swung merrily, with as many as six or seven fielders on the boundary, and Ben Hilfenhaus gained confidence from his team-mate’s productivity, heaving Tim Bresnan for a huge six on his way to 34 runs which may yet prove crucial.
It seems churlish to criticise Strauss after he and Andy Flower have done so much to inspire and revolutionise England, but if they are to become the best team in the world then they must be judged by the highest standards.

Read more:

What the explanation seemed to be was that the focus was Johnson's wicket and the tactic of putting men on the boundary was aimed at thwarting/or finishing Johnson. But the side affect was that it allowed both men to hit two's and singles with relative ease and help build both men's confidence.

Strauss seems to have been caught between a rock and a hard place and the Sky commentators seemed to cut him some slack on the matter. But, it does go to show that field settings is a complex game. I'm a newbie at cricket and since the very start I've had captains ask where I want my field and I haven't had a clue and till this very day I've not been in a position where I've set my field with any real intention, always doing so in conjunction with a captain and letting him decide 80% of the positions. I've bowled on occassions where I've seen situations where now I would change the field or at least ask the captain to do so. Last year seeing my mate at Grays set this field - and creating five good chances I suddenly grasped some of the theory and realised that thinking outside the box and being creative can yield results. Needless to say this has to be combined with watching the batsmen and observing how they play and what strokes they have in their reperoire. All this combined with staying focussed on your fielding and being ready for the ball to come your way.

I've previously posted a field setting (See below) as a starting point and this is on the basis that you've been thrown the ball with no real idea as to how the batsmen are playing and where they're looking to hit the ball, so for instance possibly tail enders or blokes that are new to the crease?

This supposedly would give you a chance to settle in to your first over. I bowl a pretty tight off-stump line looking to find the edge of the bat. This works well if the batsmen are driving or blocking with a straight bat, but goes to pieces to some extent if they're looking to play aggressively through the off-side. Being club cricket, your fielders (Me included) are not Collingwood-esque in our abilities and I'd leak runs. In the one above - there's an assumption that most batsmen have some ability and preference to try and get the ball Leg-side and this I'm hoping might be encouraged by the field being set with an off-side bias trying to encourage the batsmen to step across the wicket and try and hoik the ball to the on-side? In which case I'd deploy more Top-Spin or bowl Top-Spinners. Not being a batsman - I'm pretty unsure of all this and it is only theory and part of a learning process. The other potential outcome which would be the desired one - would be if the batsman decided that his best option would be to drive the ball back past me. If that was to happen, the bloke at 10 (Short fine leg) would be brought up to a leg-slip position to bring into play the wrong un.

Legspin Field Setting - encouraging the drive.

Another variation that I thought of to encourage the batsman that showed a hint of self belief in playing the ball straight would be to use a field setting where you removed the mid -off and on fielders. (See below).

The idea here is that you open up the field beyond the bowler to encourage the batsman to drive the ball. Again with the consideration of variables and possibly in a longer format of the game you might even wish to concede a few runs by bowling in such a way that you enticed the player to play straight - bowling straight balls looking to get him trying to play past you. Once that's adopted you'd then bring in a little leg spin looking to find the edge. If turns out that the bat can play straight and he's okay then bring in the wrong un and the top-spinner?

Again I have to say - this is all theory and I'm a newcomer to this aspect of the game. If you want to suggest as to why do so via the link below.........

This page has been superseded by a more recent and permanent page with additional field setting and is on-going and update regularly see below...

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

Monday, January 03, 2011

The season starts here

Billericay had an open day today, so given the chance to have a look around their club and have a bat and a bowl in their nets we were up and at em and there for the start at 11.00hrs. We took Kieran - one of Ben's mates and had a good bowl albeit a bit crowded in the net with 10 people at points all queuing to bowl. It was interesting for me, as I haven't bowled in ages and if you follow my blog and youtube channel you might remember that I'm in the process of changing my bowling action and dropping the skip action I have. I'm also aware that a feature of last season was a re-occuring injury - plantar fasciitus, which seems to have cleared up 99%, but I'm aware that it may come back. So todays bowling was a bit iffy until the end when I resorted to bowling off of 1 or 2 steps and that worked far better with the ball turning far more - pitching outside of leg and just bouncing over the top of the off-stump or wide of it. Overall, off the 1-2 step approach I was able to get all sorts of things happening, including a good variation in pace and flight, so after a very average start the end was very promising.

Recently at home I've even explored the potential to include a bound and it looked as though it might be possible with a bit of work, but, in the short term I'll just work on the 2 step walk in as I was today as that was obviously the best approach. So it seems today was the start of the prep for the new season. B&PCC's nets start at the end of January and it looks like Grays start even sooner so I may go along to the Grays net sessions first and then when B&PCC get started I'll join them. I was hoping that they'd be on differing nights so I could get two sessions in per week, but turns out they're on the same night.

Paddock News

Went over there today for a couple of minutes - looks okay and I raked a few more leaves away. I've got a change of plans where the paddock is concerned this year which might mean we'll get more use out of it. One of the good things I noticed this year was that with a bit of TLC I was able to establish good new growth in the most badly worn parts of the wicket with relative ease and success including the bowling area which gets really badly damaged. Last year I toyed with the idea that we'd bat at both ends then rejected the idea because it would have meant that we'd be bowling/running in all over the best and flattest part of the wicket. Now, with the evidence that I can easily repair pretty serious damage that's not a concern anymore and I've got the following plan. We'll work on getting the usual end prepared for use through mid May to June. That will be expected to last and be usable for about a month or so if it's hot and dry again like last summer when it eventually cracked and then crumbled. Then once the batting end becomes unusable because of the crumbling we'll establish a new batting end at the opposite end - but further back from we'd have been bowling. What this'll then do is totally ruin the are we usually bowl into as that'll be where we're bowling - but I believe that like this last year we'll be able to repair it again.