Monday, February 28, 2011


Adults nets tonight and I rolled out the new bowling action e.g. with a proper bound rather than the walk in or skip approach that I've had for the last 4 years. I went okay, I think generally it's faster, so possibly slightly more difficult to play when I get it right. A few balls came out right and these were commented on. An especially good Wrong Un bowled at Dave Sharp nearly bowled him but he managed to get the bottom edge of the bat on it, someone commented...... "You only see a ball like that 4 or 5 times in a lifetime"! So, it looks like I'll never bowl with the skip ever again which is good news. I was tempted several times to revert back to the walk in as it's probably more accurate at this stage, but I stuck with the bound as I need to bowl like it as much as I can to get it smooth. So despite being played fairly easy much of the time I persevered and kept with it and not once did I go back to the old method. The weather just needs to clear now, so that we get back to practicing over at the Rec in the evenings in the Tennis courts.

Batting, although atrocious was better than normal, didn't get bowled 5 times in succesion like last week and managed to hit a few balls back past the bowlers.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

U13's nets B&PCC

Another good session today for Joe and Ben at James Hornsby following a good work out an hour before playing Badminton where both of them beat me in individual games! Ben's getting to the point where he's getting fitter, stronger, faster and more agile than me because of the fact that I'm falling to pieces with injuries, so that gap between us is growing smaller at an exponential rate. One of his mates came round this week not having seen Ben for 7 days and as soon as he opened the door his first reaction was 'Whoa'! You've grown"!. Slightly bemused at Ozan's claim that Ben had physically got bigger in just seven days, we checked a record we keep. We measure him against a mark we have on the wall in the kitchen and sure enough since Jan 11th Ben had grown about a centimetre and a half! So it's not that much of a surprise that he's catching me up.

Ben didn't bowl so well this week, but he was still okay causing virtiually everyone problems, his biggest issue was that some of his balls went Leg-side and to me he looked like he was trying to hard. Later in the day he did try and bowl much faster and it was obvious that he can change his speed considerably and these faster balls tend to be yorkers. Ben later in the session said that he was going to bowl Leg Spin because he dabbles with it and he pitched one up just outside leg that turned across the batsman and hit the top of off-stump which he was well chuffed with, but he was able to repeat it.

Joe in the meantime was bowling nice Leg Breaks in the Under 11's nets causing all sorts of problems and given half decent fielders would take loads of wickets. He hit the stumps once or twice too with leg break picthed on or around Leg Stump. Dave Ayres, who I think is the manager of the U13's wants Joe to be in the U13's team for the first match as it's a cup match (Joe's 9), so that'll be nice if that comes off.

I've not been very clear about the age group that Ben's going to play for, as there's a load of boys that come in to the hall after us who are in the next group up and they're Under 15's, but watching them they look younger than Ben who's only 12. It turns out that some of these boys are still of the age that they'll play in the U13's, so it sounds like they may make up the numbers of the U13's if they're short on players. From what I've seen of the U13's they currently look like this...............

Ryan Davies - All rounder
Harrison - All rounder
Anthony Ayres - Batsman/Keeper
George Barclay - Middle order bat PT Leg Spinner
Finlay - Middle Order Bat -
Mark (Steve Smith Look alike) Bat
Frank Farrington (Leg Spinner) All - rounder
Ben - Fast Bowler
Harry - Fast Bowler
Joe - Leg Spinner *

I'm aware that the format changes and from what I can glean from the internet it sounds like it'll
be different in that.............

When you're out you're out.
The lads start to specialise e.g. only the bowlers bowl max of 4 overs.

But what of the team size? Is it the full 11 man team? I'll have to ask tomorrow. Looking at the team they've got at the minute, I reckon this looks fairly promising, if these boys get into their stride as the season starts, this could be an interesting summer. I just hope I'm right about the bowling aspect e.g. the boys that can bowl are given their maximum allocation of overs.

The Day of Reckoning

So, tomorrow night will be the day of reckoning, after Thursdays hour over at The Rec bowling with the bound at a single stump tomorrow night at Adult nets will be my first opportunity to roll it out with a batsman. All the experimentation over differing lengths would suggest that in a fairly short time this will lead to an improvement in my bowling, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes over a couple of hours, hopefully I'll persevere with it and if I get spanked I wont be reverting back to my intermediate walk in method?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

First Practice of the season

The weather broke at last and we had a 15 degree c day with sunshine and blue skies. The last time it was 15 degrees was way back in November. So what with it being half term I cycled over to the Rec with a bag of balls and a set of Kwik Cricket Stumps to have a look at changing my bowling again so that it incorporates a conventional bound. Followers of the blog and people that know me will know that I have this weird approach to the bowling action and that I've been trying to eliminate it since last September, when I had been suffering from Plantar Fascitis and a physio had said that the cause was probably this weird action. In the last month or so I've been sussing out whether I can bowl with a bound and the evidence suggested that it was looking as though it was going to be possible. I've had several net session this year with both Grays and Basildon and I've not had the confidence to attempt to bowl with the bound, because I felt that it could go anywhere, but today with the sun out and it being warm, I gave it a go.

I was fairly optimistic about how it would go because I'd practiced a little with windballs in sports halls when we play Badminton with the kids and bit by bit it had been coming together just doing that. So, I wasn't that surprised when the first few balls were all on a good length on the offside. I was hoping for anywhere within 3 or 4 foot either side of the stumps as a start but these were all within a foot of the off-stump. Within 24 balls I was pitching the ball outside of Leg and turning it in on the stumps or bouncing over the top of them with quite a bit of turn. In the end I had to take the stumps out of the base and use a single stump because I'd got fed up of having to walk back down the wicket to stand the stumps up again! So all in all a very successful first session with the new bound and it feels very smooth and flowing and enables me to bowl a lot faster it seems. This increase in speed also seems to increase the difference between my slower balls and the faster balls with only subtle changes in the action because it is so smooth. Turn was good, accuracy by the end was very good considering this is a wholly new action and I was able to bowl the variations that I'm currently practicing with; Leg Break, Top-Spinner, small Wrong Un and the the conventional Back-Spinning Flipper all with relative ease. I was bowling so well I thought I'd throw in the re-discovered Wrong Wrong Un and blimey was that a surprise! With my leg breaks I rarely see them drift and I put that down to the fact that they probably don't drift 90% of the time and when they do it's not a lot. But the first Wrong Wrong Un that I chucked up was aimed at the off-stump, but then it drifted late pitched outside of leg although it was initially going for middle and off and turned so much it went wide of the Off-Stump! This is a ball that for all intents and purposes is bowled in exactly the same way that a Googly is and yet it does what a good Leg Break does. So I'll be trying this one out every now and then.


Will I be bowling the new way in the nets this week? I reckon I might be, it'll be interesting to see how well it works.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nets at Grays

B&PCC didn't have a net session on Monday, so I contacted some of the Grays blokes and asked if I could go along to their session and one of the blokes said that was fine. Didn't bat just had a bit of a bowl. It's difficult to judge how well you're bowling when you're in the nets especially if the batsmen are 1/2 decent because they just try and hoik you into the far distance. One in particular did exactly that for 6-7 balls, showing no respect whatsoever, but I eventually got him twice potentially stumped bowling fuller Top-Spinners. The rest of them it was a similar story, primarily stumping off of flippers and a leg break that pitched a little outside of leg and came in through the gate to hit the off-stump. All in all I was quite happy with what happened and I'm definitely now beginning to watch the batsman looking at where there are weaknesses. I also move around the crease a lot if I get dealt with quite easily off a sucession of balls from my normal close in over the wicket bowling position.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Paddock

A couple of days ago I was thinking about the weather and how recently there hasn't been a lot of rain and therefore any water in the ground would be draining off deeper slowly. Add to that the sap now rising and nature is at working drying up the sogginess that is everywhere. The paddock around about now is almost a swamp in places, but if the sun comes out the drying process, coupled with the fact that it's surrounded by trees soon gets under way. The reason that this is of concern is that I need to get out there while it is still relatively soggy and give it a good roll with the roller and get the next batch of seed sown. February is too early, but it does need to rain during Feb and early March, so I was quite happy that yesterday it rained all day.

The schedule over the coming weeks needs to be along these lines........


This feature of groundwork is the most difficult to explain. All I know is that it is generally the coldest day of the year when I begin. Whether there is a gently drying wind with a hazy sun or a blustering cold northerly March blow.

The reason for rolling before the soil dries out is to consolidate the whole square down to a depth of 4 or 5 inches. Consolidating below the surface can only be done before the square fully dries out. This is a very important stage in wicket preparation because you are rolling into your square the pace and bounce required for good cricket wickets. If this rolling is successful cricket wicket preparation is simply re-wetting the top few inches facing up to give a smooth flat surface, cutting the grass short then allowing the wicket to fully dry out.


1. Feb/March get rid of any worms
2. Early March lightly fertilise. 11.6.6 or similar at 1 oz/sq yd – will help withstand early rolling.
3. March/April frequent rolling. Do not create ridging. 80% of rolling should be cross-over the square, but at the end of each session roll from stump to stump.
4. After rolling the square should be shallow spiked 1 inch deep would be ideal to stimulate growth by allowing feed, water and oxygen to get below the surface.
5. Lightly scarify the surface or stiff brush to open up the grasses but take great care not to disturb the surface soil.
6. Apply 2nd light fertilizer dressing
7. Frequent cutting to reduce the grass height to approx ½ inch which is a good height to maintain it at during the playing season. Lower the height gently with frequent cuttings over a period of time.


There are two main tasks. First the continuous development of strong, healthy root structure which is about frequent mowing, preventing drought conditions and sensible feeding. Secondly, keeping the surface clean with frequent light scarification, hand raking or stiff brushing.

This piece above was copied from............

Joe and Ben nets

"Joe, do you want to have a throw around outside before we go to nets just to loosen up, rather then turn up and bowl pies first off"? I asked about half hour before they were due at nets.
"Nah Dad, I usually bowl better straight off rather than do all that beforehand". He replied. Not wanting to push the issue I just thought, well...we'll see how that works out.

Half hour later, Finlay was first up batting in the nets, I think he's a fairly good batsman, with far better averages than both Joe and Ben and has been playing a bit longer than they have. Joe was first in the queue and he bowled from middle of the crease over the wicket. He flighted one in aiming it well outside Leg Stump, Finlay watched it in realising it was well wide of his stump, he left it, the ball pitched and turned in and hit middle and leg - OUT! A beautiful Leg Break, far better than I've ever bowled with a batsman in place and it was the first ball up! He then bowled a few more in pretty much the same way, but this time Finlay was on it and was trying to hit them but still in trouble having to block balls that would have gone onto hit the stumps, again pitching well outside leg. Beautiful bowling from Joe.

The coaches were working with Ben on his run up getting him to run off 7 steps and then bound, which he picked up pretty quickly and within a short while he looked pretty smooth and was bowling exceptionally well looking like he deserved last years title of the 'Bowler of the Year'. Over the hour session both Ben and Joe took 4 wickets each, Joe bowling his older brother Ben with another beautiful Leg Break over the wicket again, pitching outside leg and this time it came back in across Ben and went through the gate to hit the off-stump! He was well chuffed and Dave Sharp seemed pretty impressed as Joe was bowling an superb line and length and getting the ball turn pretty big with some nice bounce. Talking to him later he was saying that he was getting it to spin that much my having the ball high in his fingers.

They both batted pretty well, Joe batted for a long time and he kept everyone at bay including Ben, his only dismissal looked to me to have been a no-ball from a kid that looks like Australia's Steve Smith. This kids had been bowling pies all night and this ball and a few of the latter ones looked thrown instead of bowled? Ben batted better having listened to Dave Sharps advice to step out to the pitch of the ball.

As we were about to leave the older kids turned up including Leg-Spinner Frank, so John asked me if I was interested in staying a while and seeing if Frank was okay and on track. I let him get on with it independently and he threw a bunch of full tosses and he then approached me and asked if he could work in the seperate net with the wind ball and some stumps. I let him bowl a few more pies and noticed that he wasn't getting the rotation right, so we went back to the stand start drill. From bowling pies that didn't turn, Frank went straight into a ball that was on a better line that did turn and again he acknowledged that it had made the difference. We did that for a while and then moved up to a 1 step and bowl to a 2 step and bowl drill and at each stage he retained his turn, so that went well. Joe had a go, but he went backwards slightly with his bowling, but that may have been more to do with being knackered as his arm was sore.

There is another kid George who bowls wrist spin and he was with Joe in his net during the earlier session, but he was all over the place and I didn't really get to work with him, but just before the end I had a word with him and showed hin the stand start and he bought into it and it made a big difference to his bowling straight away. So, all in all a very good session. The only bad news was there isn't any adult nets tomorrow night, so I'll be going to Grays and I'll have a bowl with them.


My only issue with teaching the stand start is when the kid doesn't get it or quite do it right (Joe) I'm a bit lost as to how to direct them. To me, it does kind of seem to be one of those things that is intuitive in that if you're being told how to do it and you follow the instructions, it should feel right? I suppose I'll have to go back to Beau Casson and have a look.....

But on a final note, here I am worrying that Joe (Aged 9) is getting it wrong - although he's bowling blokes round the back of their legs with his natural action, I realised that my concerns are slightly over-blown when I saw the next age group (Older) bowling during their session. Ben and Joe don't have to worry about much at all I reckon and neither do many of the boys in their age group. The younger boys as a bowling unit look a lot better, so that bodes well for this year and next year. Any work I can do with Joe albeit small will be good, but his natural action works and while it does work, I'm not going to change it too much in the short term. But George and Frank being a bit older might take on my advice more readily.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Flight and Length

Another extract from one of the other specific blogs

This is an essential aspect of your bowling and one that is difficult to get the hang of. Bowling the ball short in most instances isn’t going to work as it gives the batsman time to see how much turn you’ve managed to put on the ball, track the ball and then play the appropriate shot. Better batsmen are going to be able to hit the ball easily and score runs and it’s generally seen as poor bowling. If in doubt, or if you’re bowling poorly try and bowl fuller, but not so far that the ball becomes a full toss and arrives at the batsman still in the air having not bounced.

The optimum length is a variable distance (3.8 Metres see below) that subtly changes with each batsman, dependent on his position in the crease, his height, reach and the strokes that he plays. I was shown a basic method of judging where to bowl, when explaining to a bloke that I try and bowl around 4.5 yards from the stumps. He said that this was flawed because of the characteristics of each batsman as listed above. His advice was stand where the batsman takes his guard and reach forward with the bat and to draw an arc with the toe of the bat. His advice was the length to bowl was on or around this arc. The theory is that this length is the most difficult to play and generally no matter what approach the batsman takes this length of bowling will cause him far more problems (if the ball is turning) than any other. There are solutions, skip down the wicket and smash the ball back over the bowlers head. Stride forward with a big positive front foot defensive block, angling the bat down killing the spin at the point of contact that ball makes with the ground. Step back and play a back-foot defensive block or play the ball on its merits having watched it turn off the wicket. All of which as far as we’re concerned are still risky, simply because of the length you’ve bowled. This approach can then be further enhanced………..

This is an aspect that is often over-looked by learners of the art as it seems to be a high risk strategy. At the early stages of your development it may be the case that you do not recognize or indeed simply have the skill to bowl the ball with differing degrees of over-spin. Your, Leg Break, dependent on the direction you get the seam to spin in and how much spin you put on it will dip rapidly towards the end of its trajectory. Explanations of this, involve complex physics but an analogy that is often used that people seemingly are familiar with are those using Tennis. A tennis ball hit across the top of the ball with a slice action spins with top-spin and dips ferociously towards the end of it flight path. You may also recognize the action in table tennis as well. The same physics applies to a cricket ball and if the ball is ripped from the fingers and wrist with over-spin (Top-Spin) the ball will suddenly dip from its expected flight path and fall short of its predicted trajectory causing the batsman problems. Additionally, because the ball has suddenly dipped, its angle of entry is nearing the same exit angle once it bounces. This sudden increase in bounce can be unexpected and cause yet more problems, coming off the gloves being a typical dismissal from a ball with more over-spin. The Top-Spinner one of the Wrist Spinners variations is the delivery that exemplifies this affect most dramatically, but a Small Leg Break e.g. one that has very little seam angle will have many of the attributes of a Top-Spinner. Again, this is only conjecture, but even a ball that is spinning at right angles to it’s direction of flight is still over-spinning albeit side-ways and to my way of thinking must include the attributes of dip caused by the over-spinning ball?

The conclusion thus far is that once again we return to the mantra of making the ball spin viciously in order to extract every advantage we can in our pursuit of slow bowling. Now, we come to another attribute, the trajectory or flight of the ball. Key to this next section is this from Bob Woolmer……

The brain is unable to predict the exact landing position of a delivery that, for a significant portion of its flight, moves above the horizontal direction of the gaze. So instead of telling spinners to get the ball above the batsman’s’ eyes, coaches should be telling them to get it above his eyes for as long as possible.

Bob Woolmers Art & Science of Cricket; 2008; New Holland Publishers; London.

This, therefore reinforces the necessity, to put revs on the ball. One of the things I find amazing about Warne’s bowling is the fact that he bowls his deliveries up in the region of 50mph and yet he bowls with a loopy action. The only way I could bowl at 50mph would be in a straight line and no way (At this stage) get it to go above the batsman’s eye level and come down before his feet, I simply do not have the skill to impart that amount of spin on the ball. But all is not lost, fortunately we’re not usually facing Sachin Tendulkar and simply getting the ball above the eye level of a club batsman is going to help our bowling a great deal. Additionally the small Leg Break with its Top-Spin attributes shares a wicket taking feature with the pure Top-Spinner, Woolmer again quoting research conducted by Renshaw & Fairweather (2000)…………

Expert batters were better able to distinguish the different types of deliveries than less good players. They also found that for all groups, detection rates (percentage of deliveries correctly identified) were best for Leg Breaks (90%) and Googly (52%) deliveries, but were considerably less good for Flippers (32%), Orthodox Back-Spinners (23%) and Top-Spin (12%) deliveries. Surprisingly, viewing the full flight of the delivery did not add any further predictive value in the case of these deliveries.

This study shows that essentially all the relevant information that the batter requires is provided in the spin bowlers action. Thus the batter makes his prediction of what the ball will do in the basis of advanced cues in the delivery action. In addition, it seems that if the ball lands 3.8 metres or closer to the batsman, he is unable to play it ‘Off the pitch’. Rather he is playing it on the basis of his predictions made at the time of ball release.

Bob Woolmers Art & Science of Cricket; 2008; New Holland Publishers; London.

The conclusion is for the spinner that you should endeavor to make your deliveries as identical to one another as you possibly can, as the skilled batsman’s key cue as to what the ball will do when it lands is taken from your release. Again as club players this would only be the forte of the 1st XI teams I would imagine.

The interesting aspect of the Woolmer information is the fact that the Top-Spinner and therefore the smaller Leg Break with the over-spin dip attributes and the potential to really give it some air and keep it up above the eye-level makes this delivery combined with that loopy flight a killer ball. This goes a long way to explain some of the innings of good batsmen that I’ve witnessed coming to very abrupt endings at the hands of small boys and old blokes that are barely able to walk let alone run! The characteristics of their bowling has been very good line and length, combined with loopy flight and perhaps a touch of Top-Spin.

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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Feb 14th Nets

Almost didn't go what with it being Feb 14th, but Michelle said as I was sitting there watching the tele 'You going cricket then'?

Is the Pope Catholic? So 10 minutes later I was there. I had a bit of a warm up with the readers windball in the space at the side of the nets and then got into it. I bowled against some blokes I'd never bowled at before and did very well. My line and length for the most part was very good and they seemed to think that the amount of turn I was getting off the surface was pretty good as well. I didn't bring out either the flick or the run up with the bound, both still need some work. What did work though off the back of last week was flighting the ball more and rotating the hips and shoulder and bringing the arm through to the hips. This approach may have helped get the ball spinning more? Overall one of the better sessions in a net ever!

Batting - The less said about this the better. Initially there were 3 blokes all bowling seam balls, one amongst them was a lot faster and accurate and after an initial slower ball or two he just speeded his delivery up and bowled me 3 maybe 4 times in succession. Then I changed my approach getting my bat and pads closer together and that stopped that little game, he soon buggered off into the next net. Then a bloke from last week who bowls off-spin (My nemisis) spotted me and came over as he had me 2 or 3 times last week and no doubt fancied a piece of me again? He threw down a few but this week I came down the wicket to block him and that negated his approach, but then I looked up and saw all the seamers had suddenly been swapped for 3 offies and a Leggie (Pinno the Spinno). One of the Offies was far too good for me, I don't know if it was just his first ball which he hit the stumps with, that then left me wondering what to do - because he then went on to bowl me 5 times in succession! After the 5th one, determined not to let him get to six I stood forward giving me the option of blocking forwards or stepping back to block, I eventually went back, giving myself time to see where it was going and fend it off. The other Offie I went forward to and smothered all his attempts and Pinno I attempted to be more adventurous with and he probably got me 3 times out of about 7 deliveries as well.

So, a good night for many people and probably a good bit of fun!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My first go at coaching

So as I mentioned previously, the blokes at Basildon were going to give me a chance at being a Wrist Spin coach, so this week two of the three lads that are showing a desire to bowl wrist spin were there today. One of them is Joe my younger son, who flits in and out of wanting to bowl spin and demonstrates differing levels of commitment to the discipline. The other lad Frank who I'd seen bowling before was already doing well, demonstrating an affective method of getting the ball to spin out of the hand. Following Peter Philpotts advice on not focusing on the mechanics of how they do this the only thing I felt that I needed to do was to introduce the stand start drill and get them working with this and to see whether it improved their spin and turn off the wicket. Joe's seen it before and I think already had drawn conclusions as to whether it helps him or not - his belief is that it messes up his bowling and he needs to do it without a ball or into the side of the net, so that he doesn't see the outcome, that way, he simply focuses on the stand start bowling action without concluding that it is bad for his bowling.

Frank on the other hand I think was initially flummoxed by the idea of bowling off of a standing position, as one of the other blokes (Who may be a Leggie) has got him to work with establishing a run up.

With reference to training Shane Warne, Jenner says.....

'I thought the best way to do this is to take away all the distractions that may be causing all the problems in other words the run up, maybe a bouncey, or a long run up, or an angled run up or whatever and I thought.... This is where the business is anyway - it's what you do in the crease. So, I started working from there, so I started working with Shane, trying to get him to push his hand forward, because he used to pull it a long way to the side'.

This is from an extract from a little known video, where Jenner is talking about the use of the stand start as being the key method of training kids and adults the art of wrist spin. All of the evidence that I've found over the last four years points to the stand start drill being the key thing that underpins Wrist Spin bowling. It's the thing you work with when you're learning and it's the thing that you return to if you lose you Leg Break in some way during your career as a wrist spinner. All other aspects of your bowling are secondary with the exception of the grip and release, so with the proviso that you're flicking the ball from the hand out of a cocked wrist using the conventional 2 up 2 down grip, the stand start is key to adding all the other aspects. Get the stand start sussed and all the other things should follow on in a natural succession.

My Own Bowling

I've been able to get out a bit over the last couple of days as the weather's been mild and I've been throwing the ball around a bit practicing with the bound, so today in the nets with Frank and Joe, I've been able to show them the importance of rotation and I've been bowling with the bound and it's been okay. Initial experiments outside the house over shorter distances look quite promising and it looks as though I'm getting the ball to turn fairly well, even though I'm just rolling the ball off the fingers? So tomorrow at nets I might occupy the end bay and take some training balls and a set of stumps and see if I can get the bowling action with the bound working. Maybe I'll spend 30 minutes or more (Depending on how it goes) before taking it to the nets if it comes together.

The Wrong Wrong Un

This is one of Grimmetts more obscure Flipper variations and one that he didn't pursue or use in a game. I came across the idea before I'd even read Grimmett and spent a year or so playing with it as it produced a good leg break action when I was suffering from the googly syndrome albeit very slow and loopy. But on saturday I had one of those epiphanal moments when I suddenly realised that you could bowl it without using the ridiculously contorted wrist angle that I used to use which was a dead give-away. You simply bowl out of the back of the hand with the dipped shoulder as though you're bowling a wrong un, but holding the ball in the manner of the Flipper you simply click the fingers and a ball that looks as though it's a blatant Wrong Un turns like a Leg Break. So, I've gone from the point where I'd 99% given up on this as a variation to now seeing that it has potential once again.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Big Flick development

The Holy Grail in Wrist Spin bowling is that ability to really rip the ball off the fingers combining the Flick of the wrist and a nice energetic rotation through the crease with a good follow through. (There's other bits as well that are important). The bit I'm working on is the flick off the fingers with the correct wrist presentation as it unfrurls (Flicks). If you can get this right you'll have the ball leaving the hand rotating at whatever angle you wish in relation to the direction it moves along the length of the pitch.

Increasingly I'm having more and more success with it, especially when bowled in conjunction with the stand start drill and it was looking promising for this season in that I may have moved on to trying it out in a couple of games. But having now sussed that I can bowl with a bound, I've got to go several steps backwards and almost learn how to bowl again!

I've got nets on Monday night I may take a load of training balls and practice in the end net with no batsman and see if I can start to incorporate the bound into my bowling action. I had a go today outside and it didn't look too promising, but I can sense that longer term it may come together.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Nets #2

Second net session at Basildon and good ol' long un's they are too (2.5 hours), but then with only three nets with 10 blokes in sometimes you need it to be that long. Did slightly better this week, although still being impeded by the fact that the floor is dead slippery and I can't get the purchase on the surface to get a good rotation action. This meant for much of the time I was bowling off of one step, but in keeping it simple it still went okay. The batsmen this week were of a higher standard including one who is very good, but despite that once he'd got past the blocking stage and playing defensively I managed to get the ball past him once for a potential stumping and also forced a couple of errors, but how seriously he was taking it I don't know and I wouldn't assume that in a game situation he'd make the same errors. What was good though was the application of getting the ball above the eye, for much of the time I bowled a flattish line and the better batsmen were on to these readily, putting them away with ease, my wrong un, because I don't practice it that much at the moment was ropey and too slow. Coming round the wicket to some people with a leg break works quite well, but the ball above the eye-line looks to be a good un.

So despite the fact that I'm still rolling the ball and not flicking it, I didn't do too bad and have come away quite happy with the outcome. If I can remember, next week I'll work with flight variations, but crucial to this approach is landing the ball in the right place.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Teaching Kids Leg Break Bowling

I've titled this 'Teaching Kids Leg Break Bowling' to emphasise the point that it's not the coaches job to introduce variations. Terry Jenners take on it is that kids being kids will want to try variations and his advice is to show them if they ask, but impress on them that the reason that they're in the team bowling Leg Spin is because they're Leg Break bowlers and Leg Breaks take wickets and therefore they have to be able to bowl a Leg Break and do it well. That means full committment to the art of bowling Leg Breaks, with 95% of your practice needing to be focussed on your Leg Break. Jenner says, with regards the variations, that there are no rules as to when kids start bowling variations - some people specify ages saying 'You shouldn't bowl 'x' delivery before 'y' age, Jenner simply says that the kids can move on once they've got full command of their leg break e.g. control over line, length, speed and break variation. So the question therefore is - what do you teach kids if you are given the role of 'Legspin coach'?

My experience thus far is that there are loads of people that will bowl the ball and get it to break in the manner of a leg break, some just a little, others quite a bit and they do this through the cocking the wrist and for most part 'Rolling' the ball off the fingers and imparting spin. Usually they're quite chuffed with this and they'll practice against their mates and do quite well, but it's when they come to apply it in a match situation where they'll come unstuck. Bowling with your mates you don't tend to count the bad balls and you only remember the big turners and wickets, but once you bring your 'Leg Breaks' to a match situation there's a bloke there that records everything you do and a few others including your captain who are also doing pretty much the same thing. Suddenly all your aspirations to be Shane Warne are being scrutinised and suddenly all of the bad balls are staring you in the face and undermining your confidence and you go to pieces.

So, how do we go about getting our aspiring Leggies through this stage in order that they don't sell out to the far easier medium pace?

The answer seems to be, that you need to enhance what they've already got. On their own they've contrived to to release the ball from the hand producing rotations that give them their Leg Break. All you need to do then in order to maintain their enthusiasm is enhance the action that they have so that the ball breaks even further and more consistently and this can be done through the teaching them a few basic drills.

As suspected, the drill that is fundamentally important to leggies to use and re-visit again and again throughout their bowling career is the 'Stand Start' drill as seen on Youtube. This drill can be taught initially without bowling down a crease instead bowlers are encouraged to perform the drill bowling straight into a net in order that they don't see any initial detrimental outcome that gives the impression that what you're teaching them is producing worse balls than the action they already have. The aim of the drill bowling directly into a net, is that they can be coached in learning the action of exploding through the crease, rotating 180 degrees with the shoulder and hip, leading with a good strong high positioned rudder arm and following through. All done with a smooth and powerful action. If this drill is followed and the boys pick it up, the results when practiced on a wicket over a short period of time should be that they get the ball to turn far better along with an improvement in accuracy.

Today at the kids nets, I wasn't called into action as yet, but was pleased to see that another kid - George had seen the light and had come over from the 'Dark side' to bowl Leg Spin and was doing so quite well, I think he bowled out my older son Ben early in the session. Looking at George and Joe, my own son it's obvious that neither of them rotate enough and need to do the drill. Joe's been introduced to it before by me last summer, but he tends not to listen to me too much as I'm his Dad and he's not done the drill in the way that Jenner suggests with the use of the nets. Jenner also says that you need to practice this stand start drill for periods of up to an hour so that the action becomes second nature and you adopt it as the way that you bowl and muscle memory starts to lay down its template as your 'Natural' bowling action.

I don't expect it to be easy teaching the three boys that have shown an interest because there is definitely a prospect that there will be a perception that what I show them will initially if tried will cause a step backwards. So it will be a challenge. I'll report back if I get the chance to try this out and I'll let you know how I get on. I've also been advised to take notes and record how they do.

So today at nets it transpires that there's three kids now that want to bowl Leg Breaks - Joe, George and Frank

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

The Wrong Un

This is another one of those re-workings for my other blogs, and this as you may have guessed is going to deal with the Wrong Un

As with all the variations this one comes with the same warning - Before you go anywhere near considering bowling the wrong un, you really need to have a good solid Leg Break as your main delivery (Referred to as your Stock Ball). Before learning the Wrong Un you need to be taking wickets with your Leg Break on a regular basis and be able to bowl on a good line and length with virtually no wides. Bowling Wrist Spin is reputedly one of the most difficult specialities in the game and if you've not got your leg break fully sussed and your not taking wickets with it on a regular basis it's a false economy to think that by adding the Wrong Un to your reportoire will improve your game. Richie Benaud amongst others advocates bowling your Leg Break for at least 4 years before you consider looking at the other variations. From my own experience of now being a Wrist Spinner for four years I would certainly say that my Leg Break is far from the finished article and still requires a lot of work and is the ball that I focus 95% of my practice on trying to perfect it.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Insider information

I write a lot of stuff on an Australian forum for spinners and there's a few blokes on there that seem to know their stuff and there's a lot of sharing of information and linking to websites and videos on the internet. I've probably said on here a few times, when it comes to wrist spin bowling there's not a lot out there information-wise, either in books, DVD's, on the internet or real people that are willing to impart gems of useful information. So for some time now some of the others and me have been scratching our heads on the forum and via blogs asking 'Have we covered everything'? Because it seems short of talking to someone like Terry Jenner, Peter Philpott or Shane Warne we're pretty well informed.

I say this because today an insider posted me some info that isn't readily available to most people and this means I may have been given the last piece of the Jigsaw puzzle as such. I'd heard about this piece of info before and a couple of people had already said 'But you already pretty much know it anyway' and sure enough having looked through it there was only minute pieces of information that were presented in slightly different ways that were not really 'New' just different. In essence, all the information that I have in either my blogs or my youtube channel do seem to represent the most comprehensive collection of information and guidance on the subject albeit slightly spread around and disorganised.

I still find it difficult to believe that there's not a few more nuggets of info out there and I'll keep searching and asking, but todays insider 'Leak' does seem to confirm that between us on the big cricket website in the spin bowling section we have more or less exposed all there is that can be written down about wrist spinning. The only other thing we could possibly do is be coached by someone in the know, who is professional. Indeed one of our number is and he's being coached by a bloke that was coached by Peter Philpott and he comes back saying that what he's being shown and told is nothing additional to what we've been finding and diseminating via the forum and the blogs!

Friday, February 04, 2011

A whole new appraoch this season?

There could be a massive change in my bowling this season after the development at the end of last season. Remember I changed the run up in that I dropped the Titch Freeman skip and started to practice and massively improve using the stand start and one ro two step walk in. The video were uploaded to youtube and several people commented on the improvements and one or two said that I needed to have a 'Bound'. After living with the Titch Freeman skip and having to work quite hard to just simply walk to the crease and bowl, the idea of adding a 'Bound' did seem inconceivable and previous attempts at it have been laughable! Having said that I did teach my older son Ben to correct his jumping off the wrong foot bowling and at the time I did this by demonstrating the bound in a very haphazrd way, but he got it and now bowls okay.

Recently though I've been having a go at it again and it again it was laughable until my younger son - 9 year old Joe showed me and explained it and then watching Beau Casson bowling on Youtube, the penny suddenly dropped and it all suddenly fell into place and made sense and within a jiffy I was doing it! So with some practice I'm hoping the bound will add some energy through the crease and I'll be able to spin the ball some more!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Run-Ups for Spinners

Last summer my spinning was coming together in that I was beginning to get the Flick sorted (I'm generally a Roller) I've been able to get it together over short distances, but anything over about 15 yards and the effort that was required to propel the ball anything further messed up the coordination and the release flick. The precision required when flicking the ball from the hand is crucial and it's part of the reason that wrist spinners struggle with their accuracy when learning and frequently drag the ball down. But last year with continual practice I got the distance extended bit by bit and was by October bowling the ball with good accuracy flicking it rather than rolling it. Over the winter I've carried on flicking the ball indoors doing the Peter Philpott drills and just of late when the weathers allowed I've chucked a few balls around outside and they spun and turned big. The prospects for the season were looking good.

My last 3 net sessions at Grays saw me bowling well with the rolling technique, but I didn't get to start bowling with the flick at all as I was exploring other aspects when bowling, but this week I was hoping to start to use the flick at the nets at Basildon and Pitsea and then hit a stumbling block and remembered one of the reasons I developed the Googly Syndrome. The sports hall that Basildon and Pitsea use although having lots of positive things going for it has one really bad feature that screws up a Wrist Spinners bowling......... A slippery floor. If you read the last entry in the blog you'll have seen that I'd mentioned it and I did so half heartedly as part of me believed that it was a bit of a lame excuse, but at the same time half believed that excuse did have some foundation in truth and I've looked it up to see if my suspicions were right.

In Bob Woolmers The Art and Science of Cricket page 219 he writes about Run-Ups for Spinners saying that much of the mechanics are similar to that of a fast bowler..........

However, it differs in one major respect from that of the fast bowler: purchase.
The fast bowler's foot is the hinge of a lever or the anchor of a catapult. Some fast bowlers who seem to bowl off the wrong foot hardly even seem to plant the front foot. But most of the slow bowler's turn - the amount he spins the ball - comes from the purchase he gets with his front foot, as he turns on the ball of the foot during his delivery.

Slow down the big turner's delivery action, and you will see that his foot lands and then grips the pitch, only after which the twisting momentum of the body's action begins to drag it round.

You've only got to practice on ashphalt or concrete to know that you go through trainers like a hot knife through butter, the balls of your foot wear away in no time and this piece confirms a long held suspicion and theory that I've since my early days when I lost my leg break, that, if you don't get any purchase on your pivot foot - you will not get the ball to spin. Looking back now I can see that practicing in James Hornsby may well have been the catalyst for my delusion with the leg break, that then led me to working with the Wrong Un and the subsequent years then suffering the Googly Syndrome.

So that now leaves me a bit of a dilemma, I'm not going to be able to get the ball spinning and in the longer term this might be detrimental to my bowling - especially the flicking aspect. Again, I use the whip analogy, a whip cracks so violently because the start of the energy that produces the crack comes from a good solid base - e.g. you standing still and the grip of the whip being held firmly. The same principle applies to wrist spinning and the final flick through the wrist and the fingers. The only solution I can think of would be to take a big rubber mat of some sort and place it on the popping crease position. Rubber mats used in stables sound like the solution and they're not that expensive.