"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.