Monday, March 28, 2011

Some gentle bowling.

Nets tonight and I tried to bowl off the stand start or just one step. Could do it, but there was some discomfort despite the fact that I was wearing a knee support. As the night wore on the discomfort increased and I've come home and put ice on it for 20 minutes to see how it goes. So, that means I'll now take it easy again for a lot longer and not look to go back to bowling for some time as generally I have taken 8 steps forwards and this has potentially put me a couple back. I think I'd rather take it easy and take the longer approach and maybe get to see the doctor over Easter and see what they say, but I'm pretty sure it'll be 'Rest it and don't do any sports'.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pre-season nets Ben and Joe

Another awful performance by the both of them, Ben was bowling short - almost half way down the wicket most of the time and Joe wasn't even hitting the mat half the time and the balls he did get on the mat went legside and didn't turn. There was some improvement once I intervened and suggested that he didn't have such a long run up and personally I think half the problem with Ben is that they've suggested that he lengthens his run up and his bowling improved a little once he shortened his run up and didn't try and bowl at 100 mph. I think there probably could be more of a run up, but it strikes me as something you might work on in a more focused and intensive manner e.g. a 1 to 1 type session? For the moment I'm not really going to say anything to Ben other than to suggest that he along with Joe start to bowl more mid week and get back into the swing of things because at the minute because there's not a lot of cricket happening they're not getting the practice. Fortunately the clocks have gone forward today, so now it doesn't get dark till gone 7, so there's options to go and have a practice over at the Rec and get into the swing of things. More positive though - Joe had a bat today and did quite well and came away from that very enthused. So that was definitely good and I may try and play him off against Ben a bit suggesting that if worked on his batting he may get better than Ben?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Knackered Knee

The knackered knee is repairing it seems, the last few days had seen a dramatic improvement and I'm still managing to resist the temptation to do any 'Full on' bowling or activities that may stress the knee. Last night weirdly I had a few beers (Well more than a few) and I walked very briskly from one pub to another and at one point earlier on in the night, I sort of noticed some tenderness, but I did seem to be walking normally, rather than with the hint of a limp. Later with a little more beer down my neck I noticed that I was walking completely normally other than staggering a bit and there was no soreness. Today it's been absolutely fine with virtually no sensation of weakness or tenderness. So I may now re-start the stretching very gently and try and build some flexibility in the thigh muscles which is the suspected under-lying reason for the knee issue. Additionally I'll maintain the avoidance of sport activity and any other stress on the knee/thigh.

The Big Leg Break

Four + years in and this still isn't a key feature of my bowling and still remains to be one of the key components that needs to be added. The Big Leg Break requires (in my opinion) either a wholly natural and therefore unconcious perfect wrist presentation with the big flick off the fingers. Or, very good awareness and control over your motor skills in order that when you bowl you are aware of the wrist presentation and can flick the ball from the fingers with perfect timing in conjunction with the flick of the wrist at the right point through the arc of the arm as you bowl.

Because of my knackered leg, I've been flicking the ball in the manner that is required watching the seam presentation over short distances making sure that it is rotating perectly 90 degrees to it's direction going forwards. The more I do it the more for me purposely I have to bowl with the feeling that I am almost bowling with the wrist turned so far round clockwise it feels as though I'm bowling with a Karate Chop action. On my youtube channel I've had several people ask me for advice primarily relating to the Googly Syndrome where they've lost the ability to get the ball to break towards Off and their Leg Breaks either do not turn or turn towards Leg (Googly). The easiest remedy for this is to not bowl the Googly anymore and work with this feeling that you're turning your wrist so far round that it feels like you're bowling with a Karate Chop action. Possibly as a hang-over from my Googly Syndrome days this is the modus operandi that I still have to follow in order to get the ball to turn big. In order to do this I find that I really have to focus and concentrate exceptionally hard on my fingers in order to flick the ball from the hand and have the wrist in what feels like a karate chop position. When I do it, it comes out very well and this was the case a few days ago and since then I've been bowling non-stop with this kind of action.

The thing that still surprises me with the Leg Break is the complexity of it and the difficulties that some people like myself have with bowling it and the ease that others bowl it with. Having said that the majority of people that do bowl the leg-break have only a rudimentary grasp of its potential because they basically stick with the stock ball and a limited number of variations, keeping the whole thing really simple and allowing themsleves to develop their stock ball to a good level. Having said that though I've only ever seen 2 or 3 good Leg break bowlers and attempts at discussing the finer issues of their actions with them have drawn a blank because they have become Leg Break bowlers it seems through natural ability.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Paddock and training kids (The Ozan Project)

A beautiful sunny spring day with the temperature up around the 16 degrees mark tempted me out to have a light bowl and do some groundsman work in the paddock. I wasn't at work because for the first time in my life I've been in a position where the workforce has come out on strike and being in the union I've involved in the strike. Younger son Joe was off too as his teachers were having a training day, so we had a bit of a knock about outside and then him and a mate of his from down the road went over the paddock to have a game of football.

I wandered over there a little later as I spotted a council worker in there wearing a high vis jacket and for a moment I thought that perhaps they were looking at the fence with a view to replacing it. In the end it was the street cleaner bloke that cleans our estate and I had a chat with him about litter and stuff and people that let their dogs crap everywhere, including inside the paddock where the kids play. It was kind of refreshing to find someone else that shared my opinion that a dog is an animal and not a pseudo human being with the same rights as us! I wont go into that though otherwise I'll have the bloody RSPCA coming round and questioning me and putting me in prison for not sharing their warped views. (I blame it all on Johnny Morris).

So, anyway whilst there looking at the grass I thought I'd take the opportunity to give it a going over whilst it was still fairly short and then once I'd done that, with the knowledge that we're currently on a bit of a long run of dry weather which may catch me off guard. I thought I'd give it a going over with the roller and the results can be seen below............

I've been contemplating having the stumps up this end this season (Above), but the fence directly behind me from where this was shot is knackered and can't be easily repaired. We stuck the stumps up and measured it and it works okay as the run up area at the other end is just short of the 'Good Length' zone if we then started to utlilise the other end later in the year which we would need to. But, the fence is such a big issue it doesn't look as though we will bat at this end.

This is the end we'd have the stumps and probably will again this year. As you can see I'd given it a roll and it's coming along nicely. I wont be able to see how flat it really is till we lower the blades on the Ransomes Ajax lawn mower. That will then expose the lumps and bumps and then we have to wait for a wet period and then go over it properly with the roller when it's wet. The main thing I did today was roll down the centre along the bowling line and a little wider on the on-side where I pitch my Leg Breaks.
Once it was done I had a little bowl using hockey balls, just to see how it was coming out of the hand and see how it would go if I bowled off a stand start or a 1 step delivery and it all went okay and sitting here now my knee doesn't feel too bad.

Teaching Wrist Spin (Ozan project)
I have another project on the go which may be interesting. One of the kids my older son hangs around with has an absent Dad who he sees very rarely and when he does see him I get the impression that they don't do much 'Bloke stuff' so this kids reached 12 and gone to secondary school without the influence of a Dad that has pushed him to do active stuff. For instance a few weeks after they started secondary school Ben told me a little story about this kid, the kid had said....
"Thank God I come round your house and your Dad gets me doing things, you know in the summer when we were all in your garage banging nails in wood and screwing screws in and using pliers and stuff, that was the first ever time I'd ever done that I'd never seen any of that stuff and I just copied you and Joe, I'd have looked a proper muppet at school this week because when we went in the lesson we had to do all that stuff and if I hadn't have done that at yours I'd have not known what they were talking about".
But, to the kids credit he tags along with us and makes up the numbers when we're playing cricket and he has a go. He can't bat, throw, catch or bowl but hangs in there and tries. At school he's having a tough time because they've been doing rugby which both my sons love, but then they've done sports since they were 1 kind of thing, so are pretty adept at most things.
At this kids school, cricket is next (After Easter) and he's thinking that he may have an edge over some of the weaker kids because of his involvement with us, so I suggested that he had a go at bowling and I showed him some stuff to try to improve his bowling which is atrocious. He was well up for it. In a matter of minutes I'd made dramatic improvements with him and help from Ben too (Kids teaching each other helps a lot) added. So, now I'm thinking, what I've got here is a potential wrist spinner starting out from ground zero.
If this kid is up for it and he becomes enthused its going to serve to explore a point I've raised on forums on the internet. I've suggested that in order to be a half decent spinner you need to have some grasp of being able to bowl in the first instance, whereas a lot of people maintain that you need to focus on the spinning first and all the fundamentals such as line and length and accuracy come later. The only flaw with this approach is that if you're a wrist spinner you're going to need to be in an exceptionally supportive club if you're going to be going for 10-16 runs an over because you're not threatening the stumps. Additionally even as wannabe wrist spinner you may be inclined to give up simply because you can't get the ball anywhere near the stumps on a regular basis.
So what I'm going to do is get his basic wrist spin bowling action right - rotation with the hips and shoulders, getting side on etc and see how this works out and then show him the 2 up 2 down grip with the cocked wrist and see if it comes natural for him and whether he's enthused by the fact that he can get the ball to turn off the pitch.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Knackered Knee #3


Another good day. The knee felt good this morning with the impression that it's getting better. We then went to Decathlon and I bought a Knee brace to wear once I start bowling and practicing again. I went through the bowling action wearing it in the shop and it felt good.

This afternoon, what with it being a blue sky sunny spring day we went over the Rec Tennis courts and had a knock about. Joe bowled well, taking three wickets and I took one. I bowled taking it easy - virtually standing still and bowling wearing the support and I'm okay this evening. If anything it would have been the running that was the most problematic, but I hobbled through the running and seem to have survived that as well.

The Paddock

Had a look at the Paddock today and thought about giving it a mowing. The grass seed that was put down last week hasn't shown yet as expected and will be another 10 days or so yet I reckon. This last week has been horrible - cold and foggy for the most part, so today with the sun out and blue sky meant that the temperature lifted to 10 - 12 degrees. Hopefully this will encourage germination of the seeds and general growth of the grass helped by a whole day of heavy rain yesterday. What with it being so soggy, there wasn't any chance of getting the mower out and I'll leave it a little longer before I bring out the roller again. In the meantime, there's loads of football being played in the paddock which isn't that helpful, but generally it's looking okay.

I need to buy some more seed as I mentioned last week and keep seeding on a regular basis. I noted today that both the squares at Langdon Hills and Herongate have both been cut, so I'm on schedule it seems with my own attempts at pitch maintenance. I'll try and get some seed tomorrow as it's expected to rain for much of the day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Knackered Knees #2

It's late Friday having knackered my knees last Monday and I'm happy to report that there's been a slight improvement today and for much of the day I have been walking relatively normal. I've just to resist the temptation to bowl this weekend and keep resting it and massaging it and allow whatever it was that got over-stretched to repair itself. I'm still looking to not bowl for 2 weeks maybe more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Knackered Knees

Four years into my development as a Wrist Spinner and perhaps I'm getting there, now that I've got a bound and it looks like my body may be on the verge of giving up on me? Last summer when I'd been sprinting in the outfield I'd come away from the games with sore knees. The soreness generally went after 24 hours or so. There as also a game at Hornchurch when I twisted my knee quite badly trying to change direction quickly and my spikes didn't grip, although I don't recall which leg that was. Anyway the general feeling was that something was going on in the knee department and then over the winter it wasn't an issue. But at some point this winter the soreness has returned possibly when playing badmintion and again I never took to much notice of it and it faded over-night to be okay the next day.

But, now with the new bowling action and it being a lot more dynamic the knee issue has become more pressing. The new action sees me come out of the bound with the right foot planted side on to facilitate a good rotation, which I guess must put some additional pressure on the knee joint as this is a wholly new physical action for my knee. In addition after the pivot and release of the ball, my follow through is an awful lot faster and more vigorous than previously and this is no doubt putting more pressure/impact on the knee? As a result I'm getting knee soreness at new levels and after bowling Sunday with the kids and then again for 2 hours at nets I've been hobbling around like an old man since and only now 48 hours later I'm beginning to feel slightly better. All of which is a bit worrying. So I reckon I may not bowl this weekend and I may give bowling in the nets a miss on Monday night and may only bat. I'm thinking I'll possibly do this for a couple of weeks and see how it goes, but it's definitely a concern and if the soreness persists I'll have to get to a Doctor and get it checked out.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Paddock maintenance

It's rained quite a bit today and I've taken the opportunity to get some seed down at the batting end and feed the grass at the same time with fishmeal and some top dressing. Whether that works out to be a good idea in the longer term I'm not that sure because I will want to roll it again soon and with new grass growing and being really fragile I don't know whether getting the seed in at this point is the best option? I suppose with all of these things I'll just have to see how it goes, it's all expermental and it's not like I've got another strip to work with while I let this one grow and the seeds to germinate. The only thing that is on our side is the intention that we wont be using it till May, but it's going to be tempting to use it during the Easter Break if the weather cheers up and we get a lot of sunny days. The intention is that on those days we'd be in the tennis courts at The Rec.

You can pick out the fact that I've put down some top dressing as it's the brown colour. As soon as I'd finished the rain came down again which is good as it'll get the grass off to a good start.

Joe and Ben nets

Another fairly decent net session with Joe and Ben. Ben's radar was a little iffy at times, bowling short a lot and balls a little wide of Leg Stump ocassionally. Despite that none of the batsmen lasted more than 4 or 5 of his deliveries with the exception of Harrison. Changes in pace look to be the downfall of the better batsmen, but whether Ben is able to bring this into his approach without being told to do so, when he bowls is another matter.

Joe in the next net was doing very well with his Leg Breaks turning them big outside of Leg and getting them to come in through the gate or across the body to hit off or middle and off impressing the blokes that were coaching him. I've also noticed that as Joe bowls these days he's more up on the ball of his foot and swinging his leg round the pivot leg. We've got a ball as well that Joe uses that's got a nice seam on it and I reckon that helps him and offers real encouragement.

Overall both Joe and Ben did quite well as we move towards the start of the season.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Window of opportunity closing

It hasn't rained a great deal since the middle of Feb and today being an opportunity to get into the paddock with the roller and roll it for the first time, looks like it may be put off in hope that it'll rain again and re-soak the ground again. With it being March 12th sunny days like today would be good if we had seeded it as well.

To be continued.......

Later; I went over and had a look as my lads were playing football in the paddock and realised that the grass was in fact pretty dry and not that long and could potentially be cut. I couldn't tempt them to go and play cricket over at The Rec (Tennis courts) and was at a bit of a loose end and thought I'd get the mower and see if I could cut the grass and sure enough as you can see below it was okay.

Additionally once I'd cut the grass I had a better sense of how uneven and lumpy the wicket was and decided that I would roll it after all. All in all considering I wasn't going to do this at all this weekend and was going to chance it after the next rain fall, I'm quite pleased that I got it done now. The only thing I really need to do is get some seed down, which I may do tomorrow.

As you can see my kids and their mates were on there today playing football and this is an on-going problem that I just have to live with and it's getting worse as each year there seems to be more and more kids getting in there and using it and they're all getting bigger by the year causing more damage. I'll just to have to see how it goes.

After the rolling and mowing I was going to go and have a bowl on my own, but I managed to persuade Joe and Ben and their mates to go over to the old tennis courts as the Rec and have a bit of a knock about. Ben and his mate Kieran were up for beating their current record of a 28 run partnership, but I limited it to 9 runs and the best partnership of the day ended up being Mine and Bens with a new record of 32 runs at which point I declared. In this scenario Ben usually comes away with the best bowling figures taking the most wickets, but he batted throughout this session with no-one getting him out and what with him not bowling I came home with the best results having taken 3 wickets! Mostly edges to Joe behind as wicket keeper.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Legspin Biomechanics

So, the new action is posted up on Youtube.......... and the comments I'm receiving from people are very good, especially from people that are in the know. I'm now being given specific drills to tweak the new action and improve it further. Weirdly, this video here, from a biomechanical point of view illustrates clearly something that I'm not doing. Coming away from the last net session and the practice in the old tennis courts, one of the things I'd have said that I was aware of that was lacking in my bowling was the rotation through the hips. It's been pointed out that when I move onto the 'Pivot foot' it's pretty static (See here) and I need to work with this aspect of my action in order to force further improvements. The hope is, if I can replicate the twist that you can observe in the video clip game where the bowler clearly rotates on the ball of his foot in his rotation, I should achieve far more spin and turn off of the wicket whilst maintaining my fairly decent accuracy. So, in theory given a few weeks with the drill and some training, the next set of videos should hopefully include a better rotation on the ball of the foot and better spin.

Monday, March 07, 2011


I didn't warm up before I went out which meant that within 20 minutes or so of starting I had a tight calf muscle that impeded me a little. Added to that I've not felt well particularly all day and the end result seems to be my bowling was pretty poor. Again my usual gripe of 'You can't get any rhythm going because you bowl every six blokes or so' also comes into play as and the whole thing was pretty unsatisfactory. Having said that I got some of the blokes out including some of the better players, but then it is only a net situation and the expectancy is that they wouldn't bat like that in a real life situation. Bowled some good Flippers and some nice Wrong Uns which caused people problems but failed to get anyone out.

Feedback re new bowling action

I've had some feedback with regards my new action from Liz Ward who comments on the forum I post on and she seems fairly impressed with the new action so far. She's showing someone else and it sounds like she's going to come back to me with some tweaking that I've said I'll work on. So things seem to be moving along nicely. Nets tonight and session 4 with the new action and each time I work with it there seems to be improvements.

Liz Ward is a Strength and Conditioning Practitioner operating in and around Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Suffolk with a mission to change the way cricketers train for the sport; introducing biomechanics, fitness, psychology and nutrition.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Practice with the new bowling action

On Saturday I took the stumps and a bucket of Hockey Balls and went over to The Rec (Tarmac Tennis courts) taking the Canon G9 to record where I am with the new bowling action. A quick update on the story if you're new to this blog. I've been bowling Wrist Spin since the inception of this blog - so this July I'd have been at it for 5 years and right from the outset with no coaching I started out with a peculiar little skip which can be seen in many of my videos that are posted on Youtube. Over the years loads of people have said that I need to get rid of this 'Skip' and bowl with a bound as it would improve many aspects of my bowling one of which is the speed at which I bowl. Changing it seemed inconceivable as it was such an ingrained action and not until I found the Beau Casson video on Youtube in which he demonstrated the Stand Start was I able to start to consider getting rid of the skip . Working with the stand start drill at the end of last season, I moved on to walking in off of 3 or 4 steps and in doing so noticed a dramatic improvement in my bowling.

Over the winter I continued to work with the stand start and having taught my older son Ben to bowl with a bound when he was bowling off the wrong foot, I realised that there was some hope that I may be able to work with the bound and develop it over the winter and into the pre-season preparation. My younger son Joe who is a Wrist Spinner as well helped me out initially with the basics of the action and got me on my way and week or so ago at this same venue I spent an hour practicing with it. The following week I bowled with the action in the nets and that was okay too. So with 3 hours of practice with this new action I took the camera out with me yesterday and video'd where I am with it now.

There's a far better quality version on Youtube here.......

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Paddock News

So, we’re into March and what some may consider spring, but we’ve got off to a very cold start. Years ago when I was younger I’d have expected to have had my shirt off by the end of March and made a start on my tan, but going by the weather at the moment that looks a little optimistic. Although last week (Thursday) it was spring like with the temp hitting 15, but since the end of Feb the temp has plummeted and we've had daytime temperatures of around 2-5 degrees and colder at night. Despite this, the council, were out on March 1st cutting the grass adjacent to the paddock. From what I can tell they’ve not been in the paddock and cut the grass in there, but it’s an indication that the grass is growing and maintenance should start. The last time I had a look the ground was saturated with water, so even if the council did have a smaller mower with them to get through the narrow entrance to the paddock, they may have decided that it was far too wet?

This image above is shot from the usual bowling end, and the stumps would be situated in line with the goal posts at the other end. I'm contemplating as detailed below having the stumps at this end this year later in the season once we've wron out the far end.

Here you can see where the stumps normally are and you can see that the seeds that where sewn have been sucessful and the general growth of the grass has recovered. I'll sow some more possibly this weekend as the weather prospects are slightly better this coming week.

This shot is looking down towards the bowling end from where the stumps are situated. The ideas is that the stumps at the new end later in the year will be right up against the fence. This will allow us to bowl from a position some yards in front of the stumps and not over-wear the wicket in the area where we'd normally pitch the ball. The grass in the middle of our usual wicket is pretty uneven and if we end up bowling and walking-in around that area the wear and tear may facilitate a more productive repair process next October?

As mentioned above what with it being March, I am looking to get some seed down as soon as possible, on the basis that the weather has got to break soon and a run of good, warm and sunny weather being imminent. I want the seed down and growing because we’re planning not getting in there till May to actually use it. Having said that though the small boys that have been using it over the last couple of years for football are all going to be a bit bigger and potentially more into their football, so there’s a chance that they’re going to damage it more this year? That aside the preparation plans are being made so that we don’t actually get in there till May. Last year we started in April and because the ground was damp still and the grass cover still fairly thin, it sustained a lot of wear and tear early in the season. We’re just looking to get a couple of good months out of it through May and June and then review the potential for changing the ends, as the last couple of years we’ve had the stumps at one end only. This has meant that the wear and tear at the bowlers end has been so heavy that it’s been impossible to bowl down that end, but the repairs and leveling that was done in September and the fact that we’re slowly extending the length of the strip means that an end swap may be possible?