Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bowling with the bound.

I've bowled badly for a few weeks now, maybe longer - slow, wide, no turn, no spin, too full - loads of problems. The main reason I've felt is because of the lack of a bound in the bowling action. It's as though having been there once already and seeing the potential, everything else I've bowled since without the use of the bound has looked or at least seemed to be very inferior. At the end of June whilst on holiday I re-knackered my knee ligaments and so have been unable to put in the practice with the use of the bound, but in the last 2 weeks the knee has got better and I've been introducing the bound in small spells. Unfortunately these short spells have been poor as well even with the bound, I've just felt really un-gainly. But what with the school holidays being here and the weather being fine, I've been up and about a lot and mobile and the knee seems to be in a good condition again. So tonight I bowled with the bound off a short run up and for the first time in a long while it came together nicely and I bowled exceptionally well - with pace, accuracy and lots of turn, it looked like the kind of bowling that would cause people problems and would lead to wickets. Let's see if I can repeat the same thing again tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday - Batting

Wanting to capitalise on the continuing enthusiasm for all this cricket, part of me was wary of it becoming an over-kill situation, but both Ben and Joe wanted to do more catching and fielding drills and some of that was going to be include the batting and bowling aspects.

Yesterday I'd noticed that as the ball each time had been returned to me, my left hand had started to suffer a little from all the catches, so I looked at how much a catchers mitt would cost to buy and while I was doing so, I also remembered that I'd also seen a CJI brand training bat and had been considering buying one for all of us. But looking at them I realised that what with all the bats I've got in the garage there must be one in there that I could modify and all I had to do is go down to the local wood yard and get the bloke to saw off the edges with his band saw. Ben liked the idea and we had a look through all the bats in the garage and found a really old one that I'd bought with a job lot of equipment for £40 off ebay (3 bats, keepers gloves, a bag and cricket shoes and some other stuff). This bat was one that a few times I'd thought about chucking as it looked homemade, but had kept it for mucking about with on concrete and stuff. But looking around it was the only one of the 'crap' bats that was left, so we thought we'd give it a go.

Twenty minutes later we'd had it cut and were sanding it down and getting it ready to have a knock about with. The bloke at the yard had initially been reluctant not sure whether becuase of the nature of the bats shape whether he'd be able to get a straight edge on it and end up pissing us off because he'd runined our bat. I assured him it didn't matter if it went wrong and he did a good job on it in the end.
Shaped up, fitted with a bat grip and sanded down it came up looking like this -

So this afternoon we had a repeat performance of yesterdays drills and games using the bat and out of everybody the person that seemed to get on with it the best was Ben and he used it predominantly straight although there is a caveat at this point in that we used a plastic ball all afternoon when playing the edge game. But just before tea some of the others went in and I got Ben to stay behind and have a go at facing some throw downs with it using a proper ball and we spent another half hour doing that and he batted superbly, hitting the ball 95% of time true and straight through the covers or back straight past me, and again for the most part along the ground and not in the air. I too had a go and found that by playing the shots properly I was able to middle it. But again I have to temper this enthusiasm and potential break-through with the fact that these were chuck downs and not full-length bowling.

So that's the next step - tomorrow in the paddock with the nets fully padded up for a proper batting session using this 75mm wide training bat and we'll see how we get on in there?

Monday Lords

The bloke on the tele said that the tickets would be £20 for adults and free for under 16's with ID. The match looked poised for a good ending and perhaps as well as India losing we might be treated to a bit of a fight from Tendulkar and him scoring his 100th century? It looked like a plan.

I texted a couple of mates to see if they'd be up for it and none of them were, but one warned 'Get there early as it'll be packed'. We heeded his message and decided we'd get there just as the ticket office opened at 08.30 hrs. With sandwhiches, drinks, passports (ID), binoculars and £20 cash ready we made our way to Lords coming round the corner to our first view of the ground at 08.32. What we saw, we could not believe, the queue went up one road out of sight and down the other road out of sight 4 people wide! Thousands and thousands of people already there and waiting it didn't look promising. I knew that the capacity of the ground was in the 25,000 figure, but just what we could see here was several thousand already. We followed the queue along the road and round several corners and past another seperate queue that was apparently just as long! 10 minutes later we found the end and joined with the prospect it seemed of probably missing the start of the match.

A little later some marshalls went along the crowd saying 'Can you please be aware that you are so far down the queue, you're not guranteed a seat and you may well be turned away. Can we please ask you not to turn on the marshalling staff as it is out of their hands and not their fault'. Again, this didn't really fill us with any sense of hope, but we were here and it looked like we might get lucky.

Shortly after joining the queue (10 mins) a bloke pushed in and an Asian bloke directly in front of us took exception to this blokes action and accosted him, telling him to get out of the queue and get to the back. I was most impressed, I hate queue jumpers, but find that because of my British reserve I don't ever say anything to them directly, but this bloke dealt with the queue jumper effectively and I decided to take a leaf out of his book and join him and help him eject any more queue jumpers and this turned out to be a good move as it served to break up the boredom of queueing for 2.5 hours and created a sense of community amongst the people around us who all joined in eventually to form a united front against queue jumpers.

to be continued

Tuesday Practice and Drills

You may have noticed that this blog has become a lot more about my sons this year, which is true, but this is slightly out of my hands in that it's been down to a couple of things. First off I'm carrying an injury to my knee ligaments which may be the end of my cricket playing in the not too distant future as it seems that each time it seems to be getting better, I've only got to do something relatively 'Physical' and it goes again. But in addition to that I swapped teams going from Thurrock CC to B&PCC to join my sons as their club and this doesn't seem to have worked out either as since the start of the season I've played in two games one of which was an inter-club game. Supposedly the team I'd generally play in I'd have thought would have been the Sunday B team, which I've not even had a sniff of an invite for, whereas last year when I wasn't even in the team I played for 4 or 5 times? I get selected for the Saturday IX's but number 15-18 on the team sheet, so I never get a match with them and it's Saturday anyway and my preference is Sunday. So, being with B&PCC isn't working for me and it seems to be the same with some of the other players who seem to get their games with other teams and not B&PCC, so that's a bit of a dilemma.

So, as a result I haven't got that much to write about and I've resorted to writing about my kids and the some of the kids at B&PCC. Anyway, today the enthusiasm was taken a step further again in that we did training drills and made up a game based on what we'd seen in the field at Lords. For me as I'd mentioned one of the most exciting things in the game was seeing Swanne bowling with Ian Bell, Matt Prior, and Alastair cook and Andrew Strauss all crowded round the bat trying to take close in catches. So, today we came up with a game where I bowled and the batsman had to produce strokes that would create edges and catching chances for the close in fielders to take and it worked, they loved it and were diving around all over the place. Then later on we did some catching drills of the type they do at Mopsies with the coaches - the one where all the lads stand in a line and the coaches hits a ball off the bat to the line of boys and they catch it. They loved it and some of their other non cricketing mates are also getting into it as well. Secretly I'm trying to encourage one of them to take up being a wicket keeper.

The day was then finished off with the usual Tuesday evening over at Mopsies doing their regular training with their team. Today they were doing diving - stops on the boundary, which kind of tied in with what we'd been doing. Then at the end Joe, Ben and Kieran didn't want to leave they wanted to stay behind and do more cricket drills!

5th day at the Test and more

We've had a good few cricket days over the last week or so, especially since Sunday it's virtually been non-stop cricket which I'm never going to complain about. It kind of started on Thursday, Joe broke up from school 1/2 day in front of Ben and it meant that we spent some time out in the paddock doing some throw down drills and Joe was well up for it. Later we spent some time watching the Ashes live and Joe began to become interested in it (He's not been a big fan of the longer form of the game) which is a good move. Off the back of doing that he then started asking about scoring and we spent some time watching the IPL full length matches on youtube with a scorebook - filling it in and learning how to do that

The next day Joe and I had a knock about in the paddock and he got fully kitted up - enthused by the fact that he's inherited his older brothers cricket spikes that he never wore (Twice maybe)?, so this kept the cricket momentum building further still. With the spikes and being impresssed with them it meant that he was more than up for a game on Sunday, but he then realised generally the U11's play on the artificial wicket, but I said they may get lucky and they might play the U13's inter-club match on a real wicket?

Sunday and we were up early and one of the first to arrive at Mopsies. On this ocassion I'd taken along our score-book to practice my own scoring skills and see if I could get the hang of it. The teams were divied up U13's with a handful of U11's - 8 aside as there was a pretty poor turn out. The weather was predicted to be warm but blustery, blustery it was, warm it wasn't particularly, especially if you were sat in the shade.

Bens team fielded first captained by Harrison Morris I think? They did pretty well, especially in the bowling department with almost everyone bowling pretty tight and not giving away loads of wides. At this point I'll have apologise for my scoring ineptitude and remind you that this is an on-going learning process.

Of their bowlers only 2 of them produced wides, with Harrison Morris producing the best bowling performance with 3-0-5-2, a strike rate of a wicket for every 2 runs. What is good to see is that despite the fact that Frank Farrington (Wrist Spinner) went for 9 runs off his first 2 overs which is the 2nd worst with regards averages, the captain gave him the 3rd over, hopefully because he could see that Frank was producing opportunities to get wickets. My son Ben bowled okay, but as often happens was let down by the wicket keeper albeit a part-timer on this ocassion - George, as he let a few balls through due to his pace. Joes team captained by Anthony Ayres scored 69 by my reckoning off the alloted 20 overs, with Anthony scoring highest with a 15 not out, batting at No.6. My younger son Joe scored 2 before being run-out off a ball that was already in the fielders hands when the kid at the other end opted to run and was already 2/3rds of the way up the pitch before Joe followed his lead leaving him no hope of getting to his ground.

To be continued.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Paddock update

The school holidays started today and the paddocks in good shape considering it's july and it's raining at the moment 10.30 at night which is good, as the dampness will stop it from cracking up and crumbling. Despite the recent rain, just a couple of days of fine weather has created surface cracking on the paddock, but it's no-where near the kind of cracking that's going to impact on any bowling at this stage.

So, today once the grass had dried out I got the mower out and cut the grass in readiness for some use this afternoon. If you're wondering about the mower, it's an Ransomes Ajax IV from the 1970's which produces a very low cut and the nice striped affect that you can see in the images.

Here's a little video of us setting up the paddock ready for use It's a time-lapse clip.

The only issue at the minute with the paddock is that at the batting end where the batsman is playing the shots the ground is a little loose underfoot as that's where the majority of the wear and tear occurs and it's under the trees, so the grass doesn't grow that well there anyway, but over the next few days we'll do some work on it and get it repaired.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paddock News

Ben and Joe had a game of cricket this morning over at Mopsies - an inter-club match, all the U13's and a handful of U11's. Yesterday it rained and the expectation was more rain today, but the forecast suggested that between about 08.00 and 12.00 it might be okay and sure enough during that time the rain held off and then started to pour on the way home. The game was a good bit of fun and I was given the job of umpiring, which I need to do more of, but I think I managed to blag it. The highlight for the Thompson's was Joe taking Mitchell McLeods wicket, with the ball being hit to Harry Davie at Mid wicket to be caught.

During the afternoon, the rain continued sporadically, interspersed with short periods of sunshine and thunderstorms. This has meant that I've been able to get in the paddock with the roller and give it a bit of a going over in preparation for the next batch of good weather.

The earth has softened up so much that the deep cracks that were appearing have all now disappeared as the rain has been absorbed into the earth and made the earth swell. The rolling has now smoothed the surface out nicely and if the drying isn't too rapid we may get a few weeks of decent batting conditions before the surface crazes again and starts to break up.

Usually by this time of year the grass is yellow and the surface has gone through 3 stages - deep cracks, small crazing type cracks and the final flaky and crumbling surface, making it only any good for bowling on.

Here's the net being used to stop all the clay/earth sticking to the roller. This also helps to show up indents in the surface if it's uneven.

We've just got to hope now that there is a decent amount of drying that occurs over the next 24 hours, otherwise the football kids will get in there and run all over it damaging the surface. I've also cleaned up all the dog crap that was in there. I can't believe it, but people know kids go in there all the time playing football, but they take their dogs in there and let them off the lead so that they can s**t where they like and they don't clean it up.

Monday, July 11, 2011

1st 2 overs Field

So, thinking this through and I don't know what other people will feel about this, but no doubt they'll comment on it on the big cricket forum, this is the field and the theory.

It's modelled in part on the Alex McLellan field from August 2010 and my last game with Grays and Chadwell now (Thurrock CC). The fielders on the On-Side in positions 3,4,5 and 6 would be your most atheletic and best catchers, these would stay on the boundary looking to thwart any attempts at putting the ball over the boundary while you settle. The gap between deep long off (4) and silly point (8) is trying to entice the batsman to try and drive the ball, which as an exponent of targeting the off-stump (When it's going right) falls straight into the trap. Hitting the ball through the off-side to score fours off of slow bowling requires a level of skill I reckon isn't that common and should be my reckoning call for a straight drive which would then bring in the potential for the edge to be found and fielders at backward point, slips and perhaps even silly point to come into play.

Again this is all theory, but I'm going to put it out there and see what people reckon.

Leg Spin first 2 overs

I've been writing again, updating my other main blog the legspin one which at the moment is in a bit of disarray and needs a tidy up, so that's what I'm trying to do. At the minute the topic I'm writing about is the first two overs conundrum that most Wrist Spinners have to wrangle with when they're thrown the ball. Most learners when they start out are going to bowl a couple of ropey overs till they get settled and it's usually the case that if those two overs are expensive you're lucky to get a fourth if you don't take 2 or 3 wickets in your 3rd over, even if your 3rd overs pretty tight you're usually given a rest, just as you get started. So what can you do about this situation?

My bowling at the minute is pretty good and the balls coming out well with drift and spin and possibly even a bit of dip, overall I reckon I'm bowling pretty well and possibly better than I have ever done. In a couple of days one of the Basildon players Paul Card is going to join me in the Paddock and give me a bit of a going over to see if I'm as good as I think I am, which will be interesting. But the reality is that the first 12 + balls are still coming out bad until I find some rhythm and this is something I've been considering and wondering what it is that other bowlers do to ensure that they stay on and get to bowl 5 or 6 overs. The obvious solution is even more practice, which is on-going, but other solutions would be good to explore and then I stumbled across this.............

The point that Denly makes about Warnes field is borne out by the fields below which are all examples of his fields in T20 matches, where Warne knows that the batsmen are going to come after him.

This then led me to consider where it is that Wrist Spinners get smashed to when the batsmen are looking to bully them. In this clip here

Warne gets smacked for 27 in one over by Maharoof, his field is this one here below.

Because it's only a clip it's unclear whether this is Warne opening over, but you can see he's aware that Maharoof is going to come after him and as Denly suggests in the Youtube video Warne puts the blokes on the boundary. Interestingly the 4 sixes all end up in pretty conventional areas in accordance with my own experiences. My worst ever bowling figures were recorded on the same ground against the same team in two seperate years and on both ocassions 90% of the balls were hit for 4's and 6's in pretty much the same region that Warne gets hit in the video here. So from now on I'm going to be looking at this in more detail and as I sit hit and think about the other ocassions when I've been hit big, there is a re-occuring pattern. So from my own perspective, I should be setting a field that looks to protect the areas specifically bewteen Deep square leg and deep long off. I need now to consider a field and come up with a strategy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coaching Wrist Spin and getting it right.

It was my younger son Joe's 10th birthday Saturday and we had his cousins come down from Derby today. Initially they were supposed to have a arrived in the morning so their two games were side-lined and it looked like a cricket - less weekend was on the cards. Which was a great shame as you'll see below. Then on Thursday the travel schedule changed and after some texts they both got a game at the inter-club game at Mopsies our home ground. Ben missed out on a an away match at Pegasus in Corringham.

But the good thing that came about from the inter-club match was that I had a chat with Franks Dad (Mark)? Frank had played away in one of his District games and bowled wrist spin, seemingly for the first time and at the end of the match the District coaches had a chat with Franks Dad. They were very pleased that Frank had taken up Wrist Spinning and were impressed with his bowling in the match, even though it may have been the case that Frank hadn't taken any wickets. But the bit that was of more interest to me personally was what Franks Dad said about their assessment of Franks bowling and what he should be doing - going forward with it. He said that they'd said exactly the same thing I had. They'd asked whether Frank was getting any coaching and Mark mentioned me. I think he explained that I'd said that as long as he was getting the ball to turn with his Leg Break ball, in the short term there was little need for anyone to go interfering with his action and they reiterated the same point. I think they added that the only real thing that was needed was encouragement and to look out for how he deals with bad days when he gets smacked all round the park. They also said that in the short term while he's playing within this age group (U11's) wickets might be in short supply because the kids he's playing with wont be that cricket savvy yet and wont be playing with the levels of commitment and skill to take the catches. As a kid Franks age gets older and gels with the team and the team become more committed in the field and fields are set to Franks bowling, more wickets are going to be taken off the bat. Interestingly though, bowling with Frank today he said that since taking up wrist spinning he's taken more wickets than he been taking with his seam up bowling, so the future for Frank looks bright. Another observation they made that I hadn't noticed in Franks bowling is that he keeps his head dead still and focused on his target which apparently is a good thing and it's something I also do in my own bowling.

Joe and Ben's inter-club match

This went okay, both Ben and Joe had fairly good matches. Joe bowled Frank out when he was batting - hitting the stumps, unfortunately I hadn't started video-ing at that point and missed it. Later Frank got his revenge getting Joe bowled and caught. Ben took a wicket off his 2 overs bowling George Barclay. Personally I'd like to see both Joe and Ben put a little more effort into their batting, so I was pleased to see that Ben was paired up with his mate Kieran who he socialises with. This pairing is potentially a good thing because it injects a level of competition which is perceived as being achievable and desirable and therefore creates an intrinsic desire to improve if only to beat your mate. Kieran is ridiculously competitive, so when he turns up at our house, I've only got to hint at getting the nets up in the paddock and having a practice and it induces a reaction not unsimilar to Pavlov's dog. This then means whereas Ben would normally turn down the offer of a practice he joins in as Kieran could potentially move forward with both his batting and his bowling!

Ben is the Captain of his Year 7 team at school (Brentwood County High School) and this additional cricket is helping to engage him with a number of aspects that might of readily passed him by otherwise - batting orders, fielding and the need to get quick runs and to not run each other out. So it appeared today that he and Kieran had discussed their approach to running between the stumps and that they had a plan before they went out and it appeared to work. For a start it looked like they were definitely working as a pair with neither of them looking to stay on strike, so at every opportunity on byes, leg byes, wides, no-balls and mis-fields they were taking singles and two's so this meant that they were rotating the strike. The also looked as though they were looking to hit the ball as well as Ben hit 2 fours and 2 or 3 balls that were fielded on the boundary and Kieran almost did the same. I think by the end of their 4 overs as a pair they had acumulated 19 runs, but they had also suffered a run out and Ben had also been bowled. But overall a promising start to a potential batting partnership.

U13's B&PCC v Pegasus CC

Meanwhile in the match that Ben missed out on this was happening...........

Match report by Dave Ayres.....

The setting for the latest fixture for the U13 boys was the picturesque Pegasus & Corringham ground, a beautiful backdrop for what would turn out to be a beautiful day for the boys.

Skipper Mitchell McLeod lost the toss, and so Basildon & Pitsea were sent in to bat first. With the run rate skipping along at a healthy 6 an over, Sonny Downes was the first to walk the stairs with 25 in his back pocket and raptuous applause from the visiting crowd. The rate slowed a little in the middle overs, as some tighter bowling was faced, however not to be held back for too long Regan Mead got up to 26, and in doing so took his 6th retirement of the season; a remarkable achievement. McLeod skied one and was caught for 6, and Jack Green was just a yard short for a run out for 6, however runs from Harrison Morris who finished 20 not out and Nathan Hubble, who did not score left B&P on 112/2 off 20 overs.

After tea, B&P set about the Pegasus batting, and a perverbial lamb was slaughtered, as wicket after wicket tumbled in fairly regular fashion. Harrison Birch opened the bowling, and his second ball got the first wicket, Mead taking a catch near the boundary and the opener was back in the clubhouse on 0. The next ball put the number 3 sitting next to the no 1 back in the clubhouse, the stumps shattered for 0. At the other end in the next over, Harrison Morris trapped the no 2 LBW for 0, and the last ball of the over saw the no 4 take the walk bowled, and the score was 2/4.

The next over Pegasus showed some fight, however in the 4th Harrison Morris struck again, the no6 bat LBW, and the score 14/5. A change of bowling saw Ryan Davies get into the act also; his first over saw the no5 hit it straight to Birch for 10 and the fight was all but over. A Maiden followed for Morris, and then Davies struck again; same result caught Birch and the no8 was off for 0.

Everyone wanted a bowl now (including the manager, coaches and the President on the boundary) however Green was given the ball for the next over, and the same result; the no9 LBW and just 5 scored. In the 9th over, Harry Davie bagged a wicket maiden; the no7 who had so far avoided facing a ball suddenly spooned one up and Tom Hardy gratefully recieved for 0. All that was left was for the skipper to bowl the 10th, and Tom Hardy to take the catch off the last ball of the over to send the no10 back for 3, and the innings over for 25.

In short, not since the Romans invaded has there been such carnage in Corringham; a display of bowling and fielding which those that wear the badge have witnessed since who knows when. Unless results conspire against the team, there will be the small matter of a game or two late August for the boys.....

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Suppiah 3.4 - 0 - 5 - 6

Left Arm Orthodox - this is the delivery to a right hander that finds the edge of the bat or comes round the back of the legs like a Leg Break.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Brentwood County High School v Shenfield Y8 cricket

Another day and another match and Ben was drafted into the year 8's the year above him. There was no-one in the team he knew and they don't know his form, so he got a final over at the end of the 20 overs and batted at No.10 and was out for a Golden off a seamer - ball finding it's way between the bat and pads. BCHS batted 1st and posted around 85 for 9 it seems and the Shenfield boys won the match 'Easily' Ben reported. But all good experience, especially as he knew how he'd been bowled and that may make him think about his shots in future?

Unfortunately, Joe had gone with Ben and they didn't get back till 7.30 and by the time they had their dinner it had gone 8pm and the rain had started.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Brentwood County High School Cricket

Ben played cricket for his school again today (Brentwood County High School) and captained the side to another victory. Unfortunately all these games are played while I'm still at work, so I don't get a chance to see them, but as my lecturing duties have now diminished because of the summer break I might see if I can get along and see one of his school matches - maybe even tomorrows? So, after last weeks success with the bat scoring 11 runs (Family record we're all No.11's) he put himself up the order to bat at No.4. BCHS fielded first and restricted the runs to around 58 from 14 overs, Ben bowled first and took 2 wickets off his two overs, obviously not conceding that many runs, though he doesn't think to keep any record of his average. Another wicket was taken by the No.2 bowler and then the wickets dried up, but not many runs were made which is pretty typical of school cricket as the teams are generally populated by a handful of boys that play cricket and the rest are made up of lads that are just up for a game.

You have to realise that extracting this info out of a 12 year old isn't that easy. Ben hit 9 runs off his innings and then stepped back on his stumps and I thought that was about it and then he remembered. Spoken with absolute derision for spin bowlers he then recalled..........
"Aaaah you should have seen me bat - they brought on their spinner (Said with total contempt) and they had all their fielders in close at silly positions, 2 slips and a gully - hardly anyone out of the circle - they were giving it the right biggun and then this spinner (Again with utter contempt) walks up and throws this grenade ball through the air and it sits up in front of me so I spanked it out of the park for 4 and then he does it again and this time I smacked it back over his head for another four". The next ball the kid got his hand to it and Ben got his single to make 9. The first ball of the next over he then stood on his stumps.

The opposition I think were Galleywood which is a school in the Chelmsford area. But it's good to see him playing and deriving some enjoyment out of his batting as he bats way down the order with B&P and rarely gets a chance to bat, not that he wants to he leads me to believe at that level. But it's good that he's the captain and he's winning matches and getting wickets. This game was in his year group (Year 7), but he's got another game tomorrow with the year 8's, so that'll be more interesting and hopefully I might get over there and perhaps see it?