Monday, October 31, 2011

New Format for Cricket

Have a look at this - and read the article. This came up a couple of days ago in and I went into one of my usual rants about it, taking the opportunity to make a point about the state of society like old blokes like me tend to do - you know the score.....

"Bloody mobile phones, bloody XBOX, Bloody SKY TV- blah blah blah" usual stuff I come out with and will be proven right in time when our sendentry lives start to catch up with us (You rather) and completely bog down the economy with illnesses and ........... Whoa! Here I go again!!!

Anyway, I did slag the idea off, but conceded that there was an inevitability about it and no matter how big or noisy the 'Old guard' are, the chances are this will have to happen because of the 'I want it and want it now' generation will demand a faster variation of the game in order that they come and watch. But having read the root article (Above) it sounds as though it's on its way, this is going to happen............

Landmark post - No.1000! Review of the year

Tomorrow's the first day of November and last night the clocks adjusted for British winter time, so at some point pretty soon weve got to be plunged into the depths of winter surely? October has been pretty amazing in that there's been virtually no rain and it's been warm. Today it's been about 16 degrees and Sunday it was 19.5 degrees! But surely the cricket will have to stop at some point because of the cold?

This time last year I decided to work on my run up and action through the crease as I'd had a pretty poor year, aided by the fact that I was smacked out of the park at the start of the season for almost 11 an over by some first team bloke that went on to do the same almost with the other spinner Wayne (8.5 an over for him). The bloke went on to score in excess of 200, but psychologically I was damaged and that damage was then further exacerbated by the fact that I was seemingly dropped from the Sunday team at Grays despite the fact that I was one of the earliest payers of yearly subs and always paid my match fees! Over the following year I think I got 4 games. Around August when people start to wear a bit I got a couple of games, but by then I'd been getting a game about once a fortnight at my sons club B&PCC and they were suggesting I joined them the next season, so that's what I did.

Through October 2010 I worked with the run up, trying to get rid of the 'Tich Freeman skip' eventually through work with the Standstart drill I got it so that I was walking in kind of like Terry Jenner in his BBC videos, but there was still no dynamic aspect to it and I was still concerned that I'd be easy to play and there were still loads of issues. Winter came early last year - early December saw heavy snow and the winter turned out to be one of the worst on record with a long period through Dec/Jan? where there was snow on the ground for extended periods.

Over the winter indoors, my younger son Joe taught me how to bowl with the bound and as soon as the weather broke despite a fairly poorly knee (Twisted ligaments back in May 2010 playing cricket) I began to work with the bound, with pretty good results straight away within half an hour of trialling it for the first time over in the old tennis courts at The Rec Langdon Hills. I couldn't convert it that well to bowling in the nets for some reason, primarily with the slippery floor in the sports hall where we trained, so pre-season nets didn't really help out that much at all.

The knee injury for some reason flared up a bit and put paid to the bound for a while at the start of the season and scuppered my plans to bowl with the bound. I had a couple of matches where I was bowling with complete indecision as to whether I'd bowl with the bound or not and I seemed to have a dip in general core fitness which seems to be a re-occuring theme tied in with the bad weather that puts paid to practicing through Dec, Jan and Feb, so this year I'm making a mental note about core fitness training along with shoulders. The season has started off with a couple of matches for B&PCC where I didn't make that much of an impression and each week looking at the selections I was usually the 15th to 20th man, so never got a look in. I wasn't that bothered though as I was enjoying watching Ben and Joe playing in thier matches and having a knock about in the Paddock where gradually my fitness returned and my knee got better.

Having kind of reached match fitness again by August which seems to coincide with most peoples 'Burnt out' phase in their season and many of the players are away on holiday I assume I got a couple of matches. The bound still wasn't quite there and feeling the pressure of playing in League cricket which was new to me I reverted to the safer option of bowling off of a Terry Jenner walk-in. At the same time Liz Ward
on who is a bio-mechanist and physio introduced me to where I was able to upload my videos of my bowling and have them analysed by several qualified coaches giving me hints and suggestions as to what to tweek to get my bowling action improved. Again this kind of forced improvements over September once all the games had finished, so I'm probably bowling fairly well here and now in November!!!

Through September and early October the Liz Ward tweeks, which on the surface seem like only small things associated with parts of your body that you wouldn't readily expect to have a massive impact on your bowling, came together. That combined with some discussions on on 'Arm Speed' saw a dramatic change in the way the ball was released from my fingers in an organic development, rather than a forced and logic based development through the application of theory. Suddenly I was bowling with a lot more speed and spin and noticed that I was getting dip and drift and weirdly far better accuracy. With these developments the Tich Freeman Skip was consigned to the bin forever more.

So that's kind of it. Match -wise it was pretty indifferent, I took a few wickets, a couple of which were round the back of the legs coming over the wicket which were quite satisfying as this is something I've never done before and this is before the massive changes that have occured over Sept and October. It may be that I'm deluded and once in the nets in January I'll get a reality check and have to reflect on what might be going wrong, but sitting here on October 31st in pretty good post summer condition things look promising for next season.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Possibly the last session in the Tennis courts

The ridiculously warm and mild weather continues with it reaching 19.5 centigrade today. It wasn't sunny it was muggy and damp, but warm still as the wind is coming in across the channel and central Europe mixed in with damp westerly Atlantic wind.

Anyway, still looking for ways to make Joe, Ben and Kieran think about their cricket rather than just whacking the ball, we've modified the game further still and made it more like real cricket in that if you're out you are out. I think normally this wouldn't have worked, but I seem to have instilled the idea over the week or so that an innings can be crafted slowly with better shot selection, with an eye on the need to keep your wicket. So, it was good to see an improved approach to the way they batted and run between the stumps. We also video'd it so that once home I could calculate their stats in this format and see if there's any glaring problems or issues. Plus if the weather continues to be mild track their progress and see if there is any improvement.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Drift - A laymans explanation

Each of us has a different way of learning and these are known in Pedagogy as learning styles. My own preference is called Kinaesthetic and works best when I actually try things out and do them - usually again and again and it works best if it's something I have to do all the time. Whereas some people can simply read stuff and make sense of it, that's something I'm not so good at 'Abstract Conceptualisation'. So in the past when I've been reading up on Drift trying to get my head round it and making sense of it in practical terms, I've generally been linked to articles and videos on and about the Magnus effect. Despite reading and watching all these, the penny has never quite dropped, I've never quite got all the explanations and illustrations. But today I've come across an article and an explanation that made it as clear as daylight in a couple of short paragraphs and all because of one really simple explanation that I was able to relate to and understand and it was a written piece. So, here it is in my own words and later the link to the website that finally calrified what Drift is caused by and why............

If you're spin bowler, you'll understand the basic principles simply by empirical observation of your own bowling and probably from tennis and table tennis. Top Spin causes the ball to dip. The usual analogy is that a tennis player slices the ball with the racket across the top of the ball imparting top spin and the ball dips violently over the net. Same with your Top-Spinner in cricket you impart over-spin (Top-Spin) and the ball falls short of the batsman despite being bowled at a speed that would normally mean the ball would end up at his feet or around about his knees. Back Spin on the other hand does the opposite, the ball floats through the air maintaining a relatively straight trajectory - not dipping anywhere as expected. Footballers apparently do this particularly well slicing the ball under-neath so that it stays straight through the air - even rising in some instances till it reaches a point where its speed means it eventually starts to dip.

So....How do they do that? The explanation goes like this. A spinning ball as it spins creates a layer of air immediately around it that spins in the same direction that the ball is spinning. If the ball is also moving forwards e.g. with Top-Spin, the direction of the spinning ball will mean that its layer of air will be moving around the ball with the same direction, so at the top of the ball, the spinning air will be colliding with the air that its moving through, whereas the spinning air at the bottom of the ball will be helped along with air that it's meeting as they're moving in the same direction thus making the ball dip. The backspinning ball does the opposite, the air at the bottom of the ball is rotating against the air its meeting and so lifts the ball and prevents it from dipping.

For me that was it, that explanation worded slightly different here suddenly made me realise what was going on and now I know how and what I need to do to get the ball to drift!

Even more backyard cricket at the Rec

Four Player Format.

Yep, even more and it is working. Today hardly a ball was hit through the air and despite this some good scores were had by Joe and me, with Joe hitting 27 off of 36 balls and me 30 off of 36.. What we've got to do now is extend the idea further so that as well as playing proper shots and trying to guide the ball through gaps and hitting it back past the bowler, we've got to also not get bowled and watch out for run outs, as I was run out once in my innings going for a single, I knew it was risky but played the odds thinking it was 50/50 as to whether Kieran would gather the ball neatly and be able to throw down the stumps and needless to say he did with me about a yard short of the crease. Joe's not good at this either, he always backs himself to make it and is frequently run out in games as well as practice scenarios. He did well today with his batting and hopefully he's seeing the value of looking to guide the ball into gaps rather than always trying to smack it. Kieran on the other hand - who still isn't seeing the weaknesses in his own game (Hitting the ball too early and therefore sky-ing it) still thinks that the solution is to smack the ball as hard as possible, Joe got a Fiver-fer off of Kierans innings bowling him 5 times in two overs by simply varying the pace and the length slightly, so Joe was pleased with himself. I bowled straight after Joe and Kieran then hit me for a couple of fours if not 3 fours trying to replicate what Joe does!

My older son Ben didn't do so well today, not as bad as Kieran, but for some of the time still looking to smack the ball albeit straight back past the bowler and coming unstuck there. He doesn't seem to be able to keep a cool head and accept that on one day you might do well and on another day it'll all fall to pieces. He sets himself the target of 36 off of 36 balls and then as soon as the figure starts to go away from him, instead of thinking 'I'll be happy just to score 18 and not get bowled out, he starts to trying make up the runs by swinging the bat around and it all falls apart. Tricky stuff getting the kids to see the sense of these tactics and accepting that if they're batting at No.10 or 11 they may be far better off trying to hit the ball deftly and defending their end to allow another bloke to score the runs. Although saying that, Ben did exactly that yesterday with Harry Bat, despite the fact that Harry Bat is a little kids and three years his junior, so maybe the messages are filtering through.

New Format Backyard Cricket

A good game on Friday, we managed to get an extra player (Harry Bat) enabling us to have batting pairs, so the objective then became to form the highest scoring partnership. We also narrowned the 'V' and changed the emphasis on attaining fours. The rule now is if you can hit the ball straight along the ground within the V and get the ball past the bowler hitting the fence you score four. A ball in the air through the same V gets you a 2, over the fence anywhere now is out.

Needless to say straight drives back past the bowler take a degree of skill and no-one was able to do so in this session. Harry Bat (Harry Hodgson) was probably the best of us with the bat hitting balls through cover and Mid Wicket mainly along the ground for 2's, the rest of us got most of our runs off singles poking balls into gaps supported by good backing up, so lots of useful learning outcomes being addressed. The partnership of the session was between Ben and Harry Bat, who scored 34 between them not out, so when we're over there next, if Harry comes along he and Ben will resume on 34 looking to score 50.

Other than that not a lot happening.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Rec Langdons Hills - Back Yard Cricket

More back yard cricket at the Rec, we still can't get more players involved which is a shame as it would make it far more fun and intense. Saying that though with the more senisble approach to his batting Ben had upped the game and Kieran who is ultra competitive pulled out the stops to try and win back the position of top scoring batsman. With the fantastic weather continuing bright and sunny at 17 degrees centigrade we had a good match on, with good fielding intensity trying to prevent each other from taking the lead, agin, the perception was that they were all thinking about their fielding positions with regards to how they were bowling and where the bats were trying to hit the ball. Kieran using the current format went for a slog fest hitting the ball over the fence through the V 2 or 3 times gaining sixes for that shot. Eventually the ball was lost over a garden off a big six and at £5.00 a ball we've had to re-think the sixes rule and look again at the rule regarding getting out, because if the way that Kieran bats was converted to a game situation he'd have a series of very short innings over a season.


No.1 - Kieran always hits the ball early and it generally ends up between Mid off and Cow Corner taking an ariel route and probably 75% of the time he'd be caught.

No.2 - In the current format where we lose three runs for getting out, Kieran backs himself to regain any losses by going big.

So in essence I don't think we're doing him any favours as a batsman and we need to take advantage of the fact that he has got very good eye ball coordination with the softer balls. So we're changing the rules so that anything over the fence is now out to discourage big hitting of the ball. I may narrow the size of the V and offer 4's for any ball that goes through the V along the ground between Mid off and Mid on.

The other rule will be that if you're out, your score is reduced to 0 and you start again and we'll look for best run rates off of overs and see how that pans out. Discussing it there seemed to be general consensus that it was a good idea and Joe's thrown down the gauntlet in that he's already set a 12 off of 2 overs for no wicket.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back yard cricket at the Rec

Another glorious autumn day and a hour or so spent over at the Rec bowling and batting. Ben followed up his last performance with the bat with an even more considered innings setting a new record for this year with regards averages. Kieran his mate made 33 off of 36 balls, but because we had less time this time around we all faced 24 balls and I set Ben the target of 24 off of 24 to take the record for the batting average and sure enough he cruised home poking singles here and there and hitting loose balls along the ground through the covers. So, as I said last time, it does seem as though he has made a breakthrough potentially, all he needs now is to have the opportunity to bat with someone, who will back up well, when he runs for singles off of tight balls. I was hoping that there'd be more of us this holiday getting over the Rec but it's panning out that it's the usual four, so while we've only got four of us we can't really get two batsmen running between the stumps and create a realistic game situation. Ben bowled really well too taking several wickets in a range of different ways, his poor mate Ozan, who only has a knock about every now and then , came away from facing four overs with nought, we have a rule where if you lose your wicket you lose three runs. I think Ben bowled him 3 or 4 times in 12 balls.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Half term Holiday

Anyone out there that lives local and either knows us or is connected to the club, if you want to get rid of your kids for a couple of hours, send them down to the Rec for a knockabout playing backyard cricket in the old tennis courts. We're using wind balls, so no need for all the kit and we've got all the gear plastic bats etc and by all means come along and join in as well.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Rec, Langdon Hills - off season cricket

For us, the off season means that we move our practice and knock abouts from the paddock which is a bit of a mess at the moment, to some deserted tennis courts at the local Recreation Ground 'The Rec'.
Over the years we've developed a form of Back Yard cricket which we play in there and this year we've adapted it further still. It seems to be paying dividends with regards Ben at least, as today he may have at last realised that you can build an innings carefully through running singles and getting the ball into gaps. This year we've modified the game slightly in that the 'V' you see in the image above has now been narrowed to encourage driving the ball straight. Anything that goes through the V past the bowler and hits the fence is automatically 2, anything through the V through the air hitting the fence without bouncing is a 4 and sometimes over the fence through the V a six - but if we've got good batsmen playing and we change the rules on that to out to stop them going over the fence several times an over! The other change is that. alongside the two fielders we now use the orange cones as fielders and if a balls passes these 'Orange Cone' fielders within a distance that is deemed as being close enough to catch we toss a coin to see if it was caught. This means everyone is being encouarged to think about shot selection instead of just smashing the ball as hard as they can through the air as the addition of 4 extra 'Orange fielders' increases the potential to get out.

Session 2. Normally there's just the four of us, one bloke bats and the rest of us field and bowl two overs each, so the bat gets 36 balls plus wides to score as many as possible. Last week Ben strode out and went at the ball like there were no fielders and he had Don Bradmans genes. One of the rules is that if you're dismissed you have three runs deducted. He finished his innings on zero, whereas his mate Kieran ended up with 33 off of 36 and Joe only faced 18 balls and scored 12. Ben wasn't happy.

Session 3. This week Ben was looking to get one over on Kieran and take his record of 33 off of 36 balls and he went about it in a totally non-Ben way, obviously having learned his lesson last week and seeing how I went about my attempts at beating Kiearan. The other upshot of having the 'Orange fielders' is that they're all thinking about where to put the fielders in order to supress shots and increase the potential for wickets (Including me) and it looks to be having a really positive affect on thier bowling as well as their batting. Ben this week only went after the ball in his usual way about 2 or 3 times and I reckon it was those two or three times that prevented him from reaching and passing Kierans 33, only reaching 31. But, that 31 was off of singles for the most part, all hit along the ground into the middle of the wicket or in the gaps - which is a massive learning curve as far as I'm concerned and I'm pretty certain that although it kind of galls him to not be able to smack the ball like Kevin Pieterson on T20 duty, he saw that it worked and it worked well. The learning process was then further reinforced by Kierans innings, normally Kieran is able to hit big with impunity because we only have to fielders, but with the introduction of the 'Orange fielders' he too had to play differently and couldn't and came away with a paltry 22 having been dismissed several times and being caught and dropped by orange fielders (toss of a coin that went in his favour 3 or 4 times), so a very good session today over at the Rec. Joe for some reason is choosing not to bat, but I'm not that worried, he'll come round one day I'm sure.

Bowling. We all bowled really well except for Kieran who had a bit of an off day, or was it that Ben was batting properly that made his bowling look ineffective today despite the fact that he does bowl with lots of in-swing to the RH bat.

This year one of the changes we've made to the game

Fox enters house

One of my occasional random posts relating to a fox entering our house and having a look around. (The Daily Mail would probably have the story that it was looking for a baby to drag away and eat). So the layout of my house is unusual in that the bedrooms are on the ground floor with access to our yard and the main living area is upstairs and what with it being nice and sunny and warm the back door was wide open and we were all upstairs.

The fox which frequents the garden all the time jumped up onto the 5' wall and into our garden and then obviously noted the door ajar and came in. It went through the bedroom possibly going over the bed rather than round it as the bedding was suddenly dirty - looked like paw marks and then into a another room (Dining room), through there and to the bottom of the stairs adjacent to the kitchen. Upstairs I was on the computer with Ben and Joe was in the living room watching the tele, so there was obvious noise and human activity, but despite that, the fox came upstairs and apparently went past my door which was slightly shut without me seeing it and then sat in the living room entrance looking at Joe, Joe didn't see it at first and then out of the corner of his eye saw it move and then noticed it sitting there "Fox"! Joe shouted, "In the living room"! at which point the fox ran down and out the house for me to then spot him going back over the wall making his exit.

Update on this the next day.................

Talking to one of our neighbours it turns out that she went to bed early one evening in the summer (this summer) with their front door open and similarly their bedrooms are on the ground floor too. Lying there trying to sleep she heard a patter patter noise and she mulled it over in her head thinking is that a spider walking across the wall paper? Realising it kind of sounded more heavy than that, but thinking was it her imagination? So laid there dead still listening - then she felt the edge of the bed depress - A cat? We haven't got a cat! She thought for a second and then felt the bed move again and the noise - patter, patter, as whatever it was that had leaned up on the bed and moved away. Sensing the thing had moved away, she dared to look and there just a few yards away in their dining area was the fox. Seeing that she was looking, the fox then scarpered out the front door.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hello number 10

Hello to follower number 10, I couldn't figure who it was that joined last, but cheers for your interest in the blog. If you ever want to get involved in any discussion direct, I'm a big fan and a massive contributor to the website mainly posting on the spinning thread here so have a look and check it out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Paddock under threat

The paddock by my reckoning is under threat this year. A couple of months back I reported the mysterious removal of the fencing. The fence was taken down carefully and removed leaving no trace, not obviously vandalised and for no reason as the metal in a wire fence is minimal. Later I thought about it and realised that the fence may have been taken to allow easier access onto the site in a vehicle and the wire taken away perhaps useful to make barracades?

Then on Sunday a big brand new pick up truck had pulled up onto the verge opposite the paddock and a big burly bloke was there on the phone talking. He saw me watching him and he then left. I reckon that some of the displaced Gypsies from the Dale Farm eviction will now pitch up on the Paddock and I'm half expecting them to be there tonight when I return home. In which case the era of the Paddock will come to an end. Longer term, if they ever move on, the fence might be repaired!