Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good session at the Rec

I've not been on here or anywhere of late as I've been ill (Bad cold). It's only today that I've felt half human again and what with the incredible weather we've been having - 18 degrees on Thursday and Friday here in the South East, felt that today was a good opportunity to get a session in over at the tennis courts. I'd emailed Franks Dad and made arrangements for them to join us and it turned out that it would only be Frank.

We had to walk over with all the kit as my cars busted at the moment, but we got over there only to be met by two sets of cricketers! In one corner a Dad with two small boys of about 6-7 years old and in the centre using our pitch marks the Sri Lankan bloke and his Chinaman bowling son. I've mentioned this bloke before in the blog, I said hello to him and ascertained that he'd only just beaten us to the wicket by a couple of minutes. We ended up setting up along one side as they practiced in the middle. Ben suggested after a while when it was obvious that we were hitting the ball through their practice area frequently, that I invited them to join in and I did so. He said he might do, and that they were going to finish up and go and do some fielding practice over on the grass and might join us later.

As they packed up the other little kids did as well and we were left with the whole space for ourselves. We played with our normal format but batted in pairs, so that we practiced working together in pairs looking to score the best partnership. Later in the session the Sri-Lankan bloke and his son came back, so we had - Kieran, the two Sri-Lankan's, Frank, Joe, Ben and me all practicing in match mode - all very cricket specific re-creating scenarios that they have to deal with in games.

Joe bowled really well, he's ditched spin bowling I reckon and I can't see him returning to it for a while if ever, which I'm not fussed about as long as he enjoys his bowling/cricket. He was bowling seam up and very accurately and bowling with some serious away swing to the right handers and in-swing to Frank obviously as he's a left-hander. He took Kierans wicket with a lovely ball that went straight through him with a little extra bounce and speed and just clipped the bails over the middle stump. Normally Kieran bats quite freely if on his own, but with the focus on winning within a partnership scenario, he seemed to have put pressure on himself. I batted with the Sri-Lankan bloke and we had the leading total and retired and Ben and the Sri-Lankan lad went next. Ben went in using the 'Eye in' bat and batted out of his skin! Front foot drives along the ground straight back past the bowler, Cover Drives in the gap between Mid off and Cover - superb batting and he even said himself... "I'm liking this bat Dad, you seen how I'm batting here?' They went on to create the highest partnership of 26. With Ben eventually losing his wicket prancing down the wicket to Frank for a stumping.

Frank bowled well, getting the ball to turn a lot, I strugglec against him, but most of the balls were outside the off-stump leg breaks and this scenario with all the time in the world there was no need to play the shots. What Franks needs to do there is pitch the ball on Leg Stump or just outside of Leg Stump - probably fuller with me as I'm no good at balls coming into the legs.

I bowled Frank with a double bounce Wrong Un which dismissed him hitting the stumps. This would be the first and only time I've got a ball passed him in this way, but he argued that it was a No-Ball, I explained the law...

6. Ball bouncing more than twice or rolling along the groundThe umpire shall call and signal No ball if a ball which he considers to have been delivered, without having previously touched bat or person of the striker,either (i) bounces more than twiceor (ii) rolls along the groundbefore it reaches the popping crease.

But I'm going to not claim the wicket as he may have not played it in the belief that it was a No-Ball before he even played his stroke, plus I wasn't happy with it as a delivery anyway!

Ben bowled the Sri-Lankan Dad with a beautiful ball that went righ through him to hit the top of middle stump, the bloke was impressed as well.

Frank was asking about the Wrong Un and I said to give it a go and see how it works out, but not to spend too much time on it. I also said to work on his Top-Spinner first as it'll help with the wrong un and getting that sussed without having to risk going too far.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Net news

I've been up to the in-laws who now live in Derby and live within spitting distance of 4 or 5 cricket pitches, in fact I think my Father in Law is going to join the club across the road from him so he can go and watch and drink in their bar! But, what with all these clubs around in the local vicinity, I was able to have a bit if a bowl at the facilities just outside of Ilkeston in Okawell drive. There's a pitch there (See below) based amongst a load of council facilities, including a sports hall, we discovered it because we'd booked to play badmintion in the sports hall. The two Badminton courts costs us £8 each for an hour and the bloke had to unlock the sports hall to let us in. He let us in and once in there was some kind of code system that would have allowed us to come and go, and then walked off an left us to it. This place was amazing! Ben and I had been to the Essex county Ford ground last Sunday for a strength and conditioning seminar and I was pretty impressed with their indoor facilities, but this place made the Essex Ford indoor facilities look like a dive. Once into the main hall it was enormous and all brand new, heated and empty. I wish I'd had my camera to show you how impressive this place was. It must have been around 4 wickets wide - 80 yards wide by about 6 wicket in length 100 + yards long - absolutely huge! It would be brilliant for indoor cricket. We ended up being in there on our own for in excess of 2 hours and no-one came in despite the fact that it was a school holiday. We eventually left at 5pm and as we were leaving 3 blokes turned up. Outside on the cricket pitches outfield were a few boys playing football. It was then that I noticed that round the corner of the sports hall was a load of nets. Before we left I went had a quick look at these nets and whether they were accessible and sure enough they were.
Bens Batting

Pre Season Wrist Spin preparation
I hate this time of year, I reckon it must be my lowest ebb, my skins as pale as its ever going to be,, I'm probably physically weaker and out of condition more now than any other time of year and susceptible to colds and illnesses. Nets has started at my club and there's the possibility that I could turn up and get myself an injury through over doing it, potentially setting myself back several steps for the real start of the season at the end of March.
I've started training as you might have already noticed - nets and some practice outside where and when possible. The recent sessions have highlighted loads of issues, but primarily I'm just nowhere near match fit as such. On a more optimistic note the Strength and Conditioning seminar Ben and I went to kind of indicated that despite how I feel I'm in fairly good shape for an old bloke, so with a little work things should come together?
Earlier in the year I toyed with the idea of doing Yoga to explore the potential of being more flexible and I went to a local bloke near where I live. It was interesting and I came away with some really useful stuff on how to relax which I've adopted and do occassionally, but the Yoga part was very basic and I was able to do all the things that were set for the class with relative ease, whereas all around me the other people were struggling, so for now I'm going back to my usual regieme of stretches I've picked up on my surfing and cricket journey through life.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Good day for younger son Joe

Younger son Joe had a good session at his under 11 nets, which is a relief as after last week he wasn't that impressed and it looked as though if it had been followed up by a second session, we may have had cries of 'I don't want to go to nets -it's pointless'. But, this week it seems as though he's been bouyed by some success and he came home really enthused by the whole event despite it sounding as though it had followed the same format. This week the coaches were focusing on Front Foot Drives, and this is one of the strokes that I'm always trying to get him to use in our knock abouts in the Tennis Courts following up all the work that G-Man and others have been doing over the previous 2 years and the message might be getting through. Joe reported that they had been put into groups of 4 - one batting, one dropping the ball (2nd bounce drive) and the other two lads fielding. It seems that when Joe did it he was getting the ball past the 2 fielders consistently and then later in the session they were encouraged to drive the ball in a game. Joe seems to have set up a win by driving the ball well towards the end of the game and was more than pleased with the session.

Later in the day one of the coaches Neil said on his facebook page that the session had gone well and that he was optimistic that the U11's and the U13's look like good units again this year and that maybe we'll have another really positive year. I reckon he might be right and I'm looking forward to seeing how the year pans out and how both teams do.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Strength and Conditioning Cricket

You might be aware, but as well as writing blogs I write a lot of stuff on an Australian based forum and through the forum I've met some really good people, that have guided me through all my bowling issues and questions. Recently one of these on-line friends Liz Ward invited me along to go along to the Essex County ground today to a strength & conditioning seminar conducted and run by Core Cambridge additionally it offered a chance to catch up with Liz and other friends that I've made through posting on forums. I'm not a massive advocate of strength and conditioning because I normally associate it with having to fork out shed loads of money to go to a gym. This seminar was looking at ways of doing it with little or no equipment and incorporating it into cricket training programmes.

I took my older son Ben, who is by nature as a 13 year old boy, more interested in X-Box games and he came along begrudgingly. I didn't know what to expect and one of the main reasons I went was to meet up with my forum friends, but it turned out to be a very well conducted session which ended up highlighting several things about my own bodies state with regards to its condition. It turns out that I'm not as flexible as I thought I was, but to be honest looking around all the others I still looked to have been one of the most flexible in the hall! But, the seminar also offered solutions with a whole range of equipment-less exercises and drills to do to combat injury and build in strength and flexibility. What I was impressed with is the advice that I've had previously via the forums and Liz Ward, because when it came to the things that I'm already working with -core strength through the use of Planks and associated exercises it seems I was doing pretty well. Ben, despite his reservations about going said that he enjoyed it, I think he liked the fact that with some of the arm drills he was very flexible - out flexing many of the people in the room, but to get his attention and to keep him engaged for the best part of 3 hours is a testament to how good the seminar was!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Lost Cricket Pitches (South Essex)

I have an interest in Photography (I'm a photography lecturer) and have recently been inspired by a fellow lecturer and mate of mine Matt Lyndsey because of his knowledge and passion for German contemporary photography. This area of photography has been influential in a several movements within of photography two of which I've grown to appreciate - Deadpan and Topography. The combination of the two has led me to start investigating the prospects of a long term project based on photographing the Topography of disused cricket pitches, whilst at the same time exploring the potential demise of cricket and the reasons for the disappearance of these cricket grounds. The project also looks into ideas of nostalgia and the evergreen idea that things used to be better for some reason back in the old days.

Off the back of yesterdays post I've now discovered that within just a mile of where I live there are now certainly 5 cricket pitches that have disappeared within the last 50 years, some very recently, one in the last 10-15 years and two new ones in the 1950's and 60's.

Unfortunately I haven't got access to photoshop at the minute otherwise I'd link a map to the blog, but the first new discovery is -

Dry Street Cricket Pitch, Langdon Hills, Essex

Have a look at this link here that describes a Prison of War camp in WWII following the description, the author Mr Ken Porter (Who is a passionate cricket player) goes on to describe the use of the field once the POW camp was de-commissioned....

The camp eventually closed in September 1948 when it was taken over by Shell to house its workers at Coryton. Shell moved out in 1951 and though the Local Council and the Basildon Corporation considered using the facilities it was eventually demolished. In the late 1950s and early 1960s it became the home of Westley Cricket Club before reverting to a picnic area for those visiting the country park.

On the same website, there's also a mention that the plinth (Foundations) of the pavillion is still there somewhere. Looking at ariel shots on Google earth you can see the field at the junction of the B1007 and Dry street, it's rectangualr in shape and south of Dry Street at the junction, adjacent to the marked 'Annexe Trevelyn'. So once the weather shapes up I'll go and have a look around. The field is very interesting from my own cricket perspective, as this is the very first filed that Joe, Ben and I played cricket in when Joe broke his arm prior to going surfing, so it's the very place my involvement in cricket started. It's a very pleasent field, surrounded by broard leaf wookdland including Oaks, but very rectangualr, so at the moment I still have a little doubt as to its authenticity and will need to get it varified.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Cricket back in the day at Langdon Hills

Looking around the web at what pictures of mine were available via Google of Langdon Hills I came across this image here shot in the 1950's..

The image originates from this website here -
There's some good stories - one about playing on a field grazed by cattle and placing the wicket on the footpath as it was only section of the field that was relatively flat!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Snow in Essex Feb 2012

Ben my older son, who did the majority of the work with me.
This is the Rec Tennis courts where yesterday we I had a knock about with Frank and Mark bowling wrist spin. We thought it was a bit cold yesterday!
Langdon Hills Recreation ground cricket pitch.

I told you it was cold yesterday afternoon! As a consequence there was a little snow over night and nets was cancelled for Ben and Joe so we did snow stuff.

To net or not to net

There's been an interesting article written on Pitchvision questioning the usefulness of net sessions although I always go I've always wondered about how useful they are? The last couple of sessions I've had have been pretty useful and I've been happy with how things have gone and I'm looking forward to remembering to take my box next week in order that I can have a bit of a bat. But over the years and having read Grimmetts opinions on nets, I've often wondered how useful they are to you if you're a wrist spinner. I think most wrist spinners take an over in games to get settled, so if you're in a net with 5 or more blokes, by the time you get to bowl having waited your turn any sense of rhythm is lost. Recently at our nets the batsman have been slow to get ready in our 3rd net and it's allowed me to bowl on my own or with another bloke and get some rhythm going before the bat has turned up, so that's worked out well.

The article linked though looks at the idea of playing indoor cricket, which to me sounds like a good idea but would limit the amount of people being able to particpate. There are obviously pro's and con's to both sides of the argument which I'm not going to go into here - maybe you could sign up to Pitch-vision and have it out with David Hinchcliffe on there.

The reason I'm not that fussed is that we're able to supplement the nets with the fact that we have the old tennis courts at the local park to practice in and we get in there as much as we can out of season keeping things ticking over. Generally Dec, Jan and Feb gets so cold we don't get in there, but I bumped into Frank, Jack and Mark Farrington a couple of weeks ago just after Christmas on my way back from a session and as a consequence they gave it a go a week or so back. I think as a result of that first session Mark & Frank have seen the value of practicing in there and rang me today and asked me if I wanted to come over and join them! I have to mention at this point today was 0.5 degrees centigrade and they were looking to play cricket!!! Who was I to turn down such and offer and I was over there before them!!

In the article, Hinchcliffe highlights the use of playing indoor cricket and the fact that it incorporates all of the following skills...

Running between the wickets
Backing up
Judging a run
Manipulating the ball into gaps
Bowling accuracy
Bowling to a plan
Chasing a target
Setting a target
Fielder reactions
Fielder decision making
Fielders backing up
The nature of the tennis courts, its 3 metre high fence and its size mean that if you incorporate a few rules like If it goes over the fence you're out the batsmen have to learn how to keep the ball on the ground.

As you can see its a biggish space, probably a little larger than a sports hall and it's surrounded by an 9' fence. Which means you can hit the ball hard and it never goes so far that people get the ache with having to run miles to retrieve the ball when there's just a few of you. As a consequence the balls retrieved quickly and it's difficult to run 2 if the fielders are on their game, if the fielders mess up - over-throws are a consequence, so communication is key to scoring runs and not getting run out. We mark out extra players with cones and have a rule where if the balls in the air and passes the cones within fielding distance we toss a coin to see whether it was caught or not and this encourages hitting the ball along the ground. We have markers either side of the bowler and if the batsman drives the ball back past the bowler along the ground within the markers they gain extra runs. The set up brings in every single point made in that article...
Today there was only three of us, we had a knock about and we did some drills, I introduced Frank to accuracy drills - putting down a mat outside of the Leg -Stump and getting him to land a ball on a 15" x 15" mat and still turn it into the stumps. Next week if we're not knee deep in snow I'm hoping we'll all be there - Ben, Joe, Kieran, Frank, Mark and me. If we can get that many of us along we can have two people batting together and look at a game where we play who can have the highest scoring partnership, where the objective is exactly that and that involves communicating, calling and planning.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Net session #2

Again another reasonable net session, I was quite happy with how it went against the batsmen that were in the net initially. The last bloke though was 2nd XI batsman and he was pretty good and I didn't have a lot of answers to his approach. I might have a had a couple of LBW shouts, but they came about through bowling wrong uns and for some reason he didn't offer a shot on both of them - just lifting the bat clear and allowing the ball to strike him on the pads in front of the off-stump? But right at the end I realised that all night I hadn't been getting any real dip and thought it through and concluded that I wasn't following through properly and letting the bowling arm come through and past the hip. On the last 2 balls I did this and it seemed to cause the good bloke a bit more of a problem. I can't believe that it took all night to realise where the deficiency had been in my bowling. It looks as though I need to take a check list and put it in my pocket...

  • Strong Leading arm
  • Land out of the bound with your foot at right angles to the direction so you're side on.
  • Whip the arm over
  • Get up on the pivot foot and twist
  • Bring the bowling arm over through past the hips

Something like that!