This year I've not attended the net sessions at my club because they've over-lapped with Ben and Joe's training/net sessions and I'm not a massive fan of the process, although I seem to be warming to it recently. So I was pleased and surprised to hear that we had four weeks at The Graham Gooch Centre at the Essex County ground in Chelmsford. It's a bit of a trek at 20 miles away and 9pm at night start was a little odd as well, but do-able. Initially I wasn't that interested, but at the last youth training session one of the better bats (If not the best) Sony Downes asked if I was going and whether I'd be taking Joe and Ben. I hadn't realisd that Joe and Ben could potentially go and when I asked about it, both Sonny and Dave Ayres said it was fine. It turned out that later that Michelle didn't think it was such a good idea this week as it was Wednesday and they've got two school days after and they'd not be coming in till nearly 11 by the time I got back, so eventually when I did go they weren't with me.
There were a few emails and some stuff on Facebook saying the club wanted as many people as possible to turn up so I was surprised in the end when there was only about 10 of us in two nets and none of them, the blokes that I played with in the 4th XI. In fact most of them were the younger blokes who played in the first and second XI's.
I had meant to take my Canon G9 because there was the prospect of Dave Bonnett turning up and he's the clubs Wrist Spinner who plays in the first or second XI's. From what I've seen of him and heard of him (Most wickets in the district 2 seasons ago) and a really smooth (and to my eyes) and near perfect bowling action and therefore I wanted to video his bowling action in order to see if Stuart Macgill would have a look at it for me and comment on it. Reason is, I'm still not that versed in what is a good action and what is not and what to be looking for when analysising other people's and my own bowling action. Dave was there, but I didn't have the camera, so I cant post up any videos or even show you what the facilities are like, so I'll try and get that done next week. But I did get to see what Dave's bowling was like and later on I got to face it, I'll come back to that later...
As far as I'm aware, the rest of the sessions this year have been at Fitzwymarc school, which as I recall has a slight cushioned fabric floor rather than a concrete/wood floor which tend to be slippery, but it's very dark in there with poor lighting exacerbated by the fact that the walls are dark. The Graham Gooch centre has the fabric surface, but far better light and a lot bigger as you'd exepct from a county cricket clubs facilities, but having said, that I've seen council facilities up North that are far better Ilkeston in Derbyshire is phenomenal. The facilities for cricket in Derbyshire as far as I've seen are generally far better than we have down here in the south. Anyway, so I got to have a bowl. Last weekend at the youth training session I had a bowl and did fairly well, took a few wickets over three overs for virtually nothing - 2 stumpings and a catch and a nick where the kid didn't walk and a plump LBW that I didn't go up for, so on the basis of that performance I was kind of looking forward to this session.
I didn't do too bad considering it was a net against better level players, my fitness needs working on which is an issue in view of the fact that as far as the weather is concerned we're still in the midsts of winter, you just can't get out anywhere to have a practice or run around because it's freezing cold or the fields are just sodden. So as the session went on I started to bowl wides every now and then, but generally I was quite happy with it. Tactically it was the Top-Spinners mixed in with the Leg Breaks that seemed to be the winning ball, they all know I'm a 'Leggie' and I think they assume the balls going to be be going away from the edge of the bat if I get the line right (Off-stump). So to then bowl a Top-Spinner that causes some upsets. My Flippers initially were coming out well, but I can't disguise them that well as it's obvious that the way I bowl them includes far more effort, and that gives away the fact that it's a different delivery. I guess they see that it's flatter and faster and therefore realise it's not going to turn and they treat it as a seam up (Which it is) medium pace ball and they'll generally put it away with a high degree of ease. So, how useful it is at the moment as a delivery is subject to some reflection. I think I need to lob them up maybe, but with the back-spin they are going to stall and almost stop, it's something I'll have to work on once the weather clears up. My Wrong-un wasn't working that well and was coming out as a Top-Spinner. Overall I was happy with the session from a bowling perspective, as I was using my faster run-up. I'd also taken note of something someone had said with regards to the last video I posted up on Youtube about the fact that I was over-thinking everything and trying to change too much and said, just relax and bowl, so that's what I tried to do.
I did the usual thing, whereby I batted last, I bat last in matches or at 10 so it reflects the match situation to some extent in that the bowlers are not 100%. I didn't fancy it, but once there it didn't look as bad as I'd imagined. I used Ben's bat as well which has more meat in the middle of the bat rather than nearer the toe of the bat which is the case for my own bats which are also heavier. That aspect went well - it felt okay and I did manage to get the bat on the ball and block almost everything. I had Dave Bonnett bowling at me, Rusty and some other geezer who I don't know and another bloke who came in and had one or two. Incidentally the bloke who only bowed one or two balls kind of strolled in with "What's the issue here lads, he's an old bloke and a No.11 at that - just bowl him out". And he did, well, he forced a nick off the edge, the faintest nick that I guess the wicket keeper would have gloved. But the others were far more interesting as they all obviously wanted to do the same thing, but I managed to keep them out. I was mostly just blocking, but the odd loose ball I may have got away for singles or two's, but the high-light was a Paddle Sweep off of Dave Bonnetts leg-spin which brought some laughs, no-one expected to see that! But the fun part was they were all trying to figure out what they needed to do to get rid of me and I kept them at bay for ages. Then the bloke who I don't know came over the wicket and eventually forced a top-edge that would have been caught by the bloke running in from Mid - wicket. I was trying to just steer the ball down the leg-side and it didn't come off, so that's something I need to adapt to.
I've noticed before that Dave has a tendency to bowl accidental Wrong Uns, and I reckon he may have a litte Googly Syndrome. But this is early in the season and may not be a reflection of his abilities generally. But he goes for a really flighty approach that is similar to Frank Farringtons bowling, getting the ball right up above the eye-line. Again because it is early in the season, he was getting the length wrong and many of the balls initially were full-tosses. But his bowling action looks very good, he pivots and gets right up on his toe and because he bowls relatively slow, the whole thing looks very balletic and smooth. Tonight he didn't seem to be getting many revs on the ball, so the ball wasn't turning that much, but with variation of speed, length and flight you can see why and how he is effective, so hopefully I'll be able to video him and get some vid on-line for comments and analysis. I'd love to be able to do this with loads of different Leggies in this area and make a database and biography of spinners of Essex.