Monday, April 29, 2013


Have a friendly game against Upminster they said, the sides will be equal… it’ll be fun they said. Ben had been asked to play against an Upminster u15/u16’s mixed team, he was slightly concerned because of the u16’s factor, remember he is only 14 still, as are many of his mates in the team. I asked Dave the manager and he said… yeah it’ll be fine, they’re putting out a similar team and we’ll have Jimmy Breeze and Bradley staff (Our U16’s).

Kieran (Under 13's bowler of the year last year) was added to the team line up later in the week, he's one of  Ben’s mates and one of the "Paddock Boys", the lads that I've been instrumental in introducing to the game and therefore another bowler. But also like Ben, still only 14 and not that enthusiastic about the prospect of batting against established U15's and U16's seam bowlers. Ben, during the week had time to come to terms with the prospect of batting and was ready come Sunday morning, but Kieran having had the late call-up hadn't quite got in the zone at this point and was still really bricking it,  pacing up and down and not able to keep still, like someone waiting to be interviewed for a job. By the time we left Ben was pretty composed and we drove to Upminster with the weather on our side.  Everyone turned up, but there were some notable omissions, apparently some of our key players were not there because of that other game.

The team consisted of…

Sonny Downes
Mark Broadhurst
Jimmy Breeze
Mitchell McLeod
Bradley Staff
Harrison Birch
Harrison Morris
Anthony Ayres
Tom Hardy
Ben Thompson
Kieran Barbero

The game started off really promising and within a matter of a few overs we had the prospect of a hat-trick with Bradley Staff taking a couple of back to back wickets, unfortunately I didn’t video his bowling which is a shame as he bowled well. The bowling from my vantage point looked reasonable so early in the season and with the fact that wickets were going down reinforced this to some extent. But, there was the odd short ball and a handful of wides, but overall it was fine and the game ended with the lads restricting them to 96. This looked like a reasonable performance considering that some of these lads were BIG. For the most part it looked as though their team was made up or predominantly U16's players and all at the upper end of the age limit. Whereas most of our team are under 15's players and mostly at the lower limit of that age group, many of them still only 14. Later in the week I was told that many of the Upminster lads were ex - Essex players and district players, so the bowling and fielding performance was in fact very good.

It had crossed my mind that maybe none of the Upminster lads were batsmen and that this team was made up of bowlers? But then again, watching them face our lads bowling, they were playing proper shots.

Our main man strode out –  Sonny Downes, he’s one of our bigger lads from last years U13’s team and took the first ball. One of the other batemen said... “He’s said that he’s going to try and stick it out for the full 20 overs”. So there was obvious confidence in our camp after their fielding performance. The first bowler Chuter marked his run-up out – he was a seamer and one of their bigguns. His bowling looked okay, but Sonny seemed to be equal to it and then on the 5th ball, Sonny drove at it and the ball caught a thick edge and the bloke at slips "Leach" moved cat-like from his position taking a very well executed catch to his right and suddenly, we were a man down. The next bloke up was our biggest lad Jimmy Breeze a genuine U16 player, he joined one of the ex U13’s who’d been at the non-strikers end… Mark Broadhurst, who is still finding his feet and confidence as a batsman. The bowling rotated and another biggun took over. Another seamer and fast again, bowling slightly wide of the off-stump. Mark did his stuff, but looked a bit stuck in the crease, not moving his feet enough maybe, or should he have been leaving these balls as they were fairly wide? He nicked one and it went to ground – short of the slips, but you could sense they had their tails up. Meanwhile, once Jimmy was back on strike we got some runs on the board, six runs which had included a 4 and a couple of singles, but in the process, Mark fell victim to Jimmy's superior fitness and was unable to make his ground on a tight single and was run-out. Not all was lost, we still had Mitchell McLeod, who in his day is very good, but then - so were these blokes. Mitchell went for a golden duck bowled by Chuter.  Harrison Birch came in and looked promising getting through to facing 8 balls, but Chuter struck again with Hazel taking a catch off his bowling and Harrison went without disturbing the scoreboard operator for another 0. Harrison Morris then made his way out and similarly faced a number of balls not able to find the gap and get the ball away for runs, 11 balls he faced before being bowled by Pickering for another duck. I think during that partnership Jimmy was lost as well having faced 10 balls. Another couple of wickets went both facing 1 ball successfully before being bowled for 0. Anthony Ayres bowled by Sadek and Bradley Staff by Carter-Millar. Tom Hardy was the our next run machine scoring 1 off of 11 balls, again, simply not being able to find the gap when he got some bat on the ball.

 All that was left now was the specialist bowlers, the self confessed non-batsmen - Ben and Kieran. They’d both been nervous about the match before-hand and now having witnessed the slaughter before them they too had to ‘Go over the top’ and be gunned down in an instant. Ben was first batting at No.10 replacing Bradley Staff, thankfully he was there with someone that could bat a bit... Tom, who could talk him through the process in theory? But Tom despite facing 11 balls eventually went meaning that the last two were Kieran and Ben. Kieran almost shaking in his boots made his way out to the middle like a man going to the gallows. It was inevitable that their stay would be short and fruitless and the whole thing made worse by the fact that now they had a combination of their best seamer, Chuter and a finger spinner bowling off-breaks. The only thing on their side was the fact that in our knock-abouts the majority of what they face is spin – Joes ‘offies’ and my leg-Breaks and Wrong-uns, so the pace and flight might be familiar to them?

As they’d gone out the crowd and previous victims had shouted an array of contradicting advice… “Block them”! Shouted one, “Have a go – try and score fours” said another. I said... just have a look and just see what you think you should do, there’s no expectation of you, you’ve done your bit, you’re the bowlers, just take your time and stick  it out as long as you can and play your shots when you can.

Like a corny Disney film where the under-dogs have their day, Ben faced one ball after another thwarting the slaughter and adding runs! Both of them buzzing on adrenlin and still crapping themselves and trying to get the other on strike, so as to not have to face the seamer, kept surviving. They eventually succumbed to a ball that allowed Kieran to hit one of his leg-side Cow Corner shots that went over the in-fielders almost allowing two runs, they got the timing wrong and Ben made his ground, but Kieran fell woefully short and was easily stumped.
Their partnership ended up being one of the longest and the second most fruitful run-wise in that they scored 4 between them with Ben scoring the second highest with 3 and Kieran coming in joint 3rd with his single run. But the good thing was they came off feeling better about the whole thing, they’d gone out there as nervous as hell, having seen the massacre and came off feeling good about the whole thing with a tinge of what happened to all the batsmen – if we can do that what went wrong for them? Hopefully, despite the fact that the game was a contender for the worst ever batting performance on a cricket pitch ever (I’ve not heard of anything else as bad), there may be some positives drawn from it. As their coach/manager said – we fielded really well, generally the ball was prevented from going for 4’s. I noticed that and there was a definite change in the fact that they were ready to take a hit for the team – diving and putting their bodies on the line to stop the ball. Ben in particular did a spectacular dive as he’s looking to take my title of ‘Superman’ from me because of my efforts in the field. Sonny Downes took a brilliant catch at slips and it was evident that the lads are putting their training into practice.

Bowling though on reflection (Ben and Kieran) was pretty poor by their own standards and this was backed up again on Tuesday night when Ben played for his school. He came away from that saying that he bowled poorly, giving away wides and bowling legside and the wrong lengths. At the minute I’m biting my lip and not saying anything about the fact that spending most of your life watching idiots on Youtube instead of getting out on the paddock and having a bowl will have some cause and effect. Hopefully he’ll reach a point where he admits to himself that he needs to have a practice now and then and join me in the Paddock?
Ben & Kieran

 The Upminster lads
 Ben and Kieran leave the field to applause.
A happy Ben & Kieran

But take heart lads it could be worse. Have a look at this...

Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Homework - Gibbs reflective practice

Cricket Homework

So, in the manner of professionals across all sorts professions and disciplines that require reflection in order to force and encourage improvement I've done a couple of things.

1. Peer review; I had a practice in the paddock last night and went about it in a particular way. I didn't warm up with a pre-bowl, I just went straight in as though the captain and had thrown me the ball in a game and said "It's your spell now". I bowled 75 balls one after another and video'd it - the good, bad and the ugly. I then edited only the walking back to my mark sequence and then uploaded the vid over night to Youtube and here it is...

In less than 24 hours I've had a number of responses to it, some of which is very insightful. I've also just loaded it up to my Google + page and asked for Stuart Macgill to have a look at and comment on it with the idea that he may be able to give me some additional advice or tips.

2. Reflective practice; This is where you look at what you do, how you do it and analyse if there are ways in which you can make improvements. I use this at work in a couple of situations. I have to reflect on what I do as a part of my professional development and practice and like many people do this in a formal way at least once a year. But I also do it in a less formal way and use it more frequently to review my practice at key points in the year in my job as a photography lecturer. But I also use it in conjunction with the students work. I and my colleagues get them to use this model to review their own work at key stages and it actually works.

The model we use is the Gibbs model...
How it's used...

Simply write up the headings starting at the top and work round the headings writing up a response. A few sentences is usually sufficient, but different people approach it in slightly different ways...

Description What happened?

Having prepared the paddock, I took the opportunity to have a bowl. I decided to not warm up with an over or two, but went straight into it bowling 75 balls one after another with no rest. This was to test how fit I am and whether I've got any stamina at 52 years old.

Feelings What were you thinking and feeling?

I was relatively positive, because I've been doing a little exercise here at home and I feel relatively fit and healthy and the bowling I did in the winter nets wasn't that bad. In addition towards the end of last season, I'd begun to tie down how it was I was going to run-up and approach the crease.

Evaluation What was good and bad about the experience?

Good aspects included the fact that I didn't get that tired. Others included the fact that my wrong-un comes out well and looks to be fairly accurate and consistent. Another is that my arm seems to be coming over at speed, with a lot more energy than the last couple of years and yet there are no indications that I'm straining the my shoulder. Bad, included the first 6 balls were very messy and a high proportion of the balls went leg-side throughout the 75 deliveries. Reading the feedback on Youtube, one of the things I am doing which is a negative aspect is that I'm not running in straight and therefore the energy is not being 100% directed at the target.

Analysis What sense can you make of the situation?

In comparison with last year at this time, there's a considerable difference and it appears that the recommendations that people have made through reviewing my videos has made a difference for the better. There have been people that have said at different times that I try and do too many things in these training sessions and that I should focus on one or two aspects that my have an affect that is positive.

Conclusion What else could you have done?

 Maybe get in the zone slightly more and bowl with more focus, without getting wound up and tense. I could have had a wicket keeper or someone look at the bowling and feeding back there an then, but only Joe would do that and he's a bit young to keep to me at this stage.

Action Plan If it arose again what would you do?

In the next session I'm going to put a target down which wont get knocked out of the way if the balls hit it and I'm going focus on the following aspects...

1. Out of the bound land with the foot side-ways to get the body side-on.
2. Have the leg coming through rather than swining around the pivot foot.
3. Regulate the length of the run-in by putting a marker down and work on trying to keep everything straight going towards the target.

Hopefully I'll get this done tomorrow night.

Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Practice intensifies

One of the blokes on the forums was saying that he was lucky enough to have a garden that is long enough to practice his bowling in and that he steps outside rather like Grimmett may have done and bowls 20 balls or so. With the paddock in relatively good shape already and the additional light on the grass facilitating the recovery of the grass at the bowlers end, I've decided that I'm going to adopt a similar approach whenever I can in the evenings and use a few more balls - 75 to be precise and video the session and try and tweak my bowling by analysing the video.

So that's what I did this evening after getting home and having some dinner. I didn't feel too knackered after yesterdays mammoth 5 hour session with Joe yesterday, so that was good news too. I decided not to do a warm up and film every ball - the good, the bad and the ugly and then upload it and see how it goes, so by the time I get up in the morning the upload would have happened and you'll get a look at what my bowling action is going to look like this season. To be honest I'm still undecided, but a slightly shorter run up compared to some of the footage that is already on Youtube. I've got a few things to work on as well as making a decision about the run-up and one of them is the leg that comes past or round the pivot leg.
In this image here is the 'Leg kicking up and round the pivot leg'

Whereas in this image the leg at least appears to be coming through straight rather than kicking up and around.
One of the things that Stuart Macgill commented on with regards to my bowling was that I should adopt the coming through approach and from the evidence that I've seen and observed with my own bowling, there seems to be a lot of sense in the approach, which is partly bourne out in the newest video I've produced and edited tonight. The other thing that's been noticed is the lack of a cocked wrist when bowling and I'm looking to address that too along with getting up on my toes. Another thing I noticed when looking at the video is that I may not be getting 'Side - on' enough, so that's another aspect to work on.
Look out for the video on my youtube channel and any subsequent updates as I get ready for the season.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Paddock - initial work

The Paddock 17th April

As I recall we've generally been over on the Paddock and already given it a once over with a roller in march while the earth is still wet, but because this was the coldest March since 1962 today was the first time we were able to get over there without dying of hypothermia or being up to our shins in mud. Over the last couple of days the temp has been up in the high teens and early twenties centigrade and today has been breezy as well, so the moisture in the ground is rapidly drying out and I felt that we'd better get over there and make a start, partly inspired by the fact that the council have been in there today with a big rotary mower and cut it pretty short themselves.
Ben came over with me and gave me a hand which was good and obviously helpful and he ended up doing the majority of the heavy stuff, which was right I felt. If you look directly behind him in the image above you'll see the remainder of the fence and the fact that it's covered with brambles and trees. At the end of the summer and couple of times over the winter I've been cutting the brambles and the tree trunks at the base (Saplings) so that we can remove them. The reason being the sun comes in from the right of the image here casting a shadow across the bowling end of the wicket. This means if left the as it was the grass was suffering from a lack of light and taking too long to dry out after rain. So I made a decision to cut them all down.

 Once the mowing was done using my Ransomes Ajax mower circa 1973 the position of the wicket was obvious. We haven't cut it yet with a close blade as the grass is very busy growing and establishing itself after such a bad winter. At the far end (Batting end) we've got a very large dirt patch where I did some repairs, but the earth I used was far too organic with too little in the way of clay. I've got some clay and in an ideal situation I'd get some of that down, re-dig it and put some grass seed down ready maybe for use around mid - May. I'll have to see how it goes, as we'll need a few periods of rain if the seed is to grow well and cover the dirt patch.
Here you can see the trees and brambles that we've cut down, there's still some work to do with all the tangled stuff that intertwined in the fencing, but at least the light can through onto the wicket and hopefully the grass at the bowling end will be better and dryer this year.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Joe back in his whites!

April 16th 1 year and 10 days on from his RTA and Joe is back in his whites on a cricket pitch playing cricket. New spikes and looking forward to some cricket and some nice weather.

The only down-side is that there was a poor turn out for the U13's with only Joe and Harry turning up.

Talking to the team manager he was saying that there are 4 other lads in the U13's and the rest of the team will have to be made up of Under 11's in order to get a team out. Unfortunately with the exception of Harry I've not been as succesful with Joe's mates in getting them to come over from the lost cause that is football, all of them have been scared of the hard ball - even windballs!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why are there so many high quality cricket facilities in the Midlands?

So, Why are there so many high quality cricket facilities in the Midlands?

My Inlaws lived in Basildon till recently and they've moved to a village just outside of Derby called West Hallam. Have a look at it on Google maps and you'll get a sense of how small it is in comparison with Basildon or click the link for an overview of the village. The population is around 4900 people as opposed to Basildons 100,000 or so. Yet despite this the cricket facilities in that area are staggering in comparison with Basildon. Within 5 miles of their house I'm aware of at least 5 -6 different cricket pitches and the last time I was there I went out and took a look at them to see how they compare with the facilities in our area.

The closest club to their house is about 400 metres away and it's Nutbrook cricket club. They've got two pitches on the same site as far as I'm aware and quite a nice and new clubhouse. But the thing that amazed me when I first had a look at it last year is the high quality and condition of their nets and the fact that they're open and accessible to everyone.

The shots above were taken at the Nutbrook ground on the 6th April and they were playing despite the cold and very damp conditions and again unlike in our area, the club has roll-away covers that they use on the pitches. You can see the quality of the nets at the club with the all weather surface and a decent extension allowing a run-up for fast bowlers. Not so good for spinners as the height would cause problems. You can see in the background of the shot with the players in, the clubhouse. We asked about membership and my mother and father-in-law can be non-playing members for a year for £10 (Combined) which gives them access to hiring the club as a venue for their own social events for a tenner and they're able to run the bar on the night themselves as far as I could make out.

Not content with one club in a village of just 4900 people, there's another club... "West Hallam White Rose Cricket Club". It was the Nat West cricket force weekend when I visited this ground and I spoke to one of the blokes that was cutting up replacement sections for their 'Picket fencing'. He was saying that over the winter some kids had made a fire in the adjacent woods and had started to use thier picket fencing for the fire.

This clubhouse and ground is relatively new having moved and expanded around 2000. The building went up first and the ground was made usable a few years later. Situated in the dip created by old quarry, they have along one side a row of mature trees, which I always think is a nice feature in a cricket ground. To the left of the clubhouse as you see in the image above they've planted Willows in a damp corner, which in time will again improve the aesthetics of the club.

With regards their nets seen above - no security, open to one and all and again that spongy all-weather surface. I mentioned to the bloke that last summer we'd (Joe, Ben and I) had a bat and a bowl in the nets one evening and whether there was any issue with that? The bloke said... No, if it encourages kids to play cricket that's good. In fact this summer if you want to come alonbg do so as the bar will be open and we've got a lovely patio that faces onto the pitch which catches the sun in the afternoon and evenings.

The White Rose cc, still retain their old ground which is in the town, just across the adjacent field (300 metres away). See below.

The location of the White Rose club is about 2 miles from my In-laws house.

The Rutland Recreation Ground

This next venue is about one to one and half kilometres away from their house and as far as I'm aware is a council run facility. It's a multi-sport facility which includes a cricket ground with a traditional style pavillion and the unusual feature along side the pitch of a concrete stepped stand for the fans! (See image below). Just beyond the concrete steps is a set of nets. This again has the spongy all-weather surface wih a long run-up space and three bays - 3 netted completely and the two on the end perfect for spinners as there's not a netted roof as such. I've used this on a couple of ocassions now when I've been up there and no-one has ever been over to say You need to pay for this mate. There's no signs to say you have to pay and you can just walk in and get on with it.

Unlike the other venues this facility is on the edge of a bigger town with a population of 38,000 and there is some evidence of vandalism, but not enough to stop you from using the facilities, just to make your heart sink a little at the total pointless-ness of it.

The other thing I have to mention about this venue is the sports hall on the righ-hand side of the image. We used it during the Christmas break last year before Joe was run-down on the crossing we turned up at the offices which are situated on the other side of the cricket pitch and a bloke walked us over and unlocked the building and let us in as we were the only people wanting to use it at that time of day (3pm). When we got inside it was amazing! For one it was massive 3 - 4 times bigger than the indoor facilities of Essex County Cricket Clubs Graham Gooch centre. The surface was again that spongy nylong surface and no-where was there a column in the centre of the area - instead the roofing structure using the cantilever support system. If you wanted to ever play indoor cricket with a full size team this was the kind of place you could do it! Inside it was set up for several options, but all of them adaptable... Football, badminton, tennis and cricket nets (I'm fairly sure, but check with them if you intend to use it for that purpose), but I'm fairly certain. Everything was brand new and high-quality and as far as I'm concerned we've got nothing like it here in Basildon, unless you feel like parting with a lot of cash. We had two hours in there and it cost us next to nothing. We played cricket, badmintion, football, it was great. At 5pm other people started to turn up, but for two hours it was empty!
Ockbrook and Borrowash cricket club
This one is far bigger club and the furthest at 6 miles away. Again I spoke to a bloke and said that if we turned up would it be okay if we used the nets and he was okay about it, again saying if it's going to encourage kids to play cricket - why not? Again, open to the elements and with the same features as the other nets and no vandalism.


This club has a big clubhouse and two pitches, again far better facilities than many of the clubs in our area and yet such a sparsely populated part of the country? There's another club a similar distance in Spondon, which again is nothing but a village and again the facilities from what I can glean from the internet are second to none. Here's a shot of their club off the internet...

I can only imagine the factors that relate to the disparity are either the rental/lease arrangements for the grounds and maybe something to do with the fact that a large part of the population of south Essex are people with municipal backgrounds e,g, people that have moved out of the East end and therefore have more of an affinity with Football and that somehow affects the situation? It just makes me wonder why the clubs in the midlands and the councils seem to be far wealthier than those down south?

Joes progress

Joes Progress.

Joe's back to some of his normal ways at last. The anniversary of the accident was a few days ago on the 6th. With the weather recently being so bad we haven't been able to get out and about as much I'd like to have over this Easter break. We spent a few days up north in Derbyshire coming away from the freezing South East of the country and was pleasently suprised at how warm it was, spending much of one of the days sitting around outside and mucking about in the garden.
Basildon Apr 2013

Joe is now back to doing PE at school with the prospect of cricket being a bit part of what they're doing, his last term was general gymnastics, so that was useful in that it kind of eased him back into doing more activities. At home he's been back in training for this season with the under 13's, although at the moment their team looks a little depleted, but hopefully once the training starts outside and the matches resume, some of the kids that may have not attended nets may return? Karate has resumed and so far he's not had any problems, the only thing he says is that at the end of the session when they kneel, he feels a sense of immobility in his knee joint. Other than that he's been swimming on his own with his mate Lewis...

With Ben (His brother), Kieran and Harry who are all at the same club we've been out once or twice over at the old tennis courts at Langdon Hills Rec having a bit of a knock about see video below.

You can see in the video that Joe's got a bit of a limp and we're not sure how long that'll be there or in fact whether it's going to be a long term thing. The physio's have said that from Feb 2013 it might yet be 2 years before he regains full muscle structure recovery and full 100% fitness, so I'm assuming that over that period the limp will become less apparent and hopefully will disappear. What he needs to do I reckon is more activities, the more stuff he does the faster he'll recover, so hopefully the weather will improve enabling us to all get out and about.

The Scars...
1.This is the exit wound (Above) as it was early April 2013. This is also where most of the operation occurred via the hole that was made where the bone came out through the skin.
2.This was 'The hole', this as far as I was concerned was the worst of the scars in the early days and this is the one that seems to be benefitting the most from the massaging and has made the most obvious visual improvement.
3. This is the 'Impact wound' where the car hit his leg, not seen much in the early days as it was encased in the plaster. The image at the bottom which shows the inside view of the leg doesn't include this scar as it's round the other side of the leg.
4.This is a new one, this is the hole that had to be made in orde to extract the pins in January. Again there's a second hole the other side, but hat has healed far better. This wound was made worse by the fall in the snow, where the stitches were ripped out and we had that additional break scare, that was a false alarm thankfully. This is healing slowly.

5. This is an over-view of the inside of the leg where most of the scars are. Generally they are on the mend, but it is a slow process and I may not do anymore images now for a couple of months so that if there is a change it may be more obvious with the passing of time. I have to keep on at Joe about massaging the wounds and he's not bothered. He still says that the skin over the top of the exit wound still feels tender to rub hard, so he can't rub the centre of the wound that hard, but I think that it's more important to rub round the edges as this I think encourages the re-structure of the tissue in the manner in which it needs to grow to reduce the scarring.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Last indoor nets

Last night Wednesday 10th saw the last net session at the Essex County facilities and after weeks of coming up with reasons for not going Ben eventually and reluctantly came along too. See other post.

The weather at last took a turn for the better and we had a sunny day where the temperature ranged between 10-12 degrees centigrade, so earlier in the day Joe, Ben and I had a knock about in the street and then later over at the old tennis courts Joe and I had a little practice. While we were there for some unknown reason I had a go at bowling the flipper (One that I've not got a video about) which comes out of the hand with the seam spinning in the manner of a flying saucer - not vertical, but spinning horizontally. This in theory should be affected by the magnus force and veer towards leg. As always though I have to include the caveat that although I intend to release the ball in the manner described, I haven't got a clue as to what actually happens because it would require the use of a high-speed camera or someone at the other end who cares about what way the ball spins and currently my sons don't!

Anyway, I bowled a few of these flying saucer balls and the went well... (1). I was able to do it, a lot of these Flipper variations take a lot of practice to get them anywhere near usable. (2). They had some interesting attributes, one of which was they broke to leg, which was unexpected and again reinforces the comment earlier about what I think I'm doing and what actually happens, but the turn off the surface was big, so quite interesting. (3). The ball stalled on contact with the surface in the way that a back-spinning flipper does/should.

Because the delivery is new, I was chucking it up in a loopy manner and fact that the ball speed was slowish, the turn off the surface and stalling affect were fairly dramatic. I read an article by Menno Gazendum, who seemed to have disappeared off the scene for a while, but seems to have returned in conjunction with David Hinchcliffes 'Pitch Vision' and he mentioned in one of his articles about the fact that a lot of spin bowlers (Me included) tend to opt to bowl faster and flatter when you've been hit for 6. He was advocating to possibly bowl slower and loopier, get the ball up above the eye-line and tempt the batsman to do it again and again. So, I've been keeping this in mind and trying it out in the nets and it does seem to work, whether it'll convert to a match scenario remains to be seen, but it certainly does seem to induce rash strokes where the ball is hit into the air -often flying off the bat mis-hit and heading for a fielder. A big part of the equation in club cricket is the fielders making the effort to cover the ground and pull off the catch.

In recent practices, with Joe and Ben and in the nets I've been focusing on the Top-Spinner, Wrong Un and Flipper and bowling my Leg Break a lot less, but the leg break does seem to be coming out fairly well when I use it. I'm trying to be consistent with my run-up and remembering to get side on and cock my wrist more. One of the big things I've noticed is that if I try and force things, it seems as though I then tighten up and suffer from not being relaxed. Feeling relaxed seems to be a major factor as well as keeping things simple and being confident about what you do.

What seems to be working in the nets is starting out with the Leg Breaks and giving the batsman a look at what I do, they soon realise that... yeah I'm a Leggie and they see how much I turn it and what kind of line I'm bowling. They then seem to see that I don't turn it a great deal and after about the 3rd or fourth ball come after me. It's at that point I then change the bowling and bring in the variation, of which I've got the options I've been working on... Top-Spinner, Wrong Un and Flipper, that then creates opportunities for wickets in a number of ways. Generally I'm quite happy with the way my bowling is going at the minute, but looking back I think I've felt this way at the start of the last two seasons and then they've fallen to pieces. I'll just have to see how it goes.