Saturday, September 28, 2013

Field settings

Field settings.

I'm just on the internet at the moment discussing field settings for Wrist Spinners and needed to upload a diagram of this one here. It's discussing the approach whereby you leave a dirty great gap in the field (The hatched section) to encourage the batsman to hit the ball through there. In this instance - I'd be bowling on an off-stump line trying to encouarage the batsman to drive the ball through that area with a straight bat. With the ball going away from the edge of the bat with turn off the wicket (leg breaks) at some point I'm going to find an edge? I suspect that such a radical field would only be used on tail-enders, but I'll see what the others on the forum say...

Friday, September 27, 2013

The boy done well.

The season just gone was the first season after my younger son Joe's road accident where he suffered a pretty nasty compound fracture. He spent a whole year out not doing any sport while his leg fixed - the accident happening in April 2012. He had the pins removed nearly a year later this January and then had a couple of months before being given the clear to resume sport in March.

April saw a shaky start to the season for him with massive muscle reduction due to the inactivity, he was run-out so many times because he lacked the power and strength at the start of the season. Batsmen targeted him it seemed seeing that of all the players he was the one that couldn't run that well. Initially it looked as though he might not have a team, so many of the kids that were in his team in the 2011 season seemingly giving up and fading way in the 2012 season which was also marred by the fact that it was one of the wettest summers on record here in the UK. At the start of the season his U13's team was made up of 3 kids and what with all of the other factors I was afraid that he may have turned round and said "Dad, I'm not that fussed, it's going to be 2 years before my legs back to normal... I wont play this season". Thankfully the youth manager at the club Jeff 'No-Ball' Noble came up with a cunning plan...

Our U15's team is in a good situation with more players than are needed, meaning many of the lads get over-looked for most of the games. Jeff realised that he could make up an U15's 'B' team by combing the over-looked U15's boys and the U13's "Three". Through discussions with the local clubs he was able to set up a season of 'Under 15's B-Team matches and so Joe was back on track albeit only 11 and in an U15's league. Despite the fact that Joe had his weak leg, a year out of all sport and being one of the youngest in the team, he went from strength to strength. His abilitied were stretched even further as he was commandered to play in the U16's team - made up of 90% U15's A-Team players. He didn't back down and had to face some seriously pacey bowling from some big lads that must have turned 16 on the day that allowed them to play in the U16's!!!

As the year went on her got fitter and fitter, being that bit older he was prepared to put his body on the line in the field and he bowled really well. Over the summer in the paddock he began to work with finger spin and has got pretty good at it mixing it up with his straight stuff in matches. I reckon next year as his leg nears normalisation and he grows in height and all round confidence this'll come together quite well.

At the end of the season we had our clubs annual fun day, which I love and at the end of the day they issued all the youth players with the annual youth awards. I hadn't thought about that much as Ben hadn't practiced in the paddock at all almost and as a result his bowling this season was very sporadic in both the U15's and the 4ths and 3rd XI's. He had the ocassional spell that went well and the odd over here and there was really good, but nothing like the consistency of some of the other boys in his age group. With regards to bowling, Joe had got better all year, but what with being in the same age group and team as the legendary Frank Farrington (Wrist Spinner) Joe was never going to be in contention for a bowling award. But I'd over-looked the potential of 'All-rounder'. I think they announced the U15's awards first and when they got to the all-rounder award, it then dawned on me... Who would be the 'All-rounder'? I thought who was in the team and realised it would be between Frank and Joe and therefore Joe had a chance and sure enough as you'll see below, Joe won U15's B-Team All-rounder!!!
Joe accepting his award from Jeff Noble and Bob Ayres.

 Joe 3rd from left with the other winners for 2013 including fellow 'Paddock Boy' Harry 'The underground shrew' Hodgson.
Joe and Harry Hodgson.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I've virtually written a book!

Over the last few years I've been trying to update my other blog (The legspin one) which still gets loads of hits despite the fact that it's not been updated properly for years. I've got a load of files in folders that I've been working on with the intention of up-dating that blog and possibly areas of this blog. I still need to get hold of a copy of photo-shop to work on loads of ideas I have for graphics, photo's and illustrations for the blog, but tonight I've had a bit of a sort out and now I've got some sense of how enormous this project has become and how far more advanced it is in comparison with any of the existing content. I wouldn't hold your breath though, because there's still a lot of work to do, but I may be able to start uploading the content chapter by chapter to the other blog.

It looks as though without a doubt it's likely to be the most comprehensive web-link on the internet with regards wrist-spinning, not because of my advanced knowledge or anything like that, but just because of my enthusiasm and committment to our speciality.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Women's international T20 cricket England

I run the risk of sounding sexist here and generalising on a grand scale and apologise beforehand if I do. A couple of weeks ago, someone we know was given a handful of tickets for the Australia v England women's T20 match at the Essex Count Ground here in Blighty. The match was a part of their Ashes tour and we went along... My wife who doesn't like cricket and my two lads Joe 12, Ben 14. The weather was good and it was a late start evening match meaning they ended up playing under lights for the 2nd innings. I'm not a massive cricket fan, who goes all the time, but I've seen a few test match games featuring a number of the test match sides... England, Australia, Pakistan and India. I play cricket at 3rd and 4th XI club level and therefore play alongside youngsters 15, 16, 17 and 18 year olds. But, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw that evening...

I work in FE education teaching girls between the age of 16 and 25, our college has sports qualifications and I see some of the activities that they get involved in, but overall I must admit I kind of write girls off as being a lost cause when it comes to sport. So this game I watched was a revelation, I was absolutely amazed at every aspect of the game, I've never seen cricket played with such intensity, commitment, agility and skill as both the England and Australian sides. Maybe it's the same in mens T20, but without witnessing it, I'm sceptical? Maybe I have such low expectations of women's sport, that this reality which may be normal for avid sports watchers - was just totally new and unexpected for me?

I was amazed at how fit they were overall, simple things like, if one of the girls did something spectacular inside the circle, some of the girls on the boundary would think nothing of running in congratulating her and running back to their fielding position. Not once, but throughout the game, as though conservation of energy was not on their radar. Whilst fielding, they were continually running as sweepers almost 1/4 of the way round the pitch at full tilt to then put in a spectacular dive at full stretch for the ball to land cleanly as if magnetised into their hands to then land and get up within a fraction of a second getting the ball 95% of the time straight back to the keepers hands. It was draw dropping amazing and again not a one off or restricted to one super fielder, but all of them, it wasn't like they were human, they were super-human, I've never seen anything like it in my life. I've seen some amazing surfers, the worlds best, I've seen premiership football (which is as dull as hell and totally over-rated) but this was incredibly good. The English wicket keeper Sarah Taylor was simply astounding, standing up to the stumps to the 'quicks', taking the ball from full blooded hook shots almost wearing the bat in the face and she doesn't wear a helmet! A cat couldn't have reacted that fast on speed. Looking around for something to back up or explain the no helmet rationale I found this and reading some of it, I'm not alone in recognising the super-human aspects of these girls, Taylor in particular - being discussed within the ECB it seems, as an option in the mens game, she is that good!

I've read and heard before, that in the future, the fact that because of the biology of women and thier in-built superior recovery rate, which comes as a result of having to go through child birth and then get back to looking after a family, this puts women in a potentially superior place to men. They apparently run marathons and go through other physical long haul endurance tests and recover at far faster rates than we do. With todays diets and the developments in sport science are we looking at a period soon where women's sport starts to have parity with men? Because the evidence I saw at Essex a couple of weeks ago would suggest that the day is far closer than I'd ever imagined.

I'd recommend Women's international T20 cricket to anyone if it featured either England or Australia, it was for me the greatest sports spectacle I've ever seen with regards skill, agility, speed, commitment, stamina and more besides!

*Note; As with a lot of people who write on the internet, I am not an expert and I have to admit some of the stuff above relating to Women and their recovery rates is not substantiated and I don't recall where I got that info from. This morning I've searched for some data from a more reliable source and somewhat worringly, this article came up 3rd place in the search on Google!

I found this which was interesting because it claims that women in some instances are more likely to sustain injuries than men, but it doesn't then go on to say anything with regards my claim that they recover quicker once injured. Again because this is '' the sources for their claims like mine are vague and unsubstantiated. If you are looking for the truth, you're advised to look at books, they're far more reliable!

Later....(From - )

What all of this emerging science means for women and the scientists who study (or ignore) them is not yet completely clear. “We need more research” into the differences between male and female athletes, Dr. Rowlands says. In his own study, a particularly intriguing and mysterious finding suggested that the female cyclists somehow sustained less muscle damage during the hard intervals than the men did. Their blood contained lower levels of creatine kinase, a biochemical marker of trauma in muscle tissue. Did oestrogen protect the women’s muscles during the riding? And if so, why did the female cyclists who ingested protein complain of sore and tired muscles during the sessions? “Honestly, I don’t know,” Dr. Rowlands says, adding that he does not think that his findings suggest that women should skip protein after exercise. “It’s true that we didn’t see evidence for a benefit,” he says. But his study was one of a kind. The findings need to be replicated.
In the meantime, female athletes should view with scepticism the results from exercise studies that use only male subjects. As Dr. Rowlands says — echoing a chorus of men before him — when it comes to women, there’s a great deal that sports scientists “just don’t understand.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

Let it rain!

Last week I decided that maybe I'll get a little more cricket out of Ben next year and maybe fair bit out of Joe as he's younger. In view of this it'll be worthwhile doing some repairs on the wicket in the paddock which is in a right state. Over the last couple of years I've been collecting clay and compost and I've got a nice repair mixture already made up in bins and bags around the yard and in the garage. So I bought some treated seed and after filling in the holes and rolling the repaired areas seeded it all.

Then up till today we had dry weather and it wasn't look at all promising with regards to the new grass getting off to a good start, but this evening and for the next 48 hours we're going to have rain, so it looks like things will get underway. I'll try and post some pictures over the weekend.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Personal development

Yesterday I mentioned that the paddock hadn’t been used that much, implying that this season I hadn’t practiced as much as I might have done in previous years. Basically that’s the truth, early in the season I did the usual things where I perceived that I was doing okay and then suddenly the next day I was bowling badly again with no idea of what it was that had happened in the intervening 24 hours. I also felt as though if my own bowling was as bad as it was, who was I to pass comment on other people’s bowling and I ended up feeling like a bit of charlatan on the forums, so started to pull back from that a little, to re-assess where I was at with my own bowling.
One of the key observations I've made over the last couple of years, has been the more relaxed I am the better I bowl, an obvious call and one that is advocated by Peter Philpott in his book. So, the plan was chill out and see what would happen. So I bowled less and limited what it was that I was doing, focusing on the leg break and only toying with the top spinner and the wrong un. I tried a couple of things that contradicted a lot of the info I’d been picking up from different people on the internet and things I’d read in books and they worked out quite well. I watched the kid at our club – Frank Farrington and spoke to him about what he does, this is a kid who’s only 12/13 years old but takes 8 wicket hauls for 9 runs and stuff, bamboozles adults and sends them packing cursing and swearing looking for revenge when they come back to field only to find he’s a half decent bat as well as a damn fine bowler!
Overall, I just felt that I needed stop listening to all the info and trust my own feelings and try and bowl relaxed. Philott makes a big issue of the relaxation aspect of the bowling and Warne advocates it in some of his on-line videos. Sure enough, as soon as I started to implement some of these strategies, my bowling started to come together on a more consistent basis in practice scenarios. Another thing I noticed in games is the neccesity to hydrate, then leaves me with a full bladder when I'm in the field and I become really aware of it and that leads to a sensation of not being fully relaxed and I discovered that when I'm given the nod I now ask if I can go off and have a pee and this leads to far better bowling as I'm more relaxed and not focussed on my bladder.
I''m currently dipping into Brian Wilkins book and noted some interesting stuff. In the Flipper chapter he makes some good observations with regards to written descriptions of the aspects and details of bowling - specifically the Flipper. He makes the point in the chapter that there have been so many attempts at describing the Flipper with very little knowledge of it, that it's muddied the waters as such. But he concedes generally that cricket terminology and descriptions are difficult to grasp when presented as words on a page and this is something I've struggled with too, along with audio descriptions too. One of which that has always flummoxed me is the wrist spinners instructions with regards the shoulder going over one another to generate spin. Terry Jenner demonstrates it quite well in one of his BBC videos on Youtube 1:58 in, with all these tutorials and explanations, it's very easy to let these instructions pass you by, without you realising how integral they are to your bowling.

Another thing that Wilkins gets across through using examples of the experiences of many of the all time greatest wrist spinners is the time factor involved in learning how to bowl wrist spin. He cites Benuad in the flipper section saying that it was two years in the process from discovery to effective use. Whereas this season I was hoping to re-introduce my flipper having not bowled it for the best part of two years only to find I'd lost it. The same with the Wrong Un; having suddenly felt that my Leg Break had come together I've been very wary about bowling the wrong un for fear of messing up my leg break action. The result has been that neither the flipper or the wrong un have come up to scratch, the flipper especially poor and the wrong comes out as a top-spinner.

All of which have helped me find some decent form towards the end of the season, but still relatively wicket-less. The order that these revelations arrived in were...

1. Realising that being relaxed is essential.
2. Bowl with a loose grip*
3. Get side-on and get the shoulders going one over the other.
4. Cock the wrist.

The application of these made dramatic basic improvements, and meant that my stock ball was coming out really well, the addition of things such as getting up on the toes and standing tall, then brought dramatic dip and bounce and more turn off the wicket.

Another thing that's always bothered me is the descriptions of the ball fizzing through the air, I'd never heard my ball fizzing through the air and no-one had ever mentioned it, but I asked Joe to listen half way down the strip and he said that most of them do, so that was a very simple thing that gave me more confidence.

Some of these things need to be written about in isolation and I'll aim to go over them again in some way, but I think reflecting on what's happened and reading about the great bowlers and the time they spend developing different deliveries, the over-riding realisation is that what we do is bloody hard and it does take years and years to do it well.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Longest gap between blogging

It's been a while since I last posted anything on here or the two forums I'm normally active on. There's been a number of reasons... The 'Gove' affect is one of them and one of the others is the discovery of Battlefield 3 on the Xbox in 'Hardcore' mode, but that's kind of wearing off now as I'm reaching the highest level in the game. The other reason was the multitude of cricket games, Joe's been playing, Ben's been in the Under 15's, 16's, 4th XI and the 3rd XI with me, so it's just been mental and we went surfing in the middle of it all and the weather has been very commendable. All of which has meant there's been very little in the way of time for blogging! But. now the season has finished and the nights are rapidly drawing in, there's more time and I can get back on it and report on what's happened and what I've been up to.

One of the things that I aim to do is come up with some kind of strategy whereby I possibly blog once a week and formulate some way of reducing the waffle. I'll have to see how it goes.

Anyway, todays content - The Paddock

Last year at this time of year I didn't do any remedial work on the paddock and at the batting end of the strip, there was still evidence of wear from the previous season, so needless to say this season that wear has been exacerbated and it's been in a right state for months, not helped by the good weather. So this year I've decided to risk it and tonight I've been over there and filled in the big hole with a mixture of clay and organic matter (Compost) and some of the smaller holes and the foot marks at the bowling end. I've used coated seed for shady areas made by Qualcast. There's rain predicted for the next couple of days and then another warm spell, so with a bit of luck that'll get the grass growing and on its way. I just hope that the footballers don't come over as they seem to at this time of year and wreck the whole field including the newly seeded areas. There's nothing I can do about it other than keep my fingers crossed!

Generally though the paddock is looking okay and looks to have benefitted from having the brambles and trees cut down from the fence on the south side as they were starting to block the light.

I didn't used it as much as I normally do and I'll say why in a blog in the next week or so, Ben and Kieran hardly used it, I think Kieran came along and bowled once and the fact that neither of them bowled in there and practiced in the way that they normally do is reflected in the fact that neither of them bowled spectacularly this year and it affected their selection and where they bowled in the bowling attack. Neither of them won any awards either, whereas Joe, who has been in there practicing and working on his fitness, did benefit from it and won U13's all-rounder this year which is good.