Monday, March 10, 2014

Net session No.2 - Gibbs Reflective Practice
A couple of nights ago we had the 2nd net session of the season at Woodlands school and it went okay, not a massive turnout with regards the adults, but a new bloke turned up who looked a bit handy.

 What happened? Considering some of the things I discussed in the last Gibbs reflection, I didn’t really look to change much this week. One of the obvious things that needed work was my general fitness, and over the last few days I’ve been out running and done some cardio work and upper-body work as well. Last week I didn’t recover till Monday morning, but this week I’ve recovered much faster and didn’t feel anywhere near as knackered. As I recall the other thing I said I’d be doing is just bowl and feel right bowling rather than do a macro focus on one or more aspects. There are issues, but at the moment I’m still not looking to address them and get too hung up on them.

 I changed nets frequently and bowled at people who generally deal with my bowling easily and didn’t really gain anything from the experience other than reinforcing the notion that (1). I need to be accurate with regards length and (2). I need to spin it hard and vary the angle of the seam to create leg break sub-variations (Big Leg Breaks and little leg breaks).

 Feelings: (What were you thinking and feeling)? Again relatively happy as I’m recognising that I’m able to increase the amount of spin and the angle the ball spins at and this looks very promising in the longer term and it looks as though I’m progressively recovering my Top-Spinner which has been defunct for some time now.

 Evaluation (What was good and bad)? Good things were the fact that I went across to the 1st and 2nd team nets and bowled at the new bloke and got him with the first ball – edged it to slips for an easy take. I also bowled out my older son Ben 3 times in a row (hit the stumps all three times), although I don’t want to gloat about that too much as he was feeling good about his batting last week.

 Bad stuff, others… Sonny Downes and Tom Hardy both dealt with me fairly easily, although the slightly more top-spun version of my leg break (Straighter ball) had Tom in trouble a bit as his main tactic is to come down the wicket and the extra dip for him caused him problems.

 Analysis (What can you make of the situation)? Keep things going as they are, keep going with the fitness and bring on this Top-Spinner and maybe gradually look to mix with a loopy Flipper. The top-spinner which I’m working with using a windball looks pretty good and I think it’s converting okay to the real cricket ball with very little problems so far. I’m also noticing that with very little effort now I’m producing a ball that turns more and so it looks as though I’ll have a leg break with two other variations.

 Conclusion (What else could I have done)? Not sure really – I’m quite happy with what I’m doing, maybe start to think a little more about getting side on out of the bound, I am doing it a little, but as I said I don’t really want to be getting too bogged down with it. Maybe I’ll give it some though this coming week?

 Action Plan (Next week – what will I do)? Flipper, Top Spinner and stock ball – get sideways out of the bound with the stock leg break. Or is that too much? Yeah… too much. I’ll focus on the Top-Spinner mixing with the stock ball I reckon and see how that goes?
General Stuff

 Tonight in the earlier part of the session (u13’s) we were joined by a group of lads from the school. Reason being is that one of the 1st/2nd team players is a PE teacher over there as far as I can make out and he’s obviously been doing a bit of cricket with them and had invited them along. The lads that turned up were in Joe’s age group U13’s. The intention I believe is that these lads attend the rest of the sessions and then join the team at the start of the season and become members?

 There was also talk around the idea that John (PE teacher) would also encourage the U15’s to get involved too, so maybe next week we’ll see an influx of boys from that age group? All of which puts pressure on the current established boys with regards their positions within the teams! Looking at that situation last week, it did look as though that situation was already looking a little competitive already between the lads already in the team. Whilst it’s obviously good for the club – new players, more income, potentially better vibe, possible improved overall team performance – the selectors have more choice, etc. The individuals who are then displaced – perhaps at important points in the season (Ben in the final at Benfleet against Orsett a couple of years ago can leave some people aggrieved)? I know there are already people who feel that their kids were over-looked last year, but the fact that is how it’s going to be, there’s never any easy way round it and the situation is universal throughout cricket. It virtually comes down to the fact that if you want a regular game, you have two options…

  •  You clearly (Statistically) need to be one of the top 4 Batsmen.
  • You clearly need to be one of the top 4 bowlers.
    Next best thing is be a good wicket keeper or all-rounder. Other important aspects seem to be – you can use nets as an opportunity to show your prowess, some people don’t show up at nets, but the coaches, selectors and team captains do and they’re forever watching and making mental notes about each individual’s performance (You’d hope)? So, if you can, put the effort in, turn up at nets, show you’re willing to learn and look to show some improvement in some aspect of your game, you’re only going to increase the chances of being selected?

 In that respect, both Ben and Kieran did okay last night and I’m sure Frank Farrington did the same in his net, although I didn’t see a lot of his bowling. Kieran, in particular looked very promising albeit needing a little more tweaking, his bowling looked fast… deceptively fast and with virtually no bounce even though he was bowling ridiculously short, if he could get some more practice in and bowl a lot fuller outside of the off-stump a little or right on the toes – kind of Yorker length balls I reckon he’d do well. I didn’t see him swing it, but in recent years he’s got the ball to swing as well, so if he gets that back and practices enough to control it, I reckon he could be really good like he was a couple of seasons back.

 Ben did well too and they moved him over into the adults nets to see how he’d get on with the better batsmen, so that’s a good start for him, he came back and said he’d done okay. It would be good to see him try and swing the ball as well rather than just bowling it so that it did something off the seam, although he does have a pretty good off-cutter.

 I’m not even sure Ben or Kieran think about the game in the same way, and I’m obvious this is a parent perspective more than an issue that affects the kids that much. I know from Ben’s perspective, he’d be far more inclined to play 4th XI adult cricket, so I’m not sure whether he’d be that bothered to be honest? I suppose, we’ll have to see how it goes and see if he perceives the influx of potential new lads as a threat to him playing in every available game?
One person who turned up this week from the U15's who wasn't there last week was Tim and he had a good night taking some scalps with his bowling, he'd bowled well in the 4th XI last year and tonight 'Boom Messi in a pack'! He bowls Sonny Downes out with one of his very own 'Tadpole balls'!!! Go Tim!!!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Spin Bowling Workshop (Essex).

One of the people that has helped me a lot over the years has been Liz Ward, and she’s contacted me recently with regards the potential of spin workshop…

Hi Dave,

I have been speaking to a coach [ex-Zimbabwe International] who would like to put on a spin workshop.  Are you still interested, if so what would you like covered? Would you know of anybody else interested to attend?

It would be great if you could ask whether anybody else would be interested and if so, what they would like.

 As far as costs, I guess it would have to cover venue so the more, the cheaper!

The soonest this can happen would be late spring.  It will be in Essex but open to where; obviously, the further you have to travel, the less the cost as you would not have to pay for the coaches travel.

Let me know what you think and come up with.

Kindest regards,

 If you’re interested go to this link here, register and contact me either through the forum or PM me via the forum. If you know me to speak to – obviously contact me direct.

Paddock update

Over the last week since putting the 2nd batch of seed down in the paddock and feeding it with nutrients, the weather has been relatively fine. Trees are coming out in blossom, crocuses are out and here and there a few Daffodils are appearing, so spring is on its way. I had a quick look at the paddock on Friday afternoon and it is still very damp and muddy. There’s no sign of any of the seeds germinating yet and I expect it’ll be another week or so yet before any of the shoots appear.

 I think last week I may have mentioned that when I’ve put seed down in the past it always looks as though it hasn’t taken that well and without any additional nutrients being put down, it starts to struggle after an initial promising burst into life. The council have put seed down in the goal-mouths in the paddock and their grass looked a lot better than mine (The stuff put down in October). But on Friday when I had a look my grass has burst back into life again and the council grass is now suffering. My grass got some feed last week and it’s kicked into action already and the October grass is starting to look healthy.

 I’ve not put down any additional seed this week, but next weekend I’ll probably get some put down and I’ll also consider rolling it if it’s not soaked.

Gibbs Reflective Practice in Cricket (Net Session)

Gibbs Reflective Practice in cricket (Net Session)

 What Happened –

 The evening was divided into 2 periods - Under 13’s from 7pm – 8.15. U16’s and Adults in the later session 8.30 – 10.00. Joe, my younger son who’s 13 was in the first session with Harry and I went along to help out watch and get involved as much as possible.

 “G-Man” AKA Graham Davies was on hand to run the session and as usual did a very good job of it again. They were a kid short so I joined in and was put through the same drills along with the kids, in this session the kids are all around 10-13 year olds. We did a few warm up drills which were cricket specific and then moved on to drills that were about agility, catching and making quick decisions. By the end of that phase, what with doing low ‘Slip catches’ my thigh muscles were beginning to feel the burn. We then had a game of “Lords cricket”, which looked like “Kwik Cricket” to me. That was fun and then that took us to the end of the session.

 I then had to take Joe and Harry home and collect my older son (15) Ben and bring him back in the car for the adults session. At this point I was already feeling knackered and I still had another hour to go and all this at the end of a long week! I’d got home early today and if it hadn’t been for my neighbour accosting me I’d have had a nap – I was that exhausted!

 Once back, the 4 nets were divided up into 2 groups – adults in 2, U16’s in the others. I was chucked into the deep end with Mike Blerkom putting me into bat first in the secondary net (Non 1st team players). I had Mike bowling at me, a new bloke and Frank Farringtons Dad Mark. What with it being the first net of the session it went okay.

 Ben was in the U16’s net and I didn’t really get to see how he did.

 Feelings – (What were you thinking or feeling)

 The session was at the new facility at Woodlands school which had been sold as state of art facilities and somewhere along the way I’d somehow heard that the nets were electric and I think I may have been hoping that the floor was going to be like the floor at the Essex County ground which is sprung and cushioned with a soft surface. It wasn’t. Yes, the floor was sprung, but the surface was shiny wood. The bowling surface was your usual ‘Nets’ matting, so it was a pretty basic and only ran half way down the wicket length, but more than adequate. So, it wasn’t quite as spectacular as I was hoping for, but at the same time I kind of was expecting it to be over-sold as is everything these days, what with embracing of that cultural aspect of America ‘Bigging things up’. I’d much prefer the more honest British approach of ‘Yeah – it’s alright… it’s indoors and dry’. One good thing is that, the light is good, there are venues in the area that in some respects are really good (Fitzwymarc), but the lighting is awful and the whole space is dark. So, it is swings and roundabouts.

 Being asked to bat first, my initial thought were – Jesus, they’re going to be fresh and fast, I didn’t think that they’d also been resting for 5 months or so and were no where near match ready, son in fact once I’d faced a few balls it was okay. But the initial thoughts had been erring towards being apprehensive.

 Bowling – By the time I’d got to bowl, I’d already been with Joe running around for over an hour and then in the nets I’d been swinging the bat around in very hot conditions (Oh yeah – the venue is very well heated as well, and a note to self – wear shorts next week). So by the time I’d finished my net which was well in excess of 20 minutes, I was dripping with sweat and exhausted! With adrenalin being pumped around my body and my heart rate up and feeling exhausted it was increasing unlikely that I’d bowl that well.

 Evaluation – What was good and bad about the situation?

 The good stuff first. My batting was okay for me, I think with each year even though I’m 53 and don’t get that many chances to bat (I bat at No. 10 or 11)  I did okay. I don’t know how much Mike Blerkom bowls, but I’ve faced him before and not fared anywhere near as well as I did today, but then I have to temper that with the fact that this may have been the first time he’s picked a ball up since September? The other bloke was new, but big and young, he was accurate and for the most part I kept him out, but he got me a couple of times. Mark Farrington bowls slow off-spin, so I tried to take the opportunity to try a few things out against him and came a cropper a few times as well. But overall I felt okay and relatively confident.

 Bowling – There wasn’t a lot of good, other than it was a chance to see how fit I was and whether there’d be any issues with my shoulder. I think with the pre-season fitness work that I have been doing, I came through that okay and was quite pleased from that perspective.

 Bad stuff – Much too full 75% of the time and a lot of balls to Mark (Left handed) far too wide. I’m not convinced that my action was that good and I’m going to have to practice some more in order to groove that aspect of my bowling, but I think that’ll come. So, considering that a little more, there were more ‘Good’ aspects… The approach to the crease was pretty energetic as was the movement through the crease, I was getting up on my toes, but I think the arm coming through and past the hips was weak as was getting side on out of the bound. Most of the balls were standard stock leg breaks and the surface wasn’t assisting with spin, but I did notice over in the kids nets that Tom Hardy was spinning the ball really hard and getting a lot of turn off the wicket. One obvious thing I need to do is spin the ball harder! On one of the balls that I got Mark with – hitting the off-stump, was from bringing the wrist round to put more side spin on it and it pitched way outside of his off-stump and came back in.

 Analysis – what sense can you make of the situation?

 Writing this, 24 hours later I’m still suffering from the 3 hour onslaught that my obviously ill-prepared body went through, but that’s what this is about partly. Usually, it doesn’t come together for me till late June and that I reckon is just the fact that I simply do not do enough exercise earlier in the year to enable me to hit the ground running at the start of the season. So, these kind of scenarios where I do put my body through it, highlight the fact that I need to be far more physically active, but like most people these days, the opportunities are few and far between. Today for instance it’s been quite nice – sunny and dry, but it’s only March the 1st and in the UK that means it’s on 9 degree centigrade – hardly conducive with cricket training. But, as it does get warmer and the nights get longer I will be putting in the effort to be in a better position at the start of the season this year.

 The technical aspects, I’m not going to get too hung up about as that’s what I normally do and I then focus on very small specific things and tend to obsess on that specific thing at the expense of my general overall bowling. Last year, I didn’t practice as much as previous years and adopted a strategy of following my instincts and the feel of my body rather than go with things I’d been advised to do. I also looked to be on target straight away and realised that was all about being relaxed. I also limited my bowling to just using 36 balls (6 overs worth) and all of these adjustments to my training worked.

 So, it feels as though this year I should focus on fitness and tie this in with last years bowling approach and see how it pans out.

 Conclusion – What else could have been done?

 Nothing while I was there, I made full use of the session, the most obvious thing I could have done was not have taken my foot off the gas at home with regards the fitness and stamina training, but after a day at work I come in knackered and just want to sit down with a game of BF3! I’ll try and get on with it again but writing the 2nd half of this now nearly 2 days later I still feel like I’ve been in the middle of a big Pamplona Bull run and been a victim! So I can’t see that I’ll be getting on it in the next 24 hours!

 Action Plan – If the situation arose again what might you do?

 I might try and go forwards with my batting and try and develop a shot or two. Generally I feel quite confident, but as yet I’ve not had to face any nasty fast bowling. I would like to be able to do something with off-spin, I hate off-spin as it causes me all sorts of problems and off-spinners to tend to bowl relatively flat, but with loads of speed variation. I might have a look around the internet and see what people say with regards playing it.

 With my bowling as mentioned – general fitness and keep in mind not to focus on specific problems to the point they become a massive issue. Remember – if I’m relaxed it works, if I worry and over-think things, it becomes more of a problem. If it starts getting like that – walk away and come back to it later with a different frame of mind.