Monday, October 06, 2014

Subtle Variation - Leg Break bowling

This is just an idea, which might work for some people.

Even though I've now been bowling this stuff for 7 years I'm still learning all the time and I'm still trying to figure out ways to improve. My action seems to change from one season to another, although this season I felt a lot more relaxed and I tried not to tweak what I was doing at the end of the season last year and it does seem to have worked.

There's a few things I know I can do to make small adjustments to my bowling that make a significant difference. One of these is to consciously get right up on my toes when I'm pivoting. Because I don't do it to the extent that perhaps I should, when I do so, it does increase the risk of my bowling being slightly more wayward, but it is recognisably effective in that it spins far more, turns off the wicket far better and often with more bounce.

The conclusion therefore is...

(1). A small adjustment in what you do with your foot e.g. get up onto your toes may make a significant difference to what the ball does at the business end. What you are doing, when you do this (potentially) is bracing your leg in your pivot, this also gives you marginally more height.

(2). Conversely, if you're someone who bowls leg breaks in a way that is very consistent and you feel that you want to vary it in some way, you could possibly try the opposite - reduce the rise up on to the toes to produce a ball that spins less? I know this goes against the grain in terms of what you're told about the pivot, but it may work for you and might be worth looking at as a subtle variation?

B&PCC 4th XI v Harlow Town 4th XI

As usual, as the weekend drew nearer the usual shenanigans with players being moved around, blokes saying they can't play for one reason or another and some people making is clear that they'd rather not play for this or that team. This is despite the fact that it was made very clear at the start of the season that people would need to be flexible as much as possible because we're so stretched as a club with regards getting all four teams out.

One of the issues at the minute is that there are some good younger players doing exams for school/college etc and they're totally committed to that aspect of their lives, which you have to commend rather than condemn, so good luck with that if you're one of those players in that situation. As an FE educator I'd like just like to say - pay a lot of attention on English & Maths, they're the most important ones to get right and get you into college or onto A-Levels.

All that aside, the selection committee and Dave Ayres did a sterling job and once again I went to the match with 11 again. I had to ring up Harry 'Bat' Hodgson and see if he'd have a game at the last minute and he said yes and was well up for it as Joe was playing. This meant another team loaded with youth including 2 x U13's! One of whom was my son Joe, who's helped us out a few times now and mid week had said he didn't want to play, he's stood in the field for hours each game and lasted a few seconds each time he's batted and not had a bowl, so I could understand why he didn't want to play and initially said okay to the idea. As Saturday arrived around 10, my wicket keeper rang in and said he couldn't make it and for a short while we were short. The night before Michelle (My wife) had said to Joe 'What you going to do all day if you don't play'? Youtube was either the answer or the activity that he would do if left to his own devices, so he was told you're playing. To be honest he was okay about it in the end.

On the way to the venue I have to stop off to get my scorebook and offer people lifts and do a last minute check to see if everyone's got a lift and I've got all my players. Once there I became more aware of the seriousness of the wicket keeper situation. Fortunately our 2nd XI were playing at the same venue and within their team was a potential keeper, all that was required was that once we were there we'd just swap someone over. It seemed like a plan, but I couldn't think of anyone obvious who'd go for the swap...

On arrival I had...

  1. John Bedford*
  2. Gary Savage*
  3. Frank Farrington - (14)
  4. Frank McLeod*
  5. Stuart Munday*
  6. Jack Farrington - (18)
  7. Ben Thompson - (15)
  8. Kieran Barbero - (15)
  9. Dave Thompson
  10. Joe Thompson - (12)
  11. Harry Hodgson - (13)
* Older senior players.

The journey was fine despite prior warnings of there being potential  hold ups on the M25. Once there I met Tom the captain who was a nice bloke, did the toss and won again and decided to bowl which was always going to be the way after the recent games. He said they'd have batted if he'd won, I guess this is seeing the fact that our team is full of youngster, for the sake of the game they go with that option and it gives their batsmen the chance to run up some runs?

The issue of the wicket keeper then had to be resolved. All of the older, experienced blokes in the team are good mates and I think they all want to play in the 4's and they're also the batsmen, so they couldn't go. The Farrington's are brothers -ones a seam up opener and the other is the wrist spinner Frank, so I didn't want either of them to go and the rest of the team are much younger kids who were playing to do me a favour, so it would have been a bad show to move one of those across. That left me, so I said I'd go. My son Ben said he'd keep - but he's never done it and that made no sense at all, so I'd been in a bit of a dilemma as I walked out onto the centre for the toss. But as I got back one of the senior players said that Frank McLeod would do it. So that was brilliant, as that resolved that situation, so a big thanks to Frank, although I don't think he was that happy about it.

So far, so good... The next plan I wanted to implement now that we'd won the toss was to give everyone a bowl. Everyone on the team apart from Harry and Frank would put their hands up and say I'll bowl. For all I know Frank would bowl too? I knew that I wanted to give John Bedford a bowl as he missed out last week and he's a good bowler. I also wanted to give Joe a bowl as he's helped me out now in most of the games, but I didn't know how nervous he'd be or how that might go down with the rest of the team, but was pretty sure I'd get him in there for at least a couple of overs.

Over the last week I've been number crunching, looking at old score book bowling figures and the evidence that I've collated suggests the following...

Only looking at the data for the first 4 overs of the bowling spells and so far I've looked at data for 71 bowling performances mainly from 4th XI games. The data so far...

In the bowlers 1st over (Sample of 71 first overs) 18 wickets are taken and 300 runs are made = Strike rate of 23.00
In 2nd over 21 wickets are taken and 311 runs are made = Strike rate of 20.20
In the 3rd over 20 wickets are taken for 276 runs = strike rate of 21.30
The 4th over 11 wickets are taken for 282 run = strike rate of 38.7

The evidence at this stage on the little data that I've been able to collect would suggest that it makes sense to bowl everyone for three overs as a standard procedure? Having discussed this with other cricket players on line, they then said, if the said bowler was to take a wicket in within the 3 overs you'd probably bowl him for the next and set him the target of  if you take another you buy yourself another over.  I suppose that could be adapted to include a Maiden and have the same reward as such? What I like about this approach is that everyone would get to bowl even if there were 11 bowlers. With this in mind I spoke to one of my mentors in the game (Senior player Gary Savage) about it and he said "That's pretty much what most captains do, but for 4 overs and if a bowler is doing well - you keep him on". With that in mind I went with a basic plan based around his advice...

Following posting the idea on I have an interesting email from someone who’s played cricket a lot longer than me and seemed to agree in principle but added another aspect to the idea which makes sense. If the bowler is taking wickets then why take him off?

So with that in mind I’ve developed the idea further and come up with a cunning plan…

Again – everyone who bowls or who wants to bowl does so for a guaranteed 3 overs based on the stats that I’ve collected. It’s in this phase most of the wickets are taken.

If the bowler takes a wicket or wickets within their allocated three, they get to bowl another over. If they then bowl a maiden or get another wicket they stay on for another and so on. As soon as runs are scored and the wicket taking stops he comes off and the new bowler comes on and goes through the same process.

I kind of stuck to this idea after speaking to Gary as initially very few runs were being made with Jack and Ben bowling as a pair, as I recall (Check book) they kept the score below 3 an over, but no wickets were being taken and they batted cautiously – maybe with the team we had - with all the youngsters, they saw this as an opportunity to occupy the crease and get as many runs for themselves? Both bowled well, Jack had two seemingly easy chances put down, one of which was me at point that hit hard hands and bounced straight out again and I wasn’t able to recover it and the other may have been little Joe at Mid on – a ball that was in the air for some time and he ended up doing the same as me – having the ball bounce out of his hands. Whilst Jack wasn’t happy I didn't recall that I over-heard someone at the club saying about the club generally, having seen a number of balls being put down at the BB game

 Kieran and John Bedford came on next; Kieran is a right-arm in-swinging bowler (Sometimes) but is erratic in his line and length, but off of a short run up and not having the same height as Ben and Jack the openers, when he does get it right it’s good and rapid, with a very low bounce. John on the other hand who’s played cricket all his life and is a little younger than me bowls is right arm finger spinner who bowls off-breaks and arm balls very accurately, changing the pace, flight and speed. He’s very economical.

Next up was Frank Farrington who bowls wrist spin and turns it loads and gets drift. He has days when he’s amazing and other days when it all goes wrong, but generally he takes wickets.


Sorry un-finished post.  



B&PCC U13's v Thurrock 8th June - Blackshots

  • Weather

  • Gorgeous blue skies and warmth is what met us as we got up and started to get ready. It always makes me realise how lucky I am that my kids never played football when they were younger, as they were quickly marginalised by the whole elitist ethos within football, if you didn't have the kit, your face didn't fit and the weird thing was it wasn't a Southend kit, or another Essex kit, it was one of the London kits and yet we live in Essex? Anyway, I missed out on the standing around in the freezing cold in the middle of winter - no great loss and I have no delusions that the England football team will win the world cup...

    So, the match was played under blue skies and puffy cumulus clouds in 24 degrees or more centigrade... Suntan weather! I've come back with sun burnt feet as I broke out the flip flops for the first time this year. I also got my shirt off for the first time at a cricket match - much to Michelle's consternation. I come from a working class background, I've always taken my shirt off and I can't see why I shouldn't!

  • Team changes

  •  The team didn't change a great deal if at all since last week, the only thing was that Rhys didn't turn up leaving the team a man down which is never a good thing.

  • The team

  • Callum O'Connor
    Joe Thompson
    Harry Hodgson
    Charlie Blerkom
    George Borley
    Mohammed Baig
    Matt Cruise
    Will Risden
    Mitchell Robinson
    Luke Bowring

  • First Innings

  • Basildon batted first opening with Harry and George Borley and almost from the outset there was a calamity. Harry 'Bat' Hodgson glanced the ball down to fine leg and Borley shouted yes! for a run, they both set off, but the ball was smartly taken by the fine leg fielder and he had Borley run-out by Spears for a Diamond Duck. That brought our District Player (Batting) Charlie Blerkom to the crease and off of his first ball he made I wild cross bat shot and the ball crashed into the stumps. It didn't stop there, the openers and the middle order came to the crease like lambs to the slaughter. The only bloke able to show some resistance was Harry 'Bat' Hodgson who survived 8 balls before falling to the opening duo of Surrey and Tagg. Surrey the better of the two stopped him in his tracks on 9 bowling him. Our big hitter Mohammed Baig didn't last long either and was cleaned up by Surrey. It was then up to the new boys and the also runs to see if they could fashion some kind of a recovery...

    Mathew Cruise and Mitchell Robinson got going and formed a mini partnership and started to get some runs on the board, both got off the mark with a few runs and were bowled opening the way for new lad Will Risden who was then joined by opening bowler Joe Thompson (My son). The most runs at this point were still Harry Hodgsons at 9. Thankfully despite the fact that the bowling looked devastating from the boundary in the way that the wickets fell, our lads were massively helped out by a lot of extras. This still left a massive task with 85 apparently being a decent score in these U13's matches. Joe and Will tried to address the situation and both managed to score 4, Will got two. Joe who isn't noted for his batting, batted freely and fairly sensibly and managed to get down the wicket okay (Still hasn't gained full fitness from his RTA a couple of years ago). Will did the same at the other end and was eventually dismissed by
    Arnold for 12, bringing Luke Bowring to the crease. He lasted 3 balls and was bowled again by Arnold and with no 11th player that was the end of the game leaving Joe 10 not out, making him the 2nd most productive player of the innings after Will. This is also Joe's all time personal best batting score!

    Later on, reflecting on the game he said that he just felt confident and this might be in part due to the fact that recently he's been playing adult cricket in the 4th XI with me... "It's because they were little kids" which is what he said himself even though he's only 12 himself! In addition to that we have been doing some work in the paddock using the side-arm and those heavy Slazenger cricket tennis balls. The side arms sends them down really fast and they're the same kind of weight as a 4.5oz cricket ball, so maybe that's paying off? But it was great seeing him bat so well and to be relatively successful.

    But in the end though, finishing with only 45 runs made and 21 extras to bring the total to 65 it did look as though it was pretty much a lost cause what with only 10 players in the field.

  • 2nd Innings - I'm now writing this months later and I haven't got the scores, but Thurrock came out strong and batted really well and made short work of the total that was posted by our lads. I think Joe bowled well as his bowling was commended by Matt Hills one of the Grays players.

  • Overall it was a good game, well mannered as I recall and it was good to see the blokes from Grays who I used to play with when I started to play cricket. I also love the backdrop to the photo's at Grays, so different to the cliché of Pub, Church and white picket fences!

  • Saturday, October 04, 2014

    Wrist Spin Top Tips - The Flipper

    Top Tips for the Flipper.

    If you've pretty much mastered your leg break and you're now fishing around for a variation the flipper might be an option for you. In his book the The Bowlers Art, Brian Wilkins makes a good case for having the Flipper as one of your variations. Once you've developed the muscles and learned the basic technique, there is scope to change the position of the hand to create variations within the variation as such.

    So, if you're in the UK and you're thinking ahead to the next season and developing a variation, you can get started with the Flipper without having actually bowl...

    One of the issues that stops people in their tracks when they start to work with the flipper, is the fact that they don't have the muscles developed in the hand, fingers and thumb to impart the spin. 

    My suggestion therefore is, over the winter you get yourself a smaller lighter ball - you could start with a tennis ball and start flicking the ball out of your flingers in the manner required. The technique is to grip the ball as indicated above. You can grip with either one finger, two or three over the top of the ball - whatever feels good for you. Most people find that the power to impart the spin comes off of the middle finger. If you're confused to how you actually perform the action - it is the exact same physical action as clicking your fingers to a music beat - except that there's a ball between the finger and thumb!

    Do this all the time - start with a small ball - maybe even a table tennis ball? Do it with apples, oranges - anything as long as you're able to give it a good click! You might find that initially you have no control over where it goes, but in time, it eventually starts to come out of the hand in the direction that you want it to. At this stage start to visualise and practice the release and arm position, thinking about how you'll bowl it.

    Do this over the winter consistently and that part of the action will be in place, all you'll need to do in winter nets is tie the release action to your bowling action. It should be relatively pain free.

    * I wouldn't take any notice of any of the stories you read about people taking 5 years to develop their flippers, I went from trying it for the first time to pretty much having the basics nailed in about a week (That was a week off from work - a few hours a day).

    The image here is the version I describe as being the bog standard Flipper, this goes down with a vertical seam with back-spin. On hitting the wicket it might do one of several things. If you can hold your nerve and bowl it slowly, it can stall massively with the back-spin That method used as a variation amongst Top-Spinners or over-spun Leg-Breaks can be very effective.