We've worked on the paddock again this year, rolled it and cut it and so far it's looking pretty good despite the fact that April has been very dry. The dryness has enabled us to get out there and bowl, so Joe and I have been practicing most evenings and then getting 2 or 3 sessions in at the weekend and things are coming along nicely. Joe's the one on the left here. My older son Ben on the right is in the midst of GCSE exam revision so is committed to that at the moment (Plus his girlfriend and his mobile phone). Joe on the other hand is full on cricket at the moment and I'm loving it. He's grown about 6" in the last year as well and is taller than both Ben and me, when I get a picture I'll post one up. As a consequence he's bowling a lot faster and batting with a lot more confidence, so I reckon he's got a good season ahead of him and I'm looking forward to playing in the 4's with him this summer.
The only issue I seem to have is overall cardio fitness and running, I was hoping to go cycling frequently to help with this, but as yet I've not been motivated enough to get out there and do it. So for the moment with a little less than two weeks to the first league match I'd say I was a little short of where I'd like to be.
Bowling - Everything looks promising at the moment with an improvement over last years bowling looking evident. I've been messing around with grips over the winter, flippers and the top spinner. At the end of last summer whilst on holiday in Cornwall mucking about with Ben and Joe I tried bowling finger spin, as they can both do it fairly well, Joe especially. I couldn't do it, but I found that I could still spin the ball like a leg break if I had the ball high up in the hand using a really fingery grip similar to an off-spinners grip. I then tried bowling with over-spin and found that worked and the ball was dead straight, so over the winter when the weather allowed I bowled this fingery version of the top-spinner and slowly it's come together. It's a wholly different approach in comparison with my over-spinning leg break, but it does give me something very different and it's pretty accurate.
At winter nets I tried it as well and if not over-used it worked really well against batsmen at all levels. Because it's a completely different grip to my leg break I also though that there may be scope to twist my arm and wrist and dip the shoulder and see if I could make it break like an off-break and sure enough it did. I've been working with both these over on the paddock and bit by bit they're coming together.
In addition I've been mucking around with different wrist positions for my leg breaks and this shows real promise in that it enables me to bowl a variety of sub variations. One really obvious variation I'm gradually working with is the use of a lower arm. This produces a very different delivery to my standard 'Stock' Leg break in that the ball might turn more (Not 100% sure), but one big difference is that it skids in low, much lower than my bouncy stock ball that has more over-spin than side spin.
Flipper - Been working with this as well. The difficulty with the Flipper is that I need to bowl it frequently in order that I can suddenly pull it out of nowhere and bowl it on the stumps with accuracy. Of all the things that I'm working with this is the ball that I'd be more inclined to scrap as it's the one that takes a couple of deliveries to get right and the first ball can end up off the cut strip if I try and get the speed up much higher.