Saturday, May 30, 2015

No cricket so far...

No cricket this Saturday, been at a Rugby match at Twickenham. Some team called Saracens won by quite a bit, didn't have a clue what was going on, blokes coming and going all the time, medics and blokes with drinks on all the time back and forth even cameramen on the pitch during play! Nothing like I remember back in the day with Eddie Waring! The highlight of the day was once it had finished. In the ground there was one big group of blokes all dressed up in cricket white with all the gear. Once out they set up on the concourse with a set of stumps and were getting kids to bat and bowl at each other. They were the fielders along with another 100 of us all watching and waiting for the chance to catch the ball! Far more entertaining and we watched for about 1/2 and hour as they played.

Not sure what happened at the club because there were a number of other events happening Lee Dutton was having a social event, The FA cup final was on and so too was the test match and looking at the website, some teams appeared to only have six to eight players! We'll probably hear about it on Monday when Joe has a game at Orsett for the U15's. Joe's game will be interesting as it's their nemesis team and one of the best teams in the area if not the best team. But so far this team has only been beaten once, despite the fact that it's rammed with U13 players. But one of the key players who has the ability to bowl a team out has yet to bowl in any of these matches - the captain Frank Farrington. So it'll be interesting to see if he bowls himself?

Before that though, there's tomorrow and there's a SDR match over at the Rec and they're two men down, so Joe and I are going to join them and play. Hopefully Joe will get a bowl and I'll get a few overs as well? No idea who we're playing against and the chances are the we're going to be affected by the rain. The forecast is for rain in the morning right up to the point when the game starts, so hopefully it'll be only light rain and with the wind it'll dry out quickly. Let's hope so.

Later in the day...

The bloke from SDR (Manager) rang in the morning and let me know the game was off. The weather did cheer up a bit and then later in the day it rained again, so if they'd had chanced it, it probably would have been called off.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Batting practice #2

Everything you need to know about bowling Leg Breaks here.

Lovely sunny day today and Joe and I went over to the paddock for a bat and a light bowling practice. The emphasis was batting to see if I could repeat yesterdays successes and the good news is that I could. I'm cautious though about being too over confident that this heralds some kind of major turn around in my batting, but it does look promising. Tomorrow night if the weather holds out, I'm hoping to go over to the Rec and practice with the SDR blokes, that'll be the point where I'll find out if there is some real improvement. Fingers crossed will have to see how it goes.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Batting practice

With so much bowling of late, I've had a rest tonight and had a bat instead. I was hoping that Joe would give the side arm a go as I'd discovered in the day that the bowling machine balls are dead easy to use with the side arm and he'd be able to throw a few down. Instead he hi-jacked the idea and said he's have a go facing it. So we set up and gave it a go. I thought he was looking to practice the cover drive so I kept throwing them down the off-side, but he got the right hump as he kept missing them and it was only once he'd ripped his pads off in disgust that he then said he wanted me to target the stumps! Anyway that aside, it was my turn, but then he couldn't get on with it and soon gave up and reverted to bowling himself...

Now normally that doesn't bode well as he mixes his bowling up loads and never lets me settle into one style and sure enough he was bowling me and getting me to do all sorts of daft stuff, but then I had a moment of clarity and thought... What if I start off with a really high back-lift ready and shift the angle of my body slightly (more side on) and just look to be a lot more positive and get my head in line with the ball moving my head towards the line of the ball once its released. I tried it and it worked! I was hitting the ball clean 90% of the time and timing it a lot better than I normally can, which is a massive improvement. Whether I can repeat the same thing again on another occasion remains to be seen, and then carrying it through to a game with other bowlers - again another matter, but with three ducks to my name so far out of three batting opportunities, I've got to try something different and this more positive approach can either bring results in some form or more ducks!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

SDR CC v Rayleigh Fairview CC (Sunday Friendly Cricket) at The Rec 24th May

Everything you need to know about bowling Leg Breaks here.

Last Sunday Joe and I cycled over to the Rec and found a couple of Sunday sides playing and offered our services as players to the SDR club and they said yes we'll take your number and give you a call. They also said that they practice over The Rec on Thursday's. I wasn't able to go to that as I work Thursday nights normally until the end of June. But this morning at 11.00 hrs I got a call and they said 'We need a player' either you or Joe up for it'? Do bears s**t in the woods?

I nicked Ben's whites, got my kit together and at 1pm found myself almost the first bloke over there! The weather was fine, nice and sunny and warm and a bit of a light breeze. The word was the weather was going to get progressively worse as the day went on and that there'd be rain at about 4pm.

I'm not sure who won the toss, but whatever happened we fielded first which is always my preferred option. It also seems that because of the weather they decided it would be a 30 overs game. I fielded mainly at Mid off, which is one of my favourite positions as you're generally in the game. I didn't have a clue as to whether I'd get to bowl or not and it didn't look that promising when the first couple of blokes took 3 wickets no time for next to no runs especially the bloke Monty with 2 wickets for 0 off of 3 overs and then they took the poor bloke off! At that rate it looked to me as though he was going to be on for 15 overs!
Not the case though, the captain James was rotating the bowling, it seemed in order that everyone got a bowl irrespective of however they did during their spell, I guess though that makes sense as that kind of follows my theory in that if you rotate the bowling and bowl in short spells, it means the batsmen can't settle particularly?

16 overs in and they'd taken 5 wickets for 44. The scorebook hasn't recorded the details of the wickets, but there was some exceptionally good fielding from the captain James who had a fantastic game. He took three catches and all of them were a bit special. The first one was a ball hit through cover point and James set off to try and intercept it and it looked to me as though he was too late, but he dived and caught it just before it grounded one-handed pulling off a superb catch. The next one in the covers he had a ball hot straight at him - head height, out the middle of the bat, one of those that most of us would possibly manage to parry, but he made it look easy, albeit with the look of fear in his eyes. The other, again in the covers, a ball was hit over his head - high and loopy and he chased it, got under it and caught one of those where you're potentially running away and over-shooting it. Another good catch.

There was another bloke there who was playing for them for the first time and he got to bowl before me - a young bloke, looked a bit nervous, bowled a few ropey ones, but the team was behind him and cut him some slack. He got to bowl three overs for 15 runs.
Overall the bowling was good and when I was eventually given the ball, the pressure was on to follow suit. I didn't want to go for 8 off my first over like yesterday, otherwise I may have ended up with a very short spell! I was bowling at a kid who looked well organised with his batting and a big brute of a bloke armed with a Warsop. In my books anyone that goes out and buys a Warsop bat knows a thing or two about batting and as I made my way over to the crease I think James said "We've played this bloke before - he can bat a bit"...
It went okay in the end if anything the kid was a lot better than the big bloke. The big bloke looked a bit shaky on the leg-side even though he'd been looking to hit through the legside most of the time and continued to do so while I was bowling. There was a contentious ball hit through Long Leg, that appeared to be fielded virtually on the line. It was George, he clearly scooped the ball before the line, but the umpire said that his body was sliding over the line. There was a bit of an argument about it and the umpire eventually conceded that it was a single. What was certain was that George had flicked it back in front of the line, but what was uncertain was whether he's skidded across the line before releasing. I was happy with the outcome.
I didn't bowl too bad, a few down the leg-side, but the keeper Gloria was up to it and kept them all from being byes. The bloke at slips did a good job with one or two that Gloria didn't quite glove but got something on, he cleaned these up which was very much appreciated. Bowled as usual primarily Leg Breaks , but bowled a Flipper and kept the Wrong Un in the bag for when the big bloke was on strike looking to go big. Pitch didn't assist the spin that much, but it was enough. First over went for 2 with the kid hitting the ball on the full with a nice off drive. Second over I had the big bloke (L.Hayward) and I kept it reasonably tight. He got a single, putting the kid on strike, he batted well, but the SDR boys fielding was very good. The 3rd over the kid was on strike and he hit a single putting Hayward on strike. I'd been told by the captain that this was my last over and having seen how ruthless he'd been applying the rotation tactic, I though this is it, this over I've got to get one of these bloke and I'm running out of balls. Hayward had been set-up fairly well, he new it was turning, I'd had 2 dead cert balls that one or the other of them had completely missed, that in the real world would have 100% gone on to hit the stumps, but the umpire wasn't having it "Pitched outside of leg... Not out". So, he was looking to be a candidate for the Wrong Un and with just 3 balls left I chucked up the wrong on the off-stump - nice and full, he didn't seem to know what to do, it turned in and it hit middle.
I'm on here as 'Dave The Rave'.
We came off shortly after a few more overs having finished them off for 105 for 8 wickets (They only had 9 players). As we came off it started to rain, so tea was extended and for a while it looked dubious as to whether we'd continue which was going to be a real shame as they'd played so well. People with phones and internet access were saying that the rain was only going to last about an hour. A time was decided with that info, that if it was still raining at x time, it'd be called off, but just before that time, the rain stopped and the clouds thinned out.
The SDR boys sent two of their players into the field to help out the Rayleigh boys, I pitched in helping at one point fielding at Mid on. With only 105 on the board and being pretty good with the bat it wasn't that long before they'd won the game.
Word is, next week they're two blokes short. Joe and I are at Twickenham next Saturday watching the rugby so we wont be playing for B&PCC, so it looks like we might play on Sunday with SDR if we're lucky and get the phone call?
Overall it was a very commendable game with a good standard of cricket especially in the field.
 One of the SDR blokes gets forwards.
 Back to the sheds...
 Who's gonna win? I'm hoping when I'm this blokes age I'll be able to run around like he could!
This is the kid that batted well and also bowled really well, he's seen here setting his field which he did with utmost confidence.

 This was the ball that un-did this SDR blokes innings - clean bowled.
The Rayleigh Fairview blokes congratulate the kid.
Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Basildon & Pitsea cc v Harlow Town cc away 23rd May

Everything you need to know about bowling Leg Breaks here.

Set off to Harlow in the rain and as we drove up the M25 it looked worse, but the weather report indicated that (1). There wasn't any run and (2). There was cloud, but it would be gone by 1 pm when we were due to start, so we took a chance as there was not indication on the website that the match was called off. Picked up Tim on the way and despite the fact that there was a lot of traffic on the M25 and big queues we'd left earlier enough to get there in good time. It rained all the way until we reached the A414 into Harlow and the rain disappeared, Harlow was dry and by the time we reached the ground the cloud cover looked as though it was going to break up and be fine.

The whole team turned up eventually, most of them getting held up on the M25. Most of the team were regulars, plus a new bloke Jithin.
I think we won the toss and Lee decided that we'd bat first saying "We'll get it over and done with and get home early". I was gutted... £18.00 and driving across Essex to be knocked over for next to nothing and then possibly not get a bowl! I looked around the room for batsmen... Mike, Charlie, Dutton, Jamie and the new bloke Jithin? Maybe we'd get some runs?
I was designated scorer by Mike Blerkom - he commented that I'd been practicing so was up to it and once out there I found the opposition had a scorer too, so that would be a lot easier and we could agree as we went along.
There was a light breeze, low cloud, but partly broken and quite warm 20 degrees centigrade, it looked like a good cricket day.
Their opening bowler a bloke called T Rees looked like a right handful from the outset, he looked fast and accurate and bowling fairly short and every now and then a ball would bounce high and Dutton looked to be struggling against it a bit with the unexpected bounce?
Anyway, to the bowling which is the main feature of this blog and at this rate it's going to be neglected. Joe (Younger son 13 years old) was brought on just before me. He bowls either seam up or off-spin and he'd opted in this game to bowl seam up. Normally he bowls with a bit of in-swing to the right handed batsmen, but he reported that he was getting the ball to swing away from the bat and then break towards off - like a leg break when the ball hit the seam. Which initially caused him problems as he was called for a couple of no-balls and a wide in his first over because he was so unsettled by the swing and seaming. But then he settled and in his second over he took the wicket of L. Richardson. All of these batsmen were older blokes and they looked as though they knew what they were doing and this was the 2nd wicket. Tony Harm similarly with a ropey start settled and took a wicket in his 4th over. Tony went for 8-1-18-1.

Anthony Ayres bowled in two spells, his initial spell was superb albeit with no wickets, but almost every ball was threatening with good pace and bounce. In his second spell though, the wheels came off and ruined his figures. My spell was the other way round. My first 2 balls as often is the case were ropey, the first one was a full toss, which the bloke smacked to the boundary for 4 and the other was a short ball which got the same treatment, but the 3rd ball came good and I got into a rhythm. It ended up being possibly one of my best spells of recent years, didn't get wickets in the same way that I have been, but these blokes were good batsmen people were telling me and they weren't likely to give away their wickets in the usual 4th XI way. Lee had said that he thought the ball would turn like it did at Langdon Hills (Home Ground), but it didn't, there was something there, but not like in the last couple of weeks. After about the 3rd over, I was so confident that I was starting bowl variations and sub-variations of my leg break... More turn, less turn, flippers and Top-Spinners. I Kept the Googly back a bit and only used it twice in the 8 overs. One came in and went through the gate and over the middle stump. I then used it again in the first over following a Leg break, pitched it well outside of off and it turned a mile and hit middle and leg - best Googly I've bowled in years! Partly because  I haven't bowled them for years!
Everything you need to know about bowling Leg Breaks here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Basildon & Pitsea U15's v Wickford U15's - Wickford Memorial Park

To be continued...

Another match for Joe tonight, so three games for him this week and a school game cancelled. With the school game out of 360 boys from the 3rd, 2nd and 1st year at his school they couldn't find 11 boys that would have a game, they got 5 and that was it. I blame it on Sky and this countries obsession with football, it's not like we're that good at it and somehow they're paid £900,000 a week I've been reading today in the newspapers.

Weather tonight was a lot better than last Monday, warm during the day and going into the evening the warmth stayed. Nice venue, Wickford memorial park an attractive ground with plenty of trees around the pitch. Joe and I what with work arrived just as the game was about to start and our boys I reckon must have lost the toss as they fielded first meaning the batting would have to be in the failing light again.


6th ball of Joe's first over, went to hand and Sam Jones didn't managed to hold on to it.
In the Sam Goods over his 4th ball was hit to Mid on - looping to Andrew Tokley, who in previous weeks has pouched them, but on this occasion he couldn't hang on to it. Shortly though Andrew put that right by taking a catch off of Sam Goods bowling in exactly the same place getting rid of G.Bailey for 2 runs. That brought Palmer to the crease and Sam Good sent him back to the sheds for 0 facing his first ball. 'Magic Mo Baig' who's been devastating with his Leg Breaks in the last two games almost got off to a brilliant start with a fast pick up in the field from my son Joe Thompson, who got it back to Mo over the stumps but Mo spilled it missing out on an easy run-out.

During Tom Pauls spell, when Nathan Lambert was trying to get off the mark another really fast pick up by Mo Baig, was sent back to the keeper, but this time Charlie wasn't able to hang on to it, so another wicket was missed out on.

There were a couple of contentious decisions according to some of the players. E.Thomas was run out brilliantly by Tom Paul fielding the ball from square leg, he was given out not having grounded the bat. Charlie thought he had a stumping late in the game and was obviously unhappy about the decision.

Magic Mo, had a very different game today bowling a high no-ball that was smacked for 4, ruining what may have been a really good spell.

Here's some pictures...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Practice tonight

It's rained a bit since the weekend and tonight was the first chance to get out and have a practice. Went on my own with a 6 balls and a stump and a car mat looking to spin the ball hard and change my wrist position around just to see how it worked. The other thing I was looking at was my run-up and the questions around longer, normal or Terry Jenner style approach the crease.

My preferred method is the Terry Jenner method, just a couple of steps and then the action through the crease. I tried all 3 ways and all of them were okay, the Jenner method is the one where I have more control over the ball -whether it spins more or less and accuracy. I'm playing this weekend so if I get a chance I'll try my usual approach and see how I get on, but at the moment I can see another match coming up and I'll still be unsure of my approach to the crease.

Monday, May 18, 2015

B&PCC v Belhus CC U15's at Holy Cross cricket ground 18th May.

Somehow I've got to come up with a way of writing up these reports in a more concise form. I guess I'm just going to have to write them up from a bowlers perspective unless something worthwhile and of note happens with the bat?

It rained earlier in the day as expected, but then cleared up by about 2pm with a blustery wind and bright sunshine, so the match looked on. I managed to get out of work early and then walking home from the station I realised the wind was in the north somewhere and I'd have to probably take more clothes than normal if I was going to be sitting scoring.
I didn't realise that the wind was coming directly from the North Pole and I was almost fooled by the warm spring sunshine, but getting ready I thought I'd better chuck a coat, a hat and some track suit bottoms in my bag just in case? My God was that a good move...

The venue was a neutral ground Holy Cross cricket ground along Whitmore Way in Basildon...

Got over to the ground to find that we were likely to be a man short. Frank did the toss and the opposition won choosing to bat first, which he was surprised by, but thinking about how quickly the light was going to fail, seemed like a good call to me? Mark the Under 15's manager asked me to score and I said yes, but then Mike Blerkom offered his services, so I said I'd prefer if he did it officially and I'd score alongside him for practice.

Right from the outset Belhus looked as though they were in trouble, getting off to an unsteady start oblivious to the fact that we have a secret weapon... Mohammed Baig the Leg-Spinner and then if that doesn't work, certain death in the form of Frank Farrington.
Abdul Baig, Mo's older brother started off with a shaky start from the 'Pond End' and my son Joe Thompson (13) bowled from the Pavilion end. Joe bowled tightly for his initial three overs and Abdul who was unable to find any rhythm was taken off after two overs.
This brought on Sam Good one of the U13's to join the attack and he got off to a blinder of a start. Bowling seam up his first over went for just one run. Five overs in with all of the byes and wides making a bigger contribution than the batting we were on 20 and needing a wicket. One of their batsman his a ball down to 3rd man and the bloke at the other end shouted yes, but he didn't account for Mohammed Baigs lightning reaction, quick across the pitch, a clean pick up and throw down of the stumps a la' Ricky Ponting. The kid was gone and heading back to the sheds for 6 and he looked like the most promising of the 2 at the crease. That then loose Sam Good... He's not called Sam good because he's rubbish. Gunning was stumped by Charlie Blerkom, Sam Good drawing him out of the crease for 3. Z. Wilson was clean bowled for 5 and then F Todd for 0 and all this in the 7th over at which point Sam was on 3 for 3 off of 2!
Joe's spell was curtailed after 3 on 0 for 7 and Frank brought on Tom Paul. Sam then having done some damage suffered some damage himself as he was hit for consecutive 4's off of a series of full tosses. At the same time Tom bowled away with good tight over that included a maiden and then he joined in with the wicket of their best batsman A. Williams who was stopped on 20.
Then came the 'Sucker Punch,' Frank brought on Mohammed Baig ... Mo's first ball bowled T Sorelli (name might be wrong)? who was on 2, he followed that with a dot  ball, his 3rd ball bowled 'Morris' for 0. He then had another dot ball and followed that with his 3rd wicket of the over - B.Garwood for 0 too.
  In the 19th over Frank Brought Joe Thompson back on (My son) who then finished the game off with his first ball. As he ran in Travis Singelton was heard to make a ball hitting the stumps noise before it even happened... G-dink! Sure enough his prediction was spot on. They'd been bowled out for 73 in 19.1 overs. Frank didn't even need to bowl himself.
Batting - With 74 needed in failing light it looked as though it was going to be a similar story. By now with the long evening shadows stretching across the wicket and that very brisk North Westerly wind, it was getting very cold and I had all of the clothes that I'd brought with me on. It was FREEZING! Over the following hour or so it got colder and colder. If you ever go to a early season cricket match, never assume it is going to be warm, dress or at least take clothes more suited for December! If it is warm you wont have to wear them, but if it's cold - man are they a Godsend! Next week a woolly hat and thicker socks!
The batting didn't get off to a good start - new lad Andrew Tokeley was out first ball hooking a ball that bounced up into the air to be easily caught by the bowler. Travis Singleton was another early victim gone for 0. Thankfully Frank and Charlie Blerkom took their time and got off to steady starts and made 25 and 21 respectively. Like last week the middle order struggled and the runs dried up as the last few overs approached and it looked like another nail biting end. Sure enough the runs dried up and it looked increasingly like we wasn't going to get across the line, then their spin bowler at a critical point with little more than an over to get the runs bowled a over the head no-ball, which Sam Good lifted his bat above his head to, to smack through the Gully and Point area and it snuck through and he then ran 3 getting Basildon across the line
Some pictures...
Holy Cross cricket ground Basildon off Whitmore Way.
 Left to Right - Charlie Blerkon, Anthony Ayres (Umpire), Andrew Tokley, Frank Farrington (Wrist Spinner). Joe Thompson (At back). Random Belhus bloke in foreground nearest the camera?
Charlie Blerkon Batsman/Wicket Keeper B&PCC
 Words of encouragement from Mark Farrington (U15's manager) for Charlie Blerkom.
 Victorious B&PCC U15's leave the pitch Left to right - Joe Thompson, Abdul Baig, Travis Singleton (Green Jumper), Sam Good (Helmet) and Frank Farrington (right).
Left to Right - Travis Singleton, Sam Good, Charlie Blerkom (part obscured) Tom Paul (In football kit), Anthony Ayres, Andrew Tokley, Joe Thompson, Frank Farrington, Abdul Baig and Mo Baig (Wrist Spinner).

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday practice...

Mowed the paddock as usual with Joe and then had a bit of a bowl. Yesterday our wicket keeper said he thought that my faster run-up was far more affective. My run-up was terrible yesterday, never once felt right and was so bad I was called for an over the line No-ball. I don't think I've ever had that happen before!

So today I've bowled two sessions, both of them in excess of an hour and during both of them I've been working on a much faster run up more akin to the method I used a couple of years ago (See video above). It may be an even faster version of this?

It went okay, the ball because of the speed doesn't turn that much, and it needs some work on it to get it up to the accuracy I was getting here, but with a week to go before the next match, if I put the hours it might be possible?

That aside I bowled normally and that also went very well. A bit knackered today, but I have been busy, a lot of bowling and also a cycle ride with Joe for some overall fitness that included some big hills.

We also went over the Rec and found a cricket game under way and it was a team that I've played with before when they were a bloke short. They play Sunday friendly 40 over matches and Joe and I had a chat with them and gave them our contact details and said if they were short on a Sunday we might be able to help them out. They also said that they train on Thursday nights, so once my teaching commitments finish on Thursday's I might go over there and have a look. Actually I've got a week off next week I may give that a go next Thursday.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Basildon & Pitsea 4th XI v Hornchurch cc 5tx XI at The Rec 16th May 2015

Blog post under construction

*Note to the bloke who I'd said I'd send the pictures to, I'll have them to you in the next 48 hours or sooner.

Mid-week the weather had looked ropey with rain all day Thursday. Friday morning and it started to clear and by midday it looked very promising. Again, the team sheet on Wednesday after the selection process changed again and again as people updated their availability and by Friday night it looked as though we might be playing with 9 blokes.

Saturday - got up and the weather was fine and sunny with a little wind, everything looked set to go. I had a call from Abdul Baig as he had been called to say instead of going to The Rec, he needed to go and meet at Mopsies, I said he needed to do that as it sounded as though he'd been moved at the last moment. Joe and I were dropped off 12.25 to find most of the others already there and the stumps and flags already out.

 We went out and had a look at the wicket and it looked a lot better than last weekends! Joe and I had been over last night and we'd bowled a couple of balls on it to see if it would spin and it did, so the prospect of playing on it and getting a couple of wickets was promising.
Given the side that we had and the fact that we were a man down it was pretty much certain that if we won the toss we'd bowl to give ourselves a bit of a game. Although looking at who had turned up it didn't look too gloomy as there were some decent batsmen. Bowling though again was deficient in the seam up fast dept, but we had a 3 Offies, one left arm orthodox and me.
The Hornchurch blokes started to turn up just before one so it looked as though we'd get off to a late start. Lee and their captain made their way out into the middle and did the toss and it went our way and we fielded first. Walking back Lee asked "Do you want to open" and I said 'Yeah I'll do that'.
So the squad for today was...
A.N. Other didn't turn up. I did ask my older son Ben if he'd play and he declined because he's still doing his GCSE's. So we went out with a man short. As their team walked out it kind of looked fairly evenly balanced... a mix of kids, older geezers and then a couple of blokes that looked like they'd be better than most. I recognised one of them from last year and recalled he could bat. But to start off a couple of older blokes came to the crease to open. What was useful though, was the Hornchurch blokes came with their own supply of umpires, which was a result.
Tim Edmonds opened from the Park end bowling into a slight wind. He got off to a decent start with only a run and a wide. Then it was my turn with the new ball which was kind of odd. Again, with regards to what I was going to do run-up-wise, I wasn't at all sure. My run-up to the crease at the moment is a right mess, never feeling right and always in two minds whether I should go for a short run-up a la' Terry Jenner. With the short run I can bowl my variations, but the slightly quicker approach with the longer run-up is limited with regards the potential for variation. I opted to go for the longer approach to the crease and see how it went... Behind the stumps this week in place of our usual wicket keeper Jamie Britton was Mike Blerkom.
My first ball was okay and then I bowled a ball that got me 5 runs against my name it appears, I don't remember this, I seem to remember a 'No-Ball' that the batsman hit... (Head height - slippery/shiny ball) which the bloke hooked for 4. Looking at the score sheet the scorer has drawn a circle with a cross in it, so I'm not sure how this is scored. All in know is that it's gone against me, but the batsman didn't get credited with the fours runs? I'm not good on the rules, so I can't fathom out what should have been written in the score book, but I'm acceptance of the fact that I went for 5 runs. That was followed by a much better ball that he blocked. The 3rd ball though was a lot better... it pitched full, just a smidge outside of leg and came back in just a little and would have hit middle and leg and I went up for it along with some of the others and the umpire raised his finger and the bloke was back in the sheds. On the score sheet the bloke is down for out for 0, but I swear the bloke hit me for 4. I then bowled a wide and a couple of dot balls. One of the dot balls I'd swear was another LBW, the ball pitched in exactly the same place and did exactly the same thing - possibly with a little less turn, so would have gone on to hit middle, I went up for it asking the question along with several of the others and the umpire gave it not out, I was gutted! Finished the first over with 1 for 7.
In our next over, both of us Tim and me only went for 1 each. Tim then went for a few in his 3rd over and I went for just 1 again. Both of us then bowled Maidens in our 4th overs. In the 5th over Tim went for 1 run and got his first wicket "Wolstenholme"-  LBW. I then followed him up with another wicket, a kid - Imray Junior, the ball full, pitching on leg and hitting middle and off through the gate. The over included a wide, a single and a 2. By this time Imray senior was at the crease as well and he was one of the blokes that looked as though he might take me to task. Tim's over in the scorebook isn't marked as a Maiden either. He then went on to bowl his 6th over - (again an un-credited wicket Maiden over) with the wicket of Willison caught by Lee Dutton at Mid-off. My sixth over went for 3 with 2 wides and a single. At some point around this stage one of the blokes who looked as though he was going to be a bit useful and went on to score 93 not out (D.Kiff) who I think was the captain hit one of my leg breaks straight to mid-off where normally I have Tony or Liam Harms who are pretty much catching specialists - very rarely putting the ball down. Joe, my son was fielding there and the ball went at him fast and he stopped it, but with hard hands the ball just bounced back out and he spilled it, the bloke was almost out having only just come to the crease. There was another bloke as well who scored over hundred and he too was dropped early doors reinforcing that old adage 'Catches win matches'. I don't dwell on those things at all, it was good that Joe had a go, the ball came at him so fast he said afterwards... I did think I'd just get out of the way of it as it was coming at me like a rocket. If he hadn't stopped it, it would have gone on to cross the boundary for 4.
The seventh over brought my 3rd wicket a couple of dot balls followed by a wide and then a no-ball where I went across the line, which just goes to show how messed up my approach to the wicket is at the moment. I can't remember who the bloke was... S.Maydell and like all the others, according to the score book he went without scoring any runs at all. I was knackered at this point and the two blokes that had both been dropped, who then went on to score 93 not out and 140 not out hit 7 runs off me in the 8th and last over. I was ready to keep bowling, but aware that it might get messy what with only 10 players a few youngsters and one of our older players carrying a knee injury. So when the captain Lee Dutton said 'Have a blow', I gotta say I think I got off very lightly because once settled No.5 and 7 batsmen turned what was a very good start with 5 wickets for 33 runs and going into the 20th over, at a little over 50 runs made it into a very different match.
Mike Blerkom who was keeping at one point came down the wicket and had a word with me about my bowling, because I had changed it at some point around about the 6th over going from my usual stuttery 'Medium' run up to a Terry Jenner-esque 2 step approach to the crease. He said to go back to the medium version as it was faster and he reckoned it was a lot more effective. Which was interesting to hear as he's a good batsman and he plays me easily in the nets, so I'm taking that advice and I'm going to be working on a modified run up over the coming days.

So I finished up with 8-1-26-3, very similar to last week. A few wides and the no-ball five didn't help and if I'd not bowled those, I'd have had very respectable figures! Then if you consider the dropped catch and the LBW - that'd been a bit special. Very similar to last weeks game in those respects. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nets tonight

The nice weather continues and I've seen my first summer migrant birds today - Swifts on Pitsea Marshes. Once home had dinner and Joe and I went over to the club. Both had a bowl and a bat. Both nets had four blokes in so wasn't too bad. Bowled so so, but batted okay, managed to keep out some fast bowlers and Frank Farrington for the most part who has now developed a faster straight ball. Time spent practicing about and hour and a bit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tuesday practice and training drills.

Again another practice over at the paddock. A bit of light bowling using 6 balls, just grooving the variations. Started off with the top spinner, just looking for a quality ball to start off with. I often bowl a loose ball when I bowl leg breaks, so I'm always looking to eliminate that first loose ball and possibly give the batsman something to think about from the first ball. If I could get the first ball to be straight, on a difficult length with loads of bounce I'd be very happy. Currently the way things are going it might be possible to show the googly early on with a decent bit of turn? It might be that with a little more practice and then adopting the Shane Warne moving around the crease in the first over approach, I might be able to produce 2 balls that are spot on line and length attacking the stumps and then the 3rd ball continue over the stumps, but go wide and bring out the Googly? Then bring in the leg break over the wicket and finish off with two round the wicket leg breaks getting increasingly wide on the crease? Maybe something to practice with?

I was intending on getting a pen and paper and writing the results down to see if I am improving, but I've yet to do that.

Joe joined me and we practiced for about 1/2 and hour and then went on to fitness and agility drills.

2 man drill - You need a few balls for this and smooth outfield).

1. One bloke stands over the stumps as the feeder. The 'Runner' stands with him. The feeder throws the ball into the air - 1/2 way down the wicket. The Runner has to accelerate from a standing position and catch the ball. On catching the ball he then quickly throws down the stumps. On releasing the ball the Runner has to run to the other end of the wicket as fast as he can and run round the stumps. As he returns, the Feeder then rolls a ball down the wicket and the 'Runner' has to intercept the ball and throw down the stumps again. The runner sprints to the feeders end and repeats x 3.

2. Swap roles and repeat.

3. Then once both have done this - repeat again but only 2 reps. The recovery time is reduced.

4. Once both have done two reps, do the same dill alternating each other until knackered.

I think we gave up after doing 2 singles each once we got into the singles.

Close catching - Standing legs apart and flexed 12' distance approx. Throwing the ball to each other at different speeds and zones, high, low, left right etc.

Quick reaction - With your back turned to the feeder, the feeder says "Ball" and throws the ball into a catchable area behind the catcher. On hearing "Ball" the catcher has to turn, look, locate and catch the ball before it hits the ground. (Common sense and H&S has to be applied doing this).

Slip catches - We've got a big rubber mat that we use to rotate on when we practice to save the wicket from wearing away...
Two people stand either side of the mat and throw the ball onto the mat back and forth to each other. The surface of the mat creates an irregular bounce and it's really good fun trying to intercept the ball and catch it. It's kind of like a Katchet but doubles up as a protective surface for bowling on. Having looked at the video here and seen how they do it in the video and with the use of the bat that's given me more ideas for increasing the intensity.

Joe's got loads of cricket coming up soon with two matches in one day this coming Monday  - one with his school and then a club match for the U15's, he'll have to let the school down as they over-lap which is a real shame as they may have to cancel the school game and that's tragic as cricket is slowly declining in most schools and yet the teachers do try and get games together. Normally Joe would be up for it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Practice Sunday and Monday

On Sunday after the match Saturday, I felt knackered - whole body kind of knackered, so I need to look at doing something about that especially lower body strength and stamina. I didn't get out onto the paddock to have a warm up till after lunch and then Joe and I went over and had a bat and bowl with a windball. An hour of that kind if loosened me up and I felt that later in the day I could have a proper bowl and later that evening I bowled properly for about an hour and that went quite well. Again looking to be accurate and to turn the ball.

Tonight I had another hour practicing on my own again just looking to spin the ball with differing degrees of spin and practicing what are becoming the four different deliveries I may be using in actual games. The most promising is the new Googly I'm using it has loads of top spin and is bowled using a very different method to my leg break. It's pretty accurate so if it doesn't turn it ends up being a good top spinner with loads of bounce, but occasionally when I get it right it's a very good bouncy off-break. Time spent practicing - about 50 minutes or so and the session got progressively better.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Basildon & Pitsea 4th XI v Hainhalt & Clayhall 5th XI May 9th

First game of the season for me and Joe's first this season in the 4th XI

On the morning of the game the only bloke that looked as though he might no show was Luke Edmonds.

Got ready and had a couple of calls from people that wanted a lift. The weather looked okay - bright and sunny and blustery initially, but then as midday approached it clouded over and it looked as though there might be the prospect of rain.

Set off at 11.45 and picked up Tim Brown and Jamie the wicket keeper. Got there in good time and arrived at about 12.25. No-one else from our team had arrived. We were met by a man wielding a machete, which I didn't bat an eyelid at, but apparently Tim and Jamie were a little freaked out by it. As Joe said "We've got a machete in our garage and we use it for gardening and stuff". Turned out that the bloke was cutting some rope, so it completely made sense that he was walking around with a machete.

Eventually some of the others turned up and it looked like we would have a game, although the opposition looked short of players. We won the toss and fielded first. The pitch was pretty poor, possibly worse than the pitch over at Stanford Le Hope, Joe reckoned it was worse than the wicket in the paddock! It was green with a longish covering of grass, but there were holes all over it and divots, but I wasn't fussed and no-one moaned that much.

I then discovered when I'd packed my bag I'd virtually put everything in it including the kitchen sink, but I'd left my whites at home! Fortunately the opposition had a pair of trousers and a top, so I had something to wear. The other thing I forgot was a SD card for my camera, so I had a camera but no way of capturing the images.

Our bowling opened with Tim Edmonds - seam up medium pace stuff - accurate. The first event of note was a ball hit on the offside over my head at Gully, I leapt up but was only able to get the tip of my thumb on the ball. Runs were difficult to come by for the opposition and we restricted them to a good over rate 2.9 up till the point were I bowled. In the meantime bowling in tandem with new bloke Anthony Joseph who bowled tightly not giving much away, only one wicket went down. Tim bowled one that went to hand at point being caught by his son Luke.
Lee then brought me on at the end furthest away from the sheds bowling into a diagonal wind, which I thought would be a problem right from the outset as it was a really brisk wind. My bowling's slow at the best of times, but then to bowl into the wind is just asking for trouble. The theory was that I'd be able to make use of the drift (Have they mistaken me for someone else)?

I let Lee set the field and he set an in-out basic field, some of the others who don't see me bowl that much were asking about putting blokes on the boundary on the legside, but Lee showed some faith and set a field that would help to reduce singles and challenge the batsmen to go over the top with aggressive shots.
It worked pretty well and as the overs passed blokes came in and the field tightened with it adapting to something I'd have chosen. In the first over I went for a run and a wide, the first ball was bowled a la' Terry Jenner and went for a single, it felt as though with the wind in my face that bowling off of 1 step left me vulnerable due to the loss of speed in the air. I then decided that I'd go for the 'Run in' approach and see how that went. My bowling didn't feel right and in this 1st over I went for a run and a wide. But the balls that were okay including the one that went for a single landed on a good full length and turned off the pitch really well.

2nd Over. This was better with just two runs conceded with the ball being flicked off the legs and being chased down by Tim Brown who was fielding round the corner. But again the ball was turning off the wicket and for the most part I was getting good accuracy line and length wise.

3rd Over. Same again 2 runs, the ball turning and I was bowling very well although not feeling at all comfortable with any aspect of my run up or bowling in this wind.

4th Over. The first ball went for 1 and then the next ball was my first wicket of the season... Landed in front of the batsman on middle and turned through the gate hitting off-stump as I recall. The next bloke came in and I bowled virtually the same ball this time he played forward trying to defend it and the ball found the edge and went straight to Jamie. I was on a hat trick at this point and only managed a dot ball. The last ball conceded a run (may have been a no-ball). At this point I was on 2 for 8 off of 4 overs. At this point I was think I could pull out the Googly I've been working on in the next over.

Meanwhile Tony Harrms was bowling away at the other end keeping things tight and the game looked as though it was moving along in our favour.

5th Over. This was the best of all of them, 5 great balls producing no runs, two of the balls were Googlies pitched on middle stump and both turned and missed the leg stump by a mile, but Jamie snaffled both of them easily. The last ball was pitched outside of leg, turned round the back of his legs and hit leg stump! Jamie said it was a beaut! A wicket maiden bringing me up to 3 for 8.

6th Over. 3 runs off of this one including a no ball and I was starting to tire a little at this point but unusually in my legs!. It was also in this over that I had to stop during my bowling action, because as I bounded a gust of wind physically blew me side ways and I had to pull out of the delivery.

7th Over. The wind and my legs then conspired to produce my worst over with loads of balls being sprayed all over the place and I went for 7 runs, mostly through bowling legside. In amongst it was a no ball as well. I also said to Lee... "Lee that'll do, I'm bowling crap", but he then still gave me another over as he said that I was on track for a five-fer. But I was knackered.

8th Over. For this over I decided I'd bowl off of one step a la' Terry Jenner and bowl Top-Spinners and Googlies. It worked okay and I only conceded another 2 runs and the Googlies looked pretty good too. Lee then called it a day on my bowling and I'd finished with... 8-1-20-3 an average of 2.5 and a strike rate of 6.6. I was more than happy with that.
What I did notice though was how unfit I was and this became noticeable in the 6th and 7th over, it wasn't upper body fitness, it was general out of breath-ness and weak feeling legs. To be honest though in comparison with last years pre-season work I did on fitness, I've done very little. Last year I had a massive incentive, my younger son Joe was in recovery from an RTA and over two years of low level activity last season was his first in which he had no pins in his leg and he needed to get rid of all the weight that he'd put on and get fit. So we were out running every other night for 20 minutes. This year I've done none of that and it noticed today.

Leg-spinners moan - There were at least 2 other chances. One in the 2nd over where there was a stumping, everyone went up for it and the leg-stump umpire stuck his finger up, the umpire at my end said 'He's given him out', but then there was some kind of dispute at the other end and the square leg umpire retracted the signal and dismissal saying - 'No he's not out his foot was on the line', someone then pointed out that he needed to have something behind the line and the umpire seemed unsure about the rules. Lee decided to leave it as not out and told the kid the rule about having to have something behind the line. The kid has my sympathy, it hate being an umpire and mistakes are easily made.

There was also a ball in the 6 th over that pitched on middle and turned across the front of the bat and the glove and was caught by Jamie, but it looked as though as it did it deviated, but what with the wind and no-one else going up other than Jamie - it was left and I didn't say anything and I turned to the umpire at my end and said 'I should have gone up for that - it looked as though it came off his bat or glove' and the bloke nodded!

Joe bowled next and surprised me as he chose to bowl his Finger Spin off-breaks against the oppositions two best batsmen. He did really well. He had one chance dropped by Luke Edmonds who was fielding around the corner but quite close and Tony Harms who normally catches everything fumbled and dropped one in the slips. So Joe was very unlucky to come away wicket-less, he also had a couple of LBW's that he reckoned were plumb that the umpires didn't give. He bowled finger spin for his first 3 overs and then seam up for the final over...
Joe came away with 4-1-20-0. Mike Blerkom also took a wicket. Lee Dutton came on at the end to finish their innings off and the opposition ended up with 137 which looking around at our lads I thought was feasible.

Over tea it was discussed who would bat first and Joe and I were put in. Because they only had 8 players we gave them a couple of ours. The batting didn't go that well. I felt for Joe a bit, the first ball he faced he offered a half - hearted straight bat defensive shot but the kid was bowling dead straight on the stumps and Joe somehow played inside it and it hit the off-stump. Recently in practice and nets he's batted with loads of confidence and afterwards he said he wished he's had a chance at the leg spinner as he fancied his luck against him. Meanwhile I was trying to evade a leg-spinner (A Nangia) who was bowling quite well. I managed to keep him at bay for 5 overs, but in my usual style - unable to score any runs. In the end he bowled me through the gate.

As you can see they bowled quite well, with the only person able to make any impression being 13 year old Charlie Blerkom who did really well in comparison to the rest of us. The pitch which as I said was pretty awful proved to be a right handful for some with the ball bouncing really irregularly and bouncing up and hitting people in the chest and I think Dutton got one under the chin. If Ben had been there to open the game may have been very different as the pitch would have played a big part in the game, more so than it did in the end today. Despite the loss it was an enjoyable day out and good one for the younger members -especially Charlie.

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Friday, May 08, 2015

Basildon & Pitsea U15's v Thurrock 15's at Blackshots

As the day drew towards the evening the weather turned and I looked outside at 4pm and it was raining and the sky was grey with little hope of any potential improvement. On the train travelling west from Southend it looked as though the weather was worse in the west where the weather was coming from. Walked from the station in light rain and as I ate my dinner the rain got worse. Joe was ready and we checked all the social media for the inevitable cancellation notice and it wasn't there.

The manager for the U15's this year is Mark Farrington and I called him on my phone (First time I've turned it on since March)! and left a message. Looking outside it didn't look any better but the rain wasn't that heavy and I thought there may be a vague chance the game might be on still and decided we'd drive over and have a look.

It rained all the way albeit light and as we got within site of the pitch it was obvious that there were players there. Once we pulled up it soon became obvious that we were still short and as the start time approached we were still short of two players Mo and Abdul Baig. Then I realised that I had their Dads phone number and gave him a call. They were on their way but struggling with their Tomtom satnav thing.

The weather in the meantime had improved, the rain had stopped but it was grey. Thurrock won the toss and with the wicket wet, the light already really poor and us short of two players they decided to bat. Our lads with the first ball got off to a good start with my son Joe bowling okay and then Sam Good taking the wicket of 'Alex' with his first ball without making a run. Then in his second over Sam good got 'Sharma's' wicket cheaply caught by new kid 'Andrew' at Mid-off. Joe then followed that up with another wicket with a catch going to the impressive new kid Andrew this time at square leg.

Around about this time Abdul and 'Mo' Mohammed Baig turned up and joined the team making up the full team. The game was going well with 29 runs made off of 7 overs for 3. Frank Farrington the captain brought on the next two bowlers Abdul Baig and Tom Paul. Tom got a wicket with his brother taking the catch (Henry Paul) and the combination restricted the runs to a potentially  achievable total, subject to the light conditions as they were worsening by the minute. Then Frank brought on Mo Baig (Leg Spin Bowler) and this move turned the game massively in our favour. Mo's first ball was LBW and then he went on a rampage...
In his last over including the last ball of his spell, Mo took three wickets! In all he took 5 wickets for 13 off of 4 and this was his first under 15's game and he's still only 13 years old. The other thing was these weren't balls that were in the air, these were wickets where he hit the stumps including their in-form batsman 'Alfie'! So well done Mohammed Baig.

Thereafter the tail was cleaned up and with the light fading extremely quickly they all went off for a break and as far as I was concerned took far too long given that the light was quickly disappearing behind the horizon. No-one else seemed to think it was an issue and the opening batsmen Frank and Sam Jones seemed to dawdle on to the pitch as if the floodlights were going to come on any second. Initially they scored slowly, painfully slowly considering that the light was failing so quickly, for a while we were behind the run rate for the first 7-8 overs and then the run rate increased as Frank started to score runs.

To be continued...

The bloke that appeared to be Thurrocks manager, umpire and scorer all in one was the legendary Wrist Spinner Alex McLellan. We were blessed with a whole army of people to do a number of jobs. Despite being a one man show Alex did very well and hosted what was a very good game.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Rest day today - games start tomorrow...

Worked late tonight so didn't get in till gone 9pm. There's been some shifting around in the 4th XI line up creating an opening for my younger son (13 years old) Joe, which is good news. He's got his own U15's game on Friday night as well at 'Thurrock' which I'm looking forward to, that's my old team 'Grays and Chadwell cricket club' with the legendary Alex 'Wizard' McLellan, so I may get a chance to see him and ask him how his bowling is going. It'll be tight on timing as I don't get out of work till just before 5 and I've got to get all the way to Grays.

The weather for Saturday looks promising...
 Brisk wind 30mph South Westerly.
 Cloudy bright.
About 15 degrees centigrade.
I'm looking forward to the game and it's interesting to see that it is made up of a number of kids as it was last year, but this time I'm not the captain. There seems to be a distinct lack of a fast bowler like Ben (My older son) although Joe's getting bigger and stronger and he may start to fulfil that role as the season goes on and potentially because he's slightly more interested in cricket than Ben is, he may approach it in a different manner? I reckon Tim Edmonds will bowl a lot of overs. But this does look like a difficult game.
1 :  Lee Dutton
2 :  Charlie Blerkom
3 :  Tim Edmonds
4 :  Luke Edmonds
5 :  Jamie Britton
6 :  Joe Thompson
7 :  Dave Thompson
8 :  Tim Brown
9 :  Tony Harms
10 :  Anthony Joseph
11 :  Mike Blerkom