Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Baptism of fire SECDB

South Essex Cricket District Board - Joe Thompson

Blimey that was tough!
South Essex District Cricket Board U15's Garons Park, Southend
Joe got his first chance today to play in the district side and it was a bit of a Baptism of fire. The standard of the cricket was good - very good and I think Joe was a little over-awed with it and nervous. That combined with the fact that he bowled into a very stiff westerly wind he didn't do too well and was quickly taken out of the attack after only two overs. But, he has only just turned 14 in the last 2 weeks and I'm pretty certain that a lot of these boys in this team are probably in their last season this year as U15's and will be moving on?
The two opening bowlers who both had Darren Gough physiques were very impressive, one was the captain (back row 3rd from right) and the other the bloke on the far right of the front row. Fast and accurate and very quick, alert, organised and generally exceptionally good players. But, I think that comes partly as a result of being that bit older and therefore more confident and instinctively wanting to compete at a different level. I noticed with my other son as he went from being 14 through to 16, the process of developing across those two years was dramatic with regards to commitment, speed, agility, strength, power and aggression - all of the things required to perform at the level seen in this match today. So, where today for Joe it was all a bit new and over-whelming, although he says he wasn't, I think by next season, he'll be that bit more up for it with a different level of confidence and if he grows anymore (Which he should do) he'll no doubt be on par with the performance some of these lads put in today.
Although todays game was a loss, one of the positives that came out of it was that Joe's bowling was looked at by the coach and he said that Joe bowls with a slightly angled arm and has suggested that I video his bowling action and get him to look at it. He said that once Joe sees what it is that he's doing he can work to correct it - bowl with a vertical arm and video the bowling action to see if it's been rectified.
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Friday, July 24, 2015

B&PCC v Harlow 4th XI at the Rec Langdon Hills

More to come tomorrow...

It looks as though tomorrows game may include Ben (older son). Weather at the moment isn't looking too clever - raining now (Midday) and is expected to continue raining for the rest of the day. The team as usual looks to be a good bowling unit, but not so good when it comes to the batting. I was hoping that Joe would be able to get to the nets today at Mopsies for some practice, but the rain has put paid to that idea. At least the upshot of the batting situation is that we'll all get the chance to bat!

Looking at XC weather it looks as though the weather is going to improve substantially before the game - rain stops at 04.00 and thereafter there's sunshine and wind so hopefully it'll be ready to play on. The weather's been so dry over the last few weeks that the rain that we've got at the moment will easily be absorbed and will easily dry I reckon by 1pm tomorrow.
On arrival at the ground we were met with a new sight, a few our blokes dragging covers off of the pitch. Seems the club has purchased covers for the wicket at Langdon Hills and yesterday during the rain Dave Ayres and his son Anthony had been over there and put the new covers on preventing it from getting totally soaked. On arrival Tim, Liam, Tony and Jamie removed them. In an ideal world Dave could have went over there at about 08.00hrs and removed them allowing the wicket to have a an extra 4 hours drying in the sun (Joking). Joking aside though maybe there should be some kind of shared responsibility for removing the covers as soon as possible or putting them on the wicket as there are a few of us that do live near the ground. But that would involve issues around who has the key to the changing rooms/clubhouse I suppose.
Another issue is that this is a massively high risk strategy, what with the Rec being quite secluded there's a good chance that the covers could be nicked, so in a way the sooner someone gets over there in the morning of the match and gets them off and put away, the better the prospects of the wicket drying out and the covers not being nicked. We'll have to see how long they last.
Today with the covers not coming off till midday and the sun being out the moisture in the wicket was then drawn from the ground ending up as condensation on the inside not allowing the wicket to dry to the extent that it could have done. Despite this, the difference in comparison to the surrounding wickets was quite marked. Once off though and with an hour to play, what with the Rec's quick drying attributes the covers had done their job.
Good game today although we lost, it was at one point quite a close thing, but they held back their ace card till quite late in the game. Loads of catches not taken, I almost got their 'Ace card' man out in one of the final over, which wouldn't have made any difference apart from a miracle, but it would have been nice to have taken his scalp. We had a fielder out at deep square leg - one of our best catchers and the ball was hit perfectly to him and I thought at last after such a bad performance and everything going against me - the wicket of their best bloke...Unfortunately Liam didn't take the catch - being hit so far it parried out of his hand he then had a second bite at it and fumbled it into his chest, from where it bounced forwards and then the 3rd and final one - into his hands just didn't stick and down it went. A ball after that was then smashed through his Dads hands as he jumped up, but that was a really difficult chance. Earlier though I had a dead cert stumping of the big bad bloke, that even the crowd said was out all day long, our blokes all said it was out, but the umpire begged to differ. In my first spell I had almost two dead cert LBW's one of which was on the toe and the other slightly higher and again nothing doing, so as far as I was concerned I had at least 4 wickets denied through either ropey decisions or the ball not sticking! I guess when it comes down to it, they were all close calls and if in doubt the umpire will err on the side of the batsman.
Joe bowled well again taking 3 wickets meaning in the overall scheme of things he moves above me in the wicket taking and rightly so considering how bad I bowled in the first spell... This now puts Joe equal 4th with the legendary wrist spinner Frank Farrington.

On the subject of the Joe's figures, looking at the tallies taken from their scorebook, their scorers have mixed up Joe's figures with Liam's suggesting that Joe bowled 12 overs when he only bowled 10 and Liam was credited with 5 overs when he actually bowled 7. They've also got Joe as having gone for 65 runs which is mental, especially as I seem to recall he went for 1 or more maidens by my reckoning! Unfortunately I didn't photograph their scorebook and therefore unable to make full sense of the mistakes. I can't really say much about the situation as the kids that were doing the scoring were obviously learning and when you are learning you do make mistakes, so I'm guessing that we'll just have to live with it although it is a real shame because Joe's average and strike rate was exceptional up to this point. I can now see why bowlers used to get really disgruntled when I was learning to score and made a few mistakes.
John Bedford (right) walks off having scored 90 with the Captain Lee Dutton. At the start of the match we only 10 players and John had come over to watch, but was then told to go and get his kit. He suffered a pulled hamstring in the match and Liam Harms had to run for him. John helped us to get to a score of 240.
Dave Ayres who rarely plays and deals with most of the clubs organising, admin and managing put in a brilliant performance out of no-where. He always sells himself short, but today he turned it on smacking the ball for frequent fours adding 34 to the total equal to Duttons score. Jamie Briton made a solid 29 and new bloke Steve Bonnett made a quick 16.
Big Hitting Dave Ayres (batsman).

Neil on his way out.
Neil Williams makes his way out to the middle for a very brief appearance (Duck). I think he face two balls, the second one that got him facing a spinner - was defended. The ball dropped at his feet still spinning and initially looked to be rolling away (Still spinning) towards the covers well wide of the stumps, but then with the spin started to arc back towards the stumps with Neil still looking at it, watching it heading towards the off-stump. I was looking and thought why's he not kicking it away but then it looked to be trickling so slow it was either (a). not going to quite get there or (b). Maybe it'll hit the stump, but there's no way the bails will move. That's probably what Neil thought as he didn't move and the ball trickled onto the stumps the bail fell off

Left to right - Dave Ayres (Scoring), Tim Brown, Joe Thompson (Bowler) Neil Williams (Comedian).
Jamie Britton at the crease.

Joe Thompson waiting in anticipation to bat
The captain - Lee Dutton
Man down - This bloke dived for a ball and landed on his shoulder hurting himself. I love the way that everyone ignored him, not even his team mates approached him! He was okay in the end as far as I can recall.
Joe batting with John Bedford.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Knocking in and preparing Kashmir Willow bats

Knocking in and preparing Kashmir Willow bats
(And Ebay cricket bats).


If you bat down the order 8,9,10 or 11 like we do - as we're bowlers is it necessary to pay a lot of money for a cricket bat? At our club and others you'll see blokes with very good cricket bats that cannot get the bat on the ball and I find myself asking the question - did you really need to pay top dollar for a piece of quality willow that you cannot use? What is the issue with buying a cheap bat if you're only hitting the ball 3 or 4 times in a game and the 3rd or 4th time it invariably ends up in the hands of the opposition?

So what is the deal with Kashmir bats why are they dismissed so readily, are they really that rubbish?

My own experience of Kashmir bats hasn't been that bad, one bat that wasn't knocked in at all lasted me a few years, although as a bowler I didn't get to use it that much other than in practice, but another bat a Slazenger V1200 which I picked up 2nd hand along with a Fearnley Gold (which I'm still using) lasted years with good service before finally succumbing to a Yorker off of a cheap ball in the nets, the bat was somewhere near 10 years old by my reckoning.

This bat led me to buying another Slazenger V1200 premier off of the much maligned Sports Direct. Again a Kashmir willow bat and dirt cheap at £14.00. Looking at the previous model and wondering why it had lasted so long, I could only deduce that it may have been knocked in properly and that it was covered in face and edge tape, so I looked into what I needed to do in order to knock it in and prepare it. I did some research (See the links at the bottom of the page) and tried to make sense of all the information. There's quite a lot of advice out there which differs, but it almost exclusively deals with top quality willow bats. So, what I've done here is taken the bits that seemed to make sense to me or came up as consistent messages and turned them into something that was useful to me as an advocate of Kashmir willow bats. In addition to the treatment and preparation of Kashmir willow bats I've also looked at how much they differ when buying from shops or off of Ebay from suppliers in India.

So if you fall into any or some of the categories below, this post might be useful to you.
  • Someone who can't bat/beginner.
  • Tail -ender/bowler.
  • Playing cricket for a laugh.
  • A parent of a kid that's just starting out.
  • Someone who can't justify paying top dollar for a bat.
  • Not bothered by the snobbery around labels and names.
What we did - how we went about it.

This is the bat...

At £14 it seemed a good gamble to give it a go. It comes with some indication that it's pre-knocked in. Looking at the articles on cricket bat manufacturing, this probably means the bat has been compressed rather than struck in the way that 'Knocking in' prepares a bat. I can't imagine that Slazenger do this to thousands of bats, whereas the pressing process seems more likely.

Knocking in is a far more vigorous and affective way as far as I can make out, especially if you do it yourself.

The first time we did this we did it without any prior knowledge and we didn't spend a great deal of time on the process - probably 2 hours. The subsequent time we prepared the same type of bat, we did so with more knowledge and you'll find that account here. The rest of this article discusses the problems we faced and how we overcome them the first time we knocked in a bat.

One of the biggest issues that we came across was the fact that the bat had a toe guard on it - a rubber protector right on the end of the bat which prevents you from knocking in the toe of the bat correctly...

The Toe Guard - Most cheap bats like ours come with a toe guard. When you start to work on the toe of the bat and remember this is the most vulnerable part of the bat, the rubber toe guard prevents you from knocking it in properly. I made the mistake of knocking in the bat every where except for the toe and then once we'd knocked 97% of the bat in, the first aggressive session in the nets saw the toe of the bat cave in on the corner after mis-hitting the ball right on the toe. Interestingly in my research I found an interesting article about Warsop bats where they basically say that every bat is susceptible to being ruined by a Yorker right on the toe, despite having paid £350 for it and having knocked it in properly!

Once Joe's bat was damaged in this way, I had a look at it and then reflected on how much the edges of the bat had changed in shape through the knocking in process. Thinking about it, I thought - if I was to remove the rubber toe guard and knock the toe in properly would the knocking in process even out the now deformed and caved in toe? 

I removed the toe and knocked in the toe properly - lightly at first and gradually increasing the weight of the blows and luckily once knocked in the shape of the toe evened out and the caved in section was eliminated - luckily the blow from the ball had only compressed the willow and not actually cracked it.

You can see from the image above that once the toe guard had been re-fitted it was now too big for the shape of the knocked in toe. The knocking in process has compressed the willow substantially, so once the toe guard had been glued back into place using super-glue, then used a Stanley knife to cut the excess off making it neat once more.

Cracks in the willow as part of the knocking in process.

Again this hardly gets mentioned and I found the answers on a forum and the Warsop website, the Warsop website sells them as a positive feature of your bat!!! The forum discussed the idea of the bat being defective and whether you could return the bat I'm guessing from the point of whether it meets the fit for purpose consumer laws? On the forum they were undecided, but most of the discussion centred around the idea that the cracks as Warsop suggests are no big deal and that they can be repaired by applying a little bit of super glue and then rubbing down with fine sandpaper. Follow that up with some bat face tape and the edge tape and your bat hopefully will be ready to go!

Linseed Oil use with a bat covered in bat-face tape.

Easy! Before you put the tape on with your new bat (3 coats or more over several days) make sure the oil has dried out. Our whole process took more than 8 days. If the oil is sitting on the surface of the bat wipe the excess away with tissue paper or a cloth. Make sure though that the oil has been absorbed into the bat before applying the tape otherwise it wont adhere to the surface of the bat. Once the tape is on and when it comes to the point where you need to re-oil it, all you do is oil the back of the bat instead of the batting surface. Don't go over the stickers, oil round them and similar with the splice area where the handle connects to the bat. Lay the bat oil side up and flat when waiting for the oil to seep into the Willow.


Keep the bat over winter in a garage, shed or out-building somewhere where there is some moisture in the air - not indoors where there is central heating. Similarly don't leave the bat in a car on the parcel shelf where the sun will dry it out.

How is the bat holding up? The bat saw my son through a season and I've used it a couple of times and it's doing okay see image below. If you look at the Slazenger link below you'll find an image of a similar more expensive Kashmir bat that wasn't prepared. The bat featured in this post looks in good condition and is going fine.

A more detailed account of the same process done with far more care on a 2nd bat can be found via the links below along with the same process being applied to Ebay bats from India. All three bats will be tested this season 2016 and I'll update these posts below as to how they performed.

Slazenger V1200 Kashmir bat prep, knocking in and test - http://mpafirsteleven.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/knocking-in-preparing-and-road-testing.html

Ebay plain bat from India bat prep, knocking in and test -

Ebay plain bat from India bat prep, knocking in and test -

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Net session with Joe at Mopsies (The home of cricket).

The weekend approaches and a home game at the Rec Langdon Hills with just Joe and me. Ben again can't play because now he's finished his studies (GCSE's) he's got himself a part time job and is required to work most Saturdays which is a shame and scuppers any chance that between us we take all 10 wickets in a game!

Joe had his 14 birthday a couple of weeks ago and got a new bat - only a cheap Slazenger Kasmir job, but we've put a lot of work into preparing it ready to be used, knocking it in and oiling it and covering with face tape and fibre glass tape on the edges. In part this was just an attempt to enthuse him with regards to batting because like Ben he'll hide at No.11 and says that he prefers not to bat, but 95% in net situations he bats far better than me and sells himself short. He does the same thing in his age group games.

So far, so good; having spent all the time preparing the bat he's been pretty enthusiastic about putting it to use, so on Wednesday evening (Training night under 15's and adults) we went along with a bucket of balls and a sidearm and had a net all to ourselves and he did quite well and was obviously enthused. This then allowed me to get him again to bat and this morning we got up and went over Mopises with a bucket of balls again and spent an hour and again - obvious improvement and visible increased confidence, which was good to see.
We'll do the same again tomorrow for an hour or so and I'll up the speed with the side arm.
Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Joe Thompson U15's bowler Basildon & Pitsea CC

Joe Thompson U15's bowler Basildon & Pitsea CC best bowling figures. (SEDCB)

Younger son Joe, has just had some good news, he's been selected to represent the South Essex District based on his recent bowling performances including the 10.4 - 2- 15 - 6 against Belhus in a 4th XI game (Adults).

He'd previously been trialled in the winter but was ill, so his performance at the trial was affected. The bloke who ran the trials was aware of this and said that despite what had happened at the trial, his name was in the frame and that they'd keep an eye on him over this season and he'd be offered games in the summer if he performed well at Basildon.

I don't know how this all happens, I think the club uploads the data on-line and forwards the info to SEDCB . With the Belhus performance one the clubs officials let me know that there's a process of letting Essex Cricket know about it and it's looked at in terms of being 'Performance of the week' or something and if it is, we win tickets to an Essex game. I did that and we're off to see Essex on the 29th playing Warwickshire in a one day game as an award for the performance.
He then followed that up with another good performance in the 4's playing against Hornchurch. Taking two key wickets - one bloke LBW that was well set and looking for a long innings and only playing loose balls and another younger bloke - 2nd XI player (Allegedly), who was smacking the ball out of the park for six as and when he wanted to. Joe got them both clean bowled. The 2nd XI player especially was a good wicket - Joe got hit for six off of a good ball and then bowled off-spin, running in off of his seam-up run up, the ball gripped and the bloke missed it completely hitting him in the body. He then followed that up with a leg-cutter on middle and leg that turned and hit the top of off.

In the following week I then got a call from a bloke at SEDCB saying that Joe's bowling hadn't gone un-noticed and that they had some fixtures for him to represent the South Essex District. Then checking back through my emails Michelle, my wife noticed with the email from Essex County Cricket Club there was an attachment...
A nice certificate from Essex Cricket commending Joe's 6-fer signed by Alastair Cook England captain and James Foster another Essex player!
Back to the district fixtures - he had three games offered, one of which he's not going to be able to make, but the other two he can. So, on Monday 27th he's at Harlow for a 40 over game and then on the Tuesday he's at Garon's Park in Southend which is a splendid venue used by the county teams for matches. Again another 40 over game. What with a game on Saturday as well and the game we're going to watch on 29th at Chelmsford it's going to be a busy cricket week for Joe!
This means in the clubs running totals for all wicket takers in adults games Joe is now 12th

 All this and he's only just turned 14 on the 9th of July! Well done Joe!
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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Cricket pitches in the South Essex District Cricket Board that offer turn for spin bowlers (work in progress).

I've now played in our 4th XI for 3 years in a couple of leagues and as such, I'm becoming familiar with the wickets and starting to recognise which wickets offer turn for the spin bowler. So this is my current assessment of which wickets offer something for the spin bowler. Most of it is based on recent observations and other information is much older.

Belhus 4th XI wicket, South Ockendon, Essex.
I found this one to be a good wicket that offered both turn and bounce. The bounce being variable. From my recollection of this year and last year the situation was very similar and this year we played on a wicket that had been used for a kids 20 over game, so there was some wear already on it. My son who bowls off-spin found the same conditions.
Langdon Hills Recreation Ground.
Langdon Hills Recreation Ground Wicket
(Looking West towards the 'Tesco End').
This is the wicket from the same direction looking west towards Tesco's.
This is my home ground and it's a good un for spin especially if it's a little damp. My preferred end is the Tesco end or the estate end and the slop or the hill means the wicket slopes away a little in the direction of the spin. The other advantage is that the wicket is unusual in that it runs East to West instead of North to South, the consequence being that either side of mid summer in the latter stages of the 2nd innings the ball is almost coming out of the sun if you toss it up with loads of loop.
The wicket is very well maintained and dries exceptionally quickly once any rain has stopped. It's on a slight slope and for some reason it's a relatively windy location and the combination of sunshine and the local wind conditions facilitate quick draining and drying. As of July 24th 2015, the club also started to use covers if the weather was wet prior to match days. How this affects the turn off the wicket remains to be seen. Generally over a 52 over game, the wicket holds up quite well and because of the top quality maintenance carried out by the council even in the driest of summers the wicket doesn't crumble as far as I've ever seen in the last 4 or 5 years.
Turn off the wicket if spun hard is good, once of the better wickets that I've played on for spinners possibly helped by the slope. The wicket has a slight slope leading up to the popping crease, but not that dramatic. Both ends are similar, but bowling from the Eastern (Playground) end because of the slope might suit finger spinners?
Bounce is variable irrespective of the condition of the pitch during the game, overall it's difficult to extract good bounce, but out of nowhere seemingly dependent on the density of the clay in un-specific areas of the wicket the ball will just suddenly bounce loads.
Turn potential 8/10 
Bounce 6/10
Chelmsford CC 3rd XI wicket (early season)
First match of the season April 30th 2016 was played at this ground on a strip that was pretty much in the centre of the square. The locals were saying that there'd been a fair bit of rain and the strip was very damp prior to being rolled. Other local info suggested that with the wind and the sun the strip would dry quite rapidly and played much better once dried. The square slopes a little and they were saying that end at the top of the slope dries quicker and the drainage is good.
We bowled first and to the seamers our wicket keeper was fairly close because of the lack of bounce. I bowled in the last 4 overs of the game during a 40 over game, so the wicket would have dried a fair bit. I found by this time it bounced relatively well and turned easily, but I find that's the case early in the season when it's damp. I bowl with a very high arm with generous amounts of over-spin. Their spinner bowled with a much more round arm action see here and he was getting reasonable bounce and turn too, overall I'd say this was a good wicket to bowl spin on especially early in the season and when it's been wet during the week. The wicket was rolled just prior to the game.

The 3rd XI square is the one bottom left in the image.
Belfairs Park - Leigh-On-Sea 4th XI

7th May – Belfairs Park 4th XI wicket see Ariel view (Top right left hand pitch). This wicket runs north to south with a slight easterly bias. You can see in the photograph the direction of the sun at 1pm at this time of year and the shadow from this end would move from left to right as the sun dips in the afternoon.

 The wicket was green and the outfield long and green meaning 4’s were hard to come by if the ball was hit along the ground. The outfield looks as though it has drainage issues, because there were recently dug lines of bare earth filled with sand all over the outfield at regular intervals suggesting the whole field was recently worked on to improve the drainage. The sand though wasn’t filled to the same height as the earth either side of the channel, meaning fielding a ball coming at you along the ground was potentially dangerous st the ball could easily deviate in any direction including upwards into your face. Similarly any ball thrown in from the outfield landing on the edge of the drainage channels would deviate and this was seen at least once.
Drainage ruts...
Neither, Lee Dutton or I could get the ball to spin as much as we would have liked, but the opposition were of the opinion that I was at least spinning the ball quite a bit. There wasn’t any significant bounce either that I could report of, although later in the game the seam bowlers saw some of their deliveries pop up once or twice at the southern end. Overall a fairly true wicket, my younger son Joe (Seam up – medium fast) bowled superbly on it, so to did Farhan Malik. For spinners though at this time of year bowl it full on the stumps.
Wickford Memorial Park (Wickford 4th XI)

Wickford - In the last few days it's rained a little and as you can see it's pretty green. The bounce was variable especially at the 'River Crouch' end Which I was bowling to, but this was found on a good length rather than at a full length which I was looking to bowl to. The other end 'Pavilion End' it tended to bounce a lot less and was more consistent. It turned a little, but to be honest I only bowled 3 overs and didn't bowl that well. There was some turn, but only average. I came away with 3-0-19-0.  Similarly the other spinner Lee Dutton didn't bowl that well either, so the assessment was fairly inconclusive. The wicket is probably maintained by Basildon District Council and their staff do a pretty amazing job considering these are council wickets and this wicket looks as though it's very well maintained.

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Basildon & Pitsea 4th XI v Belhus 4th XI 4th July

Basildon & Pitsea 4th XI v Belhus 4th XI 4th July

The weather looked as though it was going to be good after a week of really warm weather for the UK in the previous days, some days it was in the 36 - 37 degree centigrade region. But today it was going to be around 25 degrees with wall to wall sunshine.

Still no older son Ben as he was away for the weekend doing his Duke of Edinburgh silver award, walking in the Cotwolds for 3 days. Going into the game both Joe and I had been practicing, Joe was bowling well and I was still figuring out ways to bowl with my Achilles injury still not fully recovered.

Picked up Tim Brown on the way and arrived to hear that we had 11 players on the way. By the time we walked out on to the pitch to field it was evident that we'd probably be playing with just 9 players...

Lee Dutton, John Bedford, Jamie Britton, Tony Harms, Liam Harms, Tim Brown, Steve Bonnett, Joe and I (Thompson's).

Liam opened the bowling from the Birch Crescent end, I imagined that Joe would have then bowled from the Hall Lane end, but Lee threw the ball to me which I don't mind at all and think is a good tactic especially if I've not got an Achilles injury!
I'm now in a situation where I'm more familiar with the pitches that we play on having been the captain last year and this being the 3rd year I've played regularly in the 4th XI and I'm aware of which pitches offer turn off the wicket if you're spinning the ball and this is one of those that I've taken wickets on before and bowled quite well on. The pitch we played on had already been used by a youth team for 20 overs in the morning, so was scuffed up a bit and for me that only helps as a bowler.
Belhus put a couple of kids in first up which was good for us given that we only had nine players and Liam Bowled a good first over with a maiden and then generally bowled really well with his left arm seam up stuff. My bowling was average what with the Achilles injury and for most of the time I was approaching the crease a la' Terry Jenner at the end of his coaching career. I had numerous chances that either didn't go to hand, were dropped or just missed the top of the stumps by millimetres having beaten the bat (top-spinners). Liam had the chance of a second wicket that Joe went after at fine leg - loopy high ball, but would have had to have caught it over his shoulder, he got a hand to it, but wasn't able to keep hold of it. My only wicket was caught by Liam at mid-on - he and his Dad Tony are brilliant catchers in those positions, although Tony didn't quite get to one of mine which looked like it was a dolly in this match!

Some of my wides were ludicrous almost Tufnel-esque in their awfulness. But then interspersed with some half decent balls and some really good balls. Overall though considering the injury and the fact that I've had to adapt my bowling and bowl off a two step approach it went okay.

Then my younger son Joe (13 years old) was thrown the ball and the main event started. He's been practicing quite a bit over on the paddock, so has been grooving his action, he bowls a mixture of finger-spin (Off-breaks) and seam up. Bowling from the Hall Lane end he started this spell with the off-breaks which he bowls off of a fairly long run up and with some pace. In the first two overs he took a wicket for 2 runs including a wicket maiden. But then during the swap over from one bowler to the next the wicket keeper (Jamie Britton) suggested that he bowl seam up instead. 

Joe bowled superbly only giving away the odd run here and there and this is with only 9 players meaning that there were dirty great gaps in the field coupled with players (Including me at the moment what with the Achilles injury) that fall short of being Gibbe-sque or Collingwood-esque. In his first 6 overs he took 4 for 11 runs including a wicket maiden. He bowls an exceptionally good line and length on or just outside of the off-stump. He varies the length, but generally bowls a very good length at a reasonable pace making it very difficult to play the ball aggressively.

Joe leads the team off the pitching having taken 6 wickets for 15 runs, including 2 maidens off of 10.4 overs.
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