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.

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