Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Working on my batting

Another session in the nets last night, another hour so we (Joe and I) had about half an hour each and it does feel like it is making a difference. Looking at my batting from the videos in Sept/October I feel that there's been a significant improvement, but I am tempering that with some caution as I do realise that the way the machine operates it might be a lot more consistent than someone bowling at you on a pitch along with all of the variations that the pitch produces? But I think the biggest move forwards is that I just feel more confident and possibly less scared of the ball which are needless to say key factors.

This is me back in September prior to ever batting in the nets against a machine.

Then this below is last night after 3 half hour sessions... Double click the image for the video.

With regards facing real bowlers and the natural inconsistencies they have as an intrinsic aspect of their bowling, when facing my younger son Joe (Bloke in the video above) now, I'm a lot more confident and able to play him with far more finesse and ease, so the prospects going forwards do seem to be positive.

I'm still struggling with balls targeted at the leg-stump area, but increasingly despite the awkward approach and technique I am hitting the ball and for the most part keeping it along the ground, but there's more work to do.

In conjunction with my other recent blogs and the experiments with the Kashmir bats, the bad news for Kashmir bats is that it's not going that well have a look here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Knocking in, preparing and road testing Kashmir Willow bats - Slazenger V1200 Pemier cricket bat

This blog has now been moved to my new website.


Click the link to check it out.

This is one of a number of blog posts where I'm looking at the Kashmir bats and whether they really are that bad? There's loads of opinion out there about how bad they are, but very little in the way of explanations and evidence. I'm testing out three this season, knocking them in over the winter and then I'll be using them in the nets and over the season in 2016. (See bottom of the blog for the other 2 bats).

Slazenger V1200 Premier cricket bat shop bought here in the UK

This bat is one of three that I've bought over the winter here in the UK to test out how good or bad Kashmir Willow is. This bat is the only one that I've bought from an established retailer, the other two bats (See links at the bottom of the page) are cheap Ebay bats sold as English Willow. This bat at least claims to be Kashmir Willow and I know what I'm buying. Why am I doing this? See here.

If you have a look at the link above you'll have seen we've previously had one of these bats that we partly knocked in and despite this we've been happy with its performance and wear. With that in mind I thought I'd buy another one specifically for myself and spend the winter preparing it as if it were a good quality bat.

There's a lot of conflicting advice and opinion on the internet on the subject of knocking in bats, primarily it's with reference to preparing top quality bats and not ropey cheap Kashmir bats. I questioned one blokes advice that was at odds with Julian Millichamps and I then got into a discussion about Kashmir bats and he was totally dismissive of them saying that they were a complete waste of time and that you shouldn't even knock them in. I kind of get the impression that there's an element of snobbery involved in some people's choices of bat and that many of the opinions regarding Kashmir willow are based on hearsay rather experience. With regards the comment and advice about not knocking in Kashmir willow bats, that seems to me on the basis of recent experience to be nonsense. The image here is a £25 Slazenger bat that was used sparingly over a season primarily against spin bowling during practices, that wasn't knocked in and it now looks like this...
Slazenger Bat - that wasn't knocked in.

Slazenger V1200 Premier cricket bat

The specifications for this bat are... 
Slazenger V1200 Premier Cricket Bat
This Slazenger V1200 Premier Cricket Bat is perfect for an aggressive stroke player due to the premium Kashmir willow construction, providing long lasting durability. 

Cricket Bat
Kashmir willow construction 
Toe guard
Octopus grip

Lightweight  - *Hmm - 2lb 11oz - not massively lightweight.
Slazenger branding

For our full range of
Sports Equipment Sale visit SportsDirect
Product code: 851032
Day One. (20th Sept).One of the things that comes up in one of the  videos I watched is the initial rounding of the edges of the bat. On their video they suggest not doing it (Certainly at the initial stages) with a bat mallet. Instead they suggest that you use a piece of rounded wood (I’ve used my wife’s rolling pin) to rub down the sharp edges rather than smashing them in with a bat mallet. So, unsure whether you do this post oiling or pre-oiling, I’ve done one edge so far prior to oiling and the wood felt pretty hard. So without any oil this rounding process was pretty difficult, but with a little exertion though, there was some softening of the edge.

After doing the one edge I’ve then coated the front face of the bat with Bat oil (Raw Linseed Oil). Don’t use any other type. I’ve drizzled about 1 tea-spoon (5ml) on the face of the bat and smeared it into the wood with my fingers. I’ve also done the edges of the bats trying to avoid getting it on to the stickers. Anything that went on the stickers or looked excessive and not readily absorbed into the wood I wiped off with a tissue.
Day Two. (21st Sept).
Coat 2 of 4; The oil applied 24 hours ago has now been fully absorbed into the bat and the surface is dry once again. So this evening I've applied the 2nd coat. Exactly the same process. No knocking in, no rolling of the edges with the rolling pin. Apparently once the 4 coats have been applied the Willow will fairly soft in comparison with the dry state that the bat is delivered in.

One thing I've been made aware of is the fact that my bat has two types of wood found in the tree when it's cut down. Looking at the wood it has two colours. The darker colour wood is the 'Heartwood' and therefore a lot harder than the lighter colour wood and requires more Oiling, so when I'm oiling up the bat from now on I'm going back to the bat a couple of hours later and applying an additional drop on both this darker Heartwood and on the toe. Remember the advice from Warsop (see above) that says that no matter how much you pay for a bat or much you knock it in, a Yorker right on the toe of the bat will potentially kill your bat. To help alleviate this you need to pay particular attention to the toe and Jason Mellet recommends additional oil needs to be applied to the toe in the same way as the heartwood .
Day Three (22nd Sept). Tonight I'm just going to add a drop to the toe and the heartwood and allow the rest of the bat to fully absorb the oil already applied.
Day Four (23rd Sept). No more oiling tonight, the surface of the bat feels waxy, certainly not wet or damp, but I don't want to over oil it, so I'm going to leave it for a few days and see how it looks and feels possibly at the weekend. I've been looking for advice on removing the Toe Guard, but there's not a lot out there, but it is as basic as stick a knife under the edge and slowly ease it off. Again I'll look to do that at the weekend.
26th Sept.
Saturday morning I've worked on the bat with a rolling pin. The advice on one of the sites was to smooth the edges initially by using another rounded piece of wood, so I've used a cooking rolling pin and as you can see it's done the initial part quite well...

This was done by simply rubbing the rolling pin down the edge and you can clearly see that it takes that sharp edge off quite easily and in doing so demonstrates how soft the willow is and how important it is to work on that edge.

Once I'd smoothed off the edges using the rolling pin, I then started to work on them with the bat mallet, small taps all around the edges and on the toe. I've worked on both edges at this stage only lightly and on the toe, more work has been put into the toe than the edges at this stage and I must have only done about 10 minutes of knocking in.

25th October.  I've decided that I'm doing this slowly, so what with it being off-season here I'm only doing this every now over the week, but it's going well. I've been leaving the bat in the garage and I did leave it for a few weeks and then oiled it again with a very light layer. I'm increasing the hardness of the impact with the knocking in hammer and I've probably spent a genuine 40 minutes now of knocking it in over this period of time and so far there are no cracks or damage to any part of the bat. I've still got the toe guard in place - I couldn't figure a way of taking it off without making a complete mess of it. So I'm hitting the toe with the toe guard in place, whether this means I'm compressing the willow enough I'm not sure, but I am increasing hitting the toe harder and it may be because the toe guard is rubber it's just moving (Compressing) with the willow?
28th November. Every week generally at the weekends now, I spend a little bit of time continuing to knock this bat in and this weekend I've put a little more Oil on the bat as it had fully absorbed the oil. The striking of the bat is quite violent now and there's a lot of focus on the edges and the toe. Whereas in previous weeks you could see the bat compressing as it was being hit, it now appears to be pretty much done, with virtually no indication of being struck at all. Being someone who doesn't do a job that involves manual labour, I can't smack the bat continually for any period of time, I just haven't got the strength in my forearms, so at most I do this for 3 - 5 minutes at a time. I'm also very conscious of the fact that no-one likes the noise and the fact that it must get on everyone's nerves (Neighbours). I do it in the garage where the bats are stored, but my wife says that she can hear me doing it from inside the house, so if she can hear so too can 30-40 other people.
I'm getting to the point where I doubt whether many people actually complete the recommended 6 hours especially if they've bought the bat for such a small fee, it's almost certain that people must buy these types of bats - use them for a season or in the nets and then either break them or discard them?

7th December

Had a net session a couple of days back and gave the bat a run out and it did okay remembering I can't bat. Seems to have a nice ping in the middle and the balls at 60mph + made no indents at all. Since then I've continued to knock it in and will do so over the coming months, as I've said before, I'm now making no impression on the bat at all and I do wonder if anyone knocks these bats in for any more than half an hour. I'll continue, but I am doing it at about 20-30 minutes per weekend.
25th December 2015
This bat must now be nearing having had its full 6 hours of knocking in, but I'll continue to knock it in over the rest of the winter. I have read recently that there's no limit to how much you might knock the bat in, but six hours to me seems to be a fair enough effort. I'll now order the face and edge tape and it'll continue to be stored outside laid flat in our garage and I'll start to put it to use at the end of January in the pre-season nets. The only other thing I'll do is weigh it and see how it compares to the other two bats that are also being prepared for the same experiments - see below...

28th December 2015

Bad news for Kashmir... Despite all the knocking in and care and attention I've used the bat tonight in the nets against plastic 'Bola' balls - 5oz relatively soft plastic. Unfortunately the bat hasn't been able to handle them despite only being subjected to 150 balls approximately. The willow looks as though and feels as though it is starting to delaminate - above.
 The toe has developed some small cracks as well, so overall this is pretty damning for Kashmir. As far as I'm concerned I've probably knocked this bat in pretty well and it's been stored in good conditions (garage outside - cool and airy). I'm not going to give up quite yet... What I plan to do is glue up the cracks using super-glue and then use bat face tape and edge tape on this bat and then continue to use it in the nets over the coming months and see how it goes once covered in bat face tape. But... It doesn't bode well for Kashmir.

2nd Jan 2016

Just had another look at the now delaminating Slazenger V1200 and pondered what I should do with it, I've considered no longer knocking it in - which as I've said is pretty much done and just simply putting bat face tape over it. I've had a look around on the internet and found this forum discussion here http://custombats.co.uk/cbforum/index.php?topic=30549.0 having read through it, the advice I'm going to take and go forwards with is...

"So I spoke to B3, David to be precise. Decent chap. He advised me to use it until there is a significant enough split in the playing surface so they can get access to the gap and then glue it.
Make it worse. Cruel to be kind.

Seems like I'll have to use a scuff sheet after all when it's repaired".

So, I'll continue using it in the nets until it reaches the point where I can get some glue into it. Hopefully that's going to be next Saturday. Watch this space to see what happens next. In the meantime I'm now eyeing up... http://www.barringtonsports.com/products/new_balance_2016_dc_580plus_cricket_bat_2015/26971/view
10th Jan 2016

Used the bat again in the nets against Bola plastic balls with the machine at 65-68mph and it's come through okay. The other Kashmir bat though didn't do so well once we introduced it to some real cricket balls see here Ebay Bat no. 2:11

17th Jan 2016 - 4 months to the start of the season.

I've ordered some Extratec bat facing tape to put on this bat as well, both the Kashmir bats as everyone everywhere says are pretty poor. But, I'll tape it up, put some edge tape on this one as well and see how it goes. I've now pretty much accepted that you get what you pay for with Kashmir and that knocked in or otherwise if you can actually hit a ball they're probably not going to last more than a few games. But if you're a bowler like me, they may last you a season if you rarely hit the ball. I've been working on my batting so I'm hoping to be hitting the ball with a bit more frequency, so I'll give this bat a go and see how it fairs, but to be honest if I use it in winter nets which I may do I doubt if it'll even survive till May when the season starts.

31st Jan 2016 -

The Extratec tape came and it was applied to the bat with edge tape. Not sure now what I'll do with the bat, I may use it in the nets against cricket balls in February and see if it survives. In the short term Joe's going to buy his own English willow bat a Grade 3 New Balance bat and see how that goes? So for the moment no news on the progress of this bat till I start using it in February nets.

The other two bats are here...

Ebay Bat no. 2:11

Ebay Bat no.2

Update on this bat here and it's doing okay March 2016 http://mpafirsteleven.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/kashmir-bat-update.html

Ebay Kashmir willow bat - purchasing, preparing and road test bat No.2

This bat never arrived. Ebay refunded me in full. I would avoid this company.

This is one of a number of blog posts where I'm looking at Kashmir bats and whether they really are that bad? There's loads of opinion out there about how bad they are, but very little in the way of explanations and evidence. I'm testing out three this season, knocking them in over the winter and then I'll be using them in the nets and over the season in 2016. (See bottom of the blog for the other 2 bats).

Ebay Bat no.2

Continuing with my investigations into the use of Kashmir bats this is the 3rd of the three that I'm preparing. See the links at the end of this post for links to the other two.

Bat 2 as I'm referring to it at the moment is another Ebay bat sold on the promise that it has massive fat edges 45mm thick and can be obtained with a weight between 2lb 12oz and 3lb 3oz. When I first came across the advert I contacted the seller...

Dear Sir,

You've listed the weight between 1250 and 1450 grams, is there any way that if I ordered this bat you could guarantee that I'll receive a 1250 or somewhere near that weight bat? 1450 would be far too heavy for me.

 The seller Sportscentre21 replied quickly with...
Ok no issues😄 just let me know after placing the order

The description in the Ebay advert was...

Thick edge English willow (nurtured in india) cricket bat. Massive performance. Cannot be found at this price. This cricket bat comes with various FREE Add-ons' that for protection of the bat and to take care of the bat. Weight and grains may vary. weight of the bat will be from (1250 - 1450) gms. This package includes following items.

= 1 THICK EDGE ENGLISH WILLOW (Nurtured in India) cricket bat.
This one again in the region of £30 with the postage. The bat they say is £16.00 just for the bat. What you have to realise is that the blokes that make these bats are being paid approx. 200 rupees a day to do the work, in the UK that's £2.00 and watching the video's these blokes work fast and hard and the yards and buildings they work in are surrounded by thousands of bats. The clefts must cost next to nothing to buy from the Kashmir wood suppliers and when you're paying your staff to make x amounts of bats per day at £2.00 a day, selling one at £16.00 is a good mark up I guess.

Again these are all pretty wild claims for such a cheap bat, there is though in this advert the inclusion of the phrase English Willow nurtured in India. There seems to be no real information on what this actually means and Jason Mellet claims it's a phrase used to confuse an uninformed public. My own understanding is that it's the same variety of willow species that we grow here in the UK under optimum conditions, but grown in India in far from optimum conditions and therefore an inferior product.

I know these bats are cheap and nasty, but the question I'm looking to answer is - if they're knocked in and prepared as though they're expensive bats are they as good as a Slazenger bat that you'd pay a similar price for?

28th November - Ebay Bat 2 Was ordered at the end of November 2015 and now a month later still hasn't arrived. Remember bat 2:11 was ordered and sent within 3 days!

As I write hasn't arrived yet and will take a lot longer to arrive. Looking at the negative comments on Ebay regarding this supplier, some of the them are about the time taken to deliver the bat. I'm expecting it to arrive about Dec 10th it's Nov 28th as I write. What I'll be interested in seeing is the thickness of the edge as this is their USP (Unique selling point) and one of the key reasons I've bought it and no doubt other people will be doing the same. Watching the site, there are a lot of people watching so this feature is something people desire especially given the weight spec's.

25th December - Ebay Bat No.2 as above still hasn't arrived and I've now lodger a formal complaint with Ebay in order to try and speed up the process or maybe get my money back. I'd rather have the bat in order that I have a look at it and see how it compares with the other two bats that I'm readying and comparing. Reviews of the other 2 bats are here...

2nd Jan 2016.

This bat never arrived and Ebay refunded me my money in full. I would advise that you avoid buying from this company.

Bat 2:11 
Bat - Slazenger V1200


http://cricketgearreviews.com/the-deep-and-dark-secrets-of-cricket-bat-making/ - Reference to NI (Nurtured in India) interview conducted with Jason Mellet and an alleged industry insider.

It's obvious, a proper English Willow bat grown in Essex or Suffolk is going to cost you a lot of money. If you see them being sold anywhere else cheap they are not going to be the real deal. If you're looking for a high quality bat, go to a high quality supplier after doing your research and be ready to part with a load of cash.

Knocking in and preparing Kashmir Willow Ebay bats (2:11)

This blog has now been moved to my new website.

Click the link to check it out. 

This is one of a number of blog posts where I'm looking at Kashmir bats and whether they really are that bad? There's loads of opinion out there about how bad they are, but very little in the way of explanations and evidence. I'm testing out three this season, knocking them in over the winter and then I'll be using them in the nets and over the season in 2016. (See bottom of the blog for the other 2 bats).

Bat 2-11 -

This is a bat from India bought from Ebay from 'Bargain Megashop'.  Advertised as...

"Senior Custom plain hand made English Willow cricket bat 2lb 9oz".

I took the information with a pinch of salt as my first Ebay bat was not as described when I bought it, so I expected the same again and indeed that was the case. This bat caught my eye as it looked as though it was going to come with a massive middle and yet only weigh 2lbs and 9oz.

Interestingly the advert says that the bat is "Hand Made English Willow Bat 2lbs 9oz". So I was interested in how they could afford to import English Willow, then shape it and then send it back to the UK all for £32.99 using UPS.
I ordered the bat on Sunday night and by Wednesday it had been delivered by UPS and on Ebay the whole process was tracked very efficiently far more so than companies like Sportsdirect. The bat was wrapped simply but quite efficiently - bubble wrap and cardboard, but around the bat as opposed to a big box with a bat rattling around inside it like Sports Direct do. The delivery man said - I'm guessing someone's getting a cricket bat for Christmas, that's how obvious it was. The bat was destined to be a Christmas gift.
 Having received it I got it out of the wrapping and had a look at it. The first thing that struck me was that fatness of the bat... It wasn't as indicated by the photograph...
The image here looks as though the bat is going to be at the meatier end of the thickness range in the region of 45mm thick, but it's not. I thought maybe they've got round that by shooting the bat from this angle and it therefore exaggerates the thickness. I had a look and no it doesn't, so this is a bit of a con.
The bat arrived in November - so what have I got for my £30?
The reality is that the bat weighs just a little over 2lb 11oz, so no-where near the weight indicated in the advert or what was ordered. As for it being English willow, I'm sceptical, I doubt very much it's English willow in the true sense, but there might be some way that they might claim it being English willow see here.
Looking at the willow itself - there are loads of grains, butterfly marks and knots. Which I'm not overly worried about as they're not that much of an issue according to JS Wright and sons - suppliers of real English Willow see here. I'm assuming the same rules will apply to Kashmir willow? As for the fatness of the bat at the sweet point...
Not quite as indicated in the advert above. The image in the advert has the edge of the bat making up almost 3/4 of the overall thickness of the bat whereas the actual bat is just a little over half the thickness of the bat. But as I've said I kind of expected these things and at the moment I'm not bothered. The bigger picture will pan out over the coming season/year e.g. what will the bat play like and how will it last?
Dec 25th 2015 - (25 minutes of prep).
I've now had the bat in the garage waiting for Christmas to hand over to my son Joe as a Christmas present. Over the last month I've lightly oiled the face of the bat 3 times, with a week in between each oiling using raw Linseed oil. I've also oiled the back of the bat twice again with a light layer of oil and the bats been stored with the oiled side facing up so that the oil seeps through using gravity.
The bat was handed over to my son Joe this morning and received with ample gratitude, so while he then focused on loading up his XBOX 1, I started the bat preparation...

 The bat came with ridiculously sharp edges which in the past I would have knocked in gently using a bat mallet, but I've recently seen videos where it's been suggested that an better approach is to roll the edges flat using another piece of rounded wood. People have suggested using a bat cone. I've used a pastry roller...
Using the roller with initially a light handed approach I've just simply run the rounded roller against the sharp edge of the new bat increasing the force as the edge became more rounded. The end result after about 10-15 minutes is as below...

Since rounding the edges off with the roller I've made a start on knocking it in with a bat mallet. So far I've managed about 25 minutes of preparation during which everyone complained about the noise. I've focused on the edges knocking them in very gently striking them at no more than 45 degrees, trying to hit the face of the bat rather that the side of the bat. I've also done some very light tapping on the toe, but the toe being one of the thinnest points of the bat sounds horrible when striking with the hammer and worries me. I've said previously that it might be better to remove the toe and treat in exactly the same way as the edges of the bat, but the rubber toe guards are very difficult to remove, so I've left it and at the moment I'm only striking the front surface of the bat in the toe area.
Other than that, the bat has a fairly nice pick up and when you strike the sweet spot with the bat mallet it has a nice ping to it, similar to the feel when hitting some of my older grade 1 English Willow bats with 6 or 7 grains.
Progress and observations 27th Dec
I find this a very tedious business - knocking in and no-one else around you appreciates the noise you make so I tend to do it for short periods in the garage. On this bat I've managed to do nearly 50 minutes in just a couple of days, I record how much time I do on a bit of paper I keep with the bat which might sound a bit over the top, but I just want to see how much of an affect it has on the bats longevity if treated properly.
Note * This next section indicated by the blue text has been done incorrectly and is a record what I've actually done whereas this video here shows you exactly how you should knock in the toe of the bat.
One of my concerns is the toe guard and the fact that you can't strike the edge of the bat at 45 degree like you can the other edges on the bat, so if you leave the toe guard in place that edge of the bat is always going to be square still like the edges in the image above rather than rounded. The first Kashmir bat we knocked in a year ago we left the edge of the bottom of the bat at the toe and the first Yorker caved in the bat on that toe edge. See here
With this bat what I've done is trimmed the edge of the toe guard back a bit using a Stanley knife so that the rubber has an angle on it 45 degree, this allows me to strike the square edge of the bat and knock it in a bit and round it off in theory. Looking at the bat now having knocked it in it does look less susceptible to the same damage the first bat sustained.
 As far as I'm concerned the bat at the toe does need to be compressed and knocked in the same as the other edges of the bat and therefore struck at about 45 degrees. With the toe guard in place this is hindered and you're unable to compress the wood. Rather than completely remove the toe guard I've trimmed the toe-guard in order that I can strike the bat at a better angle and knock in the toe more efficiently. The toe-guards primary function seems to be to reduce the chance that the toe absorbs moisture when the ground is wet rather than protect the toe, although that is the other function that it is designed for.
27th Dec - some issues... Small cracks.
One side of this bat seems to be much harder than the other. The soft side has gone well, at this point I've spent just short of an hour focusing on the edges primarily and I've just noticed that there are small cracks on the hard side. At this point I'm not that fussed as this is quite a common when knocking in bats even if you're knocking in top quality English willow. See this discussion here on a forum where one of the key contributors is a cricket bat shop proprietor.
Tomorrow I'll photograph the cracks and then treat the cracks with super glue as advised here on the M&H website.
28th Dec
Here's the damage that the bat has sustained through an hours worth of knocking in, but only on one edge (See above).

 I've chosen Gorilla glue to try and do the repairs with. Initially I've rubbed down the bat with P120 sandpaper and then simply blobbed the glue over the cracked area and I'm now going to leave it for 48 hours or so and then rub it down again and re-assess the situation.

We've now got till May to get the bat knocked in and finished ready for the start of the season or if it's prepared quicker - winter nets at the end of January. What I'll do now is update the blog as the year goes on saying how the process is coming together and how the bat does in playing conditions. The other two bats that are going through the same or similar process can be found at the two links at the end of this post.
10th Jan 2016
Having knocked this in as per the details above we took it to the nets last night and gave it a go. Initially with the Bola balls using the bowling machine at 65-68 mph and it came through that okay with no damage. My son Joe liked the feel of the bats saying that it had a nice feel and balance to it. Then at the end of the 2 hour session I bowled some Leg-spin at him and one of the balls he hit right on the toe of the bat and the bat broke. See below...
So in a way that's almost the end of this experiment. I am going to glue this bat up and repair it in the same way as with the other bat - see the link to the Slazenger bat below. I'll put bat face tape on it and edge tape and then possibly use it in nets or practice situations where we use either soft plastic balls or bola balls. Furthermore, last night when this happened we were with Dr Naeem Baig and his sons. Dr Baig comes from Pakistan and grew up there playing cricket with Kashmir bats and he explained that in Pakistan and India Kashmir bats are almost exclusively used for soft balls... Tape ball cricket mostly and that they're not actually designed for use with hard cricket balls at all. So that then begs the question - why then is that not explained very clearly on the bats when you purchase them? they could easily have two stands in the shops... Real cricket bats (English willow). Toy cricket bats for use with plastic balls only (Kashmir bats). Or a label with the bat that clearly states - This bat should not be used with cricket balls?
Having said that though, the bats probably would sustain a season of batting - perhaps even two if you're a kid learning cricket and therefore in a match situation only hitting a number of balls or indeed if you're a tail-ender who rarely hits the ball?
17th Jan update.
I'm not quite giving up on this bat totally, so today I've started the repairs on it. So I've opened up the crack in the toe and filled it with wood glue. My own experience of wood glue is that it's reasonable stuff...
Evo-Stik Wood Adhesive Interior 500ml
Allegedly it's stronger than the wood itself, so some of this was squeezed into the gap in the wood and then clamped and I'll leave it for a week before sanding down. In the meantime I've ordered some Extratec bat face tape...
which will be applied along with fibre glass edge tape from Kookaburra. What we'll then do with the bat I'm not sure, we may just use it for practice with heavy tennis balls and plastic balls. The heavy tennis balls are usable with a pro - sidearm and being smaller than a cricket ball may be good to practice with in the nets with this bat, so it may come in use or we may be able to get our money's worth from it in the end? I reckon though because it does have a nice pick up we'll probably use it in games just to kill it off for once and for all?
Update 29th March - We're using the Indian Kashmir bat in the nets at the moment and it's doing okay. The repair is holding out fine and the Extratec seems to give the bats a lot of protection at the moment and there's no problems at all despite the fact that the bat is being used on cricket balls. At the moment we're holding fire on buying an English Willow bat because all of the Kashmir bats we own are doing okay. It'll be interesting to see how they do once the season starts in April.

 Remember irrespective of how much you pay for a bat it will only last if you do a handful of key things...

1. Bat properly don't hit Yorkers with the toe of your bat (Easier said than done).
2. Knock the bat in properly for the recommended period of time.
3. Repair the bat, store it properly and oil it correctly.

From the M and H website...

How long can I expect my new M and H bat to last?

We have seen bats that have lasted 10 years or more and some which have been totally destroyed in less than a season. It depends on how well the bat is prepared, maintained and used. Provided you hit the ‘sweet-spot’ every time there should be no problems and you can expect the bat to last several seasons


Also have a look at this video and the follow-up videos as this is a pretty objective test of a really cheap Kashmir bat.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Batting development progress

As well as looking to develop my bowling this coming season I've also committed to try and improve my batting and via www.bigcricket.com conversations one of the forum members mentioned a facility that it quite close to where we live which is a reasonable price. What with the fact that my younger son Joe is now in the SEDCB (South Essex District Cricket Board) team it seemed to be the right time to check the facility out and make use of it.

It's obvious that once you get to a certain stage at a club or a certain age you're written off as a potential batsman and all the energies of the coaches are quite rightly directed to the younger players and those who look as though they have some prospect of developing and becoming a batsman. So if you're just a bowler working on your batting it seems is down to you. So at the moment we're trying to get to the nets once a fortnight for an hour or so.

We've now been 3 times meaning we get about half and hour each with the bowling machine which I reckon is making a significant difference. I the 8 years I've played I've never been able to access bowling machine practice because it is reserved for the 'Special ones'. So the only chance I ever get to practice is pre-season nets and that always seems to me to be slightly odd as a learner as a means to practice as the bowling is so inconsistent - 5 blokes all bowling inconsistently in different styles. Strikes me that if you're trying to learn the basics it's of little help at all.

Yesterday's third session went really well for me. We started off with Joe bowling at me, normally I find Joe's bowling a right handful See here but right from the outset I got off to a really good start. The key thing seems to be I simply felt more confident because of the time spent facing the bowling machine, possibly less scare too? When we practice at this venue we video it and then we have a look at it and see if there's anything that we can see that is massively wrong. Needless to say there's loads wrong, but week by week I'm working on different things and trying to correct them or improve them.

What Happened - Went to the nets batted against Joe and the bowling machine, looked to be more confident and move my feet more.

Feelings - Generally because of the recent sessions I felt confident prior to batting and was hoping to correct some of the poor batting on leg-side balls.

Good & Bad (Evaluation) More time in the nets is always good, batted exceptionally well against my son who bowled both seam up and off-spin and the only bad bit was still falling over and useless against balls on the legs or around the leg-stump.

Analysis - I got off to a really good start batting against Joe at the start. He bowled both seam up pace and finger spin and I was hitting the ball clean and hard keeping it along the ground. We then moved on to the bowling machine and I did okay at that. I still haven't been able to come up with a solution for balls that are on my legs, so at some point we'll have to have a session where we work on that specifically. I'm still probably not moving enough towards the ball and there's a tendency to hit the ball too straight and towards the on-side, but generally I'm hitting the ball more with increasing confidence.

Conclusion - More practice is required and it's going to cost me a lot more money than I'd like to be paying, but it does seem to be making fairly significant improvements in my batting. So we'll try and get along to the nets every 2 or 3 weeks.

Action Plan - I've always been told that a really valuable exercise you can do is the mirror exercise to hone your batting skills, so I've been looking at the video below and I may give this a go. In this same series there's a useful video with tips for balls on the legs, so in the longer term I'll also be looking at that video and taking some of the advice from that and putting it in to action. Other than that general fitness exercises currently focusing on upper body strength because I am feeling it batting in the nets. I'm currently using the heaviest bat that I own a 2lb - 13oz Stac bat as opposed to the Slazenger bat with the idea that when it comes to the start of the season the lighter Slazenger bat will feel lighter and easier to use.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nutbrook Cricket Club net session

I was in Derbyshire over the bank holiday (Aug 2015) with the In-laws and while I was there I took the opportunity to drive around the Ilkeston/Erewash area and shoot some pavilions for my pavilion projects see here.

The club that is closest to their house (In-laws) is Nutbrook cricket club which is almost just across the road to their house and I knew that it has good nets, so I was hoping to score some time in the nets grooving my new bowling action. So when I went over there to shoot the image for the Typology and maybe throw a few balls in the nets if they allowed me to.
I took along a ball (Should have taken 6). While I was there I spoke to a bloke who looked like a trainer and I asked him if I could have a bowl in the nets while they were all out playing in a match (which they won). The bloke said yes, so having shot the images I then spent 3 hours bowling in their nets.
I was in there at the start of the innings and was still there at the end, some of the blokes commented on the fact that I was bowling for such a long period.

It was a useful session as I started to work with this new action that I'm going to be developing over the winter leading into the new season. I went over the next day and bowled a few more overs and the blokes suggested that I join their club, so I might consider it as it would mean I'd be able to use the facilities when I'm up in West Hallam.

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


B&PCC Sunday XI v East Hanningfield & Great Burstead Cricket Club

 More pavilions here - http://mpafirsteleven.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/cricket-pavillions-typology.html
 East Hanningfield pavilion
 The wicket at East Hanningfield
 The wicket at East Hanningfield.
During the last match with Belhus Liam Harms mentioned that he had bailed out of a Sunday game against East Hanningfield and that they may have been scratching around for another player. This was in the earliest phases of working with my new bowling approach and I thought that this might be an opportunity to give the new approach a go against batsmen.

So Sunday morning I hitched a lift with Tony Harms and Jamie Britton and headed out to East Hanningfield which was a double bonus as it meant that I could also shoot their Pavilion for my Pavilion Typology project.

We arrived first and the weather was classic early September - puffy white Cumulus clouds set against a blue sky.

Hanningfield Game.

I volunteered to score and did a pretty good job of it, filling in the book and putting up the scores on the scoreboard at the same time. I even got parts of the scoring wrong and was able to figure out what I’d done and reconcile the whole thing quite easily and when it was all added up at the end it all worked out fine. A massive improvement from last year and I now like to score especially as it keeps me out of having to umpire! That went well and we seemed to do okay and we finished with a reasonable score 170ish? We had a nice tea in their lovely pavilion/clubhouse and took to the field on a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Earlier in the day I’d watched 4 Buzzards soaring on the updrafts above the pitch something which would have been unheard of 20 years ago, but Buzzards along with Kites, Peregrines, Hobbies and Merlins are all making a strong comeback in Essex despite the fact that it has a number of large urban areas. Thankfully in between our urban and industrial areas, Essex has some surprisingly beautiful and classic countryside (Think Constables Haywain).

Having been a late addition to this Sunday side and seeing that it was made up of some quality players, I didn’t know whether I’d get to bowl? I had no idea of how regular this side was and how they’d done over the season, so whether Jack would throw me the ball or not remained to be seen. The obvious bowlers all bowled first and then Jack indicated that I'd get an over or two.

This game was on Sunday after the Belhus game the day before, so whether that was a contributory factor or not I'm not sure or convinced as I played two games back to back earlier in the season and did okay, wasn't knackered at all? Or was it the Yips? Was it the fact that I was playing in a team full up with first and 2nd team players including the clubs best bowler Luke Dawe (Finger Spinner)? Or was it because this was one of the first attempts with the new re-configured bowling action? Whatever it was - it was embarrassing  - wides, balls landing half way down the strip and bouncing twice - all those horrific things that happen to wrist spinners when you start out. I went for a few fours and then hoped I'd settle down a bit in the 2nd over, but the same thing pretty much happened again and I thought that I'd be off after that. But, no, Jack gave me another over and changed the field around a bit. The 3rd over was marginally better as I went back to bowling off of one step and it worked and in the end I had 5 maybe six overs and pulled it back a bit. But to be honest so many runs were piled on during that spell I thought I'd lost us the  game. Meanwhile at the other end Luke Dawe had started taking wickets on his way to another fiver-fer.

With Luke bowling well, he pulled it back and once the two good blokes that I was bowling against had been dismissed, there was a massive collapse and we won the game easily.

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