Sunday, February 21, 2016

Maidenbower cricket pavilion near Crawley Sussex

This is another of the Pavilions I shot last week. This one is in Maidenbower Drive, Maidenbower, near Crawley, West Sussex. I've done some research, but haven't been able to ascertain whether it's anyone's club base. It's almost certainly a council run building and looking around it's use has been changed in recent years and it now runs seemingly as a community centre. There's an existing image from 2008 on the Google maps website see here of the building in its previous incarnation.
So this image here above is the current version of the Maidenbower pavilion (Feb 2016) if you look at the link above, the original version was so much better aesthetically, designed in the classic style of a cricket pavilion. I would imagine the architect who designed the original building was mortified when he/she saw this modified version. For the moment the cricket pitch still remains, apparently without it's own caring team, so by my reckoning its days are probably numbered as the local community seems to care very little for the game of cricket despite the fact that cricket is one of the games that this country plays well and since 1966 has been world beaters on a number of occasions.
* Definitely click on the link above the difference (Before and after) is a travesty.

Whilst researching I came across a forum where there was a lot of discussion about the rights and wrongs of how this park area is managed and this is completely indicative of the issues that surround such facilities that are new and have no cricket history. This thread here has a discussion between someone with football interests and another who seems to be sticking up for the cricketers, but isn't a cricket player themselves. I have to admit that all of the pitches in this area were absolutely sodden with loads of standing water. The better pitches further afield were far better, but again these were pitches that have been around for generations and maintained to a far higher degree. Cricket in towns does seem to struggle against all sorts of issues and this is a good example of the issues that arise through conflict of interest and the facilities not being designated for any length of time to a club that cares.

It does seem that cricket is played on this wicket but no team has it as its home base. Reading the forum link above it also seems a similar situation stands for the football teams and that Crawley council do not allocate pitches to local teams as such. One of the points that neither of the forum writers doesn't seem to take into account is the H&S aspect relating to cricket. It's made with regards to football e.g. teams shouldn't be allowed to play on the pitches if they're 'wet' as people will skid and break bones. But they don't seem to realise that the wicket has to be maintained because of the nature of the game of cricket and the inherent increased need for H&S...

A cricket ball as you're probably aware is rock hard in comparison with a football and the sole intention of a fast bowler is to hurt the bloke standing in front of the wickets (Within a set of rules). With a ball being thrown at you at anything up to 80mph you might be able to grasp that if the ball is bouncing off of an uneven surface e.g. a poorly maintained wicket, the chances of not being able to hit the ball and defend yourself become somewhat reduced, thus resulting in serious injuries (Death in rare instances). Needless to say, councils therefore tend to spend a lot more time, effort and no doubt money on maintaining cricket wickets.

Another thing to consider is the outfield - when the batsman hits the ball...
(1). It is in the air and the fielder has to run across a surface that needs to be maintained e.g. level because he does so whilst having to look up in order to catch the hard ball. Any unevenness in the surface when running after the ball may result in broken ankles or a ball on the head etc.
(2). If the ball is hit along the ground off the bat -  again it comes off the bat at around 90mph +. If when it hits the outfield it does so off of a true (maintained) surface the fielder is able to catch the ball. If the surface isn't maintained it's line and trajectory out of the bounce is wholly un-predictable -  resulting in broken jaws, loss of teeth etc. Again these are the reasons that a cricket pitch has to be maintained to a far higher level than a football pitch.
Without a club being completely affiliated to this facility and having the support of the local community and council at least to some extent, this grounds future looks fairly doomed. The pavilion has been vandalised (I'm sure the architect will agree) and all its aesthetic charm ruined.

The work starts here.

Whoa! That seems to have snuck up on me suddenly. I'm back to work on Monday having been off for half term and thought today must be pre-season nets soon? Sure enough, checked the calendar and the first session is on Tuesday night.

I think I'm okay upper-body wise, as I've been putting in the work for that alongside the extra batting net sessions Joe and I have been doing, but lower body and general running around fitness and stamina I'm not so sure. If I'm honest I'm slightly concerned about my Achilles which I injured last May. I have been resting it, but it still feels vulnerable especially if I wear trainers that have the high heel support at the back as this feels as though it digs in and causes a sensation of soreness. Not a great deal of soreness, but enough to notice and be aware of. This is my right foot so it'll be put under pressure coming out of bound into BFC where I need to land with the foot side-on. I'll have to remember to warm up and increase the physio/strengthening I guess?

Over the last week Joe and I have been practicing outside over at 'The Wreck' AKA The Rec, I'm calling it 'The Wreck' because of the state it's in. In the picture below the best fence is over-grown with possibly one of the most densely spiked bushes on the planet and the fence is about 12" (300mm) inside the bush it's that over-grown and we lose fluorescent orange Windballs in there!

Another downside is the surface - the tarmac is deteriorating and is no longer smooth and it's really pitted so the ball spins like crazy making any realistic batting virtually impossible. You can't play your regular game and have to come up with solutions that take in account the fact that the ball is going to bounce more than normal... Joe loops them up on this surface bowling slow Off-spin mixed with differing speeds, lengths and straight balls. The thing I've picked up from playing in this scenario is to learn how to leave balls that you don't have to play, balls that are not threatening the stumps he throws up so they bounce more with top spin or off-spin so cross bat shots are ultra risky. So hopefully these lessons I can carry forward to the coming season?
 The surface!

I did speak to the council park keepers a couple of years ago and they said there were plans afoot to do something with these tennis courts, as I recall there was talk of a proper anti-climb type fence and for the area to be re-surfaced with smooth tarmac like the 'Cage' over at Markhams Chase. That would be nice because people do try and use this ever-declining facility aside from us. There's a kid that plays cricket at a very high level who practices over there and my own son plays at county district level and to be able to have half decent facilities to practice on would be nice.
Besides from the bushes being over-grown all the other sides of the courts have either broken fencing or are covered in brambles. The surface is uneven and breaking up in places and the place is in an awful state of repair. If the council had money to spend at the end of the year this is one place that could do with a bit of loving care.
Moan out of the way - despite that it has meant that we've practiced a bit and I have done a little bowling and I noticed that I need to work on the new run-up again as I was getting lazy and doing the 'Stuttering' thing again. More work needs to be done leading up to May, including general fitness and stamina, so some running and cycling are in order over the coming weeks.

Training SEDCB - Joe Thompson

Another good session tonight at the freezing cold Fitzwymarc school sports hall. Again another very low turn out. Tonight they set the boys another one of those scenarios in the nets. T20 game; six of the boys were batting and six were bowling. They had two nets and the bowlers were being used in spells with one boy acting as the captain. The spare bowlers were in a third net doing throw-downs with the 'Yet to go in batsmen'. When you were out you rotated with batsmen in the 3rd net.

Captain kid chose Joe to open and Joe bowled well from the outset bowling an off-stump line or in the corridor or uncertainty area. Joe set a field with fine leg and no third man and after a couple of balls, the batsmen were guiding the ball through the 3rd man region so the coach suggested a re-think on his field positions and they came up with the field setting below...
The idea being that he was looking to get the batsman to drive through the space between point and extra cover and get an edge through to 2,3,4 or 5 with the protection of 3rd man at 6 for balls that get through. He bowled well and came away with 3 wickets, all of them going through to slips or the wicket keeper as planned.

At the end the trainers spoke to the boys as a collective. The bats had all been aware of the field positions and were asked why their batting figures were so low and they admitted that the bowling was good "They bowled a good line and length", the coach came back with 'Who bowled a good line and length and bowled to their plan'? A number of the bats nodded towards and said "Joe". Which is really helpful, as that would have massively encouraged Joe, that they had acknowledged his bowling with little encouragement and that'll now make Joe feel as though he has some function in the team, as the group dynamic is still a little cliquey and fractured as far as I can make out. So bit by bit I reckon Joe is feeling a part of the team and as though people are recognising his contribution, which is essential if he's going to do well, he needs to feel as though people believe in his abilities and want him to do well and expect him to do well. So again, another really good session for Joe. 

 Joe discussing the field settings with one of the Essex coaches (Scott).

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pavilion project update 2 of 11 - Tilgate Park Pavilion, Crawley, West Sussex.

Tilgate Park Pavilion, Crawley, West Sussex

This one is very different to the previously posted. One of the things I was initially looking at and exploring with this project was the fact that the smaller the local population, the bigger the clubhouse and the bigger the population the poorer the facilities. For instance the previously posted Bolney - beautiful ground and lovely traditional pavilion serving a population of 1200 people and here we have the Tilgate playing field pavilion in Crawley West Sussex - probably 25 miles away, with a population of 110,000 and they can only muster up this...
The main Cricket Pavilion Typology project can be found at the link below...

Pavilion project update

Bolney CC Pavilion

I spent yesterday driving around the Crawley area looking for Pavilions for my Typology project and managed to shoot 10 - 11 new pavilions which I'll upload in time. The best of the day was this one at Bolney just off the M23. This was a lovely little pitch adjacent to a church and an old school. Looking quickly at their website I discovered that this building was built in 2004 and as you can see they've opted quite rightly to stick to a traditional design...

Bolney CC Pavilion

The other pavilions shot and added so far can be found here.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Freezing cold practice

Cold today 6 degrees centigrade and Joe and I went out and had a practice. Initially we went to see if we could get into the cage at Markhams Chase, but there were some kinds in there despite the fact that it was so cold, so we went over to the neglected tennis courts at The Recreation Ground, Langdon Hills again, there's just nowhere you can go around here to practice, everywhere you look despite the concerns about obesity and the declining fitness levels, the facilities are either pay only or in a state of dilapidation - like the tennis courts at the Rec.

Despite the fact that the Rec is wrecked we persevered again as did a couple of women who were practicing netball and couple of other kids who were practicing basketball at the same time. We spent about an hour and half and it went nowhere near as well as last week and I couldn't figure it out, until I got back in the car and realised actually I might still be a little fuzzy in the head from last nights night out at a wedding? I'm using that as an excuse.

I had a bowl and that went okay. I think I need to do some of the practice again outside my house with grooving the run up a bit, as I was stuttering a little sometimes and needed to focus on the new run-up approach in order for it to be smooth and functioning properly.

I worked on getting on the toes a little as that's something I don't do well enough and when I do, do it the ball turns far more. The lifting on the toes at the moment feels a little unnatural and I need to bring it together with the rest of the new action before nets start. With that in mind I also need to be working on my Achilles but I've been warned about the potential for injury based on the fact that I generally practice on hard surfaces. Apparently if you practice consistently on a hard surface this affects the way your Achilles functions, and then when you start practicing on a flexible/soft surface such as grass early in the season, this massively increases the chance of sustaining injury. See the link below...

Sunday, February 07, 2016

More practice - Pre nets

Langdon Hills Recreation Ground - Tennis courts

Was the venue for a practice today for Joe and I
This is a vid from a few years ago when the place was in a fairly good condition when the fences were sound and the tarmac in reasonable condition. In the last few years Basildon Council have seemingly let it fall into a state of disrepair which is a real shame as there's very few places in the area where you can play ball games within a fairly large area and contain the ball. It seems really daft when the government are aware that the population is increasingly sedentary and inactive and obesity and the likes means the NHS pick up the cost - that's paid through taxes. But, how is anyone going to engage in sport if the facilities are not there?

Anyway that aside - what with the surface being so rough I thought it might be a challenge to try and bat on it and sure enough it was. The surface is badly damaged by frost and is ROUGH so with Joe bowling Off-Breaks using relatively bouncy Bola balls (Red ones) I had problems. Right Arm Off-Spin is one of the things I come across a lot as a tail ender and is one of the things I really struggle with so this challenge is one of the key ones I need to come up with solutions to. In the end I came up with a couple of solutions...

(1). Standing right on the edge of the crease if not just out of it which is risky, but I seemed to be pulling it off the majority of the time by giving myself a far better chance of getting to the pitch of the ball and either hitting it cleanly or just smothering it.

(2). Again - staying with the same stance and position just outside of the crease - creep forwards a touch encouraging the bowler to bowl fuller and then hitting on the full with a drive or stepping back if it was short and cutting it off the back foot.

As I said for the most part it worked and I was probably successful 19 out of 20 times during which I was hitting the ball effectively - meaning that I'd be making runs and getting off of strike, all of which is a massive improvement on previous years. I'm definitely hitting the ball exponentially more than I have ever done and doing so with far more confidence so I'm really looking forward to May when the season starts.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Pre nets practice

I've not bowled for months now having given myself a rest and focused for once on my batting. The nets that we go to once a fortnight are rammed solid at the weekend and booked up, so this weekend we're not going. Last weekend we practiced at a local 'Cage' and it proved to be a decent place to practice, so we went again today and did some work with batting and bowling for once.

Batting went okay, although Joe was a bit of a pain as he came along with attitude and didn't seem to do anything with any effort or conviction. He's 14, nearly 15, so has a bit of an attitude issue when you drag him away from Youtube! Similar to last week I was practicing moving my feet - getting to the pitch of the ball, driving the ball and paddle sweeps. All of which I'm doing with far more assuredness and success.

The bowling was reasonable, but I've already identified what I need to focus on and it's exactly what Tony M was recommending when I last bowled at Writtle... focusing on getting up on the toes in the delivery. There's a weeks holiday coming up soon for me (Lecturer) which means I can focus on this and practice with a lot more conviction and maybe get the video recording going and record my progress. What is good though is the fact that the 'New run-up' seems to be feeling pretty natural and the ball is coming out okay despite not bowling properly since late October early November.