Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kashmir bat update

Following on from the previous posts...

This is how the 3 bats that are currently being tested are doing. If you read back through the previous posts you'll see the details about how they were knocked in and prepared. They didn't knock in that well and seemed to be falling apart after a few hours, the Indian bat being the worse of the 3 (Plain bat - red handle). You'll see via the link that the Indian bat was also damaged during one of the net sessions using plastic balls. The bat was repaired using wood glue and then covered in Extratec tape and this does seem to have done the job. My younger son Joe is using it and it's holding up fine, showing no further damage at all.
The oldest of the 3 Kashmir bats is the original Slazenger V1200, which is now approaching it's 2nd season. This has been used all last summer, over the winter (Sept-Dec) in the nets against bowling machine balls and cricket balls and then over the last 6 weeks in this seasons pre-season nets. This one had the least amount of knocking in and is doing okay. Remember this is a £12.00 bat, so it's not doing too bad.
This below is the newest of the two V1200's, bought in September, so used over the winter in the nets against plastic balls and at pre-season nets against cricket balls. We were considering buying a couple of English Willow bats which are several times more expensive (Grade 3 cheap ones), but these Kashmir bats so far are doing okay and I reckon these will see us through this season easily.
I think one of the key factors is the use of the Extratec tape and the fibre glass edging tape. One of the reasons I embarked on this exercise of testing the bats was because we had a really old Kashmir V1200 bat that had lasted years maybe 10 or more years old and three of us had used it on and off for 5 seasons and we'd bought it 2nd hand. It was eventually killed off by a Yorker right on the toe on the corner of the bat and the willow cracked along the grain right through the bat. That bat, was covered with protective tape and may have been a contributory factor to its longevity?
So, in conclusion after my fairly dim assessment a couple of months ago when I'd first started to use these bats, I'm going to have to back-track a bit and suggest that if the bats are knocked in fairly well (See previous posts - links above) and then covered with edge and surface tape, this gives what seems to be a fairly good level of protection. So, if you are someone who doesn't bat that often or well - tail-ender, these cheap Kashmir bats might be worth considering?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pre-season practice and fitness at Mopsies and the Rec

Weather was fine today, a little cold at 10 degrees but dry and bright following a week of cold but generally dry weather. Not wanting to have a weekend with no cricket at all, Joe and I opted to go and have a look at Mopsies as an option for a practice, realising it probably was going to be dry enough. Normally we might have gone over to Gloucester Park, but since the 'Sporting Village' has taken it over they don't let anyone participate in sport unless you're ready to pay a premium for it and they want £70 for something that was free to all of the community a few years ago and had been for decades. Again, something I find incredulous, given that the levels obesity and the fall in sports participation in this country and the fact that the government pays lip service to the idea that it supports sports participation.

Anyway enough of a moan, at least we can drive right across town spewing hydro-carbons into the air and use Mopsies. It's a lot of aggro, but once there and setting all the stuff up it always goes quite well and ends up being worth it.
 Joe getting all the gear out of the car.
 All set up and ready to go. With no wicket keeper we put up a piece of scaffold net to prevent the majority of the balls from ending up on the boundary.
As we were packing up the sun came out, still looks nothing like spring - the trees still bare with no leaves.

We took 50 balls, Joe bowled two lots of 50 and I had one bag of 50 as Joe didn't want to bat the second time (Wanted to get home and watch Youtube or play Black Ops). He bowled really well for the most part, Joe targeted my leg-stump as he knows that's my weak zone. Looking at the video below, this is very different to facing a bowling machine and there's a few obvious things I reckon I need to do. In comparison to batting against the machine, there's very little in the way of forward movement? I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing?

I reckon more work in the nets over the Easter Break trying to get forwards, maybe speed the bowling machine up, we've been working with it at 68mph at the most, maybe we should look to use it at 70mph? Maybe if I'm able to get used to that and still hit the ball, it'll be easier when it's a real bowler? It does seem to be very much a confidence thing, I've been batting so much better in the nets, hitting full tosses and generally just hitting the ball cleaner and this must be a consequence of the work done in the nets over the winter?

Double click the image below for the video.

My bowling...

What happened - The camera was set up behind the batsman and to the side at the other end to record the approach to the crease, action and follow through. I managed to get some footage of both before the battery died in the cold. I bowled 50 balls coming off of a 14’ run-up. I then got home and played the footage back through software that enabled me to view the action in slow motion. In relation to the last action plan (see here) I’ve implemented very little because of the weather and a reluctance to spend money on hiring indoor venues to practice the action. Bowled in the nets on Tuesday night, too a good wicket.

Feelings – The actual bowling seemed to go quite well and I would have had Joe bowled around his legs, caught behind wicket keeper and stumped a number of times. So that seemed okay, but felt wrong. The video once played back and looked at… That made me a little depressed as there seems to have been a big backwards step. But whilst feeling down about the current action I do feel as though it is recoverable if I’m given the chance to correct it. I reckon a couple of tweaks and I’ll be back on track.

What was good/bad – Length was too full on Sunday, took some getting used to in order to pull it back, would have been hit for plenty and in a 40 over game might have been taken off after two overs? Once settled too plenty of wicket especially stumping off of Joe trying to charge me and hit the ball before it bounced. Joe was very successful at this in the nets on Tuesday night – batted really well, but would have fallen eventually. Bad – the action; the bound looks bad, BFC was angled so bowling action was very front on with little pivot. The stride was short and the front leg collapsed at FFC.

Analysis – As alluded to above, I think the whole thing can be recovered given some proper time to practice without the use of a ball, just focusing on the bowling action. Looking at the video footage there are some glaring deficiencies. As I go into the bound there seems to be a lack of setting up in order to facilitate the getting side on aspect. Which means as I land out of the bound BFC is angled and my body is too front on and lacks the side on attributes that I should be aiming for. The stride is then pretty weak e.g. short. The rest of the action looks fairly okay other than occasionally there’s a fade to the left through the follow-through like Mushatq Ahmed. The whole thing looks as though it lacks oomph and dynamism, but I reckon it wouldn’t take a lot of work to correct it. As mentioned previously, fitness is currently an issue, the weather hasn’t been that conducive with getting out and about. In addition the last two weeks I’ve felt as though I’m on the verge of coming down with a cold or something, if you believe in biorhythms I’d say that it may be something to do with that?

All that aside, it is Easter and I’ve got two weeks off now to work on all of these aspects and if the last 2 weeks was the down-side of the biorhythmic pattern, the coming days should see an improvement of all things physical? One note of caution I’ve got to do some digging and labouring in the next few days, so that’s going to kill me unless I’m fitter than think, but at 56 I reckon I’ll be a bit sore after a few days of lugging around paving stones and pebbles.

Conclusion – Fitness needs to be improved, more likely if the weather gets better and enable me to get out in it. Bowling action needs to be worked on – particularly and foremost - getting side-on coming out of the bound.

Action plan – Try and practice with Joe as much as possible over the coming two weeks especially at Mopsies. Set aside specific time to work on the bowling action without the use of the ball. Film the bowling action without the ball. Start to do cardio work and leg work to build up strength and stamina with lower body specificity. Get back on the upper body work too. Reflect on progress mid-week (30th March)?

Today 28th March after a crappy Easter weekend, the wind and rain stopped for long enough to get out and have a knock about in the street and then do some work on fitness. Joe and I took a 20 minute run/walk over to The Rec which took in the Rec hill which I negotiated with far more ease than I'd expected...
It's not all running especially at this point in the season, power-walking mixed with sprinting and running... getting the heart going and getting some strength back in my legs is the priority for me.
Short rest at the square at Langdon Hills Rec. 
Then up the hill and back home.

Our house to the Rec, up the hill and back... 20 minutes, as I get fitter I may have to go right around the field to make it a 20 minute exercise.

Nets Tuesday night.


Monday, March 28, 2016


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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fixtures for 2016 4th XI

I've been waiting for this for weeks! All the other squads had their fixtures posted up weeks ago. I'm not 100% sure how it all works, I've had a look around the Shepard Neame website to make sense of it, but couldn't, but after two traumatic years of being in a higher league and playing teams that were far better than us we've eventually been demoted to a league where we should win a few games. The only downside is that for some reason they've reduced the length of the games and we now play 40 over timed matches. The reason given was that it might appeal to the younger players!!! Can't see how that works myself. Anyway that aside it is what it is, and just means anyone that bowls now needs to bowl even better in order to stay on otherwise you're going to be given a cursory 4 or 5 overs if you're lucky. I did think about looking around for teams that play a proper game (50 overs) and considered what was Grays, but they're in the same league. I'll have to see how it goes and maybe see if they have a Sunday team that plays 50 overs? Or consider heading north for a team that's in the Brentwood area? Who knows it might be okay or they might go back to proper cricket next year?

My old team, what was Grays and Chadwell, that then became 'Thurrock' have now amalgamated with Orsett and have now become "Orsett and Thurrock" and we get to play against them, I'm hoping that there'll be some familiar faces still in the team and that'll be good to play against them. Looking at the fixtures here, it look as though I'll get to play in both those games and they'll not be when we're away on holiday.

There's some venues here as well, that I've never played on, so more opportunities to shoot pavailions and also start compiling a list of 'Spinning wickets' which I did start last year and didn't get to finish. So all in all despite the move towards shorter formats of the game which will be tragic if it continues I'm looking forward to a good year which will hopefully see more wicket because of the new action and some runs for the team. I can't wait.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Massive increase in page views - thank you USA!

Don't know what's caused this but my page views have increased massively and it's been driven by people in the USA.
Definitely welcome - whatever is happening, keep it going if you can!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Paddock 2016?

At the end of last year possibly because of the involvement of the estate association who are looking to improve the estate, the paddock fence was completely removed (See link here for over-view and images) rendering it totally useless virtually. We can't bat on it anymore as 3 sides to the paddock are woods and the balls will just disappear into the trees and be lost at £5 a go. The local kids can't play football in there for the same reason, so they're screwed as well. All of which completely baffles me when -

So, the question is do we bother to use it this year and could we use it in any useful way given that there seems to be a massive concerted effort to prevent anyone using it in useful way other than as somewhere they can let their dogs s**t?

I did bowl in there a couple of times for a few minutes having strung the blue scaffold netting between some trees, but the blue nets mesh is so tight it catches the wind too easily. So the answer would be to buy some proper cricket netting. But that would mean we'd have to spend almost 15-20 minutes setting the bloody thing up. One option would be to put a couple of posts in... Dig a couple of big holes and cement two poles in so that we could just go over there and string the net up? Aggro and expense, but possibly worthwhile as we'd at least be able to bowl in there?

That would mean that with the proper cricket net and the blue scaffold net we could practice shots like leg-side paddle sweeps, slog sweeps etc. I'll have to give it some thought as it'll cost me in the region of about £100 and the posts could easily be pulled over and vandalised. 

Double click the image for the supplier of this product. 

Pre-season practice/training

The wind, rain and cold weather has abated for the weekend meaning we could get out at last and have a knock about. Last week club nets was cancelled because the school were using the nets for exams and Joe's not scheduled to have his last South Essex District training till this coming Thursday. So we've been short on cricket. With the temperature at 11 degrees and the sun trying to shin through a thin veil of haze we made our way over to the Markham's Chase cage just in case it was empty. As per usual it wasn't, but to be fair we could have used it batting at the 'House' end hitting the ball towards the fields, but Joe's always reluctant to for some reason if there's people in there so we moved on to The Rec and practiced there instead.

Markham's Chase Cage, Basildon.

 Markham's Chase Cage, Basildon.
Joe trying to retrieve another lost ball from the impenetrable bushes that surround the tennis courts at the Rec.

Joe as per usual wasn't that up for it, but he came along and initially bowled, but had to do so off of a short run-up so bowled off-breaks (Finger spin). My batting seemed okay and we used a couple of balls - bouncy ones and rock-hard hockey balls which hardly bounce at all, did okay against both. I'm hitting the ball far cleaner this year, I just seem to see it these days and I noticed that I hit almost every full toss whereas full tosses previously I've struggled with. So again I have to say I'm quite optimistic about the idea of batting further up the order this season and beating my all time best score which is a paltry 16!

Then there was the bowling...

What happened - after the ropey performance at nets last week (previous post) and the comments about the run-up and movement through the crease feeling a bit odd, I committed to reinstating the run-up that I'd developed through November last year. 

Feelings - it felt promising and fairly rhythmical and as though given only a little bit of effort I felt that I'd got it pretty close to how it was going in November.

Good/Bad (Evaluation) -  Bad... There was some leg-side rubbish towards the end, where I was trying to bowl top-spinners. Good stuff, generally as mentioned before it came together fairly quickly and felt good and was obviously much faster than I was bowling last year. When the top-spinners did come out right they caused Joe some real problems with the extra bounce. 

Analysis - I definitely need to do a couple of things. During this session I wasn't consciously thinking about getting up on my toes, so I'm not sure how well I was doing that at BR (Ball release), the other aspect that may need to be looked at is the delivery stride? Other than it all felt really good and the ball was turning off the surface and was on a nice length, Joe was having to come down the crease to hit on the full and in doing so if it turned or he timed it wrong he'd have been stumped numerous times, so in a way a big improvement over the club net session where he was coming down the wicket and smashing it while it was still in the air. Legs feel (as I suspected) as if they need some work on them, upper body strength is good, press-ups and planks are seeing to that along with some other stuff I'm doing that I picked up from Cricket Strengths website. 

Conclusion - things look to be on track with Easter break coming up and two weeks off. I need to start working on leg strength and stamina, although stamina-wise I'm pretty good usually, but I definitely need to do aerobic work as my recovery rate at the minute is probably not that good. 

Action Plan - Try and have another session tomorrow, take a camera and record the bowling action and have a look at how it's coming together. Start  incorporating leg strengthening exercises and start doing some power-walking/running training for 20 minutes a day if the weather permits or every other day at the start to allow recovery. 

So, hopefully we'll have another fine early spring day tomorrow and with a bit of luck we might get out early and perhaps get in the cage at Markham's Chase for a session?

Saturday, March 05, 2016

2nd Net session

2nd pre season net session tonight and in attendance were some of the 4th XI bats who hadn't seen the new approach to batting, but had heard about it and were looking forward to seeing it. I batted first to face the freshest bowling and did okay, lost out to younger son at the end having batted 20 minutes or so, he got me three times through the gate in the last few minutes. The verdict from the others in the 4th XI... significant improvement.


What happened?–bowled leg breaks primarily, tried a couple of variations…Top-Spinner and Flipper. Bowled in a group of 6, so was unable to get any rhythm.

How did I feel? -  Okay, fitness is good, so I didn’t get knackered or anything, bowled a good line and length generally and it improved as I went along. But not happy about the new run-up, It was probably okay up about the point of FFC and then it goes a bit haywire so probably needs some work?

What was good/Bad? – My line and length looked good for most of the night and I think that was borne out by the way the last bloke who batted played me. Apparently he’s an ex 2nd XI captain – he looked like the real deal I didn’t bowl him at all and he played all the good balls with caution and the poor balls he put away.

Bad was my bowling against Joe, he was coming right down the wicket sometimes as far as a third of the way and smacking the ball for 4’s and 6’s. I didn’t have much in the way of answers and it took a while to figure out what to do.

Analysis – I definitely need to work on the bowling action, because I’m no longer following through with any real vigour and it feels as though when I make the conscious decision to go up onto the toes to get more spin I almost stop. I think the whole thing can be rectified by more ‘Non Ball’ practice just working with the bowling action, but the main issue at the moment is where to practice?

Conclusion- I definitely need to work on some form of repetitive approach to the bowling action otherwise I’m going to start the season without a bowling action I’ll be happy with. Upper body strength at the minute is progressing well, as is overall stamina, but leg strength seems to need some work and stamina needs to improve.

Action Plan ­– continue with the current fitness regime 40-50 press ups per day. 4-5 minutes of planks. Start do some leg work in some way and general fitness/stamina as my recovery rate after exerting myself is slow at the minute.

At Joes training this week which was the penultimate session they played indoor cricket using a training ball. Looked like fun to me, a lot of the kids struggled to get used to the lighter ball including Joe. Initially he was bowling cross seamed to eliminate the swing, but then later one of the trainer suggested that he bowled seam up and use the seam. Joe got it right straight away, I’m not sure if the bloke said aim at his leg stump and it’ll go through just outside off, but that’s what he did for his last 3 balls and it worked a treat. The non-bowlers bowled the best, not sure why but they did by some margin as far as I could see. Peter Philpott would not have been happy, our spinner Mo, instead of working out the problems, resorted to bowling non-spinners, looked like he just bowled dibbly dobbly? I also noticed that the squad has about 4-5 left arm spinners, two orthodox finger spinners and possibly 3 Chinamen wrist-spinners. On top of that there’s at least 2 conventional wrist-spinners and one finger-spinner. I think some of them though - their main role is batting as they looked a bit rusty. If it’s not they need to get the hours in practicing!