Saturday, April 30, 2016

First match of the season v Chelmsford CC 3rd XI

After weeks of arctic wind freezing us to death, the weekend came good despite loads of people declining to play across three teams. The club didn't even attempt to get the 4th XI team out knowing full well that the cross-over with the end of the football season would mean it would never happen. It turned out that only two teams played this weekend the 1st and 2nd XI's.

Weather was bright and sunny, bit of a breeze and 13 degrees on the thermometer in the car. Although during our innings a squally April shower passed by, potentially threatening the game, but it missed us. But as it passed by the wind increased, the sun went in and the temperature dropped by several degrees.

Wayne freezing to death with several layers. I had two pairs of trousers on, a long t-shirt, a cricket shirt and a jumper and then a coat and was still cold when scoring.

We were fielded first and in the first few overs I dropped a ball that was hit at me whilst at mid wicket -looked like a ball that would have been one of those that rockets for a 6 at head height. I managed to parry it and bounced up and forwards a bit and I thought 'I've got this' only to then fumble it and it went to ground. But, somewhere in the process I twisted on my knee and something went awry. This then meant that I couldn't run around without limping. We had an extra player and the other team what with it being a friendly said that we could swap over players pretty as and when we felt like. I persevered and knowing there was a bloke on the boundary I came off for a while.

Joe bowled well, taking our first wicket - a bloke that was doing okay and the lead scorer at that point in their team. It was at that point I left the field.

I then took the opportunity to go and take some pictures for my Typology project see here. At this ground there were 4 pitches, one of which is Galleywood CC and that had a really nice traditional style pavilion. The only thing is I had a crap camera, but I still got the shots.

Walking around my knee didn't feel any better, but as I came back to the match I was called back on and asked to bowl. I tried to come off of the new run-up and bowled, but it wasn't good and then decided to come off the Terry Jenner style run-up which is a lot slower, but more accurate and gives me the options of a Wrong-un and a Top-Spinner. I took me 4 balls to get it right, but in the first over against a left-hander one turned nice and bounced well, cramped him up and the ball came off the top edge and he was caught at Mid-wicket by Luke Daw. That over with the messy start I went for 10. The next over was better - another wicket... A right hander having seen a couple leg breaks wasn't ready for a big turning wrong-un - again virtually the same thing, cramped him up and came off the top edge and went straight up in the air for Mike Blerkom (Wicket keeper) to safely catch. 2-0-13-2. Somewhere in there I'd bowled another 2 wrong-uns and they'd both turned a lot and none of the batsmen had played a successful shot to them.

Batting didn't go well for any of us. I didn't get a shot of the score book, but I think we took 8 wickets for 192 off of 40 overs and batting we fell short of 100. Chris Debond and Luke Daw making the biggest contribution with the bat. I batted at 8 with Luke and was bowled by a slow ball, played through it about 30 seconds to early. Luke at the other end said as I walked off,  I was just thinking, I need to tell you about this blokes slower ball...

We lost by having all been bowled out for 93.

Spinner check

Our team... 2 x wrist-spinners, 5 x finger spinners
Their team... 1 x Wrist Spinner. We were bowled out cheaply so we probably didn't get to see any of the finger spinners.

Their spinner was interesting, he was getting the ball to drift miles. Watching him it was apparent that he had a very low arm at the release point. Those that faced him said he was relatively easy to play because of this - you knew he wasn't going to bowl anything in the way of variations. He had a long run-up which he came in at an angle from.
As he went through his action he seemed to be really low - either a massive delivery stride or his front leg was collapsing. He also veered all over the shop as he ran in and then over-rotated in the action and stopped abruptly in the follow through. That aside he seemed to be bowling pretty well. Unfortunately I didn't photograph their scorebook, so can't say how well he did do or whether he took any wickets.
Click the image above for a video of the bloke bowling

Some photos from the match...
 Chelmsford CC pavilion
 Galleywood CC pavilion
 Joe dispensing the drinks to the Wrist Spinner
 Joe waiting to bat alongside the scoreboard and a cherry tree in blossom
 Spring cherry blossom
 G-man all wrapped up for an early season cricket game.
 G-Man on his way to bat with warm headgear.
 Mike Blerkom scoring.
Chelmsford CC 3rd XI wicket. Click here to read more about whether this wicket spins or not.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Wrist spinning - back on track. Working with repeatable and consistent action.

Saturday 16th April - a few days later and a far better outcome.

What happened - Having posted up the last entry without any video - just a depressing account of what happened, Tony M off of contacted me directly with some guidance and made the point that despite the fact that it was a poor session I'd finished up with an observation that at the end I'd relaxed a little and it started to look a little better. So today I went back again with the idea that I should be more relaxed.

How do I feel? - A lot more positive than I did 3 or so days ago. I always go through these dips in ability and confidence, they are usually temporary.

Good & Bad (Evaluation) - The good stuff included the ball was turning. In 15 balls only one went just down leg, a lot of them were on a very good length, the speed looked promising and the action itself felt a lot better. Bad - looking at the video my front leg is collapsing at FFC and I'm not pivoting very much.

Analysis  - Overall a far better session, but it did take some time to get it going. There's a number of contributory factors. (1). The weather here is pretty bad and I've not been able to get out and about as much as I would like to have, so I haven't been able to put the hours in. Coupled with that, this I think means I'm probably not as fit as I would like to be at this point. (2). I don't like bowling on this surface, it tears your shoes to shreds and affects the way you pivot and I may subconsciously be holding back on the pivot?

Looking at the video there's a few things I notice...

(a). The bound looks a bit limp, but I'm not overly concerned with that and it may become more dynamic as my fitness improves?

(b). My front leg collapses - again I put this down to fitness issues.

(c). I don't get up on the toes and pivot. Despite this the ball turns okay. With the pivot I know from previous experience the ball will turn even more and may even drift a little?

I feel that these are all things I can work on over the coming days. The first league match isn't till May 7th so there's some time yet and I'm hoping there will be an improvement in the weather enabling me to practice more and build more strength and stamina.

One of the other things I was worried about was the delivery stride, but that looks as though it's not too bad, again I reckon given more practice and the increase in fitness that'll come good. The key factor that enabled this turn around in fortunes was the relax aspect to the session. Tony suggested that I either listen to music or even sing or something when I bowl and this struck a chord, because I know some of my best bowling performances have happened when I'm humming tunes which is a bit weird, but works!

Conclusion - Overall I'm happy with the situation with still 3 weeks to go to the first league game. I've got a week to go till the first of two friendlies, but I may not even get to bowl in those as they're 3rd XI games

I have to conclude that things are not quite where I wanted them to be, but today marked a promising turn around.

Action Plan  - Bowl tomorrow hopefully over at Mopsies with our wicket keeper Jamie Britton. Try and get the foot landing side-on and the arm up high in the gather looking down the outside of the leading arm as this seems to help with getting into position.

More lower body exercises, walk and run more, sumo's and squats. Also do Achilles physio exercises as a precautionary tactic. See below for today’s video footage.

Double Click on the image to load the video

Thursday, April 14, 2016

4 steps backwards

With less than 2 weeks before the first game and the weather still being crap here in the UK, I've had few opportunities to have a practice. Tonight though after work I thought I'd give it a go on concrete using hockey balls, just to see how things were going. It was a mess... Full tosses, leg-side balls everything was bad, no rhythm... nothing. Just a complete disaster using something was supposed to be the new action. At one point it felt like I was trying to bowl too fast, then there seemed to be some improvement, by slowing down and getting up on my toes in the rotation. Overall it just seemed as though maybe I was trying too hard and not being relaxed enough? Towards the end I relaxed a little and it came together a bit but generally didn't go well at all.

I'm wondering if it's a lack of fitness. More work on my legs I reckon.

Friday, April 08, 2016

That's it with the batting at Writtle - now to focus on the bowling.

Yesterday saw another 2 hours of batting at Writtle for Joe and I.

I went with the intention of working on specific things... I'm aware that when I bat I bring the bat down at an angle where the ball generally goes through the on-side (Mid-On). I then went to Youtube and had a look at some of the master-classes on the web... Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting along with just watching Sachin Tendulkar batting.

This video here with Mr Cricket (Michael Hussey) I like because of his explanation with regards the front foot press. which was something I wanted to work with.

Sachin I looked at in relation to where he stands - a leg-stump guard and then moves into position as the bowler bowls I usually take a middle-stump guard but my son especially then targets my leg-stump, I wanted to see if taking a leg-stump guard this might focus his attention on the middle and off, allowing me to move and play a cover-drive.

Ponting I was looking at because of his explanation as to the position of his bat when waiting for the ball to be delivered. He talks about point being able to see the face of his bat so I wanted to look into this for myself to see if that might allow me to play straighter or through the off-side.

It went okay, and worked out that I was hitting the ball straighter or through the off-side, so overall it was successful. What I need to be doing now is taking this out to a wicket and putting it into practice. We've spent a lot of time and money into developing our batting and more than anything the biggest improvement is in confidence and belief. The machine was set for 60mph on average and I reckon that's about the fastest I ever see when I bat. I played against Billericay in 2014 and opened and had to face two blokes in their mid 20's and I blocked them for ages and survived everything they threw at might and saw them off. I don't think either of them were bowling anywhere near 60mph despite the fact that they seemed to be putting a lot of effort into it. A leg-spinner came on and I was back in the pavilion within 3 balls.

Since then we've been demoted and the expectation for this season is that we'll be facing much weaker opposition and have a good chance of being promoted again at the end of the season by my reckoning.
So with this new confidence I'll be hoping to make far more of a contribution with the bat.

So now with that all out of the way, I need to get back on the bowling and the video below is the start.
Double click the image to see the video...

With three weeks to go till the first game I need to get a few things sorted, there's a significant difference between what I want to be doing e.g. the action without the ball and the action with the ball. Having had a couple of discussions with the coach Tony Mowles who's looked at the video, the next week or so - weather permitting it seems as though I should work on producing muscle memory associated with the bowling without the ball and see if that can be converted to bowling with the ball. I'm not too worried about it, because it does seem that when faced with batsmen at my level (4th XI) it comes together a lot more successfully than when I'm practicing on my own.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Joe's leg update.

I haven't posted anything about this for a while as it was going through the process of a court case. If you know about it and have been a follower for some years you'll remember it was around this time 4 years ago my younger son was run down on a pelican crossing by a young girl in a Ford KA. See the link below for the horrific injuries he sustained along with the Xrays.

Joe was 10 at the time.
 This is the side of the leg that wasn't hit. The big scar at the bottom is where his leg bent so much before snapping, that the skin at this point stretched to the point where it split open. This was the gaping great hole in Joe's leg you'll see in the post above. The 2nd scar mid way up his lower leg is where the bone once it had snapped came through his skin was scraped along the road. The two small scars up near his knee are where the metal pins where put in and removed. The bulge on his shin may be due to the additional calcium growing where the bone grew back.
Remarkably this is the impact side, the scar is barley visible in this light, but it's there at the base of his calf muscle. Again the small scar at the top is where the pins came in and were taken out. 

Friday, April 01, 2016

Pre-season bowling development.

Bowling development. 5 weeks to go till the first proper game of the season, 3 weeks till the chance of a friendly match. Not long to work on the new bowling action that I've been developing since last September. Quick re-cap, last season went really well at the start because of the input and feedback from a wicket keeper we had play with us for a number of weeks (Mike Blerkom). He made some observations about my bowling in that I had a couple of basic run-ups... (1) A Terry Jenner-esque walk to the crease and bowl off of 2 steps or (2).  A longer run-up albeit all over the place and inconsistent. He advised me to stick with the longer version and I took notice as he's a current 2nd XI player and has in the past played in the 1st XI and knows a bit about cricket.

Up until I strained my Achilles tendon batting I'd bowled better than I have done for years and on reflection at the end of the season made the decision to work on the longer run-up. This was also influenced by watching a video featuring Glenn McGrath on how to work out your optimum run-up. See here.

So, in September I made a start... see my Youtube channel here. A big turning point came when Tony M a coach and contributor on Big Cricket contacted me directly and gave me some pointers and advice. My bowling then started to come together and by the end of November when winter set in properly it was looking very promising. Winter put a stop to the development and now I'm trying to play catch-up a little, slightly thwarted by the fact that so far the Easter break here in the UK has been crap as its a lot earlier in the year than usual. Fingers crossed the forecast from tomorrow onwards is for an improvement and I'll be able to work on some of the things I've made observations of in the video below. Double click on the image below to watch the video.

In my usual lecturer style and advocating what I teach, I'll reflect on the bowling using the Gibbs reflective method...

What Happened. Primarily we were at Writtle to work on our batting see here but with three of us it meant while two were in the batting net there was an opportunity to have a bowl so I spent 10 minutes or so bowling. I mixed up bowling with and without a ball.

Feeelings. Initially I didn't think it went that well, it felt as though there were a number of problems with the bowling action and the outcome at the other end wasn't that special either.

Evaluation (Good and  bad). Good was the fact that I actually took the time out to bowl when that wasn't the key objective of the Writtle visit and the fact that I had the camera to record myself. Other good things included the speed that I was bowling and my overall fitness. It was commented at the last net session at the club that my bowling speed has gone up and this was one of the key things that Mike Blerkom thought was a key thing I needed to work on. Bad stuff, despite the fact that it looked fast it didn't feel as correct as it had been back in November when I was spending more time working on the action. Also the percentage of good balls versus bad balls at the business end wasn't good.

Analysis. Without going into to technical stuff straight away, watching the video back there's obvious things going on. One that I noticed is that I kind of waver as I approach the crease. The other thing which is a throwback to the old days, is the observed over-rotation. Other key observations are the hip and knee thrust aspect, the hip and knee don't drive through properly in most of the footage in the original 10 minute version of the video. When bowling without the ball it's a lot better, but in this session I wasn't able to bring that aspect of the action with the ball in my hand, so that needs some work.

I think  the main thing is the lack of time at the moment given over to bowling practice. Conventional club nets sessions are useless because of the period of time between balls, so I need to set aside bowling time amongst all of the being put into developing my batting. I think if the time is given over to bowling, the changes will come along with improvements quite quickly. Looking at the video, there's a couple of things I know I should work on straight away... (1). The hip-drive and (2). The over rotation. I think with the hip drive, the over-rotation might come together as a consequence of working on the hip-drive.

At the start of the bowling action in the first phase PDS, I note in the video that my head turns to the side during the gather, I'm not sure if this is an issue or not, but it's something I'll keep an eye on though in the next sequence of videos which hopefully I'll shoot tomorrow. There are other issues such as not getting right up on the toes at FFC, but I'll leave that for the end of the coming week.

Conclusion. It seems okay, the few problems I think will be fairly easy to iron out, and possibly the key thing to do is bowl more so that the action is grooved and increases in consistency.

Action plan. Work on the hip drive tomorrow and the over-rotation.

Readers Windballs

Reader Windballs We were down to our last one of these, so needed to get some more of them. We use these all the time for training and practice and they're great; a decent weight, good bounce properties, hard-wearing and because of the colour easy to find if they get lost in the bush/trees. Buy them in bulk and you'll get them at a decent price. Look out for the postage as that normally hikes up the price loads.

Double click on the image for video
I got these from and paid £17.94 with free postage as long as I picked them up from my local Argos. Once they were ready I got a text/email with a code that I then presented to the staff at Argos and they handed them over.

More pre-season nets

As the start of the season approaches... 2 potential friendlies on 23rd and 30th April, we're looking to have a few nets sessions with the bowling machine and today saw the first of three we've got planned. If you're a regular on the blog or the big cricket forum you'll know that I can't bat and that my highest score ever is 16 against Orsett two years ago. There's been no improvement, as that year we were promoted up to a far better league and our team struggled. I had a couple of promising starts with scores of 11 and 14 that came far more fluently than my 16, but I was always let down by the bloke at the other end as I bat at either 10 or 11.

With those two double figure scores being thwarted in the usual no.10/11 way I sensed that the more positive approach to my batting that I'd adopted seemed to be paying off. It seemed to have come about by virtue of more practice with a more positive mind-set. The practice aspect was interesting as coming to the game so late in life, the chances to practice for instance with a bowling machine was non-existent and I figured that if I was able to have someone or something to put the ball in a specific area consistently I might have the chance to improve? I can't remember how it happened, but looking around I found a venue with a bowling machine that in late October was (1) empty and (2) relatively cheap and decided that I'd give it a go. In the worst case scenario, I might come away from a handful of sessions being less fearful of the ball I figured?

Better, still what I wanted was to move up the order a little... (8)? so that I had the chance to make a contribution with the bat. So back in October and through November and December Joe and I started to go to Writtle Cricket centre for an hour or two every fortnight with specific aims. On the first visit it soon became very apparent that this was the potential answer to the problem, the more balls you face the more likely you're going to be able to figure things out and make a fist of staying in and scoring a few runs. So over that period we've been working on playing with a straight bat and I've definitely made some advances which numerous people at the club have commented on having either seen the videos or my batting at pre-season nets at the club.

Recently I videoed my batting over at Mopsies and posted it on Youtube (Double click the image).

Off the back of that, one of the coaches on Bigcricket commented on it privately, pointing out the fact that I'm jumping away from the ball when it's on my leg and offered me some drills and guidance. Yesterday I spent 3 x 20 minute sessions working specifically on this aspect of my batting and the results are here (Double click the image for the video).
Although there seems to be a significant improvement whilst I know the balls coming into the legs, I found it a lot harder to maintain the discipline when the bowling was mixed up - different lengths, offside. legside and on the stumps, so there's still some work to do.