Saturday, October 15, 2016

Cricket history Tilbury Essex

Currently I've got two photographic projects on the go that are kind of based around cricket. One of them relates to recording cricket pitches as they are now, so I'm travelling around the country as and when I get the opportunity and I photograph pavilions and the grounds, along with some of the other features. But at the moment the key aspect of it is the pavilions as a record of their architecture... see here. This project is trundling along nicely and is the easier of the two.

The other project is a little different and requires a lot more research. The other project is a landscape project focusing on cricket pitches that were. So for this I have to find out the locations of old cricket pitches and establish where the club house/pavilion was. I then take a shot from a position that would have been directly opposite the pavilion/clubhouse approximately from what would have been the other side of the cricket pitch. So what I'll end up with is a set of odd landscapes where cricket pitches used to be.

I've started in my own locality and I've quite quickly discovered that there is a rich cricket history which is on the cusp of disappearing without any sign of it at all. In my own lifetime in my own town - Tilbury, I'm aware that I've witnessed the demise of two cricket grounds and their associated teams. Tilbury CC who used play on the Daisy Field in Tilbury town folded sometime in the 1980's and the players moved to other clubs in the area. A bloke I played with at Grays and Chadwell (Alan Fulbrook AKA "Fozzy") had played on the Daisy field in Tilbury during the 1970's and 80's as a Tilbury player and had knowledge of the West Tilbury cricket pitch at Condovers. My research so far has indicated that cricket has been played in the following areas...

1. Condovers West Tilbury
2. The Daisy Field - St Chads Road.
3. The Dockers Field?
4. Tilbury Fort - (See below)

There may also be another field outside Tilbury along Dock Road, but as yet there's no indication that cricket was played there... "Hedley's ground". *See update on 17/10/16 below.

Tilbury is quite famous when it comes to cricket as it's one of the only places where cricket players have killed each other over a game of cricket. In a match against Kent played at Tilbury fort a number of blokes killed each other having got into a punch up and then picking up guns (It was an active fort at the time) and shooting each other. See the account here

On the SEDCB's website there's a piece on cricket in Tilbury.

In the SEDCB's article there's the mention of the Interknit Siley Weir cricket team that was based in Tilbury Docks. In the article it's identified that they played on a ground in Tilbury...

They first played on a ground at Dock Road, Tilbury.  The pitch preparation on the ground was done by the club’s own members in their spare time, as this was a time before the days when the local council began maintaining pitches.
The ground was let to them by a Mr. Bill Stickings, who, in order to avoid paying higher rates on a developed field, let cattle graze on it!  Mr. Bannister recalled: “The outfield was a bit rough, but we enjoyed ourselves, both clearing it and playing on it!”
This was around 1918. The same article says that they moved to Blackshots in 1936, so it seems that this ground then disappears from sight as such and it's difficult to ascertain where in Tilbury it was. Recently though via a Tilbury memories page on Facebook one of the blokes commenting on the subject of playing fields mentioned a field in Tilbury along 'The Broadway' where cricket was being played in the 1950's. The Broadway road back in the 1950's prior to Dunlop road being built went pretty much straight towards the Go-Cart track adjacent to Gaylor Road.
The end of the Broadway nee Dunlop Road, Tilbury. (Approx 2014) This view here is the gate entrance to the Go-Kart track looking towards Little Thurrock.
During the Facebook conversation the bloke Ron pointed out that the Broadway originally ran from Dock Road all the way up to this point here where it stops at the Go Cart track. He also mentions the impressive gate entrance and suggested that there may have been a big house here and this was the original gateway, but wasn't sure and had no evidence. I can remember that if you went through the gates, the ground between Gaylor rd and the Go-Kart track was strewn with slabs of concrete and bits of metal suggesting possibly that the site may have been used for industrial activities? Or it may have been left over stuff from the construction of the estate. But all around the Go-Kart track there was evidence of industrial activity and it had that 'Brown-field' feel about it.
Another interesting feature of Dunlop Road nee 'The Broadway' was that there was further evidence of a different past because just at the Adelaide road turn off on what was the Broadway you'll find a number of pre-1970's houses that still exist and must have been in the location when this area was playing fields (Siley's playing field)? or as we called them 'The Dockers Fields'.
Old pre-1960's houses along 'The Broadway' nee Dunlop Road, Tilbury.
These are the houses above and from what I can make out prior to the 1960's these houses just stood in the middle of what was basically countryside and a set of Playing fields as described by Ron and confirmed by maps of the time.
This is the current map of the area. The red line shows the original 1950's road 'The Broadway' running from Dock road right up to the Go Kart track - now Gaylor Road. In Ron's descriptions and my own very vague memory a road ran from the old Broadway - possibly now Adelaide Road onto Siley's fields ringed approximately in blue. In this area, there were tennis courts, rugby fields, football fields and a cricket pitch and at least one changing room building/pavilion? At the current moment I'm still in conversation with Ron and a few other blokes trying figure out exactly what was where.

This is an approximation from 1960-66 based on my memory and Ron's information.


The blue line heading north in the image is the route of the old 'Broadway' which went all the way through to the border between field A and F. My own recollection from the late 1960's is that E was an established allotment, which once the tower blocks were built was moved to the space between the green block D and the school (St Chads secondary school). My Dad had allotment over there which was flanked by the multi-storey car park to the south of it and to the east St Chads school the other-side of the manor.

D - was a farm of sorts, I don't remember there being any houses, possibly caravans, but it did have pigs on it which you could smell and hear. As kids we were always a little wary of it for some reason - it may have had signs up saying private? To the left of D where on the map it says FP there was a thicket of hawthorn bushes.

B - Is where the football pitches were when I was kid and we called this area 'The Dockers Fields'. At that point the road indicated by the bigger blue dots was built and it had new houses on it with conventional roofs, Dunlop road and 'John's' corner shop was being built. I had a mate Ricky Ellingford who lived in the houses opposite 'John's' shop as soon as they were finished. John's shop was at the junction of Dunlop Rd and Adelaide Rd in the 1970's and 80's.

The field A appears to be broken up on this map into sections which may be borders (Fences) indication private land and you can see that the houses which are almost certainly the old houses mentioned above on the map have their boundary lines indicated too. So I'm guessing this isn't a playing field, I need to have this confirmed by Ron.

Field C (grey) is as far as I know St Chads school playing fields.

Much of this is speculation and I'm hoping to get access to more detailed maps in the next few weeks at Grays Library and see if I can dig anything up from the books they have there. My main objective is to figure where the Interknit Siley Weir cricket teams Dock Road cricket pitch was.

17/10/16 Update - Ron on the Internet (Face Book) contacted me having seen the post here and said that the pitch was definitely nowhere near the gates at the end of Dunlop Road/Gaylor Road, looking through the gates where the Go-Kart track used to be was marshes in the 1950's. He then said that pitch that was mentioned as being on Dock Road on the SEDBC website "Interknit Cricket Club" might have been one that Ron says was up near the Rookery at the corner where the Dock Road turns into Little Thurrock. Ron's mentioned it previously and has said that it was known as Hedley's ground or field. Apparently it was there until the mid 1950's and was flooded in the late 1950's. This potentially fits the description on the SEDCB's website...

"Interknit cricket club was formed in 1918 by William Bannister with his friends from the firm of R. N. H. Green and Silley Weir.  They first played on a ground at Dock Road, Tilbury.  The pitch preparation on the ground was done by the club’s own members in their spare time, as this was a time before the days when the local council began maintaining pitches.

The ground was let to them by a Mr. Bill Stickings, who, in order to avoid paying higher rates on a developed field, let cattle graze on it!  Mr. Bannister recalled: “The outfield was a bit rough, but we enjoyed ourselves, both clearing it and playing on it!”

Once they had their ground, players began to think of what to call themselves when writing away for fixtures.  They wanted to maintain their connection with the firms for whom the majority of the team worked, but also wanted to remain independent.  They finally chose the name “Interknit” for this was the telegraphic address of R. N. H. Green and Silley Weir.  This encouraged the firm to help the club and a hut, chairs and table were provided for changing and for tea.  But after this initial aid and interest, no real notice was taken of the club, except for the annual Firm v Club match".
 Looking further using Old maps online I've found a 1947 map of Little Thurrock with the lay-out of the fields and roads. I'm going to show Ron this and see if he pin-point where the Headley's ground/field was.
The green line coming from the bottom of the map is Dock Road and Tilbury is just off the map at the bottom. You can see the Rookery just right of the Little Thurrock. The orange road as far as I can make out is Marshfoot Road. Looking at the map I've noticed something, but I'm not going to say anything till Ron has a look at it and gets back to me. But Ron's field is probably on here somewhere and hopefully he can identify where it is?

17/10/16 Further research - I've also dug this out which is really interesting. Somewhere near the Bull Pub off Dock Road, there seems to have been a football ground, which later was a Greyhound racing track before being built on. This football ground was known as 'The Lawn'.

"Located off Dock Road, close to the Bull Inn, The Lawn was just over half a mile from the Recreation Ground and, fearful that their new rivals would steal a march on them, Grays Athletic resigned from the London League and joined Grays Thurrock in the Kent League, which comprised both professional and amateur clubs.   Despite a lack of spectator facilities, an encouraging crowd of 3,000 made their way to The Lawn on September 4th 1924 to see Grays Thurrock take on Sheppey United in their first match in the Kent League. A couple of old army huts were converted into changing rooms and club offices and, as the months went by, the ground was gradually improved, with a post and rail replacing the original rope around the pitch, and a wooden grandstand coming into use in early 1925.  The first local derby between the two Grays clubs took place in December 1924, an eagerly awaited event which saw an attendance of 4,000–5,000, with some spectators using the skeleton of the not yet completed stand as a vantage point".

Surely this ground, must have been relatively close to the cricket ground we're calling Headley's? I've tried to contact the bloke who wrote the above and see if he can shed some light on the missing 'Interknit' cricket ground.
Tilbury's Interknit gets mentioned here along with 'Hedley's' right at the end of the article there's a mention of the Co-op cricket club having a cricket ground in Bridge Road Grays!!!! I've go to try and find whoever wrote this as they seem to have a wealth of cricket knowledge.

Bowling practice ideas

I've got to admit that I'm not that enamoured with my website it's awkward to use and so much slower than blogging and at the moment I can't figure out how it'll pay for itself. This blog here is free and with the adverts on it, people click on them if they're relevant and I get a fraction of a pence here and there and it builds over the year. So here I am for the moment on the blog. I'll put the content on the website as well, but it's so much easier to create the content here and then copy it over.

I've had a pretty poor season with the ball, but had an interesting match with the bat see here which ended up with me and the bloke who can bat... Adam 'Village' Green winning the 'Champagne moment of the year' award at our annual club awards night. Which was nice, as I've never won an award for any sporting event in my entire life.

The season started off poor with an injury and then the yips for a big section of the season and the two combined led to an indifferent season. I've kind of given up on the longer run-up idea because of the injury situation and the fact that it didn't seem to be adding anything except for expensive overs. It looks as though if I had the opportunity to practice more it might come together, but I'm also working against the fact that I'm not getting any younger.

I went through a phase of self reflection thinking about what I might do, I even pondered just bowling dibbly dobbly straight stuff, as I see so many people taking wickets with relative ease doing just that? Thinking it through, I brought into the equation a number of observations. One of which was the slowness of Majid Haq's bowling.

Inage from -

Haq bowls sub 40mph on occasions and has taken some seriously big wickets including Jaques Kallis. So the whole idea of having to bowl as fast as physically possible in order to take wickets is somewhat negated by Haq's example. This gave me food for thought and a little more optimism at a very dark period in my bowling career. Like everyone else, I'd seen plenty of blokes bowling dibbly dobbly straight stuff and taking shed loads of wickets, but to then know that Haq was doing it at this level got me thinking... Could I bowl slower and what is it these blokes are doing that is so effective and yet seemingly not a lot different to what I do?

More analysis of the situation led me to look at the contradiction of the fact that as I've got better over the years I've seemingly taken less wickets? I spin the ball more than I ever have done, my line is better and I reckon I bowl a bit faster even off of just  2 or 3 steps, so what's different? The adage "S**t bowling gets wickets" I realised might be the answer to the last question.

I was then left thinking... So a number of aspects to my bowling have definitely improved, yet I'm less effective - what's the story there? I've always attempted to bowl a line just outside of the off-stump. Some years back when I used to bowl a pretty good wrong-un, mixed with Flippers this used to work well, with my best bowling figures and season had with that combination. This was the period when I had 'The Googly syndrome'. Since deciding that I'd re-learn the leg-break and drop bowling The Wrong-Un I've pretty much stayed with bowling the same line and despite the fact that my Leg-Break has got gradually better, my figures have got worse.

No-one at our club bowl Leg-Breaks other than me, all conceding it's just too hard, even the legendary youngster Frank Farrington has gone the way of many a Leggie, neglecting his Wrist-Spin in favour of becoming a better batsman and to be fair it's worked and he's now seen as a very promising batsman playing in the club 2nd XI who bowls a bit of leg-spin when they need him to. So with all of these problems there's no-one really at the club who can offer any advice or guidance, so it's just a case of having work things out yourself and this can take years. I'm primarily a Kinaesthetic learner, so I have to do things in order to learn, reading about it and people telling me about it is less effective, but this year I picked up on some suggestions made in the games by my captain and one very important observation by a bloke on one of the forums I used to contribute to.

Recap. So at this juncture I'd pretty much scrapped the idea of trying to add speed to my deliveries by having a longer run-up, age and time to put the effort in, to totally re-model my action by adding speed through the longer run-up increasingly felt like a 3 year plan, which would have taken me up to nearly 60 years old. So the short term plan was... Focus on bowling at a comfortable speed off of a 2 or 3 step walk-in but figure out what enables Haq and others to be successful. I knew one of the key factors as to whey they're successful and this includes Frank Farrington at our club is the inclusion of getting the ball to drift. Over the summer on the forum discussing drift, one of the blokes said something along the lines of "You'll always struggle to get drift because you bowl with such vertical arm".

Lowering the arm angle. I'd hardly ever over a period of 10 years of bowling tried this, so when I gave it a go, it initially felt weird, but very quickly I noticed that the ball was coming out of my hand and spinning through the air with the seam pretty at 90 degrees to the direction of flight every time. That was massively encouraging. In one day over three practice sessions of about an hour each I introduced the consistent 90 degree seam, dip and the thing that has eluded me for ten years... Drift!!!! Not only that, but this was all with what appeared to be an increase in accuracy despite the fact that the action was new.

Factor #2. Over the last couple of years I've bowled with action where I twist my wrist anti-clockwise in the approach to the crease/gather where it feels as though I'm going to release the ball at the point of release with thumb pointing towards the batsman. This produces a ball that comes out with an angle almost at 90 degrees to the flight. But, sometime it comes out with the seam tilted backwards, other times with the seam upright, therefore sometimes it turns well off the wicket and other times when the seam angle is tilted it skids on, what Shane Warne refers to as a Leg-Breaks natural variation and what a lot of people refer to wrongly as a Slider. Alongside bowling with the lower arm, I kept this delivery for my straighter arm deliveries and this too came together nicely especially with regards to accuracy and it was this ball that I used in the last few games. I'd have had a bagful of wickets if it wasn't for the fact that so many of the catches that should have been taken were spilled.

Factor #3. Lee Dutton's captaincy. Lee comes up with a few directions in the game that are usually directed at the bowlers and I noticed it when he was telling the others rather than me... "Bowl at the stumps - make him play the ball". It was probably aimed my younger son Joe who's bowling is very accurate and is aimed at just outside off-stump but batsman sometimes will just leave the ball if he's bowling consistently on that line. On hearing it at a latter stage in the game when the opposition were looking to play for a draw, I realised how much sense it made, there was no way that the player was going risk playing the shot if he didn't need to, but by changing the line and making him play brings in the chance to take wickets. I then extrapolated the theory to my bowling and realised that it made so much more sense than bowling off-stump line. If the batsman reads the ball as being outside of off he has at least two options - play it or leave it, if the length is wrong it's likely to be played through the off-side for four.

Factor #4. In the last handful of games, without any real consistency in length, but with the increased accuracy brought about by the use of the twisted wrist delivery (Factor #2) I found the main problem  was anything short was played off of the back-foot far to easily. Better length balls which were played with a straight bat, often went through the gate, but turned off the wicket and missed the off-stump, or beat the outside of the bat and spun away missing everything. A couple of wickets were had caught by the keeper or slips, but Dutton intervened in the last game saying bowl on a leg-stump line. He didn't explain why, but it obviously brings in an increased chance of the ball hitting the stumps if it evades the bat.

Conclusion. With all these new attributes to my bowling and the advice from Dutton, I realised that if there was one thing I needed to do to get all these things working for me it was to be more accurate with my length. So at this point I got rid of the stumps during practice and instead started to bowl onto a bit of fake grass. The plan was to work on 3 deliveries, looking to spin them hard and land them in the Terry Jenner zone or even tighter threatening the stumps.

I practice in a paddock across the road from my house and I noticed that there was section of fence that was still intact which I could bowl towards. So I cut back all the bushes and grass and practiced here all through Sept into October including today. Here's the set up I worked with initially...

I worked on how many balls out of 30 I could land on the mat and the best so far is 17 and the other thing I look to do is consecutive balls landing on the mat and the best so far has been 9. In the last few sessions I've reduced the width of the target area and now use a piece of hardboard which is 10" by about 30" approx. as below...
 Today I got my younger son to watch where the ball landed and mark on a piece of paper where the balls landed in relation to the piece of board and the surrounding area. I then told him where the balls ended up in relation to the spin, so I was able to put together the pitch map diagram below.
 This is the distance I set the target area up in relation to the stumps.
Balls at the ready...

Once back indoors I created the graphic below...
The yellow balls ended up hardly spinning and went on to land approx in the yellow zone marked behind the stumps, Red spun a little and would have ended up slightly wide of off and so on. I think the illustration is more realistic with regards to what would happen on helpful wicket. In the paddock because of the surface the ball spins miles and isn't a true representation of what would happen in a game. But, the focus in the accuracy aspect and I'm happy with what I ended up with here. The balls are in two clusters in the diagram, the first bucket were all relatively short and Joe suggested I bowl fuller so the second cluster I tried to target the end closer to the batsman.

This seems to have worked really well for me at this point, having chosen to bowl relatively slow, the ball spins better out of the hand turns off the pitch nicely. But the two basic deliveries I've been working with as explained above both have differing characteristic, the low arm variation is especially good when it comes together because it both dips and drifts and turns miles.

Whether I can carry this forward over the winter and hit the ground running in the spring bringing this to the game remains to be seen, but at the moment I'm very optimistic.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Majid Huq

Think you bowl too slow? Majid Huq is Scotland's highest wicket taker and yet he bowls ridiculously slow. No doubt it's not that simple...

Had a game yesterday second from last of the season, bowled as the second opener and it went okay. Full story here...



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Recent stuff

This blog has now been moved to my new website.

Click the link to check it out.

Not blogged that much recently as I've been looking into converting to a proper website, so have been looking into that as an option. The only issue for me at the moment with regards going for it or not is the fact that it costs money. Word is, because of the dominance of this site on the web and the niche nature of the content/subject, the potential for a website is good and it might grow exponentially in comparison with this blog and it'll end up paying for itself relatively quickly.

Anyway in the short term that's not about to happen and in the meantime I've been playing and bowling. It's not been that good...

What's happened?

Despite all the practice over the off-season with my bowling and the work done on the longer run-up, it hasn't converted to the game or even practice sessions. Someone pointed out in a recent video that it looked as though when I was bowling I was doing so as though I had a deficiency in my pivot leg at FFC. I then twisted my knee in the 1st game of the season (friendly) in the field before bowling and went off. I then came back on near the end of the game and took 2 wickets coming in off of two steps a la' Terry Jenner in the BBC videos. I then took this forward to the two following games as my twisted knee recovered and did OK.

At this point practice was thin on the ground because I was in two minds whether resurrect 'The Paddock' as somewhere we could practice as the fence had been removed and it was saturated with water. Easter was crap with regards the whether and my general fitness wasn't that good. Eventually the weather improved a little and we made the decision to cut and maintain a wicket in the paddock again to practice in.

Once it was ready, in practice I bowled 95% of the time off of the 2 step approach rather than the more energetic run-in off of 5 or 6 steps. Every now and then I'd try the faster longer run-up and it seemed as though I'd lost it, I couldn't get it right at all.

This meant in the recent games I've bowled all my spells coming off of two steps and it's not gone well. Bizarrely in practice it works perfectly?

How do I feel?

Gutted and confused. What had promised to be an important development (The 5-6 pace run in), hadn't come together and the two step approach I've not been able to get it right in games, it's like I've got the yips.

What was good/bad?

In practice, I've bowled superbly and accurately with a range of variations albeit off two steps. I use a car mat as a target which is about 30cm x 45cm and frequently hit it, irrespective of where it's placed. Not only am I hitting it, but the balls spinning almost certainly more than I've ever done.

But, when it comes to game situations It's been a totally different story, couple of weeks ago I bowled two head height full tosses to a set batsman taking the game away from us and then the third ball landing on a perfect length, the bloke offers a straight bat in defence of the ball which was on middle and off and it finds the edge and Tony Harms catches it in the slips.

Last week a similar thing, two leg breaks head- height to a good batsman - one of them is fielded at fine leg on the boundary, he runs two, 2nd one goes for 4 in the same region. The 3rd ball is good and is fielded when hit cleanly. The captain then puts younger son Joe on the deep mid off, having seen how the batsman played the previous delivery. The next ball, not actually thinking why, but just doing it - put more over-spin on the ball and it as a result dipped more and the bloke went through the shot too early and it was up in the air heading for Joe. He had to run a bit, but caught the ball whilst running at speed short of the boundary.

After that, more bad stuff - legside, short, full tosses, you name it, it was in there and it's expensive and I'm not getting much more than 4 overs and rightly so.


At the moment I'm of the belief that it's partly down to fitness and that I'm slowly getting fitter and that this may facilitate an improvement. I've played today and again bowled off of 2 steps, I bowled 4 overs for 14 with no wickets, but it was rubbish mixed with perfection as usual. I had 1 catch not taken and a ball against a leftie go through the gate having pitched well outside of off and miss his leg-stump by a gnats cock pube!

The game was rained off and we were back early and despite the fact the game was only 10 miles away, back here in Langdon Hills it hadn't rained, so I was able to go over to the paddock and have a bowl and see if I'd bowl a pile of crap again as I had in the game. I went over with positive intention and thought rather than go for the 2 step approach, just go straight in with the longer run up version. Lo and behold guess what happens? I bowl about 15-20 overs worth of balls and it goes perfect virtually.

Drills I've done recently have included this one here where I put this trolley thing in front of the stumps to represent the batsman and place my target mat outside of leg as below and then look to land the ball onto the mat and turn it into the stumps. In practice I can do this fairly frequently, some spin too far and miss the off-stumps some bounce over, some hit the mat and go on straight e.g. natural variation - some people call them 'Sliders', but that's nonsense, Warne refers to them as Leg-Breaks that don't grip or just calls them what they are... Natural variation now that he no longer plays and is no longer in need to play the psychology game with any batsman that is listening and trying to work him out.
Last night I had the mat in front of the bag and was just looking to bowl in a way that would get the batsman blocking or driving. Almost every ball was on the mat or thereabouts or hitting the wheel of the trolley. The ones that hit the mat were turning and were going past the stumps a foot or two wide of the off-stump. But the thing was it was consistent throughout the 120 or so balls I bowled with only 4 that were 'wide' and maybe 2 or 3 full tosses. So the question is why? What is happening here that is so different to what's happening in the game?
I'm not making any comparison with how much turn I get of one from the other as there's no comparison, the paddock is massively exaggerated because of how rough it is, it's the things like line and length and consistency. Thinking about it there's a few possibilities...
(1). I've got the yips, but I don't think I have, when I started out I was massively affected by getting it wrong and things used to go from Bad to really bad to worse. But at the moment I go from bad to brilliance and then back to bad again, but don't start sweating and panicking like I used to back in the days of Grays and Chadwell CC under Neil Samwells captaincy.
(2). Umpire up under my gills? I noticed this yesterday, the umpire was right up to the stumps and I noticed his presence and wondered whether that was it, as it did bother me, but that might be just grasping at straws and I've not noticed it in the other games.
(3). Footwear? At the moment this is the thing I'm inclined to focus on. Years ago I noticed that there was something in this. When I practice I generally wear Adidas Sambas. I noticed years ago that if the grass was at all damp that when I pivoted on damp grass, I lost the amount of accuracy & spin I got. Once it was dry and the grip returned it was fine.
 These are the Sambas I'm currently wearing and using on dry grass and I get a certain level of resistance in the Paddock scenario, which facilitates the spin and accuracy that I can achieve there.
These are the spikes I'm wearing this year and they're different to my old spikes which I still have and could wear. My old spikes are massively worn out and the spikes are almost non-existent as opposed to these which protrude a mile. Could it be that I'm getting so much purchase and grip that it has some impact on my bowling?

This might be the solution - this is another pair that I have and as you can see, I've removed the metal spikes and opted for the flatter grip discs which may allow more pivot and maybe a similar feel to the Adidas trainers? So, what I'll do is wear these when I practice in the paddock over the coming days and see how much these impact on my bowling... accuracy and length. It maybe that I'm barking up the wrong tree, but at the minute the only difference I can think of between bowling in games and when I practice is footwear, so it'll be worth giving it a go?
I came away from the practice last night feeling okay despite the fact that bowling off of the longer run-up is obviously more physically demanding and I came though it okay and have felt okay today, so that may also be a contributory factor, maybe my fitness levels have not been as they should be and as the season goes on I've slowly got fitter?
I'm going to try and commit to bowling off of the 5-6 step run-in. Actually I need to establish whether it is 5 or 6 paces, but it is the run-in that I have been working on since last September here

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wickford 4th XI game 21st May.

This blog has now been moved to my new website.

Click the link to check it out.

Still no game at home for either me or Joe and Joe wasn't playing this week because he was on a Duke of Edinburgh award walk. So I was off to Wickford's memorial park ground...

I had to scam a lift off of Tony Harms and we arrived at dull cloudy day with the wind quite blustery from the top end of this image to the bottom end 'River Crouch end". I'll refer to the north end as 'The Pavilion End'. I was hoping to take some photo's of the team and other players for a photography project that I'm doing, but no knowing this team and where the pavilion was going to be (I'd got in the car not actually knowing we were off to this ground) I've left it till next week when Joe will be able to help me.
Tony and me were the first ones there apart from their players and it soon became apparent that the building in this image which is currently being refurbed was out of bounds and that there was no pavilion other than the one across the other side of another field 400 yards away.
Our players started to show up and it soon became apparent that we were probably going to be 3 men down with some of them not letting Dutton know it seemed, he wasn't that happy. What made it worse all over the ground we were going to play on there seemed to be the wrong team e.g. what looked like a group of athletic 17-20 year olds - 3rd of 2nd XI type players. Then a couple of older blokes turned up. It then began to sink in... this was the opposition... Nine big youths and two older blokes and these were relatively young too 40's? Whereas we had 8 players...Dutton and Tony in their 40's, me wrong end of my 50's then Gopal and Jay in their 20's early 30's. The rest were small boys all 13 years old. So a bit of an ask for us.
We walked over to the pavilion and got changed, talked about the batting order and I volunteered to open with Tony. Dutton had won the toss and oddly had decided to bat first, I think he was annoyed that we'd been let down by the blokes that hadn't shown up - leaving us in a hopeless situation, so opted to get it over and done with?
Their bowling was okay, nothing like facing Joe or spin and as a result I managed to last 10 or more overs and scored 6 including a 4 flicked off my pads down to fine leg. But eventually a straight one got me through the gate. Jay put a few more runs on the board and then there was a bit of a collapse until Dutton and Travis added a few at the end. There were quite a few extras and in the end we ended up with 77. Travis it must be said looked exceptionally confident with the bat, I reckon he's likely to score 50 at some point this season if he puts his mind to it.
With such a reduced team, not only is it difficult to make a game of it, but it then means we're short of umpires and scorers, so we struggled with that as well. Sam Goods Dad helped out with umpiring which saved us a bit, it would have been good if he could have played as well, maybe next time? Next time we play with a full team I'm going to try and get one of the kids to learn how to score, I always have a spare score sheet with me so there's no reason why one of them if not more shouldn't.
Similarly I'm going to see if I can get Joe to do it, he knows a lot of it, but needs to do it more and get better at it.
It ended up with us scoring 77 with extras added. We didn't bother with tea as it was no-where near tea, we'd only just had drinks at 23 overs when the last wicket fell at about 26 overs.
So out come their openers ex B&PCC player Jodie Reynolds and L.Keeley. With massive gaps in the field and only 77 to score, coupled with a team that looked like a 2nd or 3rd XI team V's a bunch of old blokes and small boys it was a lost cause. Dutton gave most of use a bowl, none of us come anywhere near threatening to get a wicket and both of the batsmen came away with not outs. Jodie Reynolds had a good knock dealing in fours primarily... 38 not out and his mate with 24 not out.
I didn't bowl anywhere near as good in comparison with last week. I chose to have the wind behind me which seemed to be a mistake as it meant I ended up bowling a no-ball and a couple of full tosses that went for 4. I bowled from the Pavilion end...
In the last few days it's rained a little and as you can see it's pretty green. The bounce was variable especially at the 'River Crouch' end Which I was bowling to, but this was found on a good length rather than at a full length which I was looking to bowl to. The other end 'Pavilion End' it tended to bounce a lot less and was more consistent. It turned a little, but to be honest I only bowled 3 overs and didn't bowl that well. There was some turn, but only average. I came away with 3-0-19-0.
Spin check. This in my on going tally of spinners that I play with in our team and oppositions. I've been doing it in a particular way so far and from now on I'm just going to name them and identify their teams. Today they only had one spinner a bloke that lives right near the Rec and yet he plays for bloody Wickford!!! Guess what kind of spinner he was? Yep you guessed it he was a finger spinner. In the conversation I had with him and the captain they were trying to tell me about all the spinners in the adjacent game a few hundred yards away... all finger spinners, but I had to say, no they don't count I have to play in the game with them to count them.
Wrist Spinners -
  1. Anonymous Chelmsford CC 3rd XI
  2. Dave Thompson. Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI
Wrist & Finger combined
Chris Debond. Basildon & Pitsea CC 3rd XI
Finger Spinners
  1. Lee Dutton. Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI
  2. Joe Thompson. Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI
  3. Alistair Hayton. Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI
  4. Luke Daw. Basildon & Pitsea CC 1st XI
  5. Brandon DeBond. Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI
  6. Farhan Malik. Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI
  7. Brian Waterman. Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI
  8. Kalai selven Kali. Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI  
  9. 'Don' Wickford CC 4th XI
  10. J.Elliott - Leigh-On-Sea CC 3rd XI
  11. H.Jeddy - Leigh-On-Sea CC 3rd XI
  12. Anonymous Bloke. Basildon & Pitsea CC 3rd XI

With Joe not playing today and me not taking any wickets the situation between us is now...
Me 17-0-71-3 Strike Rate 23.7
Joe 26-2-65-4 Strike Rate 16.3
 Another view of the 4th XI Wicket - Wickford CC - Memorial Park
The pavilion at the Wickford Memorial Park. I'll add this to my photography project here which is a typology of cricket pavilions. This one used to be a lot uglier and more interesting with metal security doors, but it's been converted into a community café and doubles up as a pavilion too.
It was massively disappointing to play in a team of 8 players against a far superior team. Next week we'll be at Langdon hills, so I'll be able to shoot the pictures I've been trying to do now for the last 3 weeks and Joe will be back. Additionally over the week I'm going to try and get in touch with my mate Keith who lives over that way and bats a bit. He's had trouble with his knees or hips for years, but recently has had them fixed and has said in the last month or so, he'd be interested in playing. He'd be able to field in the slips, but his strength is he bats, oh yeah he's a finger spinner as well!


Mid week nets

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Things are very different this year, my wife Michelle's work pattern has changed, so time in the evening is now reduced with regards practicing. The paddock across the road from my house has been ruined e.g. they've taken down the fencing meaning we can't bowl in there any more unless we take our own nets and put it up which is aggro and time consuming, so that's no longer an option at the moment. I did go in there at the weekend or two ago and cut the grass at the batting end to see if it was usable, it didn't look promising.

Over the following week I went in there and had a look and last weekend I cut it again and had a bowl in there on Sunday which went really well. In addition I had a look at the tree behind what would be the batting end and figured out that I could hang the nets from the trees with relative ease, making the whole process relatively easy and that's what I did.

Over the week in between the rain I've been able to get in there and have a bowl a few times and it's gone relatively well. Last week I also went down to the club (Mopsies) and had a bowl against some of the 1st and 2nd XI batsmen and did okay.

So, whereas normally I spend hours practicing a week that's been reduced to almost nothing which will no doubt have an effect on my fitness. At the moment I'm okay with it as I've still got this twist injury around my knee, so I'm taking it easy hoping it'll get better quickly.

We got over there late… 7.30 as that’s when we’d finished our dinner and there were a few 1st and 2nd XI players. The main nets have definitely been condemned and the only nets facility was a short stubby one that you drag onto the square (All weather wicket) which at the moment has no wheels on it. So the handful of us that were there (6 blokes) had a bowl and a bat. I bowled okay and again came off of the 2 step Terry Jenner approach. I was hoping to work with the lower arm to see what it might bring to the action, but it soon became apparent that it needs some intensive work on my own. Other than that the Googly was good and so too was the Top-Spinner. Wickets would have come via catches from mis-hits and one stumping. So overall it was okay.
Injury-wise, I bowled one ball off of the full run-up and it was okay. The stress on the leg came later when I batted. Moving backwards and forwards in the crease in response to the ball, put far more pressure on the leg/knee than running in off of 5 steps and bowling. Having said that, nothing gave and there was no after pain or soreness, just a sense of something wasn’t as good as it should have been when batting. So on Saturday when I play I’ll probably bowl off of a walk-n in still to continue resting the knee.
Devastatingly though, here in a practice situation I batted okay – so much better than in the two games so far. What’s that about?

Despite the fact I’m hardly practicing, I’m bowling quite well which might be a case of when I do practice I’m over-thinking things and trying too hard or something, because the lack of practice at the minute doesn’t seem to be having any really adverse impact?

Friday, May 20, 2016

B&PCC v Leigh on Sea CC 14th May 2016 3rd XI

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The first home game Saturday 14th.


The forecast leading up to the game was one of bright and breezy with the wind being North Easterly and therefore from the Arctic, so the temperature was due to be about 16 degrees, which’ll be fine if the wind is light. Joe and I had a look at the wicket a few nights ago and it looked okay. The outfield looked pretty lush and thick so again any balls along the ground are not going to reach the boundary when we hit them. No doubt the opposition will be well armed with wanna-be Chris Gayles and they’ll take the aerial route! When I last looked it looked as though we’d be pretty short of batting again other than John Bedford and Dutton. Or will 13 year old Travis Singleton have another good day and score some runs for us?


Gutted, 11 o'clock at night I get a call from Luke Daw asking if Joe and I can play at Leigh-On-Sea in the 3rd XI. Having answered the text I then noticed that during the day, Phil had sent a couple of other text messages asking if Ben wanted to play. Ben's not played for two years.  Very reluctantly we took a hit and agreed which totally screws up everything for us...


1. Michelle's then stuck at home without a car.

2. I was going to shoot pictures of the 4th XI team for a project at college, that's now screwed.

3. Less of a chance that we'll get a shed load of overs to bowl and we'll bat at 10 and 11.

We weren't happy, we were looking forward to a game at home in the 4's.

When we got there, it turned out there was loads of swapping around done last night and the teams looked nothing like those that were last posted on the website last. We were a man short and had to play with the following players...


1. Phil Murdoch

2. Chris Debond *#

3. Mike Blerkom

4. Dave Thompson #

5. Farhan Malik *

6. Anthony Ayres

7. Joe Thompson

8. Brandon Debond *

9. Josh Debond *

10. Charlie Blerkom


  • Finger Spinners #Wrist Spinners

 As we drove to the same venue as last week Joe said "I hope we bat first today". The outcome of the toss was they won and opted to field.

Batting got off to a decent start, but then faltered (I didn't photograph the batting stats). Chris Debond was rattling along at good pace, but then was caught at extra cover by a fantastic catch by 'Jeddy' - looking over his shoulder watching the ball and running in the direction the ball was going he had to dive at the last second to get to the ball, the dive was a massive full length one with a big impact landing and he still hung onto it. Very impressive.

Around 20 overs or so it wasn't looking that clever and Pat Ayres who was scoring said it looked like 120 was possible, then Mike Blerkom got into gear and started to make a difference after a slow-ish start. Anthony Ayres towards the end of the game made some vital runs riding his luck being put down a couple of times, but at the end of the game with me facing the last ball of the match and hitting it and running 3 with Farhan being run-out in the process we reached 170 which seemed defendable.

Joe who batted at 9 was told the same as me... "Swing at it". Went for 0 - clean bowled and was part of a team hat-trick orchestrated by their bloke Jeddy.

 Spinners on their team...

 J.Elliott - Left arm orthodox (finger spinner)

H.Jeddy - Right arm finger spinner.

 I asked about Leg-Spinners in their team and they said they never had them, I then asked what about in the club? They all looked at each other, one of them then said...

"Er... there's a bloke who's just joined the club and I think someone said he bowled leg-spin... If he does, he's the only bloke in the whole club as far as I'm aware and I'm not 100% sure even if he does".

"What about finger spinners"?

"Yeah we've got loads of them - two in the squad today".

After a half decent tea, we took the field to see what we could do. I didn't have a clue as to how Joe or I would be deployed, I guessed that Joe would be amongst the openers in line with the fact that I'm fairly certain 'The Club' would like to see him playing at a higher level. If that is the case they need to handle him carefully because as with Ben, he's not that fussed on cricket and if you were to give him half a chance for not playing he'd be easily persuaded. He likes the 4th XI, but is reluctant to play in the 3rds. He's only 14 and enjoys the 4th XI games, I personally would advise the club to leave him in the 4th XI for this season and allow him to have the success that this will bring him and therefore grow his confidence. Then when needed as in the case of today, get him into the 3rds.

As you can see he was given the new ball and opened into the wind from the southern end, after being asked what end he wanted to bowl from. He should have bowled from the other end as he swings the ball from leg to off and the wind would have assisted him with this as it would have been with him diagonally, I need to talk to him about this and ask him if he realised that would have been the better option. He went with the opposite end as that's the end he bowled from last week when the wind was in the opposite direction.

As you can see below he bowled well taking two wickets and his first ever bowled and caught.


The fact that Joe was involved in a 3rd XI game and it was one that we won, will help with the integration of Joe into the other teams, but they will need to be careful how they handle him remembering that he is only 14. I think in time he will make the transition and I reckon in the longer term if I and the club can keep him in the game he'll want to move away from playing in the same team as me, it's just the nature of the beast. But, the trick will be to keep him on board and keeping him liking the game and liking the team he plays in, he doesn't take it too seriously and it bothers him when other people do and I think that's down to the fact that he's the age he is. As he gets older he'll naturally get more competitive and will understand other people's desire to win and their passion.

My bowling went well, both spells were spent bowling at the same two players. One an old bloke who’d already introduced himself by way of asking about our older player Wayne Morgan, When I asked him how he knew Wayne he said “Wayne’s our 12th Man, he normally plays in the Essex Vets 2nd XI team, but occasionally plays for us”. This bloke was one of the Spinners in their team neither of whom had spun the ball very much at all. The other player was a kid from the SEDCB district team that Joe’s practiced with all winter and will be playing with soon. With such a bad start it was obvious that they’d been put in at 9 and 10 to block out the game for a draw.

I still haven’t got my head around the new rules yet, but I noticed that the overs suddenly appeared on the score board after drinks and were counting up to what I thought was 20 and then someone said ‘Come on lads’ with 10 on the board ‘There’s only 6 more overs to get one of these two out’. I’d bowled tidily in the first spell - the kid had cut a leg-break poorly through backward point where Joe was fielding and it just about evaded him – far more uppish than he’d have hoped for, the ball dropping short and being fielded for two.

The 2nd spell was better because they’d got a sniff of getting batting points (125) and started to hit the ball more frequently rather than just blocking it. They rotated the strike well frequently hitting singles and had slowly edged their way to about 15 short of the 125 required for the points. As soon as they moved up a gear the chances started to come, the ball was in the air a lot, but luck was on their side as they moved ever closer to the 125, but with it came the sniff of victory for us. The last man who’d been sitting with his pads on now for nearly an hour and a half was visibly nervous even from right out here we could see his leg jigging up and down and he didn’t look as though he fancied his chances. We could sense that if we could either of these two we'd be in with a shout but they were more than competent batsman if left to defend and block for the draw, but greed was there for the batting points and it looked to be their un-doing. Both of them started to make mistakes, my bowling was good  - I wanted the old geezer and in the last 12 balls one of the balls broke and must have missed the edge of bat by billimeters! The kid couldn't pick the top spinner and that had him all at sea, but generally both of them being as good as they were dealt with the leg breaks quite well, but as soon as they went looking for runs and started to play their shots it started to fall apart at the seams.
Buzz played his part, him and Blerkom decided that they'd mix the bowling up, after my first spell I though that would be it, but I was brought back on again after Joe and Anthony had been deployed again with the fast stuff, but with the fast stuff brought runs and it was in this phase that they changed their mind set and looked to play their shots. Buzz changed the end that Anthony bowled from and in no time the kid was clean bowled and LOS were still a few runs short of the 125 that they were now looking for. This brought the nervous bloke on and within a few balls it was all over with and we'd won the game. The star of the game for us was Anthony Ayres with his

It was really good to be involved in a game where we'd won, but I still don't think one win will win Joe over and encourage him to play in the 3's more regularly. Yeah he enjoyed it, but he is just 14 and he's not obsessed with cricket in the same way that others are.
 The on-going tally between Joe and I as far as I can recall (I didn't copy the score sheet for the 1st friendly match).

Me - 14-0-52-3
Joe 26-2-65-4

Spinner count.

3 games down Finger spinners - 15, Wrist Spinners 6
 Chris Debond
 Mike Blerkon and Buzz
 Anthony Ayres
 Joe Thompson checking his bowling figures.
 Pat Ayres
 Joe Thompson happy having won the game.

J.Elliott bowling to Mike Blerkom