Sunday, August 31, 2008

Last Day of August

What a dreary August! This has got to have been one of the worst ever for lack of sunshine. Cricket pitches and fields at this time of year should be a nice yellow, but they're not they're lush and green it looks like May instead of August or Ireland! Good news is that England as a one day international team under Kevin Pieterson are doing well and despite the rain again today at Lords they've beaten the South Africans again.

No cricket for me again this weekend as I was in Derby for family commitments. I'll have to make it known as soon as possible that I'm up for a game this Sunday in order that I get picked. Interestingly the contact I had from Gray and Chadwell was an email sounding us all out about the possibility that we play in a Sunday League next year? I wouldn't have thought that would have affected me because surely that would only really apply to the Sunday 1st XI and I can't imagine that I'd be picked to play with the 1st's ever? I'll have to pick up my emails later and see what's happened or ask about it next week and see what the deal is?

Some good news though from the weekend relates to me re-learning the Leg Break and that you'll find in the other blog - in the diary section. I'd have changed the name of the blog if I could - but I don't seem to be able to do that so I'll have to stick with the same website address.

Valence Way Cricket Ground

On the lush green grass front - I can't recall if I've already mentioned this...... But I've scored another mower. At the minute I can't tell you what model it is, but again it's old skool - another barrel/cyclinder system and manual. This one is a bit more up - market in that it's got a roller built in, but the thing is whereas my Qualcast Panther has a minimum cut of 12mm this one is dramatically lower - something in the region of about 6mm and it looks like there may even be scope for an even lower cut? But it may have another feature in the form of a scraper, which follows the cutting blades and precedes the roller. It might be for scraping up worm casts or something? But it's going to scrape off any obvious lumps on the wicket - so that'll be interesting to see how it works out.

I've recently scored a big bag of grass seed, so last week I levelled all the run in footholes and seeded them. I watered them as well today - but there should be some rain tonight by all accounts. The wicket does need cutting and I went over there this evening to do this but there had been some rain and the grass was too wet to cut. Hopefully at some point this week we'll get a dry day and I'll be able to do it otherwise the grass will be getting to the point where it'll need to be cut with shears if I'm not careful.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Sept 14th Game

Hmmm - will this come off I wonder? The situation at the minute is that people are saying they're up for it as the day draws nearer. The idea of playing at Langdon Hills Rec has loads of downsides to it -
  • It'll cost £80 for the pitch hire
  • It's on a slope
  • There's no bar
  • The majority of the players will have to travel further to get there
  • I'd have to stump up the £80 up front and it may get cancelled

The other option would be to play at Grays that has many upsides to it - the hire of the pitch is less and it goes into G&CCC coffers. There's beer and that helps G&CCC. The pitch is flatter and it's closer for the majority of the players. The main downside is that it's a damn ugly ground and you stand a chance of being mauled by Rottweilers or being shot at with 2.2 air rifles from the flats (Actually that's never happened but it could)? All I'm saying is that compared to Langdon Hills Rec it's rough. So I reckon if this game happens Grays will be the best option.

Team sheet Revised in Batting order

  1. Simon Grainge (bowl)
  2. Nakul Handa (bowl)
  3. Chris Eggleton (bowl)
  4. Jack (Wkt)
  5. Alex (bowl)
  6. Rod Jeanes (bowl)
  7. Dave Thompson (bowl)
  8. Badger (bowl)
  9. Alex Wood
  10. Richard Sainsbury

Neil Samwell may still be up for playing for us and if he is that'll be 11. There's the potential to include a 14 year old Leg Spinner dependent on how he performs over the next week or two. There's also a vague chance that Suhail might play but to be realistic it's a real outside chance as he didn't respond to my last few text messages. Rod Jeanes is also a long shot.

possible options - Thomas Slater, Badger's mate Paul, Carl Hodgson, Trevor the bloke, Alex Wood's brother,

Monday, August 25, 2008

Leg Spin gutted

25th August

Gutted! In the intro to my other blog

I mentioned that in my opinion if you had the ability to turn your arm over and bring the other one down in the fulcrum action it wasn't that impossible to then develop the neccessary flick to produce a basic Leg Break (If you had any essence of desire to do so). I've seen this in our own younger seam bowlers at G&CCC every now and then as if to wind you up they'll throw a ball at you and put spin on it and they produce Leg Break balls that I would die to be able to do at this stage! Tonight this theory was further reinforced by the fact that one of the Great Berry kids - Andy who is a promising looking seam bowler said to me
"What is that you do to get it to spin"? And then he twisted his wrist round in the Googlie position.
"Christ no don't do that - that's fatal - look watch" and I showed him the theory behind producing the Leg Break and said "Never twist your hand round that far until you can do this one (The Leg Break) absoultely perfect". He seemed to take it on board and went up the other end and bowled his first attempt at a Leg Break and sure enough it spun a country mile - what's more it came down the wicket straight and middle and then spun away from a good length and could well produced a little edge to catch in the slips or even the wicket keeper with a dive. It as perfect and then he did it again and again and again and again. I then said "bowl it down the leg side and it should then turn in and hit the stumps"? Sure enough first ball his middle and leg! I'm absolutely gutted, what can I do to re-wire my brain so that it totally forgets the twisted wrist of the Googlie?

I said to him that his bowling was so good that he should come and play for G&CCC, he is by far the most enthusiastic of all the kids that go over to Valence Way and he's athletic as well. His mate said - yeah you love it this cricket Andy, you should do it. Andy then said yeah alright then. So what now? What I'll do in the first instance is extent the length of the wicket so that he bowls the full 22yards and see how he gets on with that and then take it from there.

I've just realised that if I can get him up to bowling the extra 4 yards and he's bowling Leg Breaks and the fact that he can bat - he's another potential player for the MPA 1st XI team against the Tilbury MCCC!

Other good news is that tonight on Bank Holiday Monday the groundsman was over Valence Way field rolling it! Yes - Rolling it. It didn't seem to make much of a difference, but he was doing it and he also cut the grass again! I also did a bit green keeping myself. On the practice wicket I did some repairs. I filled in all the footholes from my run up and also the ruts where the batsman stands as well. I then got a load of grass seed and sowed that and I'm now hoping for some rain to get it all going and bind it together.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Didn't play....

Right at the last moment after getting a game I then had to text my captain and say that I wouldn't be playing afterall as I had family commitments. Some rellies were down from Derby and I thought I might be able to slope off for 6 or 7 hours. Then Michelle pulled the Family Card and what with raining as well and the potential for a week of the cold shoulder and to have the incident thrown back in my face over the next 10 years I opted to not go. Hopefully the game still went ahead and they got someone else to play for the oppo. As it turns out the weather came good at about the time the game was due to start and the rest of the afternoon was lovely with warm sunshine. I had to resort to playing a cricket with my Father in Law, Brother in Law and some of the kids and then had an hour bowling on my own.

My run in as mentioned before is coming together and I'm getting a lot more speed on the ball and I noticed today this going to be useful with regards varying the speed of the delivery? Looking at the calender my cricket season looks as though it's almost over. I'm not going to be able to play next weekend again because of family commitments and then after that there's only another 4 weekends in Sept and I'm not sure whether G&CCC will have a match on the last weekend?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mercenary Cricket

I didn't get the usual call up from Neil this week - don't know why and ended up having to text him today asking for a game. He came back offering me a place on the oppo's team which'll be a laugh. I quite fancy the idea of playing against the Grays 2nd Sunday team. No doubt I'll be right at the bottom of the batting order and probably wont get a bat and the likelyhood of the them giving me some overs is virtually non-existant I would imagine, but it's a game and hopefully I'll be able to make some kind of contribution in the field. It looks like the Team is Three Caps whoever they are. I've just looked at their website and there's loads of images of their players with Nasser Hussein! Let's hope he's their captain!

Other mercenary actions in the Pipeline are due next week on Wednesday night. I may be drafted in to go into action for the MCCC against Waynes Tilbury Taxi's team. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed there as well, actually thinking about it I don't think they've got a lot of choice as I am "Kit-you-like" purveyor of free cricket equipment to start up cricket teams, so it looks like I will be playing unless people want to start paying hire fees! Needless to say in retaliation to the upper-hand I might think I have over them with regards selection onto the team they will make it known that they're not happy and will have me at No.11 in a T20 match and wont give me any overs and probably make me field at Silly Point or Silly Mid off, ah well s**t happens!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bowling Practice

Had a bit of practice tonight having come across this video on youtube...

In the past loads of people have said that my run up/walk in is basically crap/wrong. Super Dave and Neil have both spent a bit of time with me explaining what I should be doing, but always at some point when I've had other agenda's to address and they've had other people to deal with as well as me. This video on the other hand comes at a point running up to Sept 30th when I'm looking to change the way I bowl radically, so I'm a lot more receptive to it's content. I was particularly taken with the lifting the leg up and over as a part of the action leading into the follow through and the burst of power aspect. I like too the fact that this is so important that they even have training techniques (See video) where they put an obstacle in front of the popping crease so that you have to lift your leg over in that fashion.

So even without a cricket ball I started to practice this and initially it felt really odd. I then converted this to the field and using a ball and yes it does feel slightly strange and exaggerated at the minute but already I see and feel there's a big difference. The most obvious is the power and the speed of my bowling - it has improved so much just because of this one aspect. Needless to say there's some length issues to address because I'm probably bowling another 5, 10 or maybe even 15 mph faster, but this'll come. All I've got to do is keep at it untill the action becomes 2nd nature and then in the nets this winter (Fingers crossed) I can make further improvements?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blimey 2165 views on the blog, that's not bad going!

Blimey 2165 views on the blog, that's not bad going!

Crap weather again today with heavy rain. The met Office have said it's been one of the worst Augusts on record here in the UK and overall it's been a pretty wet summer, you've only got to have a look out in your back yard and you'll see that your grass which should be straw colour and dead by this time of year is green and lush! The good news is that the weather should be clearing up for the weekend to be sunny and warm.

This evenings batting session had to be called off with Ben because of the rain, so that's now on hold till tomorrow. In the meantime I'll try and get him and Joe to watch this -

I'm also going to put one more effort leading up to Sept 1st into getting the MPA team together to play the MCCC and if I've not got real commitment from at least 8 of the players by then I'll call it a day and consign the MPA 1st XI to the annals of history.

So if any of you are out there reading the blog I need to you to contact me and let me know you're alright for Sunday 14th Sept 1pm onwards (40 overs).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kids Cricket at Valence Way wicket

What with the rain, the grass has grown a bit recently at Valence Way, but we had a crowd over there tonight with varying degrees of commitment and interest. It's difficult to get them to be competitive at batting let alone at all the skills involved especially fielding. As mentioned before even the lads at G&CCC who seem to live for cricket seem all to ready too neglect their commitment to fielding at the drop of a hat, requiring a capt to be constantly gee-ing them up and re-focussing their attention on the job at hand. Saying that even the Tilbury boys as mentioned seemed to be flagging at around the 20 overs mark. So it is a bit of a task and tonight just as most nights the boys at Valence way drifted in and out of the game at intervals to go and talk to groups of girls that seem content to come and watch from the boundary line.

A new kid turned up a friend of Andy's and he batted his way through to the highest score of the night 33. Ben (My oldest) got really frustrated by not being able to bat, especially against Andy who bowls very straight and reasonably fast. But the upshot of his frustration was that I suggested that tomorrow night instead of playing a game we'll go through some batting practice and the good thing was that Andy said he'd help Ben as well. So this looks very promising on lots of fronts.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Grays & Chadwell cc V MCCC

It's doubtful whether I'm going to be able to write up the blog tonight. I'm putting the score book up, but I'm not sure whether the file is big enough to enable it being read properly, but here it is anyway.....
Anyway - so this was the game that almost wasn't. Boffa and I (MCCC's captain) were still making phone call at 11.30 as to whether it was going ahead. The situation was that at 11.30 I could only muster 6 players of unknown origin for our Sunday 3rd XI and at this stage in the game it looked as though I would be the captain. Michelle at this point was walking around the house with an aire of joy and then she went to Tesco's by the time she'd come back from Tesco's the bags were in the hall along with all my other parafenalia and her demeanor quickly changed to one of displeasure. I knocked up some lunch and then quickly made my exit.

Arrived to Blue skies and white puffy clouds and a slight breeze blowing from the west across the track. I could see loads of big geezers and the Tilbury blokes and a few small boys. Then I spotted Wayne the off-spin bowler, so it looked as though I might have one adult along with the very small boys. Wayne put out the stumps along with a taller lad and I put out the boundary marker and asked him what was happening? Thankfully Wayne had the intention of being the captain, so I lost that responsibility and he also said he'd be the wicket keeper, so that was that sorted, but we were still in a situation where we only had six players. Boffa's lot had 9 or 10 with the word that there were more on their way. There was some discussion that we might be lent some players, but as 2pm drew nearer there was no obvious influx of people so it was decided that we'd bat and if necessary some of us would bat twice in order to play through 11 men and that might allow more time for more players to turn up.

Openers it was decided would be Reece Downes and Callum Sellars (I'd never met Callum before). Callum it turns out is 12 "But I'm nearly 13" and stands about 4'. Reece is 13 and is a bit bigger, but I know Reece has he's a 2nd team regular and a good player. But then for some inexplicable reason Wayne decides that instead of Callum opening I will and that I'd be on strike first. So I get promoted from batting at No.10 right up to number 1!

Pads on and Reece and I make our way to the wicket. In the meantime another bloke has turned up and is on our side - Glen Scott and he's umpiring along with the bigger lad. Wayne and Callum are scoring. Their opening bowler is a behemoth of a man (Ryan Penn), who I overheard was 30 years old. With a big beard and piercing through his chin standing about 6'9' and weighing somewhere in the region of 16 stone. I was scared - so God knows how the small boys felt. I saw the ball in his hand momentarily, it looked like a table tennis ball in red and then it came down the wicket scuffing up grass and earth as it skidded backwards. I let it go (as I always do) and there was the custumary ooohs and aaahs as if it had just missed the stumps or something. Reece came down the wicket saying that if it was that high again hit it because it was clear of the stumps. The 2nd ball came and again I left it, more oohs and aahs, but this time I knew it had been close. Again Reece came down the wicket "You're going to have to hit 'em Dave". I played a few swipes and didn't connect and neither did he. The next bowler came on and Reece hit the ball and got a run, I was on strike now and I hit the ball and got going. Reece hit the next one for 2 and there was a few dot balls and then I was facing the big bloke again. First ball and I was out of there - gone for 1.

Already this is becoming a distant memory and it's only Tuesday!
Wayne was next out shouting instructions to us all about who was doing what, I didn't catch any of what he was saying but I found Callum scoring and he seemed to know what was going on. Wayne did okay hitting a few fours while Callum was getting his pads on in readiness for his innings. At this stage we were still with only 7 players but Callum had said something about someone was going to collect some more players - I was hoping for some big Geezers that could bowl a bit of spin and maybe intimidate their batsmen as I knew one of them was going to be a handful and the Behemoth looked like he was a proper cricket player and there was obviously the potential for him to bat.
Wayne did okay, but alas this was my first time scoring and it seems that somewhere along the way I missed one or two of his fours that he hit. Wayne met his match from the big bloke Penn's (Behemoth) bowling and was caught by Xan (Paul Millbank) in the field at mid wicket I think off a top edge. Wayne had scored 17 by my tally but by his reckoning it was more like 25. I don't think at this stage I can have conversations with people and keep score!
Callum was out next to Join Reece, Callum did okay batted efficiently and with confidence facing their bowlers. John Claricoates was the bowler that got him caught by Penn. Reece was still there and was now joined by a youth - Joe? I'd been talking to Joe and he was saying that he could bat and bowl a little bit. Joe got off to a good start and notched up the scores a bit by hitting 3 consecutive 4's and went bowled by Penn again. Then calvary turned up. "Pomph" had turned up earlier and had taken over the scoring and the umpiring but then decided that he'd bat, so he had his bat while I was umpiring. Initially he wasn't going to bat as he's got a really bad arm, so bad he's actually given up playing, but as he said he'd had 3 pints before he'd got there and he had his Beer Goggles on and as far as he could see there was no reason he could pick up the bat and have a go and what with having a few beers the pain wasn't going to be that bad was it? Unfortunately the other calvary members were not quite so old - James (Another new one on me) - 12 years old, 4 stone and about 3'6" and Bill - slightly older same kind of stature. But if previous matches and Reece Downes (Who was still out there) was anything to go by then it didn't matter that much about their size.

So Pomph and Reece were at the crease and doing okay. The big behemoth of a bloke was flagging and had requested to be taken off of bowling duties as he started to go a bit wayward. Another one of their blokes who hadn't done any stretching or anything pulled a thigh muscle bowling and had to be taken off bowling duty as well, so suddenly their top order bowlers were looking a bit worse for wear. But then so was Pomph. He hit a few balls for 4's but everytime he did so he screwed up in pain and was so obviously not in a state of physical well being, but he soldiered on. Reece run himself out unecessarily - I think he hit the ball to a close in fielder who then got it back to the wicket keeper with loads of time to spare and he threw the ball at the stumps from about 20' and it was an easy run out. He went for 41, not a bad knock and the one that meant that we still might have been in with a shout. Glenn was out next followed in quick succession by Bill and big Tony from last week, who'd suddenly turned up and they all went cheaply (Not as cheap as me though) and we finished on 144 all out for 34 overs. By which time the Tilbury boys looked as though they'd had enough. At 20 overs during the drinks break most of them had a bit of a lay down and an oily rag - it was the longest drinks break I've ever seen in cricket - must have been about 10 minutes instead of the usual 3 minutes or what have you? They did look at 20 overs like a bit of a spent force, their concentration looked like it was flagging a bit and some of them took to sitting down as well!

But here they were - they'd bowled us all out and we were chasing 144 off 34 overs. Not surprisingly their openers were Penn (Behemoth) and John Claricoats who was by far their best bat the last time we played. The good news was that we had a few adults now in amongst the very small boys. Both of the bats made very good use of the fact that we had big spaces because of the limited numbers in the field. Caricoats right from the start made his intention known and was hitting the ball with confidence and a degree of skill putting it in places where there were no blokes or smaller boys. Penn on the other hand was a bit of a hit it and see how it goes player and during his innings he skied it 3 times. One went straight up and should have been caught by Wayne but he was a bit slow off the mark and couldn't get to it. Then next went to the youth Joe and he fluffed it in some way - but again was a definite chance, but mine was the worst. The ball went straight up in the air in my general direction and I just had to step forward 3 or 4 paces once I could judge it trajectory and it was coming straight down my throat - an easy catch as I said to myself - yep I'll catch this. But the ball missed my hands and went between my hands and chest - gutted! What I didn't do was lift my hands to the ball, so I could see where they were in relation to the ball!

Then the game went through a really settled phase for them, both of them especially Claricoates just kept the runs ticking over and Claricoates reached his 50 making that his 2nd in 2 games I think? I noticed that the boys in this kind of situation start to lose interest - they start to sit down in bewteen deliveries and stop walking in when the bowlers running up. Wayne in the meantime was going through each of his bowling options, giving each bowler 2 overs it seemed and then if they didn't perform he made it clear that they were out of there which I felt was fair enough. He didn't bring Reece on till quite some time into the game and the same with me. The game was slipping away from us and nearing the 100 mark after less than 20 overs. John Claricoates was still there and we needed a break-through, all the bowling options were drying up all that was left were the very small bowlers - James, Callum and Billy the Kid (As they marked him down on the scorebook). It was Billy the kid that made the break- through bowling out the giant Penn for 15 thus ending his supporting role with Claricoates. Claricoates was now exposed to the less experienced bats and possibility that they fancied being on strike as much as he should have been. Billy the kid was ruthlessly removed by Wayne for bowling a non wicket taking over and out came the small guns - Callum the Kid and Jimmy the Kid the spin bowling double act. James with his tiny stature came up to the crease through a loopy top spinner looking ball that was more than likely slower than mine at Claricoates and totally did him for speed, Claricoates swung at it and it wasn't there (yet), his bat was somewhere up level with his head when the ball arrived at his bat's position and being straight with no speed hit the stumps bang in the middle. Claricoates was gone for 57.

Reece Phillips come on following Penn and had started out looking sprightly against Bill (Seamer) especially with the balls that had gone down the legside. But facing James and Callum he was slowed right down having to play defensive shots and it wasn't long before Callum undid Phillips in pretty much the same manner but with a bit of leg spin added. Kelvin Pender came out to face the dynamic duo and was dismissed by mini Shane Warne (Blonde hair as well) for 7. It suddenly looked like there was a chance that we were back in the game, if these two kids could maintain the momentum and now get into the tail we might just have a chance....

Replacing the next one out in the sequence was Boffa (Capt) and he came out looking to win the game. He played well hitting singles and running on them taking every chance to keep the score ticking over moving ever closer to our total, we needed more wickets. Meanwhile Callum dismissed Larne LBW for 1 and we were still in with a shout. They were were about 10 runs short of victory when Xan came out. I was then fielding at somewhere between mid wicket and deep mid wicket and Callum pitched up a ball that Boffa whacked out towards me at 150mph off the middle of the bat, it was still rising as it came past me, I leapt up committed to stopping it and only managed to get a couple of spinning fingers to it that were almost ripped off as the ball fizzed past to go for 4, much to Boffa's relief. Xan faced some sledging from me as he came out to help finish us off and between him and his younger brother the Millbanks hit the last few balls and we lost.

Lee Downes in the other match scores his 1st 100

Meanwhile over on the 2nd XI pitch the match against the Loxford Falcons who beat us back in May/June where on their way to do the same. But then someone came in and said something about Lee Downes on his way to scoring his 1st century, so I made my way over to the crowd that were there watching in anticipation of Lee batting his way to his 100. He was on 89 or something and batting well with about 5 overs to come. Helping him out was Chirpy. The light im the meantme since coming off the field from our match had decreased significantly and it was looking as though any pictures I was taking would be crap (And they were). Both of them batted sensibly especially chirpy who worked with Lee to make sure that he was on strike as much as possible. The two blokes that were bowling were very different - one a spinner and the other was one of their seam bowlers and they along with the fielders looked as though they were doing their damndest to make sure that he didn't make the 100. The whole thing was then made far more urgent for the Falcons in that every 4 Lee or Chirpy hit was moving them ever closer to possibly losing the game as well. To be truthful as the match went on and Lee got ever closer to the 100 he was batting in a far more cautious manner with loads of people on the boundary shouting to "take it easy". Whether he knew how close he was to the 100 I don't really know. At one point John Buckley who was umpiring seemed to have a word with him - so whether he was listening to the crowd on the boundary and had some idea of how close Lee was again I don't know and it was a point of contention as to whether someone should shout out to Lee what his score was? His Dad Phil was saying not to as it would add to the pressure. The 100 eventually came at the end of the 38th over and Lee rightly celebrated raising his bat and everyone without exception clapped and cheered even the opposition. He went on to score a few more and then was bowled and caught (I think) on the last ball of the match leaving G&CCC about 25 short of a draw. draw.
Good News for the Tilbury Blokes....

The Tilbury boys because of the interest around the team have been offered sponsorship by the Tilbury Community centre where they all drink and plan their games. All they need is the commitment from one of the players (Boffa) to designate themselves as the team captain and organiser and it seems that the community centre are prepared to kit them out in whites at the very least? Could this be the resurgence of Tilbury CC and the ressurection of the Daisy Field as their ground. They don't seem to think so as they reckon if a green was reinstated it would be dug up over night for turf for someones garden! Which is a shame.
One upshot of this game is that Waynes going to put together a team for a T-20 match mid week (27th Aug was mentioned I think) to be played in the evening against the MCCC (Tilbury boys). Boffa said that I may get a shout to play on their side (They need my gear)!!! So I'm looking forward to that although he said that they may not require my bowling!
I thought that the bowling of the 2 kids James and Callum was very interesting. It was very affective and I heard Pomph and Wayne both comment on the fact that they were both pretty much on target with the stumps on a consistent basis. This then combined with their unusually slow bowling was the downfall of 4 wickets in Boffa's team in very quick succession including Claricoates. Furthering the argument for unusual pace but accuracy was a performance by Pomph himself earlier in the year during a match in Kent where I think he took 2 or 3 wickets himself bowling what looked like ridiculously slow balls above the eyeline (as James and Callum did). Further evidence is my own son Joe who is only 7 who bowls leg spin and straight balls but again loopy and straight, I've seen him take 9 wickets in an evening playing against much older boys who bat really well and during the same holiday have scored 50's and 100's. So there seems to be some merit in the variation of pace, a good line and ensuring the ball rises above the eye-line?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunday practice and player shortages

Went over the field this evening and had a bit of a practice - wrong uns, flippers, Gippers and Top-spinners. Again it went pretty well and again I've been working on getting some speed up and it seems to be coming together. I was saying on another website thread that I find that I get a lot more turn off the pitch with my wrong uns if I'm really loose and relaxed. It seems like my whole arm, wrist and fingers combine together to whip the ball out of my hand if it's relaxed, I'll see if I can produce the same thing tomorrow.

With regards tomorrow it'll be a miracle if it comes off. Boffa was saying last night he's short of his main team players but was just off down the pub to go and see both his 1st XI and his 2nd XI as such. Seems that the last game they played there was a load of blokes that were saying "Why didn't you give me a shout - I'd have played" so it's these blokes that he's now calling on to fill both his team up and our 3rd XI team.

It then got worse as Neil sent me a text saying that we (G&CCC) may need as many as 5 players from Boffa's 2nd XI. Boffa's at Lords today with a crew of blokes and they're all watching the Essex v Kent game and no doubt they've had a skin full as I've sent him a text and he's not got back to me. I've emailed him and his Wife Sue and she's going to leave a message for him for when he gets in but she kind of implied that he may not be in a fit state to read it and make sense of it when he eventually gets in.

I'm the captain of this team as well if we get 11 blokes for each side. I suppose one thing we could do is play with 10 aside if it comes down to it just as long as we get a team out on the field as it'll be good for the club on the beer sales front.

The Wrong Un syndrome

As previously mentioned (I think) at the end of the season I'm going to stop bowling all my variations and re-learn the Leg Break which once upon a time I could do. My progress will be plotted on a blog at simply cricket. See the link below.....

Sept 14th team sheet update

Proposed team - (Batting Order)

1. Simon Grainge (Medium/fast) Confirmed
2. Nakul Handa (Medium/Offspin) tentative possibility
3. Chris Eggleton(fast) Strong possibility
4. Suhail (fast) unlikely, still awaiting a response
5. Jack (Wkt) Strong possibility
6. Alex #2 (fast) Strong possibility
7. Rod Jeanes (Med/fast) unlikely, still awaiting a response
8. Dave Thompson (Cpt) (off-spin) Confirmed
9. Badger (Medium) tentative possibility
10. Alex Wood Confirmed
11. Richard Sainsbury Confirmed

12. Neil Samwell

Other possible options - Thomas Slater, Badger's mate Paul, Carl Hodgson, Trevor the bloke, Alex Wood's brother,

Friday, August 15, 2008

Match in Jeopardy

Gutted - the match against the Tilbury Boys looks like it's in Jeopardy on 2 fronts.

1. The G&CCC 3rd Sunday XI requires 2 blokes still. It seems Neils exhausted all his options and asked me to try all my avenues and I contacted 15 individuals by phone, text, email and spoke to them direct and came up with nothing. There's still a couple out there that have still to respond but I'd put money on them not being able to do it.

2. Boffa's team is also in dissaray decimated by the "V" factor (Which got a load of mine) and when I spoke to him this evening he said he was still waiting for or looking for 4 blokes but seemed confident that he'd get them as after the last match he had crowds of blokes gagging to be involved this time.

What I don't get is who the **** is at V that is so special?

Muse Stereophonics The Kooks Maximo Park Alanis Morissette The Futureheads
Channel 4 Stage
Prodigy The Pigeon Detectives Newton Faulkner The Hoosiers Duffy Amy MacDonald Shed Seven
JJB Arena
Ian Brown The Pogues Jamie T The Twang Sugababes David Jordan
V Stage
The Verve Kings Of Leon Amy Winehouse Lenny Kravitz The Feeling Girls Aloud Squeeze OneRepublic
Channel 4 Stage
Kaiser Chiefs The Zutons The View Reverend And The Makers Scouting For Girls The Courteeners The Rifles
JJB Arena
The Chemical Brothers The Charlatans Hot Chip Travis robyn
Also confirmed...
Estelle Calvin Harris The Stranglers Delays Air Traffic Sam Sparro Captain The Script

Amy Winehouse and that's it? And I can see that she's not everyone's thing so what's that all about?

Anyway the situation at the minute is that I'm still waiting to see what Boffa comes up with and keeping my fingers crossed that he can get 3 blokes that'll play on our side? It gets worse - I'll be the captain! That'll be a laugh. I just hope I've got some bowlers - maybe the Wizard?

The other thing Boffa said was that - if I've drawn a blank trying to get any of the MPA blokes to play in this game that suggest that the MPA 1st XI is well and truly dead and the match in Sept is also on the rails? It's a good point as there seems to be a definite reluctance for people to pencil in Sunday 14th as a commitment, they're all kind of saying let me know nearer the date which will then convert into Sorry mate - not enough notice.

I said that I'd keep on everyone's cases up till Sept 1st and if I've not got at least 2/3rds of them confirmed I'd cancel it then. The other thing is that the longer I leave it to book the pitch the less likely we'll be in getting it.

This evenings practice

Had a half decent practice session tonight bowling a variety of balls - Gippers, Flippers, Wrong Uns and Top Spinners. All of them went really well especially the Gippers, they were turning massively and I was getting a good length and a good enough degree of accuracy. Towards the end of the practice I was also bowling flippers with a big run up and man did that make a difference in the speed. Initially they were accurate as well, but then I commited myself to trying to go even faster and then it all went to pieces. But they look promising. The thing was they were so fast they travelled further and went off the edge of the pitch into the long grass and I've lost 2 of my good white balls meaning I'll have to get the scythe out and cut back the long grass to find them.

Also noticed that the cricket boys have all dicovered golf clubs and balls and despite my requests that they don't use the 2 wickets as teeing off points some of them are ignoring this request and my wickets are covered in big gouges - gutted!

Blog entries whilst internet was down.......

6th Aug.

Hot tonight - Damn hot and as I write outside there's thunder lightning and rain and I only just missed getting over to the wicket and mowing it.

Tonight we had a good session over the field with Ben my older son doing particularly well tonight taking a good catch and a very low catch nicked off the underisde of the bat while he was wicket keeper and he took 5 wickets with his bowling - most of them bowled clean and one a bowled and caught, so he came away pretty much pleased with himself as he was needless to say integral to the game most of the night. Joe on the otherhand was knackered and couldn't keep focussed on the game at all and so his contribution was limited - in total contrast of his 9 wicket evening while we were on holiday a week ago!

One of the kids - the older one Andy who's 13 is coming along well as a cricket player - both with the bat and with his bowling. There's another kid Kieran who's starting to join in and he's all over the place with both his batting and his bowling but he's up for it, so maybe by the end of September who knows. I think the best aspect to all of this is that Andy is older than both my sons and he's a top example of a good kid at that age, he's fair and looks out for the little kids and is generally a nice kid and my boys look up to him and like him. It's got to the point now when 1 or 2 of them will come round and ask if I want to play cricket (Is the Pope Catholic)! and I just give them a bag of gear - stumps, balls, wicket keepers gloves and bats and they go and set it up and start playing and I go over and join in when I can which in fact is 98% of the time. When I can't they use the gear and bring it all back and leave it outside our front door or knock and hand it back. I'm digressing here - so Andy creates opportunities for both my boys to play cricket on what seems like their terms and not at my request all the time and if the other kids come round I say 'Yeah - I'll come over and it's almost a foregone conclusion that both Ben and Joe will jump at the opportunity to play cricket if Andy is playing. Whereas if it was me asking "Do you want to come over and play cricket"? The reaction I'd more than likely get would be - "Oh Dad - not cricket again, that's all you want to do".

I've also adapted the games as well so that it turns round faster. What we're doing now is that they all get to bat 2 overs, with the little kids going first with a crap bowler first and the 2nd bowler slightly better trying to match the bowlers to the bats. The idea is to see how many runs you can get off the 2 overs and tonight as part of Ben's successful night he got the highest scoring 2 overs with 7 runs.Me - I got bowled a golden duck off of Ben and bowled clean for 1 run by Andy off his 3rd ball. It's interesting how quickly these kids learn. Andy for instance has started to get used to my bowling and is a lot harder to clean bowl, so I have to adopt different strategies such as forcing catches and generally vary the pace and use much faster balls.

The catalyst tonight was that today I got 2 new Kookaburra soft balls. We've been using the Gunn And Moore soft balls, but both the balls that I've got have disintegrated pretty quickly. I did have another Kookaburra but I hit that for 4 into the bushes and as yet I've not been able to find it and we're waiting for the winter to have a good look for it, but when it was lost it was already several months old and still very much intact. So it'll be interesting to see how these new Kookaburra's hold up to the big hitters like Andy and Kieran. I prefer the Kookaburra's as they're the same size as a real cricket ball and of all the plastic balls that are available they are the heaviest and they've also got a really nice pronounced seam and they generally look a lot more robust than the other types with sewn in seams. Although somewhere we have also got a youth size "Freddie ball " (Woodworm) and that ball looks nicely constructed, but again lacks the weight of the Kookaburras. So it'll interesting to see how these Kookaburras do fare and I'll let you all know how good they are. I you're interested they're available from and they're about £4.79 each.

Interestingly tonight while we were there in the middle of the field with all our gear on the wicket that I cut and maintain the fields "Owners" as such were in the boxing club building and later came out and ran round the field while we were playing and no-one said anything. I've noticed that my footmarks on the practice wicket in the corner are getting fairly deep and could be construed as damaging to the field? I noticed on the new kids wicket today that the grass is wearing thin as it does, so I may lengthen the wicket a bit to extend the thin area as that'll be interesting to bowl into and will gradually train all these kids to bowl longer lenghts moving towards the full 22 yards.

I've been exercising a bit doing the stretches behind the head with elastic band things and core strength exercises with the plank. Not too much but a bit. I've picked up a slight injury to my heel as well, so I've got to see how that goes. In the morning it's terrible but once I start to walk around on it, it eases up and it's okay. Didn't notice it at all this evening.

Other news

I can't remember whether I've mentioned this before but the Tilbury boys MCCC (Modlife Crisis Cricket Club) have already set up their next game with G&CCC and it's scheduled for Aug 17th. Boffa I think got in touch with Neil and sorted it all while I was away, so who they're playing I don't know hopefully it'll be the Sunday 2nd XI and I'll be involved and maybe get the chance to face their bowling as they were gagging to throw the ball at me! Hopefully they'll have looked at the links I sent them so that they have more of an idea how to do the scoring as well. So that's something to look forward to. I'm also looking forward to playing Leigh on sea CC at the end of August at Chalkwell Park, but I may yet be scuppered by family commitments as I think Michelle is hoping to go up to Derby and visit here sister and family. The MPA 1st XI is still on the cards against the MCCC and some good news on that front is that Badger is back from his world tour and Alex is due back soon and has emailed me from somewhere on the other side of the planet to say that he's up for it.

Proposed team - (Batting Order)

1. Simon Grainge (Medium/fast) Confirmed
2. Nakul Handa (Medium/Offspin)
3. Chris Eggleton(fast)
4. Suhail (fast)
5. Jack (Wkt)
6. Alex #2 (fast)
7. Rod Jeanes (Med/fast)
8. Dave Thompson (Cpt) (off-spin) Confirmed
9. Badger (Medium)
10. Alex Wood Confirmed
11. Richard Sainsbury Confirmed

8 Potential bowlers 6 overs each.

This would be the dream team, that might give the MCCC a run for their money, but there's a few people in there that are subject to working constraints and travelling issues etc. The blokes that I reckon that are integral to us winning are Suhail, Nakul and Rod Jeanes. Suhail has the potential to bowl exceptionally well and fast and be good with the bat. Nakul is our highest scoring bat todate and like Simon plays a strategic game and generally a clever player and also bowls very well varying his pace and spin. Rod Jeanes bowls very well and can get the ball to move in the air as I recall with loads of outswing.

7th August

Richard Sainsbury today said that he'll be able to play in the MCCC V's MPA 1st XI game. At the moment I can't email people to see if they want to be involved because my Broadband is out of action because of reasons to do with the local exchange.

No kids around tonight, so only managed to have a knock about with a handful of them before the England v South Africa highlights were on the tele at 7.15, so the game was curtailed and I came in to watch the match which was good as you all probably know. So that was nice. After watching that I went over and had a bit of practice session. Tonight I was mostly bowling Wrong uns, Top Spinners and Flippers which were all going really well. I had a real result with bowling round the wicket instead of over the wicket, I seemed to hit the stumps a lot more frequently, so I may try that out on Sunday and see if that makes any difference to my success rate. After the bowling just before it got dark I mowed both the practice wicket and the kids wicket in the middle of the field.

8th August

Still no internet connection apart from at work. No cricket tonight in any form. I watched the highlights of the Eng v South Africa on C5 and recorded them for future reference. It looks like we may actually win this match which'll be nice for Kevin Peterson. Shame Steve Harmison forced Monty into a run out and in doing so denied himself of his first ever test 50.

With the prospect of captaincy for this game (Although I'd be more than willing to give it up to Suhail if we can get him to turn up) I've been trying to learn what's involved and already writing up this initial list of players I'm facing the question do I want 8 bowlers at 6 each or 6 bowlers at 8 each. If I go for the 6 bowlers at 8 each I've then got concerns as to whether these blokes can bowl the 8 overs without flagging because as far as I know they've not had any practice and are unlikely to practice in the run up to the game? Whereas if I go for the other option is six overs enough to build up a rythymn to produce a good spell and if someone is performing well I may be forced into a position where I don't get the best out of them. I think looking at what I've got listed here if I was to drop 2 it would be Badger and Rod as they've definitely not touched a ball in over a year. That would then leave me in a situation where our bowling attack would come in the form of -

Chris & Alex to lead the attack as they're both exceptionally fast and young. I'd let them bowl the first 8-10 overs between them and see if that works out. If it does I'd probably keep them on for the first 10 overs. If they don't make any headway into the batting I'd probably then bring in either myself or Nakul alongside one or other of the faster bowlers and see if that makes any difference. I'd be keeping some of the faster bowlers overs in hand in the event that some of the middle order bats turned out to be productive. I think I'd keep Simon out of the bowling till around the 20th over and have him there to sort out anyone that proves to be stubborn and looking to make runs. I wonder if this makes any sense?

Batting I reckon is easier to call. Simon and Nakul to open and make steady progress through their opening bowlers just getting the runs ticking over. They're both really sensible and productive bats. Suhail, Jack and Chris are more flambouyant and creative with the bat and far more likely to produce fours playing in a far more agressive style. Alex is a pretty good all-rounder as is Rod Jeanes and thereafter it all goes to pieces with the rest of us being people that went for regular ducks or were generally unproductive. I've put myself in at 8 as I've been playing all year and have recently been hitting fours in games and was in fact the highest run scorer amongst the bottom 4 listed here.

All of those listed were commited as fielders with MPA and had played cricket before when they were at school etc, so were able to catch and would drop their knees to stop balls when fielding, but in comparison with the Tilbury boys MCCC some way behind their commitment levels. Even the G&CCC blokes were impressed with the commitment in the field in the T-20 game they played a couple of weeks back. It'll be interesting to see how the MCCC play in a 40 overs match and maybe some of the MPA blokes come along have a few beers and watch the game and see how they fare against a G&CCC Sunday team?

9th August (Saturday)

Miserable day here in the south East of the UK - ultra fine rain and blustery wind. In between a break in the rain I went over to the "Valence Way" wicket which is the wicket I've cut and maintain so that all the local kids can play cricket it on it with my sons. It seems to be growing in popularity with a group of kids coming round once or twice a day asking if we (More like I) want to go and play cricket and they're doing it in preference to football which is good. What I'd really like to here as that some time this year or more than likely next year when they go back to school they get involved with the cricket played at school and then turn out to be the best allrounders in the school team because of our games this summer! A group of 4 of them came by this morning and asked if I was going over there but I was fixing Ben's bike so didn't go saying that I'd probably go over in the afternoon or evening. In the meantime whilst in the garage I came across a can of spray paint that I used to paint the crease lines with last year over at Great Berry and decided that as the grass has only been cut short on the wicket I'd do some crease lines on the wicket and introduce the kids to the concept of the crease and it's use in getting the bats out. It might inspire someone to take the wicket keeping a little more serious?


The rain seems to have eased up and there may be a vague chance of some bowling practice or a knock about with the lads. Sorted my garage out moved all the cricket stuff around - bagged all the different lots of gear up in relevant bags for ease of use. I noticed some months back that my red wicket keeper gloves seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth and again going through all the gear I still haven't come across them so I can only assume that I had them over at Great Berry in the spring and must have walked off without putting them in the bag which seems unlikely but that does seem like the only explanation. I wandered over the field just now (Valence Way) and threw a few balls as in the last few days I've been watching the leg spinners on the tele/videos and they're fairly round armed when they bowl leg breaks whereas all my deliveries with the exception of the Gipper are probably vertical or possibly even past vertical? So I tried round armed and tried to spin the ball backwards and it still spins like wrong un. I'm kind of looking forward to the challenge of learning the leg break this winter and allocating a day when I say from this day on to April I will not bowl a single wrong un intentionally. Every ball I bowl will be an attempt at a Leg Break.

The weather is still crap, around about 5pm the rain stopped for a while I went over the field at around 7.45 and threw a few balls again coming round the stumps and that went okay, but the session was curtailed with the rain starting again. This time I bowled out in the middle of the field rather than the usual spot in the corner. The flippers are going well along with the top spinners and the Wrong Uns, so maybe tomorrow if the game is on I'll bowl a few variations, I'll see how I feel? At the moment with the rain it's not looking that promising which is a shame as that'll mean I've gone 4 weeks without a game almost which isn't good. Update.... just watched the weather on News 24 at 9pm and it looks promising now with the weather - might be sunny all day and a bit blustery, which sounds like it's going to suit my bowling especially if it's a bit sticky underfoot as the ball will get some purchase on the wet grass/mud and the wind I'm beginning to realise can be of some assistance. I noticed this evening that one of my flippers which was bowled a bit slower into the wind deviated weirdly so who knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Without the internet I don't even know who we're playing!

14th Aug

Grays & Chadwell CC V's MCCC

Neil sent me a text mid week asking if I could get 2 players for the match against Boffa's lot. I tried Chris, Alex and Jack straight away as Alex and Jack played in the last game and were up for a full 40 overs match. I got a text back from Chris saying he was up for it which was good as he didn't get a look in last time and he's a good bowler and pretty good with the bat. I didn't here from him then for a while and sent a text again on Wednesday night and then he came back saying that he was going to the "V" concert at Chelmsford, so there goes to of our start players, I enquired after Jack and he's on holiday in the Cape Verde Islands. So then I had to go for all the adults......

Suhail - no answer as yet
Nakul - doing something in London he's already committed to
Badger & Paul - doing something already.
Simon - Busy
Richard - Busy
Alex - still in the USA
Thomas - no answer
Rod Jeanes - no answer to his emails
Carl Hodgson - knackered leg

The only chance appears to be Thomas, if he says yes, he may be able to get Rod "The Aussie" Jeanes to play as well as they're mates, but I reckon it's a pretty slim chance that either of them will be up for it. Suhail is a surgeon and works all over the country, so it's unlikely he'll be able to either, so it looks like we're stuffed and the game will be called off. The only other thing might be if Boffa gets some of his spare blokes as he said he'd have no trouble getting 25 blokes together? We only need 2.

Thinking about this longer term I reckon this doesn't bode well for the MPA game in September.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Walton Hall v G&CCC (Grays and Chadwell Cricket Club).

This isn't complete and there's pictures to add as yet......

10th of August and my first game in weeks. The weather had cleared up and we'd had a blustery but mostly sunny morning with the threat of a shower that had never actually shown. Michelle had the car but had said that she'd probably be back around 1pm. At 1.15 I sent Neil a Text to say I'd be playing but I was running late. It was 1.45 before I was able to get away, but fortunately I'd already gone to the bank and got my subs money so I was able to drive straight there. Got held up by the usual old duffers out doing their Sunday driving at 35 mph down 60 mph roads. Arrived at Blackshots right on 2pm and got straight into the game as we were fielding. Out on the field the first thing I noticed was that it was very windy and this went on throughout the game blowing the bails off continuosly till eventually the set at the Pavillion end were taken off for good.

Iooked around at the team we'd put out today as the 2nd XI and there were a couple of unfamiliar faces and a couple of youngsters that have played before -
Tony Milson a big geezer I've never seen before he was fielding at somewhere around backward point/Gully area and a youngster who looked about 14 or 15 called Adam who turned out to be a fast bowler who was at Leg Gully and square leg for most of the game. Part-timers or ringers (I don't know for sure) came in the form of Yorkie who was wicket keeping and Chirpy who was bowling. The rest of the team was made up of 2nd team regulars - Neil (Captain), Me, Swiss Tony, Super Dave and the Downes family were out in force with Phil, Lee and Reece.
The opposition were just as much of a motley bunch as us but with an even bigger age range, I think we go from 13 (Reece) to 48 me. They went from about 18 up to about 81 or maybe even older!

As usual it's difficult to recall all the details exactly and if I get some of this wrong I apologise in advance. Sorry to the opposition if you don't get mentioned and you'll be lucky to be mentioned by name. (There's a chance they may be looking in on the blog I'll explain later).
So the bowling and the fielding highlights...... Chirpy bowling from the Pavillion end took three wickets 2 of which were caught by new bloke (New to me) Tony Milsom both of which were pretty good catches the second which looked as though it was going straight over his head plucked out of the sky with a very agile jump for a big geezer. Generally his fielding was really good and looks as though he almost certainly has played cricket before.
In the end after a spell from the other new bloke (new to me) - Adam, I got a chance to bowl. Adam hadn't got any wickets but had bowled some nice balls very different to chirpy and Reece primarily because of his height. He was bowling a lot shorter it seemed and they were bouncing up into the bats upper body and I think he had a few chances that were missed and some balls that went for byes. Given the chance to bowl I now faced the choice of whether to bowl any Flippers or not. At this point one of the openers was still in place and looking pretty confident and we were holding them at about 3.1 runs per over, needless to say I'd soon put a stop to that! The wind didn't appear to offer any real help and if anything I over-estimated the potential of it's assistance. My first ball if did appear to drift in towards the bat because of the wind (Wrong Un) but thereafter the balls I chucked up widish of the off stump went for wides ocassionally. Initially both the bats seemed a bit wary and played defensive shots which was good. Needless to say all the balls that did stray down the legside were dispatched out to the boundary for 4's. One of them was hit big off the edge of the bat and went high and looked to be going down Phils throat and Phil made his run to catch it but because of the wind it was then pushed beyond him and out of reach fall a little way behind him. Less wind and it's pretty certain that he'd have caught it. In one of the other over around the 5th or 6th it did seem that I was on to have a really low scoring over but a ball then strayed down the legside and was hit. It looked fine as it was on the ground and heading straight for Lee Downes, but somehow and for some reason he didn't get his leg down to stop it and it went straight through his hands and under him and almost to the boundary and they run 3 off of that. I think in an earlier over Lee had got a big knock off a fast ball to his knee when fielding?

Eventually around the 4th or 5th over after Neil had said to try something different - get it to spin the other way or force them to put the ball out to the offside so I brought out the Flippers for the first time this season. The good thing was that they were so obviously different and were pretty accurate, but still nothing doing. I then went back to the wrong uns that generally weren't turning much and one went right down the legside and the younger of the 2 bats (Not the opener) hit it and it went out to Phil who caught it with ease. I bowled 8 overs, no maidens and 43 runs were made off my bowling and took one wicket. So that's 6.69 runs per over? It'd be interesting to see everybody elses statistics and my stats from last year and all this years and see if there has been any improvement? I'm sure there has. I just hope that this winter I can get in the nets more than I did last year and get some help from Neil or Super Dave with regards getting a bit quicker.

Fielding initially I didn't see much action, I don't think I made any disasterous mistakes and generally fielded okay, backing other people up and running down a few balls preventing them reaching boundaries getting commended by Neil. I did have one while I was in a slips position that came off of Reece's bowling (I think) that I caught on the ground. It happened so fast that I wasn't 100% sure whether it had hit the ground and as I lay there with it in my hands after diving forward I was half expecting everyone to cheer but I looked up to see them all looking as equally unsure as I was. It was weird because someone said "Did it carry..... I don't think it did". The bat was looking at me horrified as he'd obviously looked round at the point it had ended up in my hands and even though it had happened just a second before part of my brain was replaying it back and I could then see it bounce inches in front of my hand, but at the same time so much of me wanted for it to be misconstrued as a catch that subconciously I was already on my way to believing it was a catch and it wasn't until someone said
"I don't think it did" that my brain saw the truth and I then said
"No I don't think it did either".
Neil took two of the tail enders including the old bloke who looked about 90. I hope I can still play cricket when I'm that age although he looked like he was having a bit of trouble getting up and down the wicket in the manner that he might have done once upon a time, but he was okay at batting but was let down by his general lack of speed and agility. Super Dave had been brought in towards the end of the game as well and he took a couple of the tail-enders depsite attempting a catch off of a very fast ball and not quite getting it and obviously hurting his hand in some way, but it didn't seem to affect his bowling. Other potential injury situations had been Lee with one that clouted him in the leg as he went down on his knee to stop a ball with his thigh - it must have hit his knee bone. The worst one was his brother Reece. He went for a potential bowled and caught off a ball that came out of the middle of the bat straight at him and he got his hands to it and deflected it and it still looked like it was going to make it to the boundary, but Reece went down and didn't get up clutching his hands under him for ages, eventually most of the others went and had a look with the exception of Me, his Dad (Phil) and his brother. I reckon from my own experience of my own kids the reason Phil didn't go over there was that in those situations a kid that's got that hurt potentially is far more likely to cry when his Dad turns up than if his mates are all around him showing him sympathy? Some of the other adults did go over and have a look half expecting him to be crying, but he didn't (It's a macho lark this cricket I tell ya)! Neil said to Reece "Take a breather" and Reece said no I'm alright I'll carry on bowling and sure enough the kid gets up and finishes off his over. Stern stuff these Downes kids a ball at 130 mph smack into your hands - that's not going to take them out of the game! I'd like my kids to have seen that - pretty impressive! On the Downes family front even though Phil had taken at least 2 or 3 catches and stopped numerous 4's from getting to the boundary Lee was commenting on his Dads fielding later saying "He's as bad as Mony Panesar"! Somewhat harsh I thought especially coming from Lee what with his ball through his hands and passing under him on my over earlier!

Their innings finished within 38 overs all out for 168 ncluding the extra's. If their fielding and bowling was going to be anything like their batting this wasn't going to last that long I though and there was a fair few oldies in the team. I was surprised then when "Grecian 2000" turned up as the opening bowler (Sorry bloke I don't know your name - but you're the older bloke with the grey hair and tache). He had a weird looking run up (Seam bowler) where he sets out getting a full head of steam up and then suddenly goes from running fast to almost stopping as he bowls. But it worked...... The two openers were Super Dave and Lee Downes and Lee went for a golden duck off of Grecian's first ball to him. Lee edged it and the wicket keeper gloved it safely. Lee's Dad Phil made his way out as Lee stormed back to the pavillion by-passing everyone making no comment at all. Turns out that's his 2nd golden in as many games. Grecian who's name may have been "Cowling" continued his over bowling towards the flats. Super was swinging his bat madly but not really getting anywhere. The bowling changed and another seam bowler "Mayling" kept up the pressure, much younger and much faster looking. Phil on strike hits all ball out to Deep Mid wicket and they manage to get 3 runs. Supers getting runs and suddenly it's a promising and busy looking wicket. The third over and Super hits a ball out to deep mid wicket and it only goes 2/3rds of the way and there's a fielder there and it's going straight down his throat in slow motion we all hold our breath as the fielder reaches and clasps his hands together only to drop it! Meanwhile with one man down, the bowling and the fact that Super looks like he's playing to get caught Swiss is looking to Neil for a game strategy - Neil asks him what kind of a game strategy he's going to play and I think his strategy is that he doesn't want to be on strike is Mayling is bowling! This is then proven as Phil is out with the next delivery bowled clean gone for 5!

"We could all be out within 10 overs if this keeps up"! Neil comments. He then makes the point that in situations like this where we have complete dominance over a game he opens the game up and makes sure it goes the full 40 overs by moving the bowling around so that the oppoistion get a sniff at scoring some runs and a possible chance that they might win, simply by taking the key bowlers off and giving the learners or the dibbly dobbly's a go. Makes for a much better game I reckon and you get your tenners worth.

Big Tony makes his way out onto the crease. We pick up 4 byes in the 4th over. Super hits another ball straight to slips and again he's dropped on another easy take. In the meantime the nice weather at the start of the game has now given way to ominous clouds that are moving in from the east but at the moment skirting the pitch on the North side where it looks like there's definite rain. Super's keeping the runs coming a nice leg glance goes for 4 out to fine leg bring the score up to 26 off of 6 overs for 2 wickets and I though the opposition had been struggling at something like 3.1 an over at a similar point in the game! The next over and Big Tony slices a ball out to Gully and is caught, so some of them can catch?

Swiss Tony then takes up the mantle none the wiser for his pep talk with Neil to join Super who's looking as though he might be looking to score a 50 which he hasn't done for some time. Swiss's first strike is a 4 out to third man. Next ball from Super goes out towards Mid wicket and he mis-fields it but Swiss interested but what with Super obviously looking to make runs and wanting to get on strike so he can further his 50 chance calls to run, but Swiss isn't interested but Super's 1/2 way down the track. Swiss shouts no, Super stops, Swiss then runs, Supers in two minds whether to go back and then starts heading back as he can see that the fileder is now about to throw the ball back, Swiss can see the same thing and they're both stranded in the middle, the ball is in the air now heading for Supers stumps, Supers on his way back stretching his bat and his arm and goes for a dive to get back in whilst Danny also scarmbles back to his own crease. A close call! Super hits a nice square cut for 4 out to deep backward point. Then within a another ball or two he's hitting balls over the tops of the slips chancing his luck.
I'm then put on square leg umpiring duty in a rush for some reason, I've got no counters and I don't have time to pick up a pullover and the weather is obviously getting worse by the minute. So it's still Swiss and Super, and me and Lee Downes umpiring with Lee doing the hard part, but he hasn't got a counter or anything either and I'm out there with my note book still trying to record the game for the blog (There must be rules against this sort of thing)! In the 2nd over I'm out there for there's a nice ball off of Mayling (I think) and as it passes Super I hear a noise that sounds like the ball just nicking the bat and the wicket keeper catches it nicely and a big shout goes up from both the keeper and the bowler. The wicket keepers looking at me - Super's looking at me and I'm looking at Lee and I'm thinking I need to see that on the big screen shall I do the 3rd umpire sign or something!!! I don't know what the rules are here in this situation, so I just thought Lee's the one that knows what he's doing - I heard it but didn't see anything so I'm saying nothing? What should I do in that situation - do I go and confer with Lee, tell him what I heard or just keep quiet. I opted for keeping quiet, but Super had looked at me in a way to suggest that as far as he was concerned that was the bat and he was out. What power does the square leg umpire have, does he ever lift the finger to say the bat goes or is that down to the main umpire. I'm under the impression that the square leg umpire is there for the decisions based on whether the bat get across the line in throw outs or has his bails taken when drawn out of the crease and no balls because of crease violations and height or bounce issues? Someone needs to give me some tuition!

Swiss hits another 4 out to Long on and then gets 2 runs off a ball he pushes over the tops of the slips. Super hits another nice square cut and gets another 2 runs to his tally as the 50 draws nearer, then Swiss hits a loopy high ball out to Mid wicket and is caught. Adam with the bad back comes out and looks very nervy, Adam's probably younger than he looks and is normally in one of the colt teams so he's probably not used to the full on bowling from Mayling. Adam's dismissed quickly caught off a ball he pushes gently out to short mid wicket. Reece joins Super and supers luck continues as he hits another skier right down Mid on's throat and again it's a foregone conclusion that it's going to be caught with the Yorkie having just crossed the boundary line on his way to replace him by the time the fielder gathers it in his hands only to drop it!!!!! Supers 50 gets even closer and all the Gods are conspiring to make it happen! Then just as we're all speculating as to how quickly it's going to happen he's clean bowled - gutted! Super goes for 42!Yorkie up next to bat with Reece.

With Swiss and Super both gone the pace of the game slows down, just having been taken off umpiring duty it starts to drizzle and the black clouds become more menacing. With super gone the likelyhood of a win is now down to the last few. Neil puts himself up the batting order to 10 pushing me down to 11, it's now looking very likely that I'm going to get to bat, but as every run is made it looks as though if I do get to bat my innings is going to be integral to winning and the pressure mounts. The run rate dries up as Super joins us and goes over his dismissal the ball had come off his elbow and then went onto the stumps. I ask him about the earlier ball that I thought was contencious, he assures me that it didn't touch his bat at all and that the noise was from his pads. Yorkie goes next quickly caught at mid-wicket. I'm given the nod to pad up, Neils already to go, this is not looking to promising, but there's loads of overs still in hand and it's do-able if someone makes a good stand. Chirpy takes Yorkie's place and we're still not on a 100 yet. For the first time they bring in a spinner - Goodrich and he's an off-spinner. Reece is handling the spin, but playing defensively but despite that he moves up into the position of being the 2nd highest scorer with 14 runs to his credit. It's looking more and more like I'm going to be in the game and if Reece is bowled soon my contribution to the game may be significant and again someone says "It looks like it might be down to you Dave to win us the game". Neils gagging to get on saying that the game is looking to be within our grasp.
Chirpy hits some nice square cuts and the runs start to accumulate and it looks like we might be in the game still. We're at 20 overs and we're on 99 runs for 7, meaning it's more or less up to these 2 and Neil to get us through. If they can get the score up to 4 short of the total we might have a chance if I then come in! The spinner is bowling to Reece and Reece edges the ball and is easily caught by the wicket keeper.
The match is now down to Chirpy and Neil and I sit in anticipation as the last man watching to see how they get on, all around me they're saying "It'll be down to you Dave - you've got to win the match for us". Yeah right - that's like asking Monty Panesar to do the same thing against the Aussie's when England require 50 and he's there with another tail ender! Neil makes a good start hitting a 4 out to Deep Square Leg. The run rate slows down and at 28 overs Neil and Chirpy are still there on 117. Matt at this point who's doing the scoring for us is beginning to get excited at the prospect that we may just do this if Neil and Chirpy keep plugging away at it and neither of them get out to allow me to lose the game for them! (My thoughts not Matt's words). The spinner who doesn't seem to be making any real impact on the game as the score continues to trickle on is looking as though he is in real anguish with his own bowling, we all observe him holding his head in his hands as though it's the end of the world and then at the end of one over he's on his knees with his head in his handsas though it's the end of the world! Okay so the sky is dark and it looks like it could be the end of the world - but man this bloke is beating himself up bad over his bowling and I thought I took it too seriously!
29 Overs and we're on 118. The weather is closing in a progressively looking as though it's going pour down any second. Grecian 2000 is back on and Neil and Chirpy bat on to 121 off 32 overs and I'm beginning to see my chance of a bat diminishing but with the inclusion of Grecian 2000 the run rate slows down. Then for some inexplicable reason Neil's adopted a tactic of getting down on his Knee to bat when he's facing the spinner and Matt is doing his nut "What's he doing that for! Stand up and bat the bloody ball - no wonder he's got a dodgy knee"! Kneel keeps on doing it but the runs are not coming to keep Matt happy "He's really annoying me now - trying to do all this fancy stuff - flicks and what have you"! When the ball is played there's a definite difference in who wants to run hard and who doesn't - Chirpy looks like he's gagging to run whereas Neils far more of your Inzamam Ul Huq in his approach.

At 34 overs done we're needing 46 runs and the game looks like it's either going to be scuppered by the rain or me. Then Chirpy is bowled and in I come and we're on 125. I make my way out on to the sqaure Super Dave is umpiring and as I walk out the oppo shout "This aint how it was supposed to be in the blog is it"? Dave explains that he's been telling them they'll be in the blog. I'm facing Grecian he bowls a fastish one at me it looks safe and I leave it, but it's bloody close and everyone goes ooohh! The next one I swing at and it and it flies off towards 3rd man and we run 2 taking the score up to 127. It's now raining properly and Grecian runs in bowls it I swing at it and it's all over and everyone makes a run for it in driving rain. 127 all out! They won!
Again evaluating how I've done, the general feeling is that in comparison with last year I have made improvements. The interesting thing is that the wicket came off what can only be described as an atrocious that should have gone slightly wide of the off stump with the intention that it then turned. Instead it went a foot or more wide of the leg stump and the bloke went after it and resulted in Phil cathcing it. The thing is, everytime I threw a wide, un-named members of my team would make references to another spin bowler in our team who regularly produces wides. But the thing is he takes a lot more wickets than I do as far as I know. It'll be interesting to see his averages compared to mine at the end of the season and maybe next season set my own personal target on beating his figures as there's no way that I'll be getting anywhere Neil! What I am better at is that I throw a lot less wides - hopefully averaging out to just short of one an over and now when I do I'm not phased by it, whereas before as I've probably mentioned previously in the blog I used to be really affected by the fact that I had bowled a wide and would then lose my concentration and produce more wides as a results and each time this would just exacerbate the situation and make it worse. Another area I would like to be able to improve on is my speed

The game next week with the MCCC is on and it's going to made up of entirely G&CCC players. I don't know if I'm in the team that'll play them for sure as it does sound like we'll be putting out 3 teams? I'd imagine I will be and it does sound like Neil will as well. The Tilbury boys will like my inclusion if I am, as like last time they'll be gagging to throw the ball at me (Nothing ever changes). The openers were Reece and Chirpy and they both did really well especially as the wind was blowing at about force 6 across the wicket from left to right if your were bowling from the pavillion end. At one point a ball was kicked onto the pitch so chirpy went to kick it back off the pitch into the wind and it went up and then backwards over his head and ended up blown across the far boundary. Looking at the wind I was hoping that I'd be given the pavillion end to bowl from so that my Wrong uns got some assistance with their turn. Neil did this but it didn't make that nuch difference to my bowling. I've still got so much to learn and hopefully I'll be able to get in the nets this winter.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

G&CCC game called off

The game against Tower Ravens CC had been called off by the time I turned my phone on this morning at about 11.30, just after I'd finished ironing all my kit and stuff. Still, one consolation was that Michelle was happy as she'd had the raging hump that I'd said I'd play. I was still a bit miffed, but then as the day went on the weather changed and later there was some heavier rain that would have meant the match would have either been called off or curtailed severely. What it did mean though was that I was able to go over to my practice wicket and throw 60 or so balls at the stumps.

What with hardly bowling any Flippers this year except for the last couple of weeks in Cornwall I'm thinking about re-instating them amongst my line up as I've been able to bowl them quite well and very accurately. Last year I'd have been bowling them all down the Leg side hoping that as they did in practice they'd in from Leg towards off. Which now retrospectively and with a little more knowledge of the game that was in fact a fatal error. I have noticed that I can bowl them a lot more accurately and bowl them at or just wide of off at will. I can also adjust the length and because of the prolific backspin the shorter balls seem to have a tendency to bounce up high rather than skid in low as the longer balls do. So maybe I need to bring these back in as a variation occasionally - or perhaps try it in a match and see if I can get a result?

So today using 18 balls - 12 reds and 6 whites I bowled the balls randomly as they came out of the bag - the 6 whites as flippers and the 12 reds as Wrong uns and it seemed to work out okay. I've noticed also that if I get the fingers dragging across the ball right up to the last milli-second on the wrong uns that I can get them to really spin massively, which is encouraging. I just need to be able to do the thing with the fingers dragging quickly in the spell, rather than bowl a bunch of duff balls for the first 2 overs before getting the release and flick right for the Wrong uns.

I did the thing where I record my bowling in a book making notes as I bowl as to whether they're wides or not and just making the notes made me realise that I am improving all the time and the difference from a year ago is massive. I think one of the main improvements is that I'm not so phased by getting it wrong or being hit for 4 and this has just come about through playing this year and seeing that everyone has thier bad days and how they also get really frustrated and angry at their ineptitude when it happens. I also feel a lot less like it's a life or death situation when it happens as I was last year. I'm a lot more relaxed and gradually getting more confident in what I do. What I'm really looking forward to is the winter now when I'll stop bowling Wrong Uns, Top spinners, Flippers and Gippers and totally focus on getting the elusive Leg Break fully sussed. I'm pretty certain that by the summer I'll have learned all the variations to the point that when I want to in a game I'll be able to produce them at will. The thing is by summer 2009 I want all the variations to be the back up to a big fat lairy Leg Break ball!

Anyway back to plotting of my progress with the bowling this evening. Last year as I said I was trying to bowl balls like Shane Warnes "Ball of the century" against Gatting, so with all my variations that turned in from Leg to off (Primarily the Flipper) I was bowling very wide down the legside and basically got nowhere with it when it came to proper wickets. I say proper wickets because the weird thing was that on my practice wickets I could get the ball to turn nicely??? Anyway never mind that - that's all in the past and I'm not going back there. Now after a winter (2007-2008) of practicing line and length with the Top spinner I'm a lot more accurate with getting the ball down the offside or on line with the stumps. So whereas last year I was bowling ridiculously wide down both sides and primarily legside, I now call anything legside a wide and anything that's more than a foot and half wide of the off stump that doesn't turn in towards leg a wide. I'm a lot more critical these days and with these newer constraints I found tonight I was bowling 15% wides. They're not technically wides, they're simply balls that do not threaten the wicket and would be easily dispatched for runs! But generally all the other balls were acceptable. The Flippers particularly were interesting for the reasons previously mentioned.

What I'm going to do is make up a series of symbols to use in the notebook and maybe plot my progress over the school holidays when I'll be bowling a lot more than normal as I'll be taking a couple of days off per week to look after Ben and Joe while they're off school.

The other thing I'm going to try is more exercise and see if I can bowl the Wrong Uns a bit faster using arm action and a run in.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Gipper News G&CCC

Over the holiday I did bowl the Gipper a bit as I intended and this evening I threw a few balls, but the line and length is still all over the shop, again as I've said before - when it comes right it's an incredible ball, but statistically it's still a no-go situation with bowling it in games. I also noticed tonight that feeling under the weather and what with it p******g it down in our last week and therefore not bowling it was taking it's toll on my arm, so tonight reverted back to bowling Flippers and Wrong Uns which both looked fairly affective. I noticed that over the holiday mixing the Flipper in with the Wrong uns sometimes produced results. All season I've avoided using the flipper as I always tend to bowl it down the leg side which is fatal. Over the holiday I've been bowling it at the middle and off area and been quite accurate and it's not strayed down the legside much at all, so I may be tempted to bowl it tomorrow in with the Wrong uns and Top Spinners?

I'll see how my arm strength goes over the school break and continue to practice the Gipper and see if it comes to anything. But the major off season plan is to drop all these variations, get the Philpott book out and learn the leg break from scratch, so that come April I can bowl massive Leg breaks.

Grays & Chadwell CC v Tower Ravens

Grays & Chadwell CC v Tower Ravens is my first match back after a couple of weeks (almost) in Cornwall surfing and playing cricket and having a holiday. Their website is I don't recall playing them before and have no ideas as to how good or bad they are? Hopefully the weather will hold out and we'll have a game. Having said that I've just gone through their website and had a look at their profiles, some of them - the first six or so listed players have been playing for this team for in excess of 15 years! Every single one of them is also listed as being a bowler with 60% of them bowling spin - only one though leg breaks. So this sounds interesting? None of them are kids either, to me looking at this from here it looks like we're about to be well and truly beat!

So - what have I been up to then you may be asking? I've been camping down at Landsend in Cornwall (the field in the centre of the ariel image here),-5.678537&spn=0.003056,0.006866&t=h&z=17 which if you pan out is located only a few hundred yards from one of the best surfing beaches in the country and where I spent 2 whole summers May through to Oct in 1986 and 1987 living just above the beach in a tent with a bunch of locals and Aussies and learnt to surf. The additional bonus is that the field where we camp (Empty in this image) is flat and rolled by cars driving around the site and perfect for a game of cricket and it turns out every year there's always a bunch of blokes and kids that are up for a game, so it's perfect - surfing and cricket, it couldn't get much better!

The cricket was really good as some of the kids there were club players and one was even a colt at Leicester County, but there was always at one point at least 3 kids that could really bat and bowl well - one in particular was amazingly adept at bowling and batting and he was only 9, but so unbelievably competitive and ruthless. With all these kids around both my lads went from strength to strength and now little Joe who's just turned 7 is bowling Leg breaks! Something I can only dream about doing and he can bowl googlies! One night playing he took 9 wickets over an hour and half!

My surfing was a bit up and down. Normally I train before-hand to be fit enough to face the waves and the massive paddle out sessions. For some reason prior to going the enthusiasm for surfing wasn't really there, so this year I took it easy in the lead up to the holiday. On about day 2 or 3 the wind swung round Easterly over night as I'd predicted and there was a fair swell running - 5-6 foot - absolutely perfect. In anticipation of the coming together of all the neccesary factors I couldn't sleep so was awake as the wind suddenly stopped blowing from the wrong direction at about 2am. I woke up again at about 3am and there was total silence with the exception of a slight breeze blowing offshore which then renders the sound of the surf obsolete - Surfs Up! My alarm went off at 03.30hrs and it was still dark. I allowed my self another 15 minutes and then got up grappling around in the dark getting some tea and breakfast together. On the horizon there was a faint glow of dawn in the east as I slowly eat my breakfast (Sugar Puffs in water - I couldn't find any milk) stalling for more light.

By 04.45hrs I was in the water. It was quiet and serene with traces of mist over the Ocean. No-one else around - just a massive Ocean with fair sized waves and me out of shape. I paddled out relatively easily the 1/4 mile beyond the breaking waves and rested "Out the back" and got my breath back. I'd opted for my 5'10" thruster which for an old bloke of 48 years is an unusual option as it requires agility, strength, stamina and skill to get a board so small moving well. In the hour that followed when I was then joined by 6 others who all obviously thought that they were hardcore getting up so early, I took 3 waves and got all of them wrong, so once all the younger much fitter dudes were in the water I got out and went back to bed. Over the next few days I contemplated throwing the surfing towel in, having done it since 1979. Over the following days I bumped into other mates from back in the day - Janus Howard, Chris Roynan, Mike "Tup" Newman and Julian Barnett. Some who had jacked it all in and some that only ever did every now and then these days. These are some of the people who back in the day I had increadible amounts of respect for as surfers, people that lived the life - some of them lifeguards working the beaches in the summer here in the UK and then surfing exotic loactaions all round the world in the winter - their blood tasted of salt, their lives were so wrapped up in surfing it was what they lived for and now here they were 10 years younger than me and they'd in some cases given up the cause. It was weird.

In the days to follow I used the "Old boy fallback" my longer board. People who can't surf or are fat and not fit use longboards or old blokes. Yeah I got waves - anyone can on a long board - I mean I can do headstands on mine - it's that easy! But once I get up the surfer in me wants to throw the board up the face of the wave off the bottom turn and get the maximum power out of the wave to execute the first big slashing turn off the lip and you can't on a long board. It's not me. This made me feel worse, it felt like my days were numbered as a surfer and maybe this year was the last as a surfer? I didn't surf at all over the next few days, didn't do surf checks, didn't look at the Ocean. I set my clock a couple of times early just in case the spark was there, but all this bad Karma mean that I turned the clock off and went back to sleep. All day long poser surf Dudes charged back and forth across the campsite looking like they meant business and no doubt some of them did, but I was never aware of anyone else doing the hardcore surf thing at 3.45 am, as for them it's about image, about being seen to be a surfer, it's not an inside thing - it's facile and all about the image.

When all was lost on the first day of the rains "day 11" into the holiday we visited our inlaws who were doing the same thing further up the coast at Gwithian Towans -,-5.406175&spn=0.006098,0.013733&t=h&z=16 I took both boards to let my Neice and son Ben have a go in what is always a safer kind of wave at this beach. In the rain we all marched across the dunes down to the ocean and spent almost 2 hours before we were forced back by Weaver Fish. But in the 2 hours I first rode the "Old Dad Longboard" and got a load of straight-line waves, but in doing so realised the potential of the wave here. The waves were small - 2 foot, but a good shape with a nice face and I remembered a day in 1987 at Sennen where I had a really good session in a similar size and shaped wave at the peak of my surfing prowess. Should I try? I swapped boards with Ben and went for one of these small waves, I caught it, planed down the face, felt the thrust of the wave as it picked me up and leapt to my feet and it all came back to me, I shifted my weight fractionally, the board trimmed, I roller coastered the board maximising the power of the wave, I could see a section that was going to fall in front of me, I unweighted and forced the board up to the lip and compressed momentarily and then dug the rail in as it came back down the face to bottom turn getting the speed to beat the section and did it. I can still surf and furthermore I can still surf shortboards! I'm still a surfer!

My son Ben did really well too. He was paddling around with real confidence once I'd shown him how to position his body centrally on the board. It's critical that you're in a certain position on the board and it's critical to about 2-3" otherwise you're too far forward or backward and you're wasting your time. Ben got this in a matter of seconds which is really good. He also took to sitting astride the surfboard "Out the back", which again is something a lot of people struggle with. Let's hope next year he's into it a lot more and gets to the point where he can stand up maybe?

Although I did okay on my shortboard I would still like to get something a lot bigger maybe 6'3" with a round nose as these are easier to take off with? I'll see what happens next year.