Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday and already I've had the call up from my captain (Last night) for the coming match on Sunday and it seems he was pleased with my bowling as well. I've also emailed him back asking to identify some of the blokes on Sunday who's names I didn't know, so I may be able to rectify some of the mistakes? I'm well up for Sunday but it's my Mother-in Laws 60th birthday on Saturday and the party is at my gaff. So that'll mean that I've got my Bro-In-Law et al coming down from the snowy north (Derby) who usually hang around till Sunday afternoon before they head back and it might be seen as bad form if I walk out on everyone Sunday Midday? I'll have to see how it pans out. One possible positive is the face that it's May bank holiday and they may be staying till Monday in which case my absense for 6 hours on Sunday might be over-looked?


Today I was reeling in shock that petrol and no doubt Diesel is now more than £5.00 a gallon and I said to Michelle "Strewth - did you know petrol was £5.00 a gallon now"? To which she replied "Yes and there's you driving backwards and forwards to Loughton on Sunday"! I should have seen that coming, but you can see how cricket goes down in my house? I'll have to mark in the fixture on the calender tonight and mention it somewhere in a conversation and see what kind of a response I get. I can feel some decorating coming on.......


Other than that the weather at the most doesn't look too clever although the weather system looks pretty static at the moment possibly meaning that it's moving slowly and I know there's a high pressure area behind it, so maybe that'll move into place Friday or Saturday slowly and then be around for a while and dry everything out as the rain in the last 24 hours has been fairly heavy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's now Tuesday and I'm still suffering with regards my thighs which have obviously taken a real pounding. There's so obviously a massive difference between running in training situations and running in competitive situations, after training I ache for a short while but the next morning there's nothing like this, so do I need to step up my running training? I'll see how I feel Wednesday night?

The other aftermath of the match is insect bites. I've noticed a new type of fly that I've never experienced before in my life. It's nothing like a gnat/mosquito, more like your normal house fly but about 1/3 of the size, maybe slightly smaller. They're found on fields and there's laods of them on the football field where I do my fitness training and you have to keep moving otherwise they swarm around you and make their move. Unlike gnats they seem to not be fussed by the fact that you are moving and this maybe because like house flies they're more robust and mobile when compared to your skinny little delicate gnat who seems to have to hover and land surrupticiosly in places you cant see. But these little bleeders are a lot more "Get in there"! But - man do they bite. YOu don't notice it until the next day and then the itching starts, but unlike a gnat bite you can't dig a cross in your skin and break the skin and sort the problem out like that - no, these bleeders itch like mad for over a week or more and you end up scratching you skin to bit all over and around the initial bite! I've seen people scratch themselves and cause infections and end up in hospital with them!

Finally - it's now almost Wednesday and still my legs are stiff! The good news is that my thumb is okay and the swelling has gone down and it's no longer painful so it looks as though there's nothing wrong with it other than it must have been bashed?

I've just read through this and realised it's a bit short on cricket content! But it might be something you can all relate to so.....

Monday, April 28, 2008

Strewth!

Blimey I don't half ache today! My legs are stiff and my muscles are aching and my thumbs still swollen and painful if I try and do stuff with it. I've also got a bit of a cold so feeling pretty knackered, so come Wednesday when I should be doing the running back and forth across a field and throwing the ball at the stumps malarky and practicing my high catches it looks like I'll be curled up with my Horlicks and Lemsip watching the tele or sitting here more likely ranting about the Fluffy Bunny Brigade. Actually I wont, having read back over yesterdays blog, I think the rant at the beginning was a bit too much and might put people off reading the content further down?

So aches and pains and a snivelly nose and sore throat - sounds like I should take it easy for a few days.

Later.....

Can't keep away. I wrote a load more stuff while I was going to work on the train this morning and have just tried to transfer it across to this computer, but there was a file incompatability issue and now have lost all the files! So I've now got to remember all the stuff I wrote and re-write it all!

It was primarily with regards the new variation The Gipper. Neil "Sammers" the captain asked about it and whether they were going to get to see it, I explained that at this stage it was very much "Work in progress" and that I can get it down the other end of the pitch but with no pace as yet, but loads of turn. He then asked about how it comes out of the hand and I showed him saying that I can't imagine actually bowling it in a match for some time yet and he said to try and get it ready for July/August. The thing was he wasn't taking the P**s he seemed genuinely interested and offering real encouragement.

In the match yesterday I had another little positive with "Super Dave" calling me Dave "Warnesque" Thompson. Nothing to do with any spinning aspects of my bowling but the fact that my mannerisms leading up to the point where the ball leaves the hand have all got traits of Shane warne. Apparently I cup the ball in my hand making smoothing actions (I was drying it) and wiping it on my clothes? Then I spin it from hand to hand which Warney does and then my run-in is short building up to the release in virtually the same way that Warne does? Maybe all this was so convincing following Neils dismissal in his first over that the batsmen bought into it and thought I could bowl as well as Neil?

It'd be good if I could just get The Gipper to get up the other end with some accuracy enbaling me to pitch it outside Leg Stump and then turn freakishly across the batsman towards off. If I could produce 2 balls like that and then follow up with all my other variations that might be just enough to instill a sense of fear in the batsmen to then see me through my spell without them getting the other hand?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Grays & Chadwell Vs South Loughton

You know middle class types, the guilt ridden ones that are educated and have a sense that they should set an example to all the working class and under class types? They do this thing where because they drive around in big posh cars and heat their houses all year and fly to holiday destinations all over the world and have a massive "carbon footprint" they then offset the carbon footprint by sponsoring some tiger or Orang-u-tan and that then enables them to sleep at night happy that they're okay to still produce as much carbon as they like. What they tend to over-look is the fact that the tiger/Orang-u-tan sponsorship deal is at the expense of some poor village populated with humans that include babies, children & mothers who because the "Cuddly cute animal league" think that it's really important to save the cute little tigers campaign to have the humans removed from the jungle/swamp where they've lived for centuries and move them to a dust bowl or slum on the edge of a gehtto, so that they don't compete with the Tigers/monkeys for space/food? You get the picture?

Anyway my cricket is a bit like that, I have to offset my "Cricket Footprint" by doing stuff with my kids and more importantly DIY, so I gain cricket credits by painting doors and walls and fixing stuff that I thought that at this point in life I'd be able to employ someone to do. Sadly being a teacher I can barely afford the paint let alone get someone to do the painting for me! So I have to do DIY to keep things ticking along. Cricket takes time - practicing it and playing it and if you're like me and you're obsessed with trying to make a half decent job of doing it and you're handicapped by the fact that you're nearly 50 and you've only just come to the game in the last 2 years - it potentially takes up a lot of your time (See rest of blog). If you're married with 2 small boys and suddenly this all happens out of the blue it's easy to see that it doesn't go down too well with your wife. It might be very different if your wife was your cricket girlfriend and she's had to suffer the fact that you're mental and over the period of your courtship leading up to your marraige she has become only too aware that you expect to spend all your summer weekends having your fingers broken, shins bruised and body abused in the name of cricket. Unfortunately it hasn't happened that way for me, so cricket is a point of conflict.

So this morning having woken up to the fact that over night it had rained I looked outside to see that the ground was damp and the skies leaden. A part of me kind of looked at it and thought that's a result there's probably not going to be a game and all will be well at home. But then the other part looked and thought "Gutted - am I ever going to find out if my bowling has improved"? With all the potential for conflict there's a part of me asking "Can I justify the amount of commitment and time required to play for G&CCC or shall I not play for a year and try and get something going that is far more informal with the Asian blokes over at Gloucester Park". So today I was sort of thinking that if I do get to play and I bowl and play like crap I may have to assess the situation and consider all the options in the context of the impact it has on my family?

I checked to see if I'd had an email from Neil (Captain) regarding the match and my phone number, I'd told him I couldn't be contacted by phone because I'd lost it and it had then turned up at home not having been lost at all. No emails, checked the club website and found a vague description of where the match was and got myself a map. Michelle asked what the map was for a couple of times and before I could answer someone either phoned or the kids asked a question, so it wasn't until around about 10.00am that she realised that I was actually going to play cricket. I pointed out that it was on the calender and had been for a month or so and she retorted "But you said you weren't playing because of the weather yesterday"? A discussion ensued, it wasn't heated but you could sense she was clicking up the potential for cricket credits off the back of the "Surprise game".

I left as Michelle was sitting with both of the boys helping them do their school homework, again I can imagine a future heated discussion regarding my absence because of cricket where that'll be brought up against me in evidence And who always ends up with them helping them with their home work while you run around with your cricket mates - it's all about the cricket with you la-di-da- la-di- da......

I drove from Basildon to Grays with memories of my first game with G&CCC which was also an away match threatened by rain - it rained on the way there and everyone else turned round after phoning each other and came home leaving me waiting there for about an hour before I realised no-one was going to turn up. I'd been dropped off by Michelle that day in Hainhault as she needed the car and I'd had to make my way home from there and it was a nightmare.

There was loads of people there and I got them to show me where we were going on a map. The weather was holding out - muggy and warm a far cry from recent weeks. We all jumped in our cars and headed off for Loughton. I had to stop for money and possibly diesel as I was already very low, I skipped the diesel and gambled on getting there on the little I had left. The journey was pretty straight-forward and I only needed to stop twice to check the map and I arrived about 2 minutes behind all the others. I was pleased to see the others because as we'd gone round the M25 it had started to rain and then as we entered Loughton it had started to rain much harder, so seeing them all dragging their kit bags through the pouring rain up ahead of me was a relief.

The pitch was okay a small pitch running alongside a river (River Lee)? Which you couldn't actually see, it was a fair distance from any houses and set amongst playing fields and football fields skirted down one side by tall Lombardy Poplars. The pavillion was small and being fitted out with showers and toilets, so we had to 'Go' in the bushes, thankfully I didn't need to have a dump - God knows what you'd have had to do if you'd needed to 'go'? The pavillion was ram packed with all their rollers and mowers and other ground keeping gear and being nothing much more than a shed it was a bit cramped but okay. We all stood around looking at the rain pouring down and the ominous steely grey clouds, our team broke out the playing cards and started playing. After what seemed like an hour the 2 captains tossed and we were put in to bat as the rain eased to drizzle. I took my rightful place as No.11 but was surprised that Neil (The captain) put himself as low as 10? There seemed to be some competition between a few of out blokes to have the last 3 places - why?

I was happy to be at 11 - Ben my 9 year old bowled me yesterday with his first ball hitting middle stump and then he went on to force what would have been 2 catches to silly mid off if there'd been a bloke there within about another 10 balls!

So the rain had weirdly stopped and ominous clouds lingered over in the west and the game ensued. (Note; if you're one of our blokes reading this I've got to apologise in advance if I get the order of things wrong and or names or scores). The other thing is I'm primarily a bowler, so I probably see this from a bowlers perspective? So out they went (the openers) and in they came pretty rapidly and Neil who was doing the scoring gradually down-graded his estimation for the total across 35 overs from 150 to 120 to all out for less than 100! We started really badly, but to be fair the grass was soaking wet and the ball was probably bouncing weirdly because of it? But then in came our No.4 Danny Groves Joining 14 year old Lee who'd had a good go and was producing some nice strokes with people commenting that by the time he's 17 he's going to be a good batsman as even now he hits the ball hard and well. Danny then produced a few sixes, two of which were off one over and a glimmer of light appeared and then Lee was bowled.

Dave Skeels took the pitch amongst banter regarding a poor performance the day before with one of the Saturday teams, so he had something to prove to himself. With Dave on the pitch the game changed. The boundary on the far side from us (The river side) was ridiculously short, not much more than a 100' I reckon and "Skeelsy" was able to get the ball over there when he was on strike able to play to his Leg Side and he did this regularly getting the ball over there for numerous 6's and 4's and our score gradually picked up from looking a bit drastic to increasingly competitive. One by one the rest of them joined Skeelsy adding to the score generally as the overs ticked by. Dave passed his 50 mark and edged closer and closer to his first 100. Then "Super Dave" Dave Gaylor (There's at least 3 Daves maybe even 4) joined him and almost straight away run Skeelsy out and proceded to repeat the same suicidle approach to running between the stumps seemingly oblivious to the fact that Skeelsy should be given the opportunity to be on strike as he had his first 100 in his sights! "Super Dave" was eventually out with only 1 over left and Skeelsy needed 17 off of the last over. Neil "Sammers" Samwell the captain made his way out for the last few balls of the last over at No.10 ensuring that I was alleviated the humiliation of having to bat. The game ended on us having scored 180 + (I think) and Dave Skeels producing his best ever knock at 86 and saving the day by giving us a chance of bowling the opposition out.

I was asked to do some umpiring and had to ask John if he'd do the behind the stumps bit and I covered the easier umpiring at Point - I'll have to learn all the signals so that I can do the job properly?

As the teams came off for teas the skies opened up and it began to rain again. The bowling was to be -

fast/medium "Lovejoy", "Super Dave" and Glen Ewing (Bobby)
Spin - "Sammers" and me.
Medium - Lee

*Looking at the team list there's no-one called Robert or Bobby but there's a G Ewing so maybe it's a derivitive of Bobby Ewing a reference to the Character in that 80's TV programe?

Anyway - as teas finished the rain eased up slightly and the sun came out and we made our way out onto the field to see if we could win the game. As mentioned Sammers had indicated that I'd be bowling and I was a bit apprehensive as I might end up putting in a performance like the last game of the summer, but I thought I might be okay because I've been putting in the time.

After what seemed like 10 minutes of waiting on the field there team eventually produced 2 batsmen and the battle commenced and in a matter of minutes they'd been sent packing back to the pavillion with only 1 run on the board. Something like 6 overs in and we'd dismissed 3 blokes and their scores were in single figures our fast bowlers were doing a good job. A big geezer turned up at No.3 standing at 6'4" and looking like he was going to make an impact and he went on the second ball for a duck and then we 2 older blokes at 5 & 6. A bloke that looked a bit like Daniel Vetorri and a larger bloke I'm going to refer to as Dwayne Leverock (Bermuda) but white. They kind of turned up as the fast bowlers finished their spells and had started to make in roads with the scoring and had started a rear guard action. Then Neil (Sammers) started his attack and the nature of the game changed completely it might have been his 2nd ball took the No.4 I think both his first balls had turned nicely and the poor kid that was batting stepped way out of his crease and the keeper had his bails. I was then called up and between us we then stiffled the batting pretty much and the run rate and the pace of the game slowed right down.

I've got to say, compared to last year I have improved. This was soaking wet grass with a soaking wet ball and not good conditions for bowling in. I'm not sure whether I bowled 5 or 6 overs but I only bowled 2 wides (I had to tell the kid umpiring that one was a wide) and one no-ball as far as I can recall. I didn't take any wickets and was hit for a handful of 4's but no sixes and remember this is with a boundary that's only a few yards away ) Although I was at the end where the boundary was to the off side. I couldn't get the ball to turn that much with either the flippers or the Wrong uns and it was the Wrong uns that were turning slightly. But the really weird thing was that both the batsman seemed to slow right down and play really cautiously as though they were really uneasy about trying to take us on. I was really surprised at their approach and this is how they played right through Neil and my spells. I didn't take any wickets but I seem to remember I had a couple of balls that went through the Mid wicket area that were near the fielder. Half way through my spell I had a ball that came off "Daniel Vetorri's" bat straight back at me and I didn't react in time, I got my hand to it and it hit my thumb and bounced and for a second I thought I'd managed to stop it falling to the ground with my arm, but hadn't. That then meant the rest of my overs and this happened about half way through I couldn't bowl flippers as I'd hurt my thumb and it was already beginning to swell.

I think between Neil and me we'd slowed the run rate down as it had looked as though these two blokes were far happier to be facing faster straight balls than spin. The new bowlers started their spell - Lee and "Bobby" and it was evident that the two batsmen were back in their comfort zone and they began to hit the ball again going for fours and finding the gaps. The big bloke "Dwayne" looked threatening and Neil had me alternating between fielding at Long on and Mid On. It seemed just as "Dwayne" was settling in looking for his 50 I was fielding at Mid On and the "Bobby" bloke (Glen Ewing) was bowling. Dwayne hit the ball and it went up and I could see it was heading my way. Now let's lay out the facts here - last summer I dropped all my "catches you should have caught" so over the winter alongside all sorts of practicing that I've been doing one of the things I've also been doing is practicing catches. So there it is the ball is hurtling through the sky and it's coming my way, I hear Neil shout "Dave Thompson's"! and I think there's no-one near it anyway and I glance across to the bowler just in case to see if he's coming out for it. Just moments earlier I'd also realised that I'm looking into the sun, but I don't notice it - must have gone behind the clouds? It's in the sky still and it's getting closer - my thumb - it hurts I think, but I look at the ball and say to myself think positive - I can do this - I'm going to catch this ball At this point I've run forwards and I check my pace and slow down and it comes and I reach up keeping my eye on it hands level with my face and smack it lands and there's a fraction of a release but I gather it up and look across to Neil who looks as though he's not realised that I've actually caught it, so I lift the ball in one hand above my head and show it to the world and then team cheers!

What a feeling! Absolutely magic - I caught one! "The catch that saved the macth" I hear Neil say at some point later on. It did look like Dwayne was about to stamp his mark on the game, I'd noticed "Vetorri" coming back to his crease with a look of resignation on his face that also indicated that was the case. After that "Bobby" (Glen Ewing) went on to take another 4 or 5 wickets as we finished off their bottom order. "Vetorri" made a good stand reaching 100 and we had a good laugh at Neils expense - three skied balls went his way down at Long On 2 in one over. One he got his hands to and palmed it into the air and failed to catch it off the bounce, The 2nd one went straight to him and he dropped it and the third went near him but after 2 screw ups he left it! Lovejoy caught a ball off of Bobby's bowling with a spectacular dive at silly mid off and Lee almost caught a low one off his own bowling which would have been spectacular too. Dave Skeels dropped one at Mid wicket as well. Despite all the hilarity at the dropped catches they were bowled out for about 140 +.

Todate that's the best game I've been involved in so far, it was funny and a good laugh what with all the dropped catches, I bowled okay and Neil seemed quite happy with my bowling and my fielding was okay too - stopping balls affectively, chasing them down and even took a dive at one off my own bowling and stopped it.

My thumbs a bit stiff and swollen, so I'll ease up on that for a few days and see how it goes, but I reckon it's okay. I can't wait till the next time! I'll also try and remember my camera as well next time.


Finally sorry if I missed your name, I've got a list but there's so many nicknames flying around it's difficult to know who is who! I can correct any of this if you email me or used the comments facility (It takes minutes to set up your own blog and use the comments function) and I'll try and take better notes next time!

One final bit "Super Dave" was calling me "Dave Warnesque Thompson" I can assure you that it was nothing to do with any of my bowling it was just the walk-in/Run-in - apparently it's very Shane Warne, I rub my hands all over the ball and then flick it and throw it up like Warney and the slow build up into the run in is like Warney too - shame about what happens to the ball once it leaves my hands!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

00.30hrs weather update

There's been a weather update and the BBC bloke said - "it looks like we've over-done the predictions for the rain" and now it looks like its far more likely that the rain will swing round the weather system and end up as patchy showers around 13.00hrs in the Essex area and the south east will have a pleasent afternoon with the temperature getting up around 18 degrees!

I'm being optimistic here and I reckon the weather will be fine tomorrow and that we wont get rained on, so it's look promising for a game of cricket!

10.30 weather update

Looks like it's going to Rain - how crap is that? I'll have another look in the morning to see if there's any developments as the rain does look patchy and the forecast is that towards the latter part of the day it's going to clear up to some extent. But I'm not that optimistic.

Dibbly, Dobbly & Wobbly

What a day! At one point today the temperature was up to 24 degrees and we had back to back sunshine all day long. I managed to get out for 3 seperate practice sessions albeit with my kids in the background or directly involved but the earlier session was okay - an hour on my own trying things out.All three sessions were conducted over at Great Berry Open Space using the new designated practice wicket that runs from end to end along the length of the field rather than across the field as we did last year. By the end of the day it was clear that the field is relatively level, so that's a good point. By the end of the day with regards my bowling - hmmm not so sure hence the description today of Dibbly dobbly and wobbly.

Leg breaks - very slight turn and not a lot of control over the length.

Flipper - earlier in the day they seemed to be okay - very accurate but used as my main ball I think the batsman would get used to them very quickly. They turned a bit in the morning but as the day went on they seemed straighter, but that may because I gradually bowled fast as the day went on?

Top Spinner - These seem fairly good and have a tendency sometimes to turn in towards leg like wrong uns, they bounce nice as well and are a slightly faster delivery.

Slider - Bowled 2 all day and they fizzed in really low and much faster and were accurate - a potential surprise ball, but in a match situation will I have the confidence to bowl them as they sometimes go awry?

Wrong Uns - Nice! Some turn really well and the bounce nice and high and the speed can be varied quite easily, accurate and good against Left Handed batsmen.

Gipper - Seem to be losing it and don't seem to be going forward with it at all. Not sure what to do?

At the end of the day I was joined by my mate Thomas and he had a bit of 4 hit fest, but I would have had him 3 times in the first 2 overs in a match situation with Wrong Uns - one of which was bowled and caught, but as he settled in with no pressure he then took control, so I don't know?

What's it going to be like tomorrow - have I improved or will the fact that I'm a lot more accurate and not spraying the ball around as much mean I wont force as many mistakes and be far too predicatable? Only a game will reveal the truth. It'll be interesting to see how the ball turns on a proper wicket.The thing is the weather forecast is for rain, so it may not happen anyway?

Friday, April 25, 2008

First Match

I had an email from my team captain today confirming I've got a game this Sunday, so at last after the family commitments and crap weather I get to play! Practice has been a bit thin on the ground of late and inconsistent, but I reckon compared to last summer at the end of the season I've got to have made some improvement what with all the practice I've put in over the winter? So I'm slightly optimistic. The first game is an away match as far as I'm aware, so that'll be interesting in itself. It'll be interesting to see how my fitness holds up and how my calf muscle goes when running competitively, I just hope it holds out because the last time it went it was out of action for months? What I will do then is some warm ups and stretches no matter how daft I feel in front of everyone else that doesn't bother. The only fly in the ointment is that tomorrow it's going to be lovely and sunny and warm 22 degrees but Sunday is predicted to be rainy? We'll see how it goes - watch this space.....

Check out this blokes blog as well if you're up for it www.edladd.blogspot.com

The Gipper





I can't believe this blokes action (Paul Adams) in this image but it gives me hope with my new "Gipper" ball! Today I've managed to get out with some balls and bowl a bit and in both sessions I was trying the new delivery and having varying success with it, but overall it's still needs a ton of work. There's another thread elsewhere that discusses the need to bowl the same delivery around 10,000 times before you get it sussed and today It was reflecting on exactly that kind of idea. Because this new delivery is so random at the minute I can't get any consistency with it at all. Sometimes it spins and deviates massively and other times it goes straight and I can't figure out whether it's the position of my arm or my hand or the velocity and it's simply just difficult to pinpoint what works and what doesn't. It seems as though if I just use the delivery out of the blue one in every 14 balls or something like that it works nicely, but then if I try and repeat the action it goes to pieces?The other thing I realised is that to bowl this ball it requires a really weird bowling action that's easily recognised because I start with a really strange and twisted round straight arm as I go into the action. I've tried to bowl it with a normal action and it works but is far less consistent. So looking at the picture above that's comforting from the point of view that some other people bowl using really unconventional actions and my delivery may mean I bowl using this weird straight and twisted arm which possibly looks equally as weird?In an ideal world I'll work on it and be able to bowl it using a normal looking wind up, but I think as I realised today it may take all season before I feel I can use it in a match - it's that 10,000 practices thing I reckon?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Update 24th April

So little time so much cricket! It seems looking back at last year I was out playing cricket (practicing) almost continuously and yet this year it feels like there's no time to do so? I think though if I'm honest it was much later in the year that the intense cricket period was happening - mid June early July, so I've got that to look forward to?

I've had some communication with Alex one of the Leg Spin bowlers at G&CCC today via the blog and it looks like I may meet up with him over at Blackshots tomorrow morning weather permitting for a bit of practice which'll be useful running up to the possibilty of a game on Sunday. So I've got to buy myself some time tomorrow, so I'll probably get up relatively early and paint the 2 front doors prior to making my way over there to justify some cricket time? To be honest we may be scuppered by the weather as the April showers are doing their thing. Today generally it's been dry but midday it rained quite hard and on the way home I noticed loads of standing water puddles and patches of earth looking very wet despite the strong and warm sunshine that followed the rain. This evening it hasn't rained so hopefully it'll hold off till tomorrow afternoon as predicted by the met office?

All week older son Ben has been asking to play cricket and there's been some nice evenings for it and tonight for the first time I was free and there was no cubs or other distractions and it was on. But then there was no car and we were stuck as to where to go and ended up on the football field across the road. The only thing is the field hasn't had a mowing for weeks and the grass is lush and green - good grazing for a herd of cows for a week I reckon and how uneven it is underfoot would suggest that's happened in the past! We threw some balls and I was trying to get them both to play front foot drives, they both seemed enthused by the fact that I'd ordered some boys size wicket keeper gloves, especially Ben as he's dying to catch his little brother out behind. We also did some catching practice and it seemed of the 2 of them it's Ben now who seems to lead with the enthusisam. Joe though when batting shows an aptitude to do it well with really good ball to eye coordination.

The downside of not having the car is that we weren't able to establish a presence over at FTF in order to nurture the possibility of getting the local blokes over there playing with us. The chances are that they are going to start playing there soon and may even designate a different area for the wicket. I've got to be there with all the gear on my wicket at some point when they turn up in order that they're forced to join me.

What with the weather being rainy and sunny this is also prime growing conditions for grass and both the Great Berry and the Gloucester Park practice wicket (FTF) need to be mowed and Friday morning is the ideal time for GBOS and evenings for FTF. So if I'm with Alex tomorrow bowling GBOS is going to be neglected. It'll just have to be and deal with it later. I've not heard anything more from Suhail recently although I've text'd him at least once on the way to a practice, so I don't know whether his work pattern has changed again?


Sports Science

The old arch enemy of MPA 1st XI "Sports Science" are now in the midst of teaching their students cricket and I noticed on a door in the college a poster promoting and asking for players for Westcliff CC. I've spoken to a couple of them lately and they seem to be in the throes of getting together a match with rival college SEEVIC and it looks like Richard and me and maybe Simon will be selected to play and that'll be happening over at Welstead Gardens on a Wednesday night. They're also talking about getting in the nets beforehand for a practice at Chalkwell Park, so that all sounds very promising and I'm looking forward to that. One thing I'm looking forward to is facing the Kiwi girl that works at the college who's a very handy Leg Spin bowler as she turned up in the nets last year?


Thomas and Rayleigh

Thomas (practice partner) has mentioned in the past that right near where he works is Rayleigh cricket clubs ground and he's checked their website out and they're asking for new players. He says that he's going to go along and see if he can join in next time he sees them practicing which is an interesting development. I've got to admit that after the collapse of MPA 1st XI I was disappointed that no-one else was interested in carrying on playing, I thought that at least Simon and Richard Sainsbury what with their cricketing pasts may have been tempted to join G&CCC? I know Richard at least did make the phone calls or emails but never followed it up, maybe I'll speak to Simon again and see if he's interested as he bowls well and bats quite well too and was our best player?

The Gipper

Oh yeah threw a few of these and they turned okay, very inconsistent but with a massive turn when they worked. It'll be interesting to see how tomorrow the practice takes place. Alex mentioned not having many balls, so I'll take all of mine (36 +) and see how he suggests that we practice, I'm imaging that we'll bowl at each other - one bowling the other batting? But from an intense Peter Philpott approach it would be more beneficial to both bowl from either end. If we do that I can bowl a combination as I did the last time I had some useful practice where I was bowling alternate Wrong Uns and Gippers. If I can get the gipper up to speed and at the right length with 2/3rds of the turn I was getting initially that will be very commendable. Let's see what happens tomorrow?

Ebay

I've been ebaying recently trying to get hold of some half decent quality practice balls secondhand, but resisted in the end and missed the sale. So with the money set aside to buy the balls I've bought a pair of wicket keeper gloves for the boys, so hopefully that'll help encourage them to get more involved? It was good to hear that this week on the sunny evening either Tuesday or Wednesday my older son (Ben) was asking when I'd be home because he wanted to play cricket. It's a shame that because of work committments I wasn't able to do so and today it's raining with no real prospect of the rain easing up. Alex at GCCC has left a comment today proposing a practice on Friday night I think, so hopefully I'll be able to get along to that?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April 20th

Not such a clever day. I'm still trying to come to terms with post holiday life and the fact that the amount of practice I do is dictated by several variables. It's even harder when I'm now aware of Peter Philpotts insistence that if you are going to get good you're going to have to take your practicing seriously. So as with today I eventually was able to get out on a field at 3pm today and had to take my sons along with me. Initially they were going to disappear off into the woods independently and make camps there, but came back within a matter of minutes saying that their camp had been crapped on and in by foxes - which something they do in these parts. So just as I was preparing to get in the zone I had to bowl and entertain the boys, so I basically gave up on the idea of a serious practice and played cricket with them. My older son is the one that is less inclined to play (he's 9) but he put his pads on and gloves and faced a real ball over 22 yards which is very encouraging. He even copped 3 balls in the inner thigh just below the googlies but still soldiered on which I was very impressed with eventually calling it a day with the 3rd ball in the same place!


He then opted to be the wicket keeper as son No.2 - Joe (6) batted against a plastic Kookaburra ball. Ben then made it his mission to catch an edge ball behind and kept missing, he didn't have gloves and he's not known for his catching abilities. In the end he was getting very upset by the fact that he couldn't catch the ball and get his little brother out who was batting quite well!
Eventually he went into a sulk and I ignore him, and got on with trying to bowl but what with being ignored he then sat and reflected and got up and started throwing a ball around so I stopped the bowling and started throwing the ball to him from different directions getting him to catch high, low and to the sides and bit by bit he was getting it and getting more confident and liking it when I was doing diving catches as he threw them back to me. Eventually we moved on to him throwing the ball back to the bat and me hitting it back to him off the bat and then towards the end he was using a cricket ball designating one of mine as his "Catching practice ball". So that was really good because he's usually really negative about cricket and I have to be really wary of not over-doing it with suggesting we all go and play cricket.
In just half and hour or so his confidence went from "I'm one of the worst at school at catching balls" to a kid that was catching cricket balls with confidence and technique, so I was quite happy to forefeit my practice.
I did at the very end get a few overs in and they were uneventful. The Leg break is still absent over any distance above 11 yards. The new weird ball was okay but still needs loads of work, but the wrong uns and other balls were fine. We finished off with a kick around with a football.
While we were over the field (This was The Rec) some Chav's started pulling the posts and chains that mark off the real cricket pitch as we were practicing in the outfield so I shouted across to stop it adding "Please"? They did initially but then thought about it and then realised that if they were to carry on it might induce a confrontation and there was 4 of them all around 16 years old. I ignored it choosing not to rise to the bait. But there was another bloke the other side of the wicket who then got up and walked down to these boys and said that he was one of the groundkeepers and he had a word with them in a very assertive manner which I was pleased about. But once the bloke had walked back to his seat out of earshot they were cursing him and vowing to come back and "Show that C**t what proper vandalism is". What is it with people?
This evening I went over to my training field and did my run back and forth and throw the ball at the stumps thing for 20 minutes, that went well - good throwing from fair old distance and wasn't too knackered.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Change of tactics

It was sunny this evening with no real chance of a practice or anything and then out of the blue my older son said "Dad can we go over the field and play cricket"? As if I'd say no?

I while later we drove over to FTF after ringing Thomas (Who'd just got in and couldn't make it) only to arrive and find that the Fayre was in town and they'd set up on our field. This is normal but seems a bit early in the year? So we then opted to go over to Great Berry Open Space (GBOS). There were some kids practicing football on a one section of the field but we set up over the other and had a bit of a knock about. In between the boys mucking about with their pads and stuff I tried to bowl some balls but it was very uneventful which was disappointing. It was really cold as well despite the fact that the sun was out (The wind is in the East).

Next morning......

Now Friday and this morning I went over to GBOS and mowed the wicket for the first time. I noticed that it does look pretty lumpy, I'm not sure now whether the other field FTF is flatter? Anyway it's mowed and I can do this every Friday morning now and it'll no doubt draw the attention of the local blokes and they'll be expecting to see me and join in hopefully? I did notice the grass looks pretty thin and sparse though so it looks as though it's been so cold so far this spring that the grass hasn't had a chance to grow that much and it just looks horrible. Wont really know how it plays until we get a few of us on there and we start throwing balls around.

Anyway the change of tactics was that I'm going to start maintaining the GBOS practice wicket as well and try and Suhail out there with me and hopefully he'll be able to get a few other blokes on board and maybe it'll inlcude some of the FTF crew (Gloucester Park)?

Other than I'm getting through the Peter Philpott book gradually and have now reached a bit where he's been writing about the variations and the fact that so many of the Wrist Spinners in the past have had different takes on Leg Spin and grip the ball and spin the ball in a whole bunch of different ways. Basically what he says is that as long as your stock ball turns into the stumps from the legside and you can do it at will at differing degrees of severity you can experiment and come up with different variations of all the others, in fact the more variations you have the better but always with that proviso that you can bowl a good Leg Break at will.

On a forum yesterday I was talking to a kid that was saying that he was having trouble with his Wrong Un and just couldn't get it to turn, so (Possibly inspired by me and my advocacy to think outside of the box) he thought about it and tried flicking his wrist the wrong way and he says that with some practice he's got it to work. He was also bowling against a batsman and the batsman said that it was difficult to pick because it still looked like your bog standard Leg Break that you'd expect to turn from leg to off.

Looks like the weathers screwed for the weekend. It's our 10th wedding anniversary and my wifes birthday over the weekend so cricket is having to take a back seat for the next 2 days, but I'm still hoping to have an hour maybe Sunday afternoon? Worryingly the new "Gipper" ball seems a bit awry after that really good session last week when I was alternately bowling the ball and turning it at will into the stumps from both sides with accuracy and ample turn, so I want to have a good practice session where I can get in the zone and replicate that and try and get this new ball to what it was doing on that first day?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Different Mindset

Today I had to come to terms with the fact that the last two weeks wasn't normal. All that cricket practice was because I was on holiday and my kids were on holiday and real life was on hold. This week with 2 late nights and the combination of bad weather has meant there has been no chance of getting out there and either practicing or even doing any training. Today I walked around and sat at work looking at back to back blue sky for much of the day optimistic that maybe I'd be able to get out on a field somewhere and throw some balls. This morning though a hint of reality invaded my bubble when I realised that both Ben and Joe would be at Scouts and Beavers this evening and therefore I'd be driving them around and that they've not seen me much over the last 48 hours or more because of my late nights.Then tonight it dawned on me that this is my reality now till the summer holidays. There's going to be nothing doing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the only chance of an evening knock about will be Thursday and Friday and the weekend. Then even that will be at the expense of seeing my kids and Michelle wont be happy about that?

So I've got to temper my cricket enthusiasm and except that some week I may only be able to get out on the field Thursday or Friday night and then maybe only one of the nights. But this week looks like a lost cause as the rain is due back tomorrow. Lets see how it goes.

That now means that the Gloucester Park blokes may establish themselves on the FTF wicket and I may never get a look in. Friday mornings might be an option, but then there wont be anyone around? I'm sitting here thinking - it hasn't rained yet tonight and there was a breeze earlier does that mean the grass will be dry could I go and mow the wicket to give the impression that someone other than the Aisian blokes is using the wicket and by virtue of it being obviously and clearly prepared for that purpose they use it as it should be? I'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Weather's not looking too clever

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/ukweather/rain.shtml#no_url

Also see http://www.magicseaweed.com/ and click on tools for a comprehensive range of weather charting tools.

The rain has held off today and it's a bright and dry looking evening and I'm stuck here at work doing my teaching qualifications. I'd imagine all the Gloucester Park crew will be there tonight pounding up and down my wicket abusing it and I'm nowhere to be seen! You watch - it wont rain on them! Whereas tomorrow with the prospect of a knock about over at Blackshots it will P*** down at about 6pm when I'd be ready to drive over there and do my stuff.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Fools!

They mock me the fools! The looks of total disdain and disbelief at my claims! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! The fools!

I'm losing it! No cricket - work and home late and it rained! Too knackered to do any exercises and ate a Mars Bar it's all going down hill.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Part II


After tea what with the afternoon disintegrating into a soggy bog the only option available left was the basketball courts. So around 6.30pm I drove over the one I had in mind and it was full of kids playing football. I was just on my way to option 2 when I remembered that over near Five Tree Field (FTF) there a basket ball hoop, five a side goal and cricket stumps all incorporated into a long steel fence. I thought that of all the options this was going to be the one that would be empty so I made my way over there.

As I pulled up I could see a load of heads bobbing up and down and initially it looked as though there was already someone over there. As I stopped I realised that it was the cricket blokes from last summer and there was a few of them, it looked as though they were already on the playground area playing cricket. As I walked over I realised that in fact they were on the field/grass just beyond the tarmac area I was heading for so I could still set up and bowl. I was hoping that once they saw me they might invite me to join in but they didn't so I just did my usual thing and practiced.

The practice was awful. Didn't try and bowl any Leg Breaks because I was bowling over a full 22 yards, but I tried my wrong uns and the new Flipper variation and neither of them were particularly good - straight but not turning enough for my liking.

I kept an eye on the blokes and noticed that since last year they've stepped up their game in way but not in others. Improvements looked like they were now using makeshift stumps that actually approximated the size and width of real stumps - it looked like they'd done similar thing to me when I started out they were using broom sticks or something. The other major improvement was that they'd now got 2 full size bats between them (Slazenger bats from Sportsworld). But the step backwards was they were using a tennis ball and it wasn't the hard cricket tennis balls that they were using last year. Because they were using tennis balls this meant that their wicket was a bit short as well.

At the end of my practice I went and stood in line with the stumps and watched how they bowled and the bloke I watched was the usual medium pacer that they all tend to be with some fast bowlers amongst them, but he was very accurate and the batsman was okay too.

Now - this means that it looks like on a Sunday afternoon after tea they're up for a game and normally I'll be playing with Grays and Chadwell. Does this also mean that they'll be getting out on to FTF to play soon because it doesn't actually get too dark now till 8pm if the sky is clear. This now throws up a bunch of dilemmas. If they move onto FTF will they use the track that I've been using and will they use the full length or will they damage it by using it at a shorter length? I'm thinking the only way I can see that I can encourage them to use it properly would be if I was to take the maintenance up to another level and mow it and start painting the crease lines. Maybe that will encourage them to use it properly? The other thing is on Monday and Tuesday I wont be able to practice over there at all and I can see a situation developing where they establish themselves on the pitch and possibly don't invite me to join in if I turn up? I suppose my ace card will be the equipment and my willingness for them to use it? I just need to get there before they do on a day when they intend to play and they're forced to join me - and then I can offer all the gear and insist that we all play using real balls and all the neccesary protective gear?

So that means every time I go over there I'm going to have to take all the gear in an extra bag in the event that this scenario comes up, but that's what I've been waiting and planning for. It looked as though they all live nearby and tonight despite the fact that it was on such a small bit of grass after a day of rain and in temperatures of only 8 degrees as I left there was 15 of these blokes - so well enough for a game! Looks promising?

Sunday
















This is the line I'm working on which probably looks mental and it is I know, but I've produce balls that have done this, so I'm going to see how consistent I can get them to do it. The thing is it's a delivery that I'm not going to get away with much because once you've done it, the batsman is going to be aware of the fact that if you pitch the ball right out there in the rough he's got to expect that it's going to come back in? Radical stuff but seemingly possible!


Lets hope today if I get over FTF and the rain holds out I might meet up with Ali again and I can try some of this out on him?


It wasn't to be. It's now nearly 5pm and it's rained on and off all day since midday - real April weather! The gutting thing is this morning it was sunny warm and dry and it's followed the pattern of the last few days and each day I've been doing stuff in the morning with the intention that later in the day I'd get myself on to a field for some practice. But instead in between the last batch of showers I've been outside bowling at a wall from short distances following the advice of Peter Philpott trying to throw leg breaks and I've made a break through. Over a short distance I found that I could get the ball to spin into off, so I've just been doing it continuously gradually extending the distance, admittedly it's not spinning anything like my weird ball, but it's a proper 2 thumbs up 2 thumbs down leg spin ball which is satisfying. I've been able to move back a few yards and I'm bowling properly over a distance of about 11 yards and getting it to turn. Again I'm finding that it's not happening naturally and that I have to think about it - I have to think "Turn the door knob" action otherwise instinctively I just spin the ball into a Top Spinner. But it's coming together and for me this is very positive. I'll keep at it and see if it gets any better I may even go over to one of the baseball courts that I frequented in the depths of winter and have a go there as there's a lot more space later?


This is the stage I'm at with the real leg break progress, not a lot of turn but a bit and it's consistent and I'm getting a fairly good line. So I'm pretty pleased with my progress since buying the Peter Philpott book and I'm no-where near finished with it yet. What I like about his advice is that if you falter or stall - he says take a couple of steps backwards and go back to the basics and re-learn it all again. One of the things I am doing again which I haven't been doing is walking around perpetually with a ball in my hand spinning it flicking my wrist. Again I did this last year but what with my wife and their friends and my In-laws looking at me as though I was social outcast because of it I felt maybe I was being a bit obsessesive, but good old Pete says it's something you've got to do and I'm with him on that and now I can say "But peter says I've got to"!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weekend

I was hoping that my mate Thomas would be off over the weekend but seems that he's not so I'm still not going to get that much of an opportunity to try out my new bowling technique. The suns out though which is good, but there's ominous looking clouds scattered here and there with periods of threatening clouds. But the forecast last night was good. So if I do some chores (decorating) this morning I may be able to get out on the field this afternoon? I may also at some point go and look at how Great Berry Open Space (GBOS) is drying out and see whether they're still playing football over there because it is closer and there is a chance that if I practice over there Suhail may turn up or some of the lads from last year as they all live around the field?

More later......

After a morning of glorious sun and the prospects of crickety afternoon I had lunch and the heavens opened up and it poured with rain and hailstones - Gutted. The evening kind of cleared up a bit and I could have sloped off for a session over at FTF. I rang Thomas and the poor bloke has got to work tomorrow from 5am and he said he was off to bed in a short while cos he was so knackered. So instead I went over to the local football pitch and threw some balls. Spent about half an hour bowling Wrong Uns and played around with trying the leg break. It's almost certainly got something to do with my hand and wrist position. Recently on the http://www.simplycricket.net/ website I noted a comment someone had made about bowling the Leg Break and the bloke said that his coach said the wrist action on release was the same kind of action as turning a doorknob. This makes total sense, but because of the fact that I have this opposite action and the vertical arm and I bowl Wrong Uns well - that door knob turning action just feels so alien? Despite this I'd love to be able to bowl Leg breaks in the conventional manner so it is something I am going to stick with and persevere with. I did notice that - what was supposed to be a Leg Break was more like a top spinner - but it was nice and fast and bounced well which was good.

I also had a look at the idea of "Baseball grips" I tried the "Knuckle ball" I bowled it and the weirdest thing was it was really fast and potentially accurate which was interesting and I may investigate this further. Reading the little info that I have so far the interesting thing with the knuckle ball is that it is unpredictable (With a baseball) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knuckleball it seems that with a baseball the ball begins to corkscrew as it flies through the air. I'm wondering what would happen if you were to throw a knuckleball where the ball flies at you with just the smooth area of the cricket ball coming at you, that would then mean the seam would be the first part of the ball that hits the ground - what might that do to the bounce I wonder?

I reckon this is something to look at rather than to ignore, it maye that like this current idea of merging the flipper with the Wrong Un I come up with something a bit odd that might work in some way. Maybe using the knuckle ball grip and spin it out of the hand? Logically it seems as though there wouldn't be any benefit, but who knows until you try it?


I've just spent a couple of hours trying to come up with some graphics so that I can help to explain what I'm up to. This is the first one. I've been writing about this new delivery and this is the kind of angle that I'm talking about when bowling this ball and also the kind of length. The ball because of the lofty looping trajectory pitches relatively short at a good length and then spins away at really acute angles as in the diagram here.
As I've said before the batsman potentially sees that it's ridiculously slow and could come out of his crease to go after it because of the slowness of the delivery? At the moment I'm in 2 minds whether to speed up the delivery because my observations are that if the delivery is speeded up it then means that the gain (Speed) is at the expense of turn. I suppose the best option is be able to do both - if I can pitch the ball wide of leg but faster it may be the batsman will assume that it's going to continue to turn so acutely?
Who knows - all I need to do is keep practicing and try and get someone to bat against it and see how affective it is?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Plan of action

Last summer I used to log my bowling practicing - keep tallies of how many wides, how many times I hit the stumps, what balls I was bowling etc. This gave me a recordable database to see how well I was progressing. I may start this again. I seem to recall that by the end of the season I was bowling 15% wides when I was bowling well. I'm hoping that after today and the recent days this is going to be dramatically reduced?

Oh yeah and another thing -

I'm going to end up being a Peter Philpott bore but......Last year as a part of my learning and I think I've mentioned it on here I spent a week or so bowling with my eyes closed experimenting with the idea that what you do needs to be almost natural and smooth to the point that you do exactly the same thing time after time to the point where you no longer need to use your eyes and it worked, I could pitch the ball in a small area and hit the stumps surprisingly often. I did loads of internet searches to see if I could find anyone else that was looking at the theory and whether there was any validity in the experiment and couldn't find anything. So it felt like I was on my own with the idea. I used to talk to people about it and they'd look at me as though I was mental. I've been vindicated - Mr Philpotts recommends that you do it in order to sense that what you do is smooth and controlled - top bloke!

Rain

Day starts of nice enough with the chance of some practice and the by the time I've done some decorating and got access to the car the weather closes in and we had hailstones and thunder. That means our nicely drying out wicket is now damp again.

I've made a start on the Peter Philpott book - The art of Wrist Spin and very interesting it is too. Reading it I'm falling into the trap that if I follow his instructions it seems that I may be able to ressurect the leg break? Already as a really basic training tool he's suggesting that when you're walking around or sitting around with your balls in your hand that rather than spin the balls from the right hand to the left as all leg spinners seem to do spin the ball from your extended arm out in front of you and spin it back towards your chest. The other surprising suggestion is that you spin the ball under arm against a wall and observe the way it spins back away from the wall. All the other suggestions I've read so far I pretty much do e.g. anything that is remotely ball shaped spin it when you're doing nothing or something that doesn't require your hand - watching the tele standing at a bus stop - you know the score - just spin it trying to impart spin on it all the time. Use apples oranges, golf balls, tennis balls - if it goes in your hand spin it! I already do this with everything I pick up and it drives my wife round the bend!

So the weather - yeah it doesn't look good at all. No more cricket for the next few days it seems?



Later on..........



The clouds passed by and the sun came out - April showers so it's to be expected. I got Ben my 9 year old son to shoot some images of my wrist and grip with this new flipper googlie variant and I've posted the images with comments on http://www.simplycricket.net/ to see what people make of it, because someone somewhere must have tried this before and no doubts uses it? I can't believe that I've come up with something that's new and that no-one has ever done before? But then how hard is it to saw a shark in half and stick it in a tank of formaldyhyde - the hard part is realising and presenting it as art and for it to be the end product of a series of other associated ideas?



Anyway here it is -

As far as I can make out the batsman sees the back of the hand as it comes over and it's fairly vertical so for all intents and purpose it probably looks like a Wrong Un. But look at the fingers. The grip is the Flipper grip and at the point when you release the fingers are squeezed together in order to impart the spin. The spin then makes the ball move off it's expected course from Leg to Off.

I'm hoping that in situations where the batsman is really confident and can pick the googly he's going to expect the ball to turn away to off and then be completely bamboozled by the fact that this ball turns into off acutely. So once I get the hang of it it's going to look like a googly being put down the legside which will then be expected to spin off towards leg slip and go for a wide and hopefully he'll leave it to then spin back into the stumps or something like that?

Later on I did my "now becoming ususal" running and throwing practice, but because I had a thorough work out yesterday I took it fairly easy today and bowled a bit in between the fitness and throwing training/practice. The ground on this particular field is really lumpy, but the ball was being turned by the spin so it was okay. But it was of very little value as regards analysing the new variation.

After tea the sun was still out - the sky clear and the showers for the moment gone. So I drove over to FTF (Five Tree Field) taking my gear in case any of the indian or Pakistani blokes were about. Got over there and it was empty even the adjacent skatepark with it ususal group of Emo's and Potheads all drinking Vodka and Tennents Extra were not there. No-one came along and I just bowled. Again in exactly the same way as I did yesterday I started out just lobbing the ball from one end to the other not particularly trying and it was going okay. But then I thought - let's do this with some concentration and see what happens. Just like yesterday just by applying myself to the task the difference was enormous. I decided that I'd bowl down the centre pitching the ball 5 yards in front of the stumps and alternate thus - 2 leg breaks (Using the new variation) and one wrong un. It went like clockwork. All the balls I wanted to spin from Leg to off did 95% of the time and all the balls doing the opposite exactly the same. In about 50 balls I bowled 2 wides! This is an amazing difference to my bowling last year. The difference from last September is amazing and again this is only the 4th day that I've been bowling this new variation!

I noticed that the new ball was going well if I changed the angle of my walk in and I also experimented with my wrong un bowling around the wicket, doing this I was able to get the ball to turn in and hit the stumps. All in all despite the weather I managed to cram in loads of cricket practice and fitness training, so a good day in the end. What I need to happen now is to get some blokes together for a bit of a game or a practice in the way we used to as MPA 1st XI or better still a real game with Grays and Chadwell.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

2 sessions today

2 sessions today!

You can tell summers on it's way. This morning it was back to back blue skies and relatively warm, so I was gagging to get out there and throw some balls around. I couldn't get the car because Michelle and the kids were off out in it so I had to bide my time. Eventually just before midday I was able to get away for an hour over at FTF. All morning it had been sunny and as soon as I'd thrown the gear in the back of the car the clouds gathered and the sun disappeared.

No one else around so it was me and a bunch of stumps and 14 balls backwards and forwards from one end to the other. Initially my bowling was mediocre and then it got worse and then in the last 10 minutes or so I thought I'd try and bowl with some conviction instead of just lobbing the ball at and around the stump area. So I decided to bowl flippers, Top Spinners and Wrong Uns pitching them outside of the stumps accordingly so that when they then turned they did so into the stumps. 5 out of 6 of the first balls did exactly that and the remainder of the session went amazingly well. I even had a go at the new flipper variation and hit the stumps a few times with that as well as just getting it to spin to leg massively. So what was looking like a waste of time suddenly with the last 40 odd balls was really good, so I came away very pleased. Again looking back at how I was bowling at the end of the season last year compared to how I'm bowling now I reckon there is a vast difference.

Later in the day just before dinner I went over to the field that's near me set up my stumps and did the throw the ball at the stumps from 40 yards sprint after exercise for 15 minutes as a part of my cricket specific training. Also hit the stumps and few times and my shoulder seems to be holding out okay. Also did some high catch practice - I'm rubbish at it, so I need to practice this a lot more.

The Flipper variant bowled out of the back of the hand was working okay today especially at the end of the session. The early part of the session as I said earlier wasn't going that well especially with this new variation. The problem I'm having with it seems to be it's very slow, so today I was trying to get some more speed on it, but it seems the harder and faster I throw it this comes at the cost of less spin. Just before I went out I'd had a book delivered in the post - "The art of wrist spin bowling" by Peter Philpott. I'd kind of skimmed through the images and read bit of it quickly and somewhere along the way or maybe it was on-line someone say about the levels of concentration that need to be applied when you're bowling. A lot of the time I feel that if you concentrate too much and try too hard things can start going wrong whereas if you just go with the flow sometimes things just fall into place? Today I'd started out very much in the -just let it happen frame of mind - chucking different balls from one end to the other not particularly trying that hard. After the first half hour I was getting a bit peeved as it was obvious that my bowling was lame, but then I recalled what I'd read about really concentrating hard and focussing on the task at hand and changed my overall approach.

With this new Flipper variation I'm kind of concerned that I may lose the ability to bowl some of the other variations, they seem to have a tendency to all merge into something that is not one thing or the other if I'm not careful and the one thing I don't want to lose is the Wrong Un. So with a new frame of mind and a lot more focus and determination I bowled a load of Wrong Uns to see if I could pitch them outside of off and turn them into Leg as I was couple of sessions ago. Up to this point the wrong uns had all been wrong e.g. straight or very little deviation off the line, but with the new approach, right from the outset there was a massive improvement. It was obvious that just by concentrating on what I was doing and making sure I was flicking the wrist it all came together and I was bowling my good wrong uns. So that was a right result.

The same thing then happened with my Flippers and Top spinners, I was able to put the ball into the areas I wanted and for the ball to respond in the way that they should. But as I mentioned earlier it's the new flipper variant that's consuming me at the moment and at the early stages of this session it wasn't happening. The main experiment was to just try and speed up the delivery by using either my arm or the run in and neither had a positive effect in fact the opposite and I was becoming down hearted. Yes I could speed it up but in doing so the spin wasn't happening so that was no good at all. After the success of the wrong uns and Flippers with this new apply yourself and concentrate approach I did the same with the new variant and it worked a treat. I noticed several things that I was doing that helped - one was to have my arm already twisted around as far as I could get it before swinging the arm over, but I felt that this was a dead give away. The other thing that worked was to obscure the fingers and grip with the leading hand till the arm started it's rotation and then to twist the arm into it's weird position, the final bit is to do the same with the wrist so that the angle of the flick from the flipper part of the whole action imparts the spin so that the ball is spinning 90 degrees in opposition with the direction it's heading and it all worked well. The aim with line and length is also coming together because I was pitching the ball very wide of leg and the ball was fizzing back in towards off and several times I hit the stumps. So all in all what with this only being day 3 or so in the development of this new variation I'm very pleased and can't wait to get on some grass with a batsman in the way.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Back to work

At work today and needless to say it’s the warmest day in recent days and there’s back to back sunshine. Last night I tried to establish if there’s a game on Sunday and it’s looking like there’s not . It looks like the only game being played is a 1st team game and they’re not even sure that’s going ahead – remember this relies not just on our blokes but the other team turning up as well.

Alex (GCCC said last night that some of the them get over to Blackshots in the evenings and have a knock about and I’ve exchanged emails with him and he’s going to let me know if there’s anything happening. I’ve taken the video camera into work today and if I get a moment I’m going to try and get Richard to record me bowling this new flipper variation I’ve sussed out. The good thing is at college I can get an ariel view of it and you’ll be able to see the deviation of the ball from above which is nice. Lets hope it all works out. Who knows we may even be able to get a camera and shoot the hand – wrist – grip when it’s bowled and get that uploaded as well.

Later...... Yeah tried that and it didn't come out to well - someone else had the camera - you can't get the staff these days! So it looks like I'll have to go back to the drawing board with that idea. But what's worse is the fact that Whilst I was bowling and it was seemingly being recorded the bowling action was coming apart as such. It just didn't seem to be turning quite so dramatically. But then saying that it was also easier on my arm and my arm didn't seem to be getting jarred quite to much by the action of bowling - or is it just the case that I need to be warmed up before this bowling action is most affective?

Other than sitting here at work looking out side at what is obviously warm and sunny weather is a bit gutting. Hopefully I'll get what I need done and slope off a bit early?

Later on......

So I left work at just after 4pm in glorious sunshine and arrive home 15 miles later on the train in gloomy clouds - typical. Anyway somewhat down heartened by the fact that since yesterday this new variation seems to have gone from being brilliant to what looked normal for leg spin I now had a chance to throw a few balls off camera and see what was going wrong. I threw a few balls and realised I wasn't getting my arm twisted right round to the same extent I was yesterday. So with that realised I threw a few more and they were okay, so panic off I can still get the ball to turn to leg very well.

I was then looking forward to a chance to try this out on my mate Thomas so I called him and he was up for it and then family commitments were waved in front of me and I had honor them. But tomorrow I'm off and Friday so there'll be a chance then and tomorrow is looking sunny and it hasn't rained for a few days so the wicket will be dryish. Being a week day though it's unlikely that anyone will join me so that's a downside.

I'm off to check my email and see if Alex at G&CCC has emailed me with a practice opportunity Friday evening?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Pivotal day?

This entry is all a bit arse about face - but the essence of it is that practicing today I combined to bowling variations - "The Flipper" and the "Googly" to produce something I'm calling the "Gipper" for the moment. But basically it's a weird variation of the Flipper - read on....



Just been out on one of my practice fields (FTF as in pictures here) and was joined by a couple of kids who allowed me to bowl some balls at them which was nice and vice versa. But just before my car park ticket had run out I was bowling a few flippers and they were doing what they do and then I had an idea. What would happen if you bowled the flipper upside down in the manner of bowling wrong uns. It just struck me as being possible and that if you could get it on a line it might just spin weird? I threw the first one and being the combination of the 2 very different techniques it went all over the place, but despite the fact that my arm, wrist and everything was all the wrong way round I was still able to click the ball out of my fingers as you do with the flipper, so it felt as though if I was just to get the release right and get the ball going down the track in the right direction it might do something useful or odd. Oh my God! The 2nd ball was straight. It pitched and turned at such a stupid angle you would not believe it. Guess what way it turned? Leg to off! Could this be the answer to my inability to bowl Leg breaks - it was looking promising. The next 6 balls all did exactly the same thing and again at ridiculously acute angles - making Shane warnes "Ball of the century" look lame - I kid you not! Admittedly bowling this for the first time ever it was slow and the next 18 balls (before I gave up and had to get to my car) looked increasingly less dramatic, but still spinning from Leg to off in a way that I've never been able to before on grass. I've got nets tonight, so I was quite happy to be forced into stopping because if I'd have stayed there I'd have kept going for another 2 hours and might have pulled some arm muscles and not been able to repeat it again tonight. So tonight against some good batsmen I'll give this a go and see if I can repeat it. Flipper and a Googlie combined - Flooglie? Gipper?

watch this space - see how the Gipper evolves. I've just been outside on concrete with a cricket ball and it turns really nicely every time without fail and I'm quite confident that I'm going to be able learn how to bowl this fairly quickly with a good line. The thing it's going to lack is speed, but if it's bowled in between other balls - this could turn out to be really useful. I've just tried to film myself bowling it - but I need to go somewhere where the camera in the position of the stumps so that you can see how much it deviates off it's expected line. I'll try and do that in the next few hours in the meantine DIY calls. Eevryone has gone to London with the kids and family and I'm supposed to be doing DIY and here I am trying to invent new leg spin variation!!! Not good. Better do something! Here's some images of FTF (Five tree field) where I mostly practicing. You can see that we've mown the grass already and I noticed the outfield is really long already.


The other thing unlike the flipper which skids in low this bounces really nicely.

Later ........ Being slightly sceptical about whether some of the turn was down to the rough surface I've just gone outside and bowled a Hockey ball with no seam on a flat surface and the deviation off the line 6 balls in a row was unbelievable! So it's not a fluke. Now can I do something with this tonight in the nets? That will be the test of it's usefulness and whether this is something I can use. I hope so because it turns mentally!!!

Post nets.

It went well and I think this is a pivotal moment in my bowling because this now gives me the one thing that was missing a ball that turns from leg to off effectively. So far it looks as though it does more than that, it turns very well and consistently - I'm amazed at how much this variation turns and it does so on mats and on floor and all sorts with cricket balls and smooth balls it has a massive deviation.

Admittedly it's a very slow ball, but as I noticed in the nets tonight it tempts the batsman out. They see how it pitches and turns and they watch it a few times and they realise it's dead slow and then they come out after it. All I have to do then is bowl a flipper or straight one - just something that is a lot faster and I reckon I could be taking a few wickets. I reckon if you've got people coming after this with vengence it's going to cause them all sorts of problems. I noticed some of our bloke just watched it pitch in front of them and turn and disappear well wide of off a few times simply leaving it - which is fine as they don't make any runs. I didn't hit the stumps at all tonight but there were several edges that would have been caught as they went straight up in the air and one or two that the wicket keeper would have had caught behind or had the bails off as I'd drawn them out of their wicket. So this has been a very interesting day.

What's more this is the first day, once I've had some practice and maybe got some more speed applied to it the prospects look very interesting?

Going along with the positive vibe all day my line had been fairly good maybe 1 in 6 balls considered wides, maybe less? The Wrong uns weren't happening tonight or earlier in the day - or is it the turn on this flipper variation is so dramatic it's making my wrong un look a bit weedy?

It'll be good to try it out on my mate Thomas who's left handed and who always comes after the ball. So I'm looking forward to that - hopefully with a little practice I can get it up to a good length and wide of leg - if I can pitch it there consistently this is going to be very interesting although putting it down the middle is affective as well especially if you were to place blokes out at 2nd and 3rd slip.

Monday, April 07, 2008

6 Days to go..............

No sign of any polar bears, but the glacier at the end of our road just broke off and I reckon this has implications for global warming! Still the upside is that maybe it's an indication that spring is on it's way and that I may play cricket this sunday without penguins getting in the way?

Yep it's still cold - around 8 degrees so it has got warmer than yesterday but certainly not my idea of cricket weather. The forecast is for another sunny day following a freezing night and then more rain on Wednesday and possibly Thursday. Rain equals warmer weather but there isn't going to be any cricket if the sun doesn't come out and dry out the wickets? So it's not looking good.

Nets tomorrow night and I'm expecting that they'll say the matches are off, but I'm still being ridiculously optimistic and hoping that the match will go ahead. To be honest if the rest of my team gripe about paying £2.00 to have net practice in the warm I cannot imagine that in a month of Sundays they'll ever pay out £10.00 to stand in the freezing cold and sleet to catch pneumonia in the name of cricket, especially after a winter of sitting indoors on their bums watching cricket on SKY in New Zealand and where have you - it just seems like they're not going to be able or want to cope with the reality shock of cricket in England in April.

Me - I'm mental and therefore I've been out there throwing balls, running backwards and forwards across fields throwing a ball trying to hit the stumps from 40 yards, practicing Leg breaks (And still not getting them) 20 rotational press-ups so far, stretching bands behind my head, planks and sideway planks even did some pull ups all in the name of friendly matches! The amount of effort I put in you'd think I was in a league or something - I'm not!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

7 Days to the first match

7 Days to the first match

It's not looking promising. This morning woke up to scene that would have been made complete with the addition of polar bears rumaging through my compost heap looking for somewhere to warm their paws. Less than 36 hours earlier it had been 19 degrees c and blokes were playing football with their shirts off over at the Rec. Whereas this morning I'm scraping snow off my car window freezing my nuts off in 2 degrees. It gets worse - tonight they reckon that in rural areas it'll get down to -3 degrees and there's a likelyhood of it continuing to snow!

I can't see that there's any chance of a game this coming Sunday because the weather is going to be cold and wet through until Wednesday if not longer. The other thing is standing around in the freezing cold freezing your nuts off for 3 hours sounds challenging as well. Sounds like thermals are going to be the order of the day and a wolly hat! Still we'll see what happens in the nets on Tuesday night and whether they reckon the game will be on. I'll sound out people and see what they recommend you should wear when you're fielding? Hopefully when they bring out the drinks it'll be soup and the teas will be made up of something like soup and hot food? God it reckon if this game goes ahead it is gonna be freezing!

Started my exercises again today again - rotational press ups, stretching bands behind my head stretches on my calf muscle and I'm feeling okay. I felt tempted to go over to both of the fields with my camera and shoot some pics of England in the spring - snow!

This is what is was like 36 hours ago and then how it was today.....

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Wot - no cricket?

I had Rain man and Fatty batter come through the post today from Amazon and started to read Rain Man in between the dreaded DIY. I've read 25 pages and already I can see why Tom from www.simplycricket.net made the comparison with this blog and the books. I reckon by the time I'd have finished the book off I'd have started to incorporate some of the style of the book - it's a good read and it's had me in stitches already. One of the things I like about it is the observations regarding the people that you play cricket with, but the books retrospective looking back some years whereas my blog is live and kicking by the minute and if I was to start making honest comments about my mates and the people I play alongside I reckon I could be in for some stick and lose a few friends! I dunno I'll have to see how it goes?


Still no snow but massive difference to yesterday. Yesterday warm and balmy 19 degrees - today northerly winds and about 8 degrees - cold! But there's been hardly any rain and the wicket looks okay. (5 Tree field) I'll have to start referring to Five Tree Field as FTF.

So how do I know it's okay when I haven't been practicing today? Well just like the obssessed autistic nut cases in Rain Man I do stuff like this.....I hate DIY with a vengence, my Dad was a drunk so he never did it or did it very rarely. The outside of the house was done by the council about once every 7 years so I don't have house maintenance and DIY as a part of who I am. This annoys my wife like nothing else. My wife is in a state of perpetual readiness for a vist from Lloyd Grossman (Through the keyhole or the more recent "Cribs" programes from the USA) so she likes everything spick and span. Me - I'm not fussed - I was a surfer - used to hang out with Hippies and I used to live in a tent no fixed abode, so just the fact that the rain isn't making my bed wet is a bonus as far as I'm concerned. So a few scratches on door frames, or paint beginning to peel to me is of no importance whatsoever, especially as I've only got another 30 years left in which to be able to learn how to bowl like Shane Warned so time is of the essence! So why on earth would I want to be painting woodwork for - it's already got paint on it!!!!But now I've discovered cricket it's being used as a bargaining tool. I've got two kids as well and for me to disappear off to some far flung cricket ground for 6-8 hours every Sunday doesn't fit in with my wife and everybodies idea of "Family". So inevitably I have family committment and cricket committment juxtaposed against each other with a big question mark over the top of them. The concession at the moment is that I do some DIY so that's what I've been doing all day! But I start getting cold Turkey and this evening I was thinking what can I do that involves cricket, so I used a trip to B&Q's (DIY shop) to get some filler as an excuse to quickly run over to FTF and check out -

1. Was anyone over there using it?
2. How well did we manage to cut the grass last night and how does it look?
3. Has it got any drier?

The answers - (1) No-one was, (2) yeah it does look like it's been cut but I'll have to do it again with the blades lower (3) yep it's drying out nicely.But having cut it - it's now apparent how uneven the surface is.Tomorrow hopefully a knock with my new mate Ali? 4pm - its a long wait but I'll cope!

Friday, April 04, 2008

What no snow?

Really lovely day today with cricket going down all over the shop! (Mostly with my kids). At some point during the day around 5pm the temperature was 19.5 degrees centigrade and sunny and it had been sunny most of the day. Even this evening driving home at 8pm in almost darkness the temperature was 16c! It seems that by this time tomorrow a cold front is going to move down from the North and it'll be 0 degrees c or colder! Then on Sunday there maybe snow showers!

The exercise seems to have caught up with me at last as I'm exhausted today and I'll probably end up going to bed tonight at 10pm as opposed to my normal 1am. I've managed to do 30 rotational press ups today and pulling the elastic bands behind the head as well as loads of running around after balls this evening.

What with it being really sunny we went over to Gloucester Park this evening and I took the mower as Gloucester Park is probably the driest of all the 2 fields and the one that is most likely to have other people wanting to join in. I sent Suhail a text to let him know we were going over there, but he must have been at work. Thomas managed to join us 7pm or just after and then around about 7.30 a group of 3 blokes came over headed by a bloke called Ali from Pakistan and he offered to field. Again modestly claiming to not have played for 8 years and not being that good. He had a spell of wicket keeping, batting and bowling and did rather well especially his bowling - very accurate and fast. He too said that last year he'd seen all the other blokes playing cricket on the same field and said that we should all try and get together and have a game - so my master plan is coming together.

It also took a step forward in that we had the mower and as dusk fell and cricket was no longer an option we mowed the wicket. The only thing was the blades were not set correctly and the cut was too high and it didn't make that much of a difference. Having said that though you can see that it has been cut so hopefully it might get peoples attention? One down side was that in mowing it and rolling across the grass it became apparent how uneven the surface is. So we need to get the roller over there if this is to be our designated pitch? If Suhail is going to be involved we need him on board as soon as possible with blokes in tow who are willing to turn up at GBOS. But in the short term because GBOS is really wet still Gloucester Park looks like the short term option.

Ali was well up for more cricket and I've made arrangements to be over the field at 4pm on Sunday with him, so hopefully he'll come along with his two mates again hopefully more? I bowled against him and did quite well - would have forced a few catches off of about 10 balls, so that was pleasing. Thomas looked pretty good with his bowling and he took me a few times as did Ali. Thomas also bowled Ali twice, but it was dark. But Thomas's bowling looked a lot better than last year.

My two sons had a good day today, several of their mates were around in the afternoon one of whom had been bought a bat at Christmas and had been asking his Mum all winter "Can we go and play cricket"? So this afternoon we all went over the field and had a game. My youngest Joe who has picked up playing Front foot drives pretty well scored the most runs 16 and Ben the older one took a few wickets with his "Fast Bowling" and caught someone, so they were both enthused. But it got better later on when they came over to Gloucester Park. Prior to Thomas turning up they both had a go at batting with all their pads on against full size balls on the full size wicket against me bowling slow straight ones. They loved it especially Ben the older boy, he did really well again using his newly acquired skills with his front foot drives, he seemed really pleased with himself having faced real balls and hitting most of them - he said that hitting a real ball felt good. So that's promising.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Gutted at work!

I've had to go into work today and turns out sunny and warm and 18 degrees!

This evening I continued my fitness training and had half hour out on the field throwing and running back and forth as described in the previous blog. So far I've not suffered any real after affects which is good and incentive to carry on. I've also been doing rotator cuff exercises to help with the bowling and throwing generally. I'm managing to do ten of these rotational push ups http://youtube.com/watch?v=qHQ_E-f5278

per spell and doing 30 or 40 per day, so that's good and I'll be looking to get up to 100 per day 20 at a time something like that by the time the first match comes along. Perhaps that may help with getting some more speed on the ball like Matt suggested at GCCC?

I'm also doing these but using a sprung bar "Round the worlds" http://www.trainwithmeonline.com/exercise_292_Around_the_World.html

So hopefully this will help keep injuries at bay and possibly help with my bowling?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

First Match 13th April

It looks like the first match of the season is going to happen on April 13th. Hopefully the weather will improve over the next 2 weeks then. The prediction is for it to turn cold again in the next few days with possible sleet and rain. Going by all the fields around our way it's going to be pretty soggy and wet almost definitely slippery unless of course the rain holds off and Blackshots has really good drainage?

This means I'm definitely going to have to do some exercises and running cos I still haven't got into any of that at all and I'm still slightly concerned that my calf muscle isn't fully recovered as it still feels taught if strecthed. I'm going to try and get out there and do something this evening and see how it goes. It seems at the momen the slightest little bit of running and my muscles ache, so I need to do something.

Spoke to Richard at work and he's saying that he'll be up for playing in a couple of weeks time, I reckon once the weather gets better some of the old team will be willing to get out and have a go.

Later.....

W'hey I did it! This evening I got in from work and now with a date of April 13th for our first match I got off my Butt put some trainers on and shorts (It's summer now in my head) and went out in the pouring rain and mud and did some training! Did some stretches on my calf muscle first and took it easy to start with.So what did I do? Well this is what I did.....I got two stumps and one of my famous hockey balls (Waterproof). I set the stumps a fair distance apart -40 yards and then threw the ball "Paul Collingwood style" (See BBC skills video) aiming to hit the single stump. Needless to say it goes way past the stump and then you run after the ball retrieve it and then throw it back to the other stump which now with the over-throw is 50-60 yards away - run after that retrieve and throw ad infinitum. Then every fourth run sprint as fast as you can and then keep that up for 20 minutes non stop.Admittedly an old bloke like me had to have a walk around once or twice - I haven't done any running since last september, but I reckon I did quite well. What I was impressed with though was the Paul Collingwood throwing technique. For one I didn't pull any muscles and secondly I couldn't believe how accurate I was! If there's been three stumps I reckon I'd have hit them a few times, so that was really encouraging. So well done the BBC and Paul Collingwood - that's a nice little video you've got there!Once in I did some rotator cuff exercise and a few planks of different varieties and some of those press ups where you twist and raise a lifted arm above your head, which look hard but came really easy. So a good start - I'll see how I get on tomorrow!