Friday, October 31, 2008

When a plan comes together

I love it when a long term plan comes together and today one did. Back in May playing with the Boys over at the Valence Way Wicket I hit a ball and it went over the fence into a really dense bit of brambles and stinging nettles. We had a look for the ball but just couldn't get anywhere near where the ball probably landed. Later in the summer I had a pair of shears and a machete over there trying to make my way into the centre of this massive patch of brambles. After an hour of so of not finding it I gave up going back to the original plan of 'We'll come back in the winter when there's no leaves on the bush'. I've just been over there for a wicket inspection and thought I'd have a look and see if I could see the ball. And there it was - just another 4' into the bush from the point I'd given up with the machete. So I was well chuffed.

The wicket looks okay, the blokes been on the field marking out the pitch today, so now doubt it'll get a pounding over the weekend and I'll go and do some repairs on Sunday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stanford Super Series

This is all interesting stuff...
Strewth! I missed this yesterday - but check this weather out - maybe we're going to have a proper Old Skool winter like back in the early 80's and 1962 and 1949?

Just went and had a quick look at the wicket. It looks as though the tractor has been on the field again and cut the grass ready for the weekend. The wicket is now only visible just because the grass looks greener and stronger especially where the top dressing has been put down, so that looks to have worked really well and really quickly. I've now got to research into using some kind of weedkiller to get rid of the plantain weed which is very prevalant on that part of the field. See image. There's a chemical called round-up that's pretty nasty, but that'll be a job for the spring, but you have to wait until the weed is actually growing so that when you spray it the leaves are covered in the chemical and then it's absorbed into the root and kills it. The chemical does kill the grass as well if you're not careful and there's all sorts of rules and advice about using the stuff as it is quite nasty. Once that's done mowing the wicket on a regular basis then helps the grass grow fairly densely and this in turn restricts the light from reaching the soil and germinating any seeds. I'm also hoping that we cut the wicket enough during the summer period so that the seeds from the plantain wouldn't have ripened and fell onto the wicket area?

So far it looks as though my efforts will pay dividends for next summer. My only real concern is the rolling of the wicket as the timing has to be right. If I do it too early in the season it'll get ruined again by footballers sliding and tramping all over it again, whereas if I leave it till towards the end of the season it may never get wet enough for the roller to have any impact on it?

Oh yeah I've lifted the plantain image from -

They seem to have the copyright on the image so I've linked to their website. Have a look it's a good gardening website.

On the subject of yesterdays comments re money corrupting and ruining sport, looks who's piped up with a similar point -

Other than that the weather continues to be cold and rainy not allowing much to happen. I've been doing some of my exercises, especially the stretchy band behind the head for the rotator cuff. I've done a load of them and I'm now up to 30 at each go which means I'm now struggling to pull the thing apart by the time I'm up to the 26th stretch and it's an effort. Yesterday with it being a work day I did a few in the evening and that was about it, so at the minute I'm doing okay but I can see that once I'm back to work proper it'll be a bit of an effort.

I was hoping to get on the tarmac somewhere tonight for half an hour but looking outside we've got thunder and lightning so I don't suppose that'll happen. Ben and Joe on the other hand hopefully are going to try out a couple of places this next few days. On Saturday morning they're going to go and look at Basildon CC colts sessions at a local school which runs the sessions between 10 and 11.00 am which is ultra convenient. I'm just hoping the people and the kids there are going to be friendly and that they don't feel too intimidated by the situation. It'd be a shame if they were because I reckon both of them have a bit of potential in the right situation with the right encouragement. The thing with the Basildon club is that it's local and when the kids play matches both the local fields that they use are very nearby and good pitches. Then on Tuesday I'm going to take them down to Tilbury for my own clubs colts sessions and see how they get on there. Needless to say as it's my own club there's loads of plusses, but the club and the venue are miles away - and it relies on my wife taking them and I don't think she'd that up for it, whereas the saturday at Basildon is so much more do-able. We'll see what happens.....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stuart McGill

Some good stuff here from Stuart McGill

Here's some other stuff from McGill which is good to look at as it makes you realise that some of these bowlers are human and they get it fairly wrong sometimes, there's some pretty awful full tosses in this clip.
Bit of a Link 0 rama going on here tonight with some ranting in between. But first here's some stuff from Richie Benaud on the subject of how long it takes you to become a good wrist spinner -

Here's a load more Richie Benaud links -

I don't normally look at the stuff I've listed below here and get involved in all the comments flying around with regards to this stuff. But was really surprised that there empty seats at the Australia/India matches and how big a threat people perceive the 20/20 phenomenon to be to test cricket. This then led to the other article and the Sanfords series descriptions. It does seem that the world in all aspects opts for the lowest common denominator at the peril of the traditional.

There's link on the 2nd link relating to Nasser Hussein and the SKY TV connection. It just seems that everything is prostituted and that everyone has their price and is so easily bought. I just hope I get to see at least one Test match this coming summer for real before 20/20 and money finally kill off all the longer forms of the game.

While I'm on the subject of how crap TV is these days just have a look at this - I've been forced to give up my analogue TV and get a crap digital one and this ties in with my loathing of SKY TV as well. Why the F**K do I need 30 + channels in the first instance? I've got all that TV and I can't ever watch anything more than 30 minutes of cricket on the highlights programs when there's a major match on. The rest of the time it's just full of crap! Then I've been given the impression that I've got to have all this gear and a big tele with all this and that because it's so much more superior to analogue. Well back in the good old analogue days we had wall to wall cricket if I remember rightly with full coverage of test matches on BBC2 and all for the measley licence fee. The good thing was it never pixelated and you didn't have 30 odd pages of things that could go wrong with it like in the link I've posted here! You just moved the bloody ariel and it got better! Now you have to have degree in communication systems and it still aint gonna work because you've only got to watch the BBC news on analogue TV and watch their broadcasting with all their technology and skills and you'll still see their end of the deal (The digital capture end) pixelating and stopping and spluttering and completely screwing up. Man you just do not know how much I hate TV!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Snow is South East England!!!

2 weeks ago I had my shirt off getting sunburnt almost and today we've got 3 degree centigrade and snow in the South East! Earlier today we had hailstones and I've actually put the heating on in the house which we normally try and hold off till at least November! So not a lot of scope for cricket in any form, so we played indoors. I did batting practice with Ben and Joe trying to teach them how to do front foot drives and it went okay - I even set up the little video camera for some video analysis later on. The only thing is it was Ben who did best and the camera stopped recording before he got started! But he was doing pretty well and hopefully he'll remember it and apply it later in the year?

This evening I went into Grays and for our AGM and again similarly to last year I'm just amazed how small our club is and how reliant it is on a very small core of very committed people. I've tried to get all my mates from work involved and the ones that can play a bit of cricket don't seem to want to commit to doing it every weekend. It seems that one of the biggest issues our club has, is the wicket and the standard of the care the local council take in it's upkeep. It seems the council doesn't have any money to keep the wicket in good order. Whereas my own local council have several really well maintained wickets but no-one to play on them and I know that the head bloke at the parks and gardens is pulling his hair out trying to get them used frequently. Hopefully what with the Ashes this coming summer there may be a resurgence in crickets popularity and some new teams may form?

I spoke to Neil my captain tonight and he said that Ben and Joe are welcome to go along to the colts cricket session. It's 3 quid and it's on Tuesday nights 6pm to 7pm. Which is the same time slot for Ben's Karate lesson and Michelle goes along with Joe sometimes and sits and waits for Ben while he does it. Will she be willing to do the same for cricket? If both of them are doing it - surely she will? I'll wait and see what happen's this Tuesday.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Lovely sunny day but really damp can't see that there'll be much of a chance to bowl on grass after the recent wet weather? I had a bit of a throw around with some balls outside the house using the new finger placement theory and it looks like it may work, but really I need to do it with a full weight board over 22 yards before I get any real indication that I've made any real progress. Other than I've had another go at the exercises on my list and juggled them around a bit in a different order and that seemed to be okay with me getting through them okay. The only thing is that's fine while I'm on holiday and I can do them at 10.30 am, but the prospect of getting up early and doing it before anything else isn't at all appealing and most nights by the time I've come home from work I'm knackered and don't feel like doing it most nights? I'll just see how I feel by the end of the week and try and continue doing something.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wrist Spin Grips

As predicted it's been raining a lot in the last 24 hours so I've returned to the idea that maybe I should focus on keeping fit and do some exercises as I've noticed that my shoulder has been suffering slightly after the recent bowling sessions. But they have been long sessions so it is to be expected I suppose, but I do feel that maybe I should do some more exercises and I'm going to draw up a schedule and time how long it takes because it's the time that it takes to do this stuff that annoys me mostly and the fact that I don't set up a series of exercises that I then stick to.

Here's some old stuff and the schdule I was trying to stick to and some stuff done today...

Exercise Log

5th October

Across the back of the head pulls with medium band - 20
Upward forearm with Long Band - 10
The plank - 30
The plank left leg raised – 0 o f 15
The plank right leg raised – 0 of 15
Pull ups – 1 of 3
Bar – front - 10
Bar – sideways left - 10
Bar – sideways right - 10
Bar above head - 10
Shoulder raises with Long Band - 6
Rotational Press ups - 10

Notes – With the little exercise that I've been doing a lot of this came quite hard. Pull ups for instance – one felt like enough! I've also been suffering from forearm pains in my inner arm where there's loads of veins – it feels as though I may have overdone the No.2 exercises

26th of October

This was okay for a few days and then I stopped I was too knackered after coming in from work late. I may try again as I've been suffering from a sore shoulder because of the bowling.
I've just done the above and it's taken 4 and half minutes and I'm puffing and panting a bit. It'll be interesting to see how I feel tomorrow. I'm slightly wary of my right arm forearm and that seems to have been pulled recently and I don't want to damage it if it's half way to fixing itself, so I only did one pull up, although I did 3 this morning before I went swimming. On the swimming front I've got to say I was quite impressed with the fact that I swam 4 lengths under water (Seperately) over the hour and half that we were there.

Once back from swimming and aware that football had been played this morning on the Valence Way wicket I went and had a look at the state that it was in as it was obviously going to be in a bit of a mess what with the ground being softened up by all the recent rain. It wasn't that bad - probably due to the fact that it is boys playing on it rather than men? I repaired what i could where there was damage on the wicket area and checked to see if the markers were still in place and they still are. If the weather is slightly better tomorrow I may top dress it again in the sections that still need to be done.

No bowling today but some really interesting comments on the blog from Edward in Malta (See below), but here's some of the comments he's made (Blue Text) The spinning finger should be the ring finger. I usually used to use the middle finger to spin, and this would be great to bowl a topspinner, a very small leg break with mainly topspin on it(the seam would point fractionally away from off stump), or a very small googly again with mainly topspin(seam pointing fractionally away from leg stump)I also use thumb as i feel it helps control more, and also because i have relatively small hands.

Yep - it's the ring finger and little finger that I'm finding is crucial, which I've knowm all the time and seems obvious, but the thing I'm doing now is that when I put the ball in my hand I'm paying close attention as to where the fingers all go. I think up till now I've always gripped the ball as in Diagram 1.

And as you can probably see the contact with the ball in the bottom shot where my hand is twisted means that there's not a great deal of emphasis with regards how much finger is on the ball. No doubt different sized hands has some bearing on the mechanics of all this and I've probably got medium to possibly small hands as I'm only 5'9". If you look at the Mark Nicholas/Shane Warne video on youtube you'll see that the ball in Warnes hand look relatively small, so it appears he's shortish bloke with big hands.

Now look at diagram 2. Since working through this as an idea I'm now beginning to think that the contact bewteen fingers and ball is essential (Where I'm concerned) and I now go through a completely different procedure when placing the ball in the hand. With diagram 1 the ball just goes in there easy and it's pretty much the orthodox method that everyone describes when setting you on your way as a Leg Spinner. But at the minute it strikes me that I'm going to get much better results with the leg break if I carefully attend to the 2 fingers down aspect first. I now place the 2 fingers down onto the ball first making sure that they are both very much on the seam and that they're going to both work to impart the spin as that drag across the ball on release. The 2 fingers up which was always the aspect I was worried about more now seem fairly redundant in my mind other than to guide the ball in the correct general direction? As you can see bewteen diagram 1 and diagram to the grips are very different. With ring finger and the little finger most definitely in contact with the seam whereas in diagram 1 the little finger is more or less redundant as it's resting on the ring finger.

Whether this will change my bowling fundamentally I'm not sure at this stage as it's not been tested other than yesterday as one of the last thoughts of the day, but the few balls that I did throw doing this felt like they were different and did appear to spin towards slips far more affectively.

Something else I try to bowl the big leg break by spinning with my middle finger and THROWING rather than bowling it trying to keep the seam pointing to point area. Try it underarm first to uderstand the throwing like action. Hadn't there been the forward action needed to propel the ball forward it would be a square turner.

Edward - this sounds like advice straight out of Peter Philpotts book. The idea that you throw the ball with it spinning in the direction of Point is something that he gets round to and in earlier entries and on the simply cricket discussions we've all gone in to. Some people agree and some people just haven't got it - but in essence it means that when you're bowling - the wrist and spin action is almost an inward flick which if you do it standing still spins the ball back towards yourself. With a run up and the over-arm action it produces a massively sideways but erring towards back-spin delivery that means once it hits the deck it spins massively towards slips. I managed this for an afternoon using a Hockey ball on tarmac, but I've not been able to re-produce it again, but on simply cricket the blokes that did try it came back with reports saying they'd sussed it and got a lot more turn towards slips in other words a big leg break.

The above action over arm looks very different from the normal delivery but when bowled well and pitching on leg stump and outside it would miss another set of stumps with turn. Worth experimenting with.As you say you have to concentrate right through in the run up, delivery, swivel and follow through, so may things can go wrong.

And again another bloke who agrees that the attention and focus that you have to put into getting this right is enormous as advocated by Peter Philpott. One of the things that Ed alludes to is the potential of anyone out there that bowls the leg break with effortless ease, how would they get on with all this if they really went to town and spent hours and hours trying to perfect the variations?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

2 down fingers No.1

Not such a good practice today. I didn't get over onto the field till much later in the day and I had my boys with me so we were using the plastic balls and doing a range of different things, bowling, batting and catching so I wasn't able to focus in the same way that I would normally do. Towards the end I settled down a bit and started to concentrate more.

Again I was looking at trying different things with the fingers, spreading them wider and having them closer, having the ball in the palm more - things like that. Towards the end of the session I found that the 2 fingers down seem to be very important. I've often noticed since I started trying to bowl the leg break that when I drag the ball down it does seem to spin more and it's apparent that part of the reason the ball was dragged down was that the ball feels as though it gets stuck to the 2 fingers down or rather these drag across the ball in the wrong way. But it's these fingers that I reckon are instrumental in my case in getting the ball to spin in the right direction. I can bowl Top Spinners and it's exactly these fingers that impart the spin, the 2 up fingers only seem to guide the ball. So today bowling straight balls at the end of the session I paid more attention to the placing of these down fingers. It looks as though I get a lot more spin on the ball if I spread the 2 down fingers and have then very definitely apart and on the seam. I've just looked at the Shane Warne/Mark Nicholas video on youtube again and looking at the close up of his release on the Leg Break it's very different in comparison to mine, to his delivery/release has the back of the hand facing him. The closest resemblence to my Leg Break is his slider, which if you watch the clip does turn like a mini leg break. But the interesting thing with his Leg Break is the 2 down fingers are very much the last thing on the ball and you can see that the mechanics of the action suggest as I suspected that it's these fingers that primarily putting the spin on the ball.

So that puts a spanner in the works a bit, as I would imagine that if I was to try and bowl with the back of my hand facing me it would either come out as a top spinner or a googly. But it's something to ponder?

In the short term what I'll do is practice in the manner that I earlier suggested e.g. still continue to bowl straight but try and emphasise the action of the 2 down fingers - make sure they are right in the seam and stay on the ball till the last minute. As we walked home we walked past the artificial wicket and I tried this on there and there was a hint of turn and this is on a surface that doesn't facilitate spin at all, so that was quite promising? Tomorrow I'm assured that it's going to rain all day, so it looks like I'm unlikely to get any practice.

Later...... I've just looked again at and noticed that the way Jenner grips the ball is similar to what I've been doing today and he says very clearly that it is those 2 down fingers especially the last finger that imparts the spin, so it does sound like I'm onto something? All I'm looking to do is give the impression that I'm primarily a Leg Break bowler, so just as long as I can bowl an accurate ball that spin towards slips if only a bit I'm going to be happy because it does seem that it's then unusual to be able to bowl a good googly as well and that is something I can do. The other thing with these Leg Breaks is the bounce and the speed - they are so much faster and bouncier than all my other balls so it just seems the potential to then surprise the bat with either a Flipper or the Googly is massively increased?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wrist Spin Legend Joe Thompson

Just for a bit of fun I might start hyping my younger son up as a wrist spin legend. He's got off to a fairly good start he took 9 wickets last summer in one evening against a bunch of us while we were on holiday including one particular kid who was quite handy until he met his match 'Wrist spin legend Joe Thompson'!

He's the little bloke batting in the mast head picture and the one with his hands in his pockets in the B&W picture. On a similar subject Ben the older of the two who's a pace bowler in red in the mast head image is currently looking at schools a year early and I'm looking for a decent school with a cricket team, because he's quite handy as a bowler as well. Maybe they could both play together for Essex at some point in the future? That'd be nice - bit of a dream - but who knows?

24th Oct – Tractor

I came out of the house this morning at 07.45 and straight away could hear a strange rattling noise coming from the field. As I walked past the field I then noticed that they were using a tractor to cut the grass!!! Normally it’s a bloke on a large sit on mini tractor mower with a hover mower type blade, this though was the full monty – big tractor with a massive set of rotary blades like my Ransomes Ajax mower. Potentially that means there could be 2 benefits, if the blades are sharp they’ll damage the grass a lot less and there’s also the benefit that the tractor probably weighs a few ton and will act as a roller in some way? The good news is that they look like they may be looking after the field a lot better this year, but it may also mean that there may be more football on it this winter? Having said that it didn’t get played on last weekend at all – it wasn’t even used for training. At the weekend I’ll go over and have a look how it’s getting on, what it will mean is that the cricket wicket will now almost certainly be cut at the same length as the whole field and may now be invisible, hopefully the markers that I put down will still be there and I’ll be able to locate where the wicket is/was?

Later..... 17.45hrs

This'll be the last time I'll walk across the wicket on the way home in the evenings as the clocks go back this weekend and I'll be walking home in the dark till March now. I had a look at how well the tractor had cut the grass and it's cut the grass surprisingly short, but despite that you can still see where the wicket is/was because the grass is just a different colour (More healthier)? I checked to see if the markers were all still in place and they are. It looks as though the groundsman had been in and re-painted all the white lines for the footballers, so no doubt there's going to be either a match or training on the field? I'll have to wait and see.

I’ve been thinking about this idea with my younger son. I’m liking the idea that if he goes on to play cricket at school and he continues at the current rate that he is the idea that he’s got a blog already written in his honor as such extolling how good he is ties in with that psychological aspect of being a wrist spin bowler. It’s a bit like Shane Warne and the way the press used hype him up before matches. I remember before the last Ashes in the UK there was loads of stuff about whether he could still bowl the flipper as well as he used to and then there was rumors as to whether he had another variation and all this is tied in with people like Richie Benuad saying that it took him 4 years to develop the flipper and use it in a match. The whole mystery thing around wrist spin bowling variations just works on a psychological level against the batsmen. You read threads on the internet about the fact that batsmen like playing against spinners and it’s all about bull**** and the psychological war. Yeah the reason they like playing against spinners is that yeah if they get hold of the ball they do tend to hit it for 4’s and 6’s but as Warne says and no doubt all spinners - it’s a part of a carefully crafted plan and invariably the batsman will come unstuck.

So I’m thinking that if I start now a part of Joe’s plan is that his mates and maybe the opposition will know that he has a reputation as being a massively affective spinner who takes wickets. The whole school by the time he reaches year 5 or 6 will know that he is a wrist spin bowler who wins games, so when he plays cricket he will be the kid that everyone wants on their team and he will be the kid that the opposition fears because he is "Joe Thompson Wrist spin legend" the kid that bowls the Leg Breaks and the wrong one. Maybe I should do it with my older son Ben as well and sell it as The Thompson brothers - bowling legends as Ben’s pretty good too? It’s just that Ben gives an air of indifference about his enthusiasm with the sport whereas Joe does sort of revel in his abilities and I think this summer that will become more evident?

This evening primarily I suspect to stall going to bed they were both into throwing a ball around and catching. Then later Joe had a bit of old cardboard and he was batting. I'm so looking forward to next summer, because it's obvious at their ages another year makes such a big difference to who they are and their physicality. They've both decided that they don't want to go to Cubs anymore and there was a hint of enthusiasm with regards going to cricket? Grays and Chadwell CC (My team) I think have nets and indoor cricket over the winter, so I reckon that Michelle may take them to cricket on Tuesday nights, but I've got to check it out with Neil the captain and see what the situation is? So this coming Tuesday when it's the clubs AGM I'll find out what the score is?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First Frost

Got up this morning and it felt cold and then walking to the station on the way into work I noticed the Valence way field was covered in a heavy frost on the shaded side of the field. The rest of the field what with being in the sun already was OK. But that obviously means the grass seeds that I've sown when I did the last batch of top dressing is likely to survive unless there's a change in the weather over the next 4 or 5 weeks. What it will mean is that I'll probably not sow any more seed now until the spring.
Today's my short day so I came home early and noted again (I think this happened last week too) that the gate to the field was open and yet no-one was on the field. I think the key holder opens the gate early in the day so that the Boxing club blokes can get in there at 5.30pm? The thing is it's a perfect opportunity for me to simply drive in there in my car and drive back and forth up the wicket using my car as a roller a few times! I reckon I may be tempted in the spring if this arrangement continues all year, but for the moment with football being played on the pitch over the next few months I'll try and refrain from doing this!

I had a look at the wicket and it's almost invisible now apart from maybe the grass is a bit greener. With it on the verge of totally disappearing I went back over later and marked it out again and took some photo's of it from the end of the field looking down the centre, so hopefully I'll be able to mow more or less the exact patch of grass next spring?
You can just make out in the top picture the shape of where the wicket was, the grass as mentioned being slightly greener.
The weather over the next few days is going to be windy and changeable with 2 fronts bringing rain twice before the weekend is over. Saturday sounds as though it's going to be bright in the morning and then rain later and then Sunday's going to be sunny. The temp because of the wind and rain is going to be fairly good - daytime temps of 16 degrees centigrade and 8 degrees at night, so that means the grass will have a good chance to grow and and maybe the grass seeds germinate? Another observation was that the top dressing has been absorbed into the grass/earth very quickly, so I'll put more down on Friday or early Saturday so that the rain will wash it in.
Other stuff - I noticed that Slazenger make some weird pink plastic cricket balls that are good for kids to practice with. We use Kookaburra ones at the minute because of all the plastic balls these are the heaviest and therefore the nearest approximation when bowling to throwing a cricket ball. These pink ones look interesting though and I may buy a couple, just to see how they perform?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How many days till the summer?

It's a long way off yet - but here's a picture from back in the day.....

Monday, October 20, 2008


At last we've had some proper rain today and it's going to rain through the night too. This means the top dressing that I put on the wicket last night will be washed into the grass along with the seeds and maybe invigorate some growth? Then the next couple of days the weathers going to be sunny again and by the weekend apparently quite pleasent again. Couldn't be better! I'll try and remember to take some pictures to liven up the blog a bit. If the weather does look good I'll try and get my mate Thomas out on the field to face some of my new spinning skills.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

400 posts!

This is my 400th post on my blog - not bad going? had to do some chores today laying tiles in the kitchen and stuff and I could see the day fading away into a DIY abyss. But I left some time and at 15.00hrs with clouds closing in I got awy to 5 tree field and again I forgot to take my camera. I want to post some pictures of it as it is at the moment because I think they have a fire work display there and it gets trashed and at the moment it's quite nice there and the grass is very short and ideal for practicing on as it's very even and smooth.

So with my stumps and a bucket of 37 balls I made my way over there and spent an hour and half bowling. Using 12 balls bowling from one end to the other. Initially it was uneventful I didn't have any real sense of going forward in any way and at one point it did seem that I was bowling straight and the ball was hardly spinning away at all to constitute a Leg Break and I was getting a bit disillusioned. For a while I tried flicking the wrist and that just made the ball spin off into a Googly so I went back to bowling straight. Getting a little frustrated I then thought let's mess around with the fingers a bit as yesterday I kind of came to the realisation that the fingers and where they are at the point of release does make big differences.

It tried two variations really wide with the two up fingers spread as wide as I could and another variation where the 2 up fingers were together but right round the seam as far away from the down fingers. Both kind of caused an improvement with the ball spinning away to the offside more but of the two the wider fingers seemed to be the more affective. The other thing I remembered was a geezer on had said to try and push the ball through the air on release and I've done this before and it's made some kind of difference too. The session improved with all of these things combined. So finally having kind of made sense of what I was doing and sensing some progress I decided to use all 37 balls some of which are white. I decided that I'd bowl leg breaks with the red balls and random Googly's with the white balls.

If you look at the diagram here you'll see the bowling line I take. I have a run in that comes in as indicated by the arrow and I have a peg in the ground about 7' from the stumps so just at the point that the batsman can reach if he has his back foot on the crease. I aim to get the ball in the gap between the peg (the red dot) and the off stump, which I now do 90% of the time.

The ball currently with the little bit of Leg Spin that I get then goes just wide of the off stump, but I'm bowling so accurately that I'm hoping that the bat is pinned down and plays defensively? Or if they play the ball the field is then set to take edges at slip or any shots that are in the air at cover or point? With my last 37 balls I bowled googly's with the white balls bowling the same line and the googly's turned in on the stumps hitting off, middle and leg with different balls. The really pleasing thing with the Leg Breaks is it's bounce, it bounces like none of my other balls - high and that in itself strikes me as being an asset too. so all in all the session that looked a bit lack lustre to start off with ended on a real high with me in control of where the ball was going. On top of the accuracy, line and length I'm seemingly much faster with this ball and with the added bonus of bounce all I need to do is get my Mate Thomas out on the field and have a practice with him and see how I fair against him as he's got a good eye and usually punishes my bowling.

Valence Way Wicket Maintenance

As mentioned there's been very little rain of late so the Valence Way wicket (AKA someone elses football pitch) is still very dry and the grass growth rate and recovery looks painfully slow. I top dressed one end of the wicket last week and that's all but been absorbed into the ground and it's no longer apparent that I sprinkled compost over the grass. Tonight just a bit before dusk and knowing that it's going to rain I spread another bucket of compost on the other end along with some seed that I put down first. The weather is still very mild so there is a chance that the seed may take and improve the grass? I don't know how much top dressing would normally be put down but I'm of the opinion that this field is so poorly looked after even a little bit may create an improvement? The height of the grass is now equal on the wicket with the surrounding grass - see my blog banner when you open this website - that's the wicket I'm writing about and the image shows the grass when it was last cut at the beginning of sept (I think)? It's where I practice and where my sons and all the kids off the estate play cricket, it's owned by a 'Boys club' and they rarely use it, so I reckon if it's meant to be for boys what harm am I doing cutting it and maintaining it for the local boys on the estate? Anyway no-one's ever said anything to us and we're over there when the boxing wing of the boys club use the gym there - so it appears no-one's too fussed?

It looks as though on Monday 20th it's going to rain so the new compost will wash in and the seeds will get a watering? That's to be followed by sunshine for a couple of days which is ideal. Hopefully over the next weekend I'll top dress another 10-12' of the wicket and seed it and bit by bit I'll work down the wicket and do all of it. Just with the bit of mowing that I do in the summer you can see that it benefits the grass as the bit we cut and use is so much greener than the rest of the field. I reckon by the time the season starts in April and the first school holidays we'll have a lovely lush wicket with really short compact grass that'll start to resemble a putting green! But I need the rain in the spring to be quite heavy in order to make it soft enough to roll.

Hopefully all the lads that played cricket this summer will be up for it again and hopefully being a year older some of them will be slightly more sensible? I'm hoping that we may be able to get 12 of them over there and maybe play 6 aside or something, just to get it a bit competitive.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cricket on the television

I've got to say I hate SKY TV.

1. Because it is full of advertising.
2. Because it belongs to that scum Murdoch and his politics and control of the media is far too big and influential.
3. Because instead of offering a choice it deny's many people any choice because of simple economics. Because of SKY and it's power the BBC can't ever begin to put together the kind of money required to bid for cricket TV rights against SKY.

Tonight I've come across a couple of websites that claim to cover most of if not all of the key international matches around the world for what appears to be a ridiculously reasonable fee 25 pound for three years worth and that includes the Ashes next summer? It sounds too good to be true - so if you're out there and you use this and it works could you please email me or send a comment with your views as I'm sceptical?

Also looking around I found this which is very interesting -

Hopefully this will mean that we'll see some of the Ashes on real tele without incessant adverts?

General stuff

A colder weekend but still fairly warm - 16 degrees and sunny. Underfoot it's still dry so I went over to the field across the way (Valence Way) and threw 120 balls over a 3/4 hour session. Still working on the Leg Break and I've not really got a great deal to say with regards the progress, I'm getting the ball to turn which is the most important thing, it's still not a big turn but it is a turn and that's enough. Accuracy with regards line was fine, length was a bit erratic. But I did notice that the ball was stopping a lot further up the pitch indicating that I'm probably bowling a bit faster which can only a be a good thing.

Also bowled flippers and they went well too and they turn more than the Leg Breaks again quite accurate. I also tried to bowl the Knuckle Ball after reading about Mendis's Carrom Ball, I also tried my Gippers and they seemed okay, a bit wayward but I'm not fussed on developing them further until later in the year once I've got the Leg Breaks fully sussed. at the minute I'm managing to get 3 or 4 practices a week in which is quite good and generally I'm doing about 1/2 hour per practice session. If I can sustain this I'll look at trying to get the ball to turn more around the end of Nov perhaps? But I've got to say I can't see at this point what I'm going to do to get the ball to turn. I find it weird that it turns as it is as I don't put any effort into turning it at all yet it does turn. I've got a feeling that I'm still bowling the ball with my arm almost if not completely virtical and that there maybe the potential to turn it more if I bring the arm down a bit. I did try to increase the use of the 2 down fingers in the grip as it's these that I think that are affecting the spin and it did seem to make a difference.

Later on waiting for my two boys to finish their swimming lessons I had about half an hour on concrete with tennis balls and it was a very similar story. I tried some really weird looking grips having seen Mendis's Carrum ball and I didn't really conclude anything other than the fact that the Baseball 'Knuckle Ball' seems to have some potential. I bowled a few Doosra's and they went pretty well too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Carrom Ball

I've just come across this which is interesting - a bloke called Ajantha Mendis who plays for Sri Lanka bowls a new variation called the Carrom Ball and I've found some links -

At the bottom of the page there's more links. I'll have a look at this myself at some point and try it out? At the minute though I haven't got a clue what they're talking about with regards holding and flicking the ball - but I'll have a look.

Mowing Fun

I saw this in one of the papers on the way to work, not that in any way would I ever advocate or encourage the reading of the Daily Mail, but I thought that this was interesting in that it has similarities to my football field mowing (See banner as you open my blog).

I guess the link will disappear in time so in the event of that the premise of the article is that this bloke's got a patch of grass outside the front of his house - a verge. He's obviously a bloke who appreciates a tidy lawn and no doubts thinks that the state of your front garden and no doubt your local area is a reflection of the you and the people who live in the street? Something I can relate to entirely. If my street looks untidy (especially just after the bin men have been round and left a bit of a mess) I go outside with a bin bag and tidy the place up. Partly because if the place looks like ****hole other people will be more inclined to treat it like a ****hole.

Because the council leave the cutting of this verge too long and it looks unkempt, this bloke simply cuts the grass himself making it look nice and tidy. There's several points I could make about this relating to what the government want us as individuals to do -

  • We're supposed to be trying to be greener - this bloke uses a Old Skool push mower so is using no electricity blah blah..
  • People are supposed to look after their health - this geezers getting some exercise doing it himself.

So all in all this blokes doing okay I'd say? But the council are saying that he's not allowed to do this.... "His reward? A warning from the council accusing him of 'encroaching' on its property.
The letter from Herefordshire's parks, countryside and leisure development service ordered the grandfather to put down his shears and return the land 'to its original state within 28 days' - or the work will be carried out by contractors and charged to him.
On Thursday, Mr Hubbard, 72, of Belmont, Hereford, accused the council of 'heavy-handedness' and vowed to ignore the order.
He said that when he queried the letter, a council official told him that if the grass was too tidy 'people might not feel they could walk over it'. "

For the most part people are saying that this bloke is being public spirited and doing something good for the benefit of others. Similarly I'd argue that my maintenance of a cricket wicket on Valence Ways field is done in the same spirit - I encourage kids that would otherwise be walking around trashing the estate and being a nuisance to play sport. But in a similar way when I posted what I was doing on a ground maintenance website it caused a reaction similar to the reaction of the council in this story. They went barmy - but they were arguing that what I was doing was a massive H&S issue and that I should severely reprimanded. But look at the reaction of normal people to this story below, so maybe normal people would see my wicket mowing as a good thing?

Mr. Hubbards disgraceful act of showing up the council is appalling. How must the council feel as they have been exposed and revealed to not be performing up to their full potential. They should pursue this through the Human Rights act as I am sure their delicate little sensibilities have been irretreivably damaged by this revelation. Then again why not properly do the job your supposed to and stop hounding a decent man. In case you havent noticed the people in the UK are now alert to how stupid and maverick councils are with other peoples money. Time for a rebellion..
- Gordon, Manchester, 16/10/2008 13:25

Oh my goodness, encroaching on council grass... oh yes i can imagine the distress, after all the grass is endagered isn't it??!!
- Ken Smith, Swindon, Wilts, 16/10/2008 13:32

He's fooling nobody this guy because the council know full well (as does this fella) that he is actually trying to lay legal claim to that piece of land by showing continued use and upkeep of it for a period of years in order to boost his property value. The council have done the right thing in protecting him from laying claim to public land.
- Dave Jones, Manchester, 16/10/2008 13:35

Sounds like a U turn from the council, but lets be fair to them .Their contracters will feel humiliated and their uman rights violated if they are shown to be overpaid slovenly cronies of some counciller? The fact that this "civilian pensioner" is doing a good job and for free kind of shows up what they spend the council tax on doesn't it? Where will it all end, maybe the council could microchip his lawnmower.
- Bert Hastings, UK, 16/10/2008 13:39

Somebody takes a pride in their surroundings and good old jobsworth is there. Well done Mr Hubbard. How long before day glow jackets, 3 road warning assistants and full protective suits are required. Grow up council and be pleased your verge is being looked after. A tidy bit of grass has never stopped any body walking on it before unless it is in a Council run Park. I am lucky in that my Council encourage home owners to keep the grass tidy, even though they provide grass cutting every two weeks. It all helps make the community a better place to live.
- Deerwatcher, Fareham Hants, 16/10/2008 13:44

Maybe the council should cut the grass and tidy up more often that what they do then? Surely if this man wants the grass outside his house short and tidy, then he is doing the council a favour! If I had a mower then I would cut mine, as the council here only cut it when it starts looking like a overgrown meadow.
- SP, Surrey, 16/10/2008 13:45

How much, then, do this ultra-sensitive council pay to their contractors for what appears to be a pretty mediocre job?? All Mr Hubbard has done is show that the 'public spaces' could be better maintained, &, instead of annoying him, Herefordshire should be sending their snoopers out to check on their own workforce.
- Tony K, Oxford, UK, 16/10/2008 13:45

"A spokesman" why not just print their names so the fools can be known by all.
- Karen, ex pat USA, 16/10/2008 13:45

I've been waiting for the punch line! Is this a joke? The council is certainly a joke - why punish someone for trying to make the area look nice? Bunch of utter morons!
- Diana, Edinburgh, 16/10/2008 13:47

Dave Jones, Manchester, 16/10/2008 13:35 - So cynical! This is the type of response one expects from councils these days, little stasi brigade. All they like to do is waste money (because us mugs will keep paying) and cause trouble for law abiding citizens. Time we retook this country and it great again!
- Mr Black, London, England, 16/10/2008 13:53

No such thing as "council grass", anything that comes under the council remit is the property of the public, paid for with ratepayers money! So tell them to go hang, he has every right to keep it as it should be, not leave it, as the council does.
- Nigel, Somerset, 16/10/2008 14:03

All part of the "services" Brown proclaimed at Labour's conference that he's still spending our money on, I'll tell you what Gordy, old chum, I think we'll manage without. You keep your jobsworths, we'll keep our money.
- Pinkie, London UK, 16/10/2008 14:04

I think the council need to not have maintained the grass, never mind what he does, then he can lay claim to it, which would be fair enough He should charge them for maintenance, a nice job Mr Hubbard in the credit crunch, start a gardening firm? I think the council should find better things to do with council tax than penalise people who help them. Why dont they get a life and give the residents better value for money?
- Ann, England, 16/10/2008 14:09

Never mind Council grass or Council property, it's PUBLIC property, managed by the council on behalf of the people. Councils' employees are not dictators and they should be reminded of this, particularly by the elected representatives. Our councillors dictate policy on our behalf, not the other way round as many council officials seem to think.
- NH Storbeck, Barnsley, UK, 16/10/2008 14:11

To Dave from Manchester. What a cynical outlook you have. Good on ya. Unfortunately its back to law school for you. He could tend the verge from her to armageddon and still not acquire a legal claim
- m Browne, Cumbria, 16/10/2008 14:14

Well done Mr Hubbard for ignoring the council and also going public. Home dwellers and businesses should tidy up outside their immeadiate properties as it makes areas look nice, clean, tidy. As a result there is less vandalism, less mess and less litter dropping. As for contractors being told to do their jobs right by the council - its for the council to police not the public!
- bella, sheffield, 16/10/2008 14:20

Are the contractors still being paid out of the public purse - of course they are. Has the jobsworth who sent this ridiculous letter to the public spirited council tax payer been disciplined - of course not. It is so heartening to know how our taxes are spent.
- Ann, Hyde, England, 16/10/2008 14:33

"'We apologise if Mr Hubbard feels the letter he received from us is heavy-handed" Newspeak for "it's not us, it's you". It's not an apology, these high handed councils are way above apologising, they just hate being shown up by the press.
- keith, Beziers, France, 16/10/2008 14:35

The contractors are paid out of the purse! Isn't that purse taxpayers money! So not only is Brian Hubbard paying into the pot - he's working for free - he should be congratulated and given a refund!
- carol elsworthy, s anta cruz, california, usa., 16/10/2008 14:36

My brother lives in a council house in Swansea - he is disabled and therefore the council have agreed to cut the grass in his front and back garden for him. However they only do this once a year - even though he phones and asks them to tend it more frequently. The house directly next door to him is used as a house for refugees and has it's gardens cut every month. As my brothers garden is cut so infrequently it gets very untidy and the very council which is supposed to cut his grass has sent him a letter telling him it is untidy and to get it sorted!!! The point I'm making is that this chap is doing a fine job and it is just typical of a council to act stupidly and embarrass themsleves by complaining. Please print this letter and shame Swansea City council.
- Andrew, Swansea, Sout Wales, 16/10/2008 14:37

What about the Human Rights of this poor grass then? The man's doing society a bloody favour, who cares if he makes claim for the land, he deserves it after looking after it for so long. Another Labour Council I suspect with nothing else worth doing, like say, running the area.
- Alan Bull, North Tyneside, 16/10/2008 14:45

I can see where this man is coming from.. the verges the Council used to cut near my house.. have now been turned into a nature reserve.. in other words they cant be bothered to cut it. Cost Cutting comes to mind..
- Jacqui Weems, Southampton, 16/10/2008 14:48

Our local council, Worcester, has sent letters out to 'the occupier' instructing people in our cul-de-sac to cut back 'creepers' ie ivy, from the walls because it must not hang lower than 2.4mtres over the wall. However it looks very pretty and green and we have no trouble with graffiti - so - has the world gone mad?
- Diana, Worcester, 16/10/2008 14:50

Hertfordshire is known for its heavy-handed, ridiculous stances. Instead of deal with real issues and problems, they do things like this to make it appear that they are doing something. They refuse to admit they can make a mistake and instead spend more money to try to make it seem as if they were right all along. A complete disgrace and I'm so happy to be gone from there.
- Lynn, expat in USA, 16/10/2008 14:57

the council should be grateful. In my experience, the pondlife they employ to do gardening simply do not have a single clue about the subject, they hack plants to death and about the only thing they can manage, with any degree of competence, is to chop a bit off the grass.
- Tracey, Paisley, Scotland, 16/10/2008 14:58

I would like to have him for a neighbour.
- marianne, london, 16/10/2008 15:01

I pay a commercial contractor to cut the council owned grass verge outside my business because the council will not guarantee doing it. Citing of course budget restrictions. I cannot present an unkempt business premises to my customers so, I ensure it done. Perhaps this gentlemen has the same problem. None of us want to live in, or work in, an untidy environment. Fortunately no jobsworth has attacked me...... yet.
- Mal, Vale of Glamorgan, 16/10/2008 15:05

In France I and a few neighbours strim our ditches and the French councils just love it! Pleased I don't have to put up with any of that nonense anymore and petty minded local officias.
- Graham Richards, Nerac, South of France, 16/10/2008 15:06

During last summer a lady who lives near my mother in the Salisbury area complained to Salisbury District Council because their contracted grass cutters had not been around to cut the grass in front of her disabled home for over two months and the grass had grown very high. They ignored all her letters. So in the end she paid somebody to cut her area of grass to improve its appearance but the council simply sent somebody around to reprimand her severely for cutting the grass and warned her that they would take action against her if she had the grass cut again. The contracted grass cutters were sent around about a week later and they made a real mess of the grass areas.
- Angus Peters, Bournemouth England, 16/10/2008 15:18

If the Council are responsible for the up keep of the grass outside this mans house them why does he cut it?? He pays Council Taxes for this and he spoils it for others that pay Council Tax What is the matter with people today There is also another point Does he know that if anybody slips up on the grass HE has cut HE is libel to be prosecuted That is the law
- Alan Hammond, Egham Surrey, 16/10/2008 15:21

This is me commenting here - Look at this twat above - this is the kind of crap that I had to put up with. If you slip over you get up and say "Whoops I've just fallen over and I think I've broken my wrist" You don't then go looking for someone to sue. What is the matter with these people?

This is an example of a council who has people working for them, and who, sadly, have no brains to work on their own initiative, but have to rely on a piece of paper to tell them what to do. They have lost the brainpower of using common sense and sadly this is what we have allowed in today’s society. We are now just one step from employing brainless morons that have been brainwashed to believe that political correctness is to be worshipped and common sense is now the devil.
- J.S., Devon, 16/10/2008 15:32

I am beginning to worry now. last Tuesday afternoon I mowed & edged my grass verge & it really looks quite nice. The problem is I also commited the same 'offence' on THREE of my neighbours verges so now we have FOUR attractive looking verges.....I can even see a prison sentence looming because the rest of the road is disgusting due to car parking reducing grass to a muddy mess and our verges are so damned obviously being cared for. I am now about to remove the 'evidence' from my compost bin & 'fly tip' it somewhere!! What really bothers me is that we are all paying their wages until they retire AND their pensions for ever more. No doubt one can find a job with the council entitled...'Grass Verge Comparison Testing Officer' on about £35k!and a very nice final salary pension. I remember when these people were referred to as 'Public Servants' times have changed.
- Brian., Birmingham, England, 16/10/2008 16:27

I am 70yrs old and live in a council owned bungalow , the council used to cut our " lawns " supposed to be every two weeks more like every six weeks if they could remember, and with double cutter mini tractors we got so fed up we got together and hired our own man who cuts the grass and trim`s the edges every two weeks, and he takes the grass cuttings away
- ann ridley, United Kingdom, 16/10/2008 16:27

- Dave Jones, Manchester, 16/10/2008 13:35 That's what's wrong with this country - we have idiots like you finding conspiracies where there are none and defending the indefensible. Has it ever occurred to you that he's just a good citizen? His former status as a parish councillor would be a strong indicator to anyone with half a brain. Not everyone in the world is scum on the make you know - maybe you should open your eyes and not judge everyone by your own standards!
- Alex, London, 16/10/2008 16:47

People should not be surprised by this kind of thing.Always rememember that council types are not the brightest of folks so allowances need to be made.
- Dave, Hinckley UK, 16/10/2008 16:59

you have got to be kidding right i mean telling someone there lawn is to tidy and to stop tending it is the stupidest thing i have ever heard now i could understand them saying something if he was not maintaining his lawn or something but he is so just leave him be
- jennifer, greenwood, mississippi, usa, 16/10/2008 17:07

There are two kinds of people running this country: useless, incompetent idiots and nasty, bullying scum. Some, of course, fall into both camps.
- Churchill Tank, Staffs., 16/10/2008 17:13

NO NO NO ! There are no spokeman ! Can we have a name? Or NAMES? Someone the be held accountable? Very simple ! Ignore the letter, or better still, treat it as it is, a form of criminal intent against you. And sue them prior to them fining you. Or after. Imagine it in court. These scum are public servents, SERVENTS, demand service. Demand that they work for every pound they take in their salaries. Demand to see their worksheets and work load. You know what, my boss demands this from me as he pays me, we pay these scumbags. And for what?
- Simon T., Bucks, UK, 16/10/2008 17:17

IDIOTS!!! Time for a few high profile SACKINGS to remind our "public servants" that it is THEY who serve the public and not the other way around. Virtually every day there is some unspeakable jobsworth tosspot who drags this country and any notion of common sense through the mud.
- Cllr Jeremy Zeid (Conservative), Harrow, England, 16/10/2008 17:50

"Herefordshire Council is comprised of socially maladjusted imbeciles who forget, or won't accept, that they are public servants elected by the people" Well said, Sir!!
- Philip, Middlesbrough, 16/10/2008 17:53

Where I live, we all mow the six feet of Council owned land in front of our houses; the council cut it once a year if we are lucky, and left in their hands it would be a terrible mess. I suspect someone elsewhere, nearby, has asked the council to tidy the land outside their house like they have assumed the council has tidied the land outside Mr Hubbard's house, and this has caused some embarrassment! Every one must be reduced to the lowest level.
- Brian E, Buckinghamshire, England, 16/10/2008 17:55

You are having a laugh!!!
- Rachel, London, 16/10/2008 17:56

You have got the wrong idea Brian. Just try to fit in with some of the lesser intelligences of your neighbourhood. Cover your grass verge with dog excrement, dismantle a couple of broken down bangers on your front lawn and leave them there in a state of rotting decay for years, liberate a few shopping trolleys from your local superstores and allow them to rust away next to the decaying cars in your front garden, light a bonfire in your front garden with old car tyres even, though you live in a smokeless zone, and leave it to burn unattended for days and you will be accepted with open arms by your local council as a pillar of the community and an exemplary example of true neighbourly behaviour.
- Michael Cooke, Nuneaton,Warwickshire., 16/10/2008 18:07

Last week in Switzeland I saw a woman sweeping up leaves from the gutter outside a shop - at about 08:00. I somehow doubt that the relevant Swiss local authority would threaten her with the cost of replacing the leaves - but hey, this is Britain!
- Paul Revere, Boston, Lincs, 16/10/2008 18:25

If the council employees have time to write letters like that and go round snooping, there are obviously too many staff with too little proper work to do. Sack them or make them redundant. Councils and there idiotic employees get sicker by the day.
- GOW, England, 16/10/2008 18:27

Thursday, October 16, 2008

MPA 1st XI one final gasp for air?

A bloke at work over the last few days (Steve Newman) has been hassling me to get some of my students to shoot pictures of his football team for free. We eventually got together and sorted it out and it looks like he's onto a bit of a result. But on meeting him we got to talking about sport and stuff and he asked if I was interested in football. After getting past the 'No' bit which was rather more than a straight no I got round to the interesting part - Cricket and Wrist Spin bowling. It then turns out that he plays a bit of cricket and that on the floor where he works there's more blokes that play cricket!!! So could this be a rising from the flames of the phoenix but in a new guise?

Realistically though the MPA 1st XI can only ever be me and Simon Grainge and perhaps Richard, Badger and Alex? Richard tends to talk a good talk but then never comes up with the goods, but if this bloke Steve has got a bunch of mates downstairs that are up for a game there's potential there? Boffa's MCCC are up for a game at Welstead Gardens and I'm sure Neil could sort a game out with the Grays boys as well and maybe we could play the Sports Science boys again?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

15th October

Came back across the field on the way home tonight to see how the top dressing was being absorbed into the grass/earth and it looks okay. The gate of the field was open today during the morning and no-one seemed to be there. Spread some seeds across the wicket area in a half hearted manner but really I need to top dress the rest of the wicket. What I may do is finish it off this weekend and seed it at the same time, although it's a bit late in the season and will then need the frost to stay away for about another 3 or 4 weeks, although it may be possible? If I can get as much as I can done this weekend I'll then leave it and just do repairs to it where the footballers cause any damage. Then in the early spring I may top dress it again and re-seed it at the same time and then roll it. Once the grass has established cut it in the correct manner as described in the previous blog entry. Then once it's growing nicely and pretty short I'll roll it a few times hopefully running up to the Easter holidays and then that'll be the point when we'll probably start using it again?

Went over to the basketball court where it looks as though I'll spend the winter practicing as it's ideal - floodlit, smooth and flat. (See link).,0.430841&spn=0.000352,0.001368&t=h&z=20

I spent just over half an hour bowling Leg Breaks and it does feel like it is getting easier and feeling more natural. The ball is pretty much straight with a slight deviation and at the moment I'm still not looking to try and put spin on it. I'm still sticking to the plan whereby I'm just happy to be bowling straight and accurately and it's not turning into a Googly, which is what is happening. I intersperse the session with flippers as well and they're coming along nicely too especially as last season I was reluctant to bowl them most of the season. I also noticed tonight that it looks as though because the whole of my bowling action seems to have improved I'm not bowling a lot faster possibly? If I compar where I was at this point last season I reckon there's quite a bit improvement and I reckon if I was to compare now with last July, Aug and Sept there's a marked improvement too!

A bloke on the internet last night said this ......

yeah, the follow through to me was important, it was the follow through that helped me acquire the googly, basically i noticed if i follow through'd with the arm straight down like an inswing bowler it would help the ball come out the back of the hand because of the imaginary straight line formed by the release and follow through. Same with the legbreak as it's more at 10 o clock by follow throuing with the arm going across my i cant possibly flick my wrist the other way, it has to go the same direction as my wrist. Why don't you try it out Dave, basically the follow through of my legbreak is like a outswing delivery, and googly is like a inswing delivery, also opening up my action a bit has also helped me bowl the googly.

So while I was bowling I took note of what was happening with my arm as it followed through and found that it did come across the body in a diagonal fashion while I'm trying to bowl Leg Breaks so that seems okay. I also looked at the position of my arm as I wholly agree with the idea that if you're bowling googly's they work better if the arm is dead straight. So I tried to bring the arm lower slightly with the leg break and may look at this in more detail later on as I look to get it to turn more. But in the short term all it did was make my line and length not so accurate - but it may have affected the spin for the better. So that's one for the future?

All in all a good session.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wicket maintenance stuff

What with it being Autumn I'm currently continuing with my wicket maintenance madness. At the minute the field is being used by footballers, but so far the damage they've been inflicting is minimal as the field only gets used the once I think on Sunday, although saying that they may have trained on it Saturday as well this week.

I'm researching grass/lawn maintenance at the moment in preparation for the summer and I've just come across some info relating to cutting the grass - This extract has been lifted from -

Perfect Mowing

Keep it High The first guideline is mowing high. A lawn kept clipped at the correct height has more food producing ability, is able to stay greener, reduces weeds, and conserves water by shading the soil. Weed and fescues need plenty of sun and heat to sprout. Because of this, taller grass is one of the best weed presenters you can use. Shading the soil by mowing higher also reduces water loss from evaporation.

Cutting too short or too much off at once is scalping. When you set the blade too low, you may remove most of the food producing parts of the plant. The result is a brown lawn that takes weeks and weeks to recover.

Mowing frequency is the second rule to keeping your lawn in top condition. During periods of heavy growth, once a week may not be enough, while every ten days might be fine during the summer. The key to mowing frequency is to never remove more than 1/3 of the total blade height in a single mowing. This then begs the question - if you want the grass really short - and you're cutting 1/3 off each time you mow the grass - how long do you let the grass recover before you can cut it again? As if you leave it too long it'll recover it's length again and you'll not be getting it any shorter?

A Sharp Blade = A Sharper Looking Lawn. Blunt blades apparently stress your lawn. Another point is to not mow the grass when it's wet.

I reckon there's a few things I've picked up there that are useful. Cutting the wicket back in Sept so short was obviously not such a clever move in hindsight, but I reckon it's pretty much recovered. Looking at some of the fields that I've practiced on last year - 5 tree field for instance, there's no evidence there that we ever were there and wore the grass out in the way that we did. The grass it's obvious has self repaired and is it pretty good shape. It's the same with the practice wicket in the corner of the field of Valence Way wicket. This summer that took a real pounding but already it's recovered on it's own more or less with a little help from me (seeds and some good earth to level it).

I've shot some weddings recently at golf courses and been amazed at the quality of the grass on the putting greens, it's amazingly dense and carpet like when you look at it closely - how on earth do they get it like that? Reading between the lines it does sound as though mixing the grass types is part of the answer and all the other techniques like tining. I know looking around websites that when they refurbish bowling greens and the likes they really are agressive with the scraping out of dead grass that lays around the roots. Obviously I can't do that so I've just got to work as discreetly as possible with the what I've got and in a way that is as non-intrusive as I can?

I've also come across this at

Browntop Bentgrass (Agostis capillaris) The main bent grass used in the UK. A perennial that spreads with short rhizomes and occasionally by stolons. Predominantly used for fine sports turf and any close mown area.
Chewings Fescue (Festuca rubra commutata) A much used grass in fine sports turf. It is densly tufted but does not infill bare patches due to it lack of rhizomes. Quick germinating, wear tolerant and desease resistant.
Hard Fescue (Festuca longifolia) Good for close mowing and has ability to stand abrasive wear. It is more suited to dry infertile soils, particularly when mixed with red fescue. There is no production of rhizomes so hard fescue is not particularly suitable to winter sports turf or areas of intense wear.
Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne) This is the major turgrass species (particularly dwarf varieties) in the UK for hardwearing sports turf due to it's fast establishment rate, vigorous growth and high wear tolerance.
Slender Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra litoralis) Densly tufted, fine leaved and low growing. This grass does very well in a closely mown turf. Once established it stands up well to abrasive wear and with closely packed tillers, spread by fine and slender rhizones, it is quick to recover from heavy damage.
Small Leaved Timothy (Phleum pratense bertolonii) Sometimes used in winter sports turf that receive heavy wear. Produces few stolons but is very tolerant of wet, heavy soils and blends well with both fescues and bentgrass in colour and texture. A very useful grass on difficult clays.
Sheeps fescue (Festuca tenuflia) Not suitable in sports turf due to its odd groth habit of forming unsightly swirly patterns.
Smooth Stalked Meadowgrass (Poa partensis) This grass can be slow to establish but once it has it is extremely hard wearing and persistant. It spreads by means of slender creeping rhizomes that quickly infill damaged open areas. It does best on fertile chalk or limestone soils and is very drought tolerant.
Strong Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra rubra) Not tollerant of very close mowing but very good for knitting a winter sports turf together with its very long, slender, creeping rhizomes. More suited to chalk and limestone soils Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea) Not suitable in sports turfs as it forms large dense tussocks and has very course leaves.

There's a load more info here too...

1.00 Kg Golf Putting Green. 100% Bentgrass

Click to enlarge
Brief Guide: To produce a short, dense and consistent playing surface.Sowing Rate: 50-100 grams per sq metre (2-3 oz per sq yard)Mixture: 75% certified Common Bent agrostis capillaris 25% certified Browntop Bent agrostis tenuis
Additional Information:Good preparation is essential when creating a putting green. The area to be sown must be exactly the shape, size and density required before the seed is applied. Cutting should take place a minimum of 4 times per week to maintain a quality putting surface and on competition sites this may be increased to twice a day. This mixture is also very suitable for the maintainence of established putting greens. Use at half the recommended sowing rate when overseeding but cover the entire area for a more uniform colour match. For further information on Golf Greens see our Grass Matters site
Adobe Reader PDF File 2008 FULL PRICE LIST.
This product was added to our catalog on Friday 20 June, 2008.

This looks like the kind of thing I should be doing now at this time of year - Overseeding lawns

Up to a quarter of your lawn might die each year. Sowing new lawn seed into your existing lawn may dramatically improve its appearance as well as reduce weed invasion. To do this then follow these steps.

1) When the lawn is dry cut the grass very short.

2) Select a suitable seed mixture.

3) Ideally sow after a good fall of rain.

4) Mix the seed in a bucket with a general purpose compost.

5) Broadcast the seed over the area to be improved.

6) Rake the area well so that the seed gets in contact with soil.

7) Roll lightly afterwards

8) If possible keep of area where the grass is to establish.

9) If dry weather follows then water with a fine mist.

10) When grass is 2-3 inches high cut for the first time. Trim lightly and steadily increase depth to appropriate height.

Here's even more detail -

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunny Mid October!

What a day - what an amazing day, here we are on October 12th and the weather today was incredible. Once the mist had cleared in morning around 10.00hrs we had back to back blue sky and sunshine again. At one point in the late afternoon 16.30 it was 22 degrees centigrade in the sun. I had my shirt off all afternoon wearing just a pair of shorts and was sweating my nads off it was that hot! Maybe it's time to extend the cricket season till the 3rd week in October?

Anyway a lovely day that had followed what must be now almost three weeks without any real rain therefore the Valence way field must be reasonably dry and okay to throw some balls on? Got the stumps out and 12 balls and had a go in the afternoon once all the football had finished. Once again I'm happy to say that the balls were either straight and bouncy or Leg breaks. Small leg breaks, but I'm not worried just as long as they're leg breaks at this stage I'm more than happy.

Later Ben and Joe came over with a mate of theirs and asked if I wanted to go over to Glouscester Park and practice there (5 Tree field) while they used the skatepark. Initially I was quite happy to stay where I was but then I thought that it'd be better to let the Valence Way wicket recover a bit, so going elsewhere might be a good idea? I also remember noticing a couple of weeks ago that the grass on 5 Tree Field looked very short flat so thought I'd give it a go.

When we arrived I was very pleasently surprised at how good and short the grass was. This is somewhere that I practiced a quite a lot last winter, I was even contemplating mowing it and rolling it through the summer, but it gets used as the site for the summer fairgrounds and other events and I got fed up driving to the field to find that there was someone using it and opted to use Valence Way field. So anyway - measured it out bunged the stumps in whilst still kind of being amazed at how flat and smooth the field was in the vicinity of the wicket and then got down to some bowling and it went very well.

I'm now going to load a CD that was burned when I had viruses, is this suicide? I need to because it's got some graphics on it that I want to use and also some images of 5 tree field just to refresh your memories of where I'm on about......

Then I realised I can get free virus protection and stuff from so I'm doing that before I put the CD in the computer!

Anyway - yeah the practice went well again. I set up the stumps and I put a little marker at the length I wanted to pitch the ball and set it just slighty wide of the off stump giving me a 12" area in which the ball would pass the off stump and this is where I was aiming the ball with the intention that they would spin away towards off. I reckon I must have had about 90% accuracy getting it within that width and 65% of the balls spun away wider after pitching, so I was happy with my bowling. The whole thing still feels wholly wrong and un-natural, but I'm going to keep going until the bowling action feels right/natural. Once it feels right I'll then try and get it to spin more, but until then I'll carry on with what I'm doing because it is turning 65% of the time and today that was happening without a great deal of concentration, so maybe it is coming easier?

The diagram here indicates the kind of leg Break I've been producing today. As I've said - not a lot of deviation off the bowling line but it is going in the right direction and I can consistently get it at the length and line that I want. At the back of my mind is the thought that if it's only spinning this much on rough grass, how little will it spin on a proper wicket? But that's a problem for next summer. Overall I was very happy with the progress today and alongside the Leg Breaks I was also bowling Flippers and they were pretty good too.
On the subject of lawnmowers and green keeping I've been watching to see how many Ransomes Ajax mowers come up on ebay and how much they go for. The prices vary it seems. There's claims that someone sells them re-furbished and painted for almost 300 of your English pounds. Yet there was a lovely one a bloke had done this to up North somewhere and his went for 99p! We had a nice one down here in Billericay that went up and that sold for 52 quid and that was just a 2nd hand one in good nick with it's grass bucket.
News on the Valence Way wicket is that football is being played there every weekend it seems so far, but the field seems to be holding up quite well, but that's probably helped by the fact that it's still very dry. I've done some tining and seeded some of the bare patches but today I looked at the possibility of top dressing it. I did a test in my own backyard to see how obvious it would be if I did it and to be honest it's quite apparent as the dressing I've used is old compost which is unbelievably good stuff and it's very dark, so once you put it down it is quite easy to see. But to be honest I don't know how bothered the green keeper of the field is and whether he'd even notice? I'm hoping that it'll rain this week and the compost will wash into the grass and not be so noticeable by the time they play football on it? At the moment I've done about 10' from one end of the wicket and it's only thinly spread. It'll be interesting to see how it affects the grass because the field is on rough old clay and is probably pretty thin on nutrients. It may be by the time I've finished if I do it bit by bit it'll produce a really rich thick growth that'll mow nicely?
I've also learned that the cutting in the spring needs to be gradual over a period of weeks, leaving the grass to grow back a bit each time you cut it. Gradually lowering the blades each time you cut it. I'm hoping that with the top dressing of compost that when it comes to rolling it this might help with producing a nice even pitch this year and an improvement on last year?

One last thing even though it was like summer today none of my boys wanted to play cricket. While I was over at 5 tree field Joe joined in a bit and batted a few balls then run off again. We asked (Michelle as well) them if they'd be interested in going to Neils colts classes in Grays later in the year and they both said they'd be up for it. Michelle even pointed out to Ben that Cricket was in fact the sport that he was best at - which he is by a long way, he doesn't like to admit to it for some reason and fancies himself as a football player, but in comparison he far better at Cricket, so hopefully this winter I'll be able to get them both along to the nets in Grays?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Googly Syndrome

Tonight I had a practice over at the Basket Ball court near the A127 (Near St Nicholas Church) Basildon. I went over there as I was running an errand for Michelle and it was somewhere that I practiced last winter and couldn't remember whether it was lit or not. So I was pleasently surprised to find that it was floodlit because it has a really nice smooth and flat surface.

The Good news is that I was able to bowl Leg Breaks. But something else happened. For the first time in 2 weeks I bowled a Googly and I was really surprised that it felt so natural and right. So even after bowling the Leg Break for 2 weeks non stop my Googly still feels like the right one rather than the wrong one! So how long will I have to bowl the Leg Break till it feels wholly natural and the Googly feels like the wrong one as it should?

More details here - skip straight to the diary page......

Monday, October 06, 2008

So far so good.

So far today and it's only 8.55 am and I've managed to do 20 forearm exercises uisng the long Terra Band. 25 behind the heads with the medium terra-band. 20 straight armed jobbies with the long one (Front shoulder raises) and 30 seconds of straight plank - 15 seconds of left leg raised, 15 seconds of right leg raised. Also 15 rotational press ups. I may try and do some more during the day. As yet I'm not suffering any pain, so I'll keep up this slow and easy approach. The thing I'll struggle with getting done will be the power-walking bit - 20 minutes of going nowhere doesn't really do it for me.

And here's the solution -

Power walking is fantastic Dave I take my 20 something rugby players through the local woods. It took them a while to get the hang of the technique and they ached in places they had never ached before but you point them in the right direction now and they're off.I turn this in to fartlek session; when we come across a bench, they do step ups, elevated press ups etc [gives me a chance to get my breath ]. When I need another breather, they use the low branches to do chin ups. We take resistance bands with us so they can do upright rows, bicep curls, seated rows, resisted press ups, squats etc but more importantly, I mix up the walking levels. Once they are warm, I move them from level 2 to 3 to 1 to 3 etc and when we get a little bunched, [and I need another breather] they caterpiller.If this is the only exercise you will be doing, you need to do it at least three times a week for at least 20 minutes but remember, you really need to puff and sweat.

Brilliant, I'd never thought of spicing it up with the pull ups and bench stuff - that is such a good idea! With regards to the sweating question - yeah I do this at full pelt and as this says it uses muscles that you've never used before in the same way, so it's good to get this and hear that it's being applied to rugby training. I do it so fast that I'm soaked when I get back!

20.32 hrs

With a day of on - off exercise opportunities which I'll go into more detail in a minute I finished the day off just now with a 20 minute power walk spiced up with sort bursts of sprinting (Cricket specific) I'm now sitting here having just come in dripping with sweat straight into 20 x front shoulder raises with the bands, 20 x forearm raises with the long band as well and 20 x behind the back of the head pulls with the medium band and I am dripping with sweat like I haven't seen in a long time but it feels good! As to how long I can keep this up I don't know but the determination to do it every 3rd day is there and I'll see how I feel tomorrow? I may yet do more once I've had a bit of a breather - more rotational press up and maybe 3 pulls ups and some planks?

I had a bit of a practice on the field again tonight trying to get the Leg breaks but it was phenomenally frustrating check out the other blog at

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fitness and other stuff

The predicted rain is here and it's been continuous all day do far and it's 1pm at the moment. So far there's been no opportunity to get out there and throw some balls. I'm contemplating a late night session over the Chav Park later on? In the meantime aware of my decreasing fitness and wasting away of muscles etc I'm beginning to think about some kind of fitness plan and have knocked up a list of exercises. The only thing is with these things I tend to go at them with the approach that I'm still in my late 20's - early 30's whereas the reality is I'm almost 50. The consequence is I hurt myself/pull muscles and I'm now realising when this happens I'm looking at recovery times in excess of 4 months with my calf muscle last year!

Here's some of the exercises I'm looking at doing -

I've got a few of these band things and one of the exercises that I do using a shorter band is the stretching behind that back of the head exercise. Initially it feels easy but then once I get to around 20 of these it starts to get hard. These are good for the rotator cuff I'm led to believe and are essential if you want to keep your shoulder in good order through the season. I usually aim to do about 25 - 30 of these a day minimum. Having not done any for weeks I reckon I'd struggle to get 20 done at the minute.

Being the age I am I find it increasingly difficult to motivate myself to do exercises and stuff especially the more energetic types that come into the cardiovascular catergory - the stuff that's good for your heart and this is the stuff I should be doing because of my family background e.g. all the blokes in my family generally croak between the age of 40 and 65 and not very many of them going beyond the age of 65! Once upon a time if someone suggested that they could run/cycle or swim further or longer than me that used to be like a red rag to a bull and I'd have to prove that they were talking out of their arse and I used to get great joy in proving them very wrong. But these days with a wife and kids I no longer have to prove how much of an Alpah Male I am any more and I'm a lot more content sitting here tapping on a computer and having a bowl every now and then and being the 4th best? wrist spin bowler in my team. But the old heart attack scenario is there in the background possibly allayed to some extent by the fact that I eat well, don't smoke or drink very much and an ideal weight for my age. But I would like to get some cardio vascular stuff going this winter if only Power walking? With that as an idea I'm going to check out the benefits on-line from a couple of people that know about this stuff on website forums and see what they say?

Earlier on I went over the skatepark (Floodlit, flat and desolate) to have a bit of a bowl. Check out my other blog at

On one of the forums I comment on a lot a bloke led me to this geezer who's currently playing for India against the Aussies and he's doing quite well bowling googly's -