Sunday, May 31, 2009

1st Game of the season for Grays & Chadwell CC

And didn't I do well! And this is with Medial Epicondylitis........
Before I start this I just want to mention that I'm not a member of B&PCC and therefore the opinions and observations made here are in no way representative of the club.

Similarly these views and observations are not the views of G&CCC and do not represent the club in any way.

But before we get onto that I'll report on the rest of a busy cricket day which in part has been spoilt by the fact that CF in my camera has somehow become corrupted and many of the files that were shot in the morning of Joe and Ben's match are corrupted e.g. screwed. Including the Bowling stats for Joe and Ben. The good news is that Reg their team organiser keeps the paper copies on file as far as I know and I'll be able to copy them at the next match.

But the talking point of the match has got to have been Joe's bowling. Before the match I usually take a stump or two or the whole set and the boys bowl at the stumps as a warm up. Ben and Joe started and were soon joined by the rest. Because the ground was so hard I only had a single stump and in the 6-10 balls that Joe bowled he hit the single stump at varying speeds and varying trajectories 3 times. (Over 20 yards) One other kid who throws the ball hit it twice as well. So you can imagine my surprise when the game got under way and Joe was on the team sheet to bowl 4th or 5th and he was over-looked and then as the game went on I realised what was happening. At the start Reg had said something about the game had been agreed beforehand to be 18 overs with each team fielding 9 players so that was 2 overs each, but one of the kids hadn't turned up and the game was reduced to 16 official overs with the 2 overs at the end being outside of the game and not counting. As the game went on everyone was getting a bowl and it looked increasingly like Joe had been designated as the 'Decoy' bowler who's overs wouldn't count and yet it was Joe that that had hit the single stump 3 times in 6 or 10 balls before the game and all the other boys including Ben had thrown pies. Across the 16 overs our boys had taken 3 wickets as I recall. Then it was the decoy over with Joe stepping up the crease. For all intents and purposes all the boys on both sides thought this was still in the game as such. Joe's 1st ball was a dot ball being picked up by a stand in wicket keeper. His second ball was straight on the stumps and Joe had taken a wicket, cheers of elation all round the ground as the smallest kid and quite likely the youngest kid at 7 years old had just cleaned up a big kid. Joe's next ball a lot faster and dead straight and down go the stumps again. Reg turned round to me holding his hands up in disbelief from the umpire position as Joe took the ball to go for his hat-trick. I shouted out.........
"Reg he hit a single stump 3 times before we started".
"What can I say - I should have been watching".
"You should say sorry to Joe". I shouted back. Joe's ball again straight as a dye but the kid played a defensive block. Across the 2 overs I think he got hit for a couple of fours and a single or two but mostly dot balls. So maybe next time he'll be given the ball earlier and they'll give the chuckers the last overs in a similar situation?

Other events and things of note was the 11 year old that stepped up and bowled at Joe. Joe's 4'6" or something and this eleven year old that bowled at him stood 5'11" or thereabouts! Someone joked 'I saw him get out of his car - he can't be eleven'! Anyway this kid bowled the ball down like Brett Lee with grudge - as fast as he possibly could with real vehemence. The first one was straight and little Joe just dabbed at it and blocked it. The next ball was short and cleared Joes helmeted head by about 2' even though he was standing tall. The rest of the balls seemed to be fuelled by rage as the kid tried to get his bowling up to his equivalent of 100mph but they were hideously short and wide and Joe's body and skull were saved possibly by the kids inability to control his rage? Maybe he thought that Joes 2 wickets counted, but he certainly had it in for Joe.

The following Monday (1st June) over at Mopsies Park at the training session all the boys were put through a few training exercises and then were split into 2 teams. Joe was up 3rd to bowl. In his first over he took 4 wickets for 2 runs and in his second over he took 2 wickets for 3 and threw a couple of wides. He almost had 2 bowled and caughts that dropped short of him. Not bad going for one of the smaller kids in the team! No one else in the team got anywhere near that - possibly a few of them took a wicket each. The next match is this Sunday at home (Mopsies Park) and Joe is definitely going to bowl. I can't wait till they play my team Grays and Chadwell.

Grays and Chadwell v Woodham Mortimer

An incredibly nice day with wall to wall blue skies and hot and a bit of a breeze blowing across the wicket diagonally. From the direction of the pylons towards us as you look at the image here.

On a arrival I threw a few balls at some targets and did okay with the Flippers. Then Alex 'The Wizard' joined me and we threw some balls back and forth to each other. His bowling when he practices appears to be very different to when he bowls for real, but then so does mine because while we threw back and forth to each other the ball wasn't turning and was miles off target 9 times out of 10 whereas Wizards balls were on target fast and with a good deviation off the line. It looked like he was on form and I'd be taken off after the first over. My impression was that because of the fact that I've not been bowling I'd lost the knack. Neil and the captain of the Oppo went out and tossed and we were first to bat.

Lee Downes (Wicket Keeper)
Roy Gant
Phil Downes
Wayne Simmons
Ifty Ali
Chris Buckley
Reece Downes
A. Love
Neil Samwell (C)
Dave Thompson
Alex McClellan
I think Lee opened and Roy was the first victim bowled clean by Hewitt within the first few minutes having hit a four and a single. Lee began to get into the bowling hitting a few nice 4's out through the covers. Roy had been followed in by Lee's Dad Phil and he soon put paid to Lee's chances of maintaining a fairly good run of late by going after a tight ball that was fielded quickly and accurately thrown at the stumps leaving Lee short of the crease. Lee had gone for 11 and walked off the pitch looking pretty miffed. Phil was joined by Off-spinner Wayne Simmons. Wayned started out cautiously getting his eye in and then around the 6th over quickly started to let loose a bit hitting a series of 4's at last getting the score board ticking over after what had been a fairly lack lustre start. Phil and Wayne settled in to start the beginnings of a good partnership but then were momentarily thwarted by something I've never seen in my 3 years of playing - a girl stepping up to bowl (V. Brown)! I'd seen her arrive and had glanced at her thinking that bloke looks like a girl and not thought anything more of it as I was practicing. Again as she got into her spell I didn't consider what was happening in Phil and Waynes heads potentially, as I was watching her unorthodox bowling. A woman sitting in front of me chirped up that she'd taken 3 wickets in the previous week and that she bowled off-spin. It looked as though she was fairly accurate as both Wayne and Phil were playing very cautiously in the initial over and a half. She was getting loads of flight really looping the ball up high, but as she bowled she simply stopped on the crease line and didn't follow through with her non-pivoting leg and yet the lady said she'd been playing since she was 14 or something and she looked as though she was in her early 20's? A lot of their bowlers had very weird actions, one bloke had a really weird swing of his arms with loads of peripheral body movement, made him look like an Orang U tan bowling. Another bloke who looked as though he was fairly pacy simply stood there at the crease and bowled standing still but really brought his front arm down fast to get some speed. Needless to say loads of wides were bowled. But for Phil and Wayne there was the prospect that they might get bowled out by a girl and never live it down so they were being ultra cautious, but after an over and a half they got the measure of her and started to get into her bowling and she was quickly removed from the attack.

After the 13th or 14th over I was sent out to umpire, so the game report goes to pieces thereafter, but the bowling changed and olde bloke bowled who looked okay. Wayne was next to go caught cheaply off an edged ball. Then 'Ifty' came out and for some reason I had high expectations of him and the blokes were all shouting 'C'mon on Ifty we want a fifty out of you today'. Ifty went for 5 again caught easily off a miss hit ball again. At this point Phil was still in and was Joined by Chris Buckley. The game was played on a timed basis whereby at a designated time 4.30 pm or something the batting side were then allowed another 20 overs and that was it. At 29 overs Neil was saying that there was about another 1/2 hour to go and we were on 143. Buckers soon started to hit the ball and was getting his runs ticking over nicely and then Phil batting at the 'Flat's end hit a ball cleanly and a kid who was at short extra cover either wasn't looking or simply didn't react in time and got the ball right in the eyebrow making a deep gash with blood all over the shop. He went down and everyone piled in to see if he was okay and eventually he was carted off to the Hospital to get it stitched and seen to.
A couple of our blokes made up for the 2 men down (Roy on the right of this image) and Tom one of the 1st team blokes who I assume had already been dismissed? Both of whom fielded with gusto threatening to get their own blokes out at times especially Tom. Buckers was caught behind being dismissed for 31 which he made pretty rapidly and Phil was joined by son No.3 Reece and it looked like the Wizard and me wouldn't be getting a chance to bat today.

Reece is dismissed quickly after putting on another 4 with a lovely pull shot but is then bowled clean. He's replaced by Neil in the final over. As the game drew to a close it looked as though Phil was going to be denied his 5o with only 5 runs to make and an extra over was deemed a good show as the bails were removed and they all headed back towards the pavillion. Neil sent them all back just as he replaced Reece and the game resumed. 1st Ball - Dot ball. 2nd ball another dot ball despite getting it down the leg side - it was fielded very quickly and efficiently. 3rd ball - Phil gets onto it and hits it for 4 to deep square leg. 4th ball - dot ball. 5th ball is hit out towards deep mid wicket and the run is made to make his 50 and everyone claps and cheers as Phil raises his bat. The last ball is hit for a single and Neil gets one not out.

Teas were had and I went and got changed and took some extra strong paracetamols to see if it would help with the elbow/arm pain if it re-occured? The openers were Lovejoy and Reece and they were fairly productive getting through the first few wickets with their stuff taking one each with their opening spells. My fielding was a bit rusty and I let one go through my hands off of Lovejoys bowling. Then it was our turn. Wizard bowled from the Flats end with the wind by this time coming diagonally from behind him assisting his Leg Breaks. Wizard got off to a very good start bowling a very tight over taking Vicky Browns wicket by drawing her out of her crease and Lee Downes who was keeping and doing a very good job of it tooks the bails off. Only one wide bowled.

I stepped up and bowled the other end into a diagonal wind in direct opposition to my spinning leg break if it was going to happen. The earlier practice had been awful but as you can see I bowled well and got my 2nd ever maiden over bowling Leg Breaks using the 3rd finger only technique, but this was working and getting some decent deviation off the crease which was very surprising. All of the balls were pitched full just missing the bat to choruses of 'OOoh'! each time. Wizard came back for his 2nd over and bowled another decent over conceding 2 runs and 2 wides. Lovejoy fielded one of his balls in some manner that caused the Wizard to partake in some banter and his comment which was met with Lovejoy retorting "Wizard you don't even know what a maiden over looks like and never will - so shut up". My 2nd over went well bringing up a tally of 3 off of 2 overs and so one only one of them a wide. The Wizards 3rd over flew in the face of Lovejoys comment as he took another lovely wicket in exactly the same way - this time Paine for only 1 run and then Wizard completed his over without conceding any runs at all getting himself his first ever Maiden wicket. My next over was probably my best, I'd bowled primarily Leg Breaks with a Flipper in each over, but the flippers were looking as though they were redundant as it was these that were conceding runs, so I then bowled a Top Spinner which straight away had the desired affect with the ball being hit too early and it rose above my head falling near Mid on where the Wizard was, he made a valiant effort running in and covering quite some ground eventually diving and getting a hand on it looking into the sun, but the combination of the dive and the sun conspired to cause him to spill it and not quite get there and it went down. He was very apologetic, but I wasn't fussed he'd made a very good effort to get there.

From there though Wizards bowling went downhill, he bowled a series of wides in the next three overs and finally recovered on his last over that went for only 1 run. My fifth over was another Maiden with my 6th being the worst as I got hit for a 4, a 2 and a single. This was where I was looking to do something different because I was getting so close but not actually getting any wickets. Ideally I'd have produced the Wrong Un, but the Top Spinner in the 3rd over that was dropped had required me having to rip the ball and in doing so had triggered the injury. I then tried the Wrong Un in the same over or the next and the pain was too much so had to look at another tactic. The 5th over I was bowling Leg side and Phil fielding out at Square Leg nearly got one for me but the others were hit backward of square leg and went for the runs I conceded. So I had to go back to Flippers and Leg Breaks on the off-stump and these virtually all beat the bat but were wide of the stumps and none were edged. So I'm more than pleased as this represented a good start and is my best ever bowling figures in one match. Bowling wides doesn't bother me as they're minimal so at the minute my bowling despite the injury looks very promising. I'm just wondering how it'll go if this injury clears up because with the addition of the Flick in the wrist which I couldn't do today there's the potential for more Top - spin combined with more spin and deviation and obviously the Wrong Un.
The only other thing is that perhaps I should temper the experience with the possibility that as a batting line up this team wasn't that strong. The bloke that scored the 30 Karkocki seen here with Neil (Karkocki on right) was described by one of his team mates as not being that special with the bat and this score represented his career best. So my kind of bowling against someone more adept may have been knocked all over the park? It's something to think about. For the first time ever I'm thinking in terms of where I might bowl the ball in relation to the players strengths and weaknesses and my 6th over highlighted the fact that this bloke was strong on the Legside and each of the balls that were bowled there gave him the opportunity to play to his strengths. But having said that might there have been the potential to look at exploiting what he may have perceived to have been one of his strengths when in fact his batting although seemingly confident down the legside retrospectively was probably lacking in any real skill? Could I have moved Phil to backward square leg, the wizard up to square leg and someone like Ali at mid wicket and then bowled the ball with more top-spin tempting him to hit the ball down the legside and force an error? Again experience counts for everything in this game and I perhaps need to see this season out and look at the potential for all of these plans? But it does feel like I'm on the cusp of another steep learning curve and that now I'm going to be watching the bats to see where they do have weaknesses. It helps I think that I'm reading books like Grimmetts 'Getting Wickets' and Ashley Malletts 'Clarrie Grimmett the Bradman of Spin' these books talk about this in some detail and I think I'm picking this up and beginning to apply it to my bowling.

The game was finished off by Neil. He came in initially just to bowl 1 over and take the wicket of a particular player to prove a point of some sort I wasn't privvy to what was going on, but he then failed with his one over objective and it went to the next over much to Reeces chagrin. Again he didn't make any inroads and took the next over and Reece wasn't best pleased. In his 3rd over he got his wicket and then Lovejoy and Reece finished off their tail enders and we'd won comfortably.

Back at the clubhouse there was a whipround to buy The Wizard an obnoxious concoction of alcohol and other drinks including chocolate in one of those dodgy 'Yard of Ale' bottles (See image) as he'd got himself a Maiden Wicket - seemingly this is the rule? Although the Wizard objected to it and didn't seem to want to do it he readily got the stuff down his neck whilst cursing under his breath and then sat there looking a bit worse for wear. On that note as it looked as though it was all going to go down hill from here on it I paid my dues and made my exit.

Next game I've just been told is an away affair which means it's going to be tight with the car and getting my kids back home from their match in Basildon and to Blackshots for the convoy to the away venue. Really I need to get the address of the club and drive there direct rather than detouring to Grays's pitch?
One last thing. Shouts for LBW. In amongst the Leg Breaks and the Top Spinners I was bowling Flippers and by my reckoning and other people around me I had at least 1 plumb LBW and one that I'd say was 90% certain but I don't ask for it or if I do it's very very muted. So I've got to remember to turn to the Umpire and shout in his face 'Owzat'!!!!! as loud as possible with some kind of histrionics as well to boot because at the minute it's not happening and I too may have had a wicket maiden?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Medial Epicondylitis Day 9

Another fantastic weather day where I resisted virtually all temptation to bowl. This morning me and Joe had a knock about with the Bradman Bats and Joe's coming along with his front foot drives but still misses the point and will still always be tempted to swing at the ball and get himself out. Similarly Ben later on in the day had a bat when we went over to King Georges playing fields in Brentwood and he's so hooked on playing the ball down the Leg Side that he'll now step across his stumps exposing his stumps to a straight ball in an attempt to get the ball that side of him which proved his undoing a few times this afternoon. We did loads of catching practice and some bowling too. I only bowled seam up and underarm so my arm (Medial Epicondylitis) didn't flare up and I'm hoping I'll be able to get through a few overs tomorrow?

In the evening the car park space adjacent to my garage was empty and I was able to bat up against the garage wall using the bradman bat and that went well.

Last thing I went over to our practice wicket and mowed the grass as I'll be too knackered tomorrow after the game and being out in the sun for 12 hours!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The weather's shaping up

It looks like the weathers shaping up nicely for the weekend. This afternoon the cloud cleared after a hazy start and we had wall to wall blue skies and very warm. Sunday's predicted to be the hottest day of the year so it'll be a busy cricket day Sunday and I'll be out in all day long!

Rested my arm tonight and practiced with the Bradman Bats on my own and along with Joe. I hope that the fact that I've been in the nets all winter and been practicing with the Bradman bats as well every now and then is going to have some beneficial affect on my batting? Maybe I'll beat my current batting record of 7 runs?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Medial Epicondylitis day 7

After a few days of grotty weather the sun came out this evening and blasted us with a lovely evening of 24 degrees and sunshine. So with a bucket of balls I made my way over to the field to have a practice but was waylaid by a group of kids and my sons and we all ended up having a knock about. I did start to bowl seam up again but hit a kid in the nuts with one of the Kookaburra plastic balls and he went down crying so I reverted to slower spinning balls and within a matter of minutes had re-activated my condition as such and was causing myself pain.

I've got a game Sunday at home and this will be my first this season. The line up as with the offer of a game I had a few weeks ago is full of spinners - Neil, Jay, Wayne, Alex and me, a combination of Chinamen, Leg Spinners, right arm and left arm finger spinners so that'll be interesting. With regards my arm and elbow (Medial Epicondylitis) I'll now rest it for the next 2 days and see what happens. I'll take pain killers prior to the match and see how that pans out and then if there is an aftermath as such I'll take a full 7 days off of bowling leading up to the next game and see if that helps. If that doesn't work I'll extend it to a 2 week lay off from bowling and so on. I bowled about 6-8 overs back to back after the kids had all gone bowling Leg Breaks, Flippers, Top-Spinners and Wrong Uns. The Wrong Uns were exceptionally good so I haven't lost the ability to bowl them. I'm having problems with the Flipper because of the swing and the fact that it's inconsistent and it feels as though it may be the Flipper that is exacerbating the Medial Epicondylitis and it did feel like it was a Flipper that triggered it tonight. But the 6-8 overs seemed to go okay despite the fact that I was suffering slightly. If it doesn't work out I'll just have to withdraw from the bowling attack on Sunday in the game, but I reckon with the pain killers I may be okay?

Ben and Joe News

Last week in the run up to the 1/2 term holiday a council flyer went round all the local schools with adverts for sports activities for kids to get involved in over the holiday. Included in the activities were 2 x 3 hour sessions at local pitches including Ben and Joe's pitch at Mopsies park.

We signed them up to the Mopsies one and then over the week the bloke who runs their team Reg rang and mentioned it too saying that most of their team had been advised to go as well. So they went along today and the weather held out for them.

Despite the fact that the flyer must have been distributed to possibly as many as 15 - 2o schools in the area covering literally thousands of kids the turn out for Non Basildon and Pitsea boys was 2. The other 20 kids were Basildon and Pitsea regulars. But the good thing was that meant that the standard was good and that it would have served as a good practice session. The other good thing is that it builds a sense of camaradare in the team when it's this informal and it was timed perfectly because the older son Ben (seen here in the picture) is in good form at the minute and seems to have turned a corner as he's batting quite well and bowling fairly well too. He's recently began to hit balls down the legside with some skill and oomph - enough to get himself some 4's if he can replicate the stroke in game conditions. Additionally he's been well up for using the proper balls and has copped a few in the body of late and toughed it out which is good to see.

So tonight when I got in Michelle said that she'd seen the end of the 3 hour session and they'd played a game. She'd timed it so that she arrived just as the game started. Ben was the captain of one team and Joe the younger son was the captain of the other. Ben's team batted first and Joe it seems was only given one 6 ball over and was hit around the park for a handful of 4's and 6's. Joe officially was too young at 7 as the sessions were supposed to be for 9 and older and loads of the over 13's were also there and it was these that poor little Joe was pitched against. But Joe bought himself a wicket, the kid was getting cocky by the end of the over so Joe threw one up and dropped it in shorter and slower, the kids swung at it and it wasn't there to be hit, the ball went past him by all accounts and hit the stumps.

Joe's team then went in to bat and as the last over came up Ben was given the ball for his second over. Joe's team needed 10 off of 6 balls. Ben took 3 wickets for 3 runs off the final over and won the match for his team, so he was well chuffed and hopefully it's this kind of experience that'll hook him into the game and he'll approach his practice and games in the coming weeks with a lot more enthusiasm? Michelle my wife who sees cricket as the work of the Devil seems to be warming to it as well slightly at last, she quite enjoys and looks forward to the prospect of sitting at the edge of the pitch in her deckchair reading a book with the sound of willow on leather set against the backdrop of Blackbirds singing in the Oaks nearby!
Their next match is against Wickford who by all accounts were very good last year, but we're hoping that some of their better players would have moved up to the over 11's catergory and the team will be slightly weaker.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Medial Epicondylitis day 5 & 6

A ball didn't touch my hands at all yesterday at all which is good for my injury. I've been doing stretching exercises which I'll have to now do in future prior to bowling especially if this Leg Break comes together in the way that I'm expecting and hoping it will do in the near future.

I've been reading more of Grimmetts 'Getting Wickets' and just read a few pages where he talks about having a stock ball and the frequency of bowling variations. Although the book looks into variations more than any other book or resource I've ever come across with special emphasis of our beloved Flipper variations as discussed and tried on Grimmet says that variations should be used in a very limited manner only one ball per 2 or 3 overs and limited to a key variation and as I recall he highlights the Wrong Un in that particular section of the book. The other interesting thing he discusses at this point in the book which I was surprised with is the potential for Medium Pace bowlers to bowl wrong uns. Grimmett makes the observation (that I was pleased to hear) that bowling faster is easier when it's out of the back of the hand, he says that it is more natural for the ball to come out of the back of the hand in the delivery than from the front which may explain why it was so difficult for me to correct my Googly syndrome and re-learn the leg break. He says that to be a medium pace bowler it's important that you have the Wrong Un as one of your options and I think that this is a very good point and it's something I've never come across before. To me it makes perfect sense. He also observes that the Leg Break at higher speed is nowhere near as effective with regards it's ability to turn off the wicket. So once I'm convinced that my Leg Break is in good order I'll look again at my Wrong Un and the potential for it to be bowled at a higher speed than most of my other deliveries.

The question that this raises for me is what variation do you bowl alongside your Leg Break and why? It strikes me that this is one of those aspects to cricket that comes with experience. The ability to recognise where the batsman has weaknesses and then bowl in a fashion that works to exploit that weakness?


Joe, Ben and I went over to the Rec to have a bit of a knock about and again no Reg and Jodie which is a shame as I reckon if Jodie was around there's potential for both Ben and Joe to learn stuff. If the other bloke was around too there's the chance that we could play with 2 batsmen and Joe and Ben could practice running between the stumps and the importance of good communication. Anyway we all had a bowl and a bat and it seems that Ben's batting has got a lot better as he's suddenly attained the ability to hit the ball for 4 down the Leg-side. But he was saying that in that first match the kids were fast and gun barrel straight and there wouldn't have been that many opportunities to get the ball down the Legside. Again I bowled seam up to him and this time we were using real balls and he copped one in the chest and toughed it out. Again this is a good thing as it gives him a realistic sense of what to expect in a game.

I also bowled and bowled some of my wrist spin using the cocked wrist unfurled hand technique and man did it break! It looks very promising for the future, it's just a shame that I'm getting old and didn't discover this when I was younger. I can't believe how much turn I was getting off the crease. I putting the balls down the Leg Side wide of the stumps and they were turning in and hitting the stumps. Admittedly this was over 20 yards and on damp grass on the outfield, but give it some time and things look very promising. The other interesting thing is that I've not been practicing and yet my line was good and it felt as though I needed to be bowling a couple of yards further back. Let's see what happens in the run up to Sunday when I've got a game at home?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Medial Epicondylitis day 5

Got up and threw the ball around a bit this morning working on accuracy. That went pretty well and no problem with my arm. This afternoon Joe, Ben and me went over the Rec and had a knock about. I set up a decent distance boundary and we played in the style of 'Terrier Cricket' and Ben did particularly well in both areas - Bowling and Batting. He hit several 4's and again the majority of these were down the Leg Side. In the end I decided that I'd bowl at him much faster using the plastic practice balls to emulate the type of bowling that he would expect to have in a match because they tend to all be seam bowlers. So I bowled Medium pace seam up balls and he handled these pretty well and I reckon from now on this is what I should do for both of them in order that they get used to this type of bowling as it's what they're going to get in their matches.

It also meant that I wasn't using my spinning fingers in the manner that has led to my injury. Despite bowling a bit of spin this morning and again this afternoon I'm alright tonight which is good so I've signed up for inclusion in any game that might be available this Sunday.

Seam bowling was interesting and I might not of ever considered it if it wasn't for Clarrie Grimmetts mention of it in his book Getting Wickets which I'm currently reading. Just the fact that Grimmett speaks about it in a positive manner made me consider it as an option to look at and today provided the perfect reason to give it a go. The thing I noticed was the ease with which you can direct the ball straight at the stumps and the additional addition of changing the seam direction in the hand added a new dimension in that the ball deviated off the pitch in the direction intended. Sitting here typing I have faced an Aussie bowler who played or rather practiced with the MPA 1st XI back in the day and he bowled a ball that was probably in the 50 - 55 mph speed region that he was able to make the ball swing one way or the other. Interestingly my 10 year old son who bowls seam up gets his balls to swing unintentionally and similarly he doesn't bowl super quick by any stretch of the imagination and yet the ball does swing. The paragraph in the book which opened my eyes to the Medium Pace potential was this - By medium pace bowling, I do not mean the straight-up-and-down medium pace deliveries with which we are so familiar, but medium paced bowling with sting and spin. Getting Wickets Page 61; C.V. Grimmet; London 1930; Hodder & Stoughton.
So with such a positive endorsement from Grimmett and the potential of a straight ball that swings with seemingly a far higher potential for accuracy it may well worth be a look at? I'll continue reading the book and see if the subject is expanded on with regards it's use to spinners.

Joe & Ben

Joe and Ben have a game this Sunday at Wickford and a 3 hour training session on Thursday set up by the Council. It seems that it's in conjunction with B&PCC and Reg has advised all the boys in the team to go along and get involved as they missed out on their weekly training today because of the bank holiday.

I've just emailed Terry Jenner to see if I can get Joe in on his Spin Clinic at Chigwell in July and at the same time asked if I can go along and watch. I'll keep you all posted as to what happens.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Still no bowling - Day 4

No bowling at all today and no cricket despite being offered a game. Ben and Joe both had a game today and couldn't play either as we all went to Thorpe Park. A shame really as it was a glorious cricket day with full on blue skies and hot windless weather 24-26 degrees centigrade which is warm for late May.

Read some more of Grimmetts taking wickets whilst waiting in queues for the rides at Thorpe Park and this evening I cut our practice wicket. I noticed too that last week when I thought I'd lowered the blades I'd actually raised the blades so tonight I lowered them to the 5mm cut mark and this made a noticeable difference and the grass is now very short. Thankfully the rest of the field is still being cut at least once a week for some reason and it's very usable from our point of view. Football it seems has finished completely and the field is ours to use more or less whenever we wish.

Yesterday Joe, Ben and I went over the Rec for a knockabout which neither of them seemed that enthusiastic about, but then once we were there they got involved and later a group of boys joined in and we had a bit of a game. The game was enhanced by the fact that I'd had delivered yesterday boundary flags from Newitts which were dirt cheap and we were able to identify a boundary. The reason I did this was that last Monday I noticed that both Ben and Joe were enthused by the fact that they'd both got fours and Ben had hit a six. Marking out an obvious boundary seems to give them incentive to try and hit the ball more purposely. I might even be able to engineer front foot drives as a preferable shot by creating shorter boundaries at the ends adjacent to the stumps - who knows? With this as an idea and the fact that the sun currently goes down at our wicket shining in our eyes I might even contemplate changing our wicket and having run the other way? This may also result in less lost balls as well as the short boundaries run parallel to the track and most shots the boys play go the short boundaries.

Yesterdays game with Ben and Joe went well with Ben scoring 48 off of about 6 overs most of which came off leg-side balls.

Hopefully we'll get something going tomorrow as the weather is going to be warmer in the morning deteriorating in the late afternoon to thunder and heavy rain.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 3 with no bowling (Well a little bit).

The arm felt better today, so this evening bowled a few flippers and flicked a few Leg Breaks and the arms holding out. I'm still going to take it easy tomorrow and maybe on Sunday evening bowl a few easy ones and see how it goes. I've now got to look into exercises to try and ensure that I don't get a re-occurance of the same injury. Hopefully as I bowl more of these Big Flick Leg Breaks the muscles with just get stronger over the weeks and months?

I've been reading Peter Philpotts book 'A Spinners Yarn' and just read the chapter The Spinner Web which talks about the neccesity of wrist spinners to have a back-spinnng ball. The reason given is that in Australia the wickets are generally so hard that Top Spinners or Leg Breaks and Wrong Uns with Top-Spin are pretty much redundant because of the bounce that comes off the wickets negating any possibility of getting an LBW call accepted. Interestingly he talks about the 'Slider' without crediting it with the name he refers to it as the Back-Spinner. He credits Clarrie Grimmett with inventing the Flipper but says that the Flipper because of it's technique is primarily an Off-spinners flick.

Around the same time several Wrist Spinners in Australia were bowling their own versions of a back-spinner Cecil Pepper, Reg Pearce and later Russell McCool but all of them kept it a closely guarded secret. Eventually it seems the conventional back-spinner was the delivery that most relied upon Philpott writes -

  • It is not difficult to understand the mechanics of this delivery, but initially, it can be very difficult to achieve. Let me explain.

He goes on to explain how to bowl the back-spinner using his around the loop theory of using the twist of wrist in gradual increments. One of the interesting points he makes is how little the wrist needs to be turned in order to attain a different style of delivery. He talks about the Big Leg break as the ball that is flicked from the hand in order that the ball is released spinning at right angles to the direction of travel.....

  • Now think! If we continue the adjustment of the wrist just a degree or two further, continuing to spin with the same leg break action, the ball has some back-spin amidst the side spin. This creates the Leg Spinners dream ball. For it achieves the back-spin effect whilst still using the same orthodox leg-spin action, and does so while spinning a degree or so from the action which creates the widest spinning leg break of all. I think it's fantastic.

So Philpott alludes to the fact that the ball only has to spin slightly backwards here in order to start taking on the characteristics of a back-spinner, yet looks like the Biggun.

Philpott goes on to talk about Benauds Flipper and back-spinner claiming that Benuads orthodox back-spinner was far superior to his Flipper.....

  • And only introduced his Flipper late in his career. In my opinion, he never bowled or controlled the Flipper as well as his back-spinner.

Which kind of suggests that the Slider is an easier ball to bowl than the Flipper? The chapter concludes with Philpott again reiterating that to be a good wrist spinner you must have a back-spinning delivery either the Slider or the Flipper.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day 2 of no bowling

Another nice evening and again with Michelle's help I dragged the boys out and over to our field. Joe came willingly, but Ben would have rather stayed in and watched Top Gear all night despite the glorious sunshine and the opportunity to have a bowl and a bat.

It went okay Ben bowled a bit wayward but when he was on target he was good varying his speed and approach. Joe similarly bowled okay far more consistently than Ben and batted for a while too. Ben set a phone to go off after 1/2 hour and then went home, just as a bunch of 16-17 year olds turned up and joined in. Little Joe batted against these blokes using a 4;3/4oz ball with no helmet, box or pads just a pair of gloves and did alright.

Despite the temptation I resisted bowling and had a bit of a bat and kept wicket too.
On the subject of my arm a mate of mine on Facebook reckons that the injury will just suddenly disappear if I rest it... 'You'll just wake up one morning and it'll be gone'. He claims?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day 1 of no bowling

Yep the arm is sore and I wont be bowling or throwing a ball for quite some time it seems. I'm not sure whether throwing affects it as much as bowling because it does seem to be the act of stretching the arm and using the fingers that causes the aggravation? So I'm at a bit of a loose end now as to what to do. So this evening when I got in it was warm and sunny - 20 degrees and as I walked across our field I noticed the groundsman had mown the grass again and this time quite short all over. At the weekend I'd mown the wicket and had dropped the blades slightly lower not that I'll be bowling on it much in the next week or two!

After dinner Joe, Ben and I went over to The Rec and had a bit of a knock about. They both bowled and I was either the wicket keeper or the stand in batsman as they got in and out of their pads. Ben bowled well bowling both Joe and me a couple of times each. Joe bowled Ben once with a straight ball. Joe at the minute seems to have lost the ability to spin the ball, but whenever I try and get him to try something to get it to spin he kind of switches off. I think the best thing to do is let the young bloke at B&PCC show him as he takes far more notice of him. Alternatively just let him get fed up with bowling straight balls and come asking what to do. Tonight for instance he initially bowled every ball down the Leg Side looking for it to come round Ben's legs and none of them did. Eventually I suggested that he bowl to the off-side and he conceded "But I'm trying to bowl Leg Breaks Dad". I pointed out that they weren't turning and he then bowled straight at the stumps and to the off-side. I think it'll come in time.

I managed to refrain from bowling and only threw the ball under-arm. It's going to be a long week or two I reckon.

I've also tried to order Clarrie Grimmetts book 'On taking wickets' again. So while I'm out of action I'll read that and Philpotts 'Spinners Yarn'.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Medial Epicondylitis and more.

It's all going to pieces at the moment when it all looked so promising! It seems that with the Big Flick and the potential at last for me to bowl a decent leg break comes over-use of muscles that I've not used before. On Thursday I detected a soreness in the under-side of my forearm and put it down to trying the Top-Spinning Flipper which uses an exceptionally awkward bowling action with the hand. As you bowl it you can feel that you're using muscles not normally used and I decided that I'd stop there and not pursue it again for some time, maybe after the end of this season.

I then carried on with my new big flick leg break which then also felt as though it was stressing my muscles, but I thought that was understandable and thought it would gradually build muscles.... No pain - no gain as they say? Sunday I practiced and then had to stop becuase the arm was hurting to the point where I realised my body was suggesting I should stop. I've since not bowled and it seems to have got better over the last couple of day so I thought I'd see if I could bowl a few easy balls. So I went over the field and bowled 30 - 36 Flippers and Top-Spinners and stopped because the soreness returned. So it looks like I'm out of action for a while. Then just as I expected Matt rang tonight asking if I wanted to play this Sunday. Unfortunately I'm going to Thorpe Park this Sunday with the family and said I couldn't play and suggested that I may be up for a game on Saturday and then corrected myself mentioning the arm situation. So no game for me this weekend again.

Additionally last night at Basildon and Pitsea with Joe and Ben I was working with a bloke who was putting some of the more adept batsmen through their paces with a bowling machine and I was wicket keeping. We had a chat and he said to go over on Wednesday night as they have nets which I'm more than willing to take him up on, but again with this new injury I can't follow that up either. So I'm stuffed.

I've now got to resist bowling at all costs till not this Friday but the following and then come up with a strategy to ease back into it and not re-injure myself. So I've asked for some advice on the big cricket forum.... hopefully Liz Ward will be able to diagnose it and offer some advice?

One of the blokes on the forum came up with this and it sounds like what I've got -

Ben & Joe upated.

Ben and Joe similarly had a game this Sunday scheduled at home and because of the Thorpe Park trip they can't make the match which worried me a bit as it shows a lack of committment and someone could easily step into their shoes and make a valuable contribution in the match and they might be kissing their season a long goodbye?

That was further reinforced on Monday night when they went to their practice and all the boys were divided up into 2 distinct groups - "New Boys" and "Last years boys" but I noticed that one of the New Boys was also in with the "Last years boys" and yet Ben and Joe were left with the kids that would have trouble throwing a ball at a barn door and I mean throwing not bowling. Initially I was slightly miffed but then watched the last year boys and the 1 single new boy who had gone up with them and it soon became clear that all these boys including the New Boy were far more skilled than Joe and Ben at batting and I was roped in with wicket keeping facing the bowling machine with no gloves and soon realised that this was far too advanced for Ben and Joe at the minute. Ben and Joe for some reason decline my offers of a chance to practice and as I've said before I have to be careful of not over-killing them with cricket. So as a consequence they get very little in the way of practice especially with the bat. In fact they both see themselves as bowlers primarily. Whether this is laziness or not I'm not sure, but I reckon it probably is as they rarely work on their bowling with me.

So this week Ben and Joe ended up with the newbies, but in the long run I think it was for the better as it builds their confidence and it's fun. It turned out that they both enjoyed it with Ben hitting 3 sixes and Joe hitting a couple of 4's and both of them taking wickets on a pitch with a very short boundary. But I think the key is that they had fun and I don't think they'd have had fun with the Bowling machine set as it was.

With regards their bowling we get their 1/2 hour early and one of the Key kids in the team Jodie who is an aspiring opener and the wicket keeper gets there early too looking to bat for 1/2 an hour. So Joe, Ben and a couple of others bowl the full 20 yards using real balls and do okay. So they get a good workout then and there over and above all the other kids.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Leg Break development

A quick re-cap. I was suffering from the Googly syndrome and had lost my leg break. No matter what I tried to do the ball always spun away towards Leg Slip (Off-spin). Last Sept I stopped bowling Wrong Uns and focussed on recovering my Leg Break. Through trial and error I discovered that if I just bowled straight with my palm facing the batsman releasing the ball primarily so that it came off the ring finger it produced a small leg break.

All the time I've been aware that I really need to be flicking the wrist to really spin the ball hard and this came about a month or so ago and was very sporadic over very short distances, but it proved that it was possible. Then a couple of weeks ago Macca posted this description on Big Cricket - The Traffic cop analogy combine with EOW's description of his leg break led me to trying this and it works.

Additionally a couple of days ago I reported this - and it seems as though I'm now at last getting it together. I'm now going to be working exclusively on the Traffic Cop Leg Break technique and the Big Flick with a view to being able to bowl these a decent line and length by the beginning of July. Things are looking good.

Match called off

Gutted, woke up and it didn't look too promising grey and windy and the pavements were damp from overnight rain. As the morning went on it went downhill, the sky looking more and more as though at any point it would rain. I checked the BBC weather and the prediction for 12.00hrs was that we'd have clear blue skies. At 11.00 it started to rain and it continued to do so. I went into town at 12.00 with Ben and Joe and while I was there received a text from Matt and confirmed the match was off, but then 5 minutes later as I left the shop I was confronted with sunshine and bright blue skies and then behind the shop the grey skies and rain that we'd just been subjected too. I rang Matt and said that here we had blue skies and sunshine now and he said that the team were coming dwon from Cambridgeshire and that they'd called at 11.00 and said they weren't chancing it.

On the way back to the house from the shops I called by The Rec noticing as we were driving along the pavement was quickly drying up. The Rec was empty, the chains round the pitch had been taken down in anticipation of a match but there wasn't a soul there so I wasn't going to get a match there either.

After lunch I went over the Rec with Joe and Ben and threw some balls but soon realised that I have done something to one of the muscles under my forearm. I think this is the result of trying to bowl the Top-Spinning Flipper which requires you to turn your hand 180 degrees so that the bowling action looks like a Karate chop and at the point of release you click the ball towards your face with the Flipper action so that it comes out of the hand with Top-Spin but your forward motion and your arm coming over propel the ball forwards. This is an incredibly difficult ball to bowl and one that Clarrie Grimmett worked on for 12 years trying to perfect.

Terry Jenner said today in an email to my mate Macca .....

I recieved a reply from Terry Jenner and this is what he said

"Dear Macca, I can only say that trying to use the flicking of the fingers whilst delivering the ball overarm seems to lend itself to either side spin release which creates a googly or a backspin release which produces the flipper. Clarrie was a genius but it would have been almost impossible to flick the fingers and create overspin, the way I understand the release of the cricket ball.I often told the kids a Grimmett story re the "flicker" and the "flipper"During the story I would show the flicking finger googly and the flicking finger flipper " severe backspin"I could only demo the googly over a short pitch and had to bowl with a very low arm. Over 22 yards I was hopeless with both.Sorry that is the best i can offer. Regards Terry Jenner.

Which kind of goes some way to explain how difficult. Surprisingly Jenner he admits that he's not particularly good with bowling the Flipper too. I spent about 10 minutes trying to bowl this ball over about 18 yards and was able to produce the top spin and the off-break effect, but as I was bowling it could feel the stress it was putting my arm under and stopped after the ten minutes realising it would take a lot more work getting the line and length right. It now seems I'm suffering. But I would also say in the last week or so I've made major advances with my leg break. Not only have I been able to bowl the ball with increasing accuracy using the big flick with the leg break but I've also seen the potential of the cocked wrist to unfurled hand approach. It seems that this technique uses a slow flick in the unfurling of the cocked wrist and sets the ball spinning correctly with the seam at right angles to the direction of flight quite nicely. Using this technique today I was able to bowl surprisingly good leg breaks with very little effort.

So impressed was I that I took 4 balls over to the wickets at the Rec which for me are notoriously difficult to get the ball to spin on and bowled 4 nice leg breaks! Now whether the wetness assists that or not I don't know, but there is deinitely something in this technique. But with this change of technique and the big flick technique I'm obviously using different muscles so the pain that I'm sufferimg could be due to this as much as the Top-Spinning Flipper. It ended up that the pain was bad enough to stop me from bowling and I now intend to give my arm a rest for a few days.

Other things I'm working on are my rotation

Looking at video footage I shot today this is the positioning of my feet as I go through the rotation as I bowl. B is the foot on which I pivot through the rotation. A starts at this point and comes out and around B and ends up at C. Terry our coach in the nets was saying that I rotate too far round and that the foot position at C shouldn't cross the line (Arrow) and should be pointing down towards the stumps. One of the blokes on the Forums at Big Cricket was saying that this is not the case. I've created this graphic so that he can have a look and comment on my roation/pivot as well.

He suggested to look at footage of Warne bowling but the camera always zooms in at the point that Warne Bowls and you can't see where his foot ends up. But looking at this clip of Beau Casson you'll see that his rotation is more or less 180 degrees which is the issue that Terry had with my rotation as I was going further than that e.g across the line.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pre match practice

I'm just about to go over the field with a bucket full of balls and see if I can replicate what I was doing on Thursday I've had a go outside on concrete using Hockey balls over shorter distances and that seems okay, but the test will be over the 22 yards. What I need to work on obviously is the line and length. If I have cracked it I wonder how long it'll take to gain control of the line and length aspect? Hopefully a month and maybe I'll have it? I'll report back later with how I get on.

Unfortunately when I arrived on the field there was a bunch of youths there and they joined in with me and we had a knock about so I wasn't able to concentrate and work on the Leg Break. Later just as I was packing up Ben and Joe turned up with some of their mates and they all had a knock about as well.

I've just looked at the G&CCC website to figure where I am tomorrow and I've just realised I'm playing in the 1st team! This'll be a first, at the minute it doesn't say who the oppo is but it's a funny combination of players including our coach who I've never played alongside before and wasn't aware that he still played? Several of the names I don't recognise at all, I probably know them by their Christian names but not their surnames.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I was hoping to get in the nets tonight with the other blokes but Michelle made arrangements to go out and scuppered my plans at the last moment. But it did mean that I was able to go outside and throw some balls and wicket keep for Ben and Joe. I think Ben may be on the verge of chucking it all in. He seems to take after his Mum and their side of the family whereby they never seem to stick at anything that's difficult and requires enormous amounts of commitment, determination and patience especially if it's sport. Tonight Ben even asked about bowling Leg Breaks and gave it a go. I'll give him his dues as he stuck at it for an hour or so and was getting some results, but I seem to perceive that he expects to get results in a matter of minutes rather than years! I'll have to see how that goes.

I seem to still have the ability to give the ball a big flick and it seems to be natural now as the way that I spin the ball when standing around. We'll have to see.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Break through?

I'm always wary of these false dawns, and this could well be another one, but tonight I did seem to crack the Leg Break with the big flick over 22 yards. I spent an hour of solid bowling initially using the two techniques that I bowl my leg breaks with and then I noticed that there was something relaxed about the way I was bowling and I've noticed that our best Wrist Spinners at Grays and Chadwell CC - Neil Samwell (Chinaman) and Ross Fullbrook (Leg Spinner) have a relaxed delivery that loops and drops. So feeling like I was bowling well I decided to try and get the ball down the 22 yards with the big flick and I did and it turned big.

Over the following half an hour I kept at and was having about 30% success rate with it where it was landing on a good line and length and turning big. The rest of the time it was massively wayward or coming out as a Wrong Un or a Top spinner which is promising as it suggests that there only has to be a slight deviation in the wrist position and it'll go the other way?

I noticed too that it seems to help if I throw the ball up in the same manner a few times as I stand there contemplating what I'm about to do and then go into the delivery having just flicked it in that manner whilst standing. I've also noticed that the grip is very different from my other deliveries. With this delivery at this stage the 2 up fingers do virtually nothing, they're relaxed and hardly touch the ball. The thumb is key because it because it holds the ball in the hand up against the third finger and plays a small part in initially rotating the ball into the 3rd finger so that the finger and wrist flick the ball out of the hand in a very effective and relaxed action that puts masses of revs on the ball. The ball coming off the finger is flicked so well that it makes a click sound not unlike the Flippers click.

When it comes out right it's a flighty ball that dips and then spins off the wicket exceptionally well. One of the things I've noticed is that as you release the ball my hand assumes the same aspect of Peter Philpotts hand in some of the images in his book page 19, 63, e.g. the thumb ends up tucked into the closed hand.

I'm not claiming I've cracked it because when I have these days when it seems as though I have finally sussed the big turning dipping leg break it always turns out that I can't repeat the same the following day. If I am able to tomorrow I might be able to to say that I have made a big leap forward and then all I'll have to do is get the consistency with my line and length.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ideas for kids training

Talking to one of the blokes on the big cricket forum he mentioned a version of kids cricket they use in Australia - Modified super 8's which he says sounds like the 'Terrier Cricket' that Ben and Joe played at the weekend. Whilst searching for it I came across this Aussie site with some games and drills for kids

At last a game!

I've just had a phone call from Matt Hills at Grays & Chadwell CC and at last I've got a game! To be fair I was offered one last Sunday as he pointed out when I said exactly the same thing on the phone. I didn't quite catch what he said about the fact that it was him calling me rather than Neil, but it sounded along the lines of Neil had thrown the towel in as captain cos he'd had enough, but he may have been joking. What he did say though was that the bowling was going to consist of a 4 man Wrist Spin attack, I think he was more specific in that he said Leg Spin attack, I caught The Wizard, Ross and myself, but who the 4th person was I'm not sure but it may have well been one of the youngsters. So that's going to be interesting 4 of us at it!

At the moment it's a 13.00hrs start at Grays, but there's the caveat that it may change and become an away match. Knowing my luck the weather will screw up. Looking at the weather charts it looks promising at the minute with rubbish weather through the week beginning to clear come Friday.

The Boys
They had their weekly training session over at Mopsies Park . Although it was sunny
The wind was in the north and it was a bit chilly. Again there were loads of new boys, so the levels that they're all playing at are so different which must be a bit tricky for the coaches.
We turned up early at just after 6.30 as Reg suggested and that meant that Joe and Ben were able to bowl on the artificial wicket against some of the other kids that bat. They both did okay.
They did a series of drills, catching and batting and at the end they played Kwik Cricket that looked like fun. I spoke to Reg and he said that he wouldn't be able to have a knock about on Wednesday over at the Rec because of work reasons. So we may do Thursday instead?
Here's a shot of the nets as well at Mopsies -

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ben and Joe's 1st cricket match

Blimey Sunday up 07.45hrs for cricket! With a 09.00hrs arrival time it had to be done. We arrived on the dot 09.00hrs at Orsetts cricket ground. Quite a nice ground - really nice clubhouse and promising looking weather. The boys were to play on the artificial wicket and the size of the boundary had been reduced and marked out with flags. But the actual wicket itself was pretty big - 20 yards. 20 yards is good for Ben as he tends to over-throw some of his balls, but Joe I realised might struggle to get the ball down there being only 7 and used to practicing on 17 yard wickets.

I was asked to do the scoring as there was only a few people in attendance and they know I play a bit of cricket although I've never scored before. But then I was introduced to the format - 'Terrier Cricket'. I've heard of it before and I know it's designed for younger kids, but I'd never come across the rules and principles and initially I was a bit flummoxed by some of the rules that are applied to the game, but as the game got underway it all fell into place and eventually made total sense.

Before the match Jeff the head of the youth section of the team went round all the boys that were new to it explaining the basic idea. The key to this game is to play primarily defensive and not let your wicket go. I'll try and explain.....

1. It seems that it's a foregone conclusion at this age that the kids are going to be bowled out easily. So in order to give them a fair crack at the whip each boy faces 2 overs. If they lose their wicket they stay in but swap ends and lose 8 runs. So in theory in 2 overs they could be bowled 12 times thus conceding 96 runs against them. So the order of the day as a batsman is defend your wicket and look to take adavantage of any balls wide of the stumps which is pretty much as it goes with the real deal. But the idea of giving away 8 runs I'd imagine focuses their attention on the job of playing well at your defensive game.

2. Both Teams start off with 200 runs to allow for the prospect of losing 8 runs per wicket.

3. Wides and No-balls are added to the cumulative score and recorded against the bowler. 2 runs are conceded for wides and No balls, thus again focussing on the neccesity to keep your bowling tight.

Initially I didn't get it so I don't suppose the boys did either. I took up my position as scorer along with the Oppo's scorer and off they went. Neither of us had used the system for scoring Terriers and there is a designated method, but we listened to the instructions given to us and both agreed to a system we'd both use and conform to that simply checking each others scores as we went along and it seemed to work okay.

But down to the business end of the day - Ben and Joe's bowling figures -

The only figure we can look at at the minute is the Economy rate.

Ben (Econ) = 5
Joe (Econ) = 9.5

Joe bowled 1 wide.

But to be honest Joe hasn't bowled over such a distance before and the kid was good that he was bowling against. So Joe's got some work to do.

With regards their batting neither of them scored any runs and they were both bowled twice, but man this was a steep learning curve for them. In the team their was only 3 kids that were new and the other kid Anthony Ayres did exceptionally well. This kid hasn't looked too clever in the training sessions over the winter but today on the field he took 2 wickets in his first over. He also batted well not conceding any wickets, but didn't make any runs either.

It'll be interesting to see what the coaches do in training tomorrow now that the boys have been through the experience and hopefully have grasped how important it is to defend your wicket. With regards their bowling Ben (although his line and length were good) looks as though he needs to speed it up slightly and Joe needs to bowl over the 20 yards as that seems to be the length the kids bowl. Good bowling seems to be a key area of this game, but then to be honest as a rudimentary skill - good defensive batting. I reckon it was a massive eye-opener for them, because the kids on the other team were a fair bit better and talking to the scorer he was saying that Orsett have 2 x U11's teams. So their team may have been made up primarily of kids in their 2nd year at this level? The final score was Orsett 255, Basildon and Pitsea 192.

They bowled 11 wides and our boys only 7 but their bowling was a lot more productive with

8 wickets as opposed to our 4.
My Stuff
The game ended early enough for me to have gone home and dropped everyone off and got my gear and to have got to the match in Kent quite easily if I'd been well enough and had been required to do so. I'm hoping that over the rest of the week I'll progressively get better and shake this cold off and be in a position where I'll be able to play.
Once home the boys were knackered, we marked out 20 yards in the road outside the house where we practice sometimes and it is so much further than Joe has been practicing and I'm wondering whether he'll be side-lined because of his size? I kind of think that he'll be alright, but it's going to be interesting to see how the next team is picked for the next game that's in 2 weeks time against Pegasus/Corringham? Once we'd set the distance Joe threw a few balls and was getting them down there as he had done today in the game, but it's definitely something he needs to practice. I reckon in view of how nervous he must have been and the fact that it was so much longer than he's been bowling he done exceptionally well as did Ben. The good thing was that although Ben was mortified to have been bowled out twice and not made any runs he was pleased with his bowling. He did get one ball that should have been a dolly, but it's kids cricket and there's always going to be dropped opportunities and no doubt Ben will have his day of dropping balls. In fact Both Joe and Ben let balls go by them due to shoddy fielding e.g. none application of the long barrier technique, but they did learn quickly and were using it by the end of the game. They didn't resort to hands in their pockets which was good to see and finally at the end both of them agreed that it had been good and that they'd enjoyed it and were more than up for it for another match.
Ben was so mortified at being cleaned up twice that he once he came off he broke down crying because he'd let the team down and himself. But all the coaches rallied and told him not to worry and that it was okay. Jodie's Dad Reg said that when Jodie first played he was bowled 5 or 6 times and I think this made Ben feel better as he can see that within a year Jodie is no longer a player that would be bowled 5 or 6 times.
The football field across the road where we play and practice although hasn't been used for football now for more than a month had been cut and marked out again on Saturday so I mowed the wicket as it had almost disappeared into the outfield as it was cut so short. Then I went back before dinner and had an hour bowling. I worked on combining Wrong Uns and Leg Breaks and did okay, but this is on grass which does seem to be conducive with getting the ball to turn. My Wrong Uns were good, some of them had mental amounts of spin which was good to see. I was also looking at bowling Flippers in a really loopy fashion getting them to drop short wondering whether as a variation that approach would have any merit as the ball almost stalls. If you could bowl one of them followed by a Top Spinner that then rushes on with a lot of bounce - that might cause problems? I may try it in the nets with the SRB blokes on Friday?
All in all a good day with more tomorrow at Joe and Ben's training session. I can't wait and we'll get there early tomorrow!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Felt slightly better today so it does seem that I'm on the mend now, I had another text from Neil this morning at 9am asking if I could play. But as I'm still not 100% I had a lay in and didn't get up till 10.30. At which point I was tempted to say yes, but to be honest I just feel run down and as if the best thing would be to rest at least another day or so. But as the day has gone on it's obvious that I am on the mend and I am feeling better.

After lunch with the impending first game of the season for Joe and Ben tomorrow and the distinct lack of preparation for them I suggested that we go over 'The Rec' and have a knock about and do some bowling.

It didn't go that well, Joe's bowling and batting was on par with Ben's despite being almost 3 years younger than Ben which annoyed and frustrated Ben, but as I pointed out if I say 'Who wants to have a practice'? It's generally Joe that will say yes and come and have a knock about with me and therefore he's obviously improving. I'm hoping that Ben will shape up a bit tomorrow or bowl badly and self reflect and come to some conclusions that he needs to. Next week though they're training on Monday night and then possibly again on Wednesday night so hopefully Ben will improve a bit.

Just as we were about to leave the field a group of about 6-7 lads turned up with a bat and stumps and we asked if they wanted to join us and they did and we had a game with them. Some of these kids were good yet they don't belong to a team as such other than their school teams. One kid that was 9 had a bowling action that was very similar to Lasith Malinga's but not quite as low and round armed - maybe half way between vertical and malinga's and this kid was fast and accurate. Hopefully we'll get to play with them again because it's good practice.

This evening feeling a lot better I had a bowl myself on our field that went pretty well. There's a G&CCC match tomorrow with Horton Kirby which if I remember rightly is a fantastic pitch and venue in Kent which I've been looking forward to playing on all year and it looks like I'm going to miss it. Even if I was to get the call tonight I don't know how it would work out time wise with Ben and Joe's match. They start at 9.30 and it's 17 overs aside. Reg reckons that it'll be over with by 12.00 - 12.30 and then I'd have to get everyone home and then drive from Basildon to Horton Kirby in 1/2 an hour.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Still ill

I've been ill all week and was hoping that by now I'd be okay, but I'm not so today I had to make a decision about whether I was going to play cricket or not with Grays & Chadwell my team. If you've been following the blog you'll know that I've been gutted to have been side-lined and this cold that I've got has coincided with me being called up for the first time this season to play! So I was faced with the dilemma - contact Neil and say 'Yeah I'll play' and then turn up ill and potentially be useless or say no after spending weeks now asking for a game. So today I've had to say no.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Resting and not practicing

On Sunday I didn't bowl particularly well, actually let's tell it like it was - I bowled crap. Now why that was I don't know but it might have been one of several things or a combination of all of them?

1. The Yips
2. I didn't warm up
3. *I bowled solidly for 3 hours the day before with not much of a break in between
4. My hand had just taken a big hit with a ball

*Note when I practice I use a bucket of 36 balls so I am bowling ball after ball and bowl hundred of balls in an hour and half.

Since then I've come down with a crappy cold and I don't feel particularly well, but tonight not having really picked up a ball since Sunday and thrown it in anger I noted while I was watching the England v Windies match that I was flicking the ball with a different emphasis with my fingers. I seemed to be getting the flick with very little use of the 2 'Up fingers' and all of the rip was being done with the ball primarily sitting in the hand supported and spun using the 3rd and 4th finger. So after the cricket was over I went outside and threw a few balls and they went well, loads of flick and rip with nice turn. I also threw some Flippers and they were Fast and accurate and I generally felt like my bowling was good.

Could that simply be the result of not going near a ball for a few days, resting and partially breaking the set way that I've tended to bowl? Because recently I seemed to have got in a rut and didn't seem to be going forward. Could it be that taking a break for a few days means that you come back to your bowling in a slightly different way?

Joe & Ben's match

I've just looked at their website and discovered that this match is a league match, they certainly don't know that and I don't know whether I should tell them otherwise it might increase their nerves? Reg was saying that the boys are pretty freaked out by the occassion as it is when suddenly confronted with the reality of a game on a proper cricket pitch with all the trimmings and spectators, so by mentioning that this is a league game at this point might not help. So I'll let the coaches do that on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Random picture of Ben and me last year. I don't actually use the big board that much preferring to use the smaller one. It's a brilliant board made in Forster NSW back in 1986 so it's 23 years old at least. I bought it off a travelling Aussie who life guarded the beach I lived on back in the day when I was a surfer!

Pre match practice for Joe

Joe and Ben have their first match this Sunday. Ben's away for a few days so his only opportunity to practice is going to be on Saturday and Joe had a chance tonight. We had kind of arranged with Reg and his son Jodie (The wicket keeper for Ben and Joe's team) to meet over at the Rec on the outfield and have a knockabout and a bit of a practice. Joe and me went over there and had an hour on out own and was surprised that the others didn't turn up, but then when we got in I realised that there was a highlights program on proper TV of the England/West Indies test and maybe they stayed in and watched that?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Joe gets a game

Reg rang tonight and confirmed that Joe's got a game as well along with Ben. Joe don't know at the moment as he's asleep and Reg rang after he'd gone to bed. So hopefully he'll be chuffed tomorrow when I tell him. So hopefully tomorrow we'll go and have a practice with Reg and Jodie and the other bloke Jamie.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Mercenary Cricket

Not being selected again left me wondering what to do and I took Reg's advice and went down to the Rec at 12.00 just as the Westley & SDR teams were turning up. I asked the Westley captain if he was short of players and he said they were alright, but said he'd give me a game next week if I wanted one. Just as I was walking off the other teams ('SDR') captain shouted 'Whoa up mate, we're short of a player you might get a game with us if you hang about till one'. So I said I was up for that and I'd go and get my gear in the event that bloke didn't turn up and I'd be back just before 1pm.

1pm and no bloke so it was game on and we were fielding. They introduced me to the team including another bloke Dave who they said was their best fielder who hardly ever put a catch down and then put me in at Cover which turned out to be busiest place on the pitch! I was diving about all over the shop stopping the ball. I had one that came off the middle of the bat doing 80mph or faster that hit me square in the chest without having time to get any of my hand behind it which made a sickening thud that everyone around the pitch reported later they heard. Another low one I got all my fingers on but no hand that pulverised all my fingers on my right hand and then I was given the nod to bowl.

Concious that no-one had seen me bowl before and just having had all my spinning fingers mashed and not having had any warm up I was a bit nervous going into it and had a fairly poor first over. The second one was less wayward but the batsmen had a good over off me probably in the region of about 8 an over across the two. But this was the opening pair and they were well and truly bedded in as such and already had about 100 on the scoreboard.

I think it's important that if I'm bowling that I bowl earlier in the day, say for instance if I'd been out this morning around about 11 and had 20 minutes I seem to retain the form I'm in from the earlier session. If I just go into my bowling cold it takes 2 or 3 overs to get any rythmn going, so I kind of laughed when the SDR bloke said 'That'll be his loosener" when the first ball went wide and long.

Neil, if you're reading this - in no way does this mean that I don't want to play for G&CCC. I'm desperate to play for G&CCC - I was one of the first to pay my years membership fee as far as I'm aware.

Other news, is that while I was playing Reg at B&PCC rang and said that Ben had been selected to play for thier under 11's this coming Sunday at Orsett. Michelle spoke to him and it seems as though Joe just missed out, but Reg also said that Joe should go along because one of the kids still hadn't confirmed and Joe might still get a look in. (It seems to be a Wrist Spinner thing these selection issues). I was surprised that Joe had been left out because his potential to take wickets as far as I can see is far in excess of any of the other kids including Ben. Last Monday it was only Joe that took 2 wickets off his two overs, Ben took none and I think the other kids all had one each? Reg also said that Joe should go over the field on Wednesday night and have a knock about with him, Jamie and Jodie. So maybe Joe will make a better account of himself then and increase his chance of being selected.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Practice and more practice

A lovely day again here in the UK 20 degrees centigrade blue skies and very little cloud. I've had loads of practice just outside the house and tried another thing today - cocking the wrist and then kind of unfurling the cocked wrist as you release the ball and that seemed to work okay with he leg breaks. Later on with the stumps I had a go over the Rec and that went well too - the leg breaks working okay, the flippers swinging and particularly accurate. The top - spinner with no batsman I find a bit tricky.

Later on I went over to our field and the grass had been cut and I had another hour there so all told I must have practiced for about 3 hours today. The latter session went well too. I've sent Neil 2 texts today asking if there's any chance of a game and as yet (9pm) I still haven't had a reply. I've sent him a couple of emails as well which I'll check later.

10.00pm and I've just had a reply from Neil and again I've not been selected. Gutted. So what does that mean? There's no more net sessions, so I've got no more opportunities to demonstrate any abilities so now I run the risk of disappearing completely under the radar as such. What do I do pester him all week, or wait and not get on his nerves. In the short term I think I've just got to come to terms with the idea that this might go on all summer and approach each weekend with the idea that I'm not going to get a game and then maybe pleasantly surprised when one does come up. Thing is if I'm approaching this with the idea that I'm not going to be playing that will involve Michelle claiming back Sundays for family activities and me committing myself to them and potentially having to turn Neil down if he ever needs me to play? It's all a bit of a dilemma.

I wonder if there's such a thing as a Cricket mercenary/freelancer - Have bat, will travel where you can make yourself available to teams when this kind of thing happens and you bat at No.10 and maybe just field, at least that way I can be involved, watch and learn?