Monday, November 30, 2009

End of November -15332

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The end of November's been marked by loads of rain and the continuation of ridiculously mild weather. The last week has moved towards a colder feel and tonight as we finally move into December there's an indication that there's going to be at least one night of frost with the temp dropping to -6 degrees. The rains been so prevalent that I've not raked the wicket or even gone over there and had a look to see how it's getting on, but I'm not too worried as most of t he leaves have gone from the trees and leaves will be less of a problem over the next few months. The yellowing grass as far as I'm aware recovered and I'll keep an eye on that, but the good news is that we're now only 21 days away from the winter equinox and the days becoming longer.

I've had notification that Thurrock Cricket Club AKA G&CCC will be resuming net sessions and training in mid January so that's something to look forward too. Joe, Ben and I have continued to practice over at the tennis courts at the Rec and as a result thier cricket does seem to be improving slightly. They're still swinging at the ball, but their bowlings okay and their fielding is getting better too. Whether batting against 8 and 11 year olds has any beneficial results for a tail-ender remains to be seen, but the other way round me bowling against them must be improving their batting to some extent especially as I've started to bowl seam up to them and on the stumps.

For me it's been a lazy bowling month but flicking the ball around the house the Slider might be on for the summer and added to my list of stock deliveries. In fact I may have to change my mind completely with regards to what I'm going to be working on and using in my game.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Paddock news and more 15038

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Quite a good weekend on the cricket front, Ben and Joe were involved in an Indoor game with their team Basildon against Horndon at Grays. This was their 2nd ever 6 aside indoor game, so I’d said before I left for work in the morning that they should have a knock about when they got in from school and do some bowling and when I got in they were all full of themselves and gagging to prove me wrong and tell me that they had done so as I'd left that morning thinking it was highly unlikely they would.

Whatever the outcome of the toss was their captain Ryan put Ben in to bowl first as they were fielding. The team was made up of 50% boys that are the key players and the best players in the Basildon set up - Jody, Ryan, Killer and Harrison, these kids are leagues in front of my boys in terms of their knowledge and skills with the bat and fielding. I think two of them play at County level for Essex under 11’s .

In Ben’s first over of his 2 allocated overs Ben bowled okay one wide down the Leg-side maybe 2? But generally they were okay with one ball that he got a faint edge to down the off-side which should really have been gloved but the keeper fumbled it and put it down, no-one said anything though understanding that everyone has bad days or makes a mistake every now and then and that in fact although they do want to win this isn’t the Ashes. Joe was second up and he bowled pretty much the same – a couple of wides, but being a slower bowler he got hammered a bit, nice flight though.
What was good to see in Ben's 2nd over was that he almost pulled off a 'Bowled and caught chance' and he went to ground getting his body fully in the way of the ball stopping it going for a four although his team mate Ryan was also on to it and he had it covered anyway. The fact that this is with the plastic training balls and is bread and butter cricket practice for the other boys with Joe and Ben this represents in my opinion a big difference in attitude and it was good to see. Similarly both Joe and Ben caught balls that were thrown from the other ends of the hall and both of them caught them - these are little steps, but they're significant.

The opposition Horndon batted well and seemed to be putting down what looked like an insurmountable score. The ‘Pro’ boys bowled well with Killer taking a wicket hitting the top of off-stump. Harrison had a bad day with the ball but fielded exceptionally well stopping absolutely shed loads of balls. My lads were put at Square leg and point or positions just backward of those. My lads being new to the game and only just having finished their first season are not the most adept fielders yet and were in positions close to the bat where a far higher degree of skill is required to field the ball, whereas the 'Pro’s' were in positions more akin to Mid on and Mid off giving them far more time to gather up the ball and field it.

The game panned out that my younger son who's just turned 8 was left to score 3 runs as the last man standing, the 'Middle order' having done well and got runs on the board, his partner at the other end who still bats but who's runs don't count stopped Joe in the middle and I could see him telling Joe to but the ball into positions like square leg and point! Joe's lucky to even get the bat on the ball let alone decide which direction it's going to go in. Apparently Joe was absolutely crapping himself as up till that point he hadn't been aware of how pivotal his role in the game was and now with 2 balls to go he suddenly became aware of the gravity of the situation, and remember some of his team 'Mates' play the game in with an attitude that makes the Aussies in the Ashes look like a Sunday 3rd XI team. Joe said afterwards "I was poohing my pants nearly - my hands were shaking and all my legs had gone wobbly". Joe had a go but needless to say he didn't get the neccessary runs and his team lost.

Staurday & Sunday

So Saturday and Sunday with the weather being really mild (Saturday it was 16 degrees centigrade at 15.45hrs) we were able to go over to our new practice venue - The tennis courts at The Rec and see if they could improve in their batting and bowling. (See below). I take a couple of cones and mark out the V and try and encourage them to drive the ball through the V and if they do that they get 4 runs whereas all the other fences are 2 runs unless the ball hits it in flight then it's 4 and if they get over the fence it's a six. On Staurday we were joined by a load of their school mates including another kid 'Ben' who could bat quite well so all in all they had a good game and really enjoyed it.

Similarly we did the same again on Sunday but in much colder and windier weather and we were joined by another one of their mates Ozan and he batted quite well and again they enjoyed it and it was good fun. The result hopefully is this will improve their bowling and fielding and maybe even their batting, but no matter how I try and tempt them to drive with a straight bat they're not having it off me! But it's encouraging to see them enjoying a game of cricket, to tell the truth the fence helps as it means the ball never goes that far. I invited Talak and his son as they also live local and his son has joined the Basildon team this summer too, unfortunately he was away in Bury but he sent me a text back saying that he'd come along another time.

If the weather holds out this mild throughout the winter we'll keep going along to this venue and hopefully inspire more kids to get involved and join in. I also intend to use the field adjacent to the tennis courts for our games in the summer as the kids on our local estate didn't seem to be so up for it this summer and besides they're now reaching and age where they'll be able to get over to the Rec under thier own steam anyway and might turn up for a game anyway. But Whenever we've practiced at the Rec in the past we've attracted the attention of groups of kids and they've joined in and many of them because it's a fairly up-market area already play for their schools and therefore can bat and bowl and have their own bats. So it makes sense to make this our primary practice area.

The Paddock

As you can see it's recovered massively from the state it was in at the end of the summer. The only thing I'm doing at the minute with it is raking it and keeping it clear of weeds as this encourages worms. The worms produce a lot of worm casts and this works to make the ground uneven. The levelling looks good and it looks as though it is going to be massively better than last year which was the intention so that we will be able to bat on it. I also noticed today that where I am raking it further up the wicket I'm beginning to have a levelling affect through the raking. The rake seems to be taking the tops off the lumps and then redistributing the earth in the gaps, so at the minute it looks like a win win situation.

Last week I contacted the council bloke who's always been really good with offers of support for me in my attempts to get people into cricket and my request this time was whether there was any chance that the paddock fence could be repaired. He came back with a response really quickly saying that the Fence had already been noted and that it was waiting for approval from local councillors and that if the budget was there it was earmarked for replacement already. So that was good news.

The paddock in September 2009.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grass problems on the new wicket - 14915

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On the way into work this morning I checked the new wicket to see how the grass is going. Last time I looked the initial area that was seeded looked to have slowed right down and settled with regards to it's growth. The newer batch had started to come through and was looking promising. 2 Weeks on though the new growth has gone yellow and I had a search round the internet and come across this - .

It seems that the bountiful rain we've had as in fact been a little too much and has a detrimental affect on the grass in that it's encouraged bad Fungi to attack the grass and the surrounding earth and deny the grass of it's necessary nutrients. The only thing I can do in the short term is hope we have a spell of dry weather that'll then encourage better forms of Fungi. I'll just have to see how it goes.

Still no signs of a practice and gradually falling into a state of unfitness I reckon. Hopefully I'll get out this weekend and I'll be interested to see if I've lost any of my abilities.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


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Didn't get to practice today which is diappointing, although I went over to the tennis courts with Ben and Joe and we had a knock about there trying to get them to practice in a way that'll be helpful with their indoor game coming up this Friday. It kind of went okay but there's shed loads wrong with what they do and they're not inclined to listen to me at all. Another aspect is this continuing trait where they get really upset at not being able to do stuf - so they turn up pick their bats up and start swining at the ball with no discipline and then get wound up when they get bowled so readily. I was talking to Michelle and it's apparently a trait of hers - impatience and frustration of not being able to do something easily and quickly. I had to stop the practice and again explain that cricket isn't easy and that they need to practice more often in order to step into a situation like this and into games and expect to be hitting the ball and scoring runs. It seemed to work and they got on with it with a slightly better attitude.

So that ended up being the only opportunity that I had to bowl all day. Other than that I checked out the wicket in the Paddock to see how that was coming along and it looks okay. The only thing I'm doing at the minute is raking it and clearing all the leaves. We had a lot of rain yesterday and Friday and the last couple of days have been incredibly mild so the grass is still growing. The wicket in comparison to all the surrounding grass which is in a real mess looks very lush and level. The fact that the goal mouths in the Paddock are in such a bad way and the general eveness means that the kids are not using it to play football in which suits me fine. Additionally and somewhat incredibly people take their dogs in there to crap all over it when it's obviously there for kids to play in! Again this works in my favour as no-one in their right mind would want to play football in so much dog crap.

The only thing I can do with regards improving the wicket at the minute would be further work at the bowlers end making that more level or hollow tining the batting end or something similar. As I haven't got a hollow tining tool what I may do is just areate the grass by making holes in it which apparently works okay, so I may look to do that in the next couple of weeks.

One of my concerns about the levelling process was whether the new top layer of loam would integrate with the sub-layer which is clay. The hope is that the roots of the new grass would bind the two layers together and the evidence from what I can see at the minute is that this is happening and that the new layer does seem to have binded okay. I wont really know until the late spring when we get to play on it for the first time, that'll be the test to see if this has all worked, but so far so good.

Another thing I'm looking to get sorted is all the holes in the fence around the paddock, once we start batting in there the chances are we're going to start losing balls through the holes, so I've contacted the council bloke who's helped us out in the past who likes my grass roots approach to getting people involved in cricket asking him if he can doing anything for us. Along with the email I've sent a load of images of the state the fence is in so maybe in the new year when the councils have to start clearing all their excess money running up to the end of the financial year we may get lucky and the fence might get fixed?

I also walked across the field where we have our wicket in the summer and I reckon if that's used again this coming summer we'll definitely go for having it running in the opposite direction this year. But alternatively as all the boys are getting that much older I reckon there's a chance that we may actually change pitches and play more frequently over at The Rec which is about 1/4 mile away. The advantage of that is that it's a public space and it's adjacent to a big estate with people of a different socio-economic standing and the kids off that estate all have their own bats. We've played over there on several ocassions and these kids have joined in and on the odd ocassion there's been the odd kid that's quite handy with the bat and the ball having played it at school. Also the grass is in so much better condition meaning the ball actually rolls across your outfield. So the prospects of having games with a full 11 people fielding and 2 batting all competing against each other or maybe even team formats is very high. We'll have to see how it goes.....


Another thing I've been doing is cleaning up and oiling my bats, so three of them I've removed all the stickers from them sanded them down, oiled them up and replaced the bat grips. Man getting the stickers and protective tape off was hard work, the initital peeling was okay but with the stickers especially a big thick layer of glue was left that just clogged up the sandpaper. Eventually I found that scraping the glue off using a scalpel worked out to be the best option and then once 95% of it was off sandpaper then worked.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Other Blogs

Been working on the other bowling specific blogs listed above as some of them are moving up into the Top ten in the Google searches. Reading about maintaining a presence in the top ten I've found that it's important to update the content on a frequent basis, so that's what I've been up to. I've also printed the Blogs off and had a look at them and I reckon I'll update them further still as I don't like the way they're written, so that'll be somethng I can work on.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Off season practice

Not having bowled for a week I had an opportunity today for a bit of practice using Hockey Balls on Tarmac at the 'Chav Park' - a playground round the corner from where I live where there's a fenced in basket ball court.

Considering the balls have no seams I was able to get it to turn off the wicket quite well with my leg breaks and again the consistency and accuracy was on par with the last practice session over at Gloucester last week. This time using a Coke can as my length and line target marker and hitting it quite frequently, but generally 90% of the time the ball landing very close to it.

The Big 4

These are the variations that I'm focusing on as previously mentioned - Leg Break, Wrong Un, Black Spinning Flipper and a Top Spinning Flipper. The Leg Break was very commendable and my Wrong Un by the end of the session began to come together in a manner that I was happy with. The two Flippers were a lot less impressive, the Top Spinning Flipper over the summer had been very good in practices but I didn't bowl it much in very many matches, but for the moment my Flippers are a bit ropey, with me not being able to control the swing they produce and the ball ending up down the leg-side. I'm not that worried in the short term as I know it'll just take a couple of practice sessions and I'll have them both back under control.

I also had a look bowling from around the wicket bowling the Leg Breaks into the same target area which kind of looked potentially useful. It looked as though if you did this it may entice the bowler to to try bat against the spin into the Leg Side with possible mis-hit consequences? But It also looked useful in that you could bung a Wrong un in there which might be problematic too? I reckon it's something I'll try and in the nets in the new year.

Indoor practice with Ben and Joe.

This morning Ben, Joe and I went to the Laindon Community Centre and had a knock about trying to get them to improve their batting. Towards the end of the session I worked with Ben trying to get him to play with a front foot defensive block which he sees as being boring, preferring to swing at every ball. Even though he was pretty negative about the idea he did go along with it and I think after a while he could see the potential in the indoor games as the ball is pushed forwards into the area where there are no fielders. It looked as though if he was to apply himself he can do it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Gloucester Park Basildon

I've been doing some work on my other blogs, they're still not quite finished as I will eventually add a lot more links to video clips and add pictures to them as well. There's a few images and links in some of them but the defining touch will be to add slow motion video footage. The intention was that the Slow Mo would have been added by now but the camera hasn't been made available. I was hoping that they'd get them in at college and I'd be able to borrow one, but the order was made but then cancelled with no plans to place another order for some time. So I may have to look into getting one myself.
Another thing I noticed was that these blogs weren't getting very many hits so I've started a campaign to get them into the Google search top 10 websites hence the links here and in each of the blogs. In addition the same links now appear in all my postings on and within a matter of hours the LegSpin blog moved up from nowhere into the top 15 searches, so it does appear to be working. If you've not looked at them yourself click on the link and have a look.
Other than that because of the rain not a lot doing although I'm quite happy about that as it gives my body a rest. It also gave me the chance to go over to Gloucester Park in Basildon and photograph the New Netball facilities (See below) which have a lot of potential for off-season bowling practice using plastic Hockey Balls what with being fenced off and floodlit. As mentioned previously all the courts are very securely locked so it may be that access is tightly controlled and you might have to pay for the right to use the courts. I also thought that the courts might also double up for Tennis but the markings on the court suggest otherwise which is a shame.

The Other Picture here is the future location of the cricket pitch that will replace the one that is directly outside Murrayfields according to one of the Green Keepers. The Murrayfields pitch is to be turned over to Rugby and the pitch moved here which is better in lots of ways as this area in the summer is quite nice and they've built a brand new Car Park. I wonder if when they do complete the pitch it will come with a pavillion or changing facilities?It looks a bit dismal at the minute because of the weather, but it's quite secluded and back from the roads, so maybe a nice pitch. There did used to be a pitch here years ago which is visible as a trace from ariel shots on google earth.

Other specialist Blogs

November starts out looking more like what we'd expect of Autumn - windy and rain, but the temperature is still very warm - 16 degrees centigrade. So that's good for 'The Paddock' and the new grass that was sewn a few days ago. I also filled in some of the uneven gound at the bowlers end which I'll probably continue to do, but I haven't got an endless supply of earth so how much of an improvement I can make remains to be seen.

I was going to work on one of my other blogs - but it's pretty much finished. I was hoping that these new blogs would be in the top 10 searches on google but as yet they've failed to make an impact so it looks as though I need to link to them as much as I can else where. I'll have a look at this one today, but I know the main thing I need to do is get a slow mo camera and shoot some more stills images of the different grips that I use to get the sub-variations. I was hoping to have a camera this Autumn via work, but the order was cancelled so it looks like I might have to buy one myself.

The other blogs