Saturday, January 30, 2010

Barefoot parkour

Cold today but sunny, temperature has risen above 1 degree centigrade, but despite that we all had a bowl. we played 5 wickets and you can go back in the warm with me as the wicket keeper. Ben hit the stumps 5 times within about 20 balls and it took Joe around about 40. I tried it myself afterwards and bowled a pile of absolute rubbish and came in before I'd completed the 5. Weirdly the wrong uns were turning phenomenally well and the leg breaks were weak and sporadic e.g. crap. I'm going to put it down to the cold and hope for better on Monday night at nets.

I've not mentioned the Plantar Faciitis for a while, but it's still there. It seems to be going away slowly and seems to be affected by the wearing of Croc's. I've been wearing my Croc's as much as possible indoors and they seem to help. Getting out of bed recently - the pain has been less so maybe things are getting better? Today I've played table tennis with the kids and Michelle and it feels fairly painful now - but I didn't warm up, so it does seem the warming up and warming down is essential. Additionally today I've been walking differently to see if that helps with an emphasis on most of the weight being on the front of the foot rather than the back, this came about from a story in the news a couple of days ago where scientists are now suggesting that research is showing that running in barefeet a la Zola Budd may be better for you then wearing those ridiculous looking trainers that most sports types wear believing that they are offering your feet some kind of protection. There seems to be a growing number of people that believe this is true and there's some good examples of evidence to suggest it's not that bad an idea...........

"Come race day, the Tarahumara don't train. They don't stretch or warm up. They just stroll to the starting line, laughing and bantering, and then go for it, ultra-running for two full days, sometimes covering over 300 miles, non-stop. For the fun of it. One of them recently came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing nothing but a toga and sandals. He was 57 years old".


I've even got my own story which has a link to free - running as I tell my kids "I invented and was practicing free-running back in 1987". When I was a surfer I lived in a tent from May through to October at the Top of Gwenva beach and the nearest shops were a mile or so away over Tregiffian cliffs and across Sennens Whitesands Bay see picture..... (This shot is from the Top of Tregiffian Cliff). I used to hang out at Gwenva and surf there most days, but walk back and forwards to Sennen either along a coastal path scattered with granite rocks and gravel in bare feet or along the smooth ocean worn rocks at the back of the beach. The rocks here though meant that your were up and down, left and right like a mountain goat and over the weeks and months my feet toughened up and I devised a technique of getting across these rocks that utilised the balancing techniques used in Skateboarding - compression... absorbing the difference in size and angle of the rocks as you moved amongst them. It mean that you were able to move in a smooth organic manner sustaining little damage and impact to your feet ankles and legs, you absorbed the transitions from one rock to another and made good progress through and over the rocks. I was free running. I never gave it any thought until Parkour hit the headlines in 2003 with Jump London and I remember seeing this documentary and thinking - this isn't new - I know this, this has got elements of skateboarding in it and I feel like I've already done this. Initially I couldn't put my finger on where I'd experienced it and why a lot of the moves looked familiar and then it dawned on me - back in 86 and 87 across the rocks between Gwenva and Sennen - that how I used to move and negotiate the rocks and it was all done in bare feet!!!! No trainers, no nothing runnning and jumping across and between giant granite rocks in bare feet.

So I've spent months before now running and walking on the front of my foot rather than the heel and this was when it was and I didn't suffer any ill effects. The fact that the surface was so rough it just made me walk differently and I remember being aware of it at the time. So walking on the front of my foot may be the way to go?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Net Session No.3

Another net session tonight; Once past the general training and warming up bit we got down to the nitty gritty. I worked in one net for most of the night and got a chance to bowl at Reece (Another Leftie) and a handful of right handed batsmen – Ross, Neil, Super and others. I didn’t seem to be getting the ball to turn as much and was having trouble with my length. Much of it was on target but possibly too long with nearly everyone driving me back down the wicket. Then when I tried to bowl shorter in order to give the ball more opportunity to turn and miss the edge of the bat, I just bowled far too short and was dispatched to the far regions. Though reflecting on the outcomes of bowling at such a length, the ball was coming off the bat in a pretty haphazard manner with ‘Super’ commenting that I’d missed several bowled and caught opportunities and many of the others coming off the bat and possibly going into short extra cover and mid wicket at catchable heights. A couple did hit the edge of the bat with a few people and may have been caught behind, but nothing took the stumps out.

The leg breaks didn’t turn much so were pretty much smothered by the drives, the balls that seemed to be most effective were the faster deliveries – Back-spinning Flipper, Top-spinning Flipper and the small turning leg break with the higher in the hand grip. Another thing that came up with results was just varying the speed of the delivery – that seemed to be catching people out too. The wrong un was okay but needs more work. Overall it felt like one of those sessions where you’re knackered and not quite on the ball simply because you’re physically drained. But I suppose it went okay.

More of the same next week but maybe looking at using the bigger leg break at a faster speed and obviously trying to get the length slightly better and continue with the variation in speed.

On someone came up with this link with some good stuff from Terry Jenner. It's especially useful to read if you're bowling Leg Breaks and struggling with it.

Terry Jenner on spin - Part One Cricket Features Global
Terry Jenner on spin - Part Two Cricket Features Global

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ben and Joe Practice No.1

This afternoon was Ben and Joe's first practice session of the season with their team Basildon and Pitsea. The venue the same as last year - Fitzwymarc School in Rayleigh. It doesn't look as though the team has changed much for their age group apart from a handful of smaller boys. Ben was in a net with Ryan, Steven, Anthony and Harrison and Joe was with a bunch of random kids whose names I don't know as yet. They all bowled fairly well, Ben bowled okay, but we'd had a practice beforehand in the street so he should have done okay. Ben's in a transitional stage at the moment where sometimes he bowls straight and other times he bowls Leg Breaks neither with any great conviction. But what was good was his batting, as I've said loads of times before, he doesn't seem to take any notice of me - but today he was actually doing the things I've been telling to do over the last few months and he batted quite well keeping the ball off the stumps with the exception of one that was bowled by Ryan.

Reg suggested that we go home and get Ben to bat between two chairs a couple of thousand times, which I tried but again it all goes wrong because it's me telling him how to do it and he just doesn't want to know. The little bit that we did do though made absolute total sense and it looks like such a good idea to force the drive shot and make become a natural instinctive action. I'll have another go at another time. I might try it wit Joe?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Funny Blog and other stuff 17133

Just came across this blog via one of the blokes blogs on big cricket. This bloke has been trying to score his century for 20 years, his girlfriends intro is hilarious, but his blog is primarily video's and he then narrates them after the game and uploads it, it's genius!

This Sunday my boys start their net sessions at Rayleigh. At the end of the summer and over the couple of games they played indoors, their team manager said that Ben needs to get himself a forward defensive block for Christmas. Well I've been trying but he takes very little notice of me and he still swings at the ball even when he claims to be really focusing on a block. We'll have to see how it goes. Since last summer their bowling has changed, Ben seems to have slowed down and now seems interested in bowling Leg Breaks and Joe seems to bowl faster and has given up on bowling leg-breaks.

The weather here in the UK has warmed up a bit, there's blobs of snow here and there and loads up North still where it's cold. We're due a load of rain in the next day or so, so the paddock will still be spongy and soft and rollable if need be. I've not had a look at it for a while after the depressing dog damage. I'm waiting for the weather to warm up a bit - a run of nights where the temperature stays above 4 degrees is supposedly what would trigger more growth. I'll try and have a look at the weekend and see how it's looking and maybe take some photo's if it looks different in any way. The good news is that it's so soggy and went over there it's unlikely to sustain any damage.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

World media domination already!!!!

Tonight I typed 'Legspin Bowling' into Google and of the 3 Million or more options that are available out there - guess which came up No.1?

Yep my Legspin blog.

Check it out! The most likely to be visited website on the internet if you're looking for info on learning how to bowl Leg Breaks!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Leftie Watch


Nets tonight and it went well. I had all the variations in use - Leg Break, Top-Spinning Flipper, Back-Spinning Flipper and the Wrong un and all of them came out pretty good. A few full tosses here and there and a few that were a bit wide of off-stump, but I think I only bowled a couple of balls down the Legside to either right-handers or Lefties.

My main focus was the Lefties and I eventually got to bowl at a few in the first team nets including my nemisis Matt Hills who I can't get anywhere near bowling out, but again I have to remind you he is the best batsman in our club. The good news is I reckon there was an improvement in my bowling. All the balls with the exception of 1 were down the off-side. Again with the variations in pace - once or twice with Flippers I managed to get the ball past him. The ball that caused the biggest problems was the Wrong Un (As it did with all of the others as well), so that looks like it's definitely got potential but needs to be used with more accuracy and possibly with a little more speed than the normal leg breaks. The other thing I noticed was that pitching the ball right up slighty faster right in on the Off-stump, was causing him problems and he was unable to play his preferred shots at all and was seemingly only able to punch the ball back down the wicket? I asked whether there was an improvement over last week and he conceded that there was and said that the bowling was far more negative than last week pointing out that the bowling into his feet/off-stump line was the negative approach. Well he might think that it was negative but struth at least I wasn't hit for a combination of 25 fours and sixes like last week!!!

To me it seems that if I was confronted by a Leftie at one end and a right hander at the other end, at least now I have a potential tactic in that I can possibly restrict the flow of runs when bowling to the leftie as a containment tactic and then attack the Right Hander. Interestingly I heard his Dad say at the start (He's one of our coaches) that in 40 overs cricket it's important that runs are made off of every ball. If that's the case then to me it seems that if I was to adopt this approach with a leftie and tie them down restricting their runs - there's a chance that my bowling may then force him to try and play in a more risky manner?

In the longer term though it now strikes me that I need to get more accurate with the Wrong Un so that I can bowl that in there on the same line and possibly find the edge? The Flipper too may also be useful on that line of attack?

The other Lefties that were in that net (1st teamers) they were easier to deal with and they were both undone with the Wrong Un despite it's inaccuracy, so it's looking promising.

Points for development

  1. Pitch the ball up right under their noses on the off-stump line with a faster leg break. Work on that line and see how that develops and see what the longer term effect is - does it restrict all of the Left Handed players?
  2. Work on the back-spinning Flipper as this will have the potential to swing away from the Leftie.
  3. Work on the Wrong Un's accuracy and speed and get it in on that same line and see what it does.

Oh yeah - and screaming for LBW's

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Plantar faciitis update

I've been stretching and exercising my calf muscle to see if that offers any relief. That does seem to be working slowly. I now do stretches before doing any exercises and today I've been out with my kids playing cricket on the Tennis Courts today and I did warm up stretches before and a warm down after. Right now 1/2 hour later, it feels okay but the evidence of whether you've been affected by the exercise comes the following morning when you wake up and first get out of bed as that's when you get the 'Stone bruise' heel effect. So I'll have to wait till then to see if the warm ups and downs have made any difference. If they haven't and I have to walk around with the pain I'll then be making it worse Monday night as I'll be in the nets for a couple of hours. So Tuesday morning I might be in a right mess? If so I'm going to have to go and see someone for some professional advice.

Other than that I bowled a few promising wrong uns against the kids pitched up well and pitching wide of off-stump but still turning so much that they were then missing Leg Stump, so my big Wrong un is still there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Batting at No.11

I'm usually the last bloke in, sometimes I get a shot at No.10 and as expected my contribution with the bat is negligible. A couple of nights ago at the nets I had a bat last thing and managed to keep everyone out, although I think they'd argue that they were all knackered and that it was the first session of the season - which may be so? But having kept them form hitting the stumps (I may have edged one to slips) I'm now wondering what I should do in a game - if I'm there as the other half of the last pair and the games on a knife edge would it be better for me to simply block the ball for all of the over so that the strike changes to the better batsman or to have a go and almost guarantee we lose the game?

That then raises another question in my mind - if I was able to acquire a good blocking technique would that then mean the bowler would try and put the ball into areas outside of the off-stump to tempt me into swinging at it? Then if I was to try that - what's the thing I need to learn in order to do that and be succesful - like rolling the wrists and getting the ball to hit the deck early?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bowling Legspin at Lefties

I've updated the Legspin blog with this entry..............

11th Jan 2009 and the club I play for has started winter nets in preparation for the new season. Unfortnuately for me the season hasn't started off well as it seems I've got a condition called Plantar Faciitis which feels like a badly bruised heel and is in fac damage to the ligaments in the foot. I've got to monitor it over the next couple of weeks and see how it goes but may have to stop playing any sport for a couple of months or more if it continues. I'll have to see how it goes.
Anyway at the first session it didn't go too bad. I seemed to have the right-handers either playing defensive shots or trying to attack me and then eventually making a mistake whereby they'd be stumped or caught by slips or gully, so I was pleased with that. Then came the Left Hander. Admittedly he's probably the best player in our team but I was hoping to do better than I did. I managed to get the ball past him twice out of about 20 balls. The 18 were hit for 2's, 4's and sixes I reckon - mostly fours. I've discussed it on the forum and some of the blokes have made some useful suggestions. Last night I didn't have a strategy and was just trying a variety of approaches using this years variations (Leg Break, Wrong Un, top and back-spinning Flippers) and pitching the ball on the line that I'm most confident with - which is his Leg Stump, so he was having a field day.

I've since had a look at what Philpott recommends and he says to pitch the ball wide of the Lefties off-stump using your Leg Break turning the ball back into the stumps. It then makes sense that if you have a straight ball and a Wrong un you'd use these as variations. Philpott says not to stray in closer to the legs as the batsman will work the ball to the on-side. So without getting too technical I'll be looking to use the leg break in this way and see what the lefties come up with. I'm not going to over-complicate it initially as I've got 12 weeks to work out what to do I reckon. So, Leg Breaks down his off-side pitched up maybe using width of the crease to bowl over and around the wicket and varying the speed, trajectory and spin and see how I get on. I'll be watching to see what strokes he plays and let you know.
Posted by MPA first eleven at 16:31

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bloody Left - handed batsmen!

Woo hoo! Cricket started again tonight with this seasons first net session and it went well apart from aspect - Left Handed batsmen (Matt Hills). But I suppose in my defence I could point out that he is the best batsman on our team, so he's always going to be a bit of a handful. So what went wrong?

1. I was bowling all sorts of variations around my leg break and the ball I should have possibly been bowling I only used once and it was miles away from the bat/stumps.

2. When I was bowling the Leg Break I was on auto-pilot and so the ball was going down his legside as his Leg Stump what with being a Leftie is the Off-stump that I'd normally bowling around. Every ball that was in that area he was hitting generally really well. There may have been one or two that may have gone a bit haywire, but whether he'd go down on his knee and play that sweep shot as frequently as he did is doubtful in a match situation? Now, I'm not sure what the situation would be if I bowled that line - how would he play that ball and would there be any mileage in setting a field more heavily on his on-side? What then would that force him to try and do - or would he just continue blasting the ball down the legside with little risk?

3. It seems there's a couple of strategies my favoured one would be to bowl Wrong Uns at his off-stump looking for the edge of his bat - but this then relies on getting the length and line right and my wrong un is no-longer that accurate, so I'm going to have to work on it. Philpott recommends bowling well up fairly wide of his off-stump bowling Leg Breaks. So perhaps that's what I should aim to practice with Lefties?


Next week work on pitching the ball well up under a Lefties nose (Preferably Matt) bowling Leg Breaks outside of his Off-Stump and just see how he plays it - the kind of strokes he plays and whether this causes any problems. In addition maybe work in a net with just some stumps and try and get the wrong un going into the same area. Also tuck the leading elbow in and vary the speed of the delivery as my faster balls did get through 2 or 3 times, so there's some promise there.

Maybe this could be my key objective for the next 3 months alongside screaming for LBW's which I still don't do! This sounds like a good plan.

Other than that I did okay against most of the right handers except Neil. Neil was playing this deft little shot where he was waiting late for the ball - seeing it turn and then just allowing it to leave the bat down the off-side towards 3rd man. Whether it would work in a game or not again I don't know as I'd imagine the slips fielder would come in closer and stop that stroke being used.

The best bowling came at the end against Imran Mohammed who's one of our better bastmen and I had him dancing down the wicket coming after me and got him 2 or 3 times. I also was troubling him with my wrong un a bit. At the end though he conceded that he was a big hitter and found it difficult against slow bowling generally.

All in all a good session with some targets for next week.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Some cricket soon

It's Sunday and we're still expecting more snow over the next 48 hours. Tomorow night though subject to how much snow there is on the ground I'll hopefully by going to the first net session of the new season, so I'll have some cricket related content at least. But this is heavily dependent on the roads being passable as there's a lack of salt going down on the roads and the roads are quite tricky to negotiate safely once off the main roads.

It'll be interesting to see how my Plantar faciitis gets on.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

And still more snow................

It's snowed again today and over-night. Went out with the kids and took some pictures of the Rec in the snow - this is where we play cricket and Ben and Joes team play during the summer on the odd occassion. We went over to the Valence Way wicket as well in the afternoon and built an igloo. Some of the 'Estate Boys' were on the field as well and they said they'd have a game of cricket in the snow tomorrow, so if they're up for it tomorrow I may do that with them. In building the igloo I did start clearing a wicket ready for the cricket. Here's some pictures and you'll noticed that I've figured out how to format the blog so the images stay over to one side instead of down the middle as they have been for the last year or so!

This is the Rec Langdon Hills looking from the North West corner near Forest Glade across the Cricket Pitch towards the top of the hill.

Joe, Ben and I at the start of the igloo construction.

The image here is the old tennis courts where we practice these days. The final image is Ben and the completed igloo/snow teepee!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A bit more snow

It's snowed again today and the here in the UK the world seems to have gone bonkers, it's like they've never seem snow or that our climate is similar to somewhere like Sri Lanka or something and it's all a big surprise! Look......

There's loads of claims that it's the worst cold for decades - yeah if you're talking one or two and perhaps if you're just talking about the mean temperature for the last 4 weeks or so? But we've had far colder periods and worse snow conditions in recent years.

In April 1993 a cold front bumped into band of heavy rain that cut across the southern half of the UK and it snowed really heavily over 2 or 3 days as I recall yet just behind the front where I was living at the time in Plymouth we were sun bathing with our shirts off at Plymouth Hoe in Devon. But in Essex they had in excess of 12" of snow with my Father in Law reporting that he couldn't get his car out of the garaged and that he couldn't get into work for days. He's got photo's of icycles hanging off the front of the house 2 or 3 foot long. As I recall it was like that for around a week and then it rained and normality returned.

In 1987 in January we had 2 weeks of snow on and off combined with very cold temperatures here in essex the temperatures were in the -18 degrees centigrade region virtually every night for 2 weeks, everywhere was iced up. I had to go to work by public transport and I got a bus from Benfleet to Rayleigh every day - Benfleet creek was iced up with. On the South Coast of England the sea was iced up extending 200 yards out to sea in many places! We all used to congregate on a big hill after work in the night and go sledging. I remember there were snowdrifts near William Edwards school in Grays that were 15-20 foot deep and a snow plough had cut through them and on one side a wall of snow towered above the road. Now that's proper man snow - not this girlie snow we've got at the moment and it was bloody cold!

Here's some images from winter 1987

Yes that's a train in 1987 in Kent.........

I also remember most of the winters through 1979 to 1983 being very cold with intermittent snow. But the biggie was 1962 - 63 winter -

1947 the other recent biggie -;type=winthist;sess=

So I'd say if you're in England whingeing about the weather you need to get a grip, cos it does get cold here and you can tell when it does - the Thames freeezes over and you can be up to your neck in the white stuff. All we're seeing at the minute is a bit of chilly weather with a bit of snow - God forbid what would happen if we had another 1963 or 1947

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Plantar Fasciitis

Some good news on this front... Having consulted with you tube and Liz ward on the Big Cricket forum I came up with a short term experiment based on some advice that Liz had recommended in the summer that had worked. It seems that the condition is related closley to having poor muscle flexibility in the calf and I then remebered that in the summer Liz had said to warm up prior to games and warm down and the condition Plantar Fasciitis (Sore heel) shouldn't be half as bad. So yesterday my boys and I (And Michelle) went out over to The Rec and played Backyard Pair 25's. So before going out I did some warm ups. Incidentally the day before I'd started to do calf muscle and foot stretching exercises and had got up yesterday morning free of pain. Anyway did more stretching before the game, played cricket then did warm down exercises and do you know what it worked.

This morning I've got up and it's been pain free, just a sense that the muscles in my feet are aching, but not pain - so that's good. So from now on over the next couple of months I'll keep that up as well and see how it goes over the next few weeks. The first big test will be Jan 11th when I'll have a 2 hour net session. I'll warm up and warm down and see how it goes.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Great Berry Open Space & more 16363

Here we go then 2010 and it starts with some really good news. I held a party at my house last night and one of the blokes that turned up to it was an old ex player from Bassildon and Pitsea. This bloke Keith lives in between Great Berry Open Space where we used to practice as the MPA 1st XI and The Rec. He's a member of the 'Pavillion' a clubhouse situated on the edge of the Great Berry Open space field. The name as you can tell suggests that when the estate that he lives on was built in the 1980's and 90's there must have been some consideration that the Great Berry Open Space might be designated as a space for cricket use. In fact the year prior to us using it in 2007 there had been an artificial wicket which had always been there but was vandalised in 2006. Another feature of the field is that it's surrounded by nicely landscaped bushes, but just set back from the bushes a few yards in, there's a small chicken wire fence that's purpose looks to be to stop cricket balls disappearing into the undergrowth.

Anyway this bloke Keith like me has two sons who are the same age as my boys and he would like them to be involved in sports and being an ex batsman I think he'd like to see them playing cricket the same as my lads. His lads did used to play football but in the last year they've both given up on the football and I think Keith sees a good opportunity here to encourage his lads to play cricket and at the same time give him an excuse to pick up a bat again. Furthermore he reckons that the blokes that frequent the Pavillion would be more than up for a game and says that with very little encouragement he'd be able to get a team together. So the prospects for getting a bunch of blokes together to have at least a half decent knock about on either the Great Berry Open Space or the Rec are potentially very good. I think the most likely scenario would be informal cricket played on Great Berry Open Space using the Pavillion as the hub for the activity as the beer and sunshine aspect offers increased incentive.

So that look very promising.

Plantar Fasciitis is the name of the condition I've got with my sore heel and again it's similar in many ways to last years Medial Epicondylitis as in - it's a muscle tear situation which has at the core of it's basis failure to warm up before exercise and then tearing under-used muscles. So for instance all the recent situations where I've suffered from the condition have been off the back of inactivity and then bounding into sprinting round tennis courts at high speed with no warm up. The result being Plantar Faciitis. I've since looked it up on youtube and discussed with people on the Big Cricket Forum and come up with some exercises and ideas to help get rid of it and stop it from occuring and it seems already with just one or two exercises and I've had massive reduction in the pain and discomfort.

On a more negative front, one of the better solutions to repairing the injury is to wear a leg brace while you sleep as it holds the foot and leg in a position that facilitates better repair conditions. Looking around I soon realised that one of the braces is going to cost me 40 quid approx. But then today I realised that the braces are pretty much the same as the boot thing I had to wear for nearly a year when I tore my achilles in a skateboarding incident in 2002. The boot in the meantime has sat in the bottom of my wardrobe for the last 8 years doing nothing. But hey guess what? Yeah I threw it out about 3 months ago - gutted!

Paddock news

I went over today and had a look at the Paddock and what with the ground being rock hard and frosted up it's easier to see the foot-fall of the people that walk through the paddock to take short cuts through the woods. Unfortunately they are definitely walking diagonally right across where they shouldn't be virtually in a worse case scenario manner. I'm going to have to be philosophical about the situation and not get too hung up on what's happening. I think I'm just going to have to accept that there's nothing I can do to stop it and that what we have done so far is a massive improvement on how it was in the summer. Other than that keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't get worse and that as the spring arrives just see what we're presented with and try and seed it more and roll it more to and get it as good as we can. I was kind of looking forward to it being almost perfect, but that's now looking increasingly unlikely.