Straight away that threw a spanner in the works and all the normal things that we'd have done were scuppered. Joe obviously needed a lot of care and our lives this year changed. I tried to train a little and do as much as I could to keep fit, but there just wasn't any time. Ben carried on playing and had a really good season with his bowling and moved his way up the batting order and founding himself batting as high as number 6 on odd occasions.
I missed Joe massively, Joe would have generally been up for having a knock around and in those instances where Joe would have been with us, Ben would have joined in too, but without Joe there, Ben was never that inclined to join in and he only ever joined me over at the paddock on the odd occasion. The same applied with practicing over at the Rec, once the accident had happened that all stopped and prior to the accident that was going well, with Frank Farrington and Oliver Bybuke joining in with us.
All these things meant that in comparison to previous years I was physically not that well prepared which was gutting because I'd got to a point where my run-up was coming together. Despite that, I still played in a handful of games and bowled okay in a couple of them, but for the most part it was pretty poor verging on disasterous. The other factor was the weather, with many people saying that it was the worst start to a cricket season/summer ever with many pitches saturated with water or under water for most weekends right through till July. It seemed that throughout the earlier part of the summer 3 days didn't go by with out it raining and those three days tended to be cool and cloudy. That then compounded the fitness situation and lack of activity meant that by mid June I was bowling and by the end of the first over I was stressing my upper arm muscles. Despite this situation I kept at it for the rest of the season and by the end of the season it was obviously an issue.
Once the season finished I eased up a bit and tried to figure out whether it was my rotator cuff or my Deltoid as it did seem to be isolated to the Deltoid. But, there were symptoms that suggested that it was the Rotator Cuff as I was suffering from the same kind of symptoms as I'd done 3 or 4 years earlier when I was learning the Wrong Un. Having a good look at what was going on,I deduced that the stress was being caused by bowling the Leg Break and having to bowl with the arm twisted in order to get the ball spinning. I then eased up on bowling Leg Breaks which hadn't gone at all well this season and focused on getting the Top-Spinner working,as I'd tried it in one or two of the last games I'd played in and took wickets with it. The other observation was that I could still bowl the bog-standard back-spinning Flipper and do so with some speed without causing the Deltoid issues. So, at the moment it looks like I'm going to go into nets this Winter focusing on bowling Top-Spinners and Flippers and see how that pans out. The other interesting aspect to going back to bowling the Top-Spinner is that the method by which I impart the spin is slightly different to that of my leg break. My Leg Break is bowled using the 2 up 2 down finger configuration as desrcibed by Warne and Jenner with a loose grip. Whereas, my Top-Spinner is bowled with a far more 'Fingery' technique where the ball sits in the hand a lot more higher and less in the palm, meaning the spin is put on the ball using a more finger tip approach rather than the callous inducing 3rd finger approach. But, what I have found is that I can get far more accuracy using this method and by just twisting my wrist a little either way, I can produce a decent Leg Break or Wrong Un with ease and not suffer the Deltoid issue. But, what I need to do is over the winter develop a nice flick with this technique using both the fingers and the wrist to get the revs on the ball and see how it pans out.
Positives from the season include marginally more confidence with my batting and possibly a slight improvement? The other things is that my fielding is still okay with the ability to still dive around and stop the ball with full on committment - sometimes maybe a little over the top and therefore earning the nickname "Superman" given to me by Liam Rouse who captained me a few times this year.
This winter and summer have seen the least amount of bowling ever and whereas at this time of the year I would normally still be bowling, I've done virtually nothing. I'm going to continue with this approach over November and just work on core strength and upper body strength, with some attention given to my legs as well as weak thighs cause knee issues and lower limb issues too. For the upper body stuff I'm competing with my older son Ben to do the most pull ups on a door bar and we're both at 11, but increasingly it looks as though he is going to go ahead of me at some point. He's now 14 and taller than me and triumphs that he's had so far have been...
1. He bowls better than me (Winner of the Under 15's bowler of the year).
2. He runs faster than me.
3. His batting high score is better than mine.
He's still not beat my best performance in a game though 4-27 off of 7 overs
I'm sure it wont be that long before he beats my records that were set back in 2009. I'm beginning to feel that I'll never get to bowl in the same way again, but then again, these bowling figures were set using Flippers, Top-Spinners and Wrong Uns (No Leg Breaks).
The other part of the winter plan to ensure I'm fitter will be loads of stretching and Yoga style routines for flexibility and core strength. Hopefully Joe will be ready for cricket come April when the season starts and maybe we'll all have a decent year where we produce some PB's?