What Happened –
The evening was divided into 2 periods - Under 13’s from 7pm – 8.15. U16’s and Adults in the later session 8.30 – 10.00. Joe, my younger son who’s 13 was in the first session with Harry and I went along to help out watch and get involved as much as possible.
“G-Man” AKA Graham Davies was on hand to run the session and as usual did a very good job of it again. They were a kid short so I joined in and was put through the same drills along with the kids, in this session the kids are all around 10-13 year olds. We did a few warm up drills which were cricket specific and then moved on to drills that were about agility, catching and making quick decisions. By the end of that phase, what with doing low ‘Slip catches’ my thigh muscles were beginning to feel the burn. We then had a game of “Lords cricket”, which looked like “Kwik Cricket” to me. That was fun and then that took us to the end of the session.
I then had to take Joe and Harry home and collect my older son (15) Ben and bring him back in the car for the adults session. At this point I was already feeling knackered and I still had another hour to go and all this at the end of a long week! I’d got home early today and if it hadn’t been for my neighbour accosting me I’d have had a nap – I was that exhausted!
Once back, the 4 nets were divided up into 2 groups – adults in 2, U16’s in the others. I was chucked into the deep end with Mike Blerkom putting me into bat first in the secondary net (Non 1st team players). I had Mike bowling at me, a new bloke and Frank Farringtons Dad Mark. What with it being the first net of the session it went okay.
Ben was in the U16’s net and I didn’t really get to see how he did.
Feelings – (What were you thinking or feeling)
The session was at the new facility at Woodlands school which had been sold as state of art facilities and somewhere along the way I’d somehow heard that the nets were electric and I think I may have been hoping that the floor was going to be like the floor at the Essex County ground which is sprung and cushioned with a soft surface. It wasn’t. Yes, the floor was sprung, but the surface was shiny wood. The bowling surface was your usual ‘Nets’ matting, so it was a pretty basic and only ran half way down the wicket length, but more than adequate. So, it wasn’t quite as spectacular as I was hoping for, but at the same time I kind of was expecting it to be over-sold as is everything these days, what with embracing of that cultural aspect of America ‘Bigging things up’. I’d much prefer the more honest British approach of ‘Yeah – it’s alright… it’s indoors and dry’. One good thing is that, the light is good, there are venues in the area that in some respects are really good (Fitzwymarc), but the lighting is awful and the whole space is dark. So, it is swings and roundabouts.
Being asked to bat first, my initial thought were – Jesus, they’re going to be fresh and fast, I didn’t think that they’d also been resting for 5 months or so and were no where near match ready, son in fact once I’d faced a few balls it was okay. But the initial thoughts had been erring towards being apprehensive.
Bowling – By the time I’d got to bowl, I’d already been with Joe running around for over an hour and then in the nets I’d been swinging the bat around in very hot conditions (Oh yeah – the venue is very well heated as well, and a note to self – wear shorts next week). So by the time I’d finished my net which was well in excess of 20 minutes, I was dripping with sweat and exhausted! With adrenalin being pumped around my body and my heart rate up and feeling exhausted it was increasing unlikely that I’d bowl that well.
Evaluation – What was good and bad about the situation?
The good stuff first. My batting was okay for me, I think with each year even though I’m 53 and don’t get that many chances to bat (I bat at No. 10 or 11) I did okay. I don’t know how much Mike Blerkom bowls, but I’ve faced him before and not fared anywhere near as well as I did today, but then I have to temper that with the fact that this may have been the first time he’s picked a ball up since September? The other bloke was new, but big and young, he was accurate and for the most part I kept him out, but he got me a couple of times. Mark Farrington bowls slow off-spin, so I tried to take the opportunity to try a few things out against him and came a cropper a few times as well. But overall I felt okay and relatively confident.
Bowling – There wasn’t a lot of good, other than it was a chance to see how fit I was and whether there’d be any issues with my shoulder. I think with the pre-season fitness work that I have been doing, I came through that okay and was quite pleased from that perspective.
Bad stuff – Much too full 75% of the time and a lot of balls to Mark (Left handed) far too wide. I’m not convinced that my action was that good and I’m going to have to practice some more in order to groove that aspect of my bowling, but I think that’ll come. So, considering that a little more, there were more ‘Good’ aspects… The approach to the crease was pretty energetic as was the movement through the crease, I was getting up on my toes, but I think the arm coming through and past the hips was weak as was getting side on out of the bound. Most of the balls were standard stock leg breaks and the surface wasn’t assisting with spin, but I did notice over in the kids nets that Tom Hardy was spinning the ball really hard and getting a lot of turn off the wicket. One obvious thing I need to do is spin the ball harder! On one of the balls that I got Mark with – hitting the off-stump, was from bringing the wrist round to put more side spin on it and it pitched way outside of his off-stump and came back in.
Analysis – what sense can you make of the situation?
Writing this, 24 hours later I’m still suffering from the 3 hour onslaught that my obviously ill-prepared body went through, but that’s what this is about partly. Usually, it doesn’t come together for me till late June and that I reckon is just the fact that I simply do not do enough exercise earlier in the year to enable me to hit the ground running at the start of the season. So, these kind of scenarios where I do put my body through it, highlight the fact that I need to be far more physically active, but like most people these days, the opportunities are few and far between. Today for instance it’s been quite nice – sunny and dry, but it’s only March the 1st and in the
The technical aspects, I’m not going to get too hung up about as that’s what I normally do and I then focus on very small specific things and tend to obsess on that specific thing at the expense of my general overall bowling. Last year, I didn’t practice as much as previous years and adopted a strategy of following my instincts and the feel of my body rather than go with things I’d been advised to do. I also looked to be on target straight away and realised that was all about being relaxed. I also limited my bowling to just using 36 balls (6 overs worth) and all of these adjustments to my training worked.
So, it feels as though this year I should focus on fitness and tie this in with last years bowling approach and see how it pans out.
Conclusion – What else could have been done?
Nothing while I was there, I made full use of the session, the most obvious thing I could have done was not have taken my foot off the gas at home with regards the fitness and stamina training, but after a day at work I come in knackered and just want to sit down with a game of BF3! I’ll try and get on with it again but writing the 2nd half of this now nearly 2 days later I still feel like I’ve been in the middle of a big Pamplona Bull run and been a victim! So I can’t see that I’ll be getting on it in the next 24 hours!
Action Plan – If the situation arose again what might you do?
I might try and go forwards with my batting and try and develop a shot or two. Generally I feel quite confident, but as yet I’ve not had to face any nasty fast bowling. I would like to be able to do something with off-spin, I hate off-spin as it causes me all sorts of problems and off-spinners to tend to bowl relatively flat, but with loads of speed variation. I might have a look around the internet and see what people say with regards playing it.
With my bowling as mentioned – general fitness and keep in mind not to focus on specific problems to the point they become a massive issue. Remember – if I’m relaxed it works, if I worry and over-think things, it becomes more of a problem. If it starts getting like that – walk away and come back to it later with a different frame of mind.