Monday, April 27, 2015

Practice on the paddock

We've worked on the paddock again this year, rolled it and cut it and so far it's looking pretty good despite the fact that April has been very dry. The dryness has enabled us to get out there and bowl, so Joe and I have been practicing most evenings and then getting 2 or 3 sessions in at the weekend and things are coming along nicely. Joe's the one on the left here. My older son Ben on the right is in the midst of GCSE exam revision so is committed to that at the moment (Plus his girlfriend and his mobile phone). Joe on the other hand is full on cricket at the moment and I'm loving it. He's grown about 6" in the last year as well and is taller than both Ben and me, when I get a picture I'll post one up. As a consequence he's bowling a lot faster and batting with a lot more confidence, so I reckon he's got a good season ahead of him and I'm looking forward to playing in the 4's with him this summer.

The only issue I seem to have is overall cardio fitness and running, I was hoping to go cycling frequently to help with this, but as yet I've not been motivated enough to get out there and do it. So for the moment with a little less than two weeks to the first league match I'd say I was a little short of where I'd like to be.

Bowling - Everything looks promising at the moment with an improvement over last years bowling looking evident. I've been messing around with grips over the winter, flippers and the top spinner. At the end of last summer whilst on holiday in Cornwall mucking about with Ben and Joe I tried bowling finger spin, as they can both do it fairly well, Joe especially. I couldn't do it, but I found that I could still spin the ball like a leg break if I had the ball high up in the hand using a really fingery grip similar to an off-spinners grip. I then tried bowling with over-spin and found that worked and the ball was dead straight, so  over the winter when the weather allowed I bowled this fingery version of the top-spinner and slowly it's come together. It's a wholly different approach in comparison with my over-spinning leg break, but it does give me something very different and it's pretty accurate.

At winter nets I tried it as well and if not over-used it worked really well against batsmen at all levels. Because it's a completely different grip to my leg break I also though that there may be scope to twist my arm and wrist and dip the shoulder and see if I could make it break like an off-break and sure enough it did. I've been working with both these over on the paddock and bit by bit they're coming together.

In addition I've been mucking around with different wrist positions for my leg breaks and this shows real promise in that it enables me to bowl a variety of sub variations. One really obvious variation I'm gradually working with is the use of a lower arm. This produces a very different delivery to my standard 'Stock' Leg break in that the ball might turn more (Not 100% sure), but one big difference is that it skids in low, much lower than my bouncy stock ball that has more over-spin than side spin.

Flipper - Been working with this as well. The difficulty with the Flipper is that I need to bowl it frequently in order that I can suddenly pull it out of nowhere and bowl it on the stumps with accuracy. Of all the things that I'm working with this is the ball that I'd be more  inclined to scrap as it's the one that takes a couple of deliveries to get right and the first ball can end up off the cut strip if I try and get the speed up much higher.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Warm weather in the UK early season training

Interesting couple of nights... This week or so has been dry and increasingly warm culminating today with a sunny day and the temperature around the 25 degrees centigrade mark. Running up to the weekend just gone Joe and I did some work on the paddock and from Monday it's been dry enough to bowl on so we've been out there in the evenings having a practice.

Last night I took a big bag out with 80 balls in and we were both trying to hit a target that was about a foot square on the right kind of length in front of the stumps. Joe did well hit it several times and the stumps a few times as well with his arm balls. Me... I was useless - wides, too full, too short and depressingly no real spin, all of this following the night before when I'd bowled okay. So tonight when Michelle said that there was training over at Mopsies, part of me thought this'll be a waste of time.

We still went as last night on reflection I'd thought about my bowling... I think with 80 balls to bowl with, it's a case that I don't take it seriously and I was trying all sorts of things with no real sense of what it was that I was trying to achieve. So if we'd had gone over to the paddock I'd have taken just six balls and was intending to bowl 6 overs of six balls with a time gap in between the overs as I collected the balls up again as opposed to balling ball after ball. I was expecting that with a batsman in the nets my bowling would be better? It was.

Over the last month or so I've been practicing my "Fingery Top-Spinner" and as I get fitter with more upper body and arm strength it's been getting faster. About a week ago playing in the street with Joe using Windballs I thought that there seemed to be the potential to twist the hand and wrist with the fingery grip to possibly produce a Wrong Un which has evaded me now for some years having cured myself of the Googly Syndrome? I gave it a go and with the first attempt I produced a Googly!

Since then with the hard ball on the paddock I've given it a go a few times and it looks pretty much as though I've got a Googly back. I say a Googly, because it's not my thoroughbred Googly that I took three four-fers with in back to back games when I was at Grays and Chadwell it's a fingery version like the Top-Spinner. But nonetheless it turns and this is in week one with diminished fitness. So tonight when we turned up at Mopsies with primarily 1st team players in evidence my bowling was going to be challenged.

It was, a couple of blokes hit me out of the park into the road, but two others struggled. I cleaned bowled one of the first team players with a beautiful leg break which pitched outside leg and spun across the body/face of the bat and hit the top of off very like Warne's ball of the century with Gatting, but nowhere near as wide obviously. Everyone that saw it said it was beaut! The other bloke the captain of the 1sts I almost got him with this new Top - Spinner and then later tossed up the new Wrong Un and almost got him with that, he smiled back in respect of my bowling with both balls. So I was very pleased with that performance after last nights debacle over on the paddock.

So going forwards with a few weeks still before any games and some practice with these new deliveries things are looking good.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

April 2015

An unusual year ahead of us this year. My sons are 16 and 13, Ben's doing GCSE's and has a girlfriend and a mobile phone, so his commitment to cricket has waned a considerable amount which was expected. He's also going to be setting aside time to revise for his GCSE's, so how much cricket he'll play this year remains to be seen. Joe on the other hand at 13 and having now recovered from his RTA and taller than both Ben and me is looking to be a useful bowler this year. He bowls off-spin and medium pace, but his medium pace is getting quicker and quicker and I reckon by the end of this coming season he's going to be a tricky bowler to face especially if he continues to practice on the paddock across the road from me.

In the nets, Joe's been far more successful at dismissing me than Ben has, Ben bowls a length that I find easy to block, whereas Joe bowls on a really difficult length as far as I'm concerned and varies his pace and the way he bowls a great deal. Like Ben he has an off-cutter and unlike Ben Joe bowls with swing occasionally and seems to be more interested in bowling as an art.

Over the Easter break we've been doing some work over on the paddock getting it ready. It's been very wet, but this last couple of days with the sunny weather it's starting to dry out. We've cut back all of the grass, brambles and bushes that were growing along the fence as these were blocking out the light and encouraging drug users to hide behind the bushes and do their stuff. With the increase in light the wicket will grow nicely this year and we'll have some good practice sessions. We've focused on getting the off-stump channel line rolled really well this year so that batting might be possible. But we'll have to see how it dries out and how it plays.