Nets tonight. Joe didn’t come as he’d bashed his foot playing football at school and broke his toe nail doing it, claiming his big toe was broken. So, it was straight into a bowl of ice water for him for 10 minutes.
Not many at nets, but there was a new bloke who could bowl and bat, looked like a potential 1st or 2nd XI player. Abi and Jay were there from the 4th XI and there were a couple of players from the 2nd or 1st XI.
I stuck with my two basic deliveries the big 90 degree spinning leg break with the vertical arm and the more round arm version which dips and drifts, both were again coming out very accurate and on very good lengths, I bowled a few of the better batsman clean with balls on or about leg stump, which is something my captain Lee Dutton was asking me to do last summer, but at that point I wasn’t able to execute it, but so far off the back of the development of the 2 deliveries I’m using at the minute my accuracy is massively improved with all sorts of other attributes… Turn, dip and drift. Some of the blokes commented on my accuracy with regards length and the turn I was getting, others mentioned the dip and one said his un-doing was the drift, so things are definitely coming together nicely.
The new bloke who kept everyone out as far as I recall was showing me loads of respect, any ball that was just outside of off-stump he was cutting and running the ball down to 3rd man. The balls that were on the stumps he was blocking and doing so really well, the ball that got him though might have drifted because he came out with straight bat as per usual, but the ball went around the legside of his bat and through his legs to hit the off-stump. Up until that point it looked as though I needed something else to get him and the solution seemed to be the top-spinner, but at the moment that’s not coming out that well and is something I definitely need to work on over the coming months. Overall I’m very please with the way things are coming together. Another 6 days and I’m going to start with general fitness. Hopefully over the Easter break I’m going to be able to get out and have a bowl in the paddock.
Windy today, but mild, so was able to get over the paddock and bowl 125 deliveries 5 x buckets of 25 balls. Set up my bit of hardboard (See previous blog post here http://www.wristspinbowling.com/blog/accuracy-drill-session-today ) and worked on accuracy using my two basic deliveries as described yesterday. I had a look at my top-spinners. The one that looks like my leg-break bowled in a conventional manner worked okay – a lot more over-spin but still with an essence of leg-break… not quite pure top-spin, I’d like to get that more pure over-spin or maybe a little off-spin without it looking obviously different. I gave my other top-spinner with the fingery action a go too as that one can be bowled with some off-spin, but at the moment that’s a bit of a mess and needs a lot of work. But overall, good accuracy with the 2 main deliveries and the little leg-break/top-spinner delivery.
One thing I did notice today was that bowling with my knee pushing through in a conscious effort to eliminate the dirty dog outward swinging leg (Around the pivot) brought accuracy and turn benefits, so I need to keep that in mind.
I need to do some work on my agility and strength and I’m building that up slowly towards May 13th when have our first home match at our new ground at Holy Cross against Hadleigh and Thundersley a bunch of blockers, who at the first sniff at the potential to lose the game close up shop and put up an impenetrable wall like they’re Donald Trump. Although there was talk last year that the format might change to negate the draw scenario?
Some months ago I had a look through the Google pages to see where my new website was and I went back 40 pages and there was no sign of it, but today I've looked and I found this website on the 5th page! All my blogs were there along the way and my Criczilla page...
So thanks for all your support in getting me to the fifth page! if you're ever on my blogs - click the adverts as the money from them might go towards keeping this website alive as it costs me money unlike a blog. I can't think of any way that I might be able to make money out of it at all. So if anyone's got any ideas - let me know.
Last night was the first club net session of the year for Joe and I and it went well for both of us. Continuing from last November’s practices I kept it simple trying to recreate the accuracy with the line and length and was for the most part able to do so. I’ve moved away from any idea of my run-up and bowling being a beautiful thing and an exemplar of a correct bowling action, not that I don’t still aspire to that, it’s just that I know if I simply move to the crease in my own idiosyncratic way – warts and all, I can get the ball from one end to the other with it spinning quite hard – accurately. So it may not look pretty, but, it feels okay and it works that much better than anything else I’ve been trying for about 4 years it *seems.
Note the *caveat, this is in practice without a batsman most of the time. So, tonight was interesting in that the first time out with the new action against relatively good batsmen I was pretty successful. Primarily, my lines were tight, maybe a little full, but the variety gained through the use of two very distinct actions seemed to work very well.
The actions - #1. Very straight arm (vertical) with my wrist twisted as far round as possible so that as I gather the ball in front of my face with a cocked wrist my thumb is pointed almost at the batsman and I try as much as I can through the action to maintain that extreme position trying to spin the ball at the release point backwards like an orthodox back-spinner. It never does come out like that, but taking this approach allows me to release the ball with the ball spinning at 90 degrees to the direction like a square turning leg break. Bowling like this, I get what Shane Warne calls natural variation in that sometimes the ball comes out with a tilted seam so that it lands on the smooth surface and skids on -what others might call erroneously a ‘Slider’. Trying to explain this delivery is a nightmare and I tried to photograph it by way of explanation, but it failed and only confused the situation. In essence at the point of release I'm aiming to have the side of my hand pointing at the batsman rather like a karate chop action.
The nice thing about this is that variation factor and the batsman see it spinning at 90 degrees and are therefore anticipating the turn. But this one as far as I’m aware doesn’t do anything else like drift or dip.
Action #2 which for me is a recent revelation, is bowled with a more round-arm and lower arm action. Despite being so round armed and different I’m still able to bowl it with good accuracy, what it gives me that is so different to the other action is… Dip, bounce and turn and quite often…drift. So, in comparison with the other delivery looks very different and is very different characteristics-wise. So potentially a good combination at the level I play.
In the nets the use of the two caused most of those I bowled at problems, the one really good batsman Mike Blerkom dealt with them all and I was unable to get the ball past him. One of the round armed deliveries looked most threatening to him as he came down the wicket to get to the pitch of the ball and I asked ‘Did it dip’? And he said it had.
So overall, with the fact that this was the first time in ages against batsmen, I felt that it looked and felt very promising. I need to work more with the round-arm as that’s the one with dip, bounce and drift.
Sunny yesterday, with the temperature getting up to around 17-18 degrees centigrade and the warmest day of the year so far, so I was able to get out on the paddock and bowled at a stump. Considering my fitness levels and the fact that I haven’t bowled very much at all I was happy with line, length and spin. I bowled a number of variations based on the work I did at the end of last season…
(1). Lower action – round armed leg-break.
(2). *Vertical armed – side spinning leg-break
(3). Small Leg-break with tons of over-spin.
(4). Fingery Top-Spinner which with some effort comes out as a wrong-un.
(5). Back-spinning Flipper.
It would be nice if I could get all of these working well, but realistically the two last variations will probably be ropey all through the season, although despite its ropie-ness the Fingery Top-Spinner gets me a few wickets each year when thrown in there as a variation. It’d be nice if I could work on the small Leg-Breaks nuances and get it to be a pure Top-Spinner as and when I wanted. So that’ll be something I reckon I’ll definitely work with. But the main thing will be to get the top three all accurate with regards the line and length and spin ‘em hard.
No (2). With the asterisk; is a good ball because of the way it comes out of the hand, it is a Leg-Break and it spins at 90 degrees to the direction of the wicket, but every now and then it comes out with the seam tilted backwards (I think) and therefore when it hits the deck it doesn’t turn - it skids on. No, it’s not one of those Sliders, I don’t bowl this intentionally - like Warne says it’s just a natural variation. But it looks very useful.
I noticed that the wear and tear from last years bowling was still evident and in need of repair so I’ve put some seed down hoping for some rain, but as yet that hasn’t happened, fingers crossed sometime this week it’ll rain and there’ll be some new grass for the summer. I don’t think I’ll cut the wicket this year as neither of my sons are inclined to join me over there now that they’re 15 and 18 years old, so I’ll just do as I did last year, just practice on the accuracy using the bit of board as the target area.
Here’s another little idea to give a go if your bowling’s not going that well. One of the essential things that you need to do is get side-on in your bowling action. One of the ways that you can check this, or focus on it, is to make sure you come out of your bound with your landing foot at 90 degrees to the crease and have your leading arm raised and check to see that you’re looking over your shoulder – around the outside of your arm.
I find that this is a really useful calibrating action, as I have a tendency to start going front on when being lazy or confused about why my bowling’s up the Sawnny. This tends to help me get back on track again. Very simple and worth trying if you’re having problems.
See the still here from one of my favorite instructional videos on Youtube....
The images above are from here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhnPiWob0QI&list=PLMfKi8ErzNJDJWV_q_pBUKXoU1uxpEHYZ it's a copy of the original which seems to have been removed which is a shame.
Mid February and I’ve made a start on getting fit and exercising. This is probably the least fit I’ve been at this point in the year as I’ve allowed myself a bit of a rest this year, plus I’ve got other crap going on around me that’s acted as a distraction and leaves me feeling demotivated.
As I’ve probably mentioned previously in other areas of the website or over at my old blog here I never reach full fitness until mid to late June if not later. Last year I went into the season relative unfit and sustained an injury in the first game that left me injured for several weeks (Twisted knee ligament), so I’m hoping to not repeat that again this year.
Things I’m working on are…
Knee strength and stability which I’m under the impression comes about through just having good strength above and below the knees, so I’m doing Sumo squats regularly through the day when I can, aiming to do in reps of ten 3 or 4 times a day.
Image source - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZuXKqRbT9k
In addition, when I walk anywhere e.g. to and from work I do so power-walking – fast with big strides, that also gets the heart going and is low impact on the knees and other joints which I have to consider being 56.
Another drill I’m doing with regards the knees and their mobility is this here…
Image source - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPyJlF_MAww
Another lower body thing I’m doing which is good for balance is this one below, I do this, but I pull my foot up behind my butt to stretch my thigh muscles. I balance on the board standing as the girl in this vid on the ball of my foot, sometimes doing raises as she is doing.
Image source - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpucWxU6SRw
Upper body I’m doing press-ups – 10 reps 3 or 4 times a day max, twice a day minimum. I also do 30 seconds of normal planks and 30 seconds each side – ‘Side-planks’. Today I’ve also started to do this exercise which I think is essential when bowling (Certainly is for me). This is one you can do at home as are all of these and this one is for your Side deltoids…
Once I’ve got a decent bit of muscle strength and don’t feel like I’m being exhausted by doing these, say in a week or two leading me into March I’ll start on the work-out here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mqbiovse2p0&list=FLtkyk-NkFTxMDscqPwDEPkg&index=97 Again, another series of do it at home with no kit exercises and this is aimed at cardio, but has loads of other benefits added as they’re good all-round exercises that work on different aspects of your fitness and strength.
It’s the end of January and last night was the clubs first net session for under 15’s we went along (My younger son and I) only to realise that he wasn’t actually supposed to be there as he’s now outside of the age group which explains why we’ve not been contacted by the SEDCB this year. As it turned out, only one under 15 player turned up and the clubs officials allowed us to have a net. Joe did really well at 67mph and I did okay – both us just blocking – remember we’re the number 10 and 11 in the team.
Currently I’m probably at my lowest ebb physically; I’m just coming out of being ill with a weird form of almost symptomless flu it seems. Three weeks ago I suddenly was over-come with what I thought was DOMS having done some exercises, but for the following 3 or 4 nights I wasn’t able to sleep as my whole body was overcome with pain, mainly in the muscles and joints. After writhing about in pain for a couple of hours with no hope of sleeping I tried Ibuprofen and that worked allowing me to sleep.
This continued for the best part of the last 3 weeks gradually subsiding as the time went on, no cold or cough, just feeling like total crap, having to go to bed early, still feeling exhausted and sore all over, oh yeah and headaches. Pain-killers resolved it with hot fruit drinks and plenty of water and it feels as though it’s virtually gone now. But it’s left me weak and feeble, so at some point soon I’m going to have to get back onto some kind of exercise regime to gain some strength and fitness.
I seem to recall each year I go through some kind of illness just before the season which always sets me back, hopefully this was that annual illness and I’m going to be able to gradually get up to match fitness by late April, early May.
Some weeks ago, a while before Christmas one of the parents of our younger players posted on Facebook that our pavilion/changing facilities at our 3rd and 4th XI ground… The Rec, Langdon Hills had been turned into a café. The parent enquired about the nature of the arrangement as it was obvious that the set-up wasn’t conducive with the way that the building has been used by the cricket club for as long as I can remember. The ‘Business’ that had moved in was using the space in fact had fitted it out completely in the area where we had our teas – e.g. our kitchen area. Furthermore it seems that it blocked the access to both the changing rooms (Home and away teams). The enquiry was dealt with in a less than amiable fashion and it looked like the club had a problem on its hands.
The issue was reported back to the club and the clubs officers said they’d look into the situation as the council who own the building (who we pay a lot of money to, to use the facility) hadn’t mentioned any change in the use of the building.
A couple of nights ago we had our AGM and this was brought up at the meeting and it transpires that we’ve basically been forced out of the building and off our home ground! There’s an example of a similar thing at Wickfords second ground that works exceptionally well, the people that run the café there make the teas and the building has been re-fitted – reducing the changing room sizes and increasing the café size, yes it’s not ideal in some respects, but does seem to work. From what I can gather something along these lines was discussed, but the proprietors wanted £120 or more for making the teas, I seem to recall it may have been nearer £140, whatever figure it was, it was way over the amount that was feasible for us to go with. That left us in a situation where we’d have to look elsewhere or come up with some ridiculous Mickey Mouse arrangement… Gazebo’s and tea being served outside whilst just behind us sits our pavilion, functioning in a manner that it was initially not intended for!
Anyway, it ends up we’ve been forced out and we’ve had to move. Again for me this strikes me as being really odd when one of the agenda’s within society today is the fact that people don’t partake in sports and that the majority of the population are over-weight and unfit. Furthermore cricket is one of those things that engages young people with skills that set them up for later life… teamwork, communication skills, net-working and situations where they have to work with adults that they barely know. So all those useful things associated with sport have potentially been replaced with the potential to eat cake I guess?
On a more positive note, in securing a new ground it transpires that the same ground was being sought after by two other teams – Upminster and Rainham to accommodate their lesser XI teams, which indicates they’re growing at a rate that means that their subsidiary grounds are miles away! Thankfully we secured the ground and we now have our 3rd and 4th XI ground at Holy Cross cricket ground in Basildon. Our local groundsman who does a brilliant job for us has said that he can do additional work on the wicket and get it up to a good playing standard. It was used a couple of seasons ago for our Under 15’s and looked pretty good when they played on it…
The shame is Langdon Hills Rec has such a rich history of cricket and is such a beautiful ground and the chances are it’ll gradually be neglected and no longer maintained as the arrangement with regards the use of its associated pavilion has been changed. There’s a team that use it on Sundays as their home ground – SDR. I wonder what impact it’ll have on their team? Hopefully they’ll find some way to continue at the Rec otherwise the wicket wont be maintained and cricket will be lost at the Rec.
Last night I finished one of the pages on the website here relating to increasing accuracy when bowling. I finished with the recommendation that when practicing you do so in the way that Peter Philpott recommends, which is basically using SMART targets.
With this in mind I went out with the specific intention of exploring just a small component of my bowling action Phase 5 (BR - ball release) through to Phase 6 (FT - Follow through).
Although I don't advocate trying to fully replicate other people's bowling actions, one of the things that has filtered through to me via discussions with a variety of coaches and bio-mechanists is the drive through with the knee in the phase 5 through to 6.
One of the key pieces of advice that has been passed onto me when bowling is to direct all of the energy forwards towards the batsman. What this means in practice is, avoid approaching the crease from an angle and avoid fading out of your bowling action during your follow-through (Phase 6) at angle, instead as much as possible continue straight down the wicket towards the batsman do not veer off to the side.
One of my favourite Wrist-Spinners who it maybe argued has one of the better bowling actions is Stuart MacGill. MacGill exemplifies this aspect of the bowling action and one of the key aspects of his action for me that helps to facilitate this 'Direct the energy towards the batsman' aspects is the drive of his knee. See the image below...
From Phase 5 through to Phase 6 just like a fast bowler, MacGills Knee, unlike many bowlers - mine included, drives forwards, directing all of the energy towards the target (batsman). Theoretically this is better option as it potentially increases accuracy and is therefore worth exploring if you're looking to improve your own accuracy. I'm very aware that this contradicts the case of one of the most accurate wrist spinners e.g. Shane Warne, whose bowling action includes the swinging wide of his foot through phase 5 and 6 of the bowling action... The 'Dirty Dog' as Liz ward calls it, as it looks like you're cocking your leg like a dog.
So, today, looking to see how significant this might be I went out today with my Peter Philpott full concentration mode with a very specific target in mind. If I drove the knee forwards, would it increase my accuracy? I'd previously noted that wide balls down the legside were definitely accompanied by the 'Dirty dog' action as I pivoted. So in this session of 120 deliveries I looked to completely eliminate this in my bowling action and instead adopt the MacGill straight through at the target knee drive.
It worked. Through the 1st 60 balls I did it in a really natural manner, really relaxed, not thinking of anything else. What I did notice was that the ball didn't seem to be turning so much and there may have been a loss of spin for some reason? I then added an emphasis on getting up on the toes in the pivot and this then rectified the lack of turn off the wicket.
Hopefully I'll be able to replicate this in the future, but having bowled with the dirty dog swing out of the foot - a legacy of trying to bowl like Warne in the past, it's going to take time and focus to make this a part of what I do naturally.
Remember, this is just a suggestion, just something to look at, consider and explore. Try it yourself if you're not bowling accurately.