With a little less than 4 weeks to the first match of the season and the potential for a friendly game before that I’m slightly concerned about my lower body strength and flexibility. Both my sons are of that age where they don’t do a great deal, I ask them if they want to do x and y and they turn me down, so in previous years we’d have been playing cricket and football in the road out the front of the house, at the paddock or somewhere else. That generally ensured that as the season started I’d hit the ground running.
In the nets this year (2017) I’ve bowled exceptionally well (so far) and there’s been far fewer people at nets this year (Brexit affect)? So, I’ve had to bowl at 2nd XI batsmen more and I’ve bowled really well (According to them). I was asked on the blog what have I done differently and you’ll find the full answer below in the post called “Another good net session”. But, I think one of the most likely reasons for bowling better is that I changed the emphasis of what I was doing when practicing.
Previously in practice I’ve set up some stumps and I bowl at the stumps. In this scenario – success is measured by hitting the stumps. Thinking about this and taking on board some things my captain said last season I realised that this “Bowling at the stumps” approach was flawed for a number of reasons, but the main one being …
Having changed my practice regime in the last year and currently seeing what appears to be huge benefits, I’m now advocating that when practicing, 95% of the time, you do so without any stumps. What’s more important is where you land the ball and your ability to land the ball in a relatively small area.
So, the change that I made, was to get rid of the stumps and introduce a target placed on the floor. My captain suggested to me last year that I should bowl a leg-stump line… threatening the leg stump if the ball didn’t turn and if it did turn still having the potential to hit the middle and off stump. More importantly with the ball targeting the leg-stump, this forces the batsman to play the ball. If the ball is spinning and the batsman hits it, there’s the potential for the ball to be caught. What my captain didn’t want was the ball outside of off or on off turning and missing off, leaving the batsman to simply watch the ball and choose not to play it. He’d then play the ball once I’d bowled a bad ball. If you target the stumps, the batsman is immediately forced into a position where he’s potentially going to have to play the ball.
Having seen Majid Haq (The worlds slowest international bowler) I realised that I could bowl as slow as I do, but, I needed to get a number of things right…
I’ve seen many bowlers take loads of wickets just simply bowling slow on a good line and length – the adage “You miss, I win” coming into play. So, if you’re getting the ball up there on a good line and length all those other attributes dip, drift and turn off the wicket make it that much harder to deal with.
So, get rid of your stumps find yourself a piece of hardboard about 10” wide (26cm) and 30” long (75cm). Place the target area with end nearest to you on a good length and have the farthest end on a fuller length and practice landing the ball on your target.
See this main page post here - http://www.wristspinbowling.com/accuracy-drills-spin-bowling.html
The weather’s improving and it was light enough this evening to go out after work and have a bowl and younger son Joe joined me and we did some line and length target practice.
After tea we went along to nets at 8.30 and again it was a pretty low turn-out, two lanes were open and then went down to one for the last 45 minutes. Last year and in previous years there’s been 3 nets open and all full up e.g. 5 or 6 blokes bowling and 3 batsmen. I wonder why so few people? Brexit maybe? People know they’re screwed or going to be screwed over the coming years and are tightening their belts?
The blokes that were there tonight were the same lot as last week, thankfully I only had to face 4th and 3rd XI bowlers when batting, but I was the last batsman in that net and so the rest of the evening I was bowling against 1st and 2nd XI batsmen and one 3rd XI bloke. I bowled against one of these blokes last week and he was getting the better of me most of the time, but I did get him at least once and he wasn’t finding it easy. Tonight, though was a different story I got him numerous times, which was satisfying. Then Yash Patel padded up, he’s young about 20-21 and he’s strong, add to that a massive fat bat and the fact that he’s one of the players at our club that has scored a double century and you’re starting to get the picture. Normally when I bowl at him, I bowl and then run out of the way, he hits the ball hard and usually back in the bowler’s direction. Last week I avoided him although I was bowling okay, but tonight I fancied it as I’ve been bowling pretty well.
As he went in I said something along the lines of “Oh no here we go”, and he replied, “What you on about, you’re the best bowler here tonight” and sure enough despite him hitting me for 1 or two 4’s and 6’s I got him 3 or 4 times, interestingly one of the balls was an off-spinning flipper that he played around having bounded down the wicket. A previous one he dug out with the tip of his bat, that one almost got under the bat.
The difference from last year at this current point is the accuracy, length, dip and the fact that it’s turning miles. All of which sometimes comes with drift. It’s all shaping up nicely.
What Happened –
It was bright and sunny with a strong breeze, albeit cold because of the NE wind, so I went over the paddock to have a bowl. It turned out that I bowled about 150-180 balls, I use a bucket of 27. I used the same method as last October to work on my accuracy http://www.wristspinbowling.com/blog/accuracy-drill-session-today
Good, accuracy was good, I used a range of different deliveries and they were all coming out pretty good. The only exception was the Top-Spinner, but at the moment if I manage to maintain what I’m doing at the moment I’m going to go into the first game full of confidence.
Almost all of it was good especially given that this is so early in the year. Dip seems to be something that I’m getting loads of and the ball seems to dipping viciously and in doing so on a really damp wicket the ball bounces more up than along. Flippers were coming out well to. One other bad thing is that I seem to be suffering from Plantar Fasciiitis, at the moment it’s not that bad, but I definitely don’t want that to get worse.
I was going to go over and work on the top-spinner, but I gave it a go and I couldn’t get it that straight, it was still coming out as a leg – break. I changed the wrist and finger positions trying the get more over-spin and ended up lobbing the ball high and loopy with no dip. Disillusioned with that I thought I’d try bowling flippers and they came out really well, accurate e.g. landing on the board or pretty much on the stumps. I don’t think I’ll persist with them though, I need to focus on the top-spinner as in my opinion it’s more of an asset than the flipper, so I’ll need to be focused and practice with more conviction. Hopefully I’ll get out again tomorrow and do some work with the Top-Spinner.
One thing I also noticed was the tendency to lose control of my leading arm, especially when bowling with the lower – round arm delivery.
I’ve also got to factor this into the practice regime…
Nice post - one thing I can't emphasise enough is that it is much better to overpitch than under-pitch, especially if you want to get more bowled dismissals. Keep moving that target closer to the batsman - get him driving at every ball and sooner or later he will miss one.
This is a suggestion made by SLA on Big Cricket, so if I manage to get out tomorrow and bowl I’ll push the target area up closer to the crease.
So far so good, given the point in the season, the first match is against ‘The blockers’ Hadleigh and Thundersley http://basildoncricket.hitscricket.com/fixtures/teamid_520/4th-XI-Sat.aspx
On May 13th so about a month and a half to get fit and ready.
If I get out tomorrow, bowl some top-spinners, turn the wrist as though I’m trying to bowl the Googly and see if it comes out as a top-spinner. Carry on with the other two deliveries and see how they go. Try and maintain the current momentum.
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.