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.
I'm well chuffed with this, I had a look at this back in late September. I scrolled back through page 100 + on Google looking to see if my new website was making any impact on the searches for the theme 'Wrist Spin Bowling' and there was nothing. But today I only had to go back to page 7 in the searches to find one associated with this website, so that's a massively encouraging sign and a big thanks to all my readers.
It looks as though all the effort put into putting that specific page together has paid off, so I'll keep going. It's good to see that my old blogs were still up there in the first two pages, so if you're still looking at them another big thanks and while you're over there on those old blogs click the adds for me as they'll page for the up-keep of this website!
I managed to get out today just before lunch and have a bowl. The air was dead still so no wind to assist with getting any drift. I bowled 3 buckets of 30 balls. The initial bucket (Red dots) using an upright arm which is usually the more accurate. I went straight into it rather than warming up, so emulating a situation where you’d be thrown the ball and perhaps only have time to bowl the ball at the mid-off players before bowling for real. The target area was set fuller today - about 9' from the stumps (6' approx.) from the batsman and my younger son Joe did the observation of where the ball landed and marked it on the sheet below. The positioning of the target are wasn't intentional and is probably a bit too full.
The top illustration shows the 1st 30 balls and in comparison with the following two buckets of 30 is very full and lacks the accuracy that I’m after and this was using a delivery method I usually consider to be the more accurate of the two arm positions I’m currently working with. This set of 30 was with a more vertical arm.
The Yellow ball illustration was the 2nd batch of 30 and the blue ball illustration was the last 30 and it's obvious that as I get into a rhythm things improve. But, as Wrist spinners looking to be in the game we/I need to produce accuracy from the outset..
I reckon this definitely too full and needs to be pulled back another 3’ or a metre.
This is definitely a good drill to do and easily recorded if you've got a mate that can watch where the ball lands and mark it on a piece of paper to show how accurate you are when bowling, it also puts a little bit of pressure on you and you have to bowl with purpose. So in terms of its usefulness it's SMART...
Specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely and uses resources easily put together other than the 30 balls.
Balmy end of October here in the UK. Today and yesterday the temperature was in the region of 15-17 degrees centigrade. It hasn't rained much of late, so the ground is still dry and I'm still able to practice. Hopefully this'll continue over the weekend and then I can't imagine it'll continue, so this will probably be the last two days.
I had two practice sessions today, 90 + balls each session, working with the accuracy drills trying to land it on the target zone. Despite the fact that I'm constantly doing this I still find that I have to remind myself to do things like loosen my grip and push my knee through in the delivery during the pivot, probably due to years of doing it in the wrong way and I'm still in the process of un-learning these things which is kind of frustrating.
The other thing I did today which I've done a few times of late is return to the run up off of 5 steps which I was working on last year till the start of the season when I twisted my knee. I still haven't totally discarded the idea of running up and the reason I've come back to it a little is the fact that I tried it with a slightly more round arm approach and was surprised to find that it was quite accurate and an awful lot faster than bowling off of 2 steps. Hopefully the weather will hold and I'll get at least two more sessions in over the weekend and then I'll have to come up with a plan for over the winter to keep things ticking over, I feel like I've made some decent advances in the last couple of months and it would be good to carry this forward to next season.
I wrote a post up yesterday with regards to the psychology of the game advocating the use of social media/blogging as a method of getting under the skin of batsman. See 'Local Bunnies', but thinking about it a bit more I'm not sure whether its a good idea as it might invite a confrontational reaction? I did suggest alongside keeping a data base and a record of all your successes and battles and posting all the info on-line e.g. in a blog with the names of the batsman, you might also put their photo's up on-line. I think that part of it I might retract on. I reckon I'll look at it again and emphasis that you make it about you and not so much about the batsman and to dilute that aspect slightly, so I don't think the use of a photo is such a good idea.