Sunday, 7 February 2010

Happy feet... and a not-so-happy back

Nets again today, and all in all I think it went pretty well!

This morning I did a bit more bowling practise in the garden, this time trying out my spikes, and I think that really helped my rhythm in my run up - the lawn now has a row of very neatly set out footholes!. Certainly my bowling was much better than yesterday, even if about one in five deliveries was seriously wayward. I had my three white and three red/white balls in use as they're the ones I'll never be using in nets (the back wall's white) and not only managed not to lose any, but as a special bonus actually found one of the old ones I lost yesterday! I don't think my seam position was great as I kept forgetting to cock my wrist, but a few showed evidence of a leg break. At least it gave me confidence that I could bowl in the nets later.

Nets start at two but today being uber-keen I arrived about ten minutes early, before anyone else. I spent a couple of minutes bowling at the wall to see how the ball came out of my hands, and sure enough the seam was all over the place.When everyone arrived I watched for a few minutes before some egging on from others finally persuaded me to pick up a ball and have a go.

First ball - sprayed into the left-side netting. Oh Christ here we go again, just like the old days...

Actually as it turned out while I did spray a certain percentage about the place, the ones that landed on the mat looked OK, and about an hour in I started to see some turning, if only a little. One delivery I wasn't proud of though, the guy had only just come in, pleading for no bouncers, and sure enough my first delivery to him slipped right out of my hands and flew directly at him. It hit him on the elbow just above the arm guard and it looked like it hurt a bit, which couldn't have been further from my intention (you see - I'd never make a fast bowler...)

There were plenty of good deliveries far outweighing the bad though, and I did have the batsman beat a fair few times, which is pretty much a first for me! I do perhaps need to slow down my deliveries though, as there's no way I'm going to get any flight bowling the way I do now. I'm probably somewhere between 45 and 55 mph and it's hampering my ability to spin the ball. Still, at least it's easier to take pace off than put it on. Perhaps I need to adopt Shane Warne's mantra - "think high, and spin up."

At last it came to my turn to bat, and Virginia made her debut. After seeing me bat last week the guy in charge of us decided to just give me throw-downs to develop my footwork. It seemed to work really well, I read the pitch of the balls nicely (perhaps partly because this week I had a contact lens in my shortsighted eye) and although I'm still not moving my feet enough there was a good deal of improvement both over last week and as the session progressed. My shadow batting seemed to pay off as my new backlift seemed to work well - much less leaning back this week - and my forward drive was as good as I could hope for, with a few coming straight off the middle. Turn's out Virginia's actually not bad for £40, and the handle seems a pretty decent one.

After a couple of balls the guys asked if I wanted a helmet, but I decided against it as I'm pretty confident of my ability to play or leave straight balls, probably because they're the ones that require the least footwork! I did get one coming straight at my chest, but I dealt with it pretty much perfectly playing an instinctive and well-executed backward defensive. Much worse was one that pitched outside leg which hit me square on the right anklebone as I moved back to try and hit it. I'm still it feeling now...

So all in all, a very productive afternoon's nets, but I'm now suffering a bit of pain in my left lower back. I'm not sure exactly how this came about. It might be from driving the ball when batting, or it might be from bowling because the surface was pretty hard and my beat-up old trainers were basic ones with virtually no cushioning at all. It's probably the latter as when I was bowling I developed a few pains in my left knee and hip, so next time I'll make sure I've got some trainers with some decent soles.

The best thing though is that I can see the gap in skill between myself and the other guys not being nearly as wide as I feared, and the guys seem pretty easy to get on with.

"Oh yeah, just one more thing..." as Colombo might say - I'm a little worried about my catching. Stopping the ball as it rolled along the floor seemed pretty good, but I'm really not used to the pace of the ball coming back off the bat, and I'm afraid every time the ball was skied in my direction I moved away from it rather than try to take the catch. It's pretty instinctive so I'll have to work extremely hard on this if I'm to be able to take any catches...

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