Thursday, 2 September 2010

It's all in the elbows

I had a very productive net session this evening, with both my bowling and batting showing signs of improvement.

After bowling on Tuesday I was all set to pack it in such was my level of frustration. I could hardly bowl a single decent ball and it was just getting me down. Tonight though I think I may have seen where I've been going wrong. It seems as if the car crash in March has had a greater effect on me than I'd realised, and the way my upper body muscles have recovered has left me either with less flexibility or at least with a few weird quirks in the way I move. Tonight I really went to town with the stretches before I bowled, focusing particularly on the muscles down each side of my torso, as I'd noticed last night that they seemed to be a bit tight, tempting my elbow to bend as I roll the arm over, perhaps to compensate for the lack of bend in my torso.

As soon as I started today I found it much easier to bowl with a fully straight arm, delivering the ball quite high as I was also bending to my right so the arm was at about 11 o'clock. This meant I was bowling a much better line, and thereafter my bowling got much better than it's been for at least two weeks. I won't say it was universally brilliant, but after I'd pretty much dispensed with my normal run-up in favour of a gentle walk into the delivery stride, and found something about what a good length of delivery stride feels like, I was much better with 90% of balls within a metre of the intended line and length. My new balls are still pretty fresh so they weren't turning that much, but some of the older balls were behaving very encouragingly.

I didn't feel as if I was getting much rip on the ball, but I think I'm going to have to recalibrate my hands a bit to work in a slightly different position. I know I have the flexibility in my wrist to get good spin, so I'm sure it'll come. After bowling in the net on my own for some time I bowled half a dozen at a pretty good batsman and had him in quite a bit of trouble with a couple, so that proved I wasn't overestimating the quality of my deliveries. That said I did bowl two very poor "gimmes" so in a real match situation the batsman would probably have scored eight off the over.

After that I was told to pad up. I was batting with "Virginia" tonight as she's slightly heavier and I want to give my muscles a bit of strengthening. I figure a heavier bat in the nets will condition my muscles to get in position quicker when I play with a lighter bat in matches. Time will tell... I was also trying out my new Aero thigh-pads for the first time, and boy are they comfortable and light. Anyway I was practising the forward defensive tonight, trying to get bat on ball, successfully when the ball was straight but less so when it was wide.

After a couple of dozen bowled balls Gary did some throw-downs so I could practise getting my front foot forward, much as Phil had done recently. It's all in the right elbow - if the shot feels good there, it's usually a good shot. Too often I'm in my stance and my elbow feels a bit locked tight to the body, and I need to remind myself to get it out there with some room to manoeuvre. When I lean into the shot with a bent arm and play over the ball I can instantly tell when it feels right. I just need to keep doing this again and again until it comes instinctively. Gary tells me I leave a bit too much gap between bat and pad, and also that I tend to play across the line, so that's two more finer details to be ironed out. I don't get much time with the bat so I really need to make the most of it when I do get a chance.

By the time I'd taken my pads off it was getting pretty dark, but I bowled for a little bit longer just to feel my way through the delivery and see what I need to bear in mind next time. I got a nice rhythm going and was bowling pretty consistently so that bodes well. This meant that as usual I was the last to finish up for the day...

The teams are up for Saturday and I'm playing, in a team that looks outstanding. I was saying to Gary when I saw it that mine's definitely the least illustrious name on the team-sheet! It probably doesn't bode well in terms of me getting a bowl though, so maybe I'll try to twist the captain's arm beforehand to see if he can slip me an over if the match situation allows it. Even if I know in my heart of hearts that my bowling form doesn't really merit it, I want that wicket!

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