Sunday, 28 February 2010

No nets

Just in case anyone was wondering, other commitments mean that for a third weekend running I've had to miss nets. It's a little annoying but it has at least given my shoulders a chance to heal properly, and I haven't done any bowling for a fortnight which has also helped. Hopefully normal net service will resume next weekend...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Quaking in my shiny new boots

There's one topic I've hardly mentioned so far - fielding. The simple reason for this is that I'm absolutely terrified by the thought of what my ability in the field will be like.

When I was at school I was never the sporty type, partly because as a boy I unknowingly suffered from a heart defect which has since been dealt with, but mainly because I was just plain useless at sport. I was too small for rugby, too unfit and unskilled for football and tennis, wasn't a particularly good swimmer... Well, you get the picture. In fact at school I only ever got into two teams - a reserve runner for the cross-country team, and player/scorer for the 3rd XI.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Duck definitions

I feel it is inevitable that fairly soon in my playing career I'll be posting here to say that I've been out for a duck, and since I had some vital procrastination to do I've gone to the trouble of preparing some graphics to commemorate the occasion which you'll see below. However, since there seems to be some confusion as to the accepted definition of some types of duck, particularly the diamond duck, I thought I'd set out exactly what I mean when I refer to each term. Hopefully this post will also help those new to the game understand what each term means.

The plain old DUCK
When one refers to a duck it describes a batsman's innings where he was out before he amassed any runs. The term derives from the number zero (0) looking like an egg, and somewhere along the line "a duck's egg" was shortened to simply a "duck". In matches where two innings are played by each side, getting ducks in both innings is known as a Pair, and when batsmen who were out for a duck in their first innings commence their second, commentators often refer to them as being "on a pair".

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


It's very frustrating having this bad shoulder holding me up. Last week I was just getting the hang of a beautifully rhythmic 5-step run-up, and releasing the ball so it looped up on a nice length, and getting a little bit of turn.

Naturally I was looking forward to using all these bits and pieces that I'd got sorted out and practising the timing of my release so that I could land on a good line (with my round-arm style, timing is everything, especially the line) but instead I've got several days to let the shoulder heal, followed by god-knows how long working on strengthening my shoulders up so this is less likely to happen again.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


No nets today as I'm visiting my girlfriend, although even if I wasn't I'd probably give it a miss. All that bowling in the week seems to have injured my right shoulder, similar to what happened with my left shoulder a few weeks back, so I've got to give bowling a rest until firstly the shoulder pain has gone and secondly I've done some work to strengthen the muscles.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Brain candy

And so in my ongoing attempts to teach myself how to be a cricketer quickly and without any actual playing time, I've invested in a few books and videos to give me somethings to think about.

So far on the video front I've bought the three-disc DVD set of "Cricket - The Bob Woolmer Way" which is a very good basic coaching video aimed at anyone starting from scratch really. There are three discs, one on Batting which is sub-divided into straight-bat shots and more advanced strokes, one on bowling which goes through each different type of bowler, and one on wicketkeeping and fielding. There's also a few extra bits about fitness, warming up, umpiring and so on. All in all it's ideal for someone starting from a low base, and I definitely fit into that category, and I also found myself realising at last why Bob Woolmer's death a few years ago was met with so much sorrow within the world of cricket.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Calculating my contribution

I'm trying to do all I can to get an idea of the club and the league I'm going to be involved with this season so I know what to expect.

One thing I've been doing is browsing through last year's results for Stafford CC's 4th XI to find any info that will help me bring value to that team, since it's likely that's where I'll be playing. The first thing that becomes immediately apparent is that the team didn't tend to fare awfully well, nailing themselves firmly to the bottom of Stone & District Division 1. The result against Maer & Onneley merits a special mention - bowled out for just 18 in 15 overs...

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Bowling practice

As you can see, today I was back in the garden bowling, this time with a camera running. It's the first time I've ever seen myself bowl, and it's quite revealing. I always new I had a low arm, but I never knew it was THAT low...

Putting the low arm to one side though the action seems pretty good for a beginner like myself, at least it is when I get it all together in a single delivery. Two parts of my action seem to be crucial: steering with my left shoulder and a good follow-through. I know that's pretty elementary but infuriatingly I keep having to remind myself to do both fairly often.

I honestly have no idea how much I was managing to spin the ball; as I've said before the grass in the garden is too thick to get any actual turn. I'm not sure if this is good or bad - good in the sense that I can concentrate on timing my release properly without being distracted by spin, bad in the obvious sense that I'm trying to be a spinner and I have no idea how much I'm spinning the ball!

My overall feeling is similar to when I first learned to drive - far too many things to think about in such a short space of time. At least I'm enjoying my bowling, even if some of the faces I pull on the video suggest otherwise...

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...

Saturday, 6 February 2010

A little gentle practise at home

This morning I felt like giving my bowling a go to see how suitable or otherwise it would be for nets tomorrow. I set up a wicket diagonally across the back garden, which didn't quite allow for the full 22 yards plus run-up, but needs must.

So here came my first attempt at leg spin. I was pretty nervous really, as I'd got a fair amount of emotional investment in eventually developing into a decent leg spinner, but at the same time I talked myself out of expecting too much. The way I bowled at school, just getting it in the right garden would be a bonus! After a deep breath I paced up, cocked my wrist, rolled my shoulder over and gave the ball a flick...

Friday, 5 February 2010

Looking forward to Sunday nets

So this Sunday marks the second nets session of the season and after last week I've got plenty of food for thought.

Last week wasn't too bad for a first try I suppose, and certainly by the end of it I could feel a definite improvement, but there were several issues that seem to be pretty fundamental. Firstly I wasn't moving my feet enough, secondly my balance was poor, thirdly I wasn't letting the ball come on to the bat, and finally I seemed, certainly to begin with, to have a weird tendency to take my bottom hand off as I swung the bat.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Kit update #2 - the cheapo bat

Yeah, so I got a little impatient... I know the plan was to have a few knocks in the nets to see what weight of bat I needed and then buy a really good one, but after Sunday's performance it's clear I need to practise my stance, trigger movement and strokes until they become second nature. To do this properly I need to have a full-size, full-weight bat as soon as possible rather than the kiddy's toy I've been using until now.

So I've gone and bought a cheapish Kashmir willow bat - a Slazenger V1 Classic 8000 weighing in at 2lb 10oz which I picked up half price for £40 in town. It's maybe a little on the heavy side but it'll do the job for now and if I do end up buying a better bat this one can act as back-up.

Kit update - shoes

My feet aren't quite the same size - one's a 9 1/3, the other a 9 2/3 (I can never remember which one's which) - so either a 9 or a 10 will be pretty good for one foot and nearly a size out for the other, thus it's infinitely preferable for me to get shoes that are a size 9 1/2 which are only 1/6th out for each foot.

So I was rather concerned when Cricket Direct rang me up last week asking whether I'd take a size 9 or a 10 instead of waiting for the 9 1/2 Asics Gel Gullys that I'd ordered from their stock from last year. In the end I opted to wait, after all I'd only ordered the shoes from them because I couldn't find half sizes anywhere else. If they couldn't get me a 9 1/2 I was at a loss as to where else I could get some cricket shoes as I haven't seen them stocked anywhere in town.