Thursday, 29 April 2010

Rain stopped play

No nets for me tonight - it's pissing down. Damn.

Introducing the "Baffler"

I've just been bowling in the garden and I'm really encouraged by the results. My accuracy wasn't too much improved but the amount of spin and drift seems to be on a whole new level, as I was really concentrating on rolling that ring finger over well. There were a few that turned a very long way and the flight was just enough and more consistent. With nets tomorrow night I'm hopeful I can replicate them then and have a few more "round the legs" moments.

Also I've developed a new variation, which I've given the working title of "Baffler", as it's sort of like a baby flipper. I bowl it by changing my grip slightly to something more akin to an off-spinner, then at the moment of delivery I rotate my wrist in the opposite direction to a leg break, let the ball stretch my index finger back before pinging forward and underneath the ball. The ball comes out of the hand about 10mph faster than my stock delivery (which is quite slow), with backspin making it float and bounce low. The thumb is hardly involved at all, so it's not a bona fide "click-your-fingers" flipper, although the effect seems very similar. It's not a particularly well disguised ball at the moment as I'm quite clearly putting more effort in and bowling with a lower arm, but it looks good for getting someone out bowled or LBW, at my level at least. It's ridiculously easy to bowl I've found, so I'll be trying that out tomorrow night as well.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Stance and trigger movements

There's no doubt in my mind that my batting's improved by an order of magnitude since I had my first net session back in late January. That's not to say that it's what I would consider good, but it's massively improved.

Back when I was at school I was taught with a rigorous orthodoxy, but now that I'm older, wiser, more aware of my own body's limitations and have a better understanding of cricket I'm more confident in changing the way I do things to suit my own style. To be honest, at school I simply hadn't the knowledge to think about my batting, so it's only now that I'm beginning to understand how I play and adjust things to suit.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A four-ball duck, and almost a wicket...

Played today. Got a four-ball duck. Oh well, better than an empty Saturday...

Only 14 of us turned up from the 3rds and 4ths, so in the end it was 20 overs each, 7-a-side, with a couple from the batting side fielding to reduce the burden, and my team batted first. I was batting fifth and started off with the scorebook - a bit of a throwback to my school days. After a couple of overs a wicket fell and I handed the book over and started padding up. "What's the triangle for?" said the guy who took over the scorebook. "Byes" I said. "I just put a B..." he said. It took a long time for the next two wickets to fall, as the No 2 made a half-century and the No 3 eventually got into the 70s, not out I think but can't remember. Anyway, eventually 2 and 4 trudged back and it was my turn.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Getting tonked by a twelve-year-old

Well I'm not sure if I have an answer to the question I posed earlier, but I do at least have a few more balls under my belt on a level pitch.

Just after 6 o'clock I popped down to the cricket club hoping to find the nets deserted, only to find that the under-17s were practising. I had a pint in the club and chatted to a few people, and then I went over to see if they'd let me join in. They did, which was nice, and I started bowling. Again, my first two balls didn't even reach the batsman. I really do need to work on those early balls!

Is my garden hindering me?

Had another bowl in the garden just now, did just under an hour. Some of it was encouraging, but a lot of it was poor. Strangely I found it much harder to bowl a decent line today compared to yesterday, so I've a suspicion the unevenness and inaccurate length of my garden may be hampering my progress. If I've got the time I'll pop down to the club later and bowl in the net there, and then we'll see what's what. In the meantime I filmed a few overs with the new action so that'll be interesting to see and I'll post it up here when I've had time to edit it.

Virginia gets some TLC

For those of you who don't know, I should say that Virginia is the name of my bat, and yesterday evening I had a close look at her and decided to do a few things to prepare her for the season ahead.

Firstly some of the stickers seemed to be a bit cracked, which surprised me since she's only done half a dozen net sessions. I thought rather than let them get progressively more tatty I'd just take them off altogether. Walking in to bat with tatty, untidy-looking bat just gives off the wrong vibe, in my view. The front and sides are now bare, giving a pleasingly old-skool look, but I left the back stickers on.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Outdoor nets

Had a fun evening at nets tonight. I started off bowling, and it didn't start too promisingly - my first two balls had far too much flight and landed on the roof of the net - but after a while I got my rhythm right and it went much better. Adjusting to my new action hasn't proved to be nearly as much of a challenge as I thought, and after a while it felt perfectly natural.

In fact, I think it's a massive improvement. It's got so much more potential, particularly in terms of variations. I tried a few top-spinners and top-spun leg-breaks and they were both noticeably better than what I've produced before. My stock leg-break still needs some work to get it back to its best, particularly in terms of turn, but it was OK. Some balls got the treatment they deserved, but a few of the batsman seemed to be treating me with much more respect than I'd consider my share, so that was an encouraging sign.

Coming soon to a wicket near you...

So the season draws unremittingly closer. The first competitive match for the 4ths is on May Day, with the Sunday leaguers starting a week later. I'm wondering how much I'll be able to play, as having a girlfriend living 100 miles away inevitably means a little give and take - since we only see each other at weekends, taking an afternoon-sized chunk out of the time we spend together each week is less than ideal. Anyway, the 4ths have 19 matches scheduled to my knowledge so if I can get 8 or so matches I'll be happy.

The 3rds are playing the 4ths in a friendly on Saturday and I've let the team sec know I'm available, so we'll see what happens with that. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Back to square one...

Oh damn and bother. It would seem the bowling action I've been finely honing for the past three months is in need of some pretty fundamental rethinking.

It all stems from the point at which I wind up to roll my arm over. Taking a look at the video I posted the other day you'll see from the side-on angles towards the end that rather than actually roll the arm down, round and over like a windmill, it's more of a "stretch back and ping forward" motion, a bit like a rubber catapult. It seems as if this, and having slightly feeble muscles, is the culprit of my aching shoulders.

Harry Potter and the buggered shoulder

So after I posted my video and showed it to the boffins at the Big Cricket forum, I got a fair few comments about where my arm was relative to my shoulder. It seems I need to take a few more trips to a physio.

It would appear that I have an impingement of a particular muscle in my shoulder, which is why I tend to have such a round-arm style, and this is possibly causing most of the problems I'm having with a sore right shoulder. The muscle in question has the most fabulous name, sounding much like something Harry Potter would exclaim shortly before letting rip with a particularly vicious Shane Warne-style leg break:

"MUSCULUS SUPRASPINATUS!!!"

So perhaps we're finally getting to the bottom of my shoulder problems. There were a few on the forum saying that until this is solved I won't be able to make progress, so it could be I need to be less hard on myself about my lack of sustained improvement recently.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The season draws closer

Gosh, has it really been a month and a half since I last posted?

I do have my excuses, the most cast-iron being that I had a car crash a month ago. I was going over a crossroads, a car failed to stop and went straight into my door, pushing the whole car into the front of another stationary car on the other side of the junction. Pretty nasty, and the insurance is still sorting itself out, but at least the Girlfriend I suffered nothing worse than shock, whiplash and a few bruises.

I have been practising my cricket a bit though, having attended three nets since I last posted. I would have liked more but things always seemed to get in the way.