Sunday, 30 January 2011

Back in the nets, back in the side netting...

This afternoon we had our first net session after the winter lay-off, with two slight changes on last year: firstly, we had a coach present, and secondly, we only had an hour of nets instead of the two hours we had previously. This latter situation meant there was no time for me to have a bat, which is rather frustrating, although I do understand that new players needed assessing and with it being the first session we had a higher turn-out than I expect we'll have in later sessions.

Another thing that was frustrating was my bowling. Virtually every aspect was frustrating. For some reason I was spraying down the off-side, pretty much the same as I had been doing at the start of last year. It kept on happening and since I couldn't have a camera rolling I only have other people's opinions to go by - and to be honest I'm not sure if they properly understand what I'm trying to do. Phil, a great guy, was trying to be as helpful as he could and from his feedback it seems I was bowling with a bent arm and/or getting too front-on too early. I tried my best to figure it out but it kept happening.

The big problem with those types of nets is their lack of realism, in that with one or two exceptions the batsmen weren't batting seriously, and when you have to line up in queue of a dozen or so you have absolutely zero chance of getting any rhythm going. I probably bowled barely a dozen balls in an hour, an amount  I could probably manage in about five minutes on my own in an empty net. When I did bowl on the "cut section" ( a carpet which is about as responsive to spin as Jeremy Clarkson is to statutory speed limits) my length was pretty spot-on, and I was getting the batsmen to drive. One ball would gave gone straight to deepish mid-off, and I rather sadly dropped a sharp caught-and-bowled chance. Other shots square of the wicket may have found my imaginary field but those are the two I'm sure were potential wickets.

Anyway, clearly plenty of work is needed on my action to get the line more accurate. It was such a big, clear and consistent problem it probably won't be too tough to fix that one, the bigger worry was I couldn't really spin the ball, not that I have much to go on given the lack of help from the surface, and the fact that most batsmen were behaving like lunatics, dancing down the wicket to either intercept the ball before pitching or else obscure my view of whether the ball turned or not. But even so it just didn't feel right, I couldn't feel the rip. It bothers me, not least because if that net session is anything to go by I won't be able to make any serious progress until I can bowl to an empty net, which is a couple of months away at least.

After an hour in the main hall we then had to vacate it and move to a smaller room where our coach sorted us into three groups - 1st team, 2nd team and 3rds/4ths - for us to discuss our aims for the season. Sam, captain of the 4ths this year, pretty much hit the nail on the head when he said the 4ths main aim should be to bat through 50 overs as often as possible. After a few minutes all the groups came together to discuss everyone's respective aims, which was useful, before we moved on to playing a sort of handball with a tennis ball to supposedly help our fielding skills. I can't say it did me much good. I can't catch for toffee at the moment so obviously no-one was really wanting to pass the ball to me, passing instead to those whose catching is already pretty solid. It was like being at school again... I'd have been better off going outside and bouncing a ball against a wall, but to be fair given the facility available I don't know what else the coach could have suggested. At least we did do some proper stretches and a warm down after.

So, all told, a pretty frustrating afternoon.

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