Sunday, 6 February 2011

Encouraging signs...?

I was back at Blessed Bill's for nets today, and came away feeling heaps better than I did last week. Firstly, my bowling was much better, with the ball coming out reasonably well, landing in the right areas most of the time and on occasion I was putting the batsmen in trouble. I'm not bowling as well as I can, but for some reason it was much, much better than last week. I felt as if I was taking my time more and bowling in a slower and more relaxed way, so maybe last week was a temporary reversion to the same problems I started with last year, trying to bowl too fast and too flat. I still struggled badly against left-handers, so that's definitely something I need to work on. Another potential dark cloud is that there was another leg-spinner bowling today who looked pretty handy, so maybe I've got some pretty stiff competition!

The coach asked us to have a think about what we were aiming at when we bowled, to which I replied that I could tell him straight away - I first look for where I want to plant my back foot, then change focus to where I want the ball to land. He said I ought to work on not having to do the first part, but it seemed to affect my rhythm so I went back to my tried and tested method. It may be that I can sort this out when I practise on my own, but in these nets I can't afford to waste too much time on it. My run-up does need a lot of work, as since I junked my original run-up I haven't yet settled on a replacement - I just walk in and improvise.

Half-way through I had a bat and although I did get progressively more ragged I was very encouraged by how it all felt. I don't think I've ever seen the ball out of the hand better than I did today, even if it didn't always translate that into the right shot, and I got good contact with the ball right from the off. I hit some particularly lovely leg glances, which surprised me as it's not a shot I've played much before. I had "practised" it on my own over the winter, so that seems to have had some rewards. The bat felt more comfortable than usual, so maybe the way I've re-gripped my bats (octopus grip underneath, plain grip over the top) has given me better feel. I just felt nice and sharp, and with a bit of luck I should be able to get to 20ish on occasion. I know that may sound a modest aim, but my highest score is still 8 and I need to run before I can walk.

My straight bat shots weren't as good as I would like, and I'm still not good at picking up length and timing my shots, but it was nice to middle a few and it left me feeling optimistic about my goal of 100 runs for the season. It doesn't help that you face an assortment of bowlers - with medium-fast swing being followed by slow spin then medium pace - as it really upset my timing, so hopefully this underestimates how I'd perform in a match situation with a chance to get comfortable against a particular bowler. Anyway, my problems at this stage - judging length, timing, shot selection - seem to boil down to my relative inexperience, and I'm still continuously improving every time I get the bat in my hand, so that's positive.

Afterwards we had another hour of activities aimed at improving our fielding, and this time they were a bit more inclusive so I actually got some semi-decent practise. As well as that the exercises are proving to be very good at building up team spirit and we're all getting on pretty well. I'm warming to Sam, the 4th XI captain this year, and he seems to be paying a lot of attention to how everyone's shaping up.

1 comment:

MPA first eleven said...

Pencil, you've got to do the stand start and work from there it's absolutely fundamental to your bowling. If you've not got an established run-up, don't even think about it till you've gone through the stand start process and got that sussed and feel okay with that and getting the ball to turn. Then add your steps one at a time.

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