Sunday, 27 March 2011

In the wars but undefeated

Today's nets were probably my most encouraging yet. My bowling was exeptionally good, and my batting was, to use a cliché, "gritty", but pretty effective. Sadly they were also the most painful yet, as you'll find out below...

I really was exceptionally pleased with my bowling today. As far as I can remember there were only two (yep, just two) bad balls, and plenty of played-and-missed, nailed-on stumpings and a few catching chances. My line and length throughout was absolutely superb, and I think it's safe to say it's the best I've ever bowled at a batsman over a sustained period. It all felt so wonderfully natural. I'm feeling pretty confident about getting a regular bowl on merit now, and pretty confident of taking my share of wickets. I'm over the moon, to be honest.

I've made more progress this winter than I dared hope, and with the season now less than a month away I couldn't hope to be in a better position. There's still plenty of room for improvement though as I gradually get a more sophisticated control of flight and add variations, so I need to keep pushing myself to explore these areas in a concentrated and effective way.

When my turn came to bat (and I've pretty much established that I want to be last in so as not to disturb my bowling) I wanted to practise my straight shots, particularly my defence. Captain Sam was first up, and he's a really good bowler - good line and length at a testing pace - so I was chuffed to get well in behind and fend the ball off without fuss. Then on the second or third ball I faced his brother bowled a leg-side yorker which struck me flush on the left ankle. As you can imagine it was pretty painful and for a minute I was unsure if I could walk, let alone continue batting.

I decided to persevere (and trying to make light of it called for a runner...) but the movement of my ankle really was quite badly hindered so I wasn't able to do too much that involved putting weight on my front foot, which is a shame as it is something I need to work on as much as possible. Even so, my defence was reasonably solid and on occasion I hit some nice shots. There were rather too many edges for my liking again, but I did have pretty soft hands so it's likely many of them would not have carried. I did keep getting nasty balls though, my left leg taking a couple more blows, and although I rather nonchalantly avoided a head-high beamer from Sam I did have the feeling of being somewhat besieged. The good thing was this didn't affect how I batted and overall that gave me confidence that could be very valuable in a close match. I think if I'd taken that blow in a match I would have retired hurt, got some ice on it and resumed my innings later, but there's no way I can afford to give up net time at the moment.

With my ankle as it was I couldn't take part in the fielding session afterwards, which was a shame, but I stuck around for a bit to see what was going on. In a separate development, during the week I figured out something which hopefully should significantly improve my catching. I was lobbing balls into the air for me to catch, and I realised that I got a significantly better result when I lifted my hands a bit higher, so that as I focused the ball some part of them remained in my peripheral vision. Having tried this a few times my rate of return is massively improved, which gives me confidence as long as I can remember to do this when the time comes. Pleasingly, everything is moving in the right direction and I'm still regularly finding these valuable leaps of insight.

The only black cloud is this ankle. It's now over two hours since it happened and the persistent restricted movement is concerning me. My left ankle plays a key role in the pivot that's the fundamental part of all spin bowling, so I really hope something as silly as this doesn't end up throwing a spanner in the works.

No comments:

Post a Comment