Thursday, 21 April 2011

Putting my best foot forward

I made a couple of interesting discoveries at nets tonight, one relating to bowling and one to batting.

My bowling was the same as ever, some wonderfully tricky balls, some OK deliveries, the odd wicket and a few sprayed wide. The sprayed balls were largely the result of a loss of concentration, as the nets are pretty well attended and it can be pretty hard to focus at times - having to start your run-up from outside the line of the net doesn't help. Hopefully in a match I'll be better able to concentrate and this should remove some of the poorer deliveries.

I batted half-way through (Hyacinth got the gig today) and the coach was observing. After a few balls he came down and asked about my trigger. I explained how I was using it to prevent myself from backing away and he said it was a good idea, but he suggested I move my left leg first rather than my right so I don't get caught in a closed stance, and try to make some more positive movements forward and back. I tried it a bit and it seemed to help quite a lot, with more of a feeling that I was able to come further forward. It wasn't bullet-proof by any means, but it was a definite improvement. I wasn't trying to hit out, and again I was quite happy to leave balls, but by the end I felt I was seeing the ball well and able to try and drive the ball, and although my upper body messed things up a bit it was promising. Anyway, the really good thing is all winter I've made steady progress with my batting, and I've still got room for improvement.

I couldn't not mention an absolute peach of a ball I got from Harry today. It was beautiful. It pitched outside leg and I turned to face it. Knowing how much Harry turns it I knew I had to defend it, but he got it to turn just that little bit extra which meant that even though I played a reasonable defensive shot it passed just millimetres outside my bat and into the top of my off stump. It was like a club-level version of the Ball of the Century... He spoilt it a bit by following it with one of his rather-too-obvious faster balls, but it's good to see he's enjoying getting the ball to turn.

After a fair bit more bowling we had some fielding practise, and although I was by any objective definition pretty woeful technically, I was at least energetic and focused, trying to be positive in all things. I won't go into too much detail as to what went on as it's really not that interesting, but in the drills we were doing on ground fielding I was running around like a headless chicken as usual, and it's pretty clear my fitness is simply not good enough. It was the usual thing, after a while my body's under a fair amount of stress and the problem is not so much that it reduces my capabilities, but that it leads to mistakes. I had a go on the slip cradle after, but all I got was a few minor bruises. Never mind - Sam's said the thing he wants me to work on most now is my fielding, and if the skipper says jump I'll ask how high.

Once that was all finished I got a pint and went back to the nets to bowl a few before the light went. I didn't bowl many, maybe a dozen or so - just enough to get a feel of my overall action and see how it felt. There's so many details to remember, as my bowling action isn't yet inherently consistent. I'll see if I can list all the things that I'm prone to forgetting:

1. pick a target spot where you want the ball to land
2. glance at where you want your front foot to land, then shift back to the target
3. get your front arm high and pull it down powerfully
4. also use your back foot to push through the delivery stride
5. keep your arm as high and straight as possible
6. cock your wrist and...
7. ...don't unfurl it until you reach your trigger point
8. use fingers as well as wrist to spin the ball
9. follow through (and be ready for a catch)

As you can see, there's a lot to remember. If I get all those things right I know I'll bowl not just a good ball but a great one, but forget even one and all bets are off as to how it'll end up. 3, 6 and 7 seem to be the most crucial parts. Anyway, the part I looked at afresh today was 4 - using my back foot to add energy to the delivery. As I was bowling my warm-down balls I seemed to find it, and it's something I used to do which probably got left behind when I changed my run-up. It really adds a lot of spin to the ball, and the cushioning effect as the leg loads up ready to push through also gives me a more stable platform.

Saturday can't come soon enough: then I'll really find out what's what.

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