Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Getting away from it all

I've had a few things on my mind lately so nets last Sunday was purely about isolating myself from the real world for a couple of hours and having fun. As such my batting was pure village stuff, and my bowling wasn't as focused as usual although it wasn't too dreadful.

When I arrived only Amar and Scott were there so I lead them in and padded up, with just their off-spin to face to begin with. Amar, whose ready smile, beard and patka inevitably lead to him having the nickname "Monty" among those who can't be bothered to tell the difference between right arm off-spin and slow left arm orthodox, was bowling at me for the first time and he's a much better bowler than I previously gave him credit for, pretty quick with a bit of turn and a change of pace, and Scott's not bad too, so I struggled to hit any but the looser balls well although I largely protected my wicket until Shaun turned up bowling quickish seam-up yorkers. I did try charging down the wicket a couple of times to Scott and both times it resulted in a spectacular failure to hit the ball, but I had a good giggle about it at least. I've got to start somewhere with it. I really have got to start playing the drive more often, but I wasn't concentrating as hard as normal so I'm not going to beat myself up about it this week.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Willow weep for me

My new bat arrived on Thursday, hopefully my last for a while. If I'm honest buying it was pure retail therapy, as my grandmother is rather unwell at the moment and I needed something to cheer me up. If that was ultimately the goal then it worked. Unwrapping the packaging, opening up the very swish bat carrier it came in and seeing the bat for the first time was a nice tonic. I'm very impressed by Aedos, they've been very helpful, eager to make sure I'm satisfied and they seem to have come into the business with the right ideas. The stickers, and the whole brand identity, is pitched pretty well I think - not too fussy, not too dull, just a quiet kind of eye-catching.

Also given that the person who gave me my love of cricket was my old Latin and Classics teacher, I suppose it's inevitable that I should be drawn to a batmaker whose products are named after Greek Gods. My bat is a model called "Zeus Limited Edition" (in my case an edition of one) but I prefer girls' names for my bats, and amongst the leading contenders this time is Athena - a daughter of Zeus, "shrewd companion of heroes and Goddess of heroic endeavour" according to Wiki. Well I'm neither a hero nor are my endeavours particularly herioc, but lets not let too many facts get in the way of a good story. She's also the patron of Athens, so perhaps given the state of the country of which Athens is the capital right now this could be taken to represent a sizeable chunk of money wantonly and unnecessarily spent...

As for the bat itself, Ollie at Aedos said it was a "good 'un" and he wasn't wrong - eight straight, evenly spaced grains with virtually no flaws. To be honest it did look a little strange at first; I'm not used to seeing pale willow with no oil on, and it was so highly polished it almost looked like it was made of plastic. The first backlift and swing through felt very nice though, and I'm amazed how much wood they've managed to leave on it - certainly it looks a lot heavier than it actually is. Perhaps they found a particularly light cleft of willow? They seem to have reduced the weight mainly in the top half of the blade with the bottom half still full of meaty goodness, but unless you picked it up or really took a good look at it you'd think it was a perfectly normal bat. (photos are below the fold)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A(nother) new bat

Like the 24 carat mug that I am, I will shortly be taking delivery of my fourth bat with still weeks to go until the start of my third season in senior cricket. I'm just doing my bit to help small businesses in these difficult times...

Regular readers of the blog* will have read about my frustration in not being able to find a light bat. I got into a conversation on Twitter with the great guys at Aedos Cricket about why this was and they said it may be possible to make a special light bat for me. I umm-ed and ahh-ed about it for a while but eventually I weakened and decided to go for it. Seriously though, this is absolutely, positively the last bat I'm going to buy for at least the next, ooh... 12 months or so.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Tonk it like Trumper

For whatever reason nets today (someone said the traffic was particularly bad) was only attended by six of us, and while I'd sooner have a few more turning up for the sake of the club, for me this was one of the best sessions I've had as far as my batting's concerned, and I didn't even bat in the nets!

I'll deal with the bowling pretty quickly. It wasn't great again with the odd great ball but very poor consistency, Although I did find that I was pivoting up and over my front foot a lot better, especially on the good balls. I suspect it's more likely to be indicative of a good action in other parts of the body rather than the initiator of them, but it's good to get a sense for what it feels like and hopefully when I ramp up my outdoor practise I can really nail this part of my action.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Steady progress

Third net of pre-season today, with plenty of positives and the odd reality check - all in all a very useful session. As I was one of the first to turn up, I padded up and went in first. I like batting either first or last, as it means my bowling doesn't get as disrupted and allows me to concentrate on one thing at a time. Kieran was there today, and while I'm sure he'd admit his not the world's best bowler, he's a switched on guy and his bowling is consistent and pretty well thought out, a bit like the Tim Bresnan of the third team. There was also an off-spinner I haven't seen before - it seems he's down here at Uni and wanted somewhere to practise.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

One year on

While it's nice to have a few people reading the blog and get some welcome feedback every now and then, this blog is, and always was, predominantly for my own benefit so that I can remind myself of everything that's happened in relation to my cricket 'career'. Today I've had a look through my posts from pre-season last year, reading them for probably the first time since I wrote them, and the similarities and differences are rather interesting.

Firstly, I can see plainly how fragile my confidence in my bowling was last year. I had yet to lose my bowling 'virginity' by taking a wicket, and it's really no wonder now I look back that I found the first two games last year such a struggle mentally. I'm a lot calmer this year and even though I'm not bowling very well yet I have much more faith that it will eventually sort itself out, resulting - so far at least - in a lot less fruitless frustration. I think this year I have a much more realistic impression of my strengths and weaknesses, where last year I consciously hoped for the best but subconsciously feared the worst.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A few good shots and the odd jaffa

The second week of pre-season came after I'd spent most of the week in bed with a nasty cold so I wasn't expecting too much. Much of my upper body and arms had been aching quite badly at the start of the week and I wasn't sure if I'd be fully recovered in time.

Bowling was again a bit of a problem, although I seem to be getting closer to isolating what the problems are. Firstly last week I had probably reverted to "catapulting" rather than "windmilling" my arm, hence the soreness in the front tendons of my shoulder after last week's nets, and other than that there are problems with my hand and wrist in terms of positioning, movement and feel. Unfortunately that's not a quick fix - I've just got to bowl a lot more and figure it out, and pre-season nets is no place for that kind of work. It's too busy, too loud, you have to wait your turn and thus lose any rhythm and bowl at a pretty slow rate, and the batsmen at the other end are just a distraction as far as I'm concerned. If I had an empty net I could probably fix this in about half an hour, sadly I don't so it may take several weeks.