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.

As to the actual balls I bowled, it was again a bit all over the place. Lots of balls seemed to be landing too far down the off-side, and too many looped up high and caught in the roof of the net. Most balls were too full but having a batsman in the net stopped me getting a proper idea of exactly how full, and there was the occasional long-hop. However I also bowled two or three really very good balls, so it's reassuring to know that I can still bowl a truly excellent leg-break, even if I have a body of work to do to re-establish my consistency. One ball in particular landed right on the spot, forced the batsman to defend and spun past the outside edge, while another drew the batsman out of his crease and dipped under the bat for a nailed-on stumping, so I've still got the spin, dip and turn in there somewhere when I get it right.

My batting wasn't as good as last week but still showed an improvement on last year. I was up against a couple of slow spinners and two rather quicker (younger) bowlers. It didn't start well, with the ball hitting the stumps a couple of times, but after I'd made good contact with one I seemed to get a lot better and hit some decent shots. My footwork seems to have a few technical kinks in it, and I wasn't really judging length brilliantly well against the quicker bowlers, but what was positive was that my good shots were much better than previously, and I seem to have three decent scoring shots now - pull (default), cut (vastly improved) and a sort of opening-the-face guide towards third man that seems to be a fantastic little shot for me to play. Whether it leaves me vulnerable to edges remains to be seen when I'm up against proper swing bowling, but I'm usually pretty good at playing the ball down onto the ground - I still have yet to ever be out caught behind the wicket.

I also picked up my first bruise of the pre-season, as a ball I'd just bowled was driven powerfully into my right leg just below the knee as I followed through. At least it saved a run or two. There's something comfortingly familiar about getting the ice pack out once again!!!

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