Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Putting the hours in

I'm not sure if all this rain is good or bad for me at the moment, on the one hand a few matches called off early probably serves to help me get my bowling fully grooved before I'm called to bowl in a match, but on the other hand I can't get much practise in if it's constantly pouring with rain. Last night the weather was dry so I took full advantage with a marathon 2 1/2 hour session, after which I felt pretty limp as you can imagine. My rhythm's coming back but I'm still far too prone to the odd wayward delivery, too many short, full, or wide ones to really be reliable. The spin's there, so there's enough dip and plenty of turn, but I'm not feeling right overall. Happily my attempts at coming round the wicket seemed to work surprisingly well, so I may use that as part of a three-card trick to left-handers - two or three sliders from over the wicket so they think I can't turn it much, then come over and bowl into an area quite wide of off-stump with maximum turn back to hopefully disturb the furniture.

I got the camera out and the results are interesting. Not only am I bowling with a much lower arm than I thought, I'm also in much more danger of back-foot No Balls than I ever imagined. I also filmed some variations, which perhaps was a waste of time when I should still be focusing on getting my stock ball grooved. My top-spinner was curiously unreliable, as it's been OK for the most part this winter, and it's still more of a bouncy leg-break than a genuine pure top-spinner. My slider was decent enough if a little slow. My flipper's definitely coming along, even if I still can't really trust it, so I'm going to start practising it more frequently than I currently do. Wrong 'Uns  were a total waste of time and energy, not surprising given how low my arm is, although my current attempt at a wrong 'un seems to quite often turn out with pure topspin, so I may adapt it as that. I need to get my arm a lot higher if I'm to crack the wrong 'un, and being such a big admirer of Mailey I won't really feel like a proper leg-spinner until I've got it in my armoury.

After I'd bowled for about an hour and a half Joe, one of the 1st team openers, turned up and asked me to help him with his set-up to spin bowlers. Joe's a very talented batsman and works hard on his game, and importantly for me, when he's in the nets he treats bowlers with exactly the same level of respect as he would in the middle. As such even though he's in the 1sts I know he won't simply smack me around unless I've bowled a bad ball, and if I bowl a good one he'll defend it.

I bowled at him for a while, and while I wasn't bowling fantastically consistently it was enough just to see his pre-delivery movements. I had my video camera with me so I filmed him a bit and it seemed to me that firstly he was moving too soon - essentially moving at the same time he would to a quick, and having to wait for the ball to get to him - and also seemed to move his head around just before the ball is bowled. Anyway, I bowled at him for 30 to 45 minutes and even on one occasion managed to fashion a stumping chance with a total fluke of a ball that really gripped and turned. Interestingly one or two of my sliders seemed to seam back the other way, which was curious. I've got no control over it whatsoever, but if it happened in a match it should cause a bit of confusion.

I'm still not satisfied with my bowling. I feel undercooked at the moment and a little bit of a "shit gets wickets" bowler as I currently stand.  I need to work on my action to bowl with a higher arm, reduce my vulnerability to cutting the return crease, increase my speed a little if possible, and develop a decent flipper and googly. It's quite a tough ask, all that, especially with the season already underway, but with the nets only available during the season that's the only time I can do all this work. It may hamper me in the short term, but in the longer term it would probably hurt me much more to become too comfortable bowling with an inherently limited action. I've got lots of work to do to really break through into being a bona fide leg-spinner but I seem to have most of the raw materials. It's just a matter of putting the hours in, if the rain will let me...

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