Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A chat with another of Bosanquet's disciples*

Bernard Bosanquet
After the match on Saturday I sought out Greg, a 1st team leg-spinning all-rounder who's new to the club this year. I'd seen him around a fair bit as he's also coaching the juniors, but I thought it was about time we introduced ourselves properly. I'd faced him in the nets on Thursday and was very impressed - he perhaps wasn't bowling at his most accurate but he bowls at a good 50+ mph and turns the ball plenty enough for that speed. Added to that I'm not sure I've yet seen him without an engaging smile on his face.

So I bought him a pint and said hello. He'd obviously noticed me as the 'other leggie' at the club, and had some nice things to say about my bowling. Neither of us had had a great day with the ball, so after some mutual comiseration we soon got onto technical aspects, talking about coaching in general, his difficulty bowling zooters and me probing him about exactly what a wrong 'un feels like to bowl. It's the first time I've spoken to someone who can actually bowl one, so it was great to be able to get a first-hand account. I hope we have plenty more of these chats over the course of the season.

On Sunday the 1sts had a cup game, which I didn't watch, but now wish I had - looking at the scorecard Greg took 5 for 25 and made 41* with the bat! Remarkably he's only 18, so who knows what level he may one day reach if he continues to make progress.

*the term "Bosanquet's disciples" is to be found in Arthur Mailey's excellent autobiography "10 for 66 and all that". If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it!

Monday, 29 April 2013

More bowling

Well it seems videos of my bowling are like buses...

Now I should explain this was filmed shortly before junior nets was supposed to start up, so there were a handful of the U17s essentially doing all they could to put me off, up to and including riding a bicycle around behind the net, leading to a few of my dodgier deliveries.

Excuses aside, this wasn't really my best bowling session, although there was the odd ripper and one zooter that swung (rather than drifted) quite a distance in towards the stumps.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Hard lines

To Aston where, for the seventh competitive match in a row, I ended up on the losing side. Aston is a curious little club, rather new and as a result rather unpopular with neighbouring clubs such as ours whose players they have recently pilfered. They're a good side with an even mixture of experience and youth and always a tough fixture. The weather forecast was decidedly unpromising, but when we got to the ground the sun was out and the wicket pretty firm.

We lost the toss and were inserted, and were a wicket down off the second ball. Dan and Sam batted reasonably and Azar was astonishingly good, making a stylish 39. However, four ducks later - including three wickets in a single over - it ultimately came down once again to Jamie and myself at the crease having only just crept past three figures. Jamie wanted the strike and I was only too happy to give it to him. I had to see of the final deliveries of a couple of overs, which I did with relative ease, before Jamie was bowled for 15, leaving me stranded on 0*. We'd made only 112 and, criminally, had a full 14 overs of the innings left unused. Again...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Practise, practise, practise...

I've bowled rather a lot this week, as my weary frame would attest. It's funny how over the winter you can forget all the little niggles that bowling creates, then have it all come flooding back in the space of a week when you start doing proper work on it. My two "go-to" issues are a soreness in my left knee and an inflamed tendon at the front of my right shoulder. They've been pretty constant companions over my last three seasons playing cricket, and I imagine I'll have them for as long as I continue bowling. Oh well, neither is likely to be fatal.

Anyway, I have got quite a few bagfuls under my belt this week, a couple of hours each on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and while I don't exactly expect to rock up on Saturday and take all ten, every little helps. So much for my "new bowling style" though, I recorded myself on Friday and looking at it after the style's the same, just a bit more refined. The run-up's straighter, the whole action is smoother and I am now bowling a little quicker. The key elements I'm still struggling with are front arm, position I bowl from and concentration.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

It happens to the best of us

I was looking around YouTube and found this rather unusual piece of footage of Shane Warne:

It's so strange, usually all you see on YouTube is his standard big-turning rippers knocking over some hapless batsman, accompanied by suitably sycophantic, cooing commentary as the great man once again shows he's the greatest leggie who's ever lived. And he undoubtedly is. But here we see he is still just a leg-spinner, and like us all he does get walloped from time to time. Kinda reassuring, don't you think?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A mixed affair

Thanks heavens, the cricket season is here again. A beautiful sunny day greeted us as we travelled to Keele to play Porthill, now moved from their old Scot Hay 2nd ground due to over-greedy landlords. The old Scot Hay ground was invariably a pudding when I played on it, while Keele tends to produce a fair amount of shooters, so even without a sticky wicket we were in for a tough time batting-wise.

I was in an optimistic mood, albeit outwardly appearing a little grumpy; I'm always a little grouchy when I haven't slept the full eight hours, and I rarely get the full eight hours the night before the season starts. Certainly the previous evening I'd done some good work in the nets, before and after coaching the juniors, and considering how little practise I've done on my bowling so far this year (maybe 6 hours I would estimate) I was bowling pretty well, especially later on.

Friday, 19 April 2013

A video at last

I know it's been ages since I posted a video of me in action, so here's the latest. Can you see any progress?

Wish I'd done more filming later on, I started bowling really well. Maybe I'm subconsciously trying not to reveal my secrets to any opposing batsmen who may be watching, but I never seem to catch my best bowling on film.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Back in the office

Apologies again for the lack of new posts, I seem to be drafting them but never quite get round to finishing and publishing them. Anyway, two more up for you to enjoy (if "enjoy" is really the right word).

Anyway, I'm all too aware that our first match on 20th April is fast approaching and I need to get my bowling sorted out. More specifically, what I need to do is bank the hard work that allows me to stand at my bowling mark and relax, safe in the knowledge that I'm as prepared as I reasonably can be. And safe is the key word; if I've done all I can, psychologically the bad days don't play on your mind.

So tonight I rushed down to the club to catch a couple of hours' bowling practise before the sun went down. I started off just trying to nail down a half-decent line and length, trying not to take off any speed. It's a problem I seem to have had the last two seasons that I start off pre-season bowling 40ish mph then slow down to 30ish mph to achieve accuracy, and I really need to push through that and get some control without losing the speed. One thing I'm working on is changing the timing of my action so my front foot lands just as my bowling hand is reaching the top of its arc; it's not an element I'd been aware of before but it does make a big difference to the speed, and referring to some footage of Warne and MacGill they both do it. Seems I've been missing out!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

"New balls please"

So the season edges ever nearer, and it seems that just in time the weather is set to improve. It has rather sneaked up on me, and I must admit to feeling horribly under-prepared. Outdoor nets starts this evening, and will be only the second time I've batted this pre-season. Meanwhile my bowling's had precious little work done on it, Partly due to weather and also due to a week missed when I travelled to France. I did take some balls with me and tried to practise on a beach nearby, but it wasn't much use as the firm-looking sand nevertheless gave way every time I landed in my delivery stride, throwing me off balance.

Anyway, I am where I am. Nothing for it but a crash program of practise, so I've mad my one cricket kit purchase of the winter - some new balls. Perhaps I've mentioned it before, but all the balls I've had up to now have had a nasty habit of growing legs and wandering off, and of the wayward spinner's over's-worth (eight) I bought for practise last year, only one is still in my possession. I even lost one ball to a small child, who protested so strongly that it was in fact "MINE!" (i.e. "his") that I decided losing a ball was worth it to avoid explaining to his parents why he was crying so loudly. Anyway, this year things will be different; if anyone wants to "borrow" a ball (n.b. inverted commas), they will have to have one of my older balls. If they want a nice shiny one, they can bloody well buy their own like I did...

I've again bought eight 'Readers County Match' balls as these are as close as I can find to our specified league ball. I've had a variety of Slazenger, Dukes and Morrant balls before and there's a surprising variation in the size and feel of the seams.