Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This years field when bowling well

Someone on the Big Cricket forum requested "Talk us through an over". So I posted up my approach to bowling my opening over at the end of the season when I feel quite confident and added the field.

See here http://www.bigcricket.com/community/threads/talk-us-through-an-over.184373/#post-569583

The field was this one...

Monday, October 06, 2014

Subtle Variation - Leg Break bowling

This is just an idea, which might work for some people.

Even though I've now been bowling this stuff for 7 years I'm still learning all the time and I'm still trying to figure out ways to improve. My action seems to change from one season to another, although this season I felt a lot more relaxed and I tried not to tweak what I was doing at the end of the season last year and it does seem to have worked.

There's a few things I know I can do to make small adjustments to my bowling that make a significant difference. One of these is to consciously get right up on my toes when I'm pivoting. Because I don't do it to the extent that perhaps I should, when I do so, it does increase the risk of my bowling being slightly more wayward, but it is recognisably effective in that it spins far more, turns off the wicket far better and often with more bounce.

The conclusion therefore is...

(1). A small adjustment in what you do with your foot e.g. get up onto your toes may make a significant difference to what the ball does at the business end. What you are doing, when you do this (potentially) is bracing your leg in your pivot, this also gives you marginally more height.

(2). Conversely, if you're someone who bowls leg breaks in a way that is very consistent and you feel that you want to vary it in some way, you could possibly try the opposite - reduce the rise up on to the toes to produce a ball that spins less? I know this goes against the grain in terms of what you're told about the pivot, but it may work for you and might be worth looking at as a subtle variation?

B&PCC 4th XI v Harlow Town 4th XI

As usual, as the weekend drew nearer the usual shenanigans with players being moved around, blokes saying they can't play for one reason or another and some people making is clear that they'd rather not play for this or that team. This is despite the fact that it was made very clear at the start of the season that people would need to be flexible as much as possible because we're so stretched as a club with regards getting all four teams out.

One of the issues at the minute is that there are some good younger players doing exams for school/college etc and they're totally committed to that aspect of their lives, which you have to commend rather than condemn, so good luck with that if you're one of those players in that situation. As an FE educator I'd like just like to say - pay a lot of attention on English & Maths, they're the most important ones to get right and get you into college or onto A-Levels.

All that aside, the selection committee and Dave Ayres did a sterling job and once again I went to the match with 11 again. I had to ring up Harry 'Bat' Hodgson and see if he'd have a game at the last minute and he said yes and was well up for it as Joe was playing. This meant another team loaded with youth including 2 x U13's! One of whom was my son Joe, who's helped us out a few times now and mid week had said he didn't want to play, he's stood in the field for hours each game and lasted a few seconds each time he's batted and not had a bowl, so I could understand why he didn't want to play and initially said okay to the idea. As Saturday arrived around 10, my wicket keeper rang in and said he couldn't make it and for a short while we were short. The night before Michelle (My wife) had said to Joe 'What you going to do all day if you don't play'? Youtube was either the answer or the activity that he would do if left to his own devices, so he was told you're playing. To be honest he was okay about it in the end.

On the way to the venue I have to stop off to get my scorebook and offer people lifts and do a last minute check to see if everyone's got a lift and I've got all my players. Once there I became more aware of the seriousness of the wicket keeper situation. Fortunately our 2nd XI were playing at the same venue and within their team was a potential keeper, all that was required was that once we were there we'd just swap someone over. It seemed like a plan, but I couldn't think of anyone obvious who'd go for the swap...

On arrival I had...

  1. John Bedford*
  2. Gary Savage*
  3. Frank Farrington - (14)
  4. Frank McLeod*
  5. Stuart Munday*
  6. Jack Farrington - (18)
  7. Ben Thompson - (15)
  8. Kieran Barbero - (15)
  9. Dave Thompson
  10. Joe Thompson - (12)
  11. Harry Hodgson - (13)
* Older senior players.

The journey was fine despite prior warnings of there being potential  hold ups on the M25. Once there I met Tom the captain who was a nice bloke, did the toss and won again and decided to bowl which was always going to be the way after the recent games. He said they'd have batted if he'd won, I guess this is seeing the fact that our team is full of youngster, for the sake of the game they go with that option and it gives their batsmen the chance to run up some runs?

The issue of the wicket keeper then had to be resolved. All of the older, experienced blokes in the team are good mates and I think they all want to play in the 4's and they're also the batsmen, so they couldn't go. The Farrington's are brothers -ones a seam up opener and the other is the wrist spinner Frank, so I didn't want either of them to go and the rest of the team are much younger kids who were playing to do me a favour, so it would have been a bad show to move one of those across. That left me, so I said I'd go. My son Ben said he'd keep - but he's never done it and that made no sense at all, so I'd been in a bit of a dilemma as I walked out onto the centre for the toss. But as I got back one of the senior players said that Frank McLeod would do it. So that was brilliant, as that resolved that situation, so a big thanks to Frank, although I don't think he was that happy about it.

So far, so good... The next plan I wanted to implement now that we'd won the toss was to give everyone a bowl. Everyone on the team apart from Harry and Frank would put their hands up and say I'll bowl. For all I know Frank would bowl too? I knew that I wanted to give John Bedford a bowl as he missed out last week and he's a good bowler. I also wanted to give Joe a bowl as he's helped me out now in most of the games, but I didn't know how nervous he'd be or how that might go down with the rest of the team, but was pretty sure I'd get him in there for at least a couple of overs.

Over the last week I've been number crunching, looking at old score book bowling figures and the evidence that I've collated suggests the following...

Only looking at the data for the first 4 overs of the bowling spells and so far I've looked at data for 71 bowling performances mainly from 4th XI games. The data so far...

In the bowlers 1st over (Sample of 71 first overs) 18 wickets are taken and 300 runs are made = Strike rate of 23.00
In 2nd over 21 wickets are taken and 311 runs are made = Strike rate of 20.20
In the 3rd over 20 wickets are taken for 276 runs = strike rate of 21.30
The 4th over 11 wickets are taken for 282 run = strike rate of 38.7

The evidence at this stage on the little data that I've been able to collect would suggest that it makes sense to bowl everyone for three overs as a standard procedure? Having discussed this with other cricket players on line, they then said, if the said bowler was to take a wicket in within the 3 overs you'd probably bowl him for the next and set him the target of  if you take another you buy yourself another over.  I suppose that could be adapted to include a Maiden and have the same reward as such? What I like about this approach is that everyone would get to bowl even if there were 11 bowlers. With this in mind I spoke to one of my mentors in the game (Senior player Gary Savage) about it and he said "That's pretty much what most captains do, but for 4 overs and if a bowler is doing well - you keep him on". With that in mind I went with a basic plan based around his advice...

Following posting the idea on www.bigcricket.com I have an interesting email from someone who’s played cricket a lot longer than me and seemed to agree in principle but added another aspect to the idea which makes sense. If the bowler is taking wickets then why take him off?

So with that in mind I’ve developed the idea further and come up with a cunning plan…

Again – everyone who bowls or who wants to bowl does so for a guaranteed 3 overs based on the stats that I’ve collected. It’s in this phase most of the wickets are taken.

If the bowler takes a wicket or wickets within their allocated three, they get to bowl another over. If they then bowl a maiden or get another wicket they stay on for another and so on. As soon as runs are scored and the wicket taking stops he comes off and the new bowler comes on and goes through the same process.

I kind of stuck to this idea after speaking to Gary as initially very few runs were being made with Jack and Ben bowling as a pair, as I recall (Check book) they kept the score below 3 an over, but no wickets were being taken and they batted cautiously – maybe with the team we had - with all the youngsters, they saw this as an opportunity to occupy the crease and get as many runs for themselves? Both bowled well, Jack had two seemingly easy chances put down, one of which was me at point that hit hard hands and bounced straight out again and I wasn’t able to recover it and the other may have been little Joe at Mid on – a ball that was in the air for some time and he ended up doing the same as me – having the ball bounce out of his hands. Whilst Jack wasn’t happy I didn't recall that I over-heard someone at the club saying about the club generally, having seen a number of balls being put down at the BB game

 Kieran and John Bedford came on next; Kieran is a right-arm in-swinging bowler (Sometimes) but is erratic in his line and length, but off of a short run up and not having the same height as Ben and Jack the openers, when he does get it right it’s good and rapid, with a very low bounce. John on the other hand who’s played cricket all his life and is a little younger than me bowls is right arm finger spinner who bowls off-breaks and arm balls very accurately, changing the pace, flight and speed. He’s very economical.

Next up was Frank Farrington who bowls wrist spin and turns it loads and gets drift. He has days when he’s amazing and other days when it all goes wrong, but generally he takes wickets.


Sorry un-finished post.  



B&PCC U13's v Thurrock 8th June - Blackshots

  • Weather

  • Gorgeous blue skies and warmth is what met us as we got up and started to get ready. It always makes me realise how lucky I am that my kids never played football when they were younger, as they were quickly marginalised by the whole elitist ethos within football, if you didn't have the kit, your face didn't fit and the weird thing was it wasn't a Southend kit, or another Essex kit, it was one of the London kits and yet we live in Essex? Anyway, I missed out on the standing around in the freezing cold in the middle of winter - no great loss and I have no delusions that the England football team will win the world cup...

    So, the match was played under blue skies and puffy cumulus clouds in 24 degrees or more centigrade... Suntan weather! I've come back with sun burnt feet as I broke out the flip flops for the first time this year. I also got my shirt off for the first time at a cricket match - much to Michelle's consternation. I come from a working class background, I've always taken my shirt off and I can't see why I shouldn't!

  • Team changes

  •  The team didn't change a great deal if at all since last week, the only thing was that Rhys didn't turn up leaving the team a man down which is never a good thing.

  • The team

  • Callum O'Connor
    Joe Thompson
    Harry Hodgson
    Charlie Blerkom
    George Borley
    Mohammed Baig
    Matt Cruise
    Will Risden
    Mitchell Robinson
    Luke Bowring

  • First Innings

  • Basildon batted first opening with Harry and George Borley and almost from the outset there was a calamity. Harry 'Bat' Hodgson glanced the ball down to fine leg and Borley shouted yes! for a run, they both set off, but the ball was smartly taken by the fine leg fielder and he had Borley run-out by Spears for a Diamond Duck. That brought our District Player (Batting) Charlie Blerkom to the crease and off of his first ball he made I wild cross bat shot and the ball crashed into the stumps. It didn't stop there, the openers and the middle order came to the crease like lambs to the slaughter. The only bloke able to show some resistance was Harry 'Bat' Hodgson who survived 8 balls before falling to the opening duo of Surrey and Tagg. Surrey the better of the two stopped him in his tracks on 9 bowling him. Our big hitter Mohammed Baig didn't last long either and was cleaned up by Surrey. It was then up to the new boys and the also runs to see if they could fashion some kind of a recovery...

    Mathew Cruise and Mitchell Robinson got going and formed a mini partnership and started to get some runs on the board, both got off the mark with a few runs and were bowled opening the way for new lad Will Risden who was then joined by opening bowler Joe Thompson (My son). The most runs at this point were still Harry Hodgsons at 9. Thankfully despite the fact that the bowling looked devastating from the boundary in the way that the wickets fell, our lads were massively helped out by a lot of extras. This still left a massive task with 85 apparently being a decent score in these U13's matches. Joe and Will tried to address the situation and both managed to score 4, Will got two. Joe who isn't noted for his batting, batted freely and fairly sensibly and managed to get down the wicket okay (Still hasn't gained full fitness from his RTA a couple of years ago). Will did the same at the other end and was eventually dismissed by
    Arnold for 12, bringing Luke Bowring to the crease. He lasted 3 balls and was bowled again by Arnold and with no 11th player that was the end of the game leaving Joe 10 not out, making him the 2nd most productive player of the innings after Will. This is also Joe's all time personal best batting score!

    Later on, reflecting on the game he said that he just felt confident and this might be in part due to the fact that recently he's been playing adult cricket in the 4th XI with me... "It's because they were little kids" which is what he said himself even though he's only 12 himself! In addition to that we have been doing some work in the paddock using the side-arm and those heavy Slazenger cricket tennis balls. The side arms sends them down really fast and they're the same kind of weight as a 4.5oz cricket ball, so maybe that's paying off? But it was great seeing him bat so well and to be relatively successful.

    But in the end though, finishing with only 45 runs made and 21 extras to bring the total to 65 it did look as though it was pretty much a lost cause what with only 10 players in the field.

  • 2nd Innings - I'm now writing this months later and I haven't got the scores, but Thurrock came out strong and batted really well and made short work of the total that was posted by our lads. I think Joe bowled well as his bowling was commended by Matt Hills one of the Grays players.

  • Overall it was a good game, well mannered as I recall and it was good to see the blokes from Grays who I used to play with when I started to play cricket. I also love the backdrop to the photo's at Grays, so different to the cliché of Pub, Church and white picket fences!

  • Saturday, October 04, 2014

    Wrist Spin Top Tips - The Flipper

    Top Tips for the Flipper.

    If you've pretty much mastered your leg break and you're now fishing around for a variation the flipper might be an option for you. In his book the The Bowlers Art, Brian Wilkins makes a good case for having the Flipper as one of your variations. Once you've developed the muscles and learned the basic technique, there is scope to change the position of the hand to create variations within the variation as such.

    So, if you're in the UK and you're thinking ahead to the next season and developing a variation, you can get started with the Flipper without having actually bowl...

    One of the issues that stops people in their tracks when they start to work with the flipper, is the fact that they don't have the muscles developed in the hand, fingers and thumb to impart the spin. 

    My suggestion therefore is, over the winter you get yourself a smaller lighter ball - you could start with a tennis ball and start flicking the ball out of your flingers in the manner required. The technique is to grip the ball as indicated above. You can grip with either one finger, two or three over the top of the ball - whatever feels good for you. Most people find that the power to impart the spin comes off of the middle finger. If you're confused to how you actually perform the action - it is the exact same physical action as clicking your fingers to a music beat - except that there's a ball between the finger and thumb!

    Do this all the time - start with a small ball - maybe even a table tennis ball? Do it with apples, oranges - anything as long as you're able to give it a good click! You might find that initially you have no control over where it goes, but in time, it eventually starts to come out of the hand in the direction that you want it to. At this stage start to visualise and practice the release and arm position, thinking about how you'll bowl it.

    Do this over the winter consistently and that part of the action will be in place, all you'll need to do in winter nets is tie the release action to your bowling action. It should be relatively pain free.

    * I wouldn't take any notice of any of the stories you read about people taking 5 years to develop their flippers, I went from trying it for the first time to pretty much having the basics nailed in about a week (That was a week off from work - a few hours a day).

    The image here is the version I describe as being the bog standard Flipper, this goes down with a vertical seam with back-spin. On hitting the wicket it might do one of several things. If you can hold your nerve and bowl it slowly, it can stall massively with the back-spin That method used as a variation amongst Top-Spinners or over-spun Leg-Breaks can be very effective.

    Saturday, September 20, 2014

    Adil Rashid

    Adil Rashid - Yorkshire - England - Wrist Spinner - Leg Spinner

    I've just been watching Scott Borthwick bowling in the final at Lords between Durham and Warwickshire Bears in the 'Royal One day cup'. He bowled 2 overs and went for 7 for no wickets. One of the commentators Strauss was talking about leg-spinners in a general way, saying that Borthwick at the stage of the game was a risky option as he might go for runs, but was an option as the spinners create chances. I didn't watch both overs, but I was disappointed that he only bowled the two, but in the context of the game and the need to keep the score down it obviously made sense to the captain. They brought on an off-spinner later and he did well taking 3 wickets. Breese 7-0-30-3.
    But the point of interest was the fact that Strauss mentioned the fact that Rashid had done well this season and that with age his bowling is maturing and that maybe he'd be reconsidered for a place in the England set up in the future?
    Reading around different websites it seems that he had a terrible year in (2102) with a public slagging off from Geoffrey Boycott and was dropped from the Yorkshire 1st XI. All of that on top of the fact that he was slaughtered when he played for the England one day team and some people were concerned that the exposure to cricket at that level was potentially damaging.
    It does appear that the damaging series in South Africa, where he was removed and replaced by Swanne who had been injured, did knock his confidence. Rashid still maintained his position in the England Lions set up and continued playing for Yorkshire, but then went through a few lean years culminating in 2012 where he seemed hit an all time low. Despite the public drubbing from Boycott it appears that Jason Gillespie the coach that came in 2011 had faith in Rashid and started to rebuild Rashid's confidence believing that he could play a vital role in the Yorkshire team. That belief started to pay off during the 2013 season and continued through this season and it appears Rashid is on track to return to the England set -up...
    How Adil Rashid has not played for the England Test side is beyond me. He is the best spinning all-rounder in the country. Adil is an unbelievable player and I don’t understand why he is not selected ahead of James Tredwell, who doesn’t spin it. Adil is a good batsman, a great fielder who should be in the England set-up. We are crying out for spinners so I find it baffling that the selectors continue to overlook Adil.
    Reading between the lines, there does seem to be a different approach to the handling of Leg-Spinners here in the UK in comparison to Australia? It might be just the fact that Gillespie despite being a fast bowler has somehow picked up on the 'Party-line' advocated by the likes of Jenner and Warne. It's baffling to me that Boycott on one hand is suggesting that Rashid is pretty much useless and yet in comes an Aussie and within a year he's managed to get Rashid back on track and spear-heading a fantastic season at Yorkshire.
    To me there seems to be a genuine belief that the leg-spinner has a role to play despite the fact that they are acknowledged to go for runs early on in their careers. Rashid has been quoted as saying that the advice from Gillespie has been...
    ‘He has told me to just let the ball rip out of my hand and to not worry about going for runs'.
     Hopefully, this season heralds a new beginning for Adil Rashid and he continues in the vein of the last two years. With various people saying that he is of the calibre to once again pull on an England shirt, we may get to see him on the bigger stage in the coming years?



    Change of content?

    I'm loathed to say this, but one of my other blogs has recently registered loads of hits/traffic and the only reason for that increase was that I had a post that mentioned a celebrity. Some geezer called James McAvoy, never heard of him myself. I was interested, because one of the greatest photographers ever, photographed this bloke at two locations here in South Essex - Canvey and East Tilbury. Both locations - bleak and desolate which is a theme I work with in my own photography. Here's the link if you're interested http://www.listofphotographers.blogspot.co.uk/

    So the conclusion I have to draw, which I guess is pretty obvious, is celebrity and big names are what you need to get people looking at your blog!. So I may have a go at doing the same kind of thing and see if generates more traffic?

    It'll be interesting to see how the title of this post and its labels do with regards to generating traffic...

    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Paddock News

    We were away for a good few weeks this year surfing and prior to that week I hadn't cut the wicket in the paddock for a while and when we got back it was very green and long and in need of a cut. The council did their usual cut and once it was dry yesterday me and Joe went over and cut it, aware that today it would be raining.

    This evening in the rain I've been over and done some repairs while it's wet and sown a load of seeds to repair the holes. I've then done a bit of top dressing in the newly seeded areas and left it at that for the moment. While we were away it had been sunny most of the time, but there had been 3 days were it rained a lot and know that prior to us going on holiday we'd had some very heavy rain. The affect is the paddock is in very condition and needs very little in the way of repairs and looks amazingly lush and green.

    Usage this year - to be honest with Ben being that bit older he's not been out there much at all. Joe has though and hopefully will do next year, so I reckon I'll continue to maintain it for at least another year. I've used it for practice - did so yesterday for a couple of hours and will do through Sept and October, so for the moment it's still be looked after and cut.

    Ben's first five fer

    Blimey! Busy year this year, what with work and the fact that I had to step in as captain for the 4th XI. I'm not going to get all reflective about it as yet as there's still a few more games to play. It looks as though there's a chance we may yet stay up in this league but we'll have to see how it goes, I know that one of the games that we're due to play is going to be problematic with regards to getting players as there's a wedding and a lot of the players are going apparently.

    Ben's first Five fer.

    The weekend just gone followed a win at home the weekend before where one of our bowlers took six wickets for very little in the way of run - Mark Williams. But this week my older son Ben who's just short of being 16 took 5 wickets in a game we lost and my other son Joe who's only just 13 took the only other wicket other than a run-out. So well done Ben for getting your first Five fer! Some of the wickets were exceptionally good - I think two were the top of off stump and the last one nearly had the stump out of the ground. This was in a match against Hainhalt and Clayhill 5th XI

    Saturday, June 07, 2014

    Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI v Old Southendians and Southminster CC 7th June at the Rec

    I'm going to try and write this one up on the quick, because as I write I still have 2 other matches to blog about that I've started and not finished. It's not helped by the fact that I've got hundreds of images to go through and edit down to the best and then reduce them all so that they're blog size.

    So lets think about this - how can I break it down - 

    • Weather
    • Team changes
    • The team
    • First Innings
    • 2nd Innings
    • Comical stuff and good stuff
    • Conclusion
    Basildon & Pitsea CC 4th XI v Old Southendians and Southminster CC 7th June at the Rec.

    Leading up to the game all week there was reports of bad weather, hailstones of biblical proportions, lightning and enough rain to start chopping trees down to start making arks. Ignoring all that and watching XC weather, it looked as though we would be okay and as the game drew nearer, it looked as though the weather would miss. As XC Weather had predicted, there was rain early at about 07.00 hrs and when I got up at 09.00 hrs it looked gloomy and damp and I knew there'd be more rain before it would clear up at 13.00 hrs. It did rain... At 11.00 hrs and looked a little touch and go, but the rain was soon followed by sunshine and as the morning went on the weather got better.

    Team Changes
    I got pretty much the team that was selected on Wednesday, the only change was Frank Farrington (Wrist Spinner) for Tom Hardy (Chinaman). Not sure which of the two has the better strike rate. So as we all arrived the team looked like this...
    Back Row L-R
    Gary 'Savvo' Savage, John 'Moondog' Bedford, Steve Healey, Stuart Munday, Jamie Britton, Dave Thompson (Me).
    Front Row L-R
    Tim Brown, Ben Thompson, Kieran 'The Barbarian' Barbero, Mitchell McLeod, Tom Hardy and 12th Man Joe Thompson. 

    No real mishaps today getting the team together, Mitchell sent a text shortly before the game asking if it was on and he ended up turning up late and 12th man Joe was sent home to get his gear because prior to Mitchell showing we had no real idea when he'd arrive, in the end he was about 10 minutes late and arrived the same time Joe turned up, but he didn't really want to play so was quite happy to be relived of 12th man duties.

    The opposition won the toss and said they'd bat which was good we'd have said we'd field if we'd have won. The bowling order...

    1. Ben - Bowled as the opener and started really well and the 2nd bowler was Kieran. After Kieran's initial traditional full toss at the batsmans head, he then settled down and bowled exceptionally well. Both openers (15 years old) bowled and kept the rate at around 3 an over and the game looked under control, but I was aware that the bowling was going to change in nature later in the game and Kieran and Ben bowled with no reward. I don't even recall any real chances. In Ben's first spell, one of the bats smacked on of his last balls for 6 and I kind of had the idea at this point that both batsmen were just getting into gear and looking to accelerate.
    Stuart replaced Ben and again toiled away with out reward, once they'd got a look at his bowling, they then got underway looking to up their run rate. Not many chances came, all ball came my way at mid wicket and I manged to get a hand on it, but not enough to catch it. For me it was one of those days where the balls went under me as I tried to get down and stop them and this seemed to be pretty much the same for lots of the fielders. 
    It was the same for MItchell, he bowled well and for no reward again. I then brought Tom on to give him a go, by this time Gary was pretty much playing the role of on-field captain which I'm more than happy to go with. The three slow bowlers Tom, John and I came on and bowled a handful of overs each to no avail, I nearly got a wicket early on in my first over as the batsman hit the ball straight over my head and a new bloke (Steve Healey) to my team who was on the Long-on boundary ran in a long way to take a ball for it to bobble out of his hands and be put down. Shame, because it was obvious from the way he was fielding that he's a very good player. He's not new to the club, he's been around for years, but just new to me. Hopefully looking at his batting averages he's going to stick around and maybe play in the 4's for the season? 

    With the game now going away from us and both the batsmen very well set and hitting the ball clean it was time to bring on the big guns again in the form or Ben and Kieran to see if in their last 5 overs each they could make some kind of in-roads? 

    During this phase of the game our regular wicket keeper who has been a way for a while and left the last game having copped a ball in the cheek, breaking his glasses had another mishap today. He had a ball square in the nuts whilst keeping off of John Bedfords bowling (I think) and went down like a sack of spuds. He was down for a long time in obvious pain and it too a fair time for him to recover and resume and when he did it was pretty obvious he was still in a great deal of discomfort. He played on for a while into Ben's second spell and eventually a wicket was taken when Taylor tried to smack the ball for six over deep square leg off Ben's bowling and Mitchell McLeod took a good catch just inside the boundary stopping Taylor just a little short of his hundred. At that point as the new bat came out Jamie went off the filed and 12th man Joe Thompson (13) my younger son came on and Steve Healey took over as wicket keeper. 

    Both Ben and Kieran were taken to task being hit for 4's and in the 42nd over the bats decided that they would retire. Then off the last ball of the game the captain Nathan  Linfield who was on 146 mis-hit the ball off Ben's bowling and hit it towards Fine Leg, but it went up in the air and the replacement Wicket-Keeper Steve Healey ran and caught it.

    Our Innings

    With John Bedfords batting performance last week, although it was a big total, I thought that with this weeks line up we may be able to force another draw. As I don't bat at all and I'm pretty useless at it, I can't begin to speculate how the bats rationalise their approach. I'm assuming that they may have a look - see what the bowling's like and then make a judgement as to whether they give it a go and try going for a win initially? Unfortunately it didn't pan out that well again with 3 naughts and a single for 4 of our top order, it was obvious that we were in trouble again right from the outset. John Managed 10 before being caught at Mid-wicket. 15 year old McLeod played his normal game... all or nothing and with 2 x 4's and a 6 within his innings came off after a few minutes with 16. Tim Brown got a 0 and that brought me to the crease with Tom Hardy and we stuck out a load of overs facing two left armers - one a finger spinner, so his balls were like Leg Breaks and the other bloke bowled left arm over and was very accurate. We blocked for England and very slowly made some runs. Tom Hardy did really well and accumulated 20 runs making him the most productive batsman from our team and I managed 8. I eventually fell foul to an older gentleman who apparently played for England and represented England in the Ashes back in the day!! He bowled dead straight slow and loopy and varied the speed. It just looked like the easiest bowling to attack if you were even marginally good at batting. He came round the wicket (Right Arm) and I tried sweep slog it down to fine leg and he bowled me. 

    Ben was next and he blocked well and hit the balls that he felt he could, but fell for naught off the same bloke bringing Kieran to the crease. Kieran managed 2 before being bowled by the England player in the same fashion as both me and Ben. We at least managed 65, at one point it looked as though we may have been bowled out for less than 50.

    On Reflection

    Another game where we were comprehensively thrashed, but again another game where we had a game loaded with young-uns, who are primarily bowlers. Jamie batted with his nuts in tatters, so I wasn't surprised that he went for 0, it might have made a psychological difference if he'd been okay? The main thing though is that we got a full game and the bowlers all got a bowl. I'm not sure if Steve Healey would have bowled if given the chance, but when asked he didn't seem fussed one way or another so I left him out, knowing that he'd bat up the order. I know that a lot of the older experienced players are left in dismay at some of the fielding, but these kids are learning and getting overs in and having a bowl is important. One of the best players on the field who is liked by the kids is Gary Savage he's vocal and very supportive and very sympathetic erring towards pointing out the positives and letting the negatives go. All these kids when they bowl, know that they're getting it wrong when it does go wrong and they don't do it intentionally. They obviously beat themselves up over it and feel bad about it, so I like Savages approach and I hope he plays in this side for the rest of the season, he's a really good bloke. While I'm at it, I'll mention Stuart as well because he's very similar, but not quite so vocal and obvious. 

    I just hope that the sequence of losses isn't too much of an issue for people, and that,if they focus on the fact that in these situations when we get to bowl first, that this should be seen as a positive - we all get to bowl and it gives us a chance to pit ourselves against good batsmen. Plus we get a decent length game in. It also means that the lesser batsmen in situations like today can spend time at the crease and at least gain some confidence in some way and make a few runs.

    Scoring - just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, today's scoring turned out to be a disaster again. I did try and teach Tim Brown how to do it, but he lost interest quite quickly. I'm going to target Ben in the coming weeks, but to be honest I need to practice more myself and not allow myself to be distracted!!!

     You should never pull daft faces at the camera! Ben before the game.
     Steve Healey, Stuart Munday and Gary Savage and the Langdon Hills Rec shed.
     Joe and Ben pre-match banter in the sheds.
     Me performing some pre-match formalities with the oppo.
     After the two deluges, thunder and lightning in the last 6 hours The Rec Langdon Hills came good again due to it's drainage attributes and the fact that it's on a hill. Well done to the groundsman who looks after it!
     Joe took some shots of the action for us - Nathan Linfield fends one off.
     This is the other geezer - J Taylor who scored 90+
     Nathan Linfield batting
     My wife Michelle and Kieran's Mum Tanya with a well prepared and delicious tea, that the opposition commended them on.
     More tea action...
     L-R - Tim Brown, Mitchell "Three plates" Mcleod and Tom Hardy

     Ben blocking. At this point most of the bats had the whole team around them within 25' of the bat!
     Nine blokes around the bat for Ben facing the ex Ashes bowler
     Ten blokes for Tom Hardy who in the end was the highest scorer of the game and not out - well done Tom!! 
    End of the game and another thrashing...

    Monday, May 26, 2014

    B&PCC 4th XI v Stanford Le Hope 4th XI at The Rec Langdon Hills (Home)

    So, two big losses out of two games and two losses in friendly games as well, I can see a pattern developing. Initially the team looked okay with some decent regulars, but as with all lower XI teams I had my players promoted up into the 3rd XI, it was touch and go whether my older son Ben would play in the 4ths for a few moments as they wanted him to go up to the 3rds, but then I realised my in-laws were down from Derby and were going to come along and see us all play in the same team, so Ben was left with us. The weather was looking a little iffy before Saturday and played its hand in making that decision the right one in the end.

    Friday night there was final shift around and the last two players made themselves available on the website and I ended up on Saturday with...

    In batting order..

    Stuart Munday (Regular)
    Dave Thompson
    *Liam Harms
    Gopal Viswanathan
    *Mitchell McLeod
    *Kieran Barbero
    Lee Dutton
    *Tim Brown
    Tony Harms
    *Ben Thompson
    *Joe Thompson (U13)

    * Indicates U15 players

    None of whom have massive reputations as being batsmen that can save a game single handed with someone doing a good job at the other end. It looked again as though we were going to struggle with 6 under 15 players. During the week I'd been looking at bowling stats and was planning to try something unusual with the bowling, but as the moment of truth approached I began to think I should put that plan on the back boiler. One thing I had considered having seen the team, was that, if this was going to be another easy win for the opposition, would I be facing a situation where some of my better adult players would be looking at the situation and thinking I'm fed up with turning up every week and losing?

    Saturday morning at 09.00hrs it was raining and it looked as though as predicted it had been most of the night, meaning the wicket would have been soggy. As the morning went of the rain stopped, but the sun didn't come out and the wind wasn't that brisk, so the wicket was going to definitely be wet. Once at the club talking to those in the know, the general consensus was that we should bat first, so I left with that intention. This time round what with it being a home game and all the ensuing organisation aspects, all that was a lot easier and in addition my wife Michelle had said she'd do the teas.

    Once there at the Rec under leaden skies, it soon became apparent that the opposition weren't happy with the wicket, saying that it was too wet to play on. They asked about sawdust and I had to say that there wasn't any and there didn't seem to be any plan to have any available either. Lee Dutton had turned up in the meantime and agreed with the oppositions captain saying that we should leave it for a while and see if it would dry out a bit. At that point there was a distant break in the clouds and the chance that if left till 1pm there might be an improvement? The toss was done and we won and went with the prior advice to bat.

    Looking around at our blokes and theirs it was obvious that again this was going to be another up-hill struggle. Only two of their players were marked as being Under 18, so not even under 15? A massively different looking to side to ours.

    Talking to Lee he wasn't optimistic either about our prospects and said that we should mix up the kids with the adults, but start with a couple of adults, he didn't want to bat up the order and I offered to go in with Stuart.

    Stuart and I saw out 15 overs, with Stuart able to get the ball away for runs a lot better than I ever could, but I kept blocking and made the odd run every two overs or so. Around about the 15th over Stuart suggested that we upped the game a bit and then within a few more balls he was given out LBW. Liam Harms came out to Join me and was gone with a matter of seconds having scored no runs. Gopal was up next and before he got going with me having Stuarts words still in my head about starting to get some runs on the board I tried to turn a leg-side ball around the corner only for it to hit the edge of the bat and ping up for an easy  bowled and caught.

    The good news was, as I walked off I saw Gopal walking out to replace me, so, hopefully this would be the start of getting some runs on the board as Gopal is a 3rd XI player as far as I knew. I was still taking my gear off when I heard a cheer go up and looked to see Gopal on his way back having scored just one run. But that wasn't too bad we still had Mitchell and Lee to come and steady the ship?

    Unfortunately Mitchell wasn't there very long either and was dismissed for 1 being caught at Mid on. Kieran lasted seconds too playing a defensive shot that went straight under his bat. Tim went out and scored 1 run. Lee went out and hit a four and a couple of singles and all around him batsmen came and went without scoring any runs. My older son Ben blocked for a couple of overs almost, but couldn't get anything away and eventually went the way of many of the others for 0, Joe strolled out and strolled back for 0 too. The whole team bowled out for 49 off of 20 overs.

    The batsmen had licence to do what they wanted to and the whole thing was over within 10 overs. Totally out played. One of our players didn't even stay for tea, saying that he wasn't prepared to do this every week and pay £12 to do so and that in the week he'd be looking for another team. Which I guessed might be the situation with some of the experienced players. I spoke to a couple of the others and they seemed to be a lot more positive despite the 5 losses out of 5 games, they just seemed to be happy to be playing cricket, but the bloke with the hump will be a big loss as he's one of my key players.

     Ben surrounded by the SLH players blocking for his life.
     My son and our U13's player Joe going out to meet certain death
     Both sons passing each other
    Joe trying to block, the ball went on to hit the stumps - out first ball

    Next week though it gets worse as my secondary wicket keeper is away for three weeks and my regular keeper is still not due back for at least another 2 games as far as I recall.

    Reflecting on this longer term, I can't see that there's going to be anyway in the short term that this is going to change a great deal and I'm kind of resigned to the fact that as far as batting is concerned we're always going to struggle. In which case it seems to me...certainly for the next few games or so ,we should play to our strengths and ensure that as a team of kids and blokes whose strength at the moment is in their bowling, we should look to always bowl first? The rationale being that, we're all going to be bowling at potentially much stronger teams and therefore this is an opportunity to bowl against a range of different players and think about our bowling, both collectively and as individuals. Already, just in these few games I'm already in a situation where I've started to think in terms of bowling to the batsmen in different ways dependent on how they approach their batting, or whether they're right or left handed. If, all the kids can approach their cricket in a different way e.g. look to bowl well, look to learn how to bowl to different batsmen, there may be far more value in playing than there is at the moment where we're thinking in terms of winning the games through the contributions of the blokes that bat which seems unfair, because generally there's so few of them? I'm not suggesting that we forget batting altogether, but maybe dependent on who we have got batting we approach the batting more defensively if we're low on attacking batsmen. I mean this week as you've just read, I survived 15 overs, if everyone else who struggles with the bat can do the same maybe we'll sneak a win or two or maybe force a draw if we've bowled well? At least we'll have had our money's worth?