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Sunday, April 27, 2014

First Match of the season B&PCC v Eversley CC (Friendly)

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Bad weather threatened to scupper this match and the fact that Liverpool and Chelsea were playing soccer somewhere and people might be likely to be watching that event. As it turned out the weather held off and the game ended in drizzle for the last half an hour just before it rained proper as we walked off the field.

The team consisted of the following less the new bloke Gopal Viswanathan, Sonny Downes and Daniel Vanderputt.

Jack Farrington Member profile
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Sonny Downes
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Ben Thompson Member profileBen Thompson
We were only able to get 10 players out with one of the three letting us down at the last moment which was a shame as if there'd been a little more notice my other younger son Joe could have played.

We bowled first - don't know what the outcome of the toss was and it went okay. They had a couple of good players who threatened to take the game away from us but their wickets fell quite cheaply. Unfortunately the score book wasn't filled in that well and the score-board wasn't kept up to-date for much of the match, but we managed to bowl them out about 3 overs short of the allocated 40. I bowled 4 overs as I recall, with one maiden and based on the info that was in the score book it looks as though I went for 14 runs and took two wickets. One edge caught by the wicket keeper Jamie and the other ball was a full one that was LBW. There was a wide in there and some of the bowling was rubbish, but I got away with it.

Ben got a wicket that was the faintest of edges caught behind by Jamie, but someone said it wasn't his bat it was his pad buckle/fastner. Again because of the bad scoring it was difficult to ascertain what Ben's figures were. One of the bowlers - Tom Hardy (Chinaman) his bowling wasn't even recorded. The other two spinners Frank and Tom both took wickets, Frank took the wicket of one of our ex players... Liam Rouse who's been know to score double hundreds and hold the B&PCC batting record for most runs in a match as far as I can recall. He was stumped dancing down the wicket. Both Tom and Frank bowled to some of the better batsmen and didn't come off too well as I recall. We bowled them all out for around 150?


Yeah that didn't go too well either, both the openers went fairly cheaply after a flurry of fours from Frank McLeod. Harrison Birch was probably the star of the side - he hung in there the longest and probably scored the most runs. Ben went for 0 to Liam Rouse, a slow one to start off with and then a massive change up to much faster straight one that had lulled him into a false sense of security. Tom Hardy went for a diamond duck run out with Harrison Birch. I came in at 10 and was joined by Tom's Dad who doesn't play cricket. Once he was bowled that allowed Tom to come back in to make up our 11th player as we were well short of the score needed to win. Tom and I survived several overs at the end and I managed to score a couple of 4's and a few singles but I eventually nicked one to slips.

All in all I enjoyed it, it was a bit cold and the old legs were feeling a bit stiff, but I think that was the same for everyone. They won by a margin of about 60 runs. But the scoring was a tad shoddy, so I don't think anyone could be sure the exact figures, but it's safe to say they won easily.
Ben and my equipment - getting ready (Ben partaking in his new obsession - texting/phoning/tweeting.

 The new bloke Kevin Hardy (Tom's Dad).
 Kevin Hardy - looking forward to having a bat...
 Jamie Britton - 4th XI wicket keeper.
 Ben Thompson 4th XI and U15's opening bowler.
Frank Farrington wrist spinner 4th XI and U15's

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

What the hell!

What the hell? It was only yesterday, last night in fact I was saying that I was going to give up on my search for drift, because it seems because of my high arm action it just doesn't happen for me. Then today I go out and have a bowl over at the paddock and lo and behold 80% of the balls I bowl drift like crazy! What the hell is that all about?

In fact I think I know, it kind of makes sense, but again it's down to one of those situations where it just takes me an age to learn, because I'm so intent on doing it my way rather than take on board everything I know and tell other people to do! Here's the explanation...

I think this is one of the Old dogs and new tricks scenarios. I bowl in a way that kind of feels right and feels comfortable and for the most part it works for me. Every season I try out different things and generally small aspects of my bowling improve. At the end of last season I was doing okay I'd worked out a run-up that I was happy with and I'd changed my grip to a ridiculously loose one and things were coming together, but one of the things that wasn't happening was drift.

At the end of the season and only yesterday a bloke on the bigcricket spin threads said that I shouldn't be too fussed on the drift thing and just play to my strengths and work with what I've got, and that was how I was going to approach the new season. But already in the last two days I've been thinking about my run up and the approach to the crease because I've got two kind of versions...

1. The faster longer more explosive version which at the moment works well when I combine Flippers with Top-Spinners.

2. A shorter version that works well with leg breaks and top spinners, but so far hasn't felt right, I know I'm not getting side-on and I know I don't get up on the toes and trying to do so feels like a complete mess.

So today I'm having a bowl in the paddock with my 12 year old son (Joe) and it's not going too well.

"Dad, your bowling action through the crease is crap, you're not getting side on, you're not getting up on your toes and you're bowling front on... and your bound is crap". So I say
"Okay I'll try and get side on and up on the toes then and see how it goes"? I do a few run-ins without a ball and it feels weird and wrong. I persevere and it still feels wrong, but what's supposed to be happening is happening. I get a ball and try with a ball. The ball is released and lo and behold it looks like it drifts. Joe's at the other end...
"Did that drift"?
"Yeah loads" And it turned off the crease loads. Next ball up - same thing and again and again. For the next 40 or so balls 80% of them drifted with masses of turn off the wicket!
I can only think that it's the side on and getting up on the toes aspect and the fact that someone was there watching and telling me that I was doing it wrong - even though he is only 12 years old!!!
Can't say that I believe it'll happen again tomorrow, but in theory if it's the side on and up on the toes that makes the difference, then I'm going to have to work with it - although it feels awkward and difficult. I guess if I go out every day and just keep bowling in that way - getting side on and up on the toes it may start to feel natural? I think in the past I've tried this and have given up simply because it feels wrong and I've lost my accuracy.
Paddock maintenance
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The council cut all the grass today in the paddock and I had a word with the bloke cutting the grass asking him if he'd try and avoid the bits we've seeded and sure enough he did. That then meant I've been able to get on there this morning and cut the back end of the strip at the bowlers end...

(Above looking from the bowlers end).
 (Above) My trusty Ransome Ajax mower circa 1970's
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 (Above) From the batting end with the area that's being seeded and repaired.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

First session in the paddock

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Before the bowling sessions described below, Joe and I had a bit of practice with some throw downs. I was getting Joe to hit the ball on the off-side hitting cover-drives. It went quite well - in fact he was a lot better than I was!
The wicket in the paddock at the minute is still fairly wet, not wet enough to roll that well, but fairly okay. For the moment we're leaving the grass quite long when we cut it and I'm trying to allow for the repairs to grow on the wicket and in an area behind the stumps.
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Gibbs reflective practice in sport (cricket) it worked!

A couple of hours later after writing up my Gibbs reflective practice thing I went out with my action plan and bowled again, putting some of the action plan points into action.

1. I used the big heavy duty rubber mat at the bowling end to have a good solid base to bowl off meaning I felt secure under-foot.

2. I introduced a longish run up for me, probably 9 or 10 steps and came in off a fairly quick run in.

3. Tried to get side on as much as possible out of an energetic bound.

4. Used a very loose grip and bowled with my top-spinner action.

5. Tried a mixture of flippers, leg breaks and Top-Spinners.

Massive improvement, hit the stumps loads, got swing with the flippers and was able to vary the leg breaks by moving the wrist position giving me 3 leg-break variations...

  • Hardly any turn with more dip.
  • Normal stock delivery
  • Bigger leg break
Add to that a flipper that I vary in speed with the faster version swinging into the stumps from outside of off.

So all in all a very good follow up session after the poor one earlier on.

New season bowling progress using Gibbs reflective practice model

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What Happened?

In the nets in the last couple of sessions I've been doing okay, but today I had a 48 ball session over at the paddock and that didn't go so well. Joe and me had a bowl off and Joe hit the stumps more times than I did and a lot of my balls were very wide down the legside. Again I've got that situation with how do I bowl, what should I work on and should I look to correct thing that people observe?

My own observations, coupled with Joe's, lead me to believe that I'm doing a few things wrong. Joe's observation was that my approach and bound isn't at all dynamic and he recommends I get more of a bound going. I'm inclined to agree with him to some extent so will work on that.


It's kind of depressing that I feel that I've found myself having seemingly gone several steps backwards. Again I'm in that situation where I feel that I need to learn something that I could already do or is it just the case that I'm unfit and a year older and I've got that sense that at some point things will go permanently wrong with no chance of ever recovering. So I don't feel particularly optimistic or positive at this point. I'm hoping that if I bowl regularly this week things will come together if I manage to keep the right frame of mind and work on some aspect of my action that I know should in theory cause improvements.


The good thing is the weather is fine and I should be able to get out every day now for the next 2 weeks and bowl regularly and I'll also be doing generally fitness activities with my younger son Joe. That latter end of the 2 weeks I'll also get the chance to bowl against people I don't know and I'll be able to judge whether there's any improvements.

Bad - todays bowling was poor, but a part of me thinks that might be down to the fact that the ground I'm bowling off is very uneven and distracts me somewhat.


Last year someone made the valid point that I bowl with very upright action as opposed to most wrist spinners who bowl with a low action. They also said that this might be one of the factors that makes it very difficult to get the ball to drift. They added that, this shouldn't necessarily be seen as an issue, but, rather than bowl looking to get loads of turn off the wicket, make use of the action and bowl with a good stock ball action and a smaller leg break with more over-spin and dip. Add to this a Top-Spinner with the propensity to be a wrong-un and I've potentially got a half decent armoury.

I know that getting side on is going to make a significant difference and getting up on the toes at the top of the delivery, so these are obvious things to work on, a more dynamic bound might be an option too, maybe also a longer run up.

My grip I'm okay with... ridiculously loose and I know this works because the ball comes out of the hand and rips off the finger causing abrasion to the spinning finger.

I think the use of a big rubber mat at the bowling end will work as it'll make me feel more secure in the bowling action.


More general fitness and safer more level area at the bowling end will improve most aspects.

Action Plan

Work with the more dynamic run-up, get side on out of the bound, make the bound more dynamic and work with the leg break, top-spinner and flipper and get them all working well.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

El Capitano's diary 003

Concerned about the inevitable scoring situation this season, I've been watching IPL matches on Youtube and trying to score as they play. Bit by bit I'm getting it, but tonight even though I thought I'd done quite well, I was still 8 out (short) when I tallied up the bowling and the extras with the accumulative score. Which is of some concern to me. Maths and numbers isn't a strong point with me, so getting it wrong just makes me feel pressurised and sets up a scenario where it could become very wrong. More practice me thinks, but how many IPL matches can I watch!!!

El Capitano's diary No. 002

Some good news around one of the things I was concerned about... First aid. I've just been invited to do a first aid course on April 22nd between 7pm and 10pm, so I'll go along to that and get myself a certificate. At least I'll be able to get an opportunity to ask questions around the subject and get some clarification as to the do's and don'ts.
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Monday, April 07, 2014

El Capitano's diary No. 001

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Over the winter at our club it seems that we've lost somewhere in the region of 20 players. Some have bailed out because of age/fitness related reasons I guess and others because of work related issues. The outcome initially, was that they'd not have a 4th XI, but there was a bit of an outcry seemingly from those that were 4th XI players, a lot of whom were U15's and U16's and their parents. The reaction seems to have surprised the "inner circle"  within the club, who may have been unaware of the strength of support from the lower echelons of the club?

Over the last few years it does seem to me that the current batch of kids in the 14-16 age group are a relatively committed to the club and if you list these people on their own they constitute a potential 4th XI on their own in terms of numbers. Last year there were loads of kids that wanted a chance to play in the U15's and 4th XI that didn't get that chance and now their time has come. The club chairman has written an email that in essence says that no-one can afford to be precious about what team they play in this year and if they're asked to play in a team that normally they'd be reluctant to, they must comply to the request for the good of the club.... It's not what the club can do for you... it's what you can do for the club, kind of thing.

Earlier in the year one of the good younger players James Bunce was voted in as the 4th XI captain, but he's had to step down due to work commitments leaving the position empty. This and the loss of the 20 or so players led to the situation where they considered not having a 4th XI and one of the key issues was that of the captaincy. I was then petitioned by a few senior people within the club to take up the role in order to ensure the team was fielded this year, primarily to keep all the youth players on board. So kind of reluctantly, because I am totally clueless, but wanting to keep all the kids on board I've said yes. I've got loads of concerns and have voiced some of these and so far the support I've had would suggest that the majority of my concerns will be met at the time with viable solutions. So, fingers crossed when the games are played everything will come together.

They have said though that they're still not 100% certain that things will pan out in the right way and that if after 3 or 4 matches things are not coming together they'll then consider pulling the 4th XI.


The first game is still a month away and will be an easy start with an inter-club match with the 3rd XI. Hopefully that'll go better than last year where only about 14 of us turned up. If that gets off to a better start this year I'll kind of feel like I have got the support of the club and team. My main concerns at this point is that I'll always have enough adults in the side that can do things such as score and umpire. As I'm relatively new to cricket these are still things that I'm not 100% up to-date on and I'm researching and working on between now and the first proper game with Billericay on the 10th May. But again I've been re-assured that the committee will always ensure I've got a couple of good adults in the team to ensure there are no mishaps with this aspect.

More to come no doubt as the day gets ever nearer and I get more concerned...

Paddock Update

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Paddock news

On our estate we've now got an active body of people that are campaigning to improve the estate and the facilities and they're aware of my activities in the paddock and may even be looking in on the blog for all I know. I know that during one of the preparation sessions over there in either Feb or May one of the local residents who is a part of the group asked me what I was up to and then said that she'd heard of me via the committee. There is talk that the Paddock is on there agenda and there may be money to improve the space. One of the things that they wanted to hear was the fact that the boys that are introduced to cricket in the paddock go on to then play cricket at school and at our local club. On that same theme, I've noticed this year at nets, that two more kids had joined the club via being introduced to cricket through the paddock and our cricketing activities in our street... 'Bob' Dylan Robinson and his little brother Keagan Robinson. Hopefully they'll be around for a long time and will become regular players and go on to play adult cricket!

In the meantime Joe and I definitely plan to have a knock about on the paddock and I would imagine that Ben will join us every now and then and therefore we need to get the strip in shape.

At the end of the season in late October the batting end was a mess, all the grass was worn away with very little in the way of any chance of new grass growing that well because of the shade from the trees and one particular wild rose bush that grew over and through the fence. I tried to flatten the surface and sewed a lot of seed, putting feed down as well and it did take quite well. Very early this year at the end of Feb I've sewn more seed and this has taken too.

Over winter we had a lot of rain in the UK and this was accompanied by wind and the big tree that you can see in the images above at the batting end lost some big branches. You can see in some of the images the branches at the end of the pitch.

This first set of image was shot on Feb 22nd after some seed was put down as I recall as well as some more nutrients.

The next series of images below were shot on March 8th and this is the first day that we'd got the roller out and given it a going over while it was still wet and soggy. You can see in the image below we'd moved the fallen branches, I'd also removed all the brambles and bushes that had started to grow up the fence on the left in the image below - as you can see these branches cast a long shadow across the grass.
 You can see here in this images the new growth of grass at the batting end, it's greener due to the nutrients that have been put down, without the nutrients the grass gets off to a good start and the goes yellow and much of it dies. The extra expense of the nutrients is well worth it and the growth is much thicker and doesn't die back.

 Me and Joe putting our backs into rolling the wicket.

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 The first rolling completed.
The following weekend (Below) we had more good weather and more work was down - Joe and me again. The work was done over the weekend and we made a start on cutting back some of the bushes that grow through and over the fences. With the new growth grass going well we decided that we'd have the stumps right back against the fence this year meaning that the new growth grass would be in front of the popping crease zone and therefore not stood on this summer giving it a real chance to recover.

The grass got it's first cut and I raked out a lot of the remaining autumn leaves. More seed was put down in any patches left bare by the leaves and the area revealed as bare by the raking.

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 The seed was mixed in with sieved clay and some of the nutrient stuff (Bone meal and fish of some sort). This was then put in the patches and rolled lightly.

The following weekend we didn't do any more work on the grass and instead focused on getting more light onto the grass and cut back the last of the brambles on the south facing fence along the rode-side. The area of concern now was the fence behind Joe in this image above (Batting end). We'd already decided that the popping crease was going to be right up against the fence which is an area of grass that gets no light on at all for much of the day due to the over-hanging tree and bush to the left of Joe in this image. So the first week of April we cut that back taking the opportunity to maximise on the additional light provided by the loss of the big branches blown down over the winter.
This weekend and today 7th April - below... We've had rain and the prediction over the Easter break is for intermittent rain - ideal grass growing weather. So today, the really rough bit which we were going to designate as the popping crease area I decided we'd go for it and level it off and even get some seed down and see if we can get some growth going this summer because of the light that now gets on it.
So Saturday we mowed the grass extending the length of the wicket bit by bit and today we've rolled it again. In the rain we introduced some more clay and then seeded it using the same mix of clay and nutrients. So at the moment it looks like this...

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So that's where we're at for the moment and it's coming together okay and looking quite promising. What we'll probably do is use a big rubber mat of the type used in play grounds to bat on so that the new grass is allowed to get growing. We'll have to see how it goes, but with the current weather hopefully by May we'll have a good new growth of grass where grass has never been able to grow before!
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