Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cricket thoughts

My mind's turning more and more to the incoming cricket season ...

I'm hopeful I'll make it, although there's lots of healing to do before I can consider running around. Since ditching all the healthy stuff (except apples, still having those) I seems to be very slowly but genuinely improving. When I don't set it back of course by self inflicted damage.

But I'm still nowhere near the minimum level of being intact that would see me stepping foot on the cricket field. It's getting closer, bits of me that were angry red are now much closer to pasty white.

Good signs.

Thought I'd talk about the cricket though and reminisce a bit about what my role was.

Without being too boastful, I could do everything on the cricket field :-) I'll keep wicket, I'll open the batting, I'd open the bowling with swing, I'd be able to bowl spin and I could have been a brilliant fielder. Although saying that, you have to consider the standard being played. My bowling was never that quick and its main weapon wouldn't work if the sun was out.

I'm curious about the attitudes I had towards the various aspects of the game.

Batting - yeah. Always wanted to do this, although it took a few seasons (and a hole dug in the back garden from excessive practice) before I reached the heady heights of No10 in the batting, let alone opening. I always quite enjoyed the batting, possibly because of limited opportunities. I could never hit the ball that strongly but could keep the scoring going well by finding the gaps.

Batting is in fact the only remaining bit of unfinished business I have in cricket. I've never scored a 50 and while I've anchored sides to wins, I've never done the bulk of the scoring.

Bowling on the other hand ... When I started in the men's team, my team was struggling midtable. We had problems across the 2 sides with bowler availability, which meant we couldn't really put sides under pressure or keep them to beatable scores. The side I played first against got 273 in the earlier game with them that year. Scary number. That's a lot of runs for that league. So I'm coming in to the side and expecting to get whacked ...

Didn't turn out that way :-) I cut my pace right back to get accuracy and it worked. I got massive (and I mean feet) inswing and broke through their main batting with figures of 4 overs, 9 runs for 4 wickets. Most of those were bowled. My bowling's never been too quick and I don't have the height to get lots of bounce, so that probably shows just how much the ball was moving sideways in the air.

Over the years, I've meddled with all the different types of bowling. My match bowling was always medium pace swing and seam bowling as that was always most effective. I could start the ball off in a channel wide of the stumps, it would swing to pitch in a line with leg stump and then it could move the other way to hit the top of off. When that happened, it tended to lead to a wicket because that's kinda unplayable :-). Didn't happen that often though.

I've always tried bowling spin, both finger spin and wrist spin too. Finger spin is easy, wrist spin is much more difficult (it's what Shane Warne does). I was even starting to pick up some of the stranger varieties of spin, for a little while the doosra was literally the only delivery I could land where I wanted it to.

I don't feel I have anything to prove with the bowling. I only had a few seasons as a bowler before the shoulder injury but even starting late in that first season, I came out with more wickets than anyone else and won the bowling trophy. My bowling pushed us to runners up in the league that year and I have the medal for that hanging up in my living room.

But - a couple of shoulder injuries means that bowling is now pretty much impossible. Surgery is an option I should probably check but ... I have 95% movement in my shoulder, the 5% that's missing is only needed for bowling. And at 38, I'm getting too old for it. I don't really want to risk the 95% movement on an uncertain result.

Fielding can be great fun. I've improved there considerably. When I started, I was scared of the ball. You can't afford that in cricket because it makes you tentative, which just gets you hurt more. You need to be totally committed in attacking the ball or there will be little fumbles which lead to breakages.

I'd describe myself as a good fielder. I had the speed to get to the ball, plus my eye was good enough to take the catches. With the bowling and batting knowledge, I'd have the anticipation to know where the ball was going to go. I'll regularly get runouts for the team. But - I'd only describe myself as "good" because lack of practice means I'm relearning the job while on the field. With regular practice, I could have been much more scary to the opposition :-).

And - over the whole period, I've occasionally kept wicket too. That's usually been as a "no one else is stepping up, over to Sleepypete". I don't think I've ever embarassed myself there, although it's always been with borrowed gloves. That's not ideal because borrowed gloves tend to be harder and less pliant. In the game last year, I couldn't really feel the ball sticking in the gloves, I had to look.

So there we go - show me a cricket field and ask me to do anything (except bowling now - too dangerous all round).

Chilling out at the moment - I remembered to start the recording last night so it's the last bits of play from the Test Match last night on the telly before F1 qualifying.

I'm hopeful I'll make cricket this year but there's still lots of damaged skin to repair before I do.

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