First game of the month was the first game of the season to be rained off. Mixed emotions as wanted to carry on from previous weeks form, but with regards to my knee much better to have another week off to work on rehabilitation.
Second game was a total waste of time (see below) and the writing on the wall I hinted at last month seems to be coming true although hope picked up with selection for the Sunday 3s (which still remains a ridiculous name as there is no Sunday 1s or 2s).
Is without doubt frustrating that picked up the injury, not least because of the irony that it only happened because I had worked so hard on my mobility over the winter so was able to do what I did, but every cloud and all that it does feel like this has made other parts of my body better aligned and I only really have my ligaments in right knee and whatever is going on in my right buttock to sort out now.
Spent time at Osteopath who believes no long term damage and no sign of major injury. The sharp pain when I first move is a normal sign of fluid in the knee, but there is very little and it is reducing. The actual structure and movement of knee is good so should all recover well. On the downside thinks is going to take a lot of work and quite some time to sort out the stretched ligaments in glute area. Have been a long time client and friend (first went as an 18 year old) and he knows my issues well by now. He says my overall mobility is so much better than it was and has devised quite a detailed routine to help me get the best I can from the old body.
When you are rehabilitating an injury you, by the very nature, focus on it intensely so can lose track a little of other issues. My left knee for example will always be a problem having had 5 operations but it has been far less painful and swollen post game than last season, and I have been running much more this season. The stiffness and soreness remains but it is pleasing how much better it is. Similarly my left hamstring which is primarily a result of the 5 operations and subsequent poor body alignment. I thought I had probably got it as good as it would be during the off season but the work I am doing on current injury has benefitted the hamstring.
The list continues: virtually no pain of stiffness in neck and shoulder, both long term issues, and I can throw much better this season. Very little pain in lower back, another long term issue, and the injured finger from last season continues to improve to the point where I am not aware of it on a daily basis, just when I try and bend it fully.
My general fitness is good: no lingering issues with last years ruptured abs, and no stiffness or fatigue after any game including bowling 10 overs in one game and batting over an hour in one game.
In summary: I remain confident that I can still improve my overall fitness and injuries and contribute more. It may not be this season, time and careful management will tell, but next year is the focus, specifically the ability to play once at the weekend and once during the week.
For now though it is all about rehabilitation and preparation. Netting is low on my list of priorities because it is a long two hours on my legs for 10 minutes batting practice. If I was bowling regularly I would try and net more but for now I am using my batting buddy in the garden 3 or 4 times a week to work on stance, trigger and playing the ball later ie under my eyes/head. I also find it a good way to tune the body to being used to facing 50 or 60 deliveries at a time. Bowling wise I am working on getting my 4 step approach finely tuned, specifically the delivery stride (getting side on), and bringing my right leg through during delivery. As both of these depend on my injured right knee and troublesome right buttock/hip it is a really good drill.
Interesting situation with Staffordshire Cricket: too old (especially with injury) for Over 50s – unless they short, and too young for Over 60s – unless a friendly, but am I too proud to play in the Over 70s which is a new team this year and only playing friendlies.
Back then to the second game of the month: didn’t bat, didn’t bowl and we were awful. Never had enough runs on the board yet when we obviously needed to up the rate did they send in the guy with the best strike rate (over 100)? Nope. Made no changes to the batting order at all.
To put some context to this the batters (seniors) above me in the batting order had the following averages:
Whilst my average was 36.50
They knocked them off for the loss of 4 wickets in 25 overs. We gifted them 42 Extras and our bowlers returned the following figures:
7 – 1 – 27 – 1 3.86
4 – 1 – 22 – 0 5.50
4 – 0 – 32 – 1 8.00
6 – 0 – 34 – 0 5.67
4.4 – 1 – 19 – 1 – 4.07
Sorry, I know this sounds like a whinge and may upset some reading but the simple fact is that for whatever reason I am not rated by the senior leadership group. It is a little hard to understand but the simple equation is that it is not worth driving 60 miles twice a week to practice and play – well not play as it works out. I am in effect being picked as a specialist fielder which is something I most patently am not!
I alluded to this last month, but is little I can do other than concentrate on getting my knee better and working on my technique. A few senior people at the club have expressed their surprise at the situation but I am not one to worry or expect things to change.
The third game of the season was the Quarter Final of some Cup/Plate competition which we were in following two byes. Fair to say I felt under some pressure, and whilst relieved I could pass myself as fit enough to play, I was a little concerned that I wasn’t giving my knee longer and that I wouldn’t do myself justice.
I was keen to play this game as was my first game for the 3s this season. We were well beaten and my own 3 off 21 batting at 4 showed promise, and that I was rusty this being my first innings in June! I was required to try and rebuild the innings (3 wickets fell at the other end) and I saw it well enough and the extra pace wasn’t an issue. Unfortunately old habit of planting front pad and playing across had me LBW. I could tell my stance had squared up again which as I said was primarily due to being rusty.
Rusty describes my legs in the field but I held my own, didn’t misfield or allow any extra runs “to the old guy”, and took a good catch. Hopefully did enough to be selected again at some stage. Enjoyed the changing room and team mates very supportive and welcoming. Batting 4 was a surprise, but if it was the way to get a regular game I would accept the challenge. Didn’t bowl but as we only in field for 25 overs no surprise and I suspect if I were to play regularly for 3s it would be as a batter. Truth is it appears to be my only option at BCC as I woke to the rather abrupt fact that I had been removed from the 4s WhatsApp group by the skipper without any communication at all.
Thought that would be it for a frustrating month, but a late call up to Staffs Over 50s 2s v Wales in the league and the Staffs Over 70s in a friendly game me more game time than I had envisaged and a challenge for the old body playing two games in two days.
The Over 50s was the best chance I have had to assess myself against a team of the same age and I was really pleased. Fielded well, no hiding places so in a variety of positions. Running still not great but knees so much better. Took a good catch so didn’t let myself or team down. Batting wise, what is it with captains wanting me to open!!?? Having said preferred middle order was put in to open which was always going to be a challenge after 45 overs in the field on a hot day. Opening partner being bowled first ball of game not ideal. 8 off 36 balls and 12 overs at the crease doesn’t seem impressive but it was so much better than last years attempt to open. Fitness, technique and mental attitude so much better. Has given me something to think about for sure. Maybe I should target top 4, or even opening? Not getting ahead of myself but to looks solid in control for 12 overs against bowlers still playing 1s and 2s cricket was a huge confidence builder.
The Over 70s was ironically the game I felt most pressured about since my return as in all the other games I have been the ‘old un’ with little expectation on my shoulders. Whereas with this game I assumed they would expect me to be the most active in the field at the very least. I was not wrong! What a challenge to be the youngest on the pitch, and have to do the most running. Fielded first and after 4 overs skippers tossed me the ball. 8 overs later 32 runs conceded, 1 maiden and a very pleasing 4 wickets (3 LBW and 1 Bowled). Felt great to be honest not least because the Over 60s skipper was playing as well so was good that he actually saw me do something to showcase my ability. Rain curtailed the game before we could bat but wasn’t particularly sorry. 85 overs in two days was more fielding than I have ever done since my return and far more active than usual, so I knew my legs were going to feel it.
Was actually a great way to end what had been a very frustrating month. Time (and more importantly my ability) will determine my club future but I trust the 3s Skipper to give me a fair crack and I have no issue if I only played as a batter at this level. No surprise my legs were stiff as concrete for the following two days at the test, but muscle stiffness rather than mechanical issues with knees or ligaments so again a positive – even if a painful one!
More time than usual to hand this month than usual did give me time to think: who develops the Development Team? Once a Development Team has say 80% of the Juniors playing regular Senior Cricket on teams other than the Development Team what does the objective of the DT become? Obviously it has achieved the objective of introducing juniors to seniors cricket, so should it not then focus on developing a winning mentality and approach?
This is a subject I seem to be talking to a lot of people about these days so maybe I will look to get more involved with it next season.
A negative this month must be the six (6) broken/damaged bats that I have been asked to ‘have a look at’. Without doubt the modern bats do not last anywhere near as long, but the main issue as I see it is is players thrashing old/hard/cheap/rubbish balls in the nets about 3 times as hard as they actually do in a match. Nets surely are to try and replicate and fine tune the way you play in the middle, but if you are going to try and smack everything out of site do yourselves a favour and buy a cheaper net bat, but make sure it is the same weight as you use in a game.
I broke a £400 Masuri bat last season having used it half a dozen times in a match and having scored around 100 runs, hardly a lot of use. A big chunk broke off at bottom outside edge. I am hardly a big hitter but as was pointed out to me you are meant to use the middle.
Bats were never made to survive heavy blows on shoulder or toe (thinnest parts so pretty obvious reason) but hardly a pro game goes by these days without someone checking the toe of their bat and replacing it, and the majority of bats these days have scuff sheets and bat tape.
On the plus side glue, tape and wood plugs are so much better these days so most bats are repairable and will perform adequately but maybe players (and parents) should consider that a pro will carry 4 to 6 bats with them these days for a reason.
Whilst on the subject look after your bat! 4 of aforementioned bats were put away at the end of last season then used on day one of season, no sanding down, oiling, knocking in …… and, couldn’t help noticing how many of the bats had bat grips that had ridden up the bat and/or had splits in the grip in the bottom third – a sign that you are gripping the bat far too hard and are bottom hand dominant!