I am just about to embark on my second season of Seniors (60+) cricket with Essex in the National 60+/70+ County Cricket Championship.
We were winners of the 4th XI competition in 2021. Possibly stretching it a bit to claim we are “national champions”, as only 6 Counties field a 4th XI in the “national” comp (compared with 36 that are represented at 1st XI level).
But we were in it, and we won it!
The 4th XI section will be competitive again in 2022, with Kent looking to regain their title. COVID has not been invited for 2022…
And the 3rd XI competition has expanded to include 14 teams, in West & East sections, so there is the prospect of post-season play-off rounds in 2022, and trips to new locations beyond the South East Home Counties.
Lots to look forward to!
Learnings — physical
- Traditional warm-ups (“raising body temperature, getting the blood pumping”) don’t actually seem to help very much!
- Muscle-group specific warm-ups/loosening up/“activation” is essential — for me, bowling shoulder and arm, over anything else, or the first few deliveries drop half-way down…
- Post-match recovery is important — hydration, food (and I should probably build in stretching exercises into the days following the game); I have found that a protein shake at the close of play really does make a big difference to my mobility the next morning.
- Strapping with kinesiology tape is fiddly, but works as well as (better than) traditional tubigrip and neoprene strapping.
Learnings — technical/tactical
For most of last season I could not buy a wicket. 220 deliveries between dismissals, at one point (although I went for a little over 2 runs per over across the season).
The balls we use (Dukes) swing and seam, and I beat the bat more times than I care to remember. Inside and outside (even the inswinger moves a little, which says something about the ball!).
I tried bowling close to the stumps or wide on the crease (especially for outswingers — see below), cross-seam, cutters & spin, slower balls.
Most successful variation (at least, one that seems not to be picked) is simply to switch from out-swing grip (shiny side of ball to leg side, seam angled to 1st slip) to in-swing (shine to offside, seam pointing to leg slip), but change nothing else in the delivery. Occasionally the ball swings back a little, but the changed grip mostly negates any outswing, so the ball goes straight from the hand…but still misses off stump…
So this season I will be persevering with an alternative theory of outswing — rather than getting close to the stumps and aiming for top-of-off/4th stump, I’ll try going wide on the crease, angle in to hit leg, swing to hit off…
And we’ll see if it is any more successful…