Tuesday May 31st 2011

Whatever happened to swing bowling, not to mention line and length? These musings arise from a telephone conversation with Gareth Davies, of The Daily Telegraph, who felt that young bowlers don?t seem to know how to swing the ball any more. I wasn?t particularly aware of this but it made me think.

On reflection, on TV you see an awful lot of ?banging the ball in? in which case the ball has no chance to swing. Last week I reported on the most sensational bowling by a slow-medium bowler who achieved his results by bowling slow-medium with gentle away-swing and presumably pitching it up on a good line and length. For younger readers, a good line is normally where the ball will hit off stump or just outside; a good length by definition is when the batsman is not quite sure whether to play forward or back, so that it depends on the speed of the ball and the pace of the wicket. Also, to a certain extent, on the individual batsman?s preference for playing forward or back, which the bowler should try to find out as soon as he comes in.

My own experience as a bowler was that you have to experiment on any individual day with the optimum speed and the best grip with any individual ball on any particular wicket to achieve the best swing, or movement off the pitch. And I was brought up to believe that line and length were the gods of the bowler?s armoury: have control of where you put the ball and then adopt whatever variations you have, especially of pace. And don?t be predictable; eg your special variation on the fourth ball of an over.

Wrekin, having been inserted, were reduced to 19 for five in 40 minutes, only to be rescued by an outstanding century by Tom Grainger (128) and various lower order allies, to reach 209 for eight declared. Ellesmere responded with an opening partnership of 72, but wickets fell regularly in the spirited chase, and they had, in the end, to settle for a draw at 169 for eight.

Woodbridge have a promising all-rounder in Edward Robson, in Year Eight, who scored his maiden century (105 not out) recently against Colchester RGS out of a total of 194. He averages 66 with the bat and has taken seven wickets at an average of less than 15.

Taunton had a fine win against MCC. Having dismissed them for 244, the hosts overcame their score with the loss of only four wickets, George Hallas (96) and the prolific Thomas Abell (85) putting on 156 for the third wicket.

What with half-term, study leave, post-exam exeats and what have you, there is a dramatic reduction in the number of results this week. Readers of The Daily Telegraph will have noticed that we have made an arrangement with them that they can publish a limited amount of material from our site as long as they credit us at the end. This is an occasional column rather than a regular (cricket) one. Thus this website remains the only place where you can find comprehensive coverage of schools cricket.

We have also linked up with Total Cricket Scorer, the electronic scoring system. At present only seven schools have signed up for their service (?59.99 for the one-off download, and then ?11.99 annually. There are great benefits in the system, and we strongly urge schools to consider using their service. We are hoping there will shortly be a link to go directly to an alphabetical list of schools whose very full results ? including scorecard, wagon wheel, ?manhattan? charts and various other things, including records for individual players ? are all available on the site. For the moment, go here to find out more.

Results:

Shrewsbury 288-9 (50 overs), *Wrekin 58

*Wrekin 209-8 dec (T Grainger 128), Ellesmere: 169-8

*Dean Close 181-9 (40 overs), Malvern 182-1 (O Davey 111)

*St Edward?s, Oxford 26-3 v Winchester (rain)

*Eton 164-8 (20 overs), Oxford University Authentics 98-9

Eton 160 (20 overs), *Bradfield 117

MCC 244 (W Kylander 100), *Taunton 245-4

*Eton 143-9 (50 overs), Millfield 146-2

*Rossall 173-8, Old Rossallians 48 (T Lester 7-12)

Felsted 198-9 dec,*Ipswich 166-8

National Twenty20 competition

Blundell’s 173?2, Queen’s Taunton 138?5

(King?s Taunton win the group)

Colfe’s 160-6, St Joseph?s (Ipswich) 148

(Colfe?s play Hampton in the final of the South London section)

*Clifton 94-7, Filton Academy 96-2

(Filton Academy win the group)

RGS Worcester 119-1, *Denstone 122-4

(Play-offs in this section not yet complete)

Sedbergh 132 – 6, King’s Macclesfield 121 ? 9

(Sedbergh win the North-West section final and will play Durham for a place at Lord?s)