Today I attended a ‘live’ net session, that is, one with three bowlers bowling rather than one machine repeating. This, I reckon, is a greater test of my newly sinister stance than the indoor school’s bowling machine, as the margin of error increases by, well, 500-1000% in terms of line, and a greater amount in terms of length. It also adds great variation in pace, flight, spin, swing and action – it’s a right pain in the arse moving the machine from over to round the wicket, a tactic many right-arm bowlers use against lefties.
Bowling right arm over to a sinister beast pushes the ball across the body of the batsman. LBW is very hard to get, and the wider delivery is at greater risk of a slashing drive. Yes, nicking off to slip is more likely, but that is generally the result of greed rather than need. Right arm round jambs the ball into the batsman’s body, making it harder to open the shoulders to any shot. Yes, tickles off the thigh pad are more common, but a shorter ball is more likely to catch the gloves and bounce up off the arm, shoulder or lid. As ever, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.
I batted twice. The first session was a mixed bag, and I was cleaned up by Jim the leg spinner a couple of times, playing round the ball. I did play some nice drives, however.
Two weeks ago I could barely play the pull shot, my most productive shot when right-handed. Now it’s vicious, as I not only seem to be able to time the shot better, but the strength of my right arm really unleashes. Because bowlers tend to have trouble adjusting their line, the ball on leg or wider is more common. Meat and drink.
It wasn’t merely spin today, as Tim, leading wicket taker in the division for a second year, was also netting. He’s quite nippy, and good fun to bat against. He struggled with his line a little in the first session, allowing me to work on the cut shot. Again, the strength of my top hand really came into play here. Very satisfying.
It was, as usual, my straight play which let me down. I still seem to be whipping across the line. Too much bottom hand – ironic considering why I’m switching …
It was the second session which changed everything. If you ignore the two beauts which Tim bowled when he got his line spot on, and the fine delivery from Jim which went past my outside edge and cut back to take out my leg stump, then it was a different story. I even drove quite fluently … in relative terms!
But the real eye-opener for me was the state of my bat at the end of the session. The marks on the blade are predominantly in the chunky middle. One defensive prod (a shot I rarely played right-handed) fairly pinged off the middle. So I’m seeing the ball quite well, it seems. I’ll work out why they’re mostly on the inside half of the middle soon enough.
But it’s progressing well. I still look clumsy sometimes, but the drives are coming on, and the cut and pull are almost weapons. But when one of our most talented batsman says he’s not only amazed how quickly I’ve adapted, but couldn’t do it himself, and one bowler quips that maybe I was left-handed all along, I have right to feel pleased.
Furthermore, it doesn’t kill my back now, and it’s feeling more and more comfortable. There is hope, I feel.
Unfortunately, only one more net before the operation. Then, well … not really looking forward to that, not one little bit.