Football (that?s soccer to you, Barraz) is often referred to as a game of two halves. Well, last Sunday, that description was very apt for our cricket match, as The Plough took on last minute stand-ins, Ham & Petersham 3rds.
Stevo lost the toss and we were in the Hollies outfield as soon as I?d erected a pink tent (that?s not a euphemism). Liam opened from the far end and, apart from his first couple of balls, found a good length and enough movement in the air to cause problems. I was at the other end and the pair of us worked hard to create pressure with a few half-chances going begging. After 10 overs they weren?t on that many and had lost a wicket thanks to a prodigious off-cutter from me.
Then the slide started? And what a slippery slope it was. With due deference to my team mates on the day, I think we?ll all agree that we?ve had better days in the field. Nick replaced Liam and really struggled to find a consistent length. Hynes had a go and struggled to find the correct release point and Matt Rees came on, but struggled to find the wicket! Backed up by some ordinary fielding, their opening batsman pretty much helped himself to a century as all of us laboured in the field.
I felt for Steve, looking around The Hollies for a 6th bowler to try. It got so bad that he even gave an over to a man bowling with his wrong arm! Well done, James ? it was actually pretty good. We needed something special to claw us back into the game and, having been given a go from one end earlier on, Tom Lockhart (not keeping for the day as Mr Buckley did that), was offered his first ever second spell. And what a second spell! Yes, the batsmen were looking for quick runs and big shots but if you put the ball in the right area, more often than not you?ll reap the rewards. Tom?s effort seemed to rejuvenate the entire team too and he ended up with 4 wickets and half a run out courtesy of some good catching by Messrs Britto, Hynes and Ridgway. The latter with a frankly ludicrous one handed effort over his head. Like millions of Microsoft Windows users around the world will attest, sometimes the earlier versions of software are better than the updates. Clearly, Nick?s in-built programming app realised this and rebooted an older incarnation (perhaps the 2007 version) of his catching program. I suspect his celebration software could do with one of those reboots too, mind.
So, buoyed by the fact we had miraculously held them to just over a run a ball, we took tea. Romilly Lonnen particularly enjoyed grassing on Simon, who tried his usual trick of nicking something off my plate.
If the 1st innings was maladroit then the 2nd was consummate, by comparison. We all knew we had a side stacked with batting but we didn?t even need most of it – even after a poor start! Ham & Petersham?s opening bowlers were tidy and took 3 pretty quick wickets ? Buckley wafted at a wide one and was caught behind, Tisato nailed one straight to cover and Parks had to be adjudged out LBW (quelle surprise!) to one that shot along the ground.
Then came the skipper, in at 4 for a change, and Paul Hynes. Paul was a man on a mission, clearly determined to prove that he could actually play cricket, rather than appear to be some witless, half-arsed, reprobate who just desperately needed a crap as he did and as he was during their innings. The pair put on 115 for the 4th wicket. The bowling wasn?t all that threatening but you still need to put it away and treat the good deliveries with the respect they merit. Both batsman showed an array of shots and regularly found the middle of their bats and the fence. Steve fell for a very well-made 41, although he?ll be disappointed he got bowled by something our Club Captain described as ?absolute nonsense? ? check out the WhatsApp group for video evidence of said ?bowling?. I?ve played an awful lot of club cricket now and I don?t think I can recall ever seeing something quite so ludicrous. Paul quite liked it though, as did Noodle Pip (who played it particularly well) and these two continued the good work. Punishing bad balls and running really hard to put fielders under pressure. We still needed around 9 an over with 8 to go but there was a growing sense amongst us that we would do it. Confidence spreading rapidly, as it had earlier in the day from Lockhart?s bowling.
I?d been padded up for ages and had come round to the idea that I wouldn?t actually be needed, so it was quite a surprise when Nick was out. ?Desperately unlucky to be run out on 47, it literally was the only decent throw Ham & Petersham had managed all innings! So, I joined Paulie and once he?d reached his thoroughly deserved hundred (the first for the club this season) and his redemption was complete, he really hit the after-burners. I shared a 29 run partnership with the man and scored 2! One shot particularly stamping our authority on the match and showing Paulie?s class, amongst all the bludgeoning, was a late cut, timed to perfection that raced to the fence and made us all realise there was no way we were gonna let this one slip away. By now Paul was seeing a beach ball and no doubt it felt about as menacing as an inflatable, as he whacked the last two balls of the match from their returning opening bowler for 4 and 6 respectively. What a way to win a match. And what a match! The oppo were fairly subdued (possibly humbled or, more likely, shell-shocked) but decent enough in defeat. Paulie ended unbeaten on 127.
The beer (or gin in Paul?s case) tasted particularly sweet.
Special mentions to:
Ben Glover, who sadly had to leave the match 3 overs into it as his vision was all blurred (consequently ended up vomiting most of Sunday evening). Hope you?re feeling better soon, mate.
Sha Hussain, popping along to DSG for the first time ever in order to do nothing more than top up his tan, but performing 12th man duties in Ben?s absence magnificently. He really was a ball-magnet all day but it was very nice to see him back on the cricket field. Hopefully, he?ll realise how much he?s missing with The Plough and come back soon.
Finally, Uncle UKIP, despite his injury sustained last week at Chobham, still came down to support and ponder astrological issues. Would anyone like to guess how far away Space is?
Well done, Plough!