Sunday got off to a challenging start.
Somehow I thought I hadn’t had that much.
“Tis, we really need to go home mate – you’re playing cricket in a few hours!”
“Barras, stay for another mate. I hate playing hungover but I don’t mind playing tired, and I haven’t had that many. I’ll be fine.”
What is wrong with me? Why do I think I can drink like my fellow Ploughmen? How many did I have? Now where’s my phone…
“Barras, are you awake? Why do you still have my garage opener? I need to grab my kit and get to the car!”
“Shit mate, so sorry, don’t know how I managed that…grabbing an Uber now…here you go mate, how are you feeling?”
“Yeah ok…actually not so much…actually I think I need to go back upstairs right now”
Didn’t make it in time. A grim beginning.
Should I really be driving? This journey seems interminable. Lots of deep breathing, interspersed with profanity. Almost there.
Arriving at the ground. Wow, it’s bloody hot today, that’s really going to help. Oh good – glad I got here on time, there’s one oppo and no fellow Plough…Harry and Paddy have gone to DSG…excellent start.
Gradually both sides filtered in and it was time to take a look at the wicket – dustbowl, could be interesting, but we’re all desperate to bat. Tails never fails, right Duray? Wrong. We’re bowling.
McEwen and Silva doing a bowling warmup for 20 minutes in the sun – are you mad boys? Finally it’s time to get out there…
After a brief pep talk – “let’s bowl well and get out of this sun ASAP” – McEwen and Silva got us off to a reasonably solid start. It didn’t take long to learn that the outfield was lightning but there was definitely something in this pitch for us. Silva seduced the opener into a big early shot and skied it – a good catch made to look easy by Student. After a couple of wide-filled overs Andrew found his rhythm and picked up two more, bowling the other opener and having the number three caught at slip with some lovely shape. Suddenly they were 30/3 and there was excitement amongst the Ploughmen – it’s funny how early wickets can make the hangover and the heat a bit more bearable!
Jones was up next, picking up where he left off on tour. He repeatedly found a remarkable spot short of a length about a foot outside off – balls were popping and cutting everywhere. I’ve never seen a man bowl so many unexpected bouncers off three steps. The oppo had no clue how to play it, and after moving Grant and Nigel to short cover and short point respectively they each picked up an easy catch. 63/5 and we were on a roll – well bowled Jonesy, and good catching boys.
As often happens in cricket, the oppo did then put together a decent partnership to take the score past 100 but we stuck at our task well. Stephenson and Jones kept the pressure on and eventually it paid off. Their big hitter went for one too many and I somehow snaffled a one hander at slip off the back of the bat – still not quite sure how that happened – followed by a well-deserved wicket for Nige, bowling the oppo skipper. Uncle quickly took another and Harry finished off the tail with two more. Hobgoblins all out for 130 and we happily left the field 13 overs earlier than expected.
An outstanding all round effort by the team – Jones the pick of the bowlers with 3/31 but well supported by everyone else. A special mention to those boundary riders in the field – it’s never easy when the ball rockets past you if it’s not hit straight at you.
Once it arrived, quite decent. A delicious pasta dish accompanied by sandwiches where we actually knew the ingredients (John at DSG – take note) and a variety of other items. Initially a 6/10, upgraded to 7 because the oppo told us to “smash” the leftovers while we were waiting to bat. Good blokes.
While we were happy to have kept them to 130, we knew it wouldn’t be easy to bat on a pitch with such variable pace and bounce. Posh Tom and Niraj strode out to open and started well – Tom was classy as always with some lovely shots to get us going. Unfortunately he was the first victim of a ball holding up in the pitch, with a leading edge that went straight up and was comfortably caught.
I joined the Mirage at the crease and we slowly got used to the conditions. The oppo had one quick opener who could easily have played league cricket and we set about seeing him off while picking off runs from the other end. Niraj knocked a couple for four through leg but was soon trapped LBW by the opener, bringing Gareth Shaw to the crease. A former baseballer, Gareth is new to cricket and the club but soon showed us he has some talent – both in batting and in banter! After spending a few balls getting his eye in, he belted the quick opener back over his head for four…”oh f**k off mate, I dare you to do that again”…”bowl it in the same place again and I will!”…which he duly did, depositing him over mid wicket for another boundary. Well played mate!
Gareth and I built a good partnership of 55 and the oppo’s enthusiasm dropped considerably. Shaw was eventually out to an excellent caught behind but Student joined me and looked all class from ball one. As we pushed towards 100, I made the grave error of asking what I was on at the drinks break – 48 – and then managed to deposit a full toss straight down long on’s throat. Jug avoidance yet again, but nice to finally be back in the runs.
Grant and Silva set about chasing down the remaining runs and, to be honest, made it look easy. Grant was eventually caught trying to hit one over cover but Paddy supported Chris through to the end. A couple of nervous moments as they bowled two maidens (full of LBW shouts) while scores were tied, but eventually Paddy smacked the winning runs through midwicket – victory for the Sunday side!
Thank you guys for making my first Ploughmans game as skipper a very enjoyable one (and certainly better than I expected after waking up…) Everyone contributed well when given the opportunity – a great team effort and a well deserved win.
As always, Plough on!
Batting – Tis 49, Grant 19, Gareth 18, Silva 16
Bowling – MJ 3/31, Nigel 2/29, Drew 2/31, H 2/10
Catches – Grant 2, Tis 2, 1 each to Nige, Paddy and Andrew