After Freddie anointed me the duty of writing up this week’s match report, I thought I would take the opportunity to begin by talking about myself to kick things off. I learned my fate on Tuesday evening during the Maida Vale nets session with Duray and the lads, that I would be playing in the Saturday team after Britto came over and broke the news which was a bit of a shock. We were scheduled against Croydon’s 3rd X1 which explains the specialised selection of both Ajit Prasad and myself who are specialists of Indian conditions given our traces back to the subcontinent (Niraj Tailor very stiff I thought). Their 3rd X1 actually beat their club’s 2nd X1 in a recent clash, so I was expecting a fair share of Ravi Shastri type bowlers and wristy Sanjay Manjrekar type batsman to contend with along with even more explosiveness from the countless trays of freshly packed samosas, pan rolls and tikka masala from Aunty Sowmya’s kitchen..oh wait, it is a Ploughmans home game afternoon tea at Dulwich..more on that to come later. After arriving at the ground, half the team were already inside the change rooms before me and the place was buzzing. I had remembered to bring Britto’s new Cap and playing shirt that Nick Ridgway had passed onto me from the Thursday evening nets session, which saved having World War 3 had I lost them. Chris Lilford was leading the charge with a bit of banter and getting the lads fired up for a big day out there and Grayzer couldn’t get his whites on quick enough. As more of the lads piled in, Freddie made it out to the toss and unfortunately it went the way of Croydon, who elected to bat. We had league umpires so needed to be on our best behaviour. I’m slowly adjusting to life in Mother England after spending most of my days in Australia for those who don’t already know, and Saturday began with another of those lessons. As we made our way across the fields of Dulwich to the far wicket, I was absolutely gobsmacked when the batsman on the oval we were passing pulled away and had a cry that we were walking past!! He shouted ‘Oye, what are you walking for, don’t you know the rules!’ After realising what had happened, I stopped short of yelling back, ‘This isn’t f##### Wimbledon, put your head down and bat you softco%%!!!’ In Australia, blokes walk their dogs or move around the outside of the boundary all the time, no one cares! Fark me, I was under siege and hadn’t even delivered a ball yet! I certainly didn’t want to risk being kicked off the premises, or ruining the good reputation of The Plough, so logic prevailed.
Anyway, onto the game…the weather looked grim and plenty of rain was expected during the day. The Union Jack was higher than a juiced up Glen Meier riding dirt bikes on a cattle farm in far North Queensland, meaning the Royal Box was full, and both President and Captain were in attendance being Coxy and Si. I was hoping our guests from India would be a bit out of depth being a far cry from the hot, bare foot, dust pitches that they would be acclimatised to in the subcontinent (Thunder, you can look up the word acclimatised in The Oxford if need be), but this certainly was not the case and Croydon put up a very good fight early on. Our quality openers Spence and DT Dan Thomas worked hard with the wet conditions, but the Croydon opening pair Rajat and Sanjeev held their own against some good bowling which showed their class. Spence looked like the ice skating version of Michael Flatley at one point, and I’m not referring to his immaculately groomed feathers but more to the fact he was sliding over whilst landing on the pitch when sending a few rockets down the other end, resulting in the covers coming on. One Direction’s first emergency member then called for the saw dust, which arrived 36 minutes later. It took being pasted for a 17 run over and Croydon making it to 0/35 to get Spence fired up before he exploded and started chewing them out like an angry beaver on a chunk of wood, a quick wicket followed up by another 2 overs later (2 caught behinds taken cleanly by Freddie) in perfect Spence style. Freddie kept the on fire Spence on who had hit his groove and finished strong with a bag of 2 wickets. Dan Thomas was bowling very sharp as well down the other end and also picked up the prized 2 wickets of Kitchappan and Naveen (Bowled and Bowled) before having a well earned break.
On came the first change of Grayzer and myself. Grayzer was thirsty for a wicket and sending them down beautifully. It wasn’t long before he rattled the tackle box of Ashish on 25 off 21 and had his first for the day to break an almost 50 run stand and have Croydon 5-92. The new bat came to the crease and looked more like James Brown at the 1975 Motown after party with his designer sunglasses on inside his lid on one of the dimmest afternoons that had minimal sun and was cloudier than a night out at Bill Cosby’s house. I came into the attack from the other end, and was a bit unlucky to start off with my first ball missing the stumps by the end of a bee’s rod! Not my day however going for about a run a ball with a few loose deliveries here and there. The real MVP at this point and all day was Paul Hynes who worked harder on shining the ball and salvaging any grip on it than a dog with two Quinten DeKocks. Many parts of the ground were ‘closed for business’, lead by Paul Hynes at long off and strongly supported by Dan Thomas, Ajit Prasad and Tisato. Ajit Prasad was introduced into the attack and bowled a very tight spell of accurate spin, they could not put him anywhere. Chris Lilford who had been up and about in the field all day sent down some spin before changing up and bowling seamers. The rain eventually had its way and the covers came on for a second time. Freddie and the umpires made a clever call to have tea early, give the lads an opportunity to grab some tucker in the sheds and Spence some time to check out his newly acquired Tinder birds that swiped right whilst he was away in the field. The Big Austrian boycotted the infamous Dulwich sandwiches (which no one ever seems to know what is in them), and instead loaded up on a plate that resembled afternoon tea at an 8 year old’s birthday party consisting of a chocolate donut, a pink lamington, a vanilla cupcake and 8 mini cheeto balls that would have had Gordon Ramsay going ballistic. After initially thinking the innings was over and time to put my feet up, I soon learned we were heading back out in the field to bowl more overs after tea. Prasad and myself came on after the break and I was desperate for a wicket given my dour figures at the time. In came the pressure cooker Chris Ovens to take a catch at long off that shipped off the bat and his designer sunnies for 43 and put me out of my misery!!
Ajit Prasad continued to lead the attack with some very tight bowling and wasn’t long after tea before he got his well deserved scalp removing Khizar Memon after a great catch by Spence, ending the day with an outstanding 1/13 off 6. Ajit was supported by Grayzer on the other end who claimed his 2nd and finished with 2/39 off 6. Dan Thomas was another brilliant performer claiming his third bowled for the day as he drilled through like a cordless Makita and figures of 3/37 off 9. Spence taking both openers and 2/53 off 9 was also featured in the highlights. Freddie was very solid behind the stumps all innings as well and made the right moves at the right time as skipper to keep the pressure on the opposition as they finished with 240 from 42 overs under tough bowling conditions. A quick innings change over saw Tis fire up the new scoring app as an eager Britto and Paul Hynes padded up. You could see a glint in the eye of Steve Britto and could sense something big was about to happen. Whilst all this was going down, the Croydon players were huddled near the scoreboard taking photos of the two batsman involved in an 87 run stand, the latter top scoring for them with 75 not out. The Weapon Paul Hynes was up to his usual shenanigans out there, blasting a quick fire 17 with some balls that stayed hit before being caught by an absolute screamer taken off the bowling of Ashish after only 7 balls. Britto was seeing the ball better than Elton John’s chin down the other end and wanted to mow down the score quick enough to get the game over with and head to Spence’s Eurovision party afterwards. Tisato had no luck and made a quick exit after Kanolkar broke through, but you can sense a big one will be brewing for this man very, very soon given his history. Lilford came to the crease and pushed some textbook like twos until Sharma got through his defence on 13. The in form red hot Ovens was then injected into the game and looked very solid but rain once again got heavier and play again stopped with Ovens left with 9 off 7 and Britto a very solid 32 not out. More importantly, 17 overs were bowled at that point, with The Plough eager to get back out there and hit the 20 over mark so a result could be had. With The Plough ahead on run rate, the umpires decided to call it a day leaving The Plough stuck on the sidewalk settling for a draw. The upside is The Plough maintains its undefeated run and up at the pointy end of the ladder, which was a good result given the very talented names to come back into the side. Plough had a few no ball warnings but no one was sent off for a second, however Croydon had one bowler who was no-balled for a second waist/head high delivery and was sent out of the attack midway through his 4th over.
It was now time to get changed and send down a few cold Michael Beers back in the sheds where it was drier than a dead dingo’s donger compared to outside. Coxy was unfortunately left to carry the full club kit back to the sheds after everyone else had accidentally bailed him in the rain. Britto showed everyone why he is a life member of the Norfolk Anglers Nudists Association for Men and couldn’t wait to get the Maltese churro out and stand around conversing with anyone that was up for a yarn. Lily was very funny all day including moments stopping the ball with his knees, elbows and everything else. Having taken our first league wickets, both Dan Thomas and myself were liable for buying a jug for the lads post match. I cleared my account, however Kiwi Dan received a ‘Jug Avoidance’ notice in the mail for bailing before the next jug was produced. No doubt the big fella will load up next week though after a solid day out there. Coxy and Si went through their 3rd bottle of red whilst credit is due for Si’s mate Michael who came down to watch the game in the rain and have a few drinks after. Quote of the day went to Spence who following another cheeky message on WhatsApp from The Thunder From Down Under said ‘Thunder is like Donald Trump. When he tweets or messages, everyone checks their phone’
It was then time to pack up and leave Dulwich, and on a day which should have been spent celebrating the news of Niraj Tailor’s manager finally signing off on his leave to go to Portugal, was unfortunately marred by bad weather and a no result. Nonetheless it is always good times when out in the paddock with The Plough win, lose or draw. Ajit, Britto, Spence and myself were then catching up with the cult hero Niraj back at Spence’s house for a Eurovision party later that night which was good fun. Heart breaking news the next morning with the Sunday game called off after the pitch was water logged, so that was all she wrote for The Plough on the weekend. Anyway gents, that’s me done, hooroo and catch you around the traps.