The sun burst through curtains and streamed into the bedrooms of XI excited Ploughmen. The build-up to the season has seen no shortage of feverish excitement and at twelve minutes past nine, the phone started buzzing. Plans, jokes, questions, the day we had all been waiting for was finally here. It had seemed to take forever to come, which is in stark contrast to many of the Ploughmen during the long cold winter nights.
The excitement came close to bubbling over a couple of times early on with a couple of moments of minor controversy, but we won the toss and confidence was high as the eight men of Battersea Ironsides took the field. A keen Ploughman was offered up as a supporting fielder. A decision that would be revised as we found ourselves three down for not very many after not very many.
Enter Durex, a man with a very clear plan. Exit Barras the substitute fielder. A switch that didn’t go unnoticed by the Ironsides’ eight. Strong and decisive with shots all around the ground Durex (78) really took it to the opposition with a powerful and balanced innings. Much like Manchester City’s season, until he went out he looked as good in defence as he did in attack. He was nobly supported by a classic looking and measured Piran (17) who seemed to find the gaps in the field gracefully and with relative ease. A hundred partnership and the Plough party train was back on its tracks.
Losing both in quick succession and some tidy bowling from the opposition in the later overs meant that we didn’t kick on quite as much as we would have liked to despite a few solid contributions. LongJohn (13) played a couple of tasty shots to the boundary and Spence (16) played with freedom and style, hitting and flicking the ball on both sides of the wicket. Callum (2 n.o.) went some way to backing up his claim to be the best number eleven ever, despite having screwed into his cricket shoes, some extra-long rubber golf spikes that he had purchased the same morning, after much group think deliberation concerning the astroturf track.
We went in for tea with something to bowl at but the feeling that we were possibly twenty or thirty short of where would like to have been.
After tea, Grayzer and Spence were selected to open based on looks; the best two looking guys on the park. Both bowled relatively tight for this stage of the season and Grayzer picked up the opener early on, caught at gulley with one that moved away from the right hander. Spence, with no spikes on the astro, caused problems with some away movement and was unlucky not to get one early on when a chance went down.
The Plough would live to rue this missed opportunity as the lad went on to smash 86 and (spoiler alert) guide the eight-man Ironsides to victory. He was ably supported by a left hander who, cooler than James Vince on a hot Australian Ashes afternoon, left many good tempting deliveries outside off stump.
‘The Thunder’ was ultimately not rewarded with a wicket despite bowling some fairly sharp deliveries (yet to see 80mph) and some which moved in the air as well. One to watch.
Callum, trading the extra-long golf spikes for slippers got a little bit of movement and bowled some very good balls at a decent pace. LongJohn bowled some good deliveries and fielded with commitment and aggression – an excellent presence on the day.
Durex and Andrew (3 overs 1 for 24) bowled exciting spells at the end with Durex turning the ball and Andrew generating some good pace. Both deservedly picked up a wicket each. There was a moment where we felt we had a glimmer of hope, but alas it wasn’t to be.
The Plough lost, which is always hard to take but the game was (mostly) played in good spirits and it was a good early season runout for the Ploughmen who were involved. We were probably 30 runs or three held catch chances from victory, you know what they say…
Andrew donned the two best shirts of the day. He arrived in a Hawaiian number, purchased in Hawaii and bowled in one that sir Richard Hadlee would have high fived him for wearing, despite being ‘too ripped’ to turn his arm over properly.
Barras, who threw himself around with a complete disregard for his own wellbeing, deserves a mention for some incredible stops outside off and outside leg.
Gareth showed bravery on debut, batting at three, despite it being his first cricket match, and pulled off some good stops in the field.
Durex (78 runs. 5 overs, 1 for 18) really did lead from the front.
Grayzer (6 overs, 1 for 22) was the pick of the seamers. Get used to reading that!