With promises of lovely grounds and excellent teas in the week, Ploughmans CC’s Sunday team headed off to Chobham.
Trent and Britto saw off the opening bowlers patiently. Trent survived a caught behind scare in order to make a well-earned 34, steered by the quiet, watching hands of lady fortune.
Britto batted very well, a glimmering X, lurking with constant intent and menace. Bad balls were put away – slapped across a lightning-quick outfield, while the good ones, testing of of line and nagging of length, were patiently watched and treated with respect.
Tom Lockhart came in at 3 but found himself the second victim of the day. Unfortunate, perhaps, as it looked like he was getting his eye in; clattering a beauty of a shot through the covers, before being bowled off his pads by an inconsistent, left-armed child.
Suri came and followed not long after that, treating us to a couple of nice shots and the chance to watch a horrendous drop off a miscued shot, but he was hoisted by his own aggressive petard as the team began to accelerate on.
Gareth Sutton, after his swashbuckling, stand-and-deliver fifty last week, gave himself a workout this week, scampering between the wickets for a raft of quick singles and pacey twos as he chipped in 17 to keep the run-rate healthy.
With a century very much on the cards, Britto left his legions of fans disappointed as he was caught in the deep, an unlucky 13 runs short.
Fred got out playing a big shot to a bowler so boring he’d put a glass-eye to sleep, and Silva and Martin finished off the effort, as we made our way to 199 – a score that looked around par. Plus, it always looks nice on the scoreboard – setting the oppo a nice round target – and it leaves us requiring only the most rudimentary of maths to work out what they need an over.
Heading out to bowl, we knew what was required: tight line, tight length, early wickets, and energy in the field. Despite the weekend coinciding with the longest day, a 14:00 start meant we knew batting was only going to get tougher as we went on.
Silva looked quick, testing, and full of effort-balls from the opening end. And he looked quicker when he came back on and the light had faded.
Jonesy, from the other, shaped the ball well and was finding movement. The efforts were rewarded with a break through wicket, as The Doctor prescribed a long walk back to the pavilion for their number two batsman – clean bowled.
But despite this break, for the next few overs batsmen continued along, more or less at the required rate. The fielding wasn’t sloppy, but we didn’t support our openers by looking after the ball between balls. A bit more care and perhaps we could have had it shiny and swinging.
Sam Russell, despite being expensive (and at times erratic) found another wicket, Suri displaying an innovative (if unadvisable) approach to catching by opting to lead with his windpipe.
Facing up to a score of 100-2 as we took drinks it did appear to be very much a game in the balance.
Both Si Carson and Gareth Sutton kept the dream alive with miserly spells after drinks.
Carson, despite the protestations of his knee-based cartilage, was charging up the slope, leading by example as he found a nice rhythm. He’ll consider himself unfortunate not to have left with a wicket.
Sutton, spinning away at the other end, despite being armed with a ball that stuck in your hand. His efforts were rewarded as he took a fine caught and bowled, a wicket that felt like it had been a long time coming. In fact, Gareth bowled so well that Carson was desperate to give him a ninth, and nearly got away with it.
It was a chase that required five-an-over, and, for the most part, that’s more-or-less what they ticked along at. The quick outfield betraying the whims of a slow wicket in keeping the boundaries consistent.
All credit to the Plough for taking them deep into the innings, and it’s that kind of chin-up resilience will reap rewards in other battles.