To say that Ploughmans Cricket Club have started the season well is a slight understatement. A preseason to die for, a fantastic club day and two wins from the first two games already behind us, saw anticipation going into the weekend as high as high as the kite flown by Benjamin and William Franklin.
On paper, this is one of the strongest Ploughmans line-ups I personally have ever seen. With the confidence of 11 seamen boarding the Titanic, we headed for Ewell knowing there were tough conditions ahead, but that there was no way the Plough was going down.
Freddie Mills lost the toss, some critics putting this down to weak wrist action – the likely cause being an overindulgence in “Masturbation May”.
The conditions at Park Hill on our arrival were more English than the queen drinking tea and eating crumpets with swan pate. To the backdrop of dark low clouds, a cold and blustery wind, a constant threat of rain and a pitch as moist as an otter’s pocket, the Plough were sent in to bat.
Our opening pair got us off to an absolute flyer. Britto (7), looking classic, watched the ball well and Stu (45), with shots all around the ground, dispatched the loose deliveries from the outset. Stu’s punishment of the bowlers, as though a class of naughty 17-year-old English students mocking his Australian accent, resulted in early bowling changes. Partnership 47 off 6.4 overs. Banging start.
Thankfully Paul Hynes (26), found it easier to manoeuvre the ball around the field than he did furniture around his new apartment and in doing so scored some tidy runs and progressed the score more quickly than he progressed his unpacking.
Chris Ovens (17) is a tidy cricketer and tidy fellow. He played some classy shots and chipped in with some useful runs.
With a thin steak of bum fluff, fainter than a wisp of smoke, on his face where a beard would normally grow, Captain Freddie Mills (48) entered the field. With only one thing on his mind, hitting hard and true through his areas, he took the game to the opposition with some powerful shots.
After having touched down only a few hours earlier, Barras (12) sent a few deliveries skyward during a bright and breezy cameo with the bat.
Steve Tsonas (41), looked considerably more comfortable with the opposition bowling attack than he did with the English weather. Looking like Australia’s answer to Ben Foagle he stood, coat on and hood up, until he went in to bat. At which point, he clicked immediately with the skipper and they both unleashed. With shots all-round the ground the magnificent pair combined for the partnership of the day (54) to put the blue and gold in full control.
His attempt at jug avoidance was on par with his attempt to grow a beard and 2 runs shy of 50, Freddie was out bowled. By this time, one felt, the damage to the oppo had been done.
Another cameo from Lonnen (12*) took our score to a very respectable 234/8.
As we all know catches win matches. Everyone’s favourite fielder, Barras, executed a cute dive and expert take at short leg, while bucket hands of the days go to James Tisato with an outrageous three catches at mid-off. Cricket ball looked golf ball size as it entered the baseball mitt like grasp, never to return.
Pick of the opposition bowlers was J Dutton bowling 8 overs 4/54, although Prem bowled a very tidy spell at the start 8 overs 1/19.
Plough went in to tea quietly confident that there were enough runs on the board. *****Spoiler alert – they weren’t wrong.
What happened in the first five overs of Park Hill’s innings represents a moment of Ploughmans History. Ploughmans number seven all-time wicket taker Ashish Paul (5/19 off 7) opened the bowling and the opening over was an absolute blinder. Two beautiful deliveries, one caught behind and an even better one bowled had Park Hill in disarray.
Puff and Grayzer (0/15 off 7) have a history of bowling well together and while Grayzer skilfully swung the ball away and bowled tight lines at one end, at the other, Puff destroyed the remainder of the top order with a phenomenal spell that took his total Ploughman scalp count to over 200. On another day, he could have had eight wickets. It was a pleasure to watch and a privilege to bowl at the other end.
Claiming whiskey, beer, food and late nights as the secret to his success, a man who maintains he doesn’t need to train continues to delight on and off the cricket field with an abundance of talent and class. Cheers to a true legend of the game.
After 5 overs Park Hill were 5/8 and after 14 overs they were 5/34. Chances of recovery were looking very slim despite the reduction in overs for rain.
Steve Tsonas (1/11 off 4) got the ball zipping around and bowled some very good deliveries. Yes, you read that right, he didn’t get a 5fer. There are rumours that his place is likely to be in question for the coming week with speculation that the first two weeks were just beginner’s luck.
From number seven on the all-time wicket taker list straight to the number 1, enter another Ploughmans legend; Tom Lanon (4/3 off 3.5). With the result all practically a done deal, but the game stagnating, Tom was not hanging around. His performance was demonstration of years of experience and expertise and it is fair to say that he has passed much sterner tests than this. With the skill and precision of veteran surgeon he removed the remainder of the Park Hill line-up with minimal fuss.
On most other days he would have been within his rights to claim the match ball, but this game had only one Player of the Match: Ashish Paul. Interview with both these handsome chaps is on Facebook.
Credit to everyone at the club for contributing to such a fantastic preseason and rolling into the season with a blinding start. Two wins in two in the Surrey First Division and The Plough, as always, is the place to be.
Dick of the day for this week goes to the new recruit for the opposition, who started warming up with us thinking we were his new team.