After the Saturday league game was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch, waking up to dark, overcast, cloud-laden skies on Sunday did not exactly inspire confidence. Nevertheless, all across London, various stalwarts of the Plough shook off their Saturday night hangovers and headed to Dulwich.
All Stop! comes the message from our esteemed club captain. The oppo can’t get a team together (poor show) so the game is off. The WhatsApp group nearly collapses under the volume of collective annoyance, but an afternoon is suddenly free. Various people turn around, and at least two that I know of head straight back under the duvet.
Half an hour later its all change again. The oppo can now get most of a team together. Simon from Southbank can join us, and Martin ropes in his wider family to supply all the other players the oppo need. It’s a bit of a panic now as everyone is late, but its game on and everyone gets back on the road to Dulwich, and by 1:30 (for a 1:00 start) the full team is there. Unfortunately, the oppo is not. At 1:45 a loan player arrives with his wife and kids, and eventually at about 2:30 the oppo roll in. As is common when the game is late kicking off everything takes forever, but eventually at 2:45 the skippers go to toss, having agreed a 30 over game.
For reasons that will not be discussed further, John hadn’t expected us to be playing, so the wicket was unrolled and still very damp. Clouds and moisture were in the air, but with good weather forecast, conditions were only going to get better through the day, so the toss was likely to play an important factor in the game. Batting was going to be tough, so bowling first in helpful conditions and then chasing a known target on an improving pitch was the clear way to go.
As Spence tossed, he looked up, and his heart dropped. Having had enough of the delay, the Plough had just bought their first jug of the day. With the toss won his options were to risk wasting a jug or give the oppo the advantage of the conditions. He weighed up his options and in true Alpha style elected to Bat.
Olly Lonsdale and our guest Simon from South Bank CC made a solid start, taking the shine off the ball against a strong opening pair of bowlers. The bowling was tight, and the slow outfield made runs very difficult to come by, turning twos into ones and fours into twos.
With the opening pair seen off, Logan came in to accelerate the run rate, which he did to great effect, before holing out attempting a monumental six which didn’t quite connect, and Kesh played a rock-solid innings while the rest of the middle order fell cheaply, attempting to up the run rate. Spence came on and scored an entertaining quickfire 15, but when he and Kesh skied consecutive balls to the keeper in the final over were at risk of both giving away a hat trick and failing to bat out our overs. The oppo bowler bottled the hat trick ball (in truth it was a beauty of an outswinger that beat the bat and missed off stump by millimetres) and we closed on 128-8, which while it felt a bit under par, was certainly a decent target to bowl at.
Tea was the usual DSG affair, enhanced by the slightly random appearance of cold sausages and prawn crackers.
Opening the bowling, Carlos was on it from the off, bowling fast and tight, while the other end yours truly was struggling to find his line, and gifting runs, which was not what the situation called for, but after six overs Carlos had the first wicket of their very dangerous opener (nicked to G-Banger taking his first catch as keeper), I had adjusted the radar and we were starting to wrench back some control.
Coming in at number three was Mike, one of Martins brothers, and Spence pulled his second Alpha move of the game, immediately giving Carlos a blow and bringing Martin on with clear instructions to “just bowl your brother out” and getting Olly up into Silly Mid Off. You could see the steam coming out of Martin’s ears as he ran in, gave it everything he had, and sent the ball flying straight into a very surprised Olly’s arse. With the radar suitably re-adjusted, normal service resumed, and within four balls caught the edge, sending a looping catch up to Kesh, who took it with relish.
With good pace bowling from Logan, Olly and Spence, coupled with some nice spin and control at the other end from Sam and Gareth, things were getting very tense indeed, with all three results looking possible, but two strong bats at the crease who were causing some damage. Carlos and Logan came back to finish things off, and when Logan took one of them it was very much game on. In came Martin’s second brother, who took the scores to a tie with a nice bat/helmet shot combination.
Desperate to get the final run required, the oppo hit the last ball back to Carlos and set off for a suicidal run out. Carlos calmly deflected the ball onto the stumps with the oppo bat at least a meter short of the crease, only for the umpire to turn down the appeal, awarding the winning run instead.
That left a bit of a sour taste, but a couple of jugs meant the annoyance was soon forgotten, and while we lost, everyone enjoyed a very competitive game played in good spirit, where the result was in doubt right up to the end. All in all, damn good cricket.