Sunday saw Gold heading down to Kent, where we won a rain reduced match of 30 overs a side, with the auld alliance of Lonnen and Ridgway back in the thick of it.
The day started badly when Aussies Bharat Ramesh and Matt ‘Dennis’ Hopper were pulled over for trying to ‘tap out’ with their oyster cards at Tonbridge Wells, but once it became clear to the authorities that both are possessed of *modest* intelligence, anger turned to pity and we were allowed to continue our journey to the scenic village of Chiddingstone.
It was nice to see that we had spectators on arrival, especially Michelle and Leon, and after Michelle had kindly helped Hopper and Ramesh put on their socks and tie their laces, we took the field and Chiddingstone came out to bat. We started off well, and early doors to midway through it looked as though we might hold them to 5 an over, thanks to a fizzing opening spell from Ridgway M., which saw him get 3 for 26 (taking all first 3) and getting movement in the air and off the seam to produce plenty of unplayable deliveries. Vintage stuff!
But keeping things at that level was difficult on a small outfield, which was positively Alpine in bits. And although the track was offering something to bowlers – for whom the odd one flew – it was also coming on nicely for batters who were prepared to go out and meet it, so the score started to tick along once a couple of their middle order got driving.
The bowlers worked hard, with Tailor and Lonnen picking one up one apiece, while Lonsdale, Hopper and matinee idol Carson – whose Korean stylist is now channelling Clooney – all put in solid shifts. That seriously in form bowlers like Lonsdale and Hopper are coming in as second and third changers in a Sunday game, and Noodle and Grant didn’t even get a look in, is a nice problem for the skipper to have, and a reflection of the current squad strength. Skipper Grant sheepdogged fielders into gaps in the outfield, Suri kept excellently, and Hopper took a couple of very good catches, all of which contributed to our keeping them to 169, under 6, at the end of their 30.
Ridgway N. and Lockhart opened up after the change around. Nick was unlucky, with one sneaking under his bat, and Lockhart (24) and Suri (17) built a platform of sorts, but both could do with remedial classes in the value of guarding your wicket. Wolledge got caught before he got going, which is a shame as the track would have suited his drives in the V had he stuck about, but newb’ Bharat, who was playing his first game for the Plough, nurdled the ball around to get us 19 very useful runs. Some umpiring decisions don’t go down well, such as the Lonsdale LBW decision. Jaws dropped, clocks stopped and beer was spilt, but the bowler remained very chirpy. Grant gave me quite a tight deadline on this report, so I didn’t have time to check who was wearing the white coat at the time – sadly. On that subject though, I still have an email from Simon Hards about free Umpire Training via the Surrey Umpires Challenge. As somebody with a lot of cricket experience, I probably don’t need this – but if anybody else feels their decision making skills might benefit from a short course, I’d be more than happy to forward to you my copy. Let me know ; )
Ridgway M. came in next and looked threatening, but got caught before really making his mark, and so it was Tom Lonnen – who played a trademark innings combining discipline and some very big hitting over the trees – who saw us over the line, ending the day with an excellent 60 not out, ably supported by Niraj who was also not out at the other end.
With beautiful views across the Kentish Weald, friendly opposition, and after match beers at the local, all out of town boxes were ticked and – logistics notwithstanding – it’s always a great privilege to play in a place like this, especially in high summer and with the Plough. So, many thanks to Leon for getting it organised, to Michelle for helping out with Bharat and Hopper, to Skipper Grant for his work on the day and highly efficient behind the scenes efforts to organise the car pool, and to Simon for stepping in as a last minute replacement. Hope we can do it all again next year. Plough on!