A beautiful Saturday afternoon set the stage for an absolute cracker of a match with plenty of firsts, a triple and a late call-up that caused a bit of controversy with the opposition. Most of the team arrived at half past 12 for a 1pm game in a picturesque village ground in Churchleigh. As the team was arriving into the ground soaking up the beautiful scenery, skipper Silvapulle was already in game mode, reviewing the pitch and getting ready for the auspicious coin toss ceremony. In classic Silva style, he won the toss and elected to bat but not before the nervous opposition captain asked him quite pointedly ‘Um is M. Gumpert in your XI today?’ Word clearly travels far within the cricketing fraternity in Surrey!
Patty and Trent strolled onto the field to open the batting and with a combination of some incisive and accurate bowling from the opposition and some unfortunate shot selection by the Ploughmans, by the 13th over, we were reduced to 28/4. At this stage our secret weapon Maximus Gumpert, hastily put out his ciggie and grumpily strolled in at number 6, appalled he had to bat so early in the innings as he was looking forward to playing spectator.
I was particularly excited to see Max bat, after hearing about his exploits from the previous week where he hit two tons off not very many balls and I was delighted to see that he was still in an incredibly rich vein of form, smashing his first ball over long off. He smacked a few more boundaries before being put down by a fielder who pulled out of an attempt to catch him when he was on about 10 runs. Clearly this was a thinking fielder who decided that breaking his hand was probably not worth what would have likely been a dropped catch anyway. Maxxy continued on wowing both the Ploughmans on the sidelines and the opposition on the field with his aggressive strokeplay before finally retiring after scoring his third successive ton in the last 7 days.
Equally impressive was Tom Parrish at the other end, who was absolute joy to watch. In particular, what was great to see with the Tom and Max partnership was the intent they showed as they ran quick singles when the fielders didn’t gather the ball cleanly, and outrageous twos when there was the smallest of overthrows. This was compounded with his brilliant stroke-play, both square of the wicket with his impressive sweep shots, and down the wicket with his lofted drives. At more than a run a ball, he made 73 before getting out at the end trying to hit out. Anyone who has played with Tom knows that aside from being a great bloke, he can bat, bowl, wicket-keep, umpire, score, and probably all at the same time standing on one leg! It was brilliant to watch his maiden half-century and contribute to the highest 5th wicket partnership in club history.
With a few cameos at the end from the likes of Oli and Yasir, the team managed to put on a very healthy 229 off 40 overs which was worlds away from where we thought we were at 28/4.
Opening the bowling was Mark and Lewis. Lewis was playing his first game for the Plough and off his first ball, bowled a lovely swinging yorker to clip the top of off stump much to the chagrin of the opening batsman who was upset he was bowling with a new ball. This brought in their #3 who was a class act and between him and the other opener, they were smoking the balls all around the park and before we knew it, they were 71/1 after 10 overs.
At this point, the Plough were getting a bit nervous but with an absolute cracker of a spell, Oli Lonsdale removed the set batsman with a fantastic delivery that led the batsman to chip the ball to mid-wicket. This led to one of the more confusing times of the day, where one of senior members of the opposition team requested Silva if he could send his 10 year old son in to bat as he had another commitment to go to. Silva graciously agreed, and fortunately for the youngster he only had to face the spin bowling of Parrish who very fortunately took his wicket. One can only imagine what would have happened if the kid had to face a firey Oli Lonsdale with his tail up.
Following drinks, there was a steady stream of wickets with contributions from all members of the Plough and while the opposition started strongly, like a sunflower, they wilted in the extreme heat that we put on to offer. A shoutout to Trent for catching his first catch for the Plough, Yasir, Lewis and yours truly for getting their first wickets for the Plough. A memorable day for all!
Finally, I’d like to address the elephant in the room, which is the complaints around team composition and putting out an appropriately strengthened team against opposition. I felt the match was evenly poised at a number of different times throughout the day and could have swung in any direction. Fortunately, I felt our skipper Silva handled these complaints with grace and while I empathise with any team that has to face brutality of Max in the purplest of patches, I’m very proud to be playing for a club that would face up to any opposition on the day without any of this noise!