The early season league games have been full of drama both on and off the field. We have seen a hailstorm painfully cut short a run chase against St Luke’s, a dubious abandonment at Balham and Tooting whilst in the jaws of victory, enterprising team members scoop standing water off the Hollies before skittling Sutton Challengers and of course we cannot forgetthe infamous Gumpert impression of Need for Speed through the leafy Surrey suburbs.
Thankfully for cricket fans of the Plough there was very little drama on Saturday 12th June as the boys in blue and gold put in one of the most comprehensive performances of the season to beat Wandsworth CC and restrict them to just the 2 league points, leapfrogging them in the table in the process.
The team arrived early (*mostly…), Tis checked the pitch and decided he wanted to bat if he won the toss (*then lost it…)and the team put in one of the finest bowling and fielding performances of the season (*genuinely…). Even when Wandsworth came on strong reaching 34 without loss in short order the Plough fought back – suddenly Wandsworth were 43-5 as Ashish ‘Puff’ Paul clean-bowled their dangerous opening batsman, had the other opener caught at mid-off and sent a further batsman on his way with his tail between his legs, his brain scrambled and his eyes still looking for the ball that had swung through his inadequate defences.
We did not realise on the day itself but these 3 wickets took Ash past a landmark 250th wicket for the club. This is some achievement and it has been a pleasure to watch from behind the stumps uttering the classic line – ‘not quite good enough to nick it’. There have been a number of metaphors used on the Plough WhatsApp group this week (fine wine etc etc.) but it is hard to find a metaphor to reflect some of the career stats – 153 matches, 204 maidens, 251 wickets at an average of 15.91. Outstanding.
However this was not just a one man battle – Ash was superbly backed up by the rest of the bowlers with Isaac Rolph removing the opposition skipper, Tis continuing his form with the ball taking another wicket and Adeel taking 3 more to leave his season stats at a quite remarkable 23.1 Overs, 8 maidens, 44 Runs at an average of 3.67.
The fielders also stepped up to the plate with Hicko and Tis taking superb catches in the cordon and Logan and Hicko picking up a run-out apiece. Despite a brief fightback from the Wandsworth middle-order we whipped through the final 5 wickets for a measly 16 runs leaving them all out for 86.
And so to the chase – 87 needed and plenty of time to get them in.
We lost two early wickets as Britto and Hicko both departed, leaving us 22-2 with Logan Cassin and league debutant Chris Butlin in the middle. Other teams may have crumbled at this point and indeed we could have been one of those teams but, in keeping with the drama-free day, Cassin and Butlin purposefully went about their work and as the score ticked upwards the watching players began to relax. Logan played with increasing fluidity as the innings wore onsticking the ball cleanly down the ground and eventually bringing up the victory with a 6 over mid-wicket.
Overall a very comfortable victory for the Plough taking us back up towards the top of table and very much in the fight for glory come the end of the season.