Wandsworth CC have been mainstays in the Surrey Cricket League Premier Division for a long time. Longer by far than Ploughmans CC. But despite their longevity they have never actually won a league title. That is not to say that they haven’t accrued silverware during this period. In 2009 Wandsworth famously won the AJ Cup (the league’s old T20 competition) blasting an impressive 119/0 off their 20 overs which was enough to win by 8 runs against Abhani CC. Then in 2013 they won the prestigious Surrey Cricket League 9 a-side Cup. Having witnessed myself the sensational victory of Plough Gold in the Fonthill Park 8 a-side Big Bash masterminded by none other than club legend Matt Bolshaw, I can only assume that this 2013 cup is as treasured by Wandsworth as our recent trophy at Fonthill.
But in the league it has been a case of always the bridesmaid and never the bride for Wandsworth. Five fourth place finishes, three fifth place finishes and three sixth place finishes since 2008 can only be seen as disappointing for a club of Wandsworth’s stature. It should be recognised that seeing a young, upstart club such as ourselves sitting pretty at the top of the table must rankle somewhat with such a venerable club as theirs.
And so it was, with a chip very much on his shoulder the Wandsworth Skipper informed Tis how unimpressed with the Hollies pitch he was, demanding to know how much we paid for it and helpfully suggesting we play on one of the other pitches at the DSG (all of which were already in use). Unfazed, Tis proceeded to lose the toss at which point their captain bizarrely refused to say whether he was going to bat or bowl. Sadly, this comical scene was brought to an end by the umpire who forced him to show his hand and Ploughmans were sent out to bat.
Early wickets brought Adam Barraclough to the crease alongside opener Matt ‘Viper’ Hickson, at which point a sense of calm was restored. Barras ended up departing for 26 well-made runs including two enormous sixes, but with a strong batting line-up confidence remained high that Plough could set a competitive target. This confidence was revealed to be well-placed during the subsequent 138-run strong fifth wicket partnership between the Viper and Duray Pretorious. Duray smashed a total of five sixes in his 66 runs, whilst the Viper ended up being bowled for an incredible 113. A first league ton by anyone in the club this season, and an absolute joy to watch. The perfectly timed innings, watchful at the start but destructive towards the end. The Plough finished up on 238 from their 45 overs.
Anyone thinking that Wandsworth were going to roll over was in for a shock however. A strong second wicket partnership took them to around 93-1 before Tis and Duray (bowling beautifully in partnership with one another) got the crucial breakthroughs. Wandsworth threatened throughout their innings, however, any hopes of victory were eventually snuffed out by an impressive five-for by Adam Barraclough. In the end the margin of victory (45 runs) flattered the men of the Plough as this game remained hard-fought and competitive throughout.
Comical moments that should be noted were Matt Hickson becoming incensed at an opposition fielder who shouted “no run” whilst fielding at cover. So much so, in fact, that captain James Tisato was required to take the field to calm down the situation. Clearly their attempts to get into the Viper’s head backfired massively as he carried on serenely to his ton. The fielder in question looked a handy opening bat. So when he was caught athletically at deep cover by Baz who promptly threw the ball as hard as could into the ground whilst shouting “NO RUN!!!” Scenes of wild jubilation unsurprisingly ensued. Moral of the story? Don’t poke a snake and expect not to get bitten.
Finally, and my personal favourite moment of the day was Duray informing us during the innings break that upon reaching his fifty he had been promptly asked whether it was his first ever by one of the opposition bowlers. Quality bit of sledging that. All in all a very enjoyable day. Very close match and some clutch individual performances.