With season sunset beckoning on the last Sunday of September, the final Ploughmans XI skippered by Carson and brilliantly deputised by Lonnen descended on DSG for the final fixture against friendly neighbours and rivals Southbank CC (SBCC).
For the recent ‘new kids on the block’, SBCC was formed in 1892 and started playing at Turney Road in 1911. The club is formerly known as Herne Hill Wanderers CC and South Bank Polytechnic CC. SBCC has played league cricket in the past, however they now play purely friendly cricket fixtures against regular and well known local opposition on Saturdays and Sundays.
With a history stretching back 5 years, this was the 9th Southern showdown between the 2 sides with SBCC taking the honours on each occasion.
PCC went into the game with a philanthropically inspired mix of youth and experience including a few league winning players with bat and ball.
The pre-match crossing from the club house to Hollies turf proved to be a rather unique experience for many looking around at the football season kicking off left, right and centre akin to a bustling Sunday Borough markets a few hundred miles up the road.
As the majority of the playing XI resided for the day by the well known benches underneath the big tree, the consensus was to blow off the post club day hangovers and have a bowl which aligned very nicely with the just-in-time arrival of C.Roden-Smith (CRS) on his pushbike which would have made Cadel Evans delighted.
A few friendly pre-match chinwags with our SBCC counterparts got things off on a nice footing which is pleasing to note and helped to tranquilize the 4 month build up from the last encounter which well and truly went down to the wire.
SBCC skipper Jon Thornton and our dear leader Carson then walked out to the middle for the final coin toss which resulted in SBCC going in to bat much to the relief of our starry eyed top order batsmen who needed a few hours to acclimatise before facing the oppo’s opening bowlers.
PCC got off to a pretty good start with our league opening bowling pair Lonnen and Paul opening proceedings. With plays and misses across the first half a dozen or so overs, we sprung into action with the confidence to play a competitive brand of cricket across 40 overs. There were a few occasions of the red ball missing the wickets by a finger nail to the point where we thought that it was only a matter of time before the tide would turn.
The tide certainly turned as the SBCC swashbuckling opening partnership was broken by ‘Puff’ Paul. Puff magnificently moved the ball to penetrate the gates of oppo wicketkeeper J.Peak who looked threatening at various stages taking a leaf out of Max’s book with the shuffle down the crease as the opener was running in to bowl.
Lonnen was very unlucky at the other end not to be rewarded across an exceptional 8 overs of economic bowling that many of us have come to admire over many years. Not only did he get the batsmen hopping, he played an integral role in containing the late order chargers below 200 runs when brought back on in the final overs.
CRS, was the first change bowler and did a terrific job with a Lonnen’esque 8 overs of bowling yielding 1 wicket which was the second opener who began to find his feet across the first ten overs.
Max was a welcome inclusion in the side and added sizzle to an overcast early afternoon with thunderbolt bowling drawing vivid memories of his playing days down at Morden cricket ground. Unfortunately, a misadventure around deep cover region meant that he had to sit out the remainder of the proceedings and potentially the rest of the afternoon which was a real shame given the enormity of the game ahead of us.
As the spin bowlers were brought on in the middle of the innings, SBCC were close to an unassailable position being only 2 wickets down before the 25 over mark and gearing up for a fireworks exhibition akin to the annual club day festivities which coincide with young Howard’s DOB.
With the weight of numbers beaming from above, it looked like a very tough afternoon out on the park with shades of déjà vu for those who played against SBCC 12 months ago. Cow corner, long on and deep cover positions were particularly under threat from their in form No.3 (W.Arnold) who was looking very strong for a fast century.
With persistence from all and sundry, the nearly centurion holed out to Barraclough on 94 runs which included 9 boundaries and 6 maximums. Special mention to Barraclough (‘Barra’) who was arguably the best fielder on ground with a very safe pair of hands ready for the skied red cherry and excellent with ground patrolling especially in the final overs when the ball typically rockets towards the rope. He also bowled wonderfully well and deserved a wicket across 5 overs inc. 1 maiden.
Noteworthy mentions also to A.Rajasooriya and S.Carson for left arm seam and right arm off spin bowling which respectively did the job in containing SBCC’s fast finishing batsmen in the final dozen or so overs. Carson, in particular, was one of the game turners across 3 overs and is definitely a very underrated candidate in the fantasy league reflecting on the percentage of the participating cohort who picked him before the Saturday 12 noon deadline passed. Take note fellas!
No doubting that with 6 wickets back in the ‘shed’, 40 overs bowled and 197 runs on the board the PCC contingent went into the innings break with a sense of pride and redemption knowing with confidence that a ‘small win’ provides a good platform for the run chase ahead. PCC had similarly achieved only a month and a half ago over at Barn Elms when Putney CC were firing on similar cylinders en route to 250 until they were contained by 50 runs in their last 10 overs.
With the standard Ploughmans’ lunch consumed, it was time to turn attention to the run chase as Carson elected Suri and Rohin to open the batting. On paper, this looked to be a very strong pair with the master and the apprentice walking out to the middle to face the formidable opening pair of Jon Twinn and Vadivelam Murthy.
Suri played aggressively with breathtaking strokeplay including one straight drive that rocketed to the fence in the first 5 overs. Even the SBCC slips corden were speechless with jaws dropped and opening bowler Murthy feeling the heat on a not-so-warm Sunday.
Unfortunately, despite the crescendos Suri was clean bowled by a seam up delivery when looking on track for a Jason Roy’esque fast 50.
At the other end, Rohin was looking good for a solid innings in the first ten overs but was unfortunately dismissed by a rising good length ball from the Twinn express that exploited the capricious nature of Hollies wicket.
P.Hynes worked very hard out in the middle and has been in good form over the last month with some terrific cameos in the middle order particularly when PCC has batted 1st this year. With a good technique and an upright stance, he is one of our finest batsmen to grace the Hollies turf particularly against strong opponents. He deserved a solid score to back up the brilliance in fielding at short cover earlier in the day and will definitely bounce back to his run machine days of 2020.
With Max and Barra in the middle, sprinkles of nerves began to set into the PCC camp as 3 quick wickets fell for less than 50 runs. This was arguably the most crucial point in the run chase as at least one solid partnership was needed to steady the ship and turn the so called tables before the parade was rained upon.
Barra looked the most composed and has been in excellent form across the season in both Saturday and Sunday formats. Reflecting on a similar position down at Barnes cricket ground, there was plenty of confidence in the camp that the cavalry was there to steady and launch over the next 10- 15 overs to take us to within the last 30 or so runs of the winning total. Barra comfortably negotiated good deliveries and punished loose bowling on both sides of the wickets like a true blue middle order batsman. Additionally, he ran quickly between the wickets but was also considerate of his batting partner who was carrying an injury from earlier in the day.
Max, as shown throughout his second season, was terrific in the middle overs as the slow bowlers (i.e. A. Dalton) came on for 8 overs of left arm orthodox tweaks. Anything short was smoked to the boundary and anything around a good length kept out. Much like the run chase over at Wooburn cricket ground, we were increasingly confident that Max could get to 50 through power hitting and calculated singles through the narrow gaps on offer.
Unfortunately, Max couldn’t quite go on and was out lbw for 28 runs.
Tom Lane took on a new role batting at No.6 and looked great to say the least with a flurry of big shots and defensive strokes when the slow bowlers were aiming for the 3 timbers. Although bowled and caught on 16 runs, Tom can hold his head up high for a superb season set up by triple 50s earlier in the season and has definitely been a wonderful recruit to the club.
Barra was dogged and keen as mustard to elevate the run rate going into the 30th over.
With the opening bowlers yet to come back on, he was eyeing a ‘power play’ phase having done the hard work to get to 26 runs. Unfortunately, the innings was cut short as he was stumped trying to charge the right arm finger spinner with the asking run rate creeping above 8 rpo.
The resilience was then well and truly tested as the tail enders were tasked with the challenging fast finishing job inside the last 10 overs to help secure the first victory for PCC.
CRS looked very comfortable at No.9 and was destined to take off from his marvelous innings on the same ground a fortnight ago when he supported NZ centurion M.Hickson in his swansong game. With a good selection of shots combined with solid defence, CRS deserved to go on and make a maiden 50 amidst the backdrop of a blue/red sky overlooking DSG clubhouse.
The wheels unfortunately lost traction as Thornton’s opening contingent were invoked to clean up the final three wickets and take the sting out of the wagging tail to secure SBCC’s 9th victory in a row.
Although the result didn’t quite go the way PCC had envisaged, it was very pleasing and reassuring to know that with discipline and determination it’s not impossible to bat out 40 overs even when the chips are right down early in the innings against a strong bowling arsenal; the benefits of putting a price on one’s wicket and the preparedness to persevere were key takeaways from the game looking ahead to the future as we grow and evolve.
To conclude the season, the Southbank skipper arranged a superb BBQ which was enjoyed by both camps over at/around the club house over liquid ambers and cordial conversations which are a testament to the amicable relationship between the two clubs; well worth the fixture looking ahead to next season and beyond.
Finally, special mentions also to the following for coming along to support the Ploughmans XI for the last game of the season:
– M.Hickson and family
Regardless of the result, the playing contingent really appreciate being in front of home fans and the positive energy/synergies which flow from it.
In summary, a good day of cricket against a very strong team with green shoots of growth evidenced at various points throughout the day in both batting and bowling departments. Onwards to 2022!