Edgbaston in 2005, Headingly in 2019, The World Cup Final at Lords in 2019. Every so often there is a match that transcends the game of cricket. An encounter that departs the material realm and enters the celestial domain. Twickenham in 2021 was one such game. If God does truly exist, he is not only an Englishman, but he is also most certainly a cricketer, and a Ploughman at that.
Arriving at Twickenham in the pouring rain for an absurd 1:30pm start, the auspices signalling the impending sensation to come were at first imperceivable for us mere mortals. The toss was lost and we were sent out to bat. Almost immediately, however, the sun began shining. And a quick tap of the pitch revealed a hard deck, with what would prove to be a lightning-fast outfield. Not that ‘The Gentlemen of the Plough’ put it to much use in the early part of their innings. Wickets fell cheaply to loose strokes and good balls, with the Plough reduced to 26 for 3 off only 6.1 overs.
Enter stage left, Mr Duray Pretorius. In these times of change, where new Ploughman seem to spring up like plagues in the Old Testament, it was perhaps fitting that fate should turn to one of the old guard. The forgotten man? Perhaps. Selected by 0% of Ploughmen in their Fantasy Cricket Line-ups. Not even by himself. But a Man for a crisis? You’d better believe it. Wielding Nasser’s behemoth of a stick, Duray set to work despatching the Twickenham bowling attack, much as Samson massacred the Philistines using only a donkey’s jawbone. Had the Twickenham keeper managed to keep hold of a tough chance whilst the Plough’s Saviour was still on nought, this match would certainly have ended very differently. As it was our South African ‘broer’ crucified the Twickenham bowlers, nailing one of them to the sight screen for a straight six (see 38:53 on the Twickenham CC Youtube livestream, and the subsequent gaping hole throughout the rest of the broadcast).
Duray proceeded murderously to his hundred off only 63 balls, finishing on 165 off only 96. Note should be taken of the impressive 91 run partnership between himself and Archie, with the entirety of the runs being scored by Doozer. Whether this has ever been achieved before is unknown, but credit should undoubtedly be given to Mr Fiddes for his able supporting role. Ploughmans finished on 236 off their 35 overs. Above par but by no means a sure thing on this ground.
Unsurprisingly, Twickenham were more than game to spoil the fun. They started their innings like a bushfire, when after 8 overs, Logan managed to induce a false shot from their opening bat which Archie clung on to at mid-off, making up for the previous two times we had dropped the lad. Tight bowling from Mr Cassin kept the Plough just about on top of the game, finishing his first spell with 5 – 11 – 1 superb work in bat-friendly conditions. Able support in the middle overs was also provided by Leo, Anusha and Niraj who managed to keep on top of the oppo and prevent them from getting away from us.
And so it was that the Plough found themselves defending 42 runs in the last five overs of the game (5:07:20 Livestream Timestamp for those interested). Archie proceeded to concede only 3 runs, managing to nick off their set batsman who was on 88, to the delight of the hundreds in attendance on Twickenham Green.
40 to win from the last 4, some lusty blows manage to somehow burgle 13 from Niraj’s last over.
27 to win from 18 balls. Logan brings himself back into the attack. Single, dot, dot, dot, two, single. Absolute clutch death bowling from the skipper. He’s held back his last couple of overs for this exact purpose, to see us over the line.
All-important penultimate over. 23 to win from 12. Archie with the rock in his hands. First ball, leg stump Yorker. Batsman has got no answer. Castled at the death. Unreal delivery. In strides the 14-year-old leggie, whose twirlers did for three of our batsmen. Surely the demanding run rate is going to prove too much to ask of his pre-pubescent muscles. Not so, dear reader, the lad crunches Archie through cow for four. He’s here to win them the game with bat and ball. However, only 6 runs are managed off Archie’s last over. He finishes with figures of 7 – 43 – 2. A Herculean effort from the lad.
17 to win off the last six balls. Captain bowling to Captain.
Logan Cassin’s flowing locks come racing in, only to be despatched over the square leg boundary for six off the first ball. A surprise for sure. It was not clear that the oppo skipper had that shot in him. When you hide down the order at 5 and don’t bowl, the only logical assumption is that his role within the team is as a fielding specialist. Apparently not, the lad can play.
11 from 5 needed
Logan in, the oppo skipper dances around in his crease trying to get outside of the ball so he can target the short boundary again. Logan’s too good for him though, follows him offside and cramps him up for room. Dot ball.
11 from 4 needed
Driven to long off. Two runs only.
9 from 3 needed
Chinese cut to fine leg for one.
8 from 2 needed
Leggie on strike, Heaved to long off for two.
6 to win off the last ball.
Leggie facing. This is it. Can he deliver on all that youthful promise, or will Logan’s experience be too much for him? Logan, charges in… and he’s too good. It’s in the blockhole. The young lad can only dig it out for two. Plough have won. Cue wild scenes back at the DSG where both Home Teams were watching as well as a number of their opposition.
An absolutely unreal game of cricket. From a complete one man show in the batting department to a real team effort in the field. Shoutout to Cakes’ excellent boundary riding throughout. Credit also to Anusha for getting out their granite-faced opener who was on fifty, and Yanni for taking an outstanding ankle-height grab with his fingertips. The best game of cricket I have ever played in.
Fred (the Mouse) Gumpert.