The Ploughmans Gold side ventured west to the magical kingdom of Barnes, arriving to the picturesque ground – as long as the picture you’re thinking of has been painted by Pablo Picasso, with every feature completely distorted across the board. Brambles surround the outfield that was lumpier than school custard. The wicket itself was as close to a boundary as I’ve ever seen, with the point boundary from the railway end being about 14 nanometres from the stumps, meaning a gentle waft of the bat and a light breeze meant sixes for fun.
The artists of said piece also had a Salvador Dali/Melting clock attitude to timekeeping, with only 3 opposition players in attendance at the given start time, with even Giordy arriving before most of their team. The start time being pushed riled Skipper Lonsdale and he pushed for a toss forfeit, which the opposition declined and suggest that they just bat first, which on such a road with tiny boundaries, when it was scorching hot, didn’t seem like a good outcome.
So out to the middle they strode… and we had to field anyway.
Whites adorned, the ploughmen made their way to the pitch, not knowing how attacking to be. Openers Lonsdale and Gray, a devilish pairing for a Sunday, given their first team pedigree, began with their usual styles, combining some movement through the air and pace and bounce to flummox the batters. Some excellent wicket keeping from Alex Gordon-Walker aided the cause, and Barnes were solid if unremarkable to begin with, but no breakthrough was possible in the sweltering heat early doors.
That was until the King Bee, Ed Beesley, came into the attack, dropping the ball on the spot, pressuring the batters to make things happen, and eventually they succumbed to the might, with a chip to Mo Khan, taking his first grab for the club.
As the old adage goes, ‘One brings two’ and Giordy Diengienda removed the other opener two balls later, giving some momentum to the field. However, the next batter for Barnes was a six hitting machine, powering his way to 76, and we found out after the game that he’s often seen playing for India Over 50s, so that checks out.
The remainder of the innings took longer than the time it takes to fill two 8 pint jugs, with people foraging in the trees for hours for the specialist orange balls, with the wickets shared around nicely amongst the bowlers as the innings ticked by, including Mo bowling a fine spell of leg spin for a couple of wickets, Lonsdale retuning to the attack, and relatively new recruit Ed Robbins grabbing another. However, with the short boundary and a flat wicket, a high score was always on the cards and Barnes ended up on 325 in 35 overs.
A disappointing tea ensued, with only one type of sandwich, a couple of cakes and mince pies on offer, which hardly filled up the exhausted Plough contingent.
Facing a large total, Plough had to score quickly from the off, and Steve Britto and Alex Julienne kicked us off beautifully, knocking the ball into gaps for ones at every opportunity, and smacked the dross into the hedges. Britto departed, but debutant Hugh Lilburn continued the scoring and Plough crossed 100 off 15 overs for only one wicket – still needing 225 off 20 overs.
Then there was an odd moment when the opposition number 4 batter sat down on a deck chair with us – apparently he’d been substituted at the tea break and his replacement opened the bowling.