Sunday May 1st. Gloomy. Light rain in the early morning, the threat of more overhead. Bit cold. Three debutants. Two fresh trims. One jet-lagged Australian inbound. The game’s afoot.
Having lost the toss on a soft strip under leaden skies, it was our men in to bat.
The Plough openers began well, negotiating an awkward opening spell from the Battersea quicks who made good use of a multi-personality disorder pitch to the tune of 60% sludge, 40% WACA – the odd one either slithering through or rearing violently.
Some good Battersea bowling reduced the Plough to 9 for 2.
Enter an adorable partnership from debutants Charlie Evans and Will Curtis, the pair translating their flatmate chemistry to the cricket pitch to steady to the ship with a well-made 28 each. Special mention goes out to Charlie who battled on despite a casualty in the thumb department which he definitely didn’t mention out in the middle – though reports indicate he was able to capitalise by generating sympathy with some of the Wandle’s patrons later that evening. Take note Ploughmen.
Some handy late order bashing from the middle order took Ploughmans to a respectable but slightly underwhelming 138 from their 40 overs. But with the light fading and a packed bowling attack waiting, it was most certainly game on.
A word for the Battersea teas, consisting of 22 meal deals shipped from the local Sainsburys. Effort: 4/10. Quality: 7/10. A meal deal is a meal deal after all, who am I to judge a smoothie/BLT/McCoys combo.
Before taking the field, a special moment for Elmslie and Curtis who received their baggy caps along with some words of inspiration from Spence– a pair of very proud Ploughmen.
Laura Thompson and Damon Greeney shared the new ball, testing the Battersea openers with nagging line and length. As inevitable as Stokes for England skipper, ‘Demon’ Greeney, the King of Maida Vale Nets, broke through with two quick wickets having tormented the Ironsides top order with his metronomic accuracy. Some aggressive stroke-play from the remaining opener moved Battersea along to 58-4, with Spence claiming the other two.
Battersea were then kept in check by some tight bowling from Benny and Elmslie in the middle overs.
Cometh the drinks break, cometh the breakthroughs. A mesmeric spell of swing from Benny Cobbett saw the Battersea middle-order blown away, albeit with some dropped catches in-between that left the door ajar for a late surge. And surge they did, the Battersea no.7 surpassing the expectations set by his visible black thigh-pad in hitting some quick runs to get them back in the game.
Squeaky bum time. Enter Nige who produced what can only be described as a masterclass in slow bowling, claiming 3-6 from his 4 overs, including 2 in 2 which all but sealed the game.
Out comes the no. 11, sporting an offensively bright blue hoody and sheepish grin. Surely curtains. Panesar-esque, the Battersea no.11 proceeded to diligently block from one end whilst their no.7 continued to swing manically from the other. 15 runs to win, 1 wicket left. This is what we play cricket for.
Backing his leggie, Spence threw Elmslie the ball in a bid to draw an error, accompanied by some gripping ball-by-ball WhatsApp commentary from T-Rex, fresh-ish off the planefrom Oz. A tough chance spilled on the boundary and a near stumping, it was close but no cigar as the no.7 slogged the final few boundaries to take the scores level.
A scampered single in the next over did it for the Battersea Ironsides who claimed an admirable victory.
A loss for the Plough, but an excellent fixture nonetheless – rightly followed by beers and dodgy disco in the Wandle. Win or lose we on the booze. On with the next.
Tom ‘Elmo’ Elmslie