I can’t have been the only Ploughman who, after scanning the team sheet and seeing that they’d been picked for “Cincinnati away”, started to wonder how they were going to make it to Ohio in time for a 1.30pm start. Such thoughts, thankfully, were short-lived; a second reading of the team sheet made it clear that Cincinatti CC had chosen to host this particular fixture at Bromley Common – a well kept and picturesque little ground, tucked away behind farm buildings in one of the more green and pleasant corners of Greater London.
Arriving at the ground before the scheduled start of play nonetheless proved tricky for a few Ploughmen. For some, the blame for these difficulties lay squarely at the feet of Southern Railway (Rob Keogh, train delayed, eventually emerged from the surrounding woodland in full whites moments before play began, having changed in the back seat of his taxi). For others, the root cause of the problem lay a little closer to home. With less than an hour until play was due to begin, Bisi informed the captain via WhatsApp that he had just woken up. This message was promptly followed by another to say he’d also managed to leave his bed, and, moments later, a third message outlining (in slightly more colourful language) the realisation that he was still very much under the influence of whatever had happened the night before. Bisi drowsily summoned an Uber and headed in the direction of Bromley.
Cincinnati won the toss and chose to bat first on a pitch that was, in the Groundsman’s completely objective opinion, “the best in the Kent league”. Undeterred, Ploughmans declined the offer of a substitute fielder (while awaiting the arrival of Bisi) and selected seamers Stevens and Greeney to lead the bowling attack. The Cincinnati openers made light work of the pair, and, after 7 overs of heavy hitting, had 56 runs on the board.
Sensing that there was little in the pitch for the seamers, skipper Leon Parks made the decision to introduce spin at one end (Tom Glynne-Jones) and swing at the other (Benny Cobbett). A mistimed sweep of Glynne-Jones’ second delivery sent the ball in the direction of Stevens at backward square leg, who, having misfielded a near identical shot the ball before, took the first catch of the day. Cobbett also struck in his first over, sending the Cincinnati number 3 back to the pavilion without troubling the scorers. A few overs later Alex Webster took a sharp catch at midwicket to remove the Cincinnati number 4 (another wicket for Glynne-Jones), rendering the score 84-3 and putting Ploughmans firmly back in the game.
The Cincinnati number 5 arrived at the crease and was immediately unsettled by Cobbett, who, having beaten the bat multiple times, smelt blood and went in for the kill – firing a full and straight delivery in the direction of the uncomfortable and jumpy looking youth. It was to the surprise of everyone on the field that the batsman responded by getting down on one knee and ramping Cobbett over the keeper for four. Enraged by the casual and taunting nature of this shot, Cobbett continued to attack the stumps, and was ultimately unlucky not to pick up a second wicket.
The remaining Cincinnati opener continued his campaign of heavy hitting, clearing the picket fences multiple times and sending increasingly weary Ploughmen repeatedly into the surrounding countryside in search of the ball. Drinks were taken after 18 overs, with Cincinnati on 136-3.
The reintroduction of Stevens to the attack brought another two wickets, but failed to stem the steady flow of runs. To this end, Joey Anderson bowled particularly well, conceding just 23 runs from his 7 overs, and also taking the crucial wicket of the big-hitting opener (who, upon being given out LBW for 92, refused to leave the field until the laws of the game had been kindly explained to him by no fewer than four Ploughmen).
The remainder of the first innings continued in much the same vein as it started, with Cincinnati making good use of the fast outfield and predictable bounce. They eventually left the field having batted their full 35 overs and with 264 runs on the board. It would be remiss not to mention Glynne Jones and Webster here for two extraordinary attempted catches. Both men got a hand to the ball having hurled themselves sideways with an athleticism and acrobatic flair reminiscent of Andrew Strauss (Trent Bridge, 2005, YouTube it if necessary). On another day both catches would have stuck and the scoreboard would have looked very different indeed. Three wickets for Glynne-Jones, two for Stevens, and one a piece for Cobbett, Bisi and Anderson.
With tea taken and the shadows already lengthening, the opening pair of Nieboer and Webster confidently strode out to the middle to begin the chase. 7.5 runs an over required. Webster quickly set a positive tone, hitting his first three deliveries to the boundary and reaching his maiden club half century in 30 balls. He eventually fell for 59 in the 12th over, having hit ten boundaries in the 35 balls he faced. Nieboer soon also reached 50, playing particularly well off the back foot and eventually falling for (another) well made 59 in the 20th over, the scoreboard reading 141-2. Both openers batted aggressively, never looked troubled by the Cincinnati attack, and were highly enjoyable to watch.
With the exception of Hanzi (28) the middle order struggled to get going, and, by the 20th over, Ploughmans had been reduced to 183-6. In a cruel act of poetic injustice, Cobbett was bowled by the same player who had ramped him earlier in the game. Not one to accept defeat, Cobbett continued to sledge the player (albeit with little effect) from the comfort of the terrace for the remainder of the game.
Joey Anderson made a rapid 42 batting at 7, hitting his first ball for six and scoring 17 from his first five. He eventually fell in the final over, having delivered Ploughmans to within touching distance of victory. The remaining tailenders struggled to find the boundary in the remaining few balls, leaving us on 244 – just 21 runs short.
All in all a good day, despite the result – some notable individual performances, over 500 runs scored in the game, and a proud moment for the author of this report who was welcomed into the club with the presentation of his “baggy blue and gold”.
Harvey “the other” Stevens